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This years SCORE Baja 1000 is shaping up to be one of the biggest contested battles ever for UTVs south of the border. Many story lines are shaping up adding to the excitement of this years 49th running of the Baja 1000. We will touch on a few here to help bring those of you who may be out of the loop up to speed. In addition, we have included just about everything you could ever want to know about this years Baja 1000 below with links to tracking, course map and how to follow during the race. UTVUnderground.com will be in Baja full-force and providing you with up to the minute race coverage strait from the race course.

Wayne Matlock, competing in the Forced Induction has been on a terror winning the last three Baja races he has competed in. Matlock is not in contention for the championship as he did not compete at the San Felipe 250 or Rosarito Beach Desert Challenge. Matlock did however win the 2014 & 2015 SCORE Baja 500 in addition to the 2015 SCORE Baja 1000. He will start on the pole making him a force to be reckoned with.

Burt Jenner gained UTV exposure a few years ago not because of his driving ability but rather his ties to his celebrity family. Burt’s father Bruce Jenner is a retired Olympic Gold Medalist who gained additional fame long into his retirement as the family patriarch of the Kardashian clan. Bruce has since sky rocketed into the public eye with his transitioning into a female (Caitlyn Jenner) bringing the transgender discussion into the everyday lives of people all around the world. Burt has been faced with both sides of his families fame, both from a good side and of course from the bad as well but one thing that is often overlooked when hearing his name is the pure driving talent Burt possesses. Burt has competed in Baja both in a UTV and most recently behind the wheel of a trophy truck and is a former winner of FORD’s Octane Academy. Jenner can wheel just about anything and now with a new Polaris RZR XP Turbo to compete in this year, Jenner looks to prove that he is for real behind the wheel of a UTV. He will leave the line just behind Matlock in 2nd position.

Cory Sappington has given himself the nickname of “The Godfather of UTV Racing” and while some may debate that title its hard to argue that Cory has not been a strong driving force behind the development of UTV racing. Casey Folks, owner of the Best In The Desert series has said numerous times that if it wasn’t for Cory there would be no UTV racing at BITD, another statement that could be argued but nevertheless is even more credit for the factory Can-Am racer. Sappington will leave the line 3rd in the Pro Turbo (forced-induction) class and has plans of his own to put his yellow Can-Am Maverick Turbo on top of the box. Sappington has enjoyed podiums in Baja before and is one of the most experienced racers in the class. Sappington is often overlooked when discussing the top racers in the class. He doesn’t have the prettiest of machines, he doesn’t have all the latest and greatest chase equipment, but what he does have is talent as a driver, a tested and prepped vehicle and a will to not only win but also finish.

Marc Burnett enters this years Baja 1000 with a 13 point lead over Mike Cafro for the 2016 SCORE season championship. What adds to this story is that its rumored to be Burnett’s last race as a Factory Polaris RZR racer while Cafro is entering the race as a new Factory Polaris RZR athlete. We are unsure as to what Burnett’s plans for 2017 are but through the grapevine we have heard that he will be switching factories. Either way, we know Burnett is coming to Baja prepared and planning to win the race and the season championship while Cafro also plans to do the same. Mike Cafro has been a guy traveling under the radar, however Polaris has taken notice as has many others in the sport that the relative unknown is a legit competitor to not only battle for podiums but also season championships. Cafro will leave the line in 3rd position while Burnett will leave the line thirty seconds behind in the 4th position.

Long time UTV racer, Cody Rahders, is set to take on this years Baja 1000 in his #2916 Polaris RZR XP Turbo. Rahders earned his factory sponsorship as a short course powerhouse but has yet to capture that same success as a desert racer. The young driver is certainly one of the fastest behind the wheel of a UTV but the question remains if he can keep his self prepped vehicle together across the long and brutal 854 miles Baja course. Should he finish on the podium or better, he will certainly head into the 2017 desert racing season not as a dark horse but rather a favorite. Rahders leaves the line in the sixth position.

Johnny Angal has seemed to of lost his RZR racing mojo. The former Baja 1000 winner has struggled this season to find the podium in his RZR despite his successes in his 6100 Spec Trophy Truck. From the outside, it may look like Angal has spread himself out between the two vehicles and thus his RZR program is taking a hit but those who know Johnny and his UTV Inc. team would also know that anything they do, they do right and winning in his RZR is still very much a top priority. For this years race, Johnny has enlisted the help of long-time UTV racer and boss of the Polaris RZR racing program, Craig Scanlon. Scanlon just recently launched his Scanlon Motorsports Group RZR program in which case he will also be taking on next years Baja 500 & 1000 from the seat of his own car. Scanlon has Baja racing experience with his previous team Jagged X and is not new to the challenge of competing for wins. Togeather the team of Angal & Scanlon look to put their names at the top of the Baja 1000 finishing order, something Angal has enjoyed in the past but would be a first for Scanlon. Their #2921 Polaris RZR XP Turbo leaves the line in 7th position.

One of the biggest stories and unknowns heading into this years race is the involvement of Arctic Cat and its big name ambassador Robby Gordon. Three Arctic Cat’s are entered into the race with some big names attached to them as drivers. The machines are all entered into the Pro Turbo class leaving many to wonder if they will show up with a new platform to compete in or if they are simply entering in some Robby Gordon Speed prepped Wildcat-X machines. Jaime Romero Sr. in the #2903 will be the first of the Arctic Cats to enter the course leaving the line in the 10th position. He will be assisted in driving duties by longtime UTV racer Sean Cook amongst others. Leaving in the 12th position is the #2933 Arctic Cat assigned to former founder of Dragonfire Racing and longtime Trophy Truck and Class 1 racer Todd Romano. Todd has tons of Baja experience but is also known for being an abuser of equipment. He often runs the pace but always seems to be left to salvage a finish due to mechanicals. Romano will be assisted by another experienced UTV Baja racer Hans Waage who has enjoyed his share of Baja glory back when UTV racing was more of a “Frankenstein” type of class. Another of Romano’s teammates this year is TJ Flores. Flores is not only a talented and fast driver, he comes with tons of off-road experience as both a Class 1 and Trophy Truck driver amongst other vehicles he has competed in. Flores brings a wealth of mechanical and course knowledge to the team. Whats interesting is Sheldon Creed, another extremely fast and young driver is also listed as part of this team but Creed also is Driver Of Record (DOR) of the #2974 Arctic Cat which starts in the 16th position. Sheldon will be assisted by the legend himself, Robby Gordon who is also set to take on the Baja 1000 behind the wheel of his #77 Trophy Truck. The makeup of this three car team has many wondering what the strategy will be and just what these big name and very fast racers will be driving. The team has been in Baja pre-running, doing lots of homework in preparation of this race. If this is the coming out party for the rumored new Arctic Cat then they certainly will be getting the attention they desire with these names piloting. What remains to be seen is if an Arctic Cat can not only finish but finish well. Having this caliber of drivers means it will all be up to the machine, and of course some Baja luck!

Branden Sims has already experienced his share of Baja 1000 glory. Sims was part of the 2014 team with Johnny Angal that won the last peninsula run of the Baja 1000. This year Sims will be back in his own #2913 Polaris RZR XP Turbo and will share driving duties with friend and fellow Polaris RZR factory athlete Jake Carver. The two make up a formidable team, both extremely fast and fit racers. Sims has extensive knowledge of his vehicle and has a lot of talent when it comes to driving both in dust and darkness, something all racers will be faced with. Together the duo looks to not only finish but win this years race and they will leave the line in 9th position.

Justin Lambert maybe starting in the 14th position but finishing 1st is his goal. The factory Polaris RZR athlete has been on a terror this season in BITD, winning every race he has started in this season at BITD. Lambert finished second at this years Baja 500 and heads into this years Baja 1000 with high hopes of a successful run at the 1000. While Lambert may not have decades of Baja experience like others competing, he definitely is not a rookie. He has competed now for the past few years south of the border so he and his team certainly know what it takes to win the race. Like the Baja 500, Lambert and the Cognito Motorsports team have entered their #2918 Polaris RZR XP1000 into the Pro Turbo class. Having won multiple overalls this year at BITD, it is known that the naturally aspirated RZR of Cognito Motorsports can run with all the big boys. Then again, Lambert is one of the big boys!

The most successful team in all of UTV racing is without question the Factory Polaris RZR team of Jagged X. Brandon Schueler holds more UTV racing championships than anyone competing in the sport and while a championship this year looks to be a long shot while currently sitting in fourth in the points race, a win at the Baja 1000 is still very attainable. Schueler this year will team up with hot shoe driver Mitch Guthrie Jr., another Factory Polaris RZR athlete who has come on strong this year as a desert racer for Polaris. Like Rahders, Guthrie Jr. made his name on the short course tracks of Lucas Oil and WORCS and made the transition to desert for 2016. Guthrie Jr. has challenged for wins and podiums all year with his biggest finish being a win at this years UTV World Championship in the Production class. Together, they look to combine Jagged X’s un-matched support and experience with one of todays fastest young drivers. The #2919 Polaris RZR XP Turbo of Jagged X will leave the line deep in the field in the 17th position and will have their work cut out for them to make up time and positions.

Nothing ever seems to be easy for brothers Jason & Derek Murray. Then again, nothing is ever easy when it comes to off-road racing. The #2917 Can-Am Maverick X3 drew an 18th start position but I think most who have raced the Baja 1000 will tell you this is the one race that lends itself enough time and mileage to make a run to the front, and if anyone can make a run it the brothers of Murray Motorsports. The Can-Am Factory backed racers have worked hard the past couple of months to refine their new X3 race machine. The new Maverick X3 is the most talked about UTV on the market right now but with only a couple in competition right now its still a rather unproven platform. The Murray’s look to legitimize the X3 in this years Baja 1000 and after a rough outing at last months BITD Bluewater Desert Challenge the team knows how important a solid finish in Baja is to both Can-Am and its faithful. The Murray Motorsports program is one of the most consistent programs in all of UTV racing. We have watched the Murray’s compete since day 1 and one thing always proves itself to be true and that is you will see Jason & Derek cross the finish line. More times then not, they are on the podium and almost always challenging for a win. With the UTV worlds eyes on them, they will look to put their X3 on top of the box for the first time ever in Baja!

Leading a field of 15 Pro Naturally Aspirated UTV teams into the unforgiving Baja terrain will be the extremely talented Kristen Matlock. Kristen will enter her factory backed #1954 Polaris RZR XP1000 with the plan of being the first woman to “IRONWOMAN” the Baja 1000 behind the wheel of a 4 wheel vehicle. Kristen has landed on the podium in just about every race she has entered and is coming off of a 3rd place finish at this years Baja 500. Like her husband Wayne, Kristen is one of the most experienced Baja racers in the entire race and plans to put her knowledge, skill and equipment to the test. She will certainly run the risk of fatigue by attempting to take on what could be a race that lasts well beyond 20 hours. She has worked hard to prepare herself both physically and logging extensive hours of practice and pre-running. While we always try to remain neutral in saying who we would like to see finish on top, it goes without question that we would love to see Kristen do well and make history behind the wheel of her Polaris RZR!

Starting just behind Kristen in the Pro Naturally Aspirated UTV class is racing legend Rhys Millen. The Pikes Peak and rally racing icon will pilot his #1967 Polaris RZR XP1000 with a shared goal amongst all competitors to win. Millen has what we believe to be one of the most advanced UTVs ever built for competition. With a focus on weight savings, vehicle balance and reliability, Millen has poured his many years of race car development into building a one-of-a-kind RZR that rivals any custom off-road machine we have ever seen. Rhys has competed in Baja and found success in other vehicles, should he find the podium this week at the Baja 1000 he will certainly add his name into the top racers of the sport heading into 2017.

Firing off the line 3rd in the Pro Naturally Aspirated UTV class will be the reigning Baja 500 class winner and championship points leader Alonso Lopez. Lopez has found the podium in each of his 3 SCORE races this year but his win at the Baja 500 gave him the legitimacy he has been competing for over the years. Lopez will wheel his #1949 Polaris RZR XP1000 with hopes of locking down the season championship and earning his first Baja 1000 win in a UTV. His unique RZR has been one of our favorites since the day he unveiled it but up until this year struggled to make it last through the long and harsh Baja races. It seems as if Lopez has finally got his RZR figured out and dialed in and we think this could be his year!

A total of thirty-five UTVs have entered the race in the Pro Forced Induction (20) and Pro Naturally Aspirated (15) classes as of 11.14.16. This makes up the largest UTV field ever seen for a Baja 1000 race. The names and teams competing certainly prove once again that this isn’t the UTV class of old but rather one of the most competitive and fastest growing classes the sport has ever seen. Can-Am, Polaris and Arctic Cat are all invested into this race and whether they will admit it or not, will be focused on just who will win the OEM battle at the Baja 1000. This race is never given, it is never easy and it always will lend itself to the team and racer who puts in the most homework, performs the best prep and who races wisely.

UTVUnderground.com is heading south with a full team to chase this years race and bring you back all the Pre, Live and Post race coverage you could ever want. Track the race with us online in our forum and on all of our social media channels @utvunderground.


Pro Turbo Starting Order
1. 2971 Wayne Matlock – Factory Polaris
2. 2950 Burt Jenner – Polaris
3. 2904 Cory Sappington – Factory Can-Am
4. 2975 Mike Cafro – Factory Polaris
5. 2905 Marc Burnett – Factory Polaris
6. 2916 Cody Rahders – Factory Polaris
7. 2921 Johnny Angal / Craig Scanlon – Factory Polaris
8. 2923 Tyler Backus – Polaris
9. 2913 Branden Sims / Jake Carver – Factory Polaris
10. 2903 Jaime Romero Sr. – Arctic Cat
11. 2920 Scott Bergen – Can-Am
12. 2933 Todd Romano – Factory Arctic Cat
13. 2977 Justin Ellenberg – Can-Am
14. 2918 Justin Lambert – Factory Polaris
15. 2947 Levi Gilkison – Can-Am
16. 2974 Sheldon Creed – Factory Arctic Cat
17. 2919 Brandon Schueler / Mitch Guthrie Jr. – Factory Polaris
18. 2917 Derek Murray – Factory Can-Am
19. 2910 Scott Trafton – Polaris
20. 2906 Aaron Quesada – Polaris

Pro Naturally Aspirated Starting Order
1. 1954 Kristen Matlock – Factory Polaris
2. 1967 Rhys Millen – Factory Polaris
3. 1949 Alonso Lopez – Polaris
4. 1958 George Felix – Polaris
5. 1991 David Laurence – Polaris
6. 1929 John Stagerman – Arctic Cat
7. 1955 Paul Champion – Polaris
8. 1910 Ryan Mcintire – Polaris
9. 1998 Bill Whittington – Polaris
10. 1962 Dodge Poelman – Polaris
11. 1923 Ben Bischoff – Polaris
12. 1901 Greg Row – Polaris
13. 1913 Dean Action – Polaris
14. 1939 Dan Fresh – Polaris
15. 1907 Daniel Parker – Polaris