July 26, 2014
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Under the hood at Baja Rochester Events, Photography

I have to admit, I wasn’t crazy about the prospect of dirt and mud, but what can one expect at a Baja off-road event, especially at a place called Hogback Hill? That’s where the 2010 Baja SAE Rochester World Challenge took place. Roughing it was never my thing, but sometimes the reporter has to go to the story, because, princess or not, the story doesn’t just come to you.

We report the winners, but what does it take to build a winning Baja car? Ask Chris Jones, project manager for the RIT team. Watching him and Mike Gebrian (among others) tweak the RIT cars—and then watching the cars take top 10 placements—shows that the teams don’t just tinker, they are pretty intense….

Cars from 89 colleges took to the track with nearly 20 of them from around the world…The Venezuelan team arrived in NYC on Tuesday prior to the competition, made it up to Rochester a day later and had to begin re-assembling the car. Many of the students had never been to the US before and enjoyed their adventure in Baja Rochester.

They were among the many fan favorites. Our neighbors from MCC and the University of Rochester, and from down the thruway, at Cornell, all had big cheering sections.

But, the feel-good story of the event came as people learned more about the entry from James Madison University. This two-man team drove from the college in Virginia to Rochester, alternated drivers in each of the events over the three days and cheered each other on throughout the competition. By the awards dinner on the last day, they were tired but still having a great time—and they received the first standing ovation of the evening for their grit, determination and can-do attitude.

There were more stories like that at the event—from the favored teams being towed after a mishap to the underdogs biting at the heels of the big dogs, from the loud and proud fans to the alums who used to be team members and went on to the big leagues of Honda, Toyota, Briggs and Stratton…this gig had it all under the hood, in the water and over the hills…

Check out UNS photographer Sue Weisler’s photo gallery on the RIT Facebook site.

Here’s a preview of one of her amazing action photos:


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