Least prepared man in history finishes Baja 1000 in just under 49 hours

SCORE International

Riding a motorcycle in the Baja 1000 is a big task. Riding the Baja 1000 after flying from Australia to Southern California, buying a used bike, crossing the Mexican border, and riding it all the way down to the starting point in La Paz, only to then race back north with no support crew, no pre-running, and no adequate gear is another thing. Entirely. Oh, and doing all of this in the Ironman class, which means one rider and one bike—no support riders or teammates.

Wouter-jan Van Dijk did just that very thing this year at the SCORE Baja 1000, racing almost 1300 miles of desert from La Paz to Ensenada in just under 50 hours.

This is abjectly foolish, if we’re being honest. Baja is a race that is extremely dangerous under good conditions and is known to be booby trapped by spectators looking to “spice up” the area they are viewing. It is rare to have a year with zero injuries from those who are all-in prepared to run the thing. The terrain and the remoteness of the 1000 are are not to be trifled with, and great riders and drivers have been seriously injured and killed on the course since this race came to life in 1967.

But Van Dijk didn’t injure himself, and he didn’t die. Instead, he discovered the kindness that lives within the off-road racing community, which collectively banded around him and supplied him with the things he needed: fuel, food, and mechanical assistance. He didn’t even make it through tech inspection without others stepping up to solve problems created by his plan: The KTM he purchased in California and rode to the starting line was on bald tires when the stewards were giving the bike their customary once-over to ensure competitors are prepared for the route they are undertaking. They also noted a cracked subframe.

Between getting that welded and accepting a donation of fresh tires, it was a feat for Van Dijk to even take the starting line—which he did at 1:30 in the morning on Thursday, November 16. From there he negotiated a patchwork of assistance as the tale of his wild attempt traveled only slightly faster than he did on the KTM. Updates from random teams and people in the pits popped up on social media, where a fanbase cheered from afar while watching his transponder blink on the tracking screens that are available for each participant.

The stories that trickled out of the desert included a crash that severely bent Van Dijk’s front wheel. Fellow racers fabricated a repair that put him back on course, and not a second too soon. While Van Dijk was initially running toward the front of the 27 riders in the Ironman class, he was also racing against SCORE’s 50-hour cutoff clock. He squeaked in just in time and crossed the finish line at 2:05 a.m. on Saturday, November 18. It appears just 12 riders from the Ironman class reached the finish line, a number which only serves to highlight the insanity of Van Dijk’s feat even more.

Motorsports attracts a certain kind of person—someone seeking a challenge that requires them to go above and beyond the things they think they are capable of. Van Dijk stands as the latest example of just what we are capable of when the perfect mix of luck, skill, and support from strangers comes together. Kudos to you Wouter-jan Van Dijk. We think everyone needed a little reminder of exactly how far out there we can go.

Wouter crossing finish line from livestream
SCORE International



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    I’m so happy to hear about this Dutchman riding this KTM and all who gave up their time, support and kindness. This shows us that, collectively, if you give even just a little it goes a long way. Kudos to all of you!!! I love off-road racing!

    Well, he did come from Australia, and is probably used to riding for days at a time in the outback. I don’t think anyone without experience being far from civilization would attempt this. More info about his background would be interesting. Great job, regardless!

    Sounds like a remake of the movie “The World’s Fastest Indian”, A true story of a motorcycle rider from New Zealand who patched up a 1920 Indian motorcycle and on less than a shoestring budget worked his way to setting a speed record at Bonneville. If you haven’t seen it, find it- you will enjoy it and see the parallel to this story.

    Van Dijk: What a great promo/PR he did by his spirit and dedication. It would be a small and great gesture to have KTM give him a good bike. A legendary tale for Van Dijk and KTM.
    Yes, just like “The World’s Fastest Indian”

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