Article Credits: Diesel Tech Magazine April 2015 Issue – “Extreme Baja 1000 Chase Truck” By Jeffrey V. Shirts Pages 42-45
Long Distance ATV racing is not something we usually tackle at Diesel Tech magazine, as they are typically neither diesel, nor truck. However, we recently had the opportunity to converse with Brian Bush, the owner and driver of Bush Racing, and discuss with him his chase truck-and instrumental part of ATV racing.
A competitive UTV racer since 2006, Bush has garnered attention and praise for his skill racing and his penchant in placing and winning events. To prepare for such long races using ATV’S and UTV’S, it is of paramount importance to have a chase truck that can handle any and all mechanical and electrical problems that might develop during a race and Bush has assembled and created a magnificent chase truck to match his passion and skill.
In many ways, chase trucks are similar to tow trucks, with that addition of being a portable pit crew with all of the needed and necessary tools to ensure the race vehicle can continue operating at peak performance. This, of course, means that chase trucks are held to high standards and are expected to perform as consistently as the race vehicles they chase.
“I’ve always had a fascination with custom and work trucks, and wanted one of my own,” Bush explained. “I never built one of my own, though, because I didn’t have the money or a reason to. But working with JM Collision, and being part of the Baja 1000, I finally had the opportunity to build a truck- my own chase truck.”
Before building the chase truck, Bush had been dependent upon other racing teams to assist his racing endeavors. And then in March of 2014, he had the opportunity to convert his longtime daily driver into a long-distance chase truck. The opportunity presented to Bush was to join UTV Inc.’s team for the November Baja 1000.
The Baja 1000
The Baja 1000 is sanctioned by SCORE International-an off-road sanctioning body in the sport of desert racing-and is famous for it’s flagship event, the Baja 1000. SCORE races are held in the United States and Mexico and were founded by Mickey Thompson in 1973.
With over 40 years of events and races of the events and races, the Baja 1000 has become of events and races, the Baja 1000 has become one of the most active and well-participated off-road racing events in North America, and continues to grow every year, attracting new racers, vehicles and classes.
The 47th Tecate SCORE Baja 1000, from Ensenada, Calif., to Laz Paz, Baja California Sur, was held last November. Point-to-point the race is approximately 1,130 miles. The Baja 1000 is, in many ways, one of the ultimate off-road long distance racing circuits. The monster of an event was the perfect occasion for which Bush was looking to finally build the truck of his dreams, while participating in the race of his dreams.
Constructing the truck would be a challenge, as a typical chase truck is able to handle refueling of the race vehicle, resolve any mechanical problems, and assist and facilitate any driver’s needs.
Bush Racing’s Chase Truck
The 2007 Silverado chase truck began as his daily driver before its transformation, and remarkably, continues to be Bush’s preferred truck. Originally, the truck rolled off the assembly line as a grey, short-bed Duramax, and, up until Bush paid off the truck, it remained largely unchanged.
However, once the opportunity to participate in the Baja 1000 surfaced, Bush started down the path of turning his daily driver into a chase truck beast that could handle the conditions and time-restraints of the race challenges.
Lets Stretch It
One of the first problems they discussed was that the bed was too short to accommodate all of the equipment and parts needed to be an adequate chase truck. The inadequacy of the short bed led to the first major project: extending the bed and adding much-needed storage space. Tearing the truck down to the frame, they stretched the bed of the truck 18 inches to accept a junk yard service body. This provided the much needed space for everything the chase truck would need during the upcoming grueling race.
With the truck extended, they were ready to look under the hood and tackle performance options. With any build they knew to start with a programmer, exhaust and to replace the intake. To handle the rocky terrains of Baja California, they added a 7- to 9- inch Cognito lift kit and Fox shocks. The truck now sits on Method Street Wheels with OMF simulated beadlock rings wrapped around General Grabber Red Labels 35/12.50/17. Custom bumpers were added to the truck, mounted with Rigid Industries lED Lighting and Baja Kit’s chase rack.
Along the newly extended bed, Bush and Melvin added a CTech tool storage cabinet on the Omaha Service body bed replacement. They also added a custom-fit Tiregate 2000. For refueling their ATV’s, they added a Bedside 50-gallon race car fuel transfer tank. For its own fueling needs, Bush attached a 52-gallon Titan fuel tank.
For communication between the race ATV and the chase truck, they installed PCI race radios to the interior of the truck, and to the exterior of the truck they added a Westsounds sound bar. The truck bed was sprayed with a liner, and a generatr was hard mounted on a floor jack and cradle. The truck was finished with a custom drive shaft, a Rockford Fosgate 300-watt system and a much needed Lowrance GPS system to find the ATV when needed. After completing the modifications to the truck, Bush decided to paint the body Ford Race Red, giving it a distinct color and look that demands attention, no matter if it is on the road as his daily driver, or cruising through the desert assisting a UTV. Remarkably, his chase truck modifications extended from March through the day before he left for the Baja 1000, just barely completing the work in time for the epic race.
For four days, Bush was a driver and part of the chase truck team for the UTV Inc.’s team. According to Bush, the race is nonstop, and therefore every team has four drivers for each UTV and a total of a dozen people in the chase trucks. The Silverado was used for two of the planning pit stops, and Bush was botha driver for the team and part of his chase truck’s team.
UTV Inc.’s team was in Class 19 of the baja 1000 which is designated to UTV’s. The UTV was a Polarise XP1000 and they took first place in their class, and came in 47th overall at the event. There were approximately 20 other vehicles competing in Class 19, and an approximate total of 200 vehicles racing in the competition.
“Obviously winning was my favorite experience of the race and preparations beforehand,” Bush reminisced. “My truck was put to the test, however, when one of the race vehicles broke down. With second place within 10 miles of our position, we were forced to make needed repairs for the car. My truck and our team effort fixed the car during the breakdown, while other trucks were sent in to help us. When we checked the race vehicle we discovered a component broke, causing suspension failure. The vehicle also popped a rear tire. As we tried to replace the popped tire the spare did not fit. We had the parts needed for the repairs, but the vehicle’s bolts were too big for the replacement tire. When the wheel didn’t fit, we drove on a flat until we encountered another team, Mag 7, who had a drill and a bit and helped us drill out the wheel and replace the tire. It was amazing.”
The one thing that stood out most about his experience according to Bush is the racing community that is supportive and helpful to one another. They work together to ensure that everyone in able to participate to the best of their ability. In fact, Bush recalled helping out his second place competitor when they had a problem during the race.
“Friends help friends,” says Bush. “During the race second place was within visual range and we were racing to keep our position. In the rearview we saw their car rock, and then completely roll over. As we saw what happened, we stopped, turned around, and assisted the team in operating the car until they were ready to race again. It’s typical for other teams to help. We have a comradery in our class.”
Coming In First
Bush still works on his truck every day. Of course, it’s “finished”, but there are always future plans. He wants to regear the truck for hauling and because of the larger wheels he has added to the truck. He also wants to add billet torque converter and is reworking the storage and space of his truck to ensure that mistakes that happened last Baja 1000, don’t occur in the future.
“I will use this truck next year, and for the rest of my life. As long as I am racing, this will be my chase truck,” Bush concluded. “Chasing is almost as fun as racing. It’s fun. You are in the game. I love it.”