Ensenada, Baja California Mexico
Darren “HotSauce” Hardesty Jr got his nickname because he loves hot sauce, and he brings the heat wherever he goes. He was anxious to get to rounds 7 and 8 of the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series at the Estero Beach Resort in Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico. At the inaugural race last year, the fans went wild for Darren and his distinctive “HotSauce” branding. This year, many of those fans were back to see HotSauce race again. Photos they shot last year of HotSauce and his Bilstein, Off Road Warehouse, Mickey Thompson Tires, Bink Designs, Impact, Lucas Oil Products, Alumi Craft Race Cars, Black Rhino, RacerX and USA Wheels Pro Buggy were brought along for Darren to autograph.
“It was great to see the friends we made last year,” said HotSauce, “Racing is so popular in Baja; the fans know all about the cars and the Lucas Oil series. We had a big crowd around our pit all weekend. The fans had a great attitude; it was a lot of fun spending time with them.” The race in Estero Beach has turned out to be very popular. Being right next to the ocean, it is a unique venue for the series.
During practice on Friday, the team tried a different gearing package in the transaxle; similar to what they run in Reno. They were a couple of seconds off the fastest time so they switched the transmission to one with different gear ratios. During qualifying they hoped for the best and were rewarded with the second fastest time.
The track was rough but their Bilstein shocks were keeping the car in control in the ruts. A taller Mickey Thompson tire in the rear made their set-up similar to what they ran last year. The track was dry and filled with holes on Saturday during the race. HotSauce started on the front row in the second spot and after some back and forth on the track, finished in second place. It was decided to keep the same set-up in the car for Sunday.
On Sunday, the track started to hold some of the moisture they had been pouring on it for the prior two days. It was still rough but it was also slick. “The track was super muddy with a lot of holes,” said HotSauce, “We qualified 3rd and they drew a zero inversion again. During the race I was not driving too well. I got some dirt in my face and swallowed some of it; I was choking on it. I missed a couple of corners but I held my position in third and finished on the podium again.”
It was a fun weekend of racing for HotSauce and prosperous for him in the points race. His back to back podiums put him one point out of third place in the standings; 28 points out of first. He loves traveling to Mexico and having a chance to interact with the fans and sample some delicious tacos. He also sampled some Estero Beach dirt. When asked how the dirt tasted, HotSauce replied, “kind of spicy.” The next race for Darren will be Rounds 9 & 10 at Glen Helen Raceway on July 23rd and 24th. A night race, he will be racing his Bilstein, ORW, Mickey Thompson Tires, Pro Buggy under the Glen Helen lights.
Photography By: Bink Designs