Yamaha Presents Banshee Over Baja, Circa 1988

Video of Dean Sundahl and Craig Corda racing the 1988 Baja 1000 resurfaces.

We’re going back in time with Dean Sundahl and Craig Corda to the 1988 Baja 1000.Yamaha

I can’t get enough of this video. The cheesy Top Gun-style music, flashy vintage riding gear, ‘80s haircuts—they all take me back to those great old days when two-stroke sport ATVs and ATCs shone on dealer floors. I was riding a 1984 Honda CR250R dirt bike at the time, when I crossed paths in the desert with a friend of mine riding his 1987 Yamaha Banshee. The sound those twin cylinders made was intoxicating and I begged for a quick spin up the road and back. As soon as that midrange power kicked in, I was hooked. I started shopping all the magazines to learn more about these four-wheeled rockets, and that’s where I discovered legendary ATC and Baja racer Dean Sundahl. I went straight to the dealer and slapped down cash for a 1989 Yamaha Banshee. I think the MSRP on a Banshee was $2,900 at the time. Sundahl ran Toomey Pipes, so I had to have Toomey pipes too. I wanted my Banshee to look and sound like Sundahl’s.

ATVs became an addiction. I raced the Baja 250, 500, and 1000 numerous times between 1995 and 2010, so I know much of the terrain. It’s not all fast dirt roads and highways. Much of it is brutal and experiences extreme temperature changes. Elevation fluctuates drastically, from sea level to mountains laden with pine trees; and those San Felipe whoop-de-doos, they measure waist deep. The ATVs we had were reinforced and built to the hilt. We had satellite phone communication, multiple chase vehicles—it was a huge undertaking. So when I watch this video and see these guys racing what essentially looks like a stock Banshee with an oversized aluminum fuel tank and upgraded shocks, my jaw hits the sand. Look around the 1:51 mark and you’ll see they were still running those weak, stock upper J-arms on the front suspension. At 10:45, we see the Banshee traveling at 100 mph across the El Diablo Dry Lake. OK…maybe it’s not so stock.

We recently caught up with Dean Sundahl at Duncan Racing in El Cajon, California. We were there for the ATV Talk event that hosted a live podcast with ATV industry professionals and ATV racing pros. Sundahl took some time to speak with us and show off the radical suspension on his SRP desert racing Banshee, obviously not the same machine seen in Banshee Over Baja. He still races desert at the ripe young age of 64.

“I love it. I’d be bummed out if I couldn’t do it anymore. I’d get old really quick if I couldn’t ride,” Sundahl said. “It keeps me young.”

Riding ATVs will keep you young. — Dean SundahlJeff Henson

We hope you enjoyed reliving the good times in Banshee Over Baja as much as we did. It almost makes me want to go race Baja again, but I’m no Dean Sundahl. I think I’ll just settle for some tacos.