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K&N Tackles the Dust and Dirt of Baja on the Trail of Missions Tour

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Brian Binkert's 2015 Ford F-150 FX4 Sport

Brian Binkert’s heavily-modified F-150 near the start of the Trail of Missions

Brian “Bink” Binkert has traveled around the Baja peninsula hundreds of times, shooting photographs and otherwise representing the clients of his company, Bink Designs -- but always during an off-road race. What he wanted was to tour Baja at a more leisurely pace and travel to places that aren’t on the race courses. The perfect opportunity was The Monster Energy Trail of Missions, a tour organized each year by the enterprising Cameron Steele of Desert Assassins. Brian decided to enter his Ford truck along with friend and Fox Shox Marketing Manager Bryan Harrold co-driving.

Besides being a top-notch trophy truck driver and X-Games TV Commentator, Steele had been organizing motorcycle trips down the peninsula for years. He’d been considering a tour for trucks, SUVs, and Jeeps that wasn’t about setting a fast pace, but rather slowing it down. He said he had an idea for a moderately-paced, family friendly tour in Baja “rolling around in my head” for some time. He then recalled that there are 27 Spanish Missions in Baja (more than in California) in various states of repair, but all fascinating, and decided that touring a select numbers of Missions would be the theme of the trip.

2015 Ford F-150 in front of Mexican mission

The Bink Designs off-roader provides a significant contrast to the centuries-old Mission

The missions were set-up by various sects of Spanish missionaries as a base to convert the native peoples to Christianity. They also served as rest stops for travelers, being spaced one day’s ride apart. While the 21 missions in the State of California are well known, and with few exceptions been restored or rebuilt, the condition of the 27 missions that dot the Baja peninsula range from pristine to rubble. And some of those still standing were built in the 1600s. One participant examined an older mission and commented that the walls must be three feet thick and wondered just how much work must have gone into its construction. At every site, every member of the tour treated the missions with a great deal of historic respect.

This year, 18 vehicles joined the tour. One of them was Brian Binkert’s 2015 Ford F-150 SuperCrew FX4 Sport, which features a whole list of off-road mods, including beefy Fox triple-bypass shocks, massive 37” General tires, and of course a K&N 63-2592 air intake kit. Brian pulled in his client Fox Shox to underwrite his adventure, as the Trail of Missions was being film for the ABC television program “World of X Games”. Unfortunately, the episode aired over Labor Day weekend. We have been told the episode will be available online shortly.

2015 Ford F-150 driving down trail

To get from Point A to Point B in Baja, sometimes you need to take a challenging road

The group began their journey on June 23rd starting at the Tecate border crossing. Beyond the vehicles that had been prep’d for heavy-duty off road use, there were also a few that were completely stock, which help provide a sense of how leisurely the pace was. And some of the vehicles carried entire families.

Mission stops included San Borja, the El Rosario Ruins, San Ignacio, Mulege, Loreto, and San Javier which is known as “The Jewel of the Mission Trail”. But the trip wasn’t strictly about visiting the missions. There were stops at one of Baja’s pristine beaches, as well other landmarks and historical sites on the peninsula, including the 100-year-old Rancho Meling, still a working ranch.

Stops were also scheduled in small towns along the route where the teams handed out stickers and other goodies to the kids who ran up to greet the tour. This has been influenced by Steele, his wife Heidi, and his friends and tour guests, as they work to raise many for several charitable causes in Baja, including an orphanage and construction of a fire station in El Rosario, where the nearest one is currently hours away.

"This is FOX's third Trail of Missions and we keep coming back because it's the adventure of a lifetime, every time,” said Bryan Harrold, “Not only do you get to experience the remarkable history and rich Mexican culture of the Baja peninsula, this trip delivers unrivaled landscapes and vistas seen mostly via off-road trails.”

Lifted trucks on beach in Mexico

A well-deserved day of rest and relaxation at one of Baja’s pristine beaches

Asked what he enjoyed the most about the event Brian’s response was immediate “it’s a more relaxed atmosphere than coming down here for a race, there’s a lot of camaraderie between participants, that families are involved, and that you get to rub shoulders with some real racers and off-road industry heavyweights.”

The tour crossed back into the United States on July 2.

So although Cameron Steele limited entries to 18 vehicles this year, demand has been high for more participants to join the event. For 2017 he’s considering added a second “Trail of Missions” tour to his jam-packed schedule. As soon as we get wind of 2017 events, we’ll be sure to post them here for your information.

And whether you’re planning on driving on the sandy roads of Baja or the crumbly interstates of the US, remember that K&N has a filter for no matter what you drive: motor scooter to dirt bike and 4X4 to sports car that will add power and protect your engine.


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K&N Engineering in Riverside California is the world's leading manufacturer of washable performance air filters and air intake systems. K&N invented the reusable high flow cotton air filter in 1969 and has been perfecting the technology ever since. K&N is a world class filtration company selling air filters, oil filters, and intakes in over 50 countries. K&N sells over 5,000 products designed for cars, trucks, motorcycles, engines, and industrial applications. From their Million Mile Warranty to their Consumer Protection Pledge, K&N stands behind their products and their consumers 100%. The distinctive K&N logo represents performance from one of the original performance companies. For more information, visit knfilters.com.