May 18, 2020
SCORE Fantastic Flashbacks–
SCORE Baja 500, Parte Tres
Ferro drove solo in Sandmaster-VW, Mayes
& Bakken rode Husqvarna to victory in 1974
NOTE: list of 1974 class winners at bottom of text
ENSENADA, Baja California, Mexico – (While the world continues its ferocious fight against the vicious virus called COVID-19, SCORE continues its preparation to launch its 2020 SCORE World Desert Championship with a special series of features called SCORE Fantastic Flashbacks—SCORE Baja 500, Part Three).
DAWN OF A LASTING LEGACY
It was a mild summer morning in Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico, with overcast skies at 7:29 a.m. PT on Saturday, July 26, 1974 when the first of 279 vehicles left the start line in the Ensenada Arroyo to mark the official birth of the World’s Foremost Desert Racing Organization as it exploded at the Delco SCORE Baja Internacional (nee Baja 500).
With motorcycles leaving two every minute, fans alongside of both sides of wash roared as the bikes left the line spinning their rear wheels on the freshly watered starting line with many doing spectacular wheelies.
Leaving two cars and/or trucks at a time from separate ramps to start their Baja journey, Lonny and Dixie Hawkins on the left and Bill Rush and Dan Shields on the right were the first two four-wheel vehicles when the first green dropped. At exactly 9 a.m. PT Baja California’s Lt. Governor Francisco Santana Peralta dropped the flag and the race was on. Ensenada Mayor Ocatvio Perez Pazuengo started the second group.
The third and fourth groups were started by General Agustin Carreno, Chief of the 2nd Military Zone and a representative for Contralmirante Roberto Maupume Ruiz, Rear Admiral of the Mexican Navy. SCORE’s Al Taylor then took over the job as official starter with the last starter in the elapsed-time race getting the green flag at 11:36 a.m. PT.
Noted Hollywood stunt driver and 2019 Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame inductee Bobby Ferro won the overall 4-wheel vehicle title for the third of four times in the Baja 500 in his career in 1974, this time in a VW-powered Sandmaster open-wheel desert race car. The fastest overall motorcycle in this first SCORE Baja race was the Husqvarna with Mitch Mayes and A.C. Bakken sharing the riding duties.
With the 2020 season reduced to three races while the battle rages against Coronavirus (COVID-19), desert racers around the world are hoping to start the 2020 SCORE season at the legendary 52nd annual BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 500, presented by 4Wheel Parts, in Baja California.
Launching its 47th season as the World’s Foremost Desert Racing Organization, the season-opening event of the three-race internationally-televised 2020 SCORE World Desert Championship has been moved to July 14-19 in Ensenada. Ensenada is a coastal city on the Bahia de Todos Santos area of the Pacific Ocean, 80 miles south of the U.S. border at San Diego.
Most 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. All three 2020 SCORE races will be run on the northern part of Mexico’s magnificent Baja California peninsula for the fifth consecutive year.
Ensenada, the off-road racing capital of the world is the heart and soul of the SCORE Baja 500 as the popular summertime race will start for the 47th time there and finish for the 43rd time there.
BEFORE THE GREEN FLAG
With tremendous assistance from Ensenada tourism advocate Nico Saad, Mickey Thompson and his fledgling SCORE International organization were invited by the Mexican government to take over the Baja 500 starting in 1974.
Thus emerged the birth of the SCORE Baja Internactional (legal issues precluded SCORE from gaining the rights to use the name Baja 500 until 1991 when then SCORE owner Sal Fish procured and trademarked SCORE Baja 500). But fans, media and racers alike have always called it the Baja 500 or SCORE Baja 500.
Bobby Ferro captured the first SCORE Baja race, covering the rugged 385 mile course in eight hours, 12.10 minutes while averaging 46.97 miles per hour in his No. 19 Sandmaster SF as the first overall 4-wheel vehicle finisher. Third fastest vehicle for the race despite losing 14 minutes, the determined Ferro recovered from a missed turn midway through the race. Ferro finished less than five minutes behind the top two motorcycle finishers on corrected time.
After giving up a 10 minute lead, second in Class 1 nearly 13 minutes behind Ferro went to the illustrious team of Bud Feldkamp and Malcolm Smith in a Sandwinder single seater (8:25.17, 45.76mph). Completing the Class 1 podium, eight minutes behind Feldkamp/Smith was solo driver Mike Patrick in a Funco SS1 (8:33.60, 45.01mph).
Class 2 for two-seat open wheelers had several favorites who didn’t disappoint. Bill Hrynko and Ivan Stewart won the class in their Chenowth (8:52.89, 43.37mph) while second in the class was the team of Charles Townsley/Dave Simmerman in another Chenowth and third was the Corkey Behrle/Gary Tone duo in their Hi-Jumper Duster.
In another hotly contested battle in that first SCORE Baja race, Rod Hall won Class 3 in his Ford Bronco (9:49.94, 39.18mph) while second was Dick Dahn/Vernon Roberts in a Jeep CJ5 (10:25.17, 36.97mph).
Mitch Mayes/A.C Bakken first overall motorcycle, first in Class 22 and fastest overall in the race on a Husqvarna 400 (8:07.41, 47.42mph) while second in two-wheel and overall was the team of Danny Robinson/Steve Sterner on another Husqvarna 400 (8:08.41, 47.33mph).
Still a SCORE champion competitor in his 60s, Larry Roeseler finished third in Class 20 on a Husqvarna 123 riding with Andy Kirker (9:31.30, 39.47mph). Winning that class was the team of Nils Nilsson/Mickey Quade (8:59.99, 41.77).
MORE CLASS WINNERS
Among the other class winners in the inaugural SCORE Baja race were Mario Alesi/Peter Alesi (Class 7-Ford Courier, 10:56.43, 35.21mph), Walker Evans (Class 8, 9:04.87, 42.42mph), Gary DeWitt/Bob Rodine (Class 9-Chenowth, 9:50.78, 39.13mph) and Andy DeVercelly/Jerry Conway (Class 10, 10:29.68, 36.71mph).
In the Class 7 race finishing behind Alesi in second was Clyde Jennings in a Chevy LUV truck and third in a Mazda pickup was Ray Lynch.
Finishing behind Evans (9:04.87, 42.42mph) in Class 8 was the Slick Gardner/Mark Mendenhall team and third was Colorado’s Bill Loughran/Bob Seivert.
In a field of 22 starters, placing behind Gary DeWitt/Bob Rodine in Class 9 were Mel Tyree in second and Jerry Meredith in a Hi-Jumper in third.
Here is the REVISED three-race 2020 SCORE World Desert Championship (as of April 29, 2020) schedule of events, for the fifth consecutive year all races will be held in Baja California, Mexico:
- BFGoodrich Tires 52nd SCORE Baja 500, presented by 4 Wheel Parts–
July 14-19, Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico
- 34th SCORE San Felipe 250–
Sept. 22-27, San Felipe, Baja California, Mexico
- BFGoodrich Tires 53rd SCORE Baja 1000, presented by 4 Wheel Parts–
Nov.17-22, Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico
ABC TV AGAIN IN 2020
For the second straight year, the 2020 SCORE World Desert Championship will air on the ABC family of networks. The three-races air as one-hour specials on ABC TV’s World of X Games program with replays on ESPN2.
ABC first covered the 1967 and 1968 Baja 1000 races on the old ABC Wide World of Sports show with Jim McKay and again in the late 1980s with veteran motorsports journalist Sam Posey.
All of the SCORE race coverage shows also continue to air internationally in nearly 25 countries in Europe, Asia, Latin America and South America via syndication and ESPN International. The shows are co-produced by SCORE International and SoCal’s award-winning BCII TV.
Official SCORE Sponsors: BFGoodrich Tires-Official Tire and Race Title Sponsor, Monster Energy-Official Energy Drink, 4 Wheel Parts-Official Off-Road Retailer and Race Presenting Partner, Ford-Official Truck and SUV, King Shocks-Official Shock Absorber, Polaris RZR-Official UTV, RACELINE Wheels-Official Wheel, VP Racing Fuels-Official Fuel, Wide Open Excursions-Official Arrive and Drive Company, Crystal Bay Casino-Official Casino.
SCORE Official Partners: PCI Race Radios, The Satellite Phone Store, Instant Mexico Auto Insurance, Lucerna Hotel.
Additional SCORE Associate Partners: Baja California Secretary of Sustainable Economy and Tourism, XXIII Ensenada Municipal Government, XXIII Mexicali Municipal Government, Mexicali and San Felipe COTUCO, Cruz Roja Mexicana.
For more information regarding SCORE, visit the official website of the SCORE World Desert Championship at www.SCOREInternational.com.
1974 SCORE Baja 500 Class Winners
Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico
Total Starters: 279 Total Finishers: 173
CLASS 1–Bobby Ferro/Don Ernstmeyer
CLASS 2–Bill Hrynko/Ivan Stewart
CLASS 3–Rod Hall/Jim Fricker
CLASS 4–Bill Rush/Dan Shields
CLASS 5–John Modica/Carl Scholl
CLASS 6–Dave Beverly/Howard Goldsmith
CLASS 7–Mario Alesi/Peter Alesi
CLASS 8–Walker Evans/Jimmie Baird
CLASS 9–Gary DeWitt/Bob Rodine
CLASS 10–Andy DeVercelly, Jerry Conway
CLASS 20–Nils Nilsson/Mickey Quade
CLASS 21–Al Baker/Steve Holladay
CLASS 22–Mitch Mayes/A.C. Bakken