Ensenada, Baja California Mexico
Darren “HotSauce” Hardesty Jr. loves Mexico as much as he loves the delicious condiment made from chili peppers. His nickname has made him quite popular with the Mexican fans, and at rounds 2 and 3 of the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series at Estero Beach in Ensenada, Baja Mexico, they lined up for autographs all weekend.
With such strong support, Hardesty really wanted to win for his fans. Not only does he love the huge support he gets, but as the defending Pro Buggy Champion, he feels obligated to give the fans a show.
“The track in Estero Beach is usually rough and sandy,” said HotSauce, “When we unloaded on Thursday night, I was mentally prepared for a tough track. During practice, the track was really good; we were fastest right out of the box. I sat out the second practice session and instead watched and studied what the competition was doing. We made some changes to our Bilstein, Off Road Warehouse, Mickey Thompson Tires, Impact, Lucas Oil, Bink Designs, Champion Spark Plugs, Alumi Craft Race Cars, Black Rhino, RacerX, and USA Wheels Pro Buggy for qualifying, but it didn’t work like we wanted; we qualified 4th.”
The inversion drawn for Saturday’s race was a zero, so HotSauce would have to work his way through the pack. After the green flag, he quickly picked off 3rd place and chased after the leaders. The track conditions were much different than they were the previous day. It was heavily watered, super slick, and loaded with mud. “I was super pumped and ready to get it on,” said HotSauce, “I was in third but ran out of tear-offs. The mud was so bad that you could not see anything if you were close behind another car. At one point I had to slow down to get out of the roost coming from Watson’s car; I was blinded by mud. I did not want to risk crashing into a tire or running into anyone, so I held my position and finished 3rd.”
The Hardesty crew expected the same muddy conditions for qualifying on Sunday, but were surprised with a great track. HotSauce qualified in the number one spot. His Bilstein shocks and Mickey Thompson Tires are so versatile; they gave him a greater range of performance in the varied conditions. “The track was absolutely perfect during the race,” said HotSauce, “Ward got out in front, but when we got to the dog-leg I slid the car in deep and we were wheel to wheel. We banged together going down the straight but I stayed in the throttle and came out ahead. Once I got the lead, my spotter Matt told me to just hit my lines and run my own race.
I didn’t even check the mirrors, I trusted Matt to tell me if anyone was coming. I wasn’t throwing the car hard into the corners, I was driving really smooth and keeping my momentum. By the end of the race I had a big gap on the field. It was one of the best wins of my career; it was a great feeling to win for all the fans who give me so much support in Mexico! Winning here has been a goal of mine since the first race here in 2015.”
It was his first win in Mexico, but HotSauce has had solid success there. He has been on the podium for 5 out of 6 rounds ever run in Estero Beach. It continues to be one of his favorite venues in the Lucas Oil Series. Next on the schedule is Utah Motorsports Campus in Tooele, UT on Jun 24 – 25; the track were Darren got his first professional win in 2015. For the latest news and information about Darren’s racing program go to: http://darrenhardestyjr.com/ where you will find fan information, race reports, photos, videos and much more.
Photography By: Bink Designs