Dust to Glory
Interviews with Principals
By Ross Anthony

Mike "Mouse" McCoy, Dana Brown, Scott Waugh and C. Rich Wilson file into the Four Seasons hotel room already in humorous demeanor. They sit down ready to chat about the film, fun and passion in general. Dana and Scott are quick to joke and laugh. While Mouse and Rich are more serious, quick to link the mojo of Baja with life lessons and personal challenge.

RA: Why didn't the authorities close the roads to local traffic?

DB: They just didn't want to take a day off.

MM: There's just not the man power to do a full scale lock down because people got to get back and forth to their farm, their work.

RA: So... it's simply allowed?

SW: They love the Baja. They have the rules, when you're on a live road which is the pavement, you're supposed to abide by the laws -- they're racers man, ain't nobody abide by nothin'. Once they get on the pavement, their foot's in it until they get pulled over.

RA: Any coincidence that the trophy trucks -- the most expensive vehicles -- got pulled over?

RW: Couldn't catch the bikes.

MM: We, my motorcycle went through that section at 6:45 in the morning. And the trucks were due there about a quarter to ten.

DB: Bikes don't usually have to cross the double yellow lines as they're passin' each other. Some of those trophy trucks got their rear wheels taken up the whole road.

RA: What is the size of that patch of road?

MM: about 4 or 6 miles.

RA: All whole, how much paved road makes up the Baja 1000?

MM: Maybe 50 miles of pavement stringed together all the way through the course.

RA: In the history of Baja, any civilian drivers ever get wrecked?

MM: I mean there's crazy things, you're driving along and all of a sudden you see a donkey in the back of a mini-truck with six locals and all their kids and they're not belted in. And you're blowin' by at a hundred miles an hour. Things happen down there.

DB: Yeah, it's just raw, I mean, I don't think there's any major disasters, but it's shocking.

SW: They line up the course, 100,000 Mexicans are lining that course.

RA: Talk to me about this motorcyclist who went down because one of your helicopter cams got too close. What's with that?

DB: He looked up, the chopper was close and he just got out. And we didn't get the shot, because it was like, "How are we gonna explain that we didn't get the shot?"

RA: So what happened? You got the camera that close and you didn't get the shot?

DB: Well, I didn't (laughs). I'm the director, I wasn't in the chopper. Cause, they came back and they're all like goin', "JN fell off" and I'm like "Really?" and they're, "Yeah cause the helicopter got too close" and I'm like, "Man that must be a hell of a shot." And they kinda went, "Awwwwww, we didn't have it on." I'm thinkin', "You're gettin' it so close to JN that he's got to look at it and nobody's got the camera on! What the?"

SW: And it was the H.D. Camera too!

MM: Yeah that's the thing in Baja you have to concentrate for every second. You look up for one moment and you're done.

RA: How close was this helicopter?

DB: I don't think it was that close, it's just that it caught him out of his peripheral vision ... probably it was coming up from behind him you know, so all of sudden he saw something out of the corner of his eye, he probably looked and that's all it took.

RW: He probably thought it was a trophy truck.

MM: At a hundred miles an hour, all of a sudden a big helicopter comin' 50 feet away doing a big pan move -- it's impressive.

SW: I mean Mouse knew our cameras were going to be all over him.

DB: I mean we're filmmakers (half-joking) ... we don't care about any of that, we just want the shot.

SW: They don't care about Mouse, that he's going 100 miles an hour and they're going around the corner right at him at 100 miles an hour, it's like a 200 mile an hour blow by.

DB: That's what a couple a guys in the trucks go, "I look up and the helicopter is coming AT me. You know. RRRRRR, right over the top."

SW: Pour Mouse, he's not only trying to solo a 1000 mile Baja, but not only that he's got like "Apocalypse Now" helicopters soaring over the top of his head all day.

RA: Speaking of cameras, Mouse, you had some on you as well... the crash we see, that's the actual crash?

MM: Yeah, I was wearing a helmet cam. At different times, pit guys would just swap out that.

SW: Yeah when he did pits, changin' tires, we'd always have one of our guys there just reach in his backpack and swap out DV tapes.

MM: Everything you see in this film, that's the thing you gotta remember, it's all real. This isn't some bs film -- it's all real. And that's why I think people dig it.

DB: (half-joking) It just cost too much to recreate.

RA: How many pits did you make all race?

MM: There's 18 pits.

SW: Those bikes only go about 100 miles then you gotta refuel.

MM: I think I changed 3 rear wheels and 2 front wheels. That's about 3 minutes and that's about time to eat one banana ... so I ate 3 bananas all day long.

DB: It's cause you were talking so much, you didn't have time to eat your bananas.

MM: You're alone a lot, you wanna talk.

DB: "Dude, I'm alone so much," he says, "It's so nice to see somebody!" (laughs)

RA: So what's going through your mind out there at 100 miles an hour along the beach?

MM: Havin' fun man, you're racing. It's the best thing in the world. Don't get better than that.

RA: You were riding an XR?

MM: Yeah it's a Honda XR 650.

RA: Besides wheel/tire changes, any bike problems?

MM: No other problems. Banged it up pretty bad, tore out the headlights during the crash and all that.

RA: You said you were havin' problems with your hands... just gripping?

MM: Yeah, my arms were just totally let go, they were like arthritic, I couldn't even hold on. The last third of the race, I could barely hold onto the bike. It got really dangerous, my hands just blow off the handle bars all the time.

RA: Before this, what was the longest you'd ever been on a bike?

MM: I got like 400 miles one day, down there pre-running. That was like 12 hours, not at race-pace. So then you think... how hard can I push it? How far can I go? And it just became a personal fascination to see if I could do it.

DB: And it really looks insane now. I mean I knew it was nutty at the time, but now I just look back and ... it's like trying to swim the Pacific.

RW: We did say in the movie, that there's been guys who've done it solo, but they barely make the time crunch. Mouse was trying to win the race! We hadn't really comprehended it until we started making the movie and seeing the dailies.

DB: Then you start to talk to people more and understand the history of it and you go, "That's just crazy."

RA: So Mouse, you going to do it again next year? Solo?

MM: Yeah, I'll always keep racing, I'm a Baja dude to the bone. But not solo, man, no reason to do that again. No thanks!

SW: (laughs) You know how serious it was when Mouse looks at you straight and just answers, "NO." Not even an ounce of thought, just "No."

RA: You quit racing for a while and went back, how long did you stay out?

MM: Oh for about 8 years.

RA: I'm curious, about how/why you decided to come back?

MM: You can't stay away, it's what I love to do more than anything, it just pulled me back in. I just needed a little break a little refresh, needed to go party down a little bit, meet some girls. Have a little bit of fun in my youth which I didn't have that much of as a kid. Yeah and live a little bit of life cause I kinda lived like a pro athlete since I was a little kid. So had a break, and now I'm more stoked than ever.

RA: Editing? How many hours?

DB: Scott and I edited, but it was 250 hours of film, Oh god just forever to edit it.

SW: 11 months.

DB: But like 16 hours a day of editing.

SW: There was a stint there where we were doing 120 hour weeks, like 18 hour days, 7 days a week for 6 months straight.

DB: You just get obsessed with it.

SW: Inundated with it.

DB: Then it gets down to a place where you go, "Hey you know! This is manageable!" Mouse was always the baseline, so that was nice, we had this story we could hang this stuff on. Oh, man, this was mini-series -- it's not a movie! Finally got it to point where you feel it can be a movie.

RA: What's your goal with this film?

DB: I'd hoped that it's a little insight, there is adventure there is fun still left in the world. It's not just, you know, we're going to get killed by terrorists and your moral values are corrupt, and whatever else is going on with the legislature, all this stuff that's negative negative negative. And then there's this thing that's just over the border (from where I am) and it's fun! And families do it. It's whatever you bring to it. You can enter, I can enter. You don't have to try to win, or you can. It's like this great metaphor. And it's great that it has a lot of action too, it can entertain, and at the same time get something else out of it. Or if it just entertains, that's fine too. I just hope that they have some fun, they go, "Hey that's crazy" -- not necessarily that they'll want to go race, but just do whatever it is you want to do. It's a pursuit of happiness.

SW: One of our major goals of our company is to tell positive stories. Because so many documentaries focus on the negative. Not that those are wrong stories to tell, but we feel that there is enough negativity in the world, maybe it'll be more enjoyable for an audience to sit down, escape that world, and see something that's fun, and you can take your kids too.

DB: I think it's important too -- If you hear all negative stuff, that's all you think that's happening. I mean, people see the movie and go, "Hey did you see this thing? You gotta see this. It's nuts." And then It just opens your eyes to something.

RW: Which is all so tied to the non-fiction component of it. We're all really passionate about telling real life stories. We don't have to blow sh*t up or script everything. There's people out there having different levels of triumph everyday. And it goes on whether you're there to tell the story or not. That stuff in Baja goes on every year. And we happened to be there before it changed. And that's sweet, I think people will either be inspired or at least find a way to look at their own life and go, "I got passion here."

RA: Doesn't Rich have the Bible-belt fire in his voice -- or what?"

DB: (Laughs) Yeah, if the movie doesn't work -- that's what we're doin'!

MM: For me, I just hope some guys walk outta there saying, "If I start something, I'm going to finish it, You dig deep and finish what you start in this life." And if we can pass that message on, or at least I can, 'cause I proved a lot to myself that I could go farther than I thought I could.

[Click Here for Review of "Dust to Glory"]

Copyright © 2005. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit: RossAnthony.com

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Last Modified: Thursday, 17-Mar-2005 21:43:01 PST