By the staff of Dirt Wheels
Photos by Pat Carrigan
; Score International’s Baja 500 takes
place every June across the deserts
and over the mountains near
Ensenada, Mexico. It’s the hardest
desert race to win. While the Baja
1000 may seem tough, it’s not. Ride
the 1000 at a moderate pace, have no
mistakes or breakdowns, and the
race is yours.
To win the 500, not only does your
10–11-hour run have to be flawless,
your machine has to be reliable and
fast. Because at this event, the competition runs wide open and rarely
slows down to save equipment.
Every nut and bolt has to be proven
tough and perform just a little better
than the parts on the competitors’
Prior to this year’s Baja 500, we took
an inside look and a test ride of Team
Christy’s Honda 450 that competes in
the top professional category known
as Class 25. Team owner Craig
Christy started off this build on the
right track. He chose to compete on a
Honda. Sure, winners of Baja events
have used Yamahas, Suzukis and
Can-Ams, but Honda still has the
best reputation for reliability. Even
today, Honda has more Baja wins
than all other manufacturers combined.
Team Christy’s next decision on this
build to hire Duncan Racing to prepare this race quad was equally as
important. Not only is Duncan Racing
the closest race shop to the Mexican
border, the team has built race-winning ATVs for riders all over the
world for over three decades.
Christy’s Baja machine started life
as a 2005 Honda TRX450R. Many
motor builders prefer using the older
powerplants. They claim the transmission is stronger and oil capacity is
greater. Yes, these little details count.
Furthermore, you can pick up almost
brand-new 2004–2005 TRX450s here
in California for under $3000. Just
check out Craigslist.
To make this quad battle-ready,
DRI strips the Honda down to its
frame and welds on their own gusset
kit for $450. The DRI guys know the
few weak points of the Honda. Before
reassembly, the frame gets powder-coated locally by Powder 1.
The list of new chassis components
this racer receives is extensive. For
suspension components, Duncan
and Christy rely on Roll Design products. Here they are using the Lobo
MX II A-arms, equipped with Elka
Stage 5 long-travel shocks ($3500).