{Couples} Who Baja 1000 Collectively, Keep Collectively: Meet the Matlocks

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Illustration by Dilek BaykaraAutomobile and Driver

From the February/March 2022 concern of Automobile and Driver.

Kristen and Wayne Matlock have been divvying up their stuff. He was loading a set of wheels into his truck whereas she checked off a listing of instruments that go to hers. The assist staff was cut up too: half Wayne’s, half Kristen’s. The Matlocks have been married 17 years, however they only cannot share anymore. All marriages undergo tough patches, and the Matlocks had 1227 bumpy miles forward.

They have been making ready for the 2021 Baja 1000, a famously difficult race with an extended course than ordinary (it varies annually relying on circumstances and permits). Plus, the Matlocks’ ordinary method of operating equally geared up Polaris side-by-side UTVs (so they might share spares) was out the window internet. Wayne was testing the latest providing from Polaris, the just-released RZR Professional R, whereas Kristen was in her tried-and-true RZR XP 1000. For the 2022 season, they’d each be in Professional Rs, however for the 2021 Baja, no crossover.

Within the Baja 500 earlier within the 12 months, each buggies broke. Wayne’s was unfixable, however his co-driver hiked again three miles with a wheel hub off the wrecked automobile to provide to Kristen, who completed fourth in her class. “This race, all of the components are one hundred pc completely different,” Wayne mentioned. “Even the wheels,” Kristen added. “Usually, we are able to no less than share wheels, however now he is 5 lug and I am 4 lug, so we even should maintain these separate.” You realize, the same old relationship issues.

Wayne grew up in a racing household; Kristen had by no means even thought-about it till they began relationship in 2003. Throughout a break in race prep, they sat down to speak with me within the back-and-forth cadence of long-partnered people telling a well-recognized story. “I used to be racing after we met. I feel she shortly acquired uninterested in sitting round and watching,” Wayne mentioned, grinning at Kristen. Wayne had purchased her a quad only for enjoyable rides, and in pushing herself to maintain up, she realized she loved the competitors and needed to race too. So she entered a neighborhood occasion, did nicely, and entered one other. “I’d choose a sure particular person out on the monitor, simply to see if I may catch and cross them—every race, a brand new one who was just a little bit sooner,” she mentioned. “I ended up with 5 ladies’s championships on quads over a 10-year span. Needed to take a while off right here and there after I was pregnant with our youngsters.” Now 10 and 12, the Matlock boys additionally race.

So does it assist or damage to be in an all-race-car-driver household? “Effectively, we combat about various things,” Wayne mentioned. “You are not arguing about placing dishes within the dishwasher the unsuitable method. You are arguing over who selected what cam as a result of it went flat. And there is no one to be the voice of purpose. We each need extra racing on a regular basis.” And naturally, they fear. One purpose for operating two vehicles somewhat than taking turns navigating for one another is to restrict the chance that they crash collectively. “Positive, I feel we fear just a little greater than we’d if we have been sitting on the sofa,” Wayne mentioned. Kristen has her personal concern. “I fear he’ll cross me, as a result of he begins behind me,” she mentioned, illustrating one more reason for 2 vehicles: They each need the joys of wheeling it throughout the end line.

Cams and crashes apart, they assume racing collectively is a power. No want to clarify to a nonracing associate why you are up at 4 a.m. reviewing maps of Mexico. There is a morale increase in signing off radio communications with “Be secure, love you,” which, certain, you would get from a mechanic, however it’s simply not the identical. Over the subsequent two days, which have been one lengthy day, the Matlocks by no means noticed one another, however every knew precisely the place the opposite was, typically extra precisely than their very own location. It was a troublesome race for each—33 hours for Wayne, almost 37 for Kristen—however even when miles of filth and twisting boojum bushes separated them, they knew they weren’t racing alone.

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Patrick Moore

Patrick is our chief editor and he's very passionate about cars. He has a bachelor's degree in marketing and he studies journalism. His favorite brand is BMW and he drives an X5 series. When he's not writing for Vehiclenews.net, he enjoys spending time with his family and 9 years old son.

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