The SCORE Baja 1000 is an off-road race that takes place in Mexico's Baja California Peninsula. The 2016 SCORE Baja 1000 is the final round of a four-race series, previous events are the SCORE Desert Challenge, the SCORE San Felipe 250 & the SCORE Baja 500. The 2017 round will be the 50th SCORE Baja 1000, occurring from November 14–18 over an 800-mile loop both starting in Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico, and ending in La Paz BCS, Mexico.
The Baja 1000 allows various types of vehicle classes to compete on the same course – from such small and large bore motorcycles, stock Volkswagen, 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 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, movie actor James Garner, and Mary McGee, the first woman to compete in the event. 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 and continues to run under his presidency.
- 1 Qualifying
- 2 Prelude to the event
- 3 History
- 4 Vehicles
- 5 Baja course
- 6 In popular culture
- 7 Overall winners
- 8 Notable competitors
- 9 Current and past classes
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 Notes
- 13 External links
The starting order is generally determined by a random draw, except when preferential starts are given to those who finished in top positions in the previous race/season, or when qualifying is held. For Trophy Trucks & Class 1 vehicles, qualifying for the Baja 1000 is now held during SEMA at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Prelude to the event
1962: The first timed run
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
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 10:00 pm 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 9:00 am 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 make the run to La Paz. 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.
Although motorcyclists participate and are often the overall winners, many competitors drive modified or stock three- or four-wheel vehicles such as cars, trucks, ATVs and UTV. 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.
- 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
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.
In popular culture
- 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
- The follow-up documentary to Dust to Glory, Dust 2 Glory follows contestants over the 2016 season before being released in-time for the 50th anniversary Baja 1000 in 2017
|Year||Route||Cars & Trucks||Motorcycle|
|1967||Tijuana-La Paz|| Vic Wilson
|Meyers Manx VW||27:38|| J.N. Roberts
|1968||Ensenada-La Paz|| Larry Minor
|Ford Bronco||21:11:32|| Larry Berquist
|1969||Ensenada-La Paz|| Larry Minor
|Ford Bronco||20:48:10|| Gunnar Nilsson
|1970||Ensenada-La Paz|| Drino Miller
Vic Wilson Miller
|VW||16:07|| Mike Patrick
|1971||Ensenada-La Paz|| Parnelli Jones
|Ford Bronco||14:59|| Malcolm Smith
|1972||Mexicali-La Paz|| Parnelli Jones
|Ford Bronco||16:47|| Gunnar Nilsson
|1973||Ensenada-La Paz|| Bobby Ferro
|Funco VW||16:50|| Mitch Mayes
|1975||Ensenada-Ensenada|| Malcolm Smith
Dr. Bud Feldkamp
|Hi-Jumper VW||18:55:49|| Al Baker
|1976||Ensenada-Ensenada||Ivan Stewart||Chenowth VW||12:17:28|| Larry Roeseler
|1977||Ensenada-Ensenada|| Malcolm Smith
Dr. Bud Feldkamp
|Funco VW||15:10:42|| Brent Wallingsford
|1978||Ensenada-Ensenada||Mark Stahl||Chenowth VW||12:55:42|| Larry Roeseler
|1979||Ensenada-La Paz|| Walker Evans
|Dodge Pickup||20:48:27|| Larry Roeseler
|1980||Ensenada-Ensenada||Mark Stahl||Chenowth VW||13:33:55|| Larry Roeseler
|1981||Ensenada-Ensenada|| Mark McMillin
|Chenowth VW||20:29:14|| Scot Harden
|1982||Ensenada-La Paz|| Mickey Thompson
|Raceco VW||19:40:23|| Al Baker
|1983||Ensenada-Ensenada|| Mark McMillin
|Chenowth VW||20:29:14|| Dan Smith
|1984||Ensenada-Ensenada|| Mark McMillin
|Chenowth VW||16:27:09|| Chuck Miller
|1985||Ensenada-Ensenada|| Steve Sourapas
|Raceco VW||17:54:55|| Randy Morales
|1986||Ensenada-La Paz|| Mark McMillin
|Chenowth Porsche||18:26:28|| Bruce Ogilvie
|1987||Ensenada-Ensenada|| Bob Gordon
|Chenowth Porsche||13:15:04|| Dan Ashcraft
|1988||Ensenada-Ensenada||Mark McMillin||Chenowth Porsche||18:07:09|| Paul Krause
|1989||Ensenada-La Paz||Robby Gordon||Ford Pickup||18:04:07|| Larry Roeseler
Ted Hunnicutt Jr.
|1990||Ensenada-Ensenada|| Bob Gordon
|Chenowth Chevy||12:30:45|| Larry Roeseler
Ted Hunnicutt Jr.
|1991||Ensenada-Ensenada||Larry Ragland||Chevrolet Pickup||16:37:35|| Larry Roeseler
Ted Hunnicutt Jr.
|1992||Ensenada-La Paz|| Paul Simon
|Ford Ranger||16:53:02|| Danny Hamel
|1993||Mexicali-Mexicali||Ivan Stewart||Toyota SR5||13:29:11|| Danny Hamel
|1994||Mexicali-Mexicali||Jim Smith||Ford TT||10:28:56|| Danny Hamel
|1995||Tijuana-La Paz||Larry Ragland||Chevrolet TT||20:14:12|| Paul Krause
Ted Hunnicutt Jr.
|1996||Ensenada-Ensenada||Larry Ragland||Chevrolet TT||14:38:59|| Paul Krause
|1997||Ensenada-Ensenada||Larry Ragland||Chevrolet TT||13:53:46|| Johnny Campbell
|1998||Santo Tomás-La Paz||Ivan Stewart||Toyota||19:08:20|| Johnny Campbell
|1999||Ojos Negros-Ojos Negros||Larry Ragland||Chevy||14:26:36|| Johnny Campbell
|2000**||Ensenada-Cabo San Lucas|| Dan Smith
|Ford||32:15:39|| Johnny Campbell
|2001||Ensenada-Ensenada|| Doug Fortin
|Jimco Chevy||14:35:42|| Johnny Campbell
|2002||Ensenada-La Paz|| Dan Smith
|Ford||16:19:03|| Steve Hengeveld
|2003||Ensenada-Ensenada|| Doug Fortin
|Jimco Chevy||16:24:02|| Steve Hengeveld
|2004||Ensenada-La Paz|| Troy Herbst
|Smithbuilt-Ford||16:18:14|| Steve Hengeveld
|2005||Ensenada-Ensenada|| Larry Roeseler
|Smithbuilt-Ford||15:06:19|| Steve Hengeveld
|2006||Ensenada-La Paz|| Andy McMillin
|Chevy||19:15:17|| Steve Hengeveld
|2007||Ensenada-Cabo San Lucas|| Mark Post
|Ford||25:21:25|| Robby Bell
|2008||Ensenada-Ensenada|| Roger Norman
|Ford||12:40:33|| Robby Bell
|2009||Ensenada-Ensenada|| Andy McMillin
|Chevy||14:19:50|| Kendall Norman
|2010||Ensenada-La Paz|| Tavo Vildosola
|Ford F-150 TT||19:00:04|| Kendall Norman
|2011||Ensenada-Ensenada|| Andy McMillin
|Ford Raptor TT||14:51:36|| Kendall Norman
|2012||Ensenada-La Paz||BJ Baldwin||Chevrolet TT||20:00:59|| Colton Udall
|2013||Ensenada-Ensenada||BJ Baldwin||Chevrolet TT||20:00:59|| Colton Udall
|2014||Ensenada-La Paz|| Rob MacCachren
|Ford TT||22:31:27|| Ricky Brabec
Max Eddy Jr.
|2015||Ensenada-Ensenada|| Rob MacCachren
|Ford TT||15:38:33|| Colton Udall
|2016||Ensenada-Ensenada|| Rob MacCachren
|Ford TT||17:12:58|| Justin Jones
|2017||Ensenada-La Paz|| Juan C. Lopez
|Geiser Bros-Ford Raptor TT||19:53:36|| Francisco Arredondo
Max Eddy Jr.
**Officially the race was called the Baja 2000 (1726 miles) for the year 2000.
- Walker Evans
- Rod Hall
- Mary McGee
- Rod Millen
- Jimmie Johnson
- Robby Gordon
- Parnelli Jones
- Rob MacCachren
- Don McBride
- Corky McMillin
- Steve McQueen
- Gunnar Nilsson
- Larry Ragland
- Larry Roeseler
- Ivan Stewart
- Mickey Thompson
- Frank "Scoop" Vessels
- BJ Baldwin
- Marc Coma
- Paul Newman
- Mike "Mouse" McCoy
- Apdaly Lopez
Current and past classes
Cars and Trucks
- SCORE Trophy Truck: Open Production Unlimited Trucks.
- SCORE Class 1: Unlimited open-wheel single-or two-seaters.
- SCORE Class 1/2-1600: open-wheel single-or two-seaters to 1600cc.
- SCORE Class 2: Unlimited 2.2-liter buggy.
- SCORE Class 3: Short wheelbase 4x4.
- SCORE Class 4: Unlimited 2.2-liter open wheel.
- SCORE Class 5: Unlimited Baja Bugs.
- SCORE Class 5-1600: 1600cc Baja Bugs.
- SCORE Class 6: V6 powered tube chassis trucks
- SCORE Class 7: Open mini trucks.
- SCORE Class 7S: Stock mini trucks. (3000cc)
- SCORE Class 7SX: Modified mini trucks. (4000cc)
- SCORE Class 8: Full-sized two-wheel drive trucks.
- SCORE Class 9: Short wheelbase, open-wheel single- or two-seaters.
- SCORE Class 10: Open-wheel single or two-seaters to 2000cc.
- SCORE Class 11: Stock VW Sedans.
- SCORE Lites Class 12: VW limited open-wheel single-(1776cc) or two-seaters(1835cc).
- SCORE Class 17: Jeepspeed
- SCORE Stock Full: Stock full-sized trucks.
- SCORE Stock Mini: Stock mini trucks. (4300cc)
- SCORE Baja Challenge: Limited, identical open-wheel Baja touring cars.
- SCORE Sportsman Buggy:
- SCORE Sportsman Truck:
- SCORE Sportsman UTV:
- ProTruck: Limited Production Trucks governed by the Baja ProTruck Off-Road Race Series
- SCORE Class 20: 125cc or smaller two-stroke and 250cc or smaller four-stroke motorcycles.
- SCORE Class 21: 126cc to 250cc.
- SCORE Class 22: 250cc 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.
- Fiolka, Marty (2005). 1000 Miles to Glory. Arizona: David Bull Publishing. ISBN 1-893618-36-6.
- Ekins, Dave. "A Ride Down the Peninsula". Archived from the original on September 29, 2007. Retrieved 2006-12-24.
- SCORE International (2006). "2006–2010 Off-Road Racing Rules and Regulations".
- SCORE International. "2009 New Classes & Existing Class Rule Amendments
- 2009 Baja 1000 Press Release
- "SCORE OFF-ROAD RACING – SCORE-International.com". www.score-international.com. Retrieved 2015-12-31.
- SCORE. "2017 Schedule". Score-International. Retrieved 30 October 2017.
- Clark, Dominic. "MacCachren/A. McMillin/Voss 'Rockstars' earns Overall, SCORE Trophy Truck win at 47th Tecate SCORE Baja 1000". SCORE International. Retrieved December 26, 2014.
- "SCORE crown jewel since 1967 (October 6, 2005)". Desert Racing. Archived from the original on March 6, 2012. Retrieved November 5, 2010.
- Burns, Josh. "Kendall Norman, Quinn Cody Earn 2010 SCORE Baja 1000 Motorcycle Victory." Off-Road.Com. http://www.off-road.com/dirtbike/race/kendall-norman-quinn-cody-earn-2010-score-baja-1000-motorcycle-victory-52939.html November 18, 2010 Retrieved 1:35 p.m., Sunday, April 6, 2014 (PDT).
- "E-commerce pioneer bike bandit's ken wahlster". Dealer news. Archived from the original on February 18, 2015. Retrieved April 5, 2015.
- Official SCORE International website
- Official SCORE International Journal
- Official SCORE International Carbon TV channel
- 1967 Baja 1000 ( Twenty Seven Hours To La Paz – Video )
- General description of 4-wheeled off-road classes.
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