BAJA CALIFORNIA SUR, Mexico — "It's a thousand miles. It starts in Ensenada and will end in Cabo. It has areas where you are off-road," described Winnie Meyers.
It's known as the Norra 1000 and it takes place over five days down the Baja Penisula. It's timed per day and per section.
"The cars are called the Dual-sport Baja edition and they refer to them as BSBEs. The dual-sport means you can drive it on the highway or you can race it. It's capable of either," said Team 417 Captain Joe Wheeler. "The Baja Edition is set up so you can off-road race it,"
This rookie team has a special reason why they're taking on the dangerous challenge, to raise awareness for breast cancer for both men and women.
"We hope to inspire people to go out there, get their yearly mammogram and save lives. It saved mine," recalled Team 417 co-driver and navigator Nancy Koval. "I had an early mammogram and that's the only reason why I'm still here. We're hoping to do that. We've all been touched by someone in our life that's either passed on from breast cancer, or is a survivor, or is currently in treatment."
Ten percent of the ribbons sold to decal the car will benefit the Roswell Park Cancer Institute.
To gear up for Baja they will practice in the Keystone state, Florida, and Arizona on different terrains.
A place on the east coast that fabricates dune buggies is right here in Central Pennsylvania.
"I've always wanted to go to Baja and this is a good chance to go and be a part of a team and at the same time, show the capabilities of my company, a company back here in the east, whose never raced in the desert or any place like that, is building a car to go there. So it's kind of a challenge for us, also."
It takes 18 people to send two teams, but half a dozen cars designed by Bruce Meyers will race in Baja.
"Technically this model was designed to be a pre-runner," said Winnie Meyers. "Then people wanted to race them and it turned into a racecar."
"The average that these cars will run is about 35 hours. So, when you do the math, 35-miles per hour would win. That doesn't seem very fast if you're racing, but that's what it takes to go across the terrain. If you go any faster and tear your vehicle up, there's an old saying that you can't win the race on day one but you can lose the race on day one," said Wheeler.
There are just two crew members in the car at a time but they will all rotate equal time throughout the race.
"You have areas you can put stowage in," added Wheeler. "They have 14 inches of travel in the suspension and it's a very state-of-the-art suspension setup for very rough abuse, so this can actually run 100-mile per hour through the dry lake bed desert."
The countdown is on until April where Team 417 takes to Norra.