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    TALKING DIRT WITH BJ BALDWIN

    A One-On-One Interview With The Outspoken Promoter Of SCORE Off-Road Racing

    By Dan Sanchez

    Photos by GETSOMEPhoto

    BJ_BaldwinOne of the most synonymous names associated with off-road racing is BJ Baldwin, a

    man who has created renewed excitement into the sport with wild stunts and love for

    the sport that can’t help but be recognized. While many racers attribute their love for

    desert racing from exposure to it from their fathers or other relatives, Baldwin’s first

    exposure to the sport began with a Sega Genesis video game called Ivan “Iron Man”

    Stewart’s Super Off-Road.

    2014 SCORE Baja 500

    2014 SCORE Baja 500

    It didn’t take long for Baldwin to save some money and get involved in real racing when

    he turned 17. But it wasn’t until 2003, that Baldwin’s dad, Bobby, a prominent Las

    Vegas Casino Resort executive and officially started Baldwin Motorsports. “The truth is

    that I introduced my father to off-road racing,” says Baldwin. “My sister Staci let me

    borrow some money when I was 17 years old to buy a buggy. My Dad and I started

    racing the buggy and he didn’t start driving an off-road car until several years later. He

    took a massive interest in the motorsports program in 2001 and has been an integral

    and irreplaceable asset since then.”

     

     

     

    At that time, BJ Baldwin was driving in Class 10, and when Baldwin Motorsports began,

    he moved up to a Class 1 vehicle. Shortly thereafter, both were driving in the SCORE

    Unlimited Trophy Truck Division, which allowed BJ to hone his skills enough to win four

    SCORE Trophy Truck season point championships; 2006, 2008, 2012 and in 2013. ” My

    most memorable moment in racing was leading 250 miles of the SCORE Baja 500 in

    2007 only to crash in the last four miles of the race, and lose to one my mentors Larry

    Ragland,” says Baldwin. “We ended up finishing third, but the most fun part of that race

    was racing with Larry Ragland for 200 miles.”

    With increasing competition and the fact that Trophy Trucks that are at their peak of

    performance, remaining on top of a race circuit like SCORE can take their toll on any

    driver and team. ” I have been racing SCORE Unlimited Trophy Truck since 2003 and

    as long as I can remember, it has been very hard to win races,” says Baldwin. “I

    compete in a series in which I believe contains the most talented drivers in the world.

    Off-road racing isn’t like NASCAR, Rally or INDY Car. It has far more complexities as it

    relates to driving than any other form of racing. We never see the same corner twice or

    the same jump twice and we are constantly unsure of what’s ahead. This form of

    motorsport is far more exciting than any other form of motorsport on the planet.”

    With a huge fan-base following and cheering for Baldwin in every off-road competition

    he enters, Baldwin has learned that social media, videos, and sponsorship promotions

    are key for modern racers to be successful. ” It’s hard enough to increase your

    popularity in a sport that is not nearly as visible as other forms of motorsports. Several

    years ago, my social media following had become much greater than that of the entire

    off-road racing community,” said Baldwin. “The guy that is picking up his kids in a

    minivan is not as close to being my customer as some of the younger and trendier

    people.

    “Through my social media platforms, I have the largest communication outlet, which is

    much larger than all of my fellow competitors combined. With that comes a certain level

    of responsibility and to a certain extent, when I speak, I speak for the entire off-road

    community.”

    Having such a large following can also have its drawbacks and responsibilities. Baldwin

    has also learned that navigating through this “terrain” is just as important as learning

    every turn and obstacle on the race course. “There are certain times when I want to use

    that platform to cut through the BS and say something that needs to be said,” says

    Baldwin. “But I don’t have the luxury of being able to say anything I want to say

    anymore. I have to constantly be aware of how my words might be interpreted by a very

    wide and diversified audience. Having a large following in a sport that is so fragile

    means I have to delicately and efficiently communicate my message to people that are

    determined to misinterpret me. I think it’s important to portray our sport and our lifestyle

    in an entertaining fashion to increase the public’s interest in this form of motorsports.”

    “As it relates to tying that in with my sponsorship commitments, as much as I’d like to

    win every event I compete in, I obviously don’t. It is my job to create value in my social

    media presence regardless of my competitive performance,” says Baldwin. “Off-road

    racing is the most brutal motorsport in the world and often we encounter mechanical

    difficulties that prevent us from doing as well as we would like to. Trying to get a

    precision built racecar to run flawlessly at 100 percent in the world’s harshest

    environments is what makes this sport so amazing, yet so hard to compete in.”

    It’s obvious that over the years, Baldwin has matured as a racer and advocate for the

    sport. He has often been outspoken about his crew and supporters in the background

    whom he recognizes are vital to the overall success of the team. “Only a person of

    limited mental capacity would think that one person is solely responsible for either

    victory or defeat in such a complex activity such as running a motorsports program,”

    says Baldwin. “There are 25,000 parts on the truck and if any one of them is not

    assembled to perfection it can cost you a race, a championship or even sacrifice your

    own safety. The team is everything, and having the most intelligent people in the

    business is the best way to align yourself with a successful season.”

    In 2014, Baldwin brought aboard Willie Valdez Jr. as co-driver, who replaced Johnny

    Nelson who was suffering from a back injury. Valdez Jr. has a long history in off-road

    racing, working with teams such as the Rough Riders, Herzog Motorsports, Vildósola

    Racing, Volkswagen Racing and Menzies Motorsports. ” Willie is classified as a CDMF.

    This means if there’s something that has to be done, he will find a way to get it done,”

    says Baldwin. “He is the keystone of our operation and one of the most intelligent and

    superiorly experienced people in all of off-road racing. We are very lucky to have him.”

    While Baldwin’s maturity as a racer has led his motorsports team to many successes on

    and off the race course, he is still quick to do whatever it takes to win and lives up to his

    nickname “Ballistic BJ Baldwin.” The term was a silly, quick name that Baldwin made up

    himself but never thought it would stay with him. “In 2003, there was a Trophy Truck

    driver by the name of Alan Pfluger. Alan was a friend of mine and I used to make fun of

    the fact that they called him the “Flyin’ Hawaiian.” So I created the name “Ballistic” to

    make fun of his silly superhero name and unfortunately it stuck,” says Baldwin. “The

    name Ballistic BJ Baldwin has mainly increased my popularity with young people that

    follow the sport. I feel blessed that I made the mistake that led more young fans to

    follow me which has increased my popularity. It has given me some power in guiding

    our youth and inspiring them to pursue and continue their education and conquer their

    dreams.”

    Baldwin started the 2015 SCORE Desert Race Challenge season with a second place

    win at the San Felipe 250. While he’s remained in the top ten of the Unlimited Trophy

    Truck pack throughout the year, he and the Baldwin Motorsports team looks forward to

    doing what’s necessary to win the 48th Bud Light SCORE Baja 1000.

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