We Went Desert Off-Roading in High-Speed Dune Buggies

Meet the people who build and race the world’s fastest dune-conquering vehicles.
August 2, 2017, 6:00pm

In the latest episode of our Speed Daemons series, host Derek Mead travels to the Mojave Desert to meet the people under the hoods and behind the wheels of vehicles capable of whipping over boulders and ditches at 130 miles per hour.

The mini-doc delves into the high-octane lives of those who find roads within some of roughest, unforgiving terrain on Earth, outside of Las Vegas.

Take Willie Kalajian, who's been transforming iconic Volkswagen Beetles into dune buggies since the 1970s. As he explains, he's not only passionate about building cars but loves racing them and finding freedom in the dunes.

"It's an adrenaline rush," Kalajian said. "You're in the middle of the desert. You go from point A to point B, and all the time the clock is running. And you'll sacrifice anything you need to to finish the race."

From there, we meet BJ Baldwin, a champion of the Baja 1000, the off-road equivalent to the Indianapolis 500. Baldwin takes Mead for a spin in a "Trophy Truck," a powerful dune buggy with 39-inch tires and an 850-horsepower engine.

"If something's in front of you, don't swerve," Baldwin warned. "That's because if you swerve in this, it'll flip over so fast. We'll be upside down and on fire before you know it."

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