Is the Baja 1000 the World’s Most Brutal Race? A Team of UTVers Make the Case

Every day leading up to the 2022 Baja 1000 start on Friday, the chorus of echoes bouncing off the hills of Ensenada grows and grows as unrestricted engines roar down public streets before one of the world’s most grueling motorsports events. This year, I embedded with driver AJ Jones and his South Racing team for a full week as the 2022 Dakar Rally winners prepped for the race, then tagged along for over 30 hours of sleepless chase trucks, refueling stops, and DIY mechanical repairs.

Arriving at the hotel driveway where South Racing made home base, I immediately found myself immersed in a melange of English muttered with Portuguese, interspersed with the clink of tools, ratcheting sockets, electric drills, and the occasional blast of the world’s loudest horn. Properly prepping a pair of Can-Am Maverick X3 UTVs requires more than a week, so Jones, his father Jesse, Brazilian co-driver Gustavo Gugelman, and Portuguese mechanic Dany Duarte arrived 10 full days before the start of the race to pre-run the half-course that Jones and Gugelman would soon drive at full pace.

South Racing tapped fellow Can-Am factory driver Rodrigo Ampudio to handle the rest of the 2022 Baja 1000 828.25-mile course, a loop that starts and ends in Ensenada after weaving through some of Baja’s most brutal terrain—in contrast to the better known sprint from Ensenada to La Paz. The plan, at least on paper, put Ampudio behind the wheel first, starting the race in Ensenada then handing the reins over to Jones and Gugelman just off Highway 5 at mile 200, before taking over once again at mile 475 for another stint. Jones and Gugelman would then finish off the race’s 150 miles the next morning.

All told, significantly more than half of South Racing’s two stints behind the wheel would, if all went according to that plan, occur at night. But darkness only exacerbates the rate of attrition at Baja, so much of the week’s prep involved late-night pre-running tests of lighting setups, digital GPS screens, and solutions for any conceivable mechanical problems. The second Can-Am, meanwhile, received everything necessary in the case of any off-roading expeditions required to rescue the first.

As the team at South Racing’s hotel swelled to include fellow Portuguese mechanic Felipe Alves, Irish race engineer Joe Naughton, and South Racing principal Scott Abraham, the entire team focused on preparing not just the two cars, but also their own circadian rhythms for the taxing task at hand. Breakfasts pushed back to lunchtime, taco dinners typically started at 9 p.m. or later. Nobody that I saw touched a single drop of alcohol. There were no stereotypical Hunter S. Thompson binges here, to my great surprise.

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“You have to have really good guys, really smart people, really capable human beings,” AJ Jones tells me. “I know what my job is. My job is to help out as much as I can, give feedback, drive to the best of my abilities. Basically whatever they tell me, if they want me to go and drive the thing in reverse for a hundred miles and shake the wheel as hard as I can, then that’s what my job is for the day.”

Throughout the week, I meshed with a team in full business mode. Merely hoping for a victory that would make Jones the first person ever to win the Dakar Rally and Baja 1000, two of the world’s most formidable off-road endurance races, in the very same year requires serious cojones. Prepping to do so requires serious commitment of time, manpower, and capital. Actually doing so, as it turned out, would require a serious amount of luck too.

Race mechanic drill hole into dash of a UTV.
Michael Teo Van Runkle

The Importance of Tire Balls

Throughout the week, at all hours of the day, we regularly schlepped up the hill to the Ampudio family’s shop. Carved out of a residential home in an upscale Ensenada neighborhood, the shop housed a few Can-Am Mavericks in various stages of disassembly, plus homebuilt pre-runners and a few trophy trucks—the biggest and baddest class at Baja that typically employ 1,000-plus-horsepower engines, cartoonish suspension setups, and massive 40-inch tires.

Jones and Ampudio stand about the same height, but each preferred the Can-Am’s seat set at slightly different angles. No problem. Meet in the middle. Ampudio also wanted a GPS display mounted centrally on the dash, in addition to the co-driver’s. Again, not a problem, as Gugelman quickly drilled a few holes and installed the smaller digital screen. But the Ampudios also insisted, based on local knowledge of this year’s course, that racing in Baja required the use of tire balls.

The Joneses disagreed. Tire balls are essentially silicon balloons inflated with enough air to keep a tire firm enough to keep running after a puncture. That potential pro is balanced against the cons of an increased rotational mass resulting in decreased acceleration, a lower top-end speed, and reduced maneuverability in tighter sections. With 30 spare tires on hand—count ‘em, that’s a full 30 spares hauled down from the USA—the two camps eventually agreed to prep Ampudio’s tires with tire balls and then swap out all of the Can-Am’s tires and spare at each driver change. The decision sounded like a lot of wasted time to me, as I loitered around each home base, but what did I know?

Ampudio knew the terrain and he also knew the town of Ensenada, one night taking us to a gas station taco stand where I ate, without a doubt, four of the greatest carne asada tacos of my life. So maybe we should trust him on the whole tire ball thing, I thought, dousing another taco in salsa and cramming it down. But I also pondered the effects of additional unsprung mass on a UTV’s driving dynamics at full-gas. Maybe not…

Post-tacos, rather than retiring for a nap at 10:30 p.m., Jones and Gugelman zipped into race suits with down jackets layered on top against the low-40-degree weather, strapped into HANS devices and helmets, and took the Can-Am out for a nighttime test run of the new, absurdly bright light bar. I rode behind with Naughton and Alves in a Ford F-150 Raptor just in case, but the team mostly wanted to get the CVT belt up to temp and make sure a new alternator installed to boost output for the lights didn’t cause any additional heat soak. Jones and Gugelman came back happy with the light bar, stoked that the CVT belt stayed within spec, and concerned that Ampudio’s secondary screen might blind them over long hours in near darkness. Luckily, a couple of tinting films easily fixed the issue.

Race mechanic checking tire pressure of an off-road UTV with a flashlight at night in the desert.
Michael Teo Van Runkle

Into Town For A Not-Quite-Laissez-Faire Tech Inpection

Midday on Wednesday, we brought the Can-Am into downtown Ensenada for tech inspection, also known as contingency. I picked up media credentials for race day and jealously ogled a vendor serving margaritas off a cart as the team grabbed wrist bands, a few comms devices, and waited in line for a quick once-over.

Compared to a bone-stock Can-Am Maverick X3, the South Racing race car looks a bit stripped down on the interior, with buckets and harnesses, a plain dash with simply labeled switchgear, and air hoses for helmets and intake. Mechanically, the cart uses much of the same suspension components, a larger fuel cell, and Tensor tires. The upgraded alternator did require removing the parking gear, so the driver needs to either keep a foot on the brake or shut down ignition when stopped—a peculiar tradeoff but as Naughton repeatedly explained to remedy my ignorance, Baja presents a different challenge than most races.

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“With the sports I worked in previously,” he said in a gentle Irish brogue, “performance is extremely important. You’re trying to find hundreds of seconds. Tenths of seconds over a lap time, over a kilometer, or a stage, which is a couple of kilometers. But working in this category of side-by-sides, this general sport, first you have to finish. So you’re really working on the reliability of the cars first. And then when you have the reliability, you try and make more performance while keeping the reliability.”

Naughton points to a bunch of spots where he might add little Gurney flaps all over the body to improve top-end aerodynamics and the turbocharged Can-Am’s fuel consumption rates, estimated as low as two or three miles per gallon. But with little time to design, much less fabricate, any such contrivances, he let the dream fade. And at contingency, after a check of the roll cage, safety harnesses, fire extinguisher, and GPS tracking device, the Can-Am only needed better number stickers more clearly visible on the front. Not bad—but these are the pros, remember.

Off-road drivers and boss sitting around a map plotting a strategy.
Michael Teo Van Runkle

Not So Much Conquering, More Like Surviving, Baja

The two Joneses cut their teeth racing trophy trucks at Baja, and AJ actually won the Baja 1000 outright in a trophy truck before make the switch to racing side-by-sides. If that seems a step down the ladder, guess again. Trophy trucks are the bastion of wealthy enthusiasts and their toys, but factory support and sponsorship from the likes of Can-Am and South Racing make AJ’s dreams of a racing career possible.

That dream would take a big step up, the Joneses and everyone on hand knew, with a decisive win at Baja to match the Dakar Rally earlier in the year. And just like every other racing driver on the planet, AJ Jones believes in his own skill.

“We had a really good year in 2021,” he said, “where I won in Spain, which is those WRC style roads, and won in Kazakhstan, which is like the desert. And then I won Abu Dhabi, which is the dunes. Those are the three major terrains of off-road racing and I won a race at all three of ’em against really good guys last year.”

I asked whether he preferred the more technical terrain of Baja versus the open dunes, or even rally stages in Europe. Baja, it turns out, isn’t so much of the high-speed roostertails that make up Can-Am and Polaris advertisements.

“It’s not just full blast, 120 miles per hour down whoops looking badass like how all the videos are,” Jones explained. “The videos are sick, but I mean, where you can’t get the cameras up in there, there’s a reason you can’t get the cameras up in there. ‘Cuz it’s gnarly, with how often the cars break because of the terrain and what you’re putting the car through, you have to figure out where the fine line is. You still want to push and go fast, but if you grenade the car, then you know you’re done.”

Gugelman helps to balance the need for speed with the need for man and machine to actually survive the race. And when the inevitable does happen, he also has to hop out into the dirt and swap out flats or suspension components, as needed.

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“I would say I’m 50 percent of his vision,” Gugelman told me. “Telling what’s going to happen and then he can understand and see if he goes faster or not. So basically, the co-driver, besides the notes and everything, I’m responsible for it all. I mean, I know a lot of mechanical issues, so I do all the mechanics if any problems or anything happens.”

“I’m also like the psychologist,” he laughed. “Sometimes the driver gets too excited because he sees some dust, he’s catching another guy. So maybe it’s like two miles away and yeah, they get really excited. You gotta say, ‘Calm down, easy pace for overtaking.’ Sometimes it’s hard. It’s for all the drivers, not just AJ. We gotta be like a psychologist and say, ‘Hey, calm down. Breathe.’”

Red Ford truck with tires and other tools in and around the bed in the desert sun.
Michael Teo Van Runkle

Race Day Approaches

Behind the wheel of a side-by-side, the urge to push harder and faster than possible can easily outpace sanity, for amateurs just as much as pros like AJ Jones (just ask me how I know). But as the week wore on and race day approached, an undeniable sense of urgency took over the South Racing camp. Sentences shrunk, voices lowered, what had been friendly jokes took on a more biting tone, then stopped altogether. Time to get to work.

On a final asphalt shakedown run of the Can-Am, Jones rounded a corner ahead of the Raptor and leaned over up onto only three wheels. At a stoplight—much like the Joneses’ home state of Arizona, the law in Ensenada doesn’t mind UTVs on the street—he launched hard enough to chirp the rear tires. But hey, with race fuel in the tank, everyone succumbs to that old urge. Plus, he needed to know ahead of the start just how fast engine mapping revised for race fuel might make the Can-Am.

Ensenada’s population visibly was swelling—all Ford Raptors and Ram TRXs and custom-built pre-runners and homemade sand rails in addition to the full-race trophy trucks blasting around without any semblance of mufflers or catalytic converters. Locals were swarming to the city hoping to make a buck off the racers, and not always honestly, as taco shops filled up, gas stations served Jerry cans as often as vehicles, and traffic steadily worsened. Ampudio stopped by the South Racing house to check out his seat position, lobby for more tire balls, and go over the race plan, now taped to the wall for all to see, and memorize fueling stops, driver changes, parts depots, and potential snags in the rotation.

Duarte checked each and every socket in two full tool kits. Naughton revised his fuel-consumption spreadsheet. Gugelman clicks around the functions of his co-driver GPS screen, a sailboat chart plotter in a previous life. Jesse Jones and Abraham loaded tires, sketched then revised chase truck routes, and packed coolers of food and beverages. AJ Jones and I wandered around the buzzing garage, loitering, shooting the shit, checking our phones—the old Steve McQueen quote about waiting came to mind at least a thousand times.

Two desert race car drivers in full gear with serious expressions before an off-road race.
Michael Teo Van Runkle

Finally, The Real Deal

By Friday morning, the anticipation bubbled over into genuine frustration more than once. I woke up at 6 a.m. and loaded a backpack full of snacks and warm gear, checked my camera and phone batteries over and over, and made sure to eat a big breakfast. The team mustered up around 9ish, everyone quiet and wary. We loaded the spare Can-Am onto a trailer, the race car already with Ampudio at the start line, then packed two Raptors plus a Power Stroke F-350 full of gear and headed out of town.

Or, more accurately, headed into traffic. In the melee leading up to Baja, Ensenada’s roads can handle the assemblage of team trucks supporting just shy of 300 race car entries just fine, but on race day, everyone needs to go the same direction and bottlenecks pile up immediately.

In fact, for many teams, the race was already well underway. Motorcycles start first around 3 a.m., hoping to get enough of a lead on the trophy trucks to finish before getting passed in plumes of dust at triple-digit speeds—potentially in the dark of night. After the unlimited trophy trucks, spec trophy trucks, and custom jobs, the UTVs left the starting line at 30-second intervals starting around noonish. By then, we waited three Fords deep in a row behind a line of similarly packed and prepped chase teams, anxious to get through a military checkpoint and past the crossover route where the race course ran over asphalt for a few hundred yards.

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I’m riding with Abraham and Alves, hoping to witness as much of the action as possible as they cover the most ground of any of our chase trucks. Jesse Jones makes the first fuel stop to give Ampudio a “splash” of 10 gallons at race mile 75, which should get him through to the driver change, but we hustle along to mile 160 with another dump can and spare parts just in case. Now on the gulf coast side of Baja, having turned about 50 miles north after hitting the water, we hunker down to wait on the side of the rutted path amid a cluster of vehicles.

The trophy trucks make sounds unlike anything I’d ever heard before, somewhere between a deep V8 rumble and the whooping of an electric Porsche as suspension travel keeps the tube-frame chassis and enormous knobby tires all but floating over the dirt, sand, and rock. I kept an eye out for UTVs among the steady flow of racers flying by, some stopping for fuel or to swap on a fresh tire, but most hauling by as fast as possible. Soon we receive word that passenger cars at the highway crossover have caused a logjam, with only another Can-Am driven by Austin Weiland having snuck through ahead of the pack. Hurry up and wait. Finally, Ampudio and his co-driver Alberto Ruiz tear through at full blast, thumbs up, no fuel needed, third on the road a fifth of the way into the race after starting way back in 25th place. Things are looking good.

Race car mechanics surround a UTV during a pit stop in a desert race.
Michael Teo Van Runkle

We wait for a few more minutes, logging time splits as the rest of the pack filters through, then climb back into the Raptor and hustle down to meet up with the Joneses, Gugelman, and Duarte at mile 225 for the first driver change. A quick stop at the military checkpoint where a balaclava’d and M16’d soldier waves us through. Then we mash it to the turnout—only to find another, in polite terms, complete cluster. Where can we help?

After counting the power line poles from pavement and following the path of helicopters pacing trophy trucks, we arrive just in time to catch Ampudio and Ruiz rolling into the stop. AJ Jones and Gugelman, already dressed in fire retardant race suits and insulated with additional windbreaker layers against the oncoming night, climb into the Can-Am. Duarte and Alves swap on four fresh tires and a new spare—no tire balls—torquing lug nuts and any bolts they can find down to spec double-time, just in case. Jesse Jones dumps in another can of fuel and they’re off at 5:25 p.m.

The whole pit stop took maybe four minutes. That’s an eternity to my eyes, or anyone who watches Formula 1. Then again, when taking first means first finishing, getting the cars and drivers perfectly prepped comes at the tradeoff of a ticking clock. And rarely does Baja come down to tenths or hundredths of seconds, more like full minutes, tens of minutes, hours even. I felt fresh, awake, hydrated, and, most surprisingly, not even too hungry given that we’d been on the road for seven-plus hours already.

The back of a pickup truck bed with gas cans and tools beside a table of supplies at night in the desert with glowing lights.
Michael Teo Van Runkle

Joining The Race

But now we’re in the race, too, worried about hitting traffic as the sun sets on San Felipe down the Gulf of California coast. If we get stuck on the road, Jones in the Can-Am can veritably fly over smoother, sandy stretches and potentially beat us to mile 275, where he’ll definitely need another splash given the long and treacherous loop coming up. Fog descends with the darkness and traffic on Highway 5 slows to a crawl. Not great, but it’s not fog—actually, we’re in a dust cloud kicked up by all the racers blasting by only a few hundred yards to our right. Then they’re right at our side, blinding us entirely.

A few miles of held breath later and the race course veers back inland. So Alves hits the gas and we sprint down to our designated stop with a few minutes to spare. Jones and Gugelman arriving having given up a position, now fourth on the road after judging that the Can-Am and tires can only handle so much pace over the hard whoops near San Felipe. Never to worry, Abraham tells me in his cheerful South African accent, we’ll make it up in the canyons and lakebeds. As the headlights and illuminated truck beds pierce the enveloping darkness, I chug a Coca-Cola (glass bottle, this being Mexico) and chow down on a few bites of a Kind bar before we turn northward once more to prep for another fuel dump.

This time, the parade of chase trucks turns off the tarmac, up into the dirt to meet the race course. We reach the designated meet-up at race mile 360 and wait, Abraham refreshing the 2022 Baja 1000 app via Starlink repeatedly, worried that Jones and Gugelman looked stopped at mile 310. We can’t connect on the radio and the satellite walkie-talkie also seems useless. Maybe it’s a tracking issue. Maybe not.

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Other UTVs fly by at race pace, some stopping for tires and fuel. Jones and Gugelman should be here by now, so we face a quandary: Retrace to check on their status or wait in the hopes that they show up. If we go back and they pass mile 360 without taking on at least 10 more gallons of fuel, they won’t have enough range until the next driver swap and the race could be over. But if they’re broken down and can’t fix the Can-Am with the parts and tools on hand, the race could be over.

Jesse Jones, meanwhile, has taken the spare Can-Am out around the backside of the nearest ridge, so he can occasionally reach Abraham on the satellite walkie-talkie. He has some spare parts but no fuel. Alves and Abraham decide we need to backtrack, but we also cannot drive against the flow on the race course. As we head back to paved roads, Jesse Jones sends up a last-ditch prayer, radioing a weatherman plane that might be able to reach AJ and Gustavo wherever they are.

Desert racer driving across the desert at night in a blurred image.
Michael Teo Van Runkle

Prayers Do Get Answered, But Never Exactly How You Want Them

Sometimes at Baja, your prayers get answered. Just not with the best of news: Jones and Gugelman are stopped, broken down with a suspension and brake problem, or so we hear in a game of telephone. Back moving in 10 minutes or so, we think. Alves flips us around and head back to mile 360, where we can hunker down for a long wait next to a mixed line of locals and chase teams huddled around smoldering fire pits, Tecates flowing, and raucous voices rippling across the sand. Attitudes towards the race on the peninsula vary from welcoming to taking advantage of the cash influx or, often, outright disgust at the unnecessary noise and environmental destruction.

By the time Jones and Gugelman pull up, it’s past 9 o’clock and the stars shine brightly in the pitch-black sky if I look away from the mass of humanity for long enough. The temperature steadily drops down into the 40s, wind picking up and tearing at faces. I put on a beanie and another layer beneath my jacket, but my eyes start to blur in the contrasting light of parked trucks and racers passing in a blaze of fiery streaks. Finally, one stops.

The Can-Am takes on a 10-gallon dump can, a new tire, and a group of locals even help toss on a new spare. Abraham spies a totally bent radius arm below the rear left axle but thinks it’ll hold til the driver change in another 115 miles. Every voice bears the strain of knowing the long breakdown probably put a win out of reach. Time splits go right out the window. But the reassuring thought that the same might happen to plenty of other teams keeps our internal flames burning. Time to peel out and regroup.

Race car mechanics surround a UTV during a pit stop at night in a desert race.
Michael Teo Van Runkle

Getting A Little Lost In Baja

All is not lost, Alves and Abraham tell themselves and, to an extent, me in the backseat. But only a few miles later, as we trailblaze a new path in the sand to meet up with asphalt near San Felipe International Airport, AJ Jones comes over the radio to announce another flat. They’re too far past us to turn around and can continue with the spare the locals mounted, but he’ll need to cut pace and drive carefully for the next hard stint to avoid another flat. Do what you gotta do but also the best you can, since by now we’ve fallen well behind the race leaders.

Alves pushes the Raptor through dry washes and up over berms, occasionally clipping bushes and small trees hoping to find a clear path to pavement. We can see the lights of town ahead but with no tracks to follow, any wrong turn might cause a potentially serious time suck. This isn’t Dakar, where the dunes stretch on uninterrupted. We might hit a riverbank too deep to descend in a Raptor without airing down or risking a highcenter. After ages, Alves turns right to run along a tall fence, then we hit another fence at a right angle. Catastrophe, until the magic of Baja delivers a gate, unlocked and wide enough to grant access despite the Raptor’s exaggerated fender flares. Five minutes later and we’re back cruising at 80 miles an hour.

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Then the Raptor needs gas. We stop quickly to fill up at a Chevron, then blast back up through San Felipe, back through the military checkpoint for a third time, back west on Highway 3 headed for the next driver change. I pass out for about 20 minutes in the backseat as the clock rounds midnight; Alves has been driving for the better part of 14 hours but I think he actually enjoyed the off-roading bit.

Race car mechanics service a UTV during a pit stop at night in a desert race.
Michael Teo Van Runkle

Knocking On the Glass

At mile 475, Naughton preps the team to fix the Can-Am’s bent radius arm, replace the CVT belt as a preventative measure, and swap on four new tires with tire balls. Jones and Gugelman blast into the pit at full bore, slamming the cart to a stop and climbing out with alacrity. Ampudio and Ruiz hop in, Alves and Duarte wrenching around the rear left axle while Ampudio’s team handles the fuel and tire swaps. At the last moment, someone remembers to toss on a spare tire on with tire balls and Gugelman even hollers that the impact wrench needs a new battery. Good catch. The team needs every base covered to potentially make up a handful of places. The race is halfway done.

Jones and Gugelman hop into a warmed truck for a nap as we caravan down the road towards Lazaro Cardenas in Valle La Trinidad for the next driver swap. After a team taco stop, everyone tries to get some shuteye around 4 a.m. I’ve been awake for 22 hours other than a catnap. Others haven’t slept a wink. Suddenly all the gear packed into the backseat of a Ford Raptor looks comfortable and I nod off.

Knock, knock. Wake up! An Ampudio teammember stands outside the Raptor with urgency. The trailing arm tore off, he tells us, at mile 610. Or maybe it’s 580. Abraham pulls up the race map, fingering along to the absolutely farthest point on the course from all three of our Fords parked in a row.

South Racing thoroughly packs spare radius arms, control arms, belts, and tools for just about any job a Can-Am might need throughout a race. Just about the only thing that won’t fit? A trailing arm, of course—best laid plans and everything. But hold on, Abraham remembers, any stock Can-Am Maverick trailing arm will work. Do the Ampudios know anyone near mile 600 who might be able to sell a trailing arm before dawn on a Saturday morning? Yeah, that’s a no.

Jesse Jones proposes driving on the race course, but apparently a tight canyon means the Raptor will present too much danger to any actual racers he might encounter. Otherwise, getting to Ampudio and Ruiz will require at least a four-hour drive on public roads. As a hedge, Abraham sends Jesse Jones on that fool’s errand. It’s 41 degrees out, darker than dark, and the Can-Am is probably toast anyway, but this is no time to quit.

Half an hour later, we get word over the radio that the Ampudios managed to find a proper Can-Am Maverick X3 trailing arm pretty close to mile 600. Unbelievable, to say the least—and the race is back on. As the sky begins to brighten around 6 a.m., South Racing preps for the final driver change, plus another potential trailing arm swap, all tires and the spare—at least check the work completed out in the pitch black. The sun rises and I risk a sip of a pineapple-coconut breakfast yogurt concoction, plus another glass bottle of Coca-Cola. Hot coffee sounds a whole lot better, but in Baja, I take what I can get.

A racing UTV sits by the roadside in the desert.
Michael Teo Van Runkle

On The Last Leg

Jesse Jones arrives back at Lazaro Cardenas, race mile 680, just before Ampudio and Ruiz pull up in the Can-Am. By 8:50 a.m., AJ Jones and Gugelman tear back out onto the course in the full light of morning. As they go, the right rear tire looks out of whack to my eye, way too much negative camber, but I keep quiet. At this point, the goal is to survive the Baja 1000, a win now almost completely out of reach with about 150 miles to go and the leading UTV teams nearing the finish.

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The course back into Ensenada should be less technical than the previous 680 miles, plus South Racing had planned for Jones and Gugelman to run this portion mostly in the dark. AJ knows to let off the torrid pace, that with so many delays, the name of the game is smooth sailing from here on. He swings out onto the public road at mile 700 and Jesse Jones calls out that the right rear tire looks off. I should have said something, should have broached my pact of journalistic noninterference. Anyway, Duarte climbs underneath to tighten up a loose radius arm quickly and gets the Can-Am roaring along once more.

Traffic crops up as we drop down towards Ensenada once more, almost exactly 24 hours since leaving. Jones and Gugelman cross the real finish line outside of town with a total elapsed time of 25 hours, 56 minutes, and 42 seconds—good for 10th place, about four hours and 35 minutes behind Pro UTV Forced Induction class winners Austin Weilan and Dylan Schmoke (who also raced a Can-Am). At the later, unofficial photo finish, Ampudio and his family bring out a few sixers of Papas & Beer branded beverages, everyone smiling and fist-bumping, mostly platitudes and plenty of wry wit but not a single mention of tire balls despite, by my count, at least seven flats. Drivers and co-drivers, mechanics and race engineers, photographers and journalists, exhausted one and all.

Two desert race car drivers laugh after a grueling race.
Michael Teo Van Runkle

South Racing heads to the 2023 Dakar Rally next but first, the team needs to hit Dubai for a photo opportunity. Just a little holiday called Thanksgiving in the meantime, then business takes over once more. The Joneses want to get home to Arizona and everyone else needs to fly out of San Diego the next day, so the team packs up the Can-Ams, loads up the trailers, crams piles of gear into the trucks, and AJ Jones himself drives me up through Tijuana and back across the border. I get home to Los Angeles past 11 p.m., running on my last legs after 41 hours of chasing what I now know as the most grueling off-road race on the planet.

Nobody but the racers themselves truly understands the brutal nature of competing in a Baja 1000. Not the spectators, who hope to catch the start or finish and maybe a few snapshots where the course comes nearest to public roads. Not the locals, who flock to Ensenada hoping to make a buck or huddle around smoldering campfires in the cold night hoping to witness a few moments of fun over some 20-odd hours of action. Not even the race teams, who sprint around the desolate peninsula trying to perfectly time refueling dumps with driver swaps, breakdowns, and mechanical support. In reality, so much of the off-road racing happens so far off the beaten path that nobody can hope to comprehend the arduous task that each Baja race entails.

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I caught up with AJ Jones a couple of days later before he hopped on a plane to Dubai, trying to fit his experience into my own eyewitness perspective. He admitted that driving a UTV in the Baja 1000 beat him up worse than any of his previous races.

“I thought I had a pretty good idea of what to expect going into it and I was pretty blown away,” he admitted. “We were thinking that my first San Felipe loop was gonna take around four and a half hours and it ended up taking about eight and a half. It’s not easy at all. It’s hard on the body, it’s hard on the mind. It takes a really long time. “

“You gotta be tough to race this kind of stuff. You gotta be tough to do Dakar, you gotta be tough to race a Baja 1000. That’s a huge part of our team and that’s a huge part of, I think, kind of who I am too.”

“When everything goes wrong and you still keep on pushing through,” he said. “You show yourself how tough you can be, mentally and physically, and then it feels good. Even if everything goes wrong, at least you got that out of it. And at least you can kind of feel fulfilled within yourself and you have something to look forward to the next year.”

Everyone who loves off-road racing, or even just off-roading, should witness the spectacle of the Baja 1000 at least once. Do it cheap on a loop year by finding a few good pit stops to jump around between. Or better yet, plan to camp along the beach for a couple of nights on a year the course makes the full peninsula run.

I arrived home thoroughly exhausted and absolutely hooked on off-road racing like never before. This absolutely unnecessary war of attrition reveals something that can often seem absent from the human spirit today: explorers and pioneers, all race gas and dusty lungers, testing themselves and their machines in the hardest environment they know. It’s less about conquering the rugged terrain than learning how to work through one of the most extreme events on the planet. And deep in the thick of it, even the best of the best quickly find out just how much they still don’t know.

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Author: Michael Teo Van Runkle

The Leanest and Fattiest Beef Cuts for the Best Steak

There are few things better than a perfectly cooked slab of juicy steak. The only thing that might come between a guy and his beef are the negative effects that red meat, in all its marbled-with-fat and butter-basted glory, has on your heart and your waistline. It’s no secret lean meats are better for you, but that doesn’t mean you have to ditch red meat altogether. You just need to know what the leanest and fattiest cuts of steak are.

Red meat is packed with protein, which is critical for muscle growth and recovery. It’s also high in iron and vitamin B-12, which boosts the immune system and keeps red blood cells healthy. But there’s a difference among cuts like top sirloin steak, top round roast, and rib eye steak.

So here’s a handy list of the best cuts of steak you don’t have to feel guilty for indulging in when the craving for meat hits—as well as the ones to bail on at the butcher shop.

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Cuts of Steak: The Leanest and Fattiest Options

Note: The American Heart Association recommends limiting lean meat, poultry and seafood consumption to six ounces per day. The USDA defines an extra-lean cut of beef as a 3.5-ounce serving (about 100 grams) that contains fewer than 5 grams total fat, 2 grams of which are saturated fat, and 95 milligrams of cholesterol. 

The Leanest Cuts of Beef

1. Sirloin Tip Side Steak

Taken from the sirloin tip or the top of the round. Very lean, but still holds flavor.

Nutrition Facts

  • Calories: 206
  • Fat: 5.4g
  • Saturated Fat: 2.06g
  • Protein: 39g

2. Top Round Steak

Cut from the hip (part of the round) and considered flavorful and more tender than other cuts from the round.

Nutrition Facts

  • Calories: 240
  • Fat: 7.6g
  • Saturated Fat: 3g
  • Protein: 36.9g

3. Eye of Round Steak

Similar to the cuts taken from the tenderloin, but tougher and less juicy.

Nutrition Facts

  • Calories: 276
  • Fat: 7g
  • Saturated Fat: 2.4g
  • Protein: 49.8g

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4. Bottom Round Steak

Taken from the outer part of the round, a well-exercised area of the animal. The meat tends to be tough and typically needs marinating.

Nutrition Facts

  • Calories: 300
  • Fat: 11g
  • Saturated Fat: 3.8
  • Protein: 47.2g

5. Top Sirloin

Has good flavor but can be tough, so typically needs marinating.

Nutrition Facts

  • Calories: 316
  • Fat: 10.6g
  • Saturated Fat: 4g
  • Protein: 51.6g

The Fattiest Cuts of Steak

1. Flap Steak

Very flavorful, but can be fibrous and chewy.

Nutrition Facts

  • Calories: 240
  • Fat: 12g
  • Saturated Fat: 3.8g
  • Protein: 33g

2. Filet Mignon (Chateaubriand or Tenderloin)

Tender and sought-after, it’s considered one of the best cuts of beef.

Nutrition Facts

  • Calories: 348
  • Fat: 16g
  • Saturated Fat: 6g
  • Protein: 48g

3. Porterhouse Steak

Very expensive and flavorful. Cut from the choice tenderloin.

Nutrition Facts

  • Calories: 346
  • Fat: 16.4g
  • Saturated Fat: 6.6g
  • Protein: 46.2g

4. Skirt Steak

Also known as a flank steak. Taken from the plate or chest of the cow, it’s known for its flavor over tenderness.

Nutrition Facts

  • Calories: 348
  • Fat: 17.2g
  • Saturated Fat: 6.6g
  • Protein: 45.4g

5. New York Strip Steak

Very tough cut of meat taken from the T-bone area.

Nutrition Facts

  • Calories: 360
  • Fat: 18g
  • Saturated Fat: 6g
  • Protein: 46g

6. T-Bone Steak

A cut from below the porterhouse. Its high fat content means that it stays tender while cooking.

Nutrition Facts

  • Calories: 376
  • Fat: 25.6g
  • Saturated Fat: 10.6g
  • Protein: 33g

7. Rib Eye Steak (Rib Roast, Prime Rib)

The crème de la crème of steaks. A very marbled cut, it’s flavorful and stays tender while cooking.

Nutrition Facts

  • Calories: 466
  • Fat: 37.6g
  • Saturated Fat: 15g
  • Protein: 30g

Nutritional facts provided by caloriecount.com. Based on a 2000-calorie diet. Nutrition information for a six-ounce serving.

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Author: Mike Simone

The Best Gear for Hiking and Snowshoeing This Winter

Sunlight casting through snow-covered tree limbs, clouds of breath billowing into cool, crisp air, and the peace and quiet of a wilderness in white makes wintertime on the trail a hiking experience no other season can rival—but only if you’re prepared to stay warm and dry. Keeping active on foot through the winter requires a few seasonal gear upgrades, but with the right equipment, it can be a great way to burn off steam around the holidays.

As a professional hiking guide with an insatiable penchant for rambling outdoors, I need to keep my hiking habit going despite the snowfall, so I spent the early season testing and amassing this winter hiking gear collection. These items will keep you comfortable while snowshoeing and hiking all the way until spring.

Here’s a rundown of the perfect head-to-toe winter hiking gear quiver to keep you on-trail through the snowy season.

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The Best Winter Hiking Gear of 2022-23

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1. TSL Symbioz Hyperflex Snowshoes

A pair of lightweight snowshoes is essential to staying on your feet outdoors through winter, and to keep motivated when the temps drop, it helps if they’re comfortable and user-friendly. The TSL Symbioz Hyperflex Adjust and Symbioz Hyperflex Instinct are two options that tick all the boxes: easy entry and exit, surefooted grip, and an ergonomic, adaptable base. Their flexible footplates bend to the contour of the ground and cradle the foot with a shock-absorbing system that gives each step a soft and natural feel. Underneath, the stainless steel teeth are distributed around the foot for grip in any snow or ice condition.

Both models utilize Boa ratcheting systems that wrap around the foot and quickly adjust to fit any sized shoe, but the key difference between the Symbioz Hyperflex and Hyperflex Instinct is in the bindings. Where the Hyperflex features a pre-adjustable ankle strap that permanently sets your instep in position, the Hyperflex Instinct utilizes a flexible binding system that adjusts to memorize your shoe size, and makes getting in and out of them ultra quick. I liked the Hyperflex for long hikes, and the Hyperflex Instinct for shorter outings and walking around town on snow days.

[TSL Symbioz Hyperflex Adjust: $310; backcountry.com]

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[TSL Symbioz Hyperflex Instinct: $330; amazon.com]

Get it

 

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Author: Michael Misselwitz

Getting Ripped Is Hard. Here’s How to Make It Easier.

Truth time: There are no shortcuts to getting a rock-hard body. There are, however, some smart ways for you to achieve your physique goals without wasting time or—worse—doing things that undercut your efforts. We talked with two experts to get their essential fitness tips, and you can use their insight to train smarter and see results.

Here, Colette Nelson, professional bodybuilder, personal trainer and coach, and registered dietician, and Doug Miller, professional bodybuilder and co-author of Biology for Bodybuilders, share their fitness tips for sculpting a competition-worthy physique.

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14 Expert-Approved Fitness Tips to Help You Get Ripped

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1. Track Your Food Intake

First, a bit of a surprise: You don’t necessarily need to put in more gym time.

“Working out is really only 15 percent of the equation,” says Nelson. Instead, you’ll be spending more time at the grocery store and in the kitchen. “The diet is 85 percent.”

Miller suggests tracking what you eat to start with, so you can then look at how to tinker with it. Focus on macros first, and then move forward from there.

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2. Focus on Fiber

Major chiseling means seriously changing up your carb intake. Nelson recommends focusing on legumes, vegetables, and berries, especially on the days you’re not working out.

“Many studies have found that people experience increased satiety, lower insulin levels, and greater weight-loss success on a low-carb/high-fiber dieting approach,” she says.

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3. Don’t Skip Carbs Entirely

No carbs in your diet at all means you’ll have no ready energy. Therefore, increase carbs slightly on hard workout days.

“The less impactful carbs that are found in sweet potatoes may be eaten one to two times per week and post-workout,” Nelson says.

Limit it to a small portion, though—half a sweet potato or a half-cup of quinoa.

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Author: Amy Roberts, C.P.T.

Amazon Winter Fashion Faves

 Sharing some of my favorite Amazon winter fashion faves!

Hello hello! Happy Thursday! I hope you’re having a great week so far. I have a podcast interview, getting in a legs workout, and meeting up with our Bible group for lunch. I typically work through the weekend – it gives me a chance to get ahead for the week and be present for the girls when they’re home from school- so I’ve made Thursday more of a low-key day. I’ve definitely been loving a bit of a down day during the week!

For today’s post, I wanted to share some Amazon winter fashion faves. Amazon has been CRUSHING the game lately. When they invited me to join the Fashion Influencer program, I hadn’t purchased much from their clothing department (but have ordered many things from probably every other department lol). I’ve been quickly impressed by the prices and the quality. I also feel like it’s the perfect option for more trendy choices, since I don’t like to spend a lot when it comes to trends. I’d rather invest in the classics, knowing I’ll wear them for years (like jeans, shoes, classic tops, handbags, etc), but sprinkle in a couple of trendier pieces that are still good quality.

I wanted to share some of the things I’ve ordered and loved recently, and also some of the cute options I’ve seen!

Amazon Winter Fashion Faves

Things I’ve bought recently and love:

This pink collared sweater

I’m wearing this sweater while I write this post! The collar gives it a little something extra and it’s cute with jeans and my Spanx faux leather leggings.

This neutral oversized blazer

I’d been looking for a neutral oversized blazer, but didn’t want to spend a ton. This one is perfect. It’s well-made, and looks cute with jeans and a tank, or with a black dress and Chelsea boots.

This sweater and skirt set

Every time I wear this set, I get so many compliments on it and people ask me where they can buy it. It’s SO cute and flattering, plus they have different colors.

This bodysuit

I’d been wanting a black classic bodysuit and love the square neck of this one. They have a lot of colors available in this one, too!

This slip dress in green

I wore this slip dress for our family pictures with a leather jacket. I love that you can dress it up with heels, or dress it down with boots and a sweater layered over it. You can also wear an off-shoulder sweater with it and low-top sneakers. It’s so versatile, and the perfect amount of festive flair for the holiday season.

This sweater dress

This sweater dress looks and feels way more expensive than it is. I’ve been wearing it a lot with booties and Chelsea boots. They have tons of colors!

Great deals and things I have my eye on:

This mock neck pullover

Faux leather wide-leg pants

This ruched velvet cocktail dress

Oversized zip pullover

This sweater

This two-piece lounge outfit

Oversized tunic sweater

Slit leg skinny pants

This green dress is gorgeous for a holiday party

This belted long-sleeve dress 

Do you ever shop Amazon fashion? I love that they have so many good brands, like all of my fave Shopbop brands.

What’s the last clothing item you purchased that you wear all the time?

Mine are definitely these jeans (size down) and the newest Golden Goose shoes I picked up in Vegas.

Have a lovely day and I’ll see ya tomorrow with Friday Faves!
xo

Gina

The post Amazon Winter Fashion Faves appeared first on The Fitnessista.

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Author: Fitnessista

Get Stronger Abs: 6 Moves You’ve Never Tried

Endlessly doing leg raises, basic planks, and oblique crunches can become redundant if you’re looking for a program that really attacks your abs. It’s easy to fall into the habit of doing abs exercises that are convenient and easy—but we all know that’s the ticket to plateau central.

Because of this, it’s important to change the game and provide an added challenge for the abdominals. These six moves do just that.

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Author: Lee Boyce

5 Essential Exercises for Bigger Arms

You’ve done about a thousand curls in the past week and the same number of triceps extensions, yet your arms are still not growing. The fact is, you can’t get real muscle growth by doing the same arm exercises over and over. There needs to be variety in your workouts if you want to reach a new level.

The arm exercises below will help you challenge your arms and make them bigger. These moves allow you to spend your energy more efficiently: You’ll centralize your biceps and triceps and maximize the gains you get out of each motion. Read on for instructions on how to execute each exercise effectively.

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Author: DWhite

The Best GPS Watches for Running, Cycling, Swimming, and More

GPS watches are a crucial tool for any runner, cyclist, or swimmer looking to track their pace, time, distance, and calories burned—particularly if you want to avoid lugging your phone around. Of course, not all GPS-equipped watches are created equal. The market is packed with tickers of all descriptions and prices, to the point that picking the right one for your unique needs and budget can make your head spin. The good news is that we’ve got you covered.

Below, we’ve rounded up our favorite models, including the latest from top brands like Garmin, Suunto, and more, to suit every athlete and budget.

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The Best GPS Watches of 2022

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Author: Tom Taylor and Amelia Arvesen

The Best Denim Jackets for Men

When it comes to timeless outerwear, denim jackets are virtually invincible. From rugged ranchers to urban style influencers, it’s an integral staple in any man’s wardrobe. Even if you find yourself somewhere in between those two extremes (as most of us probably are), there’s a denim jacket out there waiting to be adopted into your closet this season.

If there’s one jacket that started it all, it’s the Levi Strauss Type 1. Introduced in the early 20th century, this classic hard-wearing garment served as part of the unofficial uniform of the American working man for decades. And like other style staples with utilitarian origins, the denim jacket soon infiltrated the fashion universe. Reinvented by menswear designers the world over, today’s jean jacket comes in a dizzying array of denim variations, washes, and cuts, all accented with unique details like intricate embroidery, warm sherpa linings, and even decorative patches.

Below, we’ve compiled our favorite denim jackets available now. Pick one up and enjoy it for years to come—just like the original, each one is guaranteed to get better with age.

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The Best Denim Jackets for Men 2022-23

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Author: Paul Jebara

Lamborghini CTO Rouven Mohr on Creating the Huracán Sterrato

Lamborghini aimed to take center stage at Art Basel Miami Beach this year by unveiling a new off-roading version of the angular Huracán supercar, dubbed the Lamborghini Huracán Sterrato. Equipped with lifted suspension, fender flares, and knobby tires, the Sterrato marks the final iteration of Lambo’s quintessential naturally aspirated V10 engine before forthcoming generations introduce hybrid and full electric powertrains. A rally-ready variant of the low-slung, angular Huracán arrives straight out of left field—other than supposed “leaks” and teasers ahead of the official debut—so ahead of the debut, I spoke with CTO Rouven Mohr about making such a big departure from Lamborghini’s traditional recipes.

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Perhaps unsurprisingly, Mohr reveres the glory days of rally racing and even owns a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution done up with mud flaps and the works. Now in his second stint at Lamborghini, Mohr’s involvement with the Sterrato’s evolution began over five years ago as the earliest seeds of the project first sprouted.

“I remember pretty well the event where the idea was born,” he told Men’s Journal. “It was August or September 2017, when we were testing the Urus. We built close to the track of Vallelunga this small off-road, tiny track that basically was not there when we started.”

After a day spent testing the Urus SUV on that dirt circuit next, Mohr and his boss at the time, Maurizio Reggiani, experienced a lightbulb moment while sitting at a pizzeria.

“Everyone was so in love with this driving experience,” Mohr told me, “And we said, ‘Ah, unfortunately 99 percent of the customers will never use the Urus like this.’ Then we were thinking about the good old times, the rally times, and then I don’t know who, but one of us said it would be even cooler to drive this kind of thing with one of our super sports cars.”

But the chances of actually bringing such a fever dream to reality seemed quite remote—until Mohr showed a bit of initiative.

“At the beginning, not everyone was sure if this made sense or not,” he said. “I was looking for an old Huracán because we had a lot of cars that we had finishing the durability tests, so more or less they were close to being scrapped. I took one and together with my team, we built the demo car. Then we tested the car, and everyone was jumping out with a big, big smile on their face. So this was the starting point.”

Priorities shifted at Lamborghini quickly after the Urus SUV debuted to smashing sales success. Mohr ended up leaving for a few years at Audi before returning to Sant’Agata Bolognese in January 2022. At the time, new CEO Stephan Winkelmann brought up the off-roading Huracán as an eminently marketable project and Mohr jumped at the opportunity to bring his dreams to life.

Muted green super car back wheel with off-roading components on a dusty background.
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Everything Started with the Suspension

Transforming a track scalpel like the Huracán into an aggressive lifted off-roader required a ton of revisions to the original car. The Sterrato chassis allows for 34 millimeters more of ground clearance, as well as more suspension travel at all four corners.

“It’s important to understand the mission of the car,” he explained. “Everything started with the suspension. Basically, it’s not really an off-roader. I mean, for sure, you can drive off-road, but it’s more. I call it ‘off-track’ because the main mission of the car was to transfer the thrill and the driving emotions that you have with a super sports car like STO to low-grip conditions where you can drift and where you can better play with the car.”

I asked if the suspension modifications include adjustable ride heights, as in the “base” Urus and the new Urus S—and in contrast to the more traditional steel springs of the Urus Performante.

“No, it’s not adjustable,” Mohr replied, before joking, “We don’t want to build a kind of lame duck that at the end of the day is able to do the Rubicon Trail. I mean, it’s unrealistic.”

The Huracán already employs double-wishbone suspension that allows for significant suspension travel without creating excessive camber issues, so new dampers and springs make up most of the changes to an already very taut chassis.

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“We are lucky because the basic car is already, let me say, stiffness-oriented,” Mohr said. “If you want to go sideways, if you want to really slide through the corners, this desire for driving behavior defined the ride height. If you go too too high, you have to make too many discounts because then you have a lot of body rolling, or you need stiffer springs to avoid this because the center of gravity is higher.”

“In this car, we did exactly the opposite of what we usually do in our super sports cars,” he said. “Less stiffness of the springs, less damper force, more movement of the car.”

The control arms themselves required minor modifications for tire clearance and damper connection angles, which allowed Lamborghini to fit 19-inch wheels shod in higher-profile Bridgestone Dueler AT002 tires measuring 235mm up front and 285mm in the rear. A set of fender flares allow for a wider stance, and the track width stretched by 30mm and 34mm, respectively. But those specs actually represent a step back from the original demo car that Mohr built years prior.

“Originally, the tire diameter was even higher, but the consequence of this was that the front axle had to be moved a lot to the front to ensure the turning circle and also to fit the tire in the wheelhouse,” he explained. “Aesthetically, it was a little bit strange if you looked on the side. It was a nice car, but it was not so nice like the production car. Therefore, we took the compromise in the standard production car that the wheelbase is still a little bit higher, but only few millimeters because the tire diameter is a little bit smaller again.”

Balancing aesthetics with performance, both on-road and in the slippery stuff, required plenty of fiddling. Mohr now sounds confident that the Sterrato delivers exactly the feelings a Lamborghini should, but with a new level of comfort and capability.

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“At the end of the day, the toughest part is, from the setup point of view, to have a car that you can drive on Nardò or on all the race tracks of the world, and have fun. You don’t feel uncomfortable because you feel still connected to the car. And on the other side, you go with the same car, with the same tire on gravel or snow and you drive like the rally heroes of the ’80s.”

But if 99 percent of Urus customers will never take their six-figures super SUVs off-roading, as Reggiani and Mohr lamented in 2017, I suggested that even fewer Huracán drivers will these days.

“You can imagine, even if the customer will not drift with the car in the gravel,” Mohr replied, “You don’t have to be worried about speed bumps or pot holes on the road. The car is more robust and it’s really more practical than the standard super sports car. But you still have the same involvement.”

Muted green super car with off-roading components on a dusty, smoky background.
Courtesy Image

Recalibrating the Naturally Aspirated V10

Much of the adoration that Lamborghini inspires among devotees stems from the brand’s longstanding adherence to naturally aspirated V10 and V12 engines. But larger-diameter tires mean less power put to the ground, in sheer physics terms. So how does the Sterrato’s drivetrain counter the necessary power decrease?

“The engine calibration is different,” Mohr told me. “The main idea was to have this kind of high screaming, naturally aspirated high revving.”

Mounted amidship in the Sterrato, the Huracán’s highest-spec 5.2-liter V10 cranks out 610 horsepower and 417 lb-ft of torque. That’s a minimal decrease from 630 horses out of the same mill when used in the STO, and it’s largely due to using a roof scoop air intake to reduce the amount of potential dust and dirt entering the engine.

“We recognized during the testing activities of the demo car that with the air intake at the height of the rear windows, like the standard Huracán, the air filters were completely, permanently blocked,” Mohr said. “On the STO, the air scoop is only for cooling purposes, and the air intake is still on the side. In the Sterrato, the air scoop is really the air intake to the engine, and we also have completely revised the air filter concept to be as robust as possible. And based on this, we have a little bit more pressure loss in the intake system. And the result is that the engine power is a little bit less.”

The STO also comes in rear-wheel drive only, while the Sterrato still employs another trademark of Lamborghini handling: an electronically controlled all-wheel-drive system equipped with a mechanical limited-slip rear differential. But unlike other AWD Huracáns, the Sterrato does not come with rear-wheel-steering.

“The combination of rear steering and a little bit softer tire compound,” explains Mohr. “Gives too artificial of a feeling.”

Surprisingly, as on the Uruses (Urii?) that Mohr played with in the sandbox at Vallelunga, the new Huracán variant also hides carbon ceramic brakes beneath those 19-inch wheels—in this case, measuring 380mm up front and 356mm at the rear. Just try not to think about the sound of a pebble getting caught in the brake caliper during some dirt-road drifting.

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The Rally Craze Reaches a Crescendo

The courage required to take a modern supercar off the asphalt sounds immense. Just ask anyone who signed up to purchase Porsche’s recently unveiled 911 Dakar, which stickers at $220,000 and up. I asked Mohr if the Porsche figured into Lamborghini’s decision to build the Sterrato, given the shared Volkswagen AG ownership and his own Audi past. Not at all, it turns out.

“For Porsche, it’s a kind of renewal of the history of the famous and very successful ‘Safari’ 911, but it’s a different category of car, for sure,” Mohr reflected. “If you drive this car on the track and then enter the infield, like rallycross style, it’s fun. And this fits to our brand.”

Little details also contribute to the Sterrato’s otherwise aggressive profile. Mohr’s personal favorite? The dual front accessory light bars.

“Rally cars always had these additional headlamps on the front and we wanted to bring this also,” he laughed. “I’m so in love with these additional headlamps, even if they are not needed. Also, in the U.S., they have to be covered.”

As a dedicated rally enthusiast with his own Evo, surely Mohr took the Sterrato out on some hard technical trails, I thought.

“I can tell you in Sweden, when we made the winter testing in the test area, there are also some forest roads you can drive so fast in the car because it’s easy,” Mohr admitted. “On this low-grip surface, it takes some time until the car is stopping. I had to remember, ‘Oh, it’s still gravel or snow you’re driving.’”

Although such dedicated development fun might sound likely to spawn a factory-supported rally racing program, Mohr shot down such an idea as taking away too much attention from Lamborghini’s focus on next-generation LMDh and Super Trofeo cars. But he and I both agreed that hopefully, at least a few of the lucky customers willing to shell out for a Sterrato will take this last Huracán out for some drifting in the grit and grime.

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Author: Michael Teo Van Runkle