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November 19, 2018

South Portland car dealer drives off-road in famed Mexican desert race

Courtesy / Yankee Ford
Courtesy / Yankee Ford
Steve Goodrich, a partner at Yankee Ford in South Portland, took the wheel as part of a six-man team that completed the famed Baja 1000 Off Road Race in Mexico over the weekend.
Courtesy / Yankee Ford
The driver's view as the car crosses the starting line of the Baja 1000.
Courtesy / Yankee Ford
An unplanned stop after hitting a boulder.

While Maine drivers slogged through snowy streets last weekend, a South Portland car dealer drove hundreds of miles across Mexican desert in the famed Baja 1000 Off Road Race.

Steve Goodrich, a partner at Yankee Ford in South Portland, took the wheel as part of a six-man team that completed the 806-mile course in 35 hours, 41 minutes, according to official results.

Goodrich's team, cosponsored by Yankee, placed No. 155 among the 285 entrants, and finished seventh out of eight competitors in the race's Baja Challenge division.

The 51st Baja 1000 began Nov. 16 in Ensenada, Mexico, and ran a grueling loop along the Baja California peninsula, across desert, rocks and mountains. This year's race drew cars, trucks, ATVs and other vehicles from 18 countries. First to finish was a motorcycle in 16 hours, 23 minutes.

"Our goal was first, just to finish, and then not to be last," Goodrich said in a telephone interview Monday. "But it was even more competitive than I expected. I was simply taken back by how extreme the terrain was."

Goodrich and Yankee Ford associate Rick Flynn drove the initial 280-mile leg of the course, in a custom-built, Subaru-powered race car the two had leased with four partners.

During the race, the team experienced four breakdowns, including a flat tire while Goodrich was driving. But the mishaps could have been worse.

"There were cars overturned. A lot of the (racers) never finish," said Goodrich, who also is owner of ZipLine, a Portland-based provider of private-label debit card solutions.

He said his debut as a Baja competitor grew out of a longtime interest in off-road racing, and he visited Baja last year to explore the course.

Over the weekend, he found a similarity between the Mexican desert and Maine. "At times, the course was so wide open, it was hard to know which way to go," he said. "It was like being on the open ocean."

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