In the heart of Orange County, CA lays a group with an incredible thirst for adventure, outdoors, culture and DIRT! The idea behind BK2 BAJA (Back 2 Baja) is the brainchild of Dustin Densmore and Macaine Piercy. They met through working together as firefighters for the Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA). Both have been obsessed with Baja from an early age, in fact Dustin has been going to Baja since the mid 80’s and would regularly spend summers in the Sea of Cortez as a kid. Macaine has also been traveling south of the border for years, surfing and riding dirt bikes throughout the peninsula. The two had been scheduled on a shift for the first time, and quickly realized how much they had in common with regards to a shared passion for the Baja peninsula.
Densmore explains, “Baja is the last true frontier in the Americas. A place that allows you to point your vehicle of choice in almost any direction and just go. Seemingly limitless miles of open land containing hundreds of microclimates produce the most diverse, challenging, and breathtaking trails on the planet. It’s a place that truly allows you to be free, to explore, and to experience. Even after 35+ years of going traveling South, every trip brings something new. A new experience, trail, encounter, lesson, or introduction.”
For those that have traveled to Baja, we are confident you get it. For those that haven’t, Densmore continues on, explain the true beauty of Baja. “You can’t talk about Baja without talking about it’s amazing culture, food, and one of the biggest reasons we started BK2 BAJA, the people. Baja natives are among the kindest, most humble, and giving group of people we have ever encountered.” During our conversation Densmore reiterated how much the people of Baja are always eager to help, say hello, take a picture, and of course, get some stickers. Those that have traveled with any off-road racing team, or company find out quickly that stickers/decals are looked at like gold in Baja. We at Dirt Chronicles can vouch firsthand that decals have been used as currency, and sometimes to pay a highway toll. It shows how equally each side of the border is infatuated by the others culture. That’s what it’s all about. If you have stickers, you are King so to speak. With a huge smile Densmore continued, “I can’t count how many times we have been helped by locals, and rarely do they ask for anything in return. People always ask us if we get harassed, robbed, or feel unsafe while we are down there. It always makes me laugh, we feel safer most places in Baja than we do stateside, that’s just the truth of it all.”
While discussing these adventures we also agreed that Baja can be a very humbling place to explore. Being hundreds of miles from the nearest village, knowing if something bad happens, nobody is coming to help you can be a scary thought, which is one of the reasons many are worried to travel over the border. It’s also an incredibly freeing feeling as well. Free from outside influence, free from the digital world, just you, your vehicle, and your friends. Combined, they lead to a lifetime of memories. The Baja race culture began in the mid 1960’s, the stories old racers could tell you would absolutely blow your mind. They eventually stemmed many new racing organizations, but none close to feeling of off-road racing on Baja.
We began trading stories and experiences and realized we can do this all night. So back on track why Densmore and Piercy began BK2 BAJA. “Whenever we would come back from our adventures, everybody always wanted to hear the stories and see the pictures. The problem is, there is no way to convey the feeling of what you see and experience through words and pictures, you can try, but it’s impossible to do it justice.” Densmore explained. He continued, “We started talking about creating something special. A way of sharing our love for the country, the dirt, the culture, and the people. A fully immersive experience for the people who partake that would bring people from all walks of life together, creating new relationships, sharing experiences, and making memories that will last a lifetime. Our goal from the beginning wasn’t to build a customer base to fit a bottom line, our goal was to create a family. Every time we open up a new run we are just as excited as we were the first run. Sharing the experience with the people we meet makes Baja an even more special place than it organically is.”
Densmore Shared With Us the Original Run Outline, Which Still Holds True Today
A detailed list of commandments if you will:
- Diverse terrain – desert, mountains, beaches, rocks, sand, riverbeds, wetlands, creeks, racecourse. People want to see what Baja has to offer for off-roaders, we show them that the country has so many surprises other than what you see in race footage.
- Historical off-road landmarks – Paying homage to those that paved the way for dirt sports is essential. We visit landmarks on every trip and tell stories over the radio about heroes of Baja, while we drive.
- Portal to portal service – We didn’t want the people we bring on our adventures to worry about anything other than driving, learning, and experiencing. So our runs include:
- Lunches and dinners
- Chase truck and trailer
- GPS Files
- Road books
- Super awesome radio traffic
- Family atmosphere – Include everybody and make them feel like a family member. On our runs we do everything together. What makes these trips so amazing and is the backbone of who we are is our focus on the people that we share these runs with and the relationships that are born.
- Giving back – As I mentioned, Baja is filled with the most selfless and giving people we’ve come across in our travels globally. Always eager to help. If we were going to do this, we were going to give back to the people who are kind enough to share their country with us. From helping log trucks with flat tires to visiting orphanages with trucks full of toys and clothes, finding ways to say thank you to Baja, as a group, matters most.
- Share Knowledge – Talk about line choice, breaking, turning, and all other aspects of off-road driving. Sand, rocks, mud, whatever the terrain, we try and share what we have learned and a lot of times, learn from the people on the runs.
When we first set out to learn a bit more of BK2 BAJA, we had an idea of their goals and adventures, what we didn’t know was the level of passion the group has for the community and culture of Baja.
Listening to stories and experiences were humbling to say the least, but we figured why stop? Let’s get down to it even deeper, so we hit him with a little Q&A!
What Year Did You Start the Business?
What Growth Have You Seen In Such a Short Time?
Massive. It has been humbling to see how well received the trips have been, not only with our customers, but the off-road community, partner companies, and Baja residents. Our trips regularly book up in the first 24 hours. We do announce upcoming runs to our mailing list prior to public offering. What is also amazing is the amount of return customers, the OG BK2 BAJA family. We have a group of 7 trucks that make every effort go on all trips we organize. For us, that shows us that we are doing something right.
Who Can Attend?
Our trips are open to anybody who’s vehicle meets the requirements for the trip, as long as they have a craving for adventure and a great attitude. Those can vary depending on what type of run it is. Entry is for one driver and one co-driver. Both must be 16 or older for all runs unless stated as a family event. Participants also must possess all of the required documentation to travel across the border.
How Has COVID Affected the Company?
It was a tough year to start a business. Our first run had to be postponed for 3 months. That was disappointing but some things are out of our control. As far as how COVID has affected the runs, we’ve had to make some adjustments. The most important thing to us is the safety of our group and the safety of the locals. All participants are temperature checked daily by staff and encouraged to minimize exposure two weeks prior to the trip. When in Mexico our group shows absolute respect and care towards the locals. Once again, we are guests in their amazing home, and that’s how we treat them. Offering a safe way to get out of the house, and offering all events with a social distance atmosphere as desired, gives customers peace of mind and also hits some of the cravings for “getting out” that everyone is looking for right now.
Describe One of Your Favorite Moments
That’s a tough one, I’ll give you a couple. You know when you’re running these events, you have to anticipate mechanical issues. On our first run, it was hot. Not Orange County, CA hot, 122 degrees hot. We had just left BOLA (Bahia De Los Angeles) and were heading north. Our run for the day was some old race course, followed by Frog Canyon, and then up to San Felipe. Coming into Frog from the south consists of some fun smooth desert, transitioning into whoops before the canyon. One of our drivers, Joseph Park (also our mechanic), Busted a golf ball sized hole in his radiator. For me I’m thinking, shit. We are 2 hours from BOLA, and 3 from San Felipe. Not only that but it’s 122 degrees outside. I was so stoked to see every truck empty out, didn’t matter how hot it was, people wanted to help. Everyone found a job. We had an umbrella holder, a photographer, a “beer and water passer-outer”. We pulled the radiator in the middle of that whoop section. Cleaned it, patched it, and we were back on the trail. It’s not that it was the craziest repair. It was the fact that 25 people that we randomly brought together, were truly experiencing Baja the way we had intended. Stopped in the middle of nowhere, working together, dirty hands and huge smiles. They were a part of each other’s stories now. That was the moment when we said “wow, we’ve created something cool”.
The second was on our Christmas run in December. As we mentioned, giving back to the people of Baja is a huge focus of ours. A few weeks prior Macaine had gone down and linked up with a local orphanage. As with many such establishment in Mexico, their budget is extremely low and the workers do everything they can to make ends meet. Many of the kids come from violent backgrounds and have had to endure events that no child should ever have to experience. While he was down there he asked how we at BK2 BAJA could help. They had a few very small asks such as underwear and socks. At our driver’s meeting 4 weeks before the run, we informed our participants of our plan to visit the orphanage on our last day. Knowing that this was an off-road trip, we weren’t sure how it would be received. Well, we were completely blown away by the support and enthusiasm for the plan. This amazing group of people brought clothes, bikes, scooters, toys, everything you could think of. Let’s put it this way, the entire long bed of the F-250 was loaded to the roofline, as well as the inside of the cab. With it being Christmas time, one of our participants and his wife even made each kid their own stocking. On the last day of our run, we rolled up to the remote orphanage with 17 trucks, you should have seen the looks on the kids’ faces. The staff gave us a tour of the facility, and some of our trucks gave the kids rides around the property. Afterwards, we unloaded all of the gifts that we had collected from the group. These kids didn’t know what to do when they saw the pile. They very politely started going through the goods, picking out stuffed animals, soccer balls, bikes, whatever peaked their interest to play with at the moment. Even better than the gift of material objects was the fact that the entire crew all hung out and played with the kids, even started an impromptu soccer game. Looking around, it seemed these children had forgotten their hardships, if only for a couple hours. As we watched our group play with these children as they would their own kids, we knew we were doing something good. We were truly accomplishing what we had set out to do, bringing people together, creating life long memories, and making positive impacts to the people of Baja.
What’s Next for BK2 BAJA?
A lot! We are expanding into UTV runs. We have one coming up at the end of March. 17 cars, 4 nights, can’t wait for that one. We plan on making UTV runs a regular occurrence annually.
We have also begun offering private group events. The next one is a 5 day run down the Sea Of Cortez side. When doing private events, we ask the participants exactly what type of trip they would like. Our next group asked to see the Sea of Cortez side of the peninsula and to focus on beaches, less drive time, and an overall mellow experience. Allowing the private groups so have input ensures that they get the most out of their trip.
What Types of Events Do You Offer?
Baja Truck Runs (most popular)
- Generally, well set up trucks, higher speeds, technical
- All camp or camp/hotel combo
- Slower paced
- Well set up UTV’s
- Chase truck carries luggage/parts
- Hotel lodging
Local meet ups and take overs
- Group Rides
- Camping weekends
Baja Family run (coming soon)
- Cultural stops (missions, landmarks), beaches, mountains
So Who Helps You Out?
This wouldn’t be possible without support from our amazing team.
- Ride Baja Mexican Insurance
- Desert Squadron Trauma Kits
- Switch Pros
- SS Built
- OnX Offroad
- OC Raceworx
- Mikes Tint Shop
- MTS Wraps
- KC HiLites
- Savage UTV
- Pro Eagle
- Docent Brewing
We also want to send a huge shout to:
Gregg Boydston, our photographer for grabbing the shots. @greggboydston. Javier Castellanos, our caretaker and chef @eucalipto_restaurant_bar_grill Erik Johnson, our partner and friend from @ridebajamexicaninsurance
As mentioned above, when we initially reached out to Densmore to discuss what BK2 BAJA was all about, we had an idea. I believe MTV made the term “You may think you know, but you have no idea” famous. Well soon after discussing, we realized quickly we had NO IDEA at all. Not only are they first responders by day, but they are also changing lives as a “hobby”, if that’s what you want to call it. Those who attended their “runs” have come back with a life changing experience, while those they touched along the way received the same feeling. We are truly excited and intrigued for the future of BK2 BAJA, and we continue to wish them all well. Follow them on Instagram and Facebook @bk2baja and sign up to their mail list at www.bk2baja.com………………Stay tuned!