Movie Spotlight: The Desert Said Dance
Anyone can enter the Baja 1000, but not everyone finishes it. Some aren’t tough enough. Some don’t have bikes that are tough enough. And some make mistakes that take them out of the race. Sometimes, tragically, forever. This is a place where dreams go to die. Grand visions and hopes, materialised, but rarely sustained. The desert has this mysterious allure. There is freedom, solitude, and opportunity. The desert is the unforgiving canvas of life, and this is a story about the art of racing with it and against it. The Baja 1000 race is art in motion.
Its competitors are connected to the desert, to their motorcycles and to each other. A trio of man, nature and machine. Through this they find purpose. Flirting with death, a 1000-mile dance in search of victory. Some cross the finish line, others prevail, but not all make it home. This is a celebration of tenacity, and humankind’s unique ability to paint the world as we see it. For over 50 years, this one-of-a-kind event has been a magnet to those brave and foolish enough to face one of the most challenging race courses in the world.
This is the story of four men whose passion comes before any paycheque; drawn to a challenge and the romance of dancing with the unknown. Pushing themselves far beyond where most people feel alive. Each with motivations of their own. From chasing a childhood dream, to honouring a fallen teammate taken too soon. A five-time champion in search of reliving his former glory, and a young Ironman trying to prove his place at the top. A motley crew united by motorcycle with the common goal of proving to themselves and to the world that they are alive and that the dance must go on.
The Baja 1000 is like no other. It is the longest non stop, point-to-point off-road race in the world. With a film crew of equal enthusiasm and tenacity, we set out to find a different kind of story. A team of racers united in their rejection of traditional life. This is a cinematic ode to these riders, a testament to their spirit of improvisation and their skill. For those who already understand, it will be a chance to connect with the subtleties of performance and the art of machines. For the initiates, it is a breathtaking introduction to the spectacle and sublime wonder that is the Baja 1000 and the men who endure enormous hardship in a landscape like no other on the planet.
In the 50 years of its existence, the Baja 1000 has evolved. It is thousands of micro-decisions that happen over hours and hours of riding that make the difference. Part of the charm is this – the only qualifications required are that your machine and helmet pass tech, and that you can afford the entry fee. Prep your bike properly; have your logistics, fuel and navigation wired tightly; and you’ve got a chance of success. This sport was built on the backs of hearty individuals who did their best work hundreds of miles away from other humans. You’ve got to love it unconditionally, because it does not love you back. The desert can smell arrogance miles away and takes crafty pride in humbling the richest and most talented riders, no matter their previous successes or accomplishments. The origins of desert racing can be traced back to 1962, with Dave Ekins and Billy Robertson Jr. These two legendary pioneers traversed the then-unpaved Mexican Federal Highway 1 for 950 miles, from Tijuana to La Paz, on Honda CL72 Scramblers. Thirty-nine hours, 56 minutes after they started, a new form of racing had been born, and it was a filthy little underdog of a baby with mischief in its bloodshot eyes. Sure, the 24 Hours of Le Mans is hard going, the Indy 500 and the Daytona 500 are also tricky, but they don’t have to deal with oncoming traffic, fan-built booby-traps and a course designed to break your machine and your soul.
This is organised chaos. A series of sleepy Mexican villages transformed by this influx of road warriors, support crew, film, TV, sponsors and press. A collision of personality and location that adds an exotic energy to the narrative.