Celebrating 50 Years of SCORE Desert Racing Excellence' K&N 4th SCORE Baja 400, presented by VP Racing Fuels
Round 3 of 2023 SCORE World Desert Championship on 384.66-mile course, Contingency, start/finish on adjacent to iconic Riviera del Pacifico Cultural Center in Off-Road Racing Capital of the World—Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico;
‘Celebrating 50 Years of SCORE Desert Racing Excellence’ this year, 10 of the top 12 finishers from last year including the reigning season point champion and individual race winner, 37 SCORE Trophy Trucks are poised, prepped, and revved to roar through the magnificent Mexican desert next week. These spectacular, high-tech, 1000-horsepower, unlimited custom trucks, will lead the field of more than 225 expected entries in the K&N 4th SCORE Baja 400, presented by VP Racing Fuels.
The youngest race in the long and storied 50-year history of the World’s Foremost Desert Racing Organization, Round 3 of the four-race 2023 SCORE World Desert Championship will be held Sept. 13-17, in Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico. Ensenada, ‘The Off-Road Racing Capital of the World,’ is a Pacific Ocean port located 80 miles South of the U.S. Border near San Diego.
Pre-race Contingency and Tech Inspection and the start/finish line compound will be located on Boulevard Costero adjacent to the iconic Riviera del Pacifico Cultural Center in the heart of Ensenada.
All four 2023 SCORE races are being held on Mexico’s magnificent Baja California peninsula for the eighth consecutive year.
SCORE, the World’s Foremost Desert Racing Organization, is celebrating its 50th season in 2023.
Included in the massive field of SCORE Trophy Trucks are a litany of the greatest desert racers in the world. Entries includes 10 racers who have combined to win 18 SCORE Trophy Truck season point championships in the 30-year history of the marquee racing division in the sport of desert racing.
There are also 25 drivers entered who have combined to win 110 of the 145 All-Time SCORE Trophy Truck races.
In the SCORE Baja 400, the three defending overall and SCORE Trophy Truck champions in this new race are Ryan Arciero, Foothill Ranch, Calif. (2019) and Las Vegas’ Bryce Menzies (2021 and 2022). Arciero is the second driver for Cameron Steele, San Clemente, Calif., while Menzies will be driving solo once again.
Official practice, or pre-running, on the official 384.66-mile race course for this year’s 4th K&N SCORE Baja 400, presented by VP Racing Fuels, opened this past Saturday.
Pre-running begins at race mile 33.98, ending at race-mile 343.70. The first section from race mile 4.89 up to race mile 33.98, which will be used in both directions during the race, will be available for pre-running only on Friday (Sept. 15) and only in the outbound direction.
The official SCORE Racer Brief, Penalty brief, course map and GPS files are available on the SCORE website under race info/SCORE Baja 400.
MORE DIRT FAX
With over 225 entries anticipated at the start line, 192 total entries have been received so far for this growing event, with racers representing 27 U.S. States, U.S. Territory Puerto Rico, and 10 countries. The countries with at least one racer so far are United States, host country Mexico, Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Canada, France, Israel, New Zealand, and Peru.
With double-digit entries to date are the marquee SCORE Trophy Truck (high-tech, unlimited, 1000-horsepower, custom trucks) with 37 (including nine in SCORE TT Legend for SCORE Trophy Truck drivers over 50), Trophy Truck Spec, (SCORE Trophy Trucks with crate engines) with 34, Pro UTV Open with 15, Pro UTV FI (Forced Induction) with 11, Class 10 with 10, and Pro UTV Stock with 10.
Among 2-wheel vehicles, Pro Moto Ironman (for solo riders) has seven entries.
LAS VEGAS’ MENZIES-2021 and 2022
Las Vegas’ Bryce Menzies repeated as overall and SCORE Trophy Truck winner in the 3rd SCORE Baja 400, presented by VP Racing Fuels in 2022.
Menzies qualified second behind eventual runner-up Luke McMillin and got around him when McMillin was stopped with a flat tire around race mile 65. And he maintained his lead to the finish despite losing his four-wheel drive and finishing with two-wheel drive.
Menzies stayed in front of the hungry field of 197 starters from that point in his Mason Motorsports-built All Wheel Drive No. 7 Menzies Motorsports Ford Raptor, posting an admirable error-free, penalty free winning time of seven hours, 59 minutes and 27 seconds with an average speed of 49.28 miles per hour over the challenging 393.82-mile course.
Menzies led a parade of Mason Motorsports AWD SCORE Trophy Trucks to the podium as San Diego’s Luke McMillin and his older brother Dan McMillin, finished second and third overall in 2022.
After starting first and giving up the lead following a flat tire, San Diego’s Luke McMillin finished second in his No. 83 McMillin Racing Chevy 1500 in a time of 8:02:54, averaging 48.93 mph.
Claiming the final spot on the podium in third place, Dan McMillin, also of San Diego, completed the course in 8:08:30 with an average speed of 48.37 mph.
2022 TOP 10 OVERALL INCLUDED 9 SCORE TROPHY TRUCKS, 1 TROPHY TRUCK SPEC
Behind podium finishers Menzies, Luke McMillin and Dan McMillin, nine of the top 10 finishers in 2022, including the first nine were all behemoth SCORE Trophy Trucks along with one Trophy Truck Spec.
Fourth overall was Mexico’s hometown heroes Alan Ampudia and his brother Aaron Ampudia, both of Ensenada, with a time of 8:11:07 in the No. 10 Papas Y Beer Ford Raptor built by ID Designs.
Fifth overall was the team of Australian superstars Paul Weel and Toby Price in their Geiser Bros-built No. 46 Ford Raptor in a time of 8:14:51 while sixth overall and in SCORE Trophy Truck was the team of Mike Walser, Comfort, Texas/Jax Redline, Amarillo, Texas, less than one second behind the Aussie duo with a time of 8:14:52 in their Mason Motorsports-Built No. 89 Chevy Silverado.
Seventh overall and in SCORE Trophy Truck was Hall of Famer Cameron Steele, San Clemente, Calif., who solo drove in his Desert Assassins Monster Energy No. 16 Ford Raptor (Geiser Bros) in 8:21:09 while eighth overall was San Diego’s Andy McMillin (Luke and Dan McMillin’s cousin), who also drove solo, with a time of 8:23:09 in his McMillin Racing No. 31 Mason-built Chevy Silverado.
Finishing ninth overall and in SCORE Trophy Truck was Kyle Jergensen, Phelan, Calif. in the Brenthel-built No. 27 Chevy Silverado in 8:23:50.
Cracking the top 10 overall finishers while winning his Trophy Truck Spec class was young gun Christopher Polvoorde, 21, Hemet, Calif. with a time of 8:26:05 in his Optima Batteries No. 204 Mason Motorsports-Ford.
MORE SCORE TROPHY TRUCK WINNERS
Any SCORE racer will tell you that the challenge is as much, if not more, about the struggle against the beautiful but unforgiving Baja terrain as it is about beating the other competitors in the class. The old adage is ‘to finish first, you must first finish’.
Including the SCORE Baja 400, Menzies has nine SCORE Trophy Truck race wins in his career, Luke McMillin has five, and Dan McMillin has one.
Ryan Arciero has four, Rick D. Johnson has one, Gustavo ‘Tavo’ Vildosola Jr has six.
Leading the racers with SCORE Trophy Truck race victories, but not in the SCORE Baja 400, Las Vegas’ Rob MacCachren, the G.O.A.T. of Off-Road Racing, has a SCORE-record 20 career SCORE Trophy Truck races wins and entered are Las Vegas’ Tim Herbst is entered with 11 career SCORE Trophy Truck race wins and his older brother Ed Herbst who also has 11 career wins.
Las Vegas’ Pat Dean, who has one career SCORE Trophy Truck race win, will be the second driver for Tim Herbst in this race. Ed Herbst is the alternate driver of record for Mark Post in the No. 3L Ford F-150 in the SCORE TT Legend class this year.
Also entered in this year’s race in SCORE Trophy Truck with 11 career wins each are Andy McMillin (Luke and Dan’s cousin) and Robby Gordon.
Larry ‘Mr. Baja’ Roeseler has five career SCORE Trophy Truck race wins, 2019 race winner Ryan Arciero has four, Gus Vildosola Sr (now racing in SCORE TT Legend), has three, and with two SCORE Trophy Truck race wins are Jesse Jones, Carlos ‘Apdaly’ Lopez, Juan C. Lopez, Roger Norman, and Cameron Steele.
Also entered with one each and Alan Ampudia, Pat Dean, Rick D. Johnson, Eduardo Laguna and Justin B. Smith.
NEXT IN LINE
While former race winners are always pre-race favorites to repeat, the SCORE Trophy Truck field for this year’s BFGoodrich Tires 55th SCORE Baja 500, includes several more racers who have either won in other SCORE classes or in other race series.
Among those additional thoroughbreds charging for a breakthrough are Mikey Lawrence, Banning, Calif./Dustin Grabowski, Upland, Calif. (No. 85 Chevy Silverado (Herbst/Smith), Dan Myers, Newport Beach, Calif., Newport Beach, Calif. (No. 6 Toyota Tundra (R. Gordon), Australia’s Paul Weel/Toby Price, in their No. 46 Chevy Silverado (Mason), Andrew Myers, San Marcos, Calif. (No. 69 Toyota Tundra (Herbst/Smith), Kevin Thompson, New Braunfels, Texas (No. 70 Chevy Silverado (Mason), Harley Letner, Corona, Calif. (No. 71 Chevy Silverado (Herbst/Smith), Roberto Romo Jr, Mexicali, Mexico (No. 33 Ford Raptor (Racer), Christopher Polvoorde, Hemet, Calif. (No. 91 Ford Raptor (Mason).
SCORE TT LEGEND
While Mexico’s Gustavo Vildosola Sr, and his driving teammate Ricky Johnson, will be the favorites in this special marquee class for SCORE Trophy Truck drivers over 50 years old in the Vildosola Racing No. 1L Ford Raptor, among the contenders to challenge the defending race and season point champions will be Clyde Stacy, Bristol, Va./Nick Vanderwey, Phoenix/Robby Gordon, Anaheim, Calif. in the No. 5L Chevy V16 (Geiser), Rolf Helland, Morris, Ill./Rick D. Johnson, Barstow, Calif., in the No. 37L Ford Raptor (Mason), Ed Herbst, Las Vegas, No. 3L Ford F-150 (Riviera Racing), Jose Flores, Culiacan, Mexico, in the No. 55L Chevy Silverado (Jimco) and Clay Lawrence, Banning, Calif., in the No. 85L Chevy Silverado (Herbst/Smith).
The race features a remarkable course, designed, plotted, and fully marked by SCORE President/Race Director Jose A. Grijalva, SCORE Assistant Race Director Rodolfo Fernandez and their staff, of 384.66 miles of rugged Baja California terrain in the Northern part of the State.
The race course runs a clockwise direction in Baja California, staying almost entirely on the West side of Highway 3. The farthest South that it goes is just past Mike’s Sky Rancho (rm149.90) and includes the magnificently beautiful stretch of more than 10 miles along the coast of the Pacific Ocean past Erendira.
The course has one physical checkpoint at race-mile 222.00 at Llano Colorado, 185 total virtual checkpoints and a total of 10 speed zones for a total of 54.47 miles.
The highest point on the course is at race mile 152.05 at Cerro Blanco with an altitude of 4,741 feet.
The first 33.98 miles of the route East and West to and from the Ojos Negros area will be raced in both directions.
Heading South from Ojos, the course winds slowly east until it hits Highway 3 for a brief speed zone section before traveling near Santa Catarina (rm 89.23), Jamau (108.16) before going downhill on the infamous Goat Trail. After a short section on Highway 3, the course moves Southwest up to Mike’s Sky Rancho (rm 149.90) before taking the downhill at Simpson Ranch heading North.
The race course turns west towards the Pacific Ocean Southeast of Valle de la Trinidad then West to the only physical checkpoint at rm 220 (Llano Colorado). The course turns north to run up the coastline near Colonet (rm243.75). At La Calavera (rm 281.30), the course leaves the Pacific Ocean and winds slowly inland up to Santo Tomas (rm302.06) then just south of Uruapan (rm307.96) and east and then north up to Rancho El Mezcal (rm343.70) and the final section to the finish, running just west of Ojos Negros and past Ejido Piedras Gordas to the finish line in Ensenada.
Overall, the challenging 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, majestic Baja washes and canyons, stretches along the seashore with elevations from sea level to 4,741 feet. The course is another jewel reflecting the stark and eternal beauty of Baja California.
It is an elapsed-time race with staggered starts with the green flag dropping on Saturday (Sept. 16). Motorcycles and Quads will start at 5:30 a.m. PT, Cars, Trucks, and UTVs will start at 8:15 PT. The race course is 384.66 miles. While the fastest vehicles will finish in about seven hours, the elapsed-time race will have a 16-hour time limit to become an official finisher.
K&N 4th SCORE Baja 400, presented by VP Racing Fuels
Round 3 of 4-race 2023 SCORE World Desert Championship
Sept. 13-17 – 384.66 miles – Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico
Total Entries: 192 (as of 9/05/23)
(from 27 U.S. States, U.S. Territory Puerto Rico, host Mexico, Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Canada, France, Israel, New Zealand, Peru)
(Number, driver/rider of record/additional drivers and/or Navigators/riders, vehicle, engine)
SCORE TROPHY TRUCK (Unlimited Custom Trucks including Builder)--
1 Luke McMillin, 30, San Diego, Chevy 1500 (Mason)
6 Dan Myers, 45, Newport Beach, Calif./Luke Johnson, 31, Murrieta, Calif., Toyota Tundra (Brenthel)
7 Bryce Menzies, 36, Las Vegas, Ford Raptor (Mason)
10 Alan Ampudia, 32, Ensenada, Mexico, Ford Raptor (Mason)
11 Rob MacCachren, 58, Las Vegas, Ford F-150 (Geiser)
16 Cameron Steele, 55, San Clemente, Calif./Ryan Arciero, 49, Foothill Ranch, Calif., Ford Raptor (Geiser)
19 Tim Herbst, 60, Las Vegas/Pat Dean, 54, Las Vegas, Ford F-150 (Herbst/Smith)
21 Gustavo ‘Tavo’ Vildosola Jr, 41, Mexicali, Mexico, Ford Raptor (Vildosola)
23 Dan McMillin, 35, San Diego, Chevy 1500 (Mason)
26 Dave Taylor, 49, Page, Ariz., Chevy Silverado (Geiser)
27 Jonathan Brenthel, 43, Murrieta, Calif., Chevy Silverado (Brenthel)
28 Ryan Daniel, 40, Huntington Beach, Calif., Jimco-Chevy
31 Andy McMillin, 36, San Diego, Ford Raptor (Mason)
33 Roberto Romo Jr, 18, Mexicali, Mexico/Roberto Romo Sr, 41, Mexicali, Mexico, Ford Raptor (Racer)
38 Eric Hustead, 52, St. George, Utah/Igor Dorojinski, Chevy Silverado (Custom)
43 Larry Roeseler, 66, Boulevard, Calif., Toyota Tundra (ID)
46 Paul Weel, 44, Australia/Toby Price, 36, Australia, Chevy Silverado (Mason)
58 Tracy Graf, 60, Canada/Justin B. Smith, 38, Las Vegas, Chevy Silverado (Racer)
69 Andrew Myers, 43, San Marcos, Calif./Julio Quintero, 40, Escondido, Calif., Toyota Tundra (Herbst/Smith)
70 Kevin Thompson, 50, New Braunfels, Texas/Harley Letner, 39, Corona, Calif./Beau Morton, 25, Huntington Beach, Calif., Chevy Silverado (Mason)
71 Harley Letner, 39, Corona, Calif./Jesse Jones, 76, Phoenix, Chevy Silverado (Herbst/Smith)
82 Sam Baldi, 58, Beaumont, Calif./Jake Johnson, 44, Yucaipa, Calif./Michael Baldi, 32, Yucaipa, Calif./Robert Llewellyn, 41, Yucca Valley, Calif., Chevy Silverado (Baldi)
85 Mikey Lawrence, 35, Banning, Calif./Dustin Grabowski, Upland, Calif., Ford Raptor (Herbst/Smith)
87 Dallas Lutrell, 42, Las Vegas/Cody Swanty, 48, Kingman, Ariz./Billy Goerke, Las Vegas, Dodge Ram
89 Mike Walser, 56, Comfort, Texas, Rod Walser, 45, Canadian, Texas/Christopher Polvoorde, 23, Hemet, Calif., Chevy Silverado (Mason)
91 Christopher Polvoorde, 23, Hemet, Calif., Ford Raptor (Mason)
92 Paul Nauleau, 26, San Francisco (Francisco)/Johnny Bickel, 25, Fort Worth, Texas, Chevy Silverado (Brenthel)
96 Enrique Murillo, 53, La Paz, Mexico/German Alvarez, 37, La Paz, Mexico/Mike Perez, Texas, Chevy Silverado (Jimco)
SCORE TT LEGEND (Unlimited Custom Trucks, including builder, Drivers over 50 years old)--
1L Gustavo Vildosola Sr, 70, Mexicali, Mexico/Ricky Johnson, 58, El Cajon, Calif., Ford Raptor (Mason)
3L Ed Herbst, 62, Las Vegas/(DOR-Mark Post, 65, Las Vegas), Ford F-150 (Riviera)
5L Clyde Stacy, 78, Bristol, Va./Nick Vanderwey, 53, Litchfield Park, Ariz./Robby Gordon, 54, Anaheim, Calif., Chevy V16 (Geiser)
37L Rolf Helland, 63, Morris, Ill./Rick D. Johnson, 57, Barstow, Calif., Ford Raptor (Mason)
53L Wade Porter, 56, Durham, Calif., Ford Raptor (Brenthel)
55L Jose Flores, 59, Culiacan, Mexico/Eduardo Perez, 59, La Paz, Mexico/James Sejd, 63, Gainesville, Va., Chevy Silverado (Jimco)
61L David Payne, 62, St. Luis, Mo./Damon Bradshaw, 51, Peoria, Ariz., Chevy Silverado (Brenthel)
79L Russell Buehler, 64, Kanas City, Mo./Neal Buehler, 57, Kansas City, Mo., Ford Raptor (Jimco)
85L Clay Lawrence, 61, Banning, Calif./Steve Lawler, 63, Upland, Calif., Chevy Silverado (Herbst/Smith)
Source Score International
Photo: Art Eugenio / Red Bull Content Pool