September 16, 2020
Presented by 4 Wheel Parts
‘Echoes from the Past’ provide prolific, poignant race notes,
Super stats, for BFGoodrich Tires 52nd SCORE Baja 500
Opener of two-race 2020 SCORE World Desert Championship
next Tuesday through Sunday;
Private start/finish at El Dorado Ranch-San Felipe, Mexico;
Televised on ABC World of X Games;
#scorebaja500; More race info at www.score-international.com
ENSENADA, Baja California, Mexico—History is the foundation for the present, the present is structure for the future and echoes from the past resonate resoundingly as racers from around the globe are anxiously awaiting next week’s memorable internationally-televised BFGoodrich Tires 52nd SCORE Baja 500, presented by 4 Wheel Parts.
Season-opener of the pandemic-abbreviated two-race 2020 SCORE World Desert Championship will be held September 22-27 starting and finishing for just the second time in its storied race history in San Felipe, Baja California, Mexico, the peaceful village on the Sea of Cortez, 125 miles south of the U.S. Border at Calexico, Calif.
Many of the world’s best desert racers will be in action at this year’s celebration of one of the top 10 motorsports events in the entire world. The race will be televised on a delayed basis as a one-hour special on the ABC Network World of X Games programming. Produced in association with SCORE International, Los Angeles’ award-winning BCII TV will provide the production work of the telecast.
Lead announcer for the show will be veteran Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame (ORMHoF) inductee (2018), SCORE Trophy Truck champion racer and action sports TV announcer Cameron Steele.
An elapsed-time race with staggered starts as the green flag on Saturday (Sept. 26) will drop first for the motorcycles and quads at 3 a.m. (PT) and 7 a.m. (PT) for the cars, trucks and UTVs. While the fastest vehicles will complete the rugged 493.00-mile course in around 10 hours, all vehicles will have a 20-hour time limit to become an official finisher.
With no spectators allowed because of the current health pandemic, the start/finish line area for the first time will be the popular El Dorado Ranch gated community just north of San Felipe.
Nearly 150 vehicles, are expected at the start line with racers from as many as 20 U.S. States and 10 countries anticipated to compete in classes for cars, trucks, UTVs, motorcycles and quads. Race title sponsor and long-time SCORE Official sponsor and race title sponsor BFGoodrich Tires has posted a US$25,000 contingency bonus to help commemorate this year’s 52nd Anniversary of this legendary race in Baja California, Mexico.
With no spectators allowed in the start/finish line area because of Biosecurity Health Protocols, on the two days of contingency (Sept. 24-25) and during the race on Saturday, Sept. 26 until the course closes on Sunday morning, Sept. 27, there will be extensive live streaming from the start/finish line compound broadcasting race activities and start and finish line interviews.
Popular Rat Sult will again serve as primary host of the SCORE live streaming.
With no spectators allowed in the start/finish line compound, all of the week’s activities will be streamed both live and same-day including the race, airing via the internet on the SCORE website and social media platforms.
ECHOES FROM THE PAST
Here’s a brief look back at some of the plethora of prolific poignant race notes, superlative stats, notable numbers that this legendary desert race has etched indelibly into the dusty desert sands of time…
ECHO 1—SCORE Baja 500
The legendary Baja 500 is celebrating its 52nd anniversary next week in San Felipe, Baja California, Mexico. The race was first held in Ensenada in 1969, organized by the NORRA racing organization for four years.
In the inaugural Baja 500 in 1969 winning the overall 4-wheel vehicle title was the team of Bud Ekins/Guy Jones in an Oldsmobile-powered Baja Boot open wheel desert race car and the fastest motorcycle was the Ducati riden by Doug Douglass and Jim McClurg.
ECHO 2—SCORE Baja 500
In 1973 the Baja Sports Committee, local tourism group in Ensenada, produced the event.
Later in 1973 after the NORRA group was no longer sanctioned by the State government to produce events in Mexico, Baja California tourism advocate and prominent Ensenada hotelier Nico Saad introduced Mickey Thompson to the governor of Baja California that resulted in SCORE being named as the official non-Mexican promoter authorized and sanctioned by the Baja California government to produce events in this Mexican state.
ECHO 3—SCORE Baja 500
Thus came the birth of the SCORE Baja Internacional (legal issues precluded SCORE from gaining the rights to use the name Baja 500 until 1991). The first SCORE Baja Internacional (produced by Mickey Thompson and Sal Fish) was held on July 26, 1974 in Ensenada with 279 official starters and 173 official finishers. But fans, media and racers alike have always called it the Baja 500.
Noted Hollywood stunt driver Bobby Ferro won the overall 4-wheel vehicle title for the third of four times in his career in 1974, this time in a VW-Sandmaster open-wheel desert race car. The fastest overall motorcycle in this race was the Husqvarna with Mitch Mayes and A.C. Bakken sharing the riding duties.
ECHO 4—SCORE Baja 500
Racers like Ivan Stewart, Larry Roeseler, Bobby Ferro, Parnelli Jones, Larry Ragland, Robby Gordon, Malcolm Smith, Dr. Bud Feldkamp, Troy Herbst, Rob MacCachren, Bryce Menzies, Steve Hengeveld, Johnny Campbell, Bruce Ogilvie, Justin Morgan and McMillin family racers—Corky, Scott, Mark and Andy—are all part of the legacy of all-time multiple overall four-wheel and multiple two-wheel vehicle winners of the SCORE Baja 500.
Also on the iconic overall winner’s list with one 4-wheel victory each are active racers B.J. Baldwin (2008), Kory Halopoff (2009), Mike Julson (1995), Curt LeDuc (1995), Harley Letner (2009), Carlos ‘Apdaly’ Lopez (2015) and Gustavo ‘Tavo’ Vildosola Jr (2016).
With four motorcycle overall wins is active racer Justin Morgan (2015, 2017, 2018, 2019), with three wins each on two-wheels are and Mark Samuels (2016, 2018, 2019) and with two are Max Eddy Jr (2014, 2015) and Justin Jones (2018, 2019).
With one motorcycle overall win each are active racers Mike Childress (2005) and Shane Esposito (2017).
ECHO 5—SCORE Baja 500
Governors of Baja California during the years of the SCORE Baja 500—Raúl Sánchez Díaz…1965-1971; Milton Castellanos Everado…1971-1977; Roberto De la Madrid Romandia…1977-1983; Xicontecatl Leyva Mortera…1983-1989; Oscar Baylon Chacón…Interim for eleven months in 1989; Ernesto Ruffo Appel…1989-1995; Héctor Terán…1995-1998 (Died while in office); Alejandro González Alcocer…1998-2001 (Interim); Eugenio Elorduy Walther…2001-2007; José Guadalupe Osuna Millán…2007-2013, Francisco Arturo Vega De la Madrid…2013-2019 and Jaime Bonilla Valdez…2019-present.
ECHO 6—SCORE Baja 500
Legendary Hall of Fame former SCORE owner Sal Fish joined Hall of Fame retired racer Ivan ‘Ironman’ Stewart as co-Grand Marshals for the BFGoodrich Tires 50th SCORE Baja 500 in 2018.
Fish, the ‘godfather’ of desert racing who ran SCORE from its Baja start in 1974 for 39 years through the end of the 2012 season joined the iconic ‘Ironman’ Stewart to share duties for the special golden anniversary race that they both have been such a major part of over the years.
Fish, who turned 81 this May 2 and Stewart who turned 75 on June 4, were both active parts of the Golden Anniversary celebration of the popular early summer race.
ECHO 7—SCORE Baja 500
Among the drivers from other arenas who have tested the Baja 500 have been Indy Car racers Rick and Roger Mears, Parnelli Jones, Danny Ongias, Danny Sullivan, Jimmy Vasser, Roberto Guerrero, Michel Jourdain Jr., Johnny Unser and Mike and Robbie Groff, NASCAR’s Robby Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Boris Said and Brendan Gaughan, SCCA legend Elliot Forbes-Robinson, Pike’s Peak Hill Climb record holder Rod Millen, Drifting and Pike’s Peak champion Rhys Millen, World Rally Championships’ Armin Schwarz, Armin Kremer, Andreas Aigner and Harri Pavanpera, world motorcycle champions Malcolm Smith, Larry Roeseler and Destry Abbott, Motocross legends Ricky Johnson and Jeremy McGrath, Dakar Rally Champions Ricky Brabec, Cyril Despres and Marc Coma, XGames star Travis Pastrana, Sports Car champion Larry Connor, drag racers Don Prudhomme and Larry Minor and legendary SCORE founder and motorsports innovator Mickey Thompson.
ECHO 8—SCORE Baja 500
Part of the legacy of this iconic race, SCORE presents the racers who have been overall winners of the SCORE San Felipe 250, SCORE Baja 500 and SCORE Baja 1000—the SCORE Baja Triple Crown Award.
The nine individuals who have earned this amazing honor are: Dave Ashley, Robby Gordon, Rob MacCachren, Andy McMillin, Scott McMillin, Larry Ragland, Dan Smith, Ivan Stewart and Gustavo ‘Tavo’ Vildosola Jr.
ECHO 9—SCORE Baja 500
Ensenada has hosted nearly all of the Baja 500 races. The race officially became the SCORE Baja Internacional in 1974 and Sal Fish was finally able to negotiate the use of the name it was always called and it became the SCORE Baja 500 in 1991.
Overall, the world’s most well-known desert race has started 46 times in Ensenada, three times in Ojos Negros, once in Barstow, Calif. (USA), and once in San Felipe.
Overall, the SCORE Baja 500 has finished in 42 times in Ensenada, five times in Santo Tomas, twice in Ojos Negros, once in Barstow, Calif. (USA) and once in San Felipe.
Motorcycle classes have run in this race every year but 1989 when the race was moved to San Felipe very close to the race date.
ECHO 10—SCORE Baja 500
Legends are born at the SCORE Baja 500. Driver with the most overall wins in the race, Larry Roeseler is on top with 11 (including nine on a motorcycle and two in an open-wheel desert race car).
Second is Ivan ‘Ironman’ Stewart with the most overall 4-wheel victories by far with 10 (and he also has 17 total class wins including the 10 overalls).
Third in overall wins with five overall 4-wheel wins is ‘Lightning’ Larry Ragland.
With four overall 4-wheel wins each are Bobby Ferro, Robby Gordon and Malcolm Smith (including one on a motorcycle).
With three overall 4-wheel wins each are Dr. Bud Feldkamp, Troy Herbst, Mark McMillin, Mark’s brother Scott McMillin, Scott’s son Andy McMillin and Bryce Menzies.
With two overall 4-wheel wins each are Brian Collins, Bob Gordon (Robby’s father), Parnelli Jones, Rob MacCachren, Corky McMillin (McMillin family patriarch) and Dan Smith (including one on a motorcycle).
Besides Roeseler with nine, the leaders in overall motorcycle wins are Steve Hengeveld (7), Johnny Campbell, Paul Krause, Bruce Ogilvie and Kendall Norman with five each.
With four each are Robby Bell, Ted Hunnicutt Jr and Justin Morgan and with three each are Scot Harden and Jonah Street.
ECHO 11—SCORE Baja 500
In the battle of manufacturers, several categories are presented.
Leaders in overall car/truck wins are Ford Truck (13), Chevy Truck (9), Funco, Chenowth and Toyota trucks with seven each and Jimco and Smithbuilt with three each.
Leaders in overall Tire manufacturers’ wins for cars/trucks are BFGoodrich Tires (32), Western Auto (5), Toyo Tires (4) and tied with two each are Firestone Tires, Goodyear Tires and Yokohama Tires.
The leaders in overall motorcycle wins are Honda (21), Husqvarna (12), Kawasaki (11) and Yamaha (4).
The leaders in overall engine wins for cars and trucks are Ford (15), Chevy (13),Volkswagen (13), Toyota (7) and Porsche (5).
ECHO 12—SCORE Baja 500
There are 12 racers who have overall victories in both the SCORE Baja 500 and the SCORE Baja 1000, which celebrated its 52nd race last November.
Clearly leading with way is legendary Larry Roeseler who has 13 overall wins in the SCORE Baja 1000 and 11 in the SCORE Baja 500. Second is Larry Ragland who has five in each of the iconic SCORE races.
The other racers who have overall victories in both races along with their overall wins in each race are Andy McMillin (3 SCORE Baja 500, 5 SCORE Baja 1000), Robby Gordon (4, 3), Rob MacCachren (2, 4), Troy Herbst (3, 2), Scott McMillin (3, 2), B.J. Baldwin (1, 2), Gustavo ‘Tavo’ Vildosola Jr (1, 1), Mark Samuels (3, 5), Justin Morgan (4, 3) and Justin Jones (2, 4).
ECHO 13—SCORE Baja 500
In 51 years of this great race, non-U.S. drivers have been the fastest overall 4-wheel winners in this race twice and once in the motorcycle division. Both Mexican nationals, Carlos ‘Apdaly’ Lopez of Tecate was the first non-American winner in 2015 in at Chevy SCORE Trophy Truck and Gustavo ‘Tavo’ Vildosola Jr of Mexicali followed up in 2016 by winning in a Ford SCORE Trophy Truck.
In 2017, Francisco Arredondo of Guatemala became the first non-U.S. racer to win the overall motorcycle titles as he was rider of record on the winning team of Americans—Shane Esposito/Justin Morgan and Mexico’s Roberto Villalobos of Tijuana.
ECHO 14—SCORE Baja 500
Looking at some overall stats from this legendary race, a total of 13,338 vehicles have started the first 51 races for an average of 261.5 starters per race. A total of 7,384 vehicles have finished the first 51 races for an average of 144.8 finishers per race. Percentage-wise, 55.4% is the average finishing rate for this legendary race.
In the first 51 years, the most ever starters came in 2007 when 492 vehicles left the start line and the second most starters was in 2006 when 438 started the race.
In the first 51 years, the most ever finishers came in 2007 when 228 finished race and the second most finishers was in 2006 when 221 vehicles finished the race.
In the first 51 years of the world-famous desert race, the fewest number of starters was the first race back in 1969 when there were 163 and the fewest number of finishers was also in 1969 when there were 73 finishers.
Overall there have been 10 SCORE Baja 500 races with 300 or more starters.
ECHO 15—SCORE Baja 500
In the 2018 Golden Anniversary of the SCORE Baja 500, held over a race-record long race course of 542.12 miles, Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame racer Rob MacCachren earned the overall and SCORE Trophy Truck victory in his No. 11 Ford F-150 in a time of 11 hours, 21 minutes and 15 seconds.
Leading the motorcycles overall while winning the Pro Moto Unlimited Class was the three-rider team of rider of record Justin Morgan, Mark Samuels and Justin Jones with a time of 11:54:58 on the No. 7x Honda CRF450X.
ECHO 16—SCORE Baja 500
This will be the latest this race has ever been held in a calendar year since the first produced by SCORE in 1974. Traditionally for the last 30-plus years it has always been held the first weekend of June. The world-wide pandemic this year forced four postponements of this iconic race which will be held next week in San Felipe.
ECHO 17—SCORE Baja 500
While the magnificent mystery of Baja California is infamous, the masters of SCORE Baja 500 have etched their names in the lasting legacy with their class wins in this legendary race.
There are 17 racers who have earned seven or more class wins in this event. History shows that the masters of this race are age-group motorcycle racer Jim O’Neal with 21 class wins, the late great Rod Hall with 18, Ivan ‘Ironman’ Stewart and Larry Roeseler with 17 each and age-group motorcycle legend Richard Jackson with 15 class wins.
While Roeseler leads with 11 overall wins (including nine on motorcycles), Stewart is right behind him with 10 overall victories (all in four-wheel vehicles and seven in PPI Toyota Trucks).
Tied with nine class wins each in this race are 4-wheel vehicle drivers Marcos Nunez and Donald Moss while tied with eight class wins each are veteran age-group motorcycle racer Lou Franco and Steve Hengeveld (with seven of his being overall motorcycle wins as well).
Seven racers are tied with seven class wins each—Sergio Gutierrez, Troy Herbst, Jeff Kaplan, Rob MacCachren, Larry Ragland, Arnoldo Ramirez, Eric Solorzano and Nick Vanderwey.
Of this illustrious group, expected to race in the 52nd anniversary race and add to their legacy are Roeseler, Herbst, MacCachren and Vanderwey.
ECHO 18—SCORE Baja 500
SCORE Trophy Truck, which debuted in 1994, is celebrating its 27th season as the marquee racing division in the sport. It is the marquee racing division for high-tech, 950-horsepower, unlimited custom trucks.
The SCORE Baja 500 has seen the second largest fields of SCORE Trophy Truck in SCORE history, have 39 starters both in 2007 and in 2010.
Winning SCORE Trophy Truck and the overall in 2007 was the team of Larry Ragland/Brian Collins and in 2010, the SCORE Trophy Truck and overall winners were the son/father team of Andy McMillin/Scott McMillin.
The next highest total of SCORE Trophy Truck starters in SCORE history was in this race that had 37 starters in 2006, 2013 and 2014. The team of Brian Collins/Larry Ragland won the class and the race in 2006, Robby Gordon won in 2013 and Bryce Menzies won in 2014, his third SCORE Trophy Truck win in this race in a four-year period.
ECHO 19—SCORE Baja 500
SCORE Trophy Truck Take 2. SCORE Trophy Truck racers have won the overall in 15 out of the last 16 years in the SCORE Baja 500, including the last 10 consecutive years.
The last overall winner in this race not driving a SCORE Trophy Truck was the team of cousins Harley Letner and Kory Halopoff who won the overall and the unlimited Class 1 in 2009 in a Chevy-powered Tatum open-wheel desert race car.
ECHO 20—SCORE Baja 500
The 52nd anniversary SCORE Baja 500 race course, designed and finalized by SCORE President/Race Director Jose A. Grijalva, is a rugged, challenging 493.00 miles. The course runs in a counter-clockwise direction starting and finishing on the grounds of the Eldorado Ranch resort in San Felipe. The course has three physical full-stop checkpoints and 198 virtual checkpoints.
The historic race course is another memorable example of all that Mexico’s Baja California has to offer, including high-speed dirt trails, sandy, rocky and silty natural terrain, dry lake beds, majestic Baja washes and canyons, stretches along the Pacific Ocean seashore with elevations from sea level to over 2,000 feet. The course will be another jewel reflecting the mesmerizing, stark beauty of Baja California.
Much of the course runs through Laguna Salada as well as going through parts of four of Baja California’s infamously magnificent washes: Amarillas, Chanate, Huatamote and Azufre.
ECHO 21—SCORE Baja 500
San Diego’s Andy McMillin is back to defend his overall win from last year in his No. 1 McMillin Racing all-wheel drive Chevy Silverado SCORE Trophy Truck built by Mason Motorsports. Last year McMillin covered the 485.02-mile course in nine hours, 49 minutes, 12 seconds at an average speed of 49.39 miles per hour.
In Pro Motorcycles, Mark Samuels, Yucca Valley, Calif. and his co-riders Justin Morgan, El Cajon, Calif. and Justin Jones, Murrieta, Calif. are back to defend their overall motorcycle title on their No. 1x SLR Honda CRF450X Pro Moto Unlimited motorcycle. The trio finished the race last year in 10:50:11, averaging 44.76mph. Morgan was the rider of record last year.