Southern Oregon riders compete in Baja 1000

MEDFORD, Ore. – The Baja 1000 was held earlier this month. That’s a 1,100-mile race off the Baja Peninsula. It’s also one of the most dangerous races in the world. A Southern Oregon team placed third in their division and is now back home sharing their story.

Many people can say they’ve watched the Baja 1,000, whether that be in-person or on TV. But not many people can say they competed in the race. Even fewer can say they finished or even placed in the highly rigorous competition.

Many of those who dare to compete in the Baja 1000 doesn’t even finish the race. But one Southern Oregon team beat the odds winning 3rd in their division.

“I don’t know how I didn’t crash, and I think these guys all had the same thing,” said Chris Colmenero in a group with his teammates.

Jeremy Puma, Brant Fleetwood, Chris Colmenero, Randy Pekarek, and Dustin Schmid are all lifelong riders. But they told NBC5 News they didn’t just wake up one day and decide to compete. They overcame another obstacle first.

“The fire was devastating for all of us. We just came in with the same mentality. If we can rebuild the shop, we can build this team to take it on,” said Colmenero.

Last year Oregon Motorcycle Adventures KTM lost their shop during the Almeda Fire. The team members all work there. With determination, the team says KTM bounced back finding another location weeks later. They told NBC5 News if they can overcome the Almeda Fire they can compete in the grueling Baja 1000. With the community supporting them they were able to make it happen earlier this month.

Riders race nonstop for days in the unforgiving terrain of the Baja peninsula putting their lives at risk.

“There’s really tough terrain and sandy conditions. You just gotta train your mind and body to conquer that,” said Colmenero.

With no sleep and constant adrenaline rushing through their system the team kept going only stopping in emergencies.

“Probably one of the scariest things I’ve ever done on a motorcycle,” said Fleetwood.

But 1,100 miles later they reached the end of the race.

“I’ll never forget it. It was great,” said Randy Pekarek.

The team said they don’t know if they’ll compete next year. Right now, they are taking a much-deserved break.

Click HERE for more information about the team.

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Katie Streit
NBC5 News reporter Katie Streit comes from her hometown, Las Vegas. Katie went to the Hank Greenspun School of Journalism & Media Studies at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. While in Las Vegas, Katie won a Student Emmy for her coverage of the Las Vegas Shooting Anniversary. She also hosted and produced the university's political news show, where she interviewed Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak and Congresswoman Dina Titus (NV-1). Her passion for politics turned into a coveted internship at the US Capitol in Washington D.C. In her final months working in the Las Vegas area, she was recognized for her journalism achievements by the Nevada Broadcaster's Foundation. Katie is excited to tell the stories of local Southern Oregonians and Northern Californians. Feel free to contact her at [email protected]
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