Why 4.5? *Shoulder Shrug*
Labor Day weekend here in Michigan means one thing: It’s time to Brawl! The Baja Brawl that is. Nestled just an hour and a half north of Detroit, right off of I-75, in the nice Michigan countryside, for the past 18 years this event has grown to be a must attend event for racers all around the country. For some reason it doesn’t seem to hold the prestige that places like Ponca, Gatorback, or the other Spring Nationals but to be honest, I am not sure why. Let’s crack a Claw™ and dive in!
1. Michigan Summers
Picture this, a nice mid 80s-day, light breeze, low humidity, and endless views of the largest lakes in the world. Now call me biased, having lived in Michigan for my entire life, but I can bet you there isn’t a better place in the country to spend a week in the summer. The amazing track that is Baja, a vibrant downtown Detroit, the U.P. (yes, it’s a real place and yes, you need to visit!), sweeping sand dunes on the west side of the state and we can’t forget the endless lush green forests. Huck a tube or kayak in one of the 300-plus rivers or countless lakes, crack a Claw™, and relax. That is what Michigan summers are all about. Michigan is very underrated when it comes to a summertime vacation spot. Post up in Traverse City or Mackinac Island for a couple days and I promise you will be wanting to come back year after year. Mix in the AMA Featured event that is the Baja Brawl what more could you ask for?
2. The Track
Now that I have you lured in, let’s talk about the track itself. It is a living, breathing giant within itself. Rough as hell, endless sand, big jumps, great scenery, easy on and off location, it literally has everything you want out of a track. Pat goes above and beyond on the prep this weekend. It is hands down a national caliber track (maybe someday). The sand seems bottomless in spots, forming insane breaking bumps and incredible berms that will make a man (or woman) out of ya! The first turn has a slingshot option if you dare, hold that thing wide open and rail it! The top sections that feature four massive hits along with some of the best sand berms on the circuit. You are damn sure to leave sore as hell but smiling ear to ear.
3. The Competition
With Loretta’s now in the rearview everyone has shifted their focus to next year. A lot of them kick it off here at Baja and every year the license plates seem to be from further and further away. Now this year will be a little more interesting to see who all comes out. With RedBud happening just a few hours away (also all weekend) there is a chance for someone new to take home a fat check in the 250 Pro and Open Pro Sport races. Pair that with the Two-Stoke class that carries a decent payout as well, privateer guys may want to look into racing the Brawl.
4. Off Track Festivites
Much like Lot B at REDBUDDDDDDDDDD, The Brawl goes HARD in the paint! It’s the final send off for the summer! Pat always brings in a fire DJ for Pond Palooza. There is a Best Whip contest with a $1,000 purse (Axell Hodges will be making an appearance this year), Our boy Uncle Ronnie cruising around wreaking havoc all weekend, Belly Flop Contest, Pit Bike race, Side x Side race which usually end with somebody upside down. I mean, what other race is giving you entertainment like that?! During the day there is a pump track and a small lake with a nice sandy beach to enjoy if you want a more mellow vibe.
4.5. The Great Escape
Time to get a touch serious, sorry about that. Trust me though, it’ll be worth the wait. The mid-Michigan area where Baja lies has taken its share of punches over the last six months. Much like the rest of the world we are all struggling in some form or another because of the virus, then top that with a series of dams breaking just northwest of Baja causing around $175 million worth of damage and over 100 homes completely destroyed; we are all looking for the escape that is dirtbike racing. For many people around the region who weren’t fortunate enough to qualify for Loretta’s or just don’t have the means to travel around the country chasing championships, the Brawl gives them their own version of all of that, right in their own backyard. For many, it will be The Great Escape (From Reality) from the year that is/has been 2020.