Continuing a Family Tradition
By Rick Stedman
Born into a family where off-road racing was the driving force in life, Gustavo Vildósola Jr., aka Tavo, is blessed with a talent he inherited from his father. The family hobby – Vildósola Racing – was started by Tavo’s father, Gustavo. “Today, our team has evolved into one of the premier teams in off-road racing,” says Tavo. “Our philosophy at Vildósola Racing is very simple: Win! We are not in this to take second place, or bring home a moral victory. We understand that we are at somewhat of a disadvantage since family racing is our hobby while most of our top competitors do this for a living. This obviously makes us strive for success and greatness even more.”
Tavo shares a few quotes that are near and dear to his heart. “My favorite saying that mainly applies to racing is ‘go big or go home.’ When it comes to merging racing and our business which is transportation, I borrow a saying from Toyota: ‘Our minds are always racing.’”
Born in El Centro, Calif., Tavo lived in Mexicali, Baja California for several years. The family then moved to San Diego where he attended Francis Parker High School and later, the University of San Diego. “I believe my career path had really been set in the family business ever since I was born,” Tavo observes. “The family business changed from what it was originally, but I came to really enjoy what we do in transportation and accept the challenges it presents on a daily basis.”
Fondness for Mexico
Tavo shares some of the unique treasures that await visitors to Mexico. “The New York Times recently selected Mexico City as the top destination to visit during 2016,” shares Tavo. Apparently, his holiness Pope Francis read the article, too! The pontiff visited Mexico’s capital this past February. “I believe that this should reinstill confidence in Mexico as a premier destination in the world for tourism. In terms of business, the commitment from automakers to invest more than $20 billion in Mexico over the next five years is huge for our industry.”
An avid skier and scuba diver, Tavo also shares some of his favorite travel destinations within Mexico. “My favorite thing to do in Mexico is travel, followed closely by off-road racing,” says Tavo. “There are so many beautiful places to consider; from the beaches on the Riviera Maya to the jungles in southern Mexico, and the deserts in Baja, there is just so much to choose from. Also, racing in the most remote parts of Baja, and taking in the beauty of places that resemble Hawaii or the pine forests of Colorado, these are simply unforgettable experiences.”
Off-road racing has been an incredible catalyst to tourism in Mexico’s Baja region. “Many people thought Baja ended in Tijuana,” says Tavo, “but through off-road racing, visitors continue to discover that the state of Baja California is one of the most diverse and beautiful places in the world.”
Community and family appreciation
To ensure it remains that way for tourists and locals alike, Tavo and his colleagues in the racing business stepped up to the challenge when Hurricane Odile made an unexpected visit to the region in 2014. In the aftermath of Hurricane Odile, a group of friends, who are also passionate off-road racers, put together a relief effort called Baja Strong with the simple goal of helping the hurricane victims. The idea was first to send a few trucks to Baja with relief items, but thankfully the movement got bigger and stronger by the day. In a period of six weeks, Baja Strong collectively sent more than 220 tons of supplies. “It was a small way to payback the people of Baja who have been extremely hospitable to the racing community for so many decades,” says Tavo.
Vildósola Racing is the only Mexican racing team to win the Baja 1000 twice – it is the most famous race in the off-road world. The team brought home its first Baja 1000 first-place trophy in 2010, following up with another victory in 2012. “Vildósola Racing is our hobby; it’s our toy garage, and we do this for fun,” Tavo shares. “We hope that future generations of Vildósola’s continue to enjoy racing as we do. In the immediate future, we see the next challenge for our racing team to win the Dakar Rally in South America.”
This year, Vildósola Racing will participate in half a dozen races including THE MINT 400, the Baja 500, and the Baja 1000 that finishes in Ensenada. The first race of the 2016 season – the San Felipe 250 – will be Vildosola’s fourth attempt at conquering this race after winning the overall in 2013, 2014, and 2015.
Much of Tavo’s success is a direct result of his positive family life. “I thank my family, my parents, my wife Leticia and children Ximena, Valeria, and Gustavo for supporting me in my job, and especially my hobby, off-road racing. Though I’m away from home for half of the calendar year, none of what I do would matter without their unwavering support; none of this would be possible!”