When Rob MacCachren shifts gears, he changes the rotation of the Earth. This is where “he passed me like I was standing still” comes from. The chief export of Rob Mac is Victory. Rob Mac has counted to infinity, twice. Rob Mac is the only person to beat a brick wall in a game of tennis. Rob Mac can drink a gallon of milk in 7 seconds. Rob Mac’s hair once beat a Gorilla in a knife fight. Rob Mac ordered a Big Mac at Burger King, and got it. Rob Mac laughs at Chuck Norris. Rob Mac currently has 310 wins in off road racing.
Rob’s 300th win at a LOORRS short course race in Toole, Utah earlier this year came and went with zero extra fanfare. Just another day for Rob. Rob does not keep track of his wins; he doesn’t even want to know how many he has at any given time. So when I interviewed Rob recently it was the first thing I asked him about.
Matt Kartozian: You passed the 300 mark a few months ago in Toole. Did hitting 300 have any special meaning for you?
Rob MacCachren: I don’t even know my number. It’s good because I didn’t have to worry about it. When I was going for 200 wins on BF Goodrich tires it took 10 races to get that win. That sucked. 300, that’s really cool, but I think I have a lot more in me. Sometimes people ask me when are you quitting? I think, didn’t I just start? I think from my experience I am at a really good point in my career. I am good at it and I have it figured out. It’s coming easier now. I am in my prime, not just driving but the pitting the logistics, the whole team and everything that goes into a win. I’ve said it before about the Baja 1000, it can take forever to figure out how to win it. Once you win it, it gets easier. I know the recipe, I just need to mix all the ingredients together and it should come out right. With all my experience it has become easier, but it still takes a lot of work.
I remember Crandon, trying to win the Fall Cup race. I started in 1994 and it took me until 99 to win it, and then I won three in a row, 1999, 2000 and 2001. It was so hard to figure out how to get it done, then once we did it, they starting clicking off one after another.
I don’t know how many wins I have at Crandon but I do know that I won 10 consecutive races at Crandon. At the end of 2000 I swept the Fall race, Pro 4 and the Cup race. In 2001 I swept Pro 4 and the Cup at the Spring and Fall races. I didn’t race Crandon again until 2009, and I won Pro 2. That’s 10 in a row.
MK: What was your most memorable race, win, lose or break?
RM: The first that comes to mind, and the one that really hurts was last year’s Baja 1000. After winning three in a row and having it down, not winning last year was my biggest let down in the last 10 years. I was talking with Jesse Jones in December at the Pahrump race. I said I can’t even believe what happened, we were not able to win the Baja 1000. Jesse looked at me and said “What the hell are you thinking, you just won three in a row. Do you know how long people try and never get one win at the 1000? That is your most devastating loss?” I said yeah, it is!
MK: Did losing the 1000 in 2017 inspire you to work harder to win it in 2018?
RM: yeah. Once we won one, we said let’s do it again, and then you win two and have a better race plan. When the Baja 1000 ends, I start thinking about what to do for the next one, 365 days away. The whole season we are testing or practicing for the Baja 1000. We are racing Vegas to Reno soon. We are bringing more pit people than we need because we are practicing for the Baja 1000. I bring all of my people to San Felipe, even though I don’t need them, I bring them all because we are practicing for the 1000. I just left my race shop and we were talking about the 1000. We are talking about the 1000 more than anything else, more than Vegas to Reno, more than the Pro 2 Championship.
MK: I talked to you the morning after your win at the 2016 1000 and you were going to test in San Felipe later that day. What happened after losing the race in 2017?
RM: When we broke near Vizcaino I had about 20 people in the area chasing the truck. We had trouble finding rooms so some crews split and went home. Most of us eventually found a hotel, someone bought beer and we hung out talked about what happened and how to do it better next year. It continued at breakfast and on the ride home the next morning.
I am always thinking about how to win the next Baja 1000. We are always testing parts, brake pads, lights, co riders, prerunning, hotels. How do we do it better. People often comment on how good our pit crews are; we have great people, but they also have flaws. You have no idea the things that we go through and the sacrifices we make. It seems like everything is perfect, but it’s far from it. It’s our experience and knowing how to deal with problems and unexpected situations that gets us over the hump, its why they are so good. You eat something bad and get sick, someone gets to a hotel first and takes your prepaid rooms, all that stuff happens to us too. Its overcoming all of that and knowing how to deal with it.
How does someone new show up in Baja with a Trophy Truck and have a chance to win? They don’t. You have to go there and gain experience and learn how to deal with the problems Baja throws at you. You need to put in your time in Baja. We know how to do it because we learned how to do it and we put our time in.
MK: What win is most memorable to you?
RM: My first Baja 1000 overall win with Mark Post and Carl Renezeder in 2007 in the Riviera truck. I have not raced Baja that long, in 1985 I raced with Michael Gaughan in the Barbary Coast 2 seater and in 86 I raced a little. Sometimes I have to remind people when they talk about my wins at the Baja 1000, I have only been racing the Baja 1000 since 1986. I have only raced a vehicle capable of winning the Baja 1000 overall half of that time. And half of that time I was racing with guys that were not favored to win. Good drivers but not who you would expect to overall. I wasn’t in a position to win it.
I was recently looking back at racing with Andy McMillin and Jason Voss, oh my god, you knew that was a good team. But you look back on it and think Holy Crap, look at what the three of them have done since then (Editor’s note. Rob, Andy and Jason have 12 Baja 1000 Overall wins between them). Andy and Jason are what Casey Folks would call A Bad Man!
MK: My most memorable Rob Mac race was at the 2009 SNORE Mint 400 when you finished 7th overall in a single seat 1600 car on the brutal North Las Vegas Mint course. What was that like for you?
RM: My third or fourth race ever was out there at the Mint in a 1600 car. I always loved that part of the desert and how rough it was, the rock garden, coming down into Speedway. We had a really good plan for that race. I went light on fuel and would do one lap and gas, one lap and gas. We never had more than 10 gallons of fuel in the car to keep it light. Less wear and tear on the car, better in the rough, that lighter weight helped. I remember getting up into the faster cars, the 10s and later the Class 1s. I was yelling GO GO! then bump them. As I passed I knew what they were thinking, “Holy crap I just pulled over for a 1600 car!” Then they would go crazy trying to get me back. I would pass them in the rough and they would pass me back on a fast road. Something not many people know about that race was on the last lap, 30 miles from the finish I had to pee so bad, and back then I didn’t wear a catheter. I started to feel a vibration in the car, that and having to pee I decided to stop, I had enough of a lead to check it. I jumped out of the car, landed on the ground, unzipping and peeing. I am looking at the car as I am peeing and I go Holy Crap! The left rear wheel is augured out. The wheel studs came loose and the wheel is about to fall off, and I’m still peeing. I’m peeing and peeing and peeing and I’m going crap, I have to fix the car! But I couldn’t stop peeing. I think it cost me at least five to eight minutes, the peeing then jacking up the car with a bumper jack, getting the spare out. Editor’s note. 5:55 faster and Rob would have finished one spot higher in the overalls.
MK: You have been lucky enough to drive a ton of racecars. Which is your favorite?
RM: In the 90s Nye Frank and Dave Clark built a Pro4 for me for the SODA short course series. That truck had air shocks and was very unique. First they outlawed the truck because it was less than the minimum 10 inch ride height, we fixed it and then they outlawed the shocks, which made me park it. I still have that truck today. It was unique. That truck and the single seat Trophy Truck from the same time that Nye and Dave built; it only raced in 96. Those two trucks had a lot of different ideas and a lot of my input. The Riviera truck is obviously iconic, but I did not have any input in building that truck.
Because of the time I have invested tuning them, including that 1600 car from the Mint. That 1600 car was a roller from Alumicraft with a lot of my input, like where to put the battery and other things. Me building it, me putting it together and me prepping it.
The cars that I was more involved in building or laying out, those are my favorites.
MK: Which race is the most fun?
RM: I really like Crandon as a race course. Its challenging and addicting. Its addicting to try and win and get fast lap time. Also the Baja 1000. The effort that it takes to conquer it, the preparation, the logistics, prerunning, all of it. I am becoming more in love with Baja as the years go on. A favorite hotel, city, taco stand or even a hamburger place. San Ignacio, Colonet, San Jaunico, Loreto, Ensenada, those favorite food places or being on the course in the middle of nowhere.
MK: A lot of Trophy Truckers prerun at race speed, and when I see you in your four seater its usually a slower more relaxed pace. What is your approach to prerunning?
RM: I’ve been there before. Now using Leadnav or GPS I take the time to make notes. Instead of learning a section by going over it a bunch of times, its more learning it by actually slowing down and looking at everything. Instead of burning 5 laps at 100 mph if you slow down and look at everything one time you can plan. If on race day there are spectators on a line, what is your next option? A lot of people prerunning burn the lines and ruts in, they don’t even move over a foot, so these ruts get worse. Why don’t you guys move over a little when prerunning? If everybody moved over 1 foot left or right it would not destroy the course so much. I slow down and try to take more in and take more notes. Look at the guys who win and ask why do they win? They have more of the package. They prerun more, they have better prep, better organization, that’s why the people that win, win. They are more prepared.
MK: Is there a number of wins when you will stop?
RM: There is no number. It will be what it is. I want to win as much as I can. A year wont dictate it. I have sponsorships through 2021. I will at least be around until then. Will short course continue after 2021? I sure hope so. Will it be around with the TV and media coverage it has now? I don’t know but I have concerns. I hope that’s not the way short course ends for me. I don’t want to go to a race to just participate. If I am not a podium guy in Short Course, I’m done.
In the desert I would probably still race not being a podium guy, because of the enjoyment, family, prerunning, camaraderie or the beauty of the race course. Later in my career, just finishing might be enough. It’s like King of the Hammers, what an accomplishment just to finish that race. The way I think of KOH is the way a lot of people think of the Baja 1000.
I guess the funding going away would stop me from racing. Possibly my skills or body going away. The incredible thing, and I am so thankful for it, that’s not a problem. After we broke in the 1000 last year at mile 550, I get out and I’m not tired, or sore. Winning this year’s Baja 500, I’m not sore, I’m not tired. 15 years ago I was more tired or sore after a Baja 500 than I am now. The trucks are better and the suspension is better, but me personally? I’m not doing any more exercise now than I did then. Thankfully as this point I feel like I am as good as ever. Hydrating and Catheters, I hydrate a lot and pee a lot during a race. I’m 53 now, maybe the key to winning is being in your 50s and peeing a lot. Larry Ragland was in his 50s when he won his three Baja 1000s in a row. There is still time. Look at Larry Roeseler now, he’s a bad dude. Hopefully I am like him.
Most off road drivers won’t start 150 races in an entire career. Rob MacCachren has won 310 races across short course, stadium and desert venues. When many drivers would think about retirement, Rob is just hitting his stride. He has a lot of wins left in him and before he is done racing I would lay money down that he will be the first to overall the Baja 1000 six times in a truck.
Photos: Durka Durka Photo