It was at the KORE Kompound that we got to know Kent Kroeker, the owner of KORE. A former Marine Corps pilot and veteran Baja motorcycle racer, he's ultraprecise, gritty, mean, and intolerant - sort of a cross between Erwin Rommel and Mike Ditka. He doesn't talk with you, he talks at you. When he speaks, he holds up his right hand in the shape of a claw and says things like "you will comply or you will be eliminated..." During The Brief, Kroeker emphasized safety, situational awareness, and teamwork. Drivers, navigators, chase and pit crews - nobody had immunity from Kroeker's iron fist. He randomly picked crewmembers from guest teams to recite Baja rules from the "KORE Battle Plan." Then, depending on the response, Kroeker's crew (which consists of former Marine Corps combat pilots and infantry officers) would either praise them or mercilessly ridicule them.
"So this is a desert, eh?"
"You are not competing against other drivers - you are driving the terrain," Kroeker emphasized. "A Stock Full race truck is not a Trophy Truck that will survive repeated operator error. Stock Full is a driver's class, meaning you can't be imprecise or you will fail. No amount of money can buy you the finish line of the Baja 1000 - it is up to you to drive your truck there." What followed were thrills, spills, and chills of Baja prerunning at its best. Kroeker and his crew taught over 30 people driving, navigation, communication procedures, chase and pit techniques, hammering home Baja racing concepts like drill instructors at Perris Island. San Diego to La Paz and back - it was seven days of early mornings and late nights during which drivers and crewmembers earned call signs like "Golem," "SHOE" (stupidest human on earth), "Princess," and "Mongo."
After a particularly harrowing day during which the RPM Offroad race truck came within a hairsbreadth of total destruction, Kroeker gathered the teams together. In the Hotel La Pinta parking lot in Loreto at 0200, Kroeker debriefed the competitors: "You do not have the luxury of learning this stuff by repetition. In just a few days you'll be on the starting line, wearing your man-pants, and you'll have to perform. Consider every day you're down here a final exam." Check out Off-Road magazine next month to find out how the KORE race effort did in Baja!