The History of the Race
The Baker to Vegas event (B2V) is a race that was established over 35 years ago as a long and grueling foot run relay race through the Mojave Desert. The race is limited to participation by law enforcement agencies with most of the participation by sworn officers and certain limited participation by cadets and civilian personnel employed by their respective departments. It winds through the back country of the desert which challenges even the most physically fit personnel and has become the gold standard of race competition throughout the law enforcement community.
The race starts about 20 miles north of the city of Baker in the middle of the desert at 8AM on a Saturday and continuing each hour during the day until 5PM when the last of the teams start the race course. Each hour, the race starts about 25-30 teams depending upon the total number of teams running the race. Before COVID, the race was up just under 300 teams but this year in 2022 there are only about 250 teams running the race. The race consists of several categories of participants which are discussed in detail in the B2V race rule book. Time is used to score he race for the entire 120 mile race with 20 separate legs with an average leg of the race being 6 miles long, but some race legs are as long as 9 miles and some as short as 3.5 miles. A significant portion of the course is on reasonably level ground, but some of the race legs climb the mountain roads heading through the mountain pass and descend into one valley and then into another valley. The race ends at The Rio Hotel in Las Vegas after an exhausting and epic event that would challenge the best of us on Sunday morning after running all day Saturday and throughout the night.
The race provides unique challenges to both the race officials and the participants. Since the race is run through a very long distance and a very remote area of the desert, communications are challenging. There are many mountainous areas of the race course and the communications tend to be segmented into regional areas by the mountains. The ability for a conventional radio system to provide continuous communications is very difficult because each repeater can only cover a portion of the race course allowing people to speak to only others that are located within the coverage area that is covered by the local repeater. So participants at the start line north of Baker could speak to people from the Baker area to Shoshone with a repeater at Ibex Pass, but could not speak with the team captain who was at the Command Post in Las Vegas or to the team shuttle van which was on the road from Las Vegas to stage 3 to deliver the runner for that stage. If the radios were simplex, they could only talk 1-2 miles up or down the race course from wherever that person was on the race course. So communications were limited, disjointed and of limited benefit. This prevented both the race officials from being able to properly manage the race and the race teams from being able to properly manage their respective teams for maximum performance and minimum loss of time during the race.
Some race teams employed exotic means to provide reliable communications. Teams such as the National Guard and the Coast Guard would deploy an entire communications team using their “military type” radio systems and extending a considerable effort to relay messages across the race course. Other race teams utilized amateur “ham” radio operators who would set up temporary repeaters around the race course, sometimes being linked together and other times having messages manually relayed from one person to another. The medical radio network which provides the communications for the Medivac helicopters and the land ambulances for the race set up an exotic network with temporary links which barely works to provide reliable communications to the emergency medical team but does not support any other communications needs of the race. Ham radio operators are used extensively by some of the race teams in (lieu of using commercial radios) and are also used for the “last mile” communications that let each stage know when the runner is one mile from the stage where the runner changes and the baton is passed from one runner to another. Cellular phones typically work over about 40% of the race course making the use of cell phones problematic at best, however, Verizon deployed some temporary cell sites during this race.
MRA was the first to come along with a comprehensive solution that was usable by all of the race teams as well as the race management and has become the largest provider of radio communications for the Baker to Vegas race. We began our career providing race communications back in 2015 using our digital radio network when we had only two sites covering the race course which included Mt Potosi and Turquoise Mtn. We had a 3rd site at Sunrise Mountain which covered Las Vegas, but provided no coverage of the race course except for stages 18 through 20 which was also covered by Mt Potosi. In all, we provided coverage over about 80% of the race course with less than half of that coverage being suitable for portable radios and the other portion of the race course being usable by mobile radios. Since that time, we have increased our coverage significantly and we now cover about 98% of the race course with approximately 80% of the race course being suitable for portable radios. This year in 2022, our coverage is still the same but next year we expect to be able to improve the communications even further.
MRA Steps Up to the Challenge
The MRA solution is a complete radio network operating with Kenwood NEXEDGE technology. This allows MRA to tie together multiple tower sites with IP technology so that whoever is in range of one repeater tower site can speak to anyone else who is in range of any of the other tower sites. The system is designed to provide the ability to have multiple simultaneous conversations using a trunking technology which gives the network the ability to handle the massive number of calls that occur during the race. The last race that was run had over 60,000 calls in a 24 hour time period, a massive amount of traffic to coordinate the over 125 teams that utilized our network to solve their communications issues.
So now it is the time of year to run the race again and MRA has to jump into action to get ready for the race. Although we now have coverage over the entire race course, our permanent infrastructure is designed for a much smaller number of calls during the 24 hours of the race and would go into ‘meltdown” if we did not significantly expand the capacity of the network for the race. So we started our work in February getting ready with the equipment for expanding the capacity for the race at 3 tower sites including Turquoise Mountain, Ibex Pass and Robs Knob. This involved installing an additional 20 repeaters spread around the three sites. We have a site at Mohawk which is used for communications to the race teams while they are heading out of Las Vegas towards the start of the race course which had sufficient capacity to handle the limited traffic that utilizes that site. We also had to install an additional 10 repeaters at Sunrise Mountain and Mt Potosi to support the additional traffic at those two sites. This involves a total of at least $500,000 worth of equipment around the race course with almost 1,000 radios representing at least another $900,000 worth of radios. In all, MRA has well over $1M worth of radio equipment on and around the race course to facilitate reliable communications during the race. No other company has been willing to put in the effort or had the resources to provide reliable communications for the race which has been the most challenging aspect of the race since its inception. Now was the time to start our planning for the next race.
Initial Equipment Preparation and Installation
We went to work getting the repeaters ready for installation at the sites. This included not only the repeaters, but all the other accessories that were needed for each of the tower sites. In reviewing the block diagram of a NEXEDGE site, there are several elements that are required for the repeater system which include the following:
- Sufficient 12 volt power to run all of the equipment
- Additional repeaters to handle the communications capacity for the race teams
- Expansion of the receiver multi-coupler to handle the number of repeater receivers
- Expansion of the transmit combiners to handle the number of repeater transmitters
- Installation of additional transmit antennas and antenna cables
- Expansion of the router capacity to handle the additional IP ports needed
- Installation of additional batteries to handle power outages
- Additional cabling for the receiver and transmitter connections
- Additional cabling for the master oscillator connections
- Additional power connections to handle the powering of additional equipment
- Exclusive frequencies licensed to our network to place the equipment into service
- Additional physical space at the communications site to accommodate the above
All of these items had to be addressed at each tower site in order to expand the system capacity for the race.
We started by analyzing the needs at each tower site for additional capacity based upon the number of radios that we were expecting to ultimately be providing for the race. We then spent several man-days preparing the equipment to be installed at the tower sites. Then three of our technicians spent another several man-days installing the equipment at Turquoise Mountain, Ibex Pass and Robs Knob.
Mt Potosi and Sunrise Mountain
The next task was to ready the equipment for Mt Potosi and Sunrise Mountain. This took several man-days of work to prepare the equipment and power amplifiers for those two sites. The equipment was sent to Las Vegas for Rebel Communications to install at their tower sites. Due to numerous circumstances beyond their control, they never were able to install the equipment there, so on March 30, 2022 I drove to Las Vegas and met with Rebel Communications at 3:30PM to head up to Mt Potosi to install the required equipment at that location. I got out of my vehicle with my laptop computer and got into Rebel’s 4WD truck and proceeded to drive towards Goodsprings and turned off the road to head to the bottom of the mountain. (My vehicle was taken by Rebel to deliver the radio equipment that was needed to Omni Communications and then dropped off at my hotel so that I could retrieve it after we finished on the mountain.)
After a while, we reached the gate at the bottom of Mt Potosi. Rebel got out of the vehicle and opened the gate. The body of the lock completely separated from the hasp which was not what the lock was supposed to do. He locked the lock on the chain and left the gate open so that we could exit without having to stop to unlock the gate. We went up the road which had its many challenges. This is one of the steeper roads that I have traveled heading up a mountain to a radio site. Portions of the actual road are dug into the mountain and there are places where the road is at least 6 feet (or more) below grade on both sides of the road which required the site owner to pave portions of the road due to the road surface and the steepness of the road. Some portions of the road are fairly typical of dirt roads heading to radio tower sites while other portions of the road have a rocky roadbed which has no dirt whatsoever. Most of the road had potholes, washboards and other maladies which kept us from driving faster than about 10MPH heading up the mountain. One section just below the building was especially rocky and uneven making this portion of the road very difficult.
We arrived at the site around 4:30PM and proceeded to bring our equipment into the building. We proceeded with our work getting the new channels on line for the race and testing each channel for proper operation. We replaced several power amplifiers that were degrading and subject to premature failure which would not go over well during the race. We found one bad antenna cable which Rebel will have to replace the next week prior to the race so that we have a fully operational battle station.
We worked until 7:30PM at which time we left the mountain and headed down the hill to retrieve my vehicle which was used to deliver the 300+ radios to Omni Communications who also rented our digital radios for the race. I checked into the hotel and met with Rebel to have dinner in the hotel because I did not want to go around town at 9:30PM looking for a restaurant after working at the office in the morning, then driving from Los Angeles to Vegas and then working up on the mountain until late.
After staying over night with a good sleep, it was now Thursday morning when I got up at 6:30AM and went through my normal routine getting ready for the day’s work. I went downstairs with my suitcase to retrieve my laptop from the car and drop my suitcase to be able to handle my emails which meant that I needed to return to my room. Like most Las Vegas hotels which are large, the simple trip to the car is a 20 minute round trip which gave me minimal time to handle my emails because I was supposed to meet with Rebel at 9:30AM. Now I logged into my email account and handled the essential items and then packed up my computer to head downstairs to head to the front desk to check out of the hotel. Soon thereafter, I returned to the car to make a beeline to the meeting spot at the bottom of Sunrise Mountain.
This was not my first rodeo heading up Sunrise Mountain. I have been there at least 3 times previously working on the equipment resolving issues, installing equipment and preparing for previous B2V races. The mountain never ceases to amaze me with how treacherous the travel on this road can be to get to the top where the radio towers are located. I have gone to hundreds of mountain tops with radio towers and some of the roads stand out for their treachery. There is no question in my mind that this is the worst site that I have ever had to reach due to road conditions. Some may argue that Chuckwalla which is located south of Interstate 10 just west of Desert Center near the California-Arizona border which will eat one set of tires per trip and that it is a horrible road. I have been to Chuckwalla once and did not eat my set of tires. In my opinion, it is a poor third place compared to Sunrise Mountain. The other mountain that competes with bad road conditions is North Peak Mt Diablo in Concord which I have been to on 3 occasions and have experienced an immensely steep and narrow road with moguls the size of boulders. I rate that site in second place because although I was intimidated my first trip going up and down the road, the second and third trip up and down the mountain seemed like the novelty had worn off and I was OK traveling the road. Sunrise Mountain was just as intimidating this fourth time as it was the first time that I traveled up to this mountain.
We began our trek after meeting at the bottom of the mountain. There is a fence with a gate across the road that prevents just anyone from attempting to drive up the mountain which is a good thing because the road is so treacherous and almost anyone who attempts the traverse will get stuck and necessitate a rescue which is even more dangerous. Rebel was about 30 seconds ahead of me arriving at the site with sufficient lead time to assess the situation and nothing else. When I arrived at the meeting point, I got out of the car to discuss the game plan for heading up the mountain. Rebel had the Honda off road vehicle on his trailer that was specifically designed to handle these crazy road conditions. He unlocked the gate and attempted to open it wide to allow both of us to park our vehicles inside the fenced off area for increased security. However, the gate had been damaged and was scraping the ground preventing us from opening the gate fully. In fact, the gate would open only wide enough to get the Honda through the gate after maneuvering around the vehicles that were parked next to the gate thus making the entrance to the gate difficult to handle. So now we had to park our vehicles and Rebel had to take the Honda OHV off of the trailer then transfer the tools, parts, test equipment and supplies to the Honda from my vehicle and Rebel’s vehicle. After we got the vehicle inside the gate, we closed and locked the gate to prevent unauthorized people from attempting the trip up the road. If we left the gate open, we could get in trouble from the land owners and if someone attempted to travel up the road and got their vehicle stuck, they would likely block our exit from the mountain when we were finished and heading down the mountain.Read A Trip to Sunrise
We headed up the road which seems like an ordinary dirt road when one first takes off from the gate. The road is wide and relatively smooth for a dirt road. We start climbing up the side of the mountain and find some rocky sections of the road, then the road changes from a traditional dirt road to a steep, narrow and difficult road that challenges the vehicle. There were multiple switchbacks on the road which were handled well by our Honda off road vehicle which would have been extremely challenging in an ordinary 4WD vehicle. Some of the switchbacks were so sharp that when we went up the road the first time in a 4WD truck we were unable to turn around at the switchback necessitating backing up some sections of the switchbacks. However, we were in the Honda that had no trouble navigating the turns, handling the rocky roadbed and handling the steepness of the road.
We arrived at the mountain top around 10:15AM at which time we proceeded to unload the vehicle and carry the tools, test equipment, computers and parts into the building which was about 20 feet higher than where we had to park the vehicle over a rocky and slippery road path. Once we were in the building, we proceeded to perform the same tasks that we had done on Mt Potosi the prior afternoon and evening including the replacement of several power amplifiers at Sunrise Mountain just like we did at Mt Potosi.
It was now 1:30PM and it was time to pack up the vehicle and head down the mountain. It took us 10-15 minutes to pack up all of our equipment and supplies which we transported back to the vehicle without slipping on the rocks. We then headed down the road while I took many pictures detailing our trip down the mountain. The vehicle did a lot of bouncing along with some slipping and sliding. This made operating the camera difficult which produced some substandard pictures. It was about a 20 minute drive down the road to the bottom of the road where we got to unlock the gate, drive through it while dodging the parked vehicles on the outside of the gate and locking the gate behind us. Then it was time to unload the Honda and we each headed our own direction for what we each had to do with the rest of the day. My task was to drive back to Los Angeles so that I could take care of other issues regarding the B2V race on Friday along with the numerous other tasks that were required for the ordinary course of business.
I hit the road heading back to LA through Las Vegas traffic. It took me about 40 minutes to get back to Tropicana Ave where I got off the road to get some lunch at the In-N-Out Burger that was next to the freeway. I had lunch and proceeded to get back onto the freeway while forgetting to fill up with gas. Once I realized that I forgot to gas up the SUV, I pulled off the freeway at Cactus Ave and found myself in the middle of a residential area without any gas stations. So after maneuvering around to get back on the freeway, I proceeded south again and got off at St Rose Parkway and proceeded north-east where I passed the M Resort and an Arco station which does not accept any of my company credit cards, so I continued until I reached East Starr Ave / Raiders Way without finding another gas station. I then turned around and went back to the M Resort where I turned left and found a Shell gas station about 2 blocks away. I filled up the gas tank and then returned to the freeway and proceeded to head south stopping only for pit stops until I reached home by 9PM after stopping at the office to handle some emails.
Radios for the Teams
I arrived at the office on Friday morning checking the progress of getting the team radios ready. On Thursday, there was a team effort with most of the office crew working on filling the orders for each of the teams. I was amazed to see all of the bins filled with equipment with each bin labeled with the team name and team number. During my absence, one team member checked all the mobile radios for transmit power so that the radio would not overload the power circuit in the vehicles used during the race while another team member programmed the radios. Another team member was upgrading firmware while two others were stuffing radios into bins and marking the bins with the labels that I had made before leaving for Las Vegas to indicate which team was supposed to get that bin of radios. So now we were almost ready for the race with a few details remaining to be handled. Many issues had come up at the office during my day and a half venture to Las Vegas which all needed to be handled. However, I spent some time with our office personnel going over the final details of the preparation that was needed to get ready for the race so that everyone knew what was required to be completely ready for next week.
We planned to load one of our trailers with the radios for transport to Las Vegas on Friday, April 8th. Our plan called for being there at The Rio Hotel by 1PM so that we could set up in the parking lot outside the convention center to hand out the radios to the teams. We also planned to set up a TV with a continuously playing video that contained instructions on the use of the race radios so that the teams could get the best and most efficient use of the radios. Although the use of the radios is not complicated, simple things can become complicated when something goes wrong and the radio user does not understand what the radio is supposed to do which makes it difficult to determine when the radio is not doing what should be expected.
Manning the Race
It was now Friday, April 8th and it was time to head to Las Vegas for the race. We have two basic teams of people for the race which includes two men to monitor and take care of any problems the repeater system and a 3 man crew to bring the radios to Las Vegas, hand out the radios to the race teams, teach people to use the radios, take care of any missing or failed equipment, taking care of vehicle problems with the race team vehicles and holding the hand of any of the race teams that are having any difficulty. On Friday morning, we hooked up the trailer and left the office shortly after 8AM. David and Chris had left directly from their homes and headed out towards Baker (the home of the worlds tallest thermometer) which is the gateway to Death Valley where they turned north for 50 miles to get to the town of Tecopa and where there were some radios that needed to be reprogrammed for the Southern Inyo County Fire Department. David and Chris handled the reprogramming, checked out the repeater equipment at Ibex Pass and headed for Pahrump to set up the monitoring station for the repeater network. Meanwhile, Mark & I were driving to Las Vegas and arrived around 12:50PM and proceeded to set up our radio checkout station to hand out the rental equipment to the race teams. Our original plan was to set up in the parking lot, but we decided to get permission to set up on the sidewalk between the convention center check-in area and the parking lot. We set up our tent to get some shade, the TV set to display the 10 minute instructional video for the race teams to instruct them on the proper use of the radios, the generator to run the TV set, the tables and chairs so that we had a work surface and be able to sit down while not engaged with the race teams and finally the ice chest to keep us hydrated during the warm day. After we were completely set up and started handing our radios, I started posting signs inside the convention center lobby and hallways directing people to our tent where we were handing out the radios to the teams.
Now it was time to check into the hotel. We were staying at South Point while the race was headquartered at The Rio. It was time to get into my car and drive over to South Point to visit the front desk and get checked into our rooms. We had run late enough that we did not have time to stop for check-in before arriving at The Rio so now I had to backtrack to South Point. I was still dragging the trailer, so when I arrived at South Point, I looked for a place in the south 40 of the surface lot where I could get two tandem parking spaces. I parked the car and went inside the hotel to the front desk. After waiting for a few minutes, I was called by one of the front desk agents to his station to check into the hotel. I gave him my ID and credit card. He looked up my reservation and was having some difficulty finding it. He finally found it and indicated that I had arrived one day early. I told him that I have requested a 3 night stay, arriving on Friday and leaving on Monday morning. He now had to go into the back room to straighten out the reservation since I was receiving the casino rate for the room due to the work that I have done for the hotel on numerous occasions in the past. He came out and informed me that he was able to change the reservation to include Friday night. It seemed like I was over the hump when he made a remark about having the one room for the 3 nights. I told him that I was supposed to have two rooms. He checked the computer and confirmed that I only had the one room. That created a huge problem as there were 3 of us that needed to stay and one room was a bit small for all 3 people. Now he had to go back into the back room to straighten out the newest snafu with the reservation. After being gone for several minutes, he came back out with the manager who proceeded to lecture me on proper etiquette when speaking to hotel employees because he must have complained to her that I had been out of line. I had not yelled, screamed or raised my voice. I had not threatened or done anything to engender such a response except for showing irritation in my voice over the continuing snafu that seemed to encumber my visit to the hotel. She then informed me that the hotel was sold out for the night and that it was not possible to get me another room. So now I had to leave the front desk with just the one room and see what could be done to find another room for the night.
I headed for the elevator to view the room and drop off my suitcase. I ascended to the 24th floor and headed towards the room. The room key worked when inserted into the lock which was a pleasant expected outcome, but when I opened the door, I saw a room with a single king bed instead of two queen beds. So now I left the room without leaving my suitcase and headed back down to the front desk to wait in line to see another front desk agent. After waiting for about 10 minutes, I went to the next agent who was immediately next to the other front desk agent who had assisted me the first time and decided that I was out of control before getting the hotel manager to lecture me. She looked up my reservation and checked to see if any other rooms were available. She informed me that I was out of luck and that there were no other rooms with two queens available. It was suggested by the front desk that I should go next door to the Grandview Resort and that they had rooms available. So now I left the hotel heading back to my car in disgust thinking about the resort across the street could resolve my situation quickly. I got back to the car to find a notice from the South Point security that my car was improperly parked and that it would be towed if I did not move it. I felt like they had just added more insult to the existing insult and injury. What next was going to happen?
I got into the car and pulled out of the parking space while being careful not to let the trailer bump another vehicle while pulling out of the parking space. I slowly exited the parking area and got back onto the main South Point roadway heading south towards the street Le Baron Parkway. Continuing south while crossing Le Baron, I entered the Grandview Resort property and followed the roadway to the front desk check-in area which was way too small for a vehicle towing a trailer and had no tandem parking spaces. I was now stuck in traffic unable to maneuver properly. Just as I was circling the parking lot in front of the check-in, a vehicle decided to back out of a handicapped space that was next to the edge of the lot and in a unique space that I could use to park with the trailer and not block anyone while I went to the check-in counter. I went inside to check-in which was very busy and I waited for about 10 minutes to have someone assist me. When I asked for a room, I was told that they were sold out and that they did not have any rooms available. So now I had to head back to the car and figure out how to back out of the spot where I was parked without taking out any vehicles which I managed to do. Now I had to maneuver around the roadway until I was able to get out to Le Baron Parkway and out to Las Vegas Blvd where there was more room to move the vehicle and trailer.
I had been thinking about the best method to solve the problem in the least amount of time. I decided to call Rebel who has a relationship with many hotels in the area to see what he could do for me. Justin jumped on it immediately while I started to drive over to the M Resort. I headed south on Las Vegas Blvd and about the time I was turning into the parking lot of the M Resort, he called me to tell me that the M Resort was booked for the weekend and that he had checked with several other hotel properties with whom he had a relationship and he indicated that they were all sold out. He still had a few more properties to call so he said that he would call back in another 10-15 minutes after checking out the others hotels. So now I turned around and went back to the South Point to drop the trailer in the oversized vehicle parking lot where the note from security indicated that it was OK to park, especially since I was now checked into the hotel. So after dropping the trailer, Rebel called to say that none of the other hotels that they handle had any rooms for the weekend, but he found out that The Rio had some rooms for the weekend stay at $289 per night. So I made a beeline to The Rio and parked in the convention parking lot, stopping by our tent for a minute to fill the boys in with the latest status and then left them while heading towards the front desk to the front desk check-in. Like most hotels, it was a long walk from the convention center to the front desk and when I arrived, there were about 30-40 people in line ahead of me waiting to check into the hotel for the guys to have a room to stay for the next 3 nights. While waiting, there was a hotel employee coordinating the line, so I asked her if there were rooms available while I was waiting to get to a front desk agent. She informed me that there were still some rooms and the rooms were going for $309 per night, a $20 per night increase since 30 minutes ago. I continued to wait and finally got to the front of the line hoping that there continued to be room availability. Finally, I was directed to a front desk agent and requested the room. He searched the computer and informed me that he had found a room with two queens for $329 per night. Within an hour, the room rate increased twice by $20 per night during the one hour since I found out that there were available rooms. This was more insult to injury since my room at the South Point was $109 per night and due to COVID, we were already operating at a loss for the race. But beggars cannot be choosers and I needed to resolve the issue since time was passing and we needed a resolution to the problem so I said OK to the room rate and finished the check-in for the guys.
Now I was able to head back to the convention center and give the guys the room keys. It was past 7PM which was the time we were supposed to shut down the radio checkout, but we still had radios for three different teams. We started to tear down the tent, fold up the tables and collect all the equipment to load into my car and Nick’s van. We set aside the radios for the teams and kept them out for the teams. We received calls from the other teams and made arrangements with each team to get them their radios while we continued to close down and load our stuff. Two of the teams made it to the parking lot to pick up their radios while we finished the loading of the van. It was now time for us to go to dinner, but Nick wanted to drop some equipment in the trailer at South Point while Mark & I went to dinner with some others at the American Bar and Grille inside The Rio. We brought the last crate of radios with us to the restaurant where the team captain met us a few minutes after we finished our dinner and were getting ready to leave to head back to our respective hotel rooms. He made it to the restaurant just in time and we gave him the radios for the race around 9:30PM. I then got into my car and drove over to Planet Hollywood to deliver a microphone that was missing from one of the team orders before heading to my hotel room for the night.
It was now Saturday morning and we hit the road early to get to the starting line by 7:00AM to be able to help anyone who was having trouble with their radios. Mark and Nick set up a help station with the two them at the starting line to take care of vehicle problems and provide assistance with our radios along with the FRS radios that the teams normally get from other sources. I stayed in Las Vegas to take care of any trouble calls from the teams that have later start times to handle missing or failed equipment along with assisting with radio hookups in vehicles. Once we get to about 11AM, most or all of the race teams normally have had all their problems handled, but not today! Starting at 7:30AM, I encountered one problem after another with multiple teams taking care of various issues. I started by being called to The Luxor to fix two mobile radios that would not access the system. I then had to go to The Rio to fix another radio that would not access. I proceeded to head back to South Point to grab some items out of the trailer and got called when I was pulling into the parking lot about another problem at The Rio, so I turned around and headed back to The Rio. After fixing another radio at The Rio, I then had to return to The Luxor to fix another radio for another team. Mark & Nick were busy at the start line handling similar problems along with multiple vehicle problems with radios. They helped people with our radios plus some of the teams with the FRS radios required by the race management for each team that they obtained from other sources such as Best Buy. So they were busy all day while I went back to The Rio to fix radios for several more teams. One team had 3 bad radios and I fixed the two of them that they had with them. The third radio was with another team member and I had to wait for 45 minutes to get that radio to repair. I then fixed a bad magnetic mount antenna and provided another microphone to replace one that had failed. I then went back to The Luxor to fix a base station, but the problem was beyond my ability to resolve. I had one spare radio left, but it was a portable radio. I gave them the radio with 3 spare batteries to use as their base station which resolved their problem. Now I was ready to head back to South Point to get my equipment out of the trailer. After visiting the trailer and getting the required stuff out of the trailer, I then headed back to The Rio to handle one last issue. I finished there and went over to In-N-Out Burger to get some lunch at 4PM before heading out to Pahrump to set up the help station that was just past Stage 11. This was the latest that I had ever been helping the teams resolve radio issues during any of the previous races, but I got it all done and everyone was working.
The Help Station in Pahrump
It was 4:30PM when I headed south to exit the freeway at Blue Diamond Rd to start my trek to Pahrump to meet up with the guys who were setting up the help station that we had promised to the race teams just a short distance past Stage 11. I headed mostly west on Nevada Highway 160 towards the Potosi Mountains which was the home for one of our tower sites that serves the race course. As I continued west, the road migrated into a less dense area until it felt like I was totally out of the city. Eventually, the road entered the Mountain Springs pass where the transition from the Las Vegas valley to the Pahrump valley occurs. I crossed through the pass which is one of the two areas where we have poor reception with our radios due to the mountainous terrain and emerged into solid radio coverage as I continued in a northwesterly direction on Highway 160 towards Pahrump. As I continued driving, I spotted Stage 15 in the early stages of being set up. I passed the turn into the stage as I was not prepared to stop so I thought that I would turn around at the next opportunity which turned out to be Stage 14. I turned left into the stage and decided not to head back to Stage 15 as I was running too short of time. So I parked the car and proceeded to take numerous pictures from many angles of the setup of the stage which seemed to be complete. After taking plenty of pictures, I got back on the road and started heading towards Stage 13. I was watching carefully for the stage so I was prepared when I arrived at the stage and pulled over to the right side of the road and managed to pull completely off the road onto the shoulder. I got out of the car and proceeded taking numerous pictures from varying angles. After taking about 20 pictures, one of the people across the street at the stage started yelling at me that I was not supposed to park on my side of the road and that all parking was supposed to be at the stage across the street. I replied that I was not parked as my engine was still running and that I was simply stopped which was not prohibited. I am not certain if she heard me, but she left me alone afterwards as I continued shooting pictures and eventually returned to the vehicle. The sun was starting to get low in the sky which meant that I needed to move on to the next stage where I wanted to take more pictures. The lighting was not favorable for the angles that I needed for the pictures because the sun was behind the people and equipment at the stage while the sun continued to sink in the sky, so any pictures that I needed to take should be taken sooner rather than later. So I took off for Stage 12 and arrived about 6 minutes later. Again I pulled off the road to take pictures and got a similar lecture about parking on the wrong side of the street. However, several other vehicles pulled over and parked near me, so now there were enough of us to keep from being hassled by people at the stage across the street. After taking another 20 pictures from numerous angles, I continued heading towards “downtown” Pahrump where the guys had set up the help station. When I arrived, I turned left into the driveway to the dirt lot across the street from the Holiday Inn Express & Suites. They had the help table set up with charged batteries and they were standing around waiting for runners to start arriving while having a good time joking, talking and being rowdy.
After a bit of time, the first runner arrived with their follow vehicle shortly behind the runner. The first runner lets us know that we could now expect people to arrive at any time looking for a battery change or help with some other issue. Slowly, more and more runners arrived with their entourage signaling that the runners were over half way through the race course. We took lots of pictures of the runners, the local traffic, follow vehicles, the local population and anything else that passed by our location until the light gave out and we were into darkness. This kept us busy while waiting for someone to need our services.
As the night wore on, we were starting to get hungry for dinner. Dave and Chris took off to get dinner from Terrible’s Roadhouse Casino which was about a mile and a half away from our location. They picked up a vast amount of food which created a huge feast that none of us were able to finish before running out of room. During our feast, we would periodically stop to take care of a battery change or provide some other help to the race teams that needed our help. We stayed there until about 11:30PM when the almost all of the runners had passed our location at which time we packed up the vehicles and headed back to Las Vegas to return to our respective hotels for a bit of sleep before the Sunday rush of the race teams to return their equipment and party to the hilt. The drive back to Las Vegas should have taken about one hour, but there was a large amount of traffic on the road, mostly from the race teams. There were many sections of the road where we were unable to pass the follow vehicles safely, so we drove at the speed of the runners until it was safe to pass. During the drive we were unable to pass most any vehicle that was in front of us and I decided that I was going to head back to The Rio where the finish line was located to see what arrangements had been made for the finish of the race and see if any of the runners had arrived at the finish line. There was plenty of activity at The Rio as the LAPRAAC store was setting up to be ready to be open at 3AM and some of the race officials were beginning to arrive to set up the finish chute to ready themselves for the oncoming rush. Pete Demitrio from KNX1070 Newsradio announces the start line from 8AM when the first teams starts the race until 4PM when the last teams leave the start line. He also announces the finish line starting when the first runner arrives around 3:45AM until the last runner is through the finish line around 7AM. He then goes to sleep and gets up to hand out the awards to all the race teams when the award show starts at 5PM on Sunday.
Sunday and the Award Show
On Sunday, most of the race teams and officials are asleep. I slept in until about 8:30AM at which point I headed over to the Rio Hotel to set up our booth. The race has an award show that starts at 5PM, but setup for the vendors who are exhibiting at the race are typically setting up their booths at the rear of the hall from 10AM-12PM. We man the booth from about 1PM until the end of the award show so that everyone has the ability to return their radios to us before, during and after the award show. To assist in helping the teams to find us, I posted about a dozen signs in the lobby of the convention center telling people where to find our booth to return their equipment. The official use of the booth is to display our company and get people interested in renting radios from us next year, but the people are too much in party mode and typically are not interested in hearing about radios for the next year. We try to get our booth near the beer wagon and/or bar since most of the winning team members want to fill up their winning beer mugs with 32 ounces of beer while the losers want to drink beer to forget their loss in the race. In other words, people like to drink beer and being near the beer gives us exposure. We spent the afternoon taking in radios from one team after another. As each team turned in their equipment, we carefully inventoried the equipment that they returned to see what was missing or damaged. As the 3PM hour approached, the rate of equipment return increased while I took off for the VIP reception where there was a open bar where I could get anything I wanted to drink. I managed to get a Screwdriver to drink and also noticed that they were serving Miller Lite which I obtained for Nick who was quite appreciative of having a libation. There was a nice selection of hors d’evres, cheeses, salad and other goodies to eat. I had not eaten thus far, so I was hungry and took advantage of the selection of food. During the VIP reception, there was an award ceremony that honored many of the people who have worked tirelessly to make the race a success through hard labor, contributions, providing services to the race or being honored for past service to the race. It was a quality event which was riddled with class, but not overbearing. It was nice to see who was working behind the scenes to put on the race.
About 4:30PM, the awards were over and I decided to return to the main show and assist Mark & Nick with taking in more of the radios. Nick was taking out a load of radios to the trailer while Mark and I were receiving additional sets of radios. Each set of radios from a team needed to be inventoried to be certain that the team returned all of the items. The fact is that we were renting radios to police teams and their honesty was not in question. The problem was that the teams did not always take care to inventory all the items they were returning and would often forget to get a battery, power cable, antenna or other item back into the crate. The person who was returning the equipment was someone who was assigned the task to return the equipment, but often did not know what was rented. Some team members would take their radio home after the race was over without thinking about the return of the equipment. All this leads to a situation where we are chasing equipment for 1-2 weeks after the race is over so we need to know who failed to return what equipment. Occasionally someone would come by the booth wondering what we were offering or selling at the show at which point I would stop handling equipment return and spend some time with them making them understand who we are, what we do, how we serve the race and what we do in between the annual races. Most anyone who is at the race with few exceptions are not decision makers in their respective departments, but they often talk about their experiences at the race which gives us name recognition. On rare occasions, someone who is high up the food chain will come by our booth to see what we do to find out who we are and what we are capable of doing. On other occasions, someone who did not use our radios will come by the booth which gives us the opportunity to explain why our radios are different than radios from other companies and how our radios will benefit their race team. With all that we have to do during the show, we keep extremely busy taking care of the teams and all who pass by our booth.
While all of our activities are going on, we stop at to listen to the award show from time to time. It is very moving to listen to the many speakers & singers who honor our country, honor our flag, honor our national anthem without anyone kneeling, honor the men and women of law enforcement, honor our fallen brethren, honor the winners of the race and honor all who participate in the race. At times, I stand there in awe of the dedication and patriotism exhibited in the room and wonder how much better the world would be if everyone had similar attitudes.
As the evening wore on, we continued to receive equipment back from the teams, take more equipment to the trailer and enjoy ourselves in spite of the hard work. Eventually, the show would be over and the room would start to thin out which would give us the opportunity to start the process of tearing down our booth which continuing to receive a dribble of radio equipment. We made trip after trip to the trailer as we continued to receive equipment until eventually, all the equipment was out in the trailer along with all of the show materials and the show booth. About the time we had the trailer packed, we received a call from Omni Communications that they wanted to return all the equipment that they had gotten from us over a week previous to today (about 350 radios) on Monday morning around 11AM. Since the trailer was full, we now needed to unload a bunch of the equipment from the trailer into Nick’s van so that we would have the space to accommodate the radios that were being returned by Omni. Nick intended to leave Las Vegas first thing Monday morning before the meet with Omni Communications which would prevent us from loading any of those radios into Nick’s van so the only solution was to move some of the equipment that we have already received and stored in the trailer into Nick’s van. Therefore, Nick brought his van over to the trailer to facilitate moving equipment from the trailer to his van.
The Race & the Show are Finished
After completing the loading of the vehicles with the returned equipment, we locked up the vehicles and went inside the hotel to get some dinner. We were all tired and hungry. None of us were in the mood to roam around Vegas looking for a restaurant so we decided to have dinner at the All American Bar & Grill. We walked into the convention center from the parking lot, proceeded to walk up Convention Way to the casino and headed for the restaurant. When we arrived, we stood in line for a short time when the hostess informed us that the restaurant was closing so they could only seat us at the bar which did not have even two seats together. We elected to go to another restaurant in the hotel so we looked around and found the new Korean BBQ restaurant which none of us had ever tried in the past. So we made a beeline to the Korean BBQ which was a short distance away and arrived there ready to eat and hungry. Unfortunately, the host was missing and we had to stand there for about 10 minutes before he resurfaced. We were then seated and after reviewing the menu, we determined that it was an all-you-can-eat dinner. None of us were looking for an all-you-can-eat meal, but we decided to give it a try since there was a good variety of food available and the food was cooked at the table so we did not have to get up to chase the food. We sat there and enjoyed the best meal that we had during the race while testing our stomachs to see how much overeating we could tolerate without getting real uncomfortable and lethargic. It was now about 10:30PM so after we finished stuffing ourselves with delicious food, Mark & Nick retired to their room at the hotel while I had to drive to my hotel room at the South Point where I had to park the vehicle and trailer in the oversized vehicle lot and begin the long trek from the car to the hotel room dragging my laptop computer which takes about 12 minutes. I arrived at the room, tore off my clothes and proceeded to pass out in the bed where the world ceased to exist until the next morning.
I had the alarm set for 8AM to start the day early enough to be at Omni Communications by 11AM. Getting up earlier was a waste of time because they were not going to have the equipment ready for pickup much before that time. So after the alarm went off to wake me up, it was time for my morning routine to get ready to leave the hotel. It took me until about 9AM to be ready to leave with my suitcase packed when I started handling my emails from the weekend. These always take some time as I receive about 200 emails per day which have to be read, handled or deleted. Also, I get inquiries for rental of my condos in Mammoth which takes time to properly respond to the requests in the inquiries. I finished about 9:25AM at which time I checked out of the room via the TV in the room and proceeded to head to the parking lot to retrieve my vehicle and the trailer. I started up the vehicle, exited the parking lot, went to the local gas station to get a bottle of water and then headed towards the freeway to head north to The Rio where I needed to pick up Mark. Nick had already left earlier as planned so he was long gone and Mark did not want to walk home from Las Vegas, so it was important for me to go by the hotel to pick him up. I called him to let him know that I would be there in 10 minutes and gave him instructions on where to meet, so I headed directly to the parking structure to pick up Mark, turn around and head out the front of the hotel to go to Omni Communications. He was just arriving at the meeting point when I arrived because he was having trouble finding a route from his hotel room to the meeting point. We followed Google Maps over to the Omni location which was their home.
We arrived around 10:30AM, about 30 minutes early in the hopes that they would be ready with the equipment that they were returning. We were pleasantly surprised to find out that they had just finished and were all done sorting & inventorying the equipment. They had some of their neighbors as guests for Sunday brunch and invited us to join in which sounded good to us. Mark had already eaten breakfast, but I had not eaten. They had waffles and bacon which sounded great to me, but since I cannot tolerate much sugar, I had to eat the waffles without syrup which was a new experience. I looked at everyone else loading up their waffles with butter and the syrup, but I had to just put some butter on the waffles and be satisfied with what I was allowed to eat. It was better than I originally imagined, so I ate 2 ½ waffles along with 2 strips of bacon. We assisted briefly with cleanup and then started the process of moving the equipment out to the trailer so that we could load it up. We had left just about the right amount of space in the trailer, so it was pretty full when we were done.
The Gun Shop
We left Omni Communications and started heading towards the freeway. We were quite a distance off the freeway, so it was going to take us almost 15 minutes to get back. We had talked about visiting a gun shop while in Vegas, so we looked them up on Google and found a gun shop that was on the way back to the freeway. After parking the vehicle and trailer, we went inside the gun store where I was in awe over all the hardware that was available. I had never owned a gun and was only vaguely familiar with firearms. I have fired a gun on 3 occasions in the past and really do not feel very comfortable with firearms. I had never wanted a gun before, but with the rising crime and lawlessness that has permeated Los Angeles, I felt that it was time to investigate having a firearm.
We went inside the Wild West Gun Shop and proceeded to look around the shop. The shop had many weapons from the past which goes along with the name of their shop. If you are into gun collecting, they have a number of old relics that would be of interest to most collectors. Shortly after walking around to get the high level scan of the inventory, I stepped up to the counter where one of the stage coach hands was ready to assist me with my questions. I spent about 30 minutes trying out different guns and looking at different features on the guns. I found out what was meant by “single action” and “double action” as it related to guns. I looked at manual sights and electronic sights, six shooter revolvers and a Glock with 10 bullet magazines. I learned a lot about guns in a short period of time. I also learned when I decided to purchase a gun that they could not sell me a gun for which I was disappointed and so they were also disappointed. They did not know I was a California resident until I decided to purchase a gun and since I was a California resident and not a Nevada resident, the law did not allow me to purchase a gun at this shop. Although I was disappointed, I understand the reasoning and left the shop without being able to purchase anything.
The Trip Home
Now it was time to hit the road heading back to Los Angeles. It was now about 1:30PM and we had a 4.5 hour trip ahead of us. We left the gun shop and proceeded to turn right on Ali Baba Lane heading west and turning left onto Valley View Blvd heading north towards Tropicana Ave and turning right towards the Interstate 15 freeway. Before reaching the freeway, we stopped to fill up the gas tank since pulling the trailer eats a lot of gas and we are not likely to be able to get back to Los Angeles without filling up again even though we were going to start with a full tank of gas. We pulled up to the pump occupying two spaces with the car and trailer at the Terrible Herbst gas station. The gas station was fine, but the gas bill was truly “Terrible”. I was wondering if I had to mortgage the house to get out of the station but we managed to survive with only a modest exorcism of the wallet.
Now it was time to get on the freeway to head south, so we turned right onto the freeway after pulling out of the station. I accelerated down the on-ramp which helps with gas mileage when pulling such a heavy load as we had in tow. I remembered to place the vehicle in tow mode which changes the operation of the transmission shifting points, thus increasing the torque available for the rough job ahead. This is one of the longest on-ramps I have ever traveled as it took at least 3 miles to merge with the main portion of the freeway south of the Interstate 215 and just a bit north of the Blue Diamond Blvd exit. But now we were on the road traveling at highway speed heading the 40 miles to the California border at a brisk pace of 65MPH that is OK to travel in Nevada, but not allowed once we enter California because all vehicles towing a trailer are limited to 55MPH. We were moving along briskly as we approached Jean. I turned to Mark to point out the building to the east side of the road that was up against the mountains about a mile from the freeway and told him that he had a room reserved there. He was a bit confused until I informed him that it was the correctional facility at Sandy Valley. He did not want to stay there and told me not to stop. I told him that he would lose his deposit for the room reservation, but he insisted that we keep going without stopping since we were already running later than originally anticipated. So we kept going south towards the California border where we passed the Primm hotels and the premium outlet center to traverse into California.
We continued past the country club used by the guests of the hotel that was about 6 miles into California and shortly thereafter came to the agricultural inspection station where we slowed down for the inspection that never occurred. The inspector waived us through without stopping so we accelerated back to the reduced California highway speed as we started to pass the solar generating station which was operating as we drove by the area. The solar reactors glow with a bright white light from the reflections from the thousands of mirrors that surround the reactor that reflects the sunlight onto the elevated tank which heats the liquid to run the turbines which generate the electricity. It was an impressive sight today just as impressive as the many other times that I have passed the same solar generating array. The installation creates a lot of clean energy, but does have one significant drawback. When birds fly over the solar array and fly through the high energy from the reflecting mirrors, they can fall out of the sky fully cooked and ready to eat! The environmentalists are not fond of this unintended outcome, so it became necessary to install some technology to deter the birds from flying over the area.
One thing that was noticeable was the considerable wind traveling through the desert. The wind was partially a headwind and partially a cross wind with considerable force. This caused us to eat gas faster than anticipated and caused me to drive with considerable care and keep a tight hold of the steering wheel. Pulling the trailer was like driving a mobile billboard with a huge sail. The vehicle was being blown from side to side with gusts of wind exceeding 50MPH. But that was not the worst part of the problem. The wind was creating a huge dust storm which made visibility poor and caused most of the other vehicles to slow down to a crawl. So now we were driving at as little as 5MPH depending upon the wind speed and visibility for the next 10 miles while we traversed the area where the winds were funneled by the mountains into a voracious cyclone stirring up the otherwise calm desert. We kept going, slowly working our way back home while dodging the other vehicles who seemed like they did not know how to drive under adverse conditions. We regularly drive difficult conditions heading up and down the dirt roads driving to the tower sites where our equipment or our customer’s repeater equipment is located, often with fog, wind, rain, sleet or snow conditions. The poor visibility did not scare us as long as we had enough visibility to see far enough ahead so that we knew that we were not about to run into something or run off the road. In all, we were better off than most of the other drivers who were freaking out over the wind conditions.
We continued heading towards beautiful downtown Baker, the home of the world’s tallest thermometer. The thermometer was 134’ tall, representing one foot for each degree Fahrenheit of the hottest temperature ever recorded on the surface of the earth which occurred at Death Valley National Park. Baker is the gateway to Death Valley from the majority of civilization, so the thermometer was built as a monument to the unique attributes of Death Valley and as a tourist attraction to get more business into the roadside town of Baker. Many people stop there to see the thermometer up close, but we were stopping there to make a pit stop and get something to drink before continuing our drive across the desert.
We headed south on Baker Blvd to access the on-ramp to Interstate 15 to head back home to Southern California. We passed the rock and gravel plant as we entered the freeway as we accelerated to highway speed. I always have liked the drive from Las Vegas to Los Angeles because of the interesting landscape which is archeologist’s playground as we proceed on our way back home and I always like trying to spot new radio tower installations to keep mental track of what is happening from a telecommunications standpoint. We approached Zzyzx Road which has been a considerable source of controversy as to the proper pronunciation of the word. Some people pronounce it “zzis-ex” while others say “zi-zex” while still others call it “zikes”. I vote for the last pronunciation but the jury is still out. However as time goes on, it seems like there is more evidence that I have it down correctly. We continued past Zzyzx Road and noticed that the wind was picking up. We were heading into a canyon area where the wind can get funneled. As we proceeded, we noticed that visibility was decreasing and that we were heading for another dust storm. The traffic speed slowed down as we were getting sandblasted by the dust storm. There was no place to hide and we were wondering if the paint on the vehicle and trailer was going to be permanently damaged by mother nature’s fury, so all we could do was to continue our quest towards home. As we passed through the area, I spotted two different radio tower sites; one north of the highway at Rasor Rd and one at Afton Mountain. Eventually, we exited the mountainous area and the winds were calmer which improved the visibility and the highway speeds.
We continued towards Yermo where the old California agricultural inspection station used to be located before the state moved it out near the California state line at Primm. Cal Trans had removed almost all traces of the old inspection station as it was becoming difficult to tell that it had ever been located there. As we looked towards the southwest, we could see Elephant Mountain which has the profile of an elephant lying down, but the profile is much more pronounced when heading towards Los Angeles on Interstate 40. One time when I was heading back to LA from Needles, I had my epiphany when I looked at Elephant Mountain and realized why it was named as such. Since we were on Interstate 15, one could see the profile, but it was considerably more subdued and required a bit more imagination to see why it was named Elephant Mountain.
We kept driving home as we passed Elephant Mountain and arrived at the final stretch heading into Barstow. We topped the hill and proceeded down towards Barstow as traffic had been heavy again. As we got closer to Barstow, the traffic started to break up and by the time we were in town, the traffic was at full speed. We drove through town on the interstate highway and decided that it was time for another pit stop and some food at Lenwood, the travel and outlet center that was built on the southeast edge of Barstow as one would exit the main portion of the small city. We turned left on Lenwood Road and proceeded towards the In-N-Out Burger, one of our favorite sources of junk food aka “the local choke and puke”. We wanted to sit down and have a nice dinner at the Black Bear Diner, but we did not want to spend the additional time as we were likely to get back to the office where we were going to drop the trailer around 8PM without stopping for a sit down dinner. We would then still have to drive home which is another 30 minutes. We have had 4 long days of hard work and both of us were looking forward to getting home to relax.
After having dinner and making a pit stop, we were back on the road heading towards Los Angeles area where our office is located and eventually to our respective homes. The drive was typical for where we were at the time but as we got closer to the Victorville area, traffic increased and slowed down. Often the traffic lightens up after passing Oak Hill which is the edge of the high desert where one would descend into the Cajon pass, but traffic did not lighten up. The good news was that the downhill grade would reduce our gas consumption. The bad news was that we did not have enough gas to get back to the office so when we got to the bottom of the pass and the road split between Interstate 15 and Interstate 215, we started looking for a place to get gas. We exited the highway at Sierra Avenue where there were several gas stations located. We picked one, filled up with gas and proceeded to get back onto the freeway to continue the trek heading home.
By towing a trailer, not only did we get poor gas mileage (and at the current gas prices we had an expensive problem), we had the speed and lane restrictions that go along with towing a trailer under California law. We were required to stay in the right two lanes which often had more traffic than the other lanes. As we approached the Interstate 210 freeway interchange, it was necessary to juggle the lanes so that we were able to head west on Interstate 210. We merged onto the Foothill freeway and proceeded towards the Interstate 605. It was another 30 minutes before we reached the I605 where we maneuvered into the southbound interchange ramp. Now that we were heading south on the I605 freeway, we encountered more traffic. Even though we had two people in the vehicle, we could not use the carpool lane because we were towing the trailer. So we crawled at the speed of traffic heading south on the I605 freeway eventually reaching the Interstate 105 Century Freeway where we proceeded west towards our exit at Paramount Blvd. We got off the freeway and headed south towards the shop which was only another 5 minutes away. Upon arrival at the shop, we backed into the parking lot to park the trailer in the lot. Now it was time to unhook the trailer, install the trailer foot and head home. Mark picked up his vehicle at the office where it had been parked the previous Friday and now was making a beeline towards home while I made a beeline towards my home. By 8:30PM, we were both home and attempting to unwind for the day.
The next morning, I was up around 7AM which is an hour later than my normal start time. I was in no hurry to get to the office as I had put in 4 long days of work for the race. I managed to get to the office by 10AM where I found people at the office already working on unloading the trailer which was crammed with radio equipment. After completely unloading the trailer, we parked the trailer in its long term parking spot and proceeded to check out, sort, inventory and clean up all the radios so that they can be put away into storage.
It is now a month later after the race is over and we are still dealing with the aftermath of the race. We just received two radios back just two days ago along with two spare batteries from Omni Communications who just got them back from their race teams. We just finished getting the last of the radios that we rented back from the race teams less than a week ago. We found one of the mobile radios that had been rented by Omni Communications which appeared to be dragged over the concrete or asphalt by the microphone cord wearing down and damaging the corner of the radio. We had multiple magnetic mount antennas that had the cord severely damaged or severed by the car door or the car window, cigarette lighter power cords that were broken, missing antennas and microphone cords that were shredded which means that some of the race teams did not treat their radios very well. We understand that they are there to run a race and not to be professional radio operators but their lack of care increases our cost of doing business and ultimately must be reflected in the cost of renting radios to the race teams.
Some day we will make some money renting our radios to the race teams, but this is not the year is was to happen. We have lost money every year providing communications to the B2V race. In 2019, we thought that we were going to make money for the first time since we started working with the race in 2015 but due to COVID19, the race was canceled after we put 80% of the work into the race, purchased the necessary equipment, programmed all the equipment for the race teams and then we had to refund or credit all the money for all the race teams. This year, we were down about 25% in radio rentals from the 2019 canceled race.
To handle the race each year, in addition to the time that we spend promoting the race at the team captain meetings and the sponsorship that we donate to the race, we have 3-5 men spend considerable time during the several weeks prior to the race preparing spreadsheets of the radios rented, programming radios, programming the network for the radios that will be out on the race course, inventorying all of our equipment, fix any issues with the radios, purchase any equipment (such as magnetic mount antennas, power adapters, antenna adapters, batteries, portable radios, mobile radios, InstaCrates, power supplies and power cords) that we have insufficient quantity on hand, make additional power cables and power adapters, update the website for the newest race maps & instructional videos, print & laminate coverage maps, print instructional pamphlets, print race team instructions, prepare all the team equipment, prepare extra radios & accessories to handle emergency situations, bring spare batteries, tents, tables, chairs, miscellaneous supplies, our display booth for the award show, generator, extension cords, etc. We use over $1M worth of equipment for the race including the radios on the race course and the repeater equipment that we have installed at the tower sites around the race course. Our cost of personnel to conduct the race after everything is prepared and loaded into the trailer is considerable with 5 men spending 3 long days plus all of their travel and living expenses.
The race has been a labor of love and a test of our capabilities. Speaking with several professionals who have worked with the B2V race over the years have told us that if we can handle this race, we can handle anything. The logistics of the B2V race exceeds that of any other event due to being spread out over 120 mile race course. We have been commended for our ability to handle the race in a truly professional manner with a high level of satisfaction on the part of almost all the teams that have rented radios from us for the race. We provide on site support during the race which is not provided by any other companies that rent radios to the race. No one else has come close to the level of support provided by MRA. We feel strongly that we had another job well done and the vast majority of the race teams agree.
Thank you Baker to Vegas for the opportunity to prove that we outperform everyone else, bar none.