Baja 1000

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Rider at Mile 328 of the Baja 1000.
Four-wheel vehicle known as a Truggy.

SCORE Baja 1000 is an off-road race that takes place on Mexico's Baja California Peninsula in the third week in November. The Baja 1000 is part of the SCORE Championship Desert Racing Series that include the Baja 500, San Felipe 250 and the new San Felipe Challenge of Champions in place of the Primm 300 which had been the only SCORE race in the United States. The Baja 1000 allows various types of vehicle classes to compete on the same course - from such small and large bore motorcycles, stock VW, production vehicles, buggies, Trucks, and custom fabricated race vehicles. The course has remained relatively the same over the years, about every other being either a point-to-point race from Ensenada to La Paz, or a loop race starting and finishing in Ensenada.

The name of the event can be misleading as the mileage varies for the type of event ("Loop" of 600 to 850 miles starting and finishing in Ensenada, or "Point to Point" also known as the of 900 The first official race started in Tijuana, Baja California, on October 31, 1967, and was named the NORRA Mexican 1000 Rally. The course length that year was 849 miles (1,366 km) and ended in La Paz, Baja California Sur, with the overall winning time of 27 hours 38 minutes (27:38) set by Vic Wilson and Ted Mangels while driving a Meyers Manx buggy.

From 1967 to 1972, the race was organized by the National Off-Road Racing Association (NORRA) and grew in popularity with ABC's "Wide World of Sports" sending Jim McKay to cover the 1968 event, and attracting new participants like the late Mickey Thompson, Indy 500 winner Parnelli Jones and movie actor James Garner. By 1971, major sponsors such as Olympia Brewing Company and Minolta Cameras began to support Parnelli Jones in his Dick Russell designed and Bill Stroppe prepared "Big Oly" Bronco and Larry Minor in a similar Stroppe prepared Bronco.

In October 1973, the price for a barrel of crude oil shot up 70% overnight as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) launched the Arab Oil Embargo. Fearful competitors would abandon the idea of competing and stay home, NORRA abandoned the race - despite assurances from the Federal government run Petroleos Mexicanos (PEMEX) fuel prices would remain stable - and announced they would hold an event in the state of Arizona.

It was at that time in history, Baja California governor Milton Castellanos handed over sanctioning of the event to a non-profit Mexican corporation called the "Baja Sports Committee" (BSC). BSC renamed the event the "Baja Mil" (Baja 1000) and scheduled the race to run on the original dates chosen by NORRA. Though NORRA held a competing event in the United States that same weekend, BSC successfully ran the race from Ensenada to La Paz like the years prior. Unaware of the challenges, BSC found promoting Baja races more difficult than anticipated. Instead of giving up the race, the Mexican government requested help from Southern California Off-Road Enterprises (SCORE) in hosting and promoting future Baja races. Through negotiations with Mickey Thompson and his SCORE organization, the Government agreed to give exclusive rights to SCORE to hold Baja races and also reluctantly allowed SCORE to cancel the event for 1974 (a year where motorsport was curtailed in the United States because of the oil crisis). SCORE hired Sal Fish as president and took control of the Baja 1000 from that year on with the Baja 1000 race resuming under new control in 1975. In 2012, the racing organization was purchased by Roger Norman.

Prelude to the event[edit]

1962: The first timed run[edit]

When Jack McCormack and Walt Fulton of American Honda decided to hold a long-distance run to prove the reliability of Honda's new CL72 Scrambler, they approached well known off-road dirt biker and local Honda dealer Bud Ekins for suggestions. Bud suggested the Tijuana to La Paz route (Federal Highway 1) which was 950 miles (1,530 km) of rocks, sand washes, dry lake beds, cattle crossing, mountain passes, and paved road. Bud Ekins declined to perform the run because of Triumph Motorcycles ties, but Dave Ekins (Bud's brother) and Billy Robertson Jr. agreed to perform the trip for American Honda. After doing an aerial pre-run over the peninsula in Fulton's Cessna 180, they began the journey to La Paz just after midnight on March 22, 1962. While being followed by two journalists in an airplane and using telegraph offices at the Mexican border and in La Paz, Dave Ekins recorded the first official timed run in 39 hours 56 minutes (39:56) with a total distance of 952.7 miles (1,533.2 km). The event received coverage in the Globe, Argosy, and Cycle World magazines, earning awe and respect for Honda and the Baja run. The Globe and Argosy accounts also included close encounters with death and other dangers which Ekins claims were "colorful additions".

Four wheels vs two[edit]

Wanting to beat the existing motorcycle record and to help fuel sales of the Meyers Manx, Bruce Meyers used his original prototype buggy called "Old Red" for an attempt at breaking the record set by Ekins. After pre-running a course south to La Paz, Ted Mangels and Bruce Meyers started the record-breaking attempt back to Tijuana from La Paz at 10:00pm on April 19, 1967. With journalist from Road & Track magazine following the two to witness the attempt, the final official time was 34:45 beating Ekins' run by more than 5 hours. Upon returning to the United States, the journalist documenting the run sent out press kits with photographs and a news release with the headline "Buggy Beats Bike in Baja." to hundreds of magazines and newspapers. Soon, more stories of adventure, close calls, and broken speed records received media coverage around the world. Following the event, Bruce Meyers and his Meyers Manx became an overnight sensation and the competition between four wheels and motorcycles for the fastest Baja run began.

In the following months, more attempts at breaking the record would take place. One of the attempts included a multiple vehicle run organized by Ed Pearlman (Mexican 1000 founder) that ended in an official four-wheel drive record being recorded but with the overall time falling short of the record set by Meyers. On July 4, 1967, an American Motors Rambler American sedan would leave Tijuana at 9:00am to successfully break the record set by Meyers with an overall time of 31 hours.


As the timed runs recorded via telegraph became popular, a need for an organized event to compete for the quickest Baja run was starting to grab the attention of other competitors. Once Ed Pearlman caught word of Meyers' run, Ed convinced Dick Cepek, Claude Dozier, Ed Orr, Drino Miller and journalist John Lawlor to give a run to La Paz a try. In June 1967, Pearlman and group left Tijuana and immediately ran into mechanical troubles. This trip provided much downtime for Pearlman to brainstorm the idea of the National Off-road Racing Association (NORRA). After Pete Condos and Perlman put up the funds to incorporate NORRA, the group announced an official recognition of the previous record setters and created classes that related to the type of vehicle used to break the record. During the later part of summer, NORRA named the event the "Mexican 1000 Rally" and announced the first official race from Tijuana to La Paz was to be held on November 1, 1967.


Honda CRF450X; winner of the 2006 Baja 1000. Taken at the San Jose Motorcycle Show.

Although motorcyclists participate and are often the overall winners, many competitors drive modified or stock 3 or 4-wheel vehicles such as cars, trucks, ATVs and dune buggies. Race teams consist of factory-supported groups that build custom fabricated vehicles and provide chase vehicles via helicopter, to the much smaller and less glamorized sportsman teams competing in an all-stock vehicle with no chase vehicle support at all. Stock Volkswagen Type One Beetles are modified for use in off-road terrain, known as Baja Bugs, have been a common sight throughout the event duration, but the factory-supported all-spaceframe Trophy Truck entries are the most visible.

In contrast to the current factory EX supported modern race vehicles that overall the car and truck classes, Erik Carlsson drove a basically stock front wheel drive Saab 96 V4, finishing third in 1969 and fifth in 1970.

Baja course[edit]

  • Point-to-point: A point-to-point race is one that starts and ends in two different locations. The start is traditionally held in Ensenada but has been held in Tijuana and Mexicali as well. The course length varies for a point to point but is often over 1,000 miles (1,600 km) and ends in La Paz.
  • Loop race: A loop race is one that starts and finishes in the same location. Traditionally the race starts and ends in Ensenada but has started/finished in Mexicali as well. The course length varies from 600 to 850 miles, depending on the course route.

Sabotage and booby-traps[edit]

Each year there are reports of spectators sabotaging or booby-trapping the course by digging holes, blocking river flow, or burying and hiding obstacles. Racers are warned to beware of large crowds of spectators in remote parts of the course since it may indicate hidden traps or obstacle changes. Many of the booby traps are not created to intentionally injure the contestants but are created by the local spectators as jumps or obstacles for spectator entertainment and intriguing moments to be caught on videotape. The haphazardly-designed jumps, created by the spectators, are very dangerous as the contestants may inadvertently enter the booby-trap at unsafe speeds, resulting in damage to the vehicles or injuries to competitors or spectators. Awareness of booby traps and course alterations are often part of race-day strategy and convey an advantage to the best prepared teams — nonetheless given the danger the traps pose, it is customary for competitors to quickly communicate course hazards to other competitors through on-board radio communications and radio relay.

Popular Culture[edit]

  • In the film Timerider(1982), the hero Swann is competing in the Baja 1000 when he inadvertently stumbles on to a time warp experiment and is sent back to the Old West in the 1870s.
  • The documentary Dust to Glory (2005) follows contestants of the Baja 1000

Overall winners[edit]

Cars & Trucks Motorcycle
Year Drivers Vehicle Time Riders Vehicle Time
1967 *Vic Wilson, Ted Mangels Meyers Manx VW 27:38 J.N. Roberts, Malcolm Smith Husqvarna 28:48
1968 Larry Minor, Jack Bayer Ford Bronco 21:11:32 *Larry Berquist, Gary Preston Honda 20:38:28
1969 *Larry Minor, Rod Hall Ford Bronco 20:48:10 Gunnar Nilsson, J.N. Roberts Husqvarna 21:35:52
1970 *Drino Miller, Vic Wilson Miller VW 16:07 Mike Patrick, Bill Bowers Yamaha 18:31
1971 *Parnelli Jones, Bill Stroppe Ford Bronco 14:59 Malcolm Smith, Gunnar Nilsson Husqvarna 16:51
1972 *Parnelli Jones, Bill Stroppe Ford Bronco 16:47 Gunnar Nilsson, Rolf Tibblin Husqvarna 19:19
1973 *Bobby Ferro, Johnny Johnson Funco VW 16:50 Mitch Mayes, A.C. Bakken Husqvarna 18:42:51
1974 No Race No Race
1975 Malcolm Smith, Dr. Bud Feldkamp Hi-Jumper VW 18:55:49 *Al Baker, Gene Cannady Honda 18:22:55
1976 Ivan Stewart Chenowth VW 12:17:28 *Larry Roeseler, Mitch Mayes Husqvarna 11:30:47
1977 Malcolm Smith, Dr. Bud Feldkamp Funco VW 15:10:42 *Brent Wallingsford, Scot Harden Husqvarna 14:37:07
1978 *Mark Stahl Chenowth VW 12:55:42 Larry Roeseler, Jack Johnson Husqvarna 14:37:07
1979 Walker Evans, Bruce Florio Dodge Pickup 20:48:27 *Larry Roeseler, Jack Johnson Husqvarna 19:48:04
1980 Mark Stahl Chenowth VW 13:33:55 *Larry Roeseler, Jack Johnson Yamaha 12:45:13
1981 Mark McMillin, Thomas Hoke Chenowth VW 20:29:14 *Scot Harden, Brent Wallingsford Husqvarna 17:14:05
1982 Mickey Thompson, Terry Smith Raceco VW 19:40:23 *Al Baker, Jack Johnson Honda 17:25:27
1983 Mark McMillin, Ralph Paxton Chenowth VW 20:29:14 *Dan Smith, Dan Ashcraft Husqvarna 14:48:10
1984 Mark McMillin, Ralph Paxton Chenowth VW 16:27:09 *Chuck Miller, Randy Morales Honda 14:34:34
1985 Steve Sourapas, Dave Richardson Raceco VW 17:54:55 *Randy Morales, Derrick Paiement Honda 17:44:42
1986 Mark McMillin, Ralph Paxton Chenowth Porsche 18:26:28 *Bruce Ogilvie, Chuck Miller Honda 18:05:52
1987 Bob Gordon, Malcolm Smith Chenowth Porsche 13:15:04 *Dan Ashcraft, Bruce Ogilvie Honda 12:02:14
1988 Mark McMillin Chenowth Porsche 18:07:09 *Paul Krause, Larry Roeseler, Danny LaPorte Kawasaki 17:53:16
1989 Robby Gordon Ford Pickup 18:04:07 *Larry Roeseler, Danny LaPorte, Ted Hunnicutt Jr. Kawasaki 17:53:16
1990 Bob Gordon, Robyn Gordon, Robby Gordon Chenowth Chevy 12:30:45 *Larry Roeseler, Ted Hunnicutt Jr., Danny LaPorte Kawasaki 11:11:45
1991 Larry Ragland Chevrolet Pickup 16:37:35 *Larry Roeseler, Ted Hunnicutt Jr., Marty Smith Kawasaki 13:35:25
1992 Paul Simon, Dave Simon Ford Ranger 16:53:02 *Danny Hamel, Garth Sweetland, Paul Ostbo Kawasaki 16:50:12
1993 *Ivan Stewart Toyota SR5 13:29:11 Danny Hamel, Larry Roeseler, Ty Davis Kawasaki 13:57:23
1994 Dave Ashley, Dan Smith Ford F-150 10:43:43 *Danny Hamel, Larry Roeseler, Ty Davis Kawasaki 10:20:47
1994 Jim Smith Ford TT 10:28:56
1995 Dale White Chevy Truck 21:57:03 *Paul Krause, Ty Davis, Ted Hunnicutt Jr. Kawasaki 19:31:19
1995 Larry Ragland Chevrolet TT 20:14:12
1996 Ryan Thomas Chenowth 15:53:56 *Paul Krause, Ty, Greg Zitterkopf Honda 14:11:02
1996 Larry Ragland Chevrolet TT 14:38:59
1997 Doug Fortin Chenowth 14:31:02 *Johnny Campbell, Tim Staab, Greg Bringle Honda 13:19:59
1997 Larry Ragland Chevrolet TT 13:53:46
1998 Ivan Stewart Toyota 19:08:20 *Johnny Campbell, Jimmy Lewis Honda 18:58:48
1999 Larry Ragland Chevy 14:26:36 *Johnny Campbell, Tim Staab Honda 14:15:42
2000** Dan Smith, Dave Ashley Ford 32:15:39 *Johnny Campbell, Tim Staab, Craig Smith, Steve Hengeveld Honda 30:54:12
2001 Doug Fortin, Charlie Townsley Jimco Chevy 14:35:42 *Johnny Campbell, Tim Staab Honda 13:51:40
2002 Dan Smith, DaveAshley Ford 16:19:03 *Steve Hengeveld, Johnny Campbell, Andy Grider Honda 16:17:28
2003 Doug Fortin, Charlie Townsley Jimco Chevy 16:24:02 *Steve Hengeveld, Johnny Campbell Honda 15:39:52
2004 Troy Herbst, Larry Roeseler Smithbuilt-Ford 16:18:14 *Steve Hengeveld, Johnny Campbell, Kendall Norman Honda 15:57:37
2005 Larry Roeseler, Troy Herbst Smithbuilt-Ford 15:06:19 *Steve Hengeveld, Johnny Campbell, Mike Childress Honda 14:20:30
2006 Andy McMillin, Robby Gordon 19:15:17 *Steve Hengeveld, Mike Childress, Quinn Cody Honda 18:17:50
2007 Mark Post, Rob MacCachren, Carl Renezeder Ford 25:21:25 *Robby Bell, Kendall Norman, Steve Hengeveld, Johnny Campbell Honda 24:15:50
2008 Roger Norman, Larry Roeseler Ford 12:40:33 *Robby Bell, Kendall Norman, Johnny Campbell Honda 12:29:10
2009 Andy McMillin, Scott McMillin Chevy 14:19:50 *Kendall Norman, Timmy Weigand, Quinn Cody Honda 13:27:50
2010 *Tavo Vildósola, Gus Vildósola Ford F-150 TT 19:00:04 Kendall Norman, Quinn Cody Honda 19:20:52
2011 Andy McMillin, Scott McMillin Ford Raptor TT 14:51:36 *Kendall Norman, Quinn Cody, Logan Holladay Honda 14:14:25
2012 *Tavo Vildosola, Gus Vildosola Ford Raptor TT 19:45:00 Colton Udall, Timmy Weigand, David Kamo Honda 20:09:30
2013 *BJ Baldwin Chevy TT 20:00:59 Colton Udall, Timmy Weigand, David Kamo, Mark Samuels Honda 18:29:14

*Best overall time.

**Officially the race was called the Baja 2000 (1726 miles) for the year 2000.

Notable competitors[edit]

American actor Paul Newman was the oldest participant when he competed in the 2004 event at age 80.[1] Template:Peter Brock: - Brock Racing Enterprises -aka BRE, built cars/truck for the Baja from 1967 to 1972 Template:John Morton: - Four time SCCA National Road Racing Championship Driver,

Current and past classes[edit]

Trophy truck vehicle
Class 10 vehicle
Stock Mini vehicle

Cars and Trucks[edit]


  • SCORE Class 20: 125 cc or smaller two-stroke and 250 cc or smaller four-stroke motorcycles.
  • SCORE Class 21: 126 cc to 250 cc.
  • SCORE Class 22: 250 cc or more.
  • SCORE Class 30: Riders over 30 years old.
  • SCORE Class 40: Riders over 40 years old.
  • SCORE Class 50: Riders over 50 years old.
  • SCORE Class 60: Riders over 65 years old.
  • SCORE Sportsman MC > 250cc: Sportsman riders 250cc (2-stroke) or 450cc (4-stroke) or greater.
  • SCORE Sportsman MC < 250cc: Sportsman riders 250cc (2-stroke) or 450cc (4-stroke) or less.


See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af "SCORE crown jewel since 1967 (October 6, 2005)". Desert Racing. Retrieved 5 November 2010. 
  2. ^ Burns, Josh. “Kendall Norman, Quinn Cody Earn 2010 SCORE Baja 1000 Motorcycle Victory.” Off-Road.Com. November 18, 2010 Retrieved 1:35 p.m., Sunday, April 6, 2014 (PDT).

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 31°52′05″N 116°38′01″W / 31.86806°N 116.63361°W / 31.86806; -116.63361