Premium Grit

09/20/2010—Just in case you haven’t seen Joe Bacal in sports news, racing blogs, or the pages of Lexus magazine, here’s a quick primer, a sort of classic man-meets-performance-SUV kind of story:

Man works as skilled Lexus test driver. Man discovers he has cancer. Man crushes cancer. Man decides to crush the off-road racing circuit. Man tricks out a Lexus LX. Man and LX stun the racing world by winning the Baja 500 off-road race. Man and LX continue to win off-road races. And win. And win. And win.

Bacal and his trusty LX—which employs specialized F Sport performance parts—just wrote their story’s latest chapter by taking their class at the Primm 300, a tough multi-day off-road course race in the Nevada-California desert. The win means the dynamic duo just clinched the entire off-road SCORE season championship for their class, even though there’s still one more race left in the circuit, the infamous Baja 1000.

And this is just their first full year of competition.

“We came into this racing series as off-road racing rookies, but we also came prepared,” says Bacal. “We did our homework and were confident the Lexus would be fast and reliable.”

Bacal also credits his team, JTGrey Racing, and his sponsors, which include Cancer Treatment Centers of America and Lexus. But, as his team and sponsors would no doubt agree, Bacal deserves his fair share of the credit: The driver appears to be made of iron.

Bacal’s cancer fight speaks for itself, but the man’s grit has shone through all year. Not only did he drive every hour of every race, he also almost cut his knee to the bone just before this last outing. Twenty-five stitches and one race later, Bacal claimed his Primm 300 victory.

“It’s been an amazing year for us, but the mother of all off-road races is coming around again, and we’d really like to win it,” says Bacal, referring to the bone-jarring, vehicle-destroying, 1,000-mile desert race known as the 43rd Tecate SCORE Baja 1,000, which kicks off November 17.

Your fellow Lexus owners are pulling for you, Mr. Bacal. Fellow Lexus owners: keep an eye on Lexus magazine, the Lexus Facebook page, and blogs like The Lexus Enthusiast for the results later this fall.