Live on Red Bull TV: Tavo Vildosola Reveals Untold Stories
The FIA World Rally Championship roars into the heart of one of the world’s largest cities this weekend when Mexico City hosts thrilling high-speed action. Huge crowds will pack the iconic Zócalo square to watch exciting new-era World Rally Cars fight for tenths of a second at the opening two speed tests of Rally Guanajuato Mexico, the third round of the 2017 season.
The rally will build a 1.57km asphalt test in the square and surrounding streets, an area more accustomed to receiving foreign heads of state and hosting national celebrations than echoing to the sound of new-specification World Rally Cars. It will be driven twice by all the WRC’s star drivers, including championship leader and 2016 rally winner Jari-Matti Latvala and four-time world champion Sébastien Ogier, to provide a full evening’s entertainment.
Introducing the man who every road in Mexico fears. Meet offroad guru – and latest red Bull TV guest reporter – Tavo Vildosola
When it comes to chewing up the gravel roads of Mexico and spitting them out, there’s nothing that Tavo Vildosola doesn’t know. An off-road racing expert, Baja 1000 & Baja 500 winner with Hollywood appeal, Tavo will bring his charm and good looks to the Rally Mexico Red Bull TV broadcast next weekend. Alongside his commentary on dirt racing in the live broadcast event, he’ll also share with viewers untold stories from his experience as a Tinseltown stunt driver, most recently in Will Smith’s movie “Bright” releasing this summer.
The 35-year-old enjoys an accomplished career at the very top of off-road racing in the USA and his native Mexico, armed with an 850-horsepower, V8-engined Trophy Truck. This combination of Hollywood glamour and raw driving talent makes him the perfect partner for Red Bull TV presenter Mike Chen.
As Red Bull TV guest reporter on the latest round of the World Rally Championship from 10-12 March, Tavo will tell stories that can’t be heard anywhere else. As Rally Mexico is one of the most challenging events of the year, Tavo begins his reporting in the Mexican leather capital of Leon, but the stories won’t stop there.
It’s lucky that the city is well known for its boots (around 70% of all shoes in Mexico are made in Leon) because Tavo and Mike are going to need a strong pair of soles during the rally weekend. Red Bull TV will send them off into the countryside to really uncover what Rally Mexico is all about bringing to life for viewers at home the tolls that heat, dust, and gravel take on its prey. With high altitudes and massive rock obstacles, it’s a rally that definitively proves who’s got the strongest car and biggest cojones.
Tavo doesn’t expect it to be tough to be behind the mic; he’s endured racing non-stop on stages that can be more than 1000 kilometres long, sometimes spending 23 hours or more in the truck (which is actually the size of a small house). “Some of the roads used for our Baja events are actually quite similar to those on the WRC, so I’ve got a good idea of exactly what the guys are in for,” says Tavo, who comes from the Mexicali area of Mexico, close to the US border, and started driving when he was 11.
“WRC is in many ways completely different than what I do, but I have such a huge admiration for these drivers and I love that Red Bull TV gives fans who can’t be here the chance to watch the action live. Off-road racing has been part of my life since I could walk, and now I’m going to use that experience to tell the viewers at home exactly what it feels like and make sure they don’t miss any of the best surprises from the weekend.”
A word with Tavo Vildosola How did you get into racing?
“Well, in our area of Mexico there are many second or even third generation racers, and I’m one of them. My dad was a driver and I guess that’s where my passion started: firstly with bikes, and then as soon as I was old enough to reach the pedals, I moved onto cars. Where I grew up, you’re surrounded by the desert, and that’s probably why it’s the only area of Mexico where soccer isn’t the national sport. Instead, our national sport is racing and there’s a real culture of motorsport, which is what I was raised in. I made my way up through the ranks and the peak for me was winning the Baja 1000 – which is our equivalent of Indy or Le Mans. It’s an amazing race.”
How different is the truck you drive on Baja events to the WRC machines you will see on Rally Mexico?
“Oh man, they’re completely different. We’ve got a V8, two-wheel drive and one metre of suspension travel, whereas the WRC cars are so light and nimble. Our trucks are real endurance beasts, so they can go absolutely anywhere, whereas the WRC drivers are picking their lines and it’s more like a sprint. But in my opinion the drivers in the WRC are the best in the world, even more than Formula 1 drivers, as they are constantly reacting to changing circumstances and having to deal with new things. I actually met a Formula 1 driver recently: I took Checo Perez out in my truck at a sponsor event in Mexico and he absolutely loved it! That’s the thing with us Mexicans, we love all types of motorsport.”
What’s the difference between being an offroad driver and a Hollywood stunt driver?
“They’re a bit different! For the latest movie, my job was to turn up at about three in the afternoon then spend the rest of the day and most of the night doing some cool driving with cool cars. It was an amazing time and I got to meet some real A-list stars and other fantastic people. Can you even call that a job? Off-road is obviously a more serious business: you have to read the road in front of you, there’s no stopping apart for fuel, and you’ve got some tough competitors. I love both, but of course racing is my passion: the movies are a bit of fun. ”
Onto other serious business then: who’s going to win Rally Mexico?
“Now there’s a tough question. It’s been really close and I wouldn’t like to say. What we’ve seen so far this year is that it’s been very evenly matched, with an amazingly high level of driving. But these roads in Mexico are tough. You’ve got to treat them with respect, so it’s going to be the driver who shows the best consistency as well as speed.”
What are you looking forward to most about being a guest reporter on Red Bull TV?
“Being able to see the inside of the sport from a privileged position and admire the best drivers in the world going about their work. Hopefully I can also bring my perspective to what I am seeing and give some insight into what a driver goes through on these roads in Mexico. We’re all extremely fortunate to be doing what we are doing, so I’m looking forward to being an ambassador for the sport generally: that’s really important.”
Do you think you might give the WRC a go yourself one day?
“I’d love to, but it’s so specialised. What’s a lot closer to what we do is the Dakar Rally. Of course I’d love to have the opportunity to try that one day, but as well as my racing I have my day job – we’ve got a family logistics business, operating all over Mexico and the United States – so it would be tough to take a month off just to go racing. Much as I would love to!”
About Tavo Vildolosa:
Tavo Vildosola is an off-road racer from Mexico. Born on February 1, 1982, Tavo grew up in Mexicali, Baja California as the son of an off-road racer, Gus. He rode dirt bikes in the desert from the age of three, and began racing in 2000 when he shared a Class 1 buggy at the San Felipe 250. After winning his class at the Baja 1000 in 2003 together with Brian Ickler, Tavo began racing a ProTruck in 2005, and scored back-toback class championships in the next two years. When he stepped up to the premier Trophy Truck category for the 2007 Baja 1000, he finished second with his father.
Three years later, they became the first Mexican team to claim the overall win the famous Baja 1000, which is otherwise dominated by the United States. They repeated the feat in 2012, on the 45th edition of the race, although the result was appealed some days later.
Back in 2010, Tavo and his Red Bull Trophy Truck were special guests at the Red Bull XFighters in Mexico City, opening the show in front of more than 40,000 spectators. As well as helping to run the family team and their logistics business, Tavo is a keen skier and scuba diver. So there you have it: all you need to know about Red Bull TV’s latest dynamic duo on Rally Mexico.
Mike and Tavo will also be joined by Citroen WRC driver Craig Breen as their resident expert in Leon. Having finished fifth on both the opening rounds of the championship this year – in Monte-Carlo and Sweden – the Irishman is only doing the recce for Mexico: which means that he’ll be able to bring another driver’s eye perspective during the rally to Red Bull TV.