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Steamboat Springs motorcycle racers overcome challenges, complete Baja 1000

A team based out of Steamboat Springs, that includes Steamboat racers Hank Salyer, Casey O'Donnell and Josh Scott and support person Chad James, placed fourth in its division at the SCORE Baja 1000 last weekend. The race started and finished in Ensenada, Mexico, and the course included 830 miles of off-road racing.
Courtesy Photo

— Twenty-eight hours and 35 minutes is all it took for Hank Salyer and a crew of motorcyclists based out of Steamboat Springs to complete the 830-mile course that took them from Ensenada, Mexico, down the Baja Peninsula and back.

“We had to overcome a lot of adversity but so did a lot of the other racers in this event,” said Salyer. “The biggest thing is that we were able to finish the race.”

Salyer was joined by fellow Steamboat racers Casey O’Donnell and Josh Scott as part of the team that competed in the 2016 SCORE Baja 1000. The squad was rounded out by Gary Delaney and Tilman McDaniel, a pair of riders from Kentucky.

Steamboat’s Chad James drove a support vehicle, while Scott’s father drove another. McDaniel worked as a mechanic for the team. The world-famous race includes narrow roads of varying terrain, smooth sandy beaches and a few paved transitional roads.

Before leaving Steamboat earlier this month, Salyer, a veteran Baja racer, had hoped the group could race the KTM 500XCW he owns onto the podium and finish one of the most grueling off-road races anywhere in the world in a time of 24 hours.

He said the team might have accomplished that feat if not for several setbacks in the first 150 miles of the race. The group had equipped the bike with foam tires designed not to go flat. But the team realized early that the tires were no match for the course.

The group struggled to figure out what was happening with the tires, before abandoning them for a more traditional setup — a task that is tough to do in the middle of a race.

“We had three ‘flat’ tires in the first 150 miles of the race,” Salyer said. “We couldn’t figure it out, and then we decided to make the switch to more traditional tires.”

Salyer said after making the switch, the team’s mechanical issues quickly disappeared, but the delays resulted in the team chasing the leaders.

The team was thrilled with a fourth-place finish, but Salyer said the experience left the riders hungry to give the race another try down the road.

“We are already talking about coming back,” Salyer said as he and his teammates made the long journey back to Steamboat Monday. “Our goal was to be on the podium, and even with all the adversity, we just missed making that goal.”

The Steamboat-based team finished the race just 19 minutes behind a team from Arizona in the sportsman open class. That class was won by a team from Miami that averaged nearly 37 miles an hour and completed the course in 23 hours, 27 minutes. A team from California finished second at 24 hours, 28 minutes.

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966


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