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Baja 500 2023: 32 Desert Thoroughbreds set for Score Baja 500

Baja 500 2023: 32 Desert Thoroughbreds set for Score Baja 500

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‘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, 32 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 300 expected entries in the BFGoodrich Tires 55th SCORE Baja 500.

DIRT FAX
Round 2 of the four-race 2023 SCORE World Desert Championship will be held May 31-June 4 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.

FAB FIELD
Included in the massive field of SCORE Trophy Trucks are a litany of the greatest desert racers in the world. Entries includes five racers who have combined to win 10 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 17 drivers entered who have combined to win 72 of the 145 All-Time SCORE Trophy Truck races.
In the SCORE Baja 500, seven of this year’s SCORE Trophy Truck drivers have combined to capture the checkered flag 11 times in the first 29 years of the high-profile racing class.

PRE-RUNNING
Official practice, or pre-running, on the official 473.67-mile race course for this year’s BFGoodrich Tires 55th SCORE Baja 500, began last Saturday starting at race mile 33.41. The section to rm33.41 section will be open only from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. only on Friday (June 2). Outbound pre-running on Friday (June 2) will start at rm4.89 to rm33.41. No inbound pre-running of this section.
The official SCORE Racer Brief, Penalty brief, course map and GPS files are available on the SCORE website under race info/SCORE Baja 500.

MORE DIRT FAX
With over 300 entries anticipated at the start line, 231 total entries have been received so far for this historic event, with racers representing 26 U.S. States, U.S. Territory Puerto Rico, and 11 countries. The countries with at least one racer so far are United States, host country Mexico, Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Canada, Chile, Finland, Japan, New Zealand, and Peru.
With double-digit entries to date are the marquee SCORE Trophy Truck (high-tech, unlimited, 1000-horsepower, custom trucks) with 32 (including six in SCORE TT Legend for SCORE Trophy Truck drivers over 50), Trophy Truck Spec, (SCORE Trophy Trucks with crate engines) with 30, Class 10 with 15, Pro UTV Open with 20, and Pro UTV FI (Forced Induction) with 21.
Among 2-wheel vehicles, Pro Moto Ironman (for solo riders) has 11 entries.

THE G.O.A.T. TRIUMPHS-2022
Las Vegas’ Rob MacCachren, the veritable G.O.A.T. of off-road racing, added another amazing accomplishment to his Hall of Fame record in 2022, overcoming a field of 259 starters and a ridiculously-rugged race course to capture the Overall and SCORE Trophy Truck victory in the internationally-televised BFGoodrich Tires 54th SCORE Baja 500.
MacCachren worked his way to the front of the field in his sturdy and dependable No. 24 Ford F-150 to an admirable error-free, penalty free winning time of nine hours, 22 minutes and 47 seconds with an average speed of 49.37 miles per hour over the gut-wrenching 463.12-mile course.
Under superbly sunny skies, light winds with mild temperatures in the mid-70s Farenheit on the Western side of the course and upwards of 100 on the Eastern side. Finishers called it “the most beautifully brutal course ever” in the history of this legendary desert race.

PODIUM FINISHERS-2022
Following the ‘Mac Attack’ closely to the finish line for one of the closest podium finishes in race history was SoCal’s young gun Broc Dickerson.
Dickerson, Brawley, Calif., who has significant short-course and desert racing experience despite his young age, just not in SCORE Trophy Truck, started 20th physically and finished the course just one minute, 24 seconds behind MacCachren on corrected time in 9:24:11 in the No. 34 TSCO-built Ford Raptor with an average speed of 49.25 mph.
Completing the podium in third place was last year’s race winner, ageless Hall of Famer Larry ‘Mr. Baja’ Roeseler, Imperial, Calif. with a time of 9:35:43 in the No. 43 Baja Jerky Cantina Racing Toyota Tundra with an average speed of 48.27 mph.

TOP 12: SCORE TROPHY TRUCKS-2022
Besides MacCachren, Dickerson and Roeseler, the top 11 overall finishers in the race were from SCORE Trophy Truck.
Fourth overall was Mikey Lawrence, Banning, Calif. with a time of 9:43:35 in his No. 85 Ford Raptor while fifth was Mexico’s hometown favorite Alan Ampudia, of Ensenada, in his No. 10 Ford Raptor in 9:45:09. Ampudia had originally finished third unofficially, bt penalties pushed him back to fifth place.
San Diego’s Luke McMillin, who lead physically much of the race after starting first, finished sixth in 9:46:00 in his McMillin Racing No. 83 Chevy 1500 while seventh in 9:48:13 was Canada’s Tracy Graf in his Chevy Silverado.
Finishing eighth overall in his Chevy Silverado in 9:50:23 was Sam Baldi, Beaumont, Calif. while ninth was Justin Lofton, Brawley, Calif. in 9:55:05 in his Chevy Silverado and 10th Overall and in SCORE Trophy Truck was San Diego’s Dan McMillin, (Luke’s older brother) with a time of 10:07:46. Raul Gomez, Placerville, Calif., was 11th in his No. 90 Ford Raptor in 10:15:37.
Gustavo Vildosola Sr, Mexicali, Mexico, was 12th overall and won his SCORE TT Legend class for SCORE Trophy Truck drivers over 50 years old in his No. 21L Vildosola Racing For Raptor. His second driver was AMA Hall of Famer Ricky Johnson, Trabuco Canyon, Calif.

SCORE BAJA 500 GOLD
Leader of the pack of former SCORE Baja 500 SCORE Trophy Truck race winners entered in this year’s race is Las Vegas’ G.O.A.T. MacCachren with three wins (1996, 2018, 2022) and Las Vegas’ Bryce Menzies with three wins in four years (2011, 2012, 2014).
With one SCORE Trophy Truck race win each in the SCORE Baja 500 entered this year are Ryan Arciero, Foothill Ranch, Calif. (2003), Rick D. Johnson, Barstow, Calif. (2009), Gustavo ‘Tavo’ Vildosola, Jr, Mexicali, Mexico (2016), San Diego’s Dan McMillin/Justin B. Smith, Las Vegas (2020) and Larry Roeseler, Boulevard, Calif. (2021).

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 500, MacCachren has a SCORE-record 20 career SCORE Trophy Truck races wins and Menzies has eight in his career, Arciero has four, Johnson has one, Vildosola Jr has six, Dan McMillin and Smith each have one, and Roeseler has five career SCORE Trophy Tuck race wins.
Leading the racers with SCORE Trophy Truck race victories, but not in the SCORE Baja 500, is Las Vegas’ Tim Herbst is entered with 11 career SCORE Trophy Truck race wins. Las Vegas’ Pat Dean, who has one career SCORE Trophy Truck race wins, will be the second driver for Tim Herbst in this race.
Defending SCORE Trophy Truck season point champion Luke McMillin has four career SCORE Trophy Truck race wins while Gus Vildosola Sr has three, Roger Norman and Cameron Steele have two each and Alan Ampudia and Eduardo Laguna each has one career SCORE Trophy Truck race win.

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/Harley Letner, Corona, Calif. (No. 70 Chevy Silverado (Mason), Steve Olliges, Las Vegas/Justin Lofton, Brawley, Calif. (No. 51 Ford Raptor (Geiser), and Gary Magness, Denver (No. 45 Ford F-150 (Herbst/Smith).

SCORE TT LEGEND
While Mexico’s 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 Rolf Hellend, Morris, Ill./Rick D. Johnson, Barstow, Calif., in the No. 37L Ford Raptor (Mason), Jose de Jesus Flores, Culiacan, Mexico, in the No. 55L Chevy Silverado (Jimco) and Clay Lawrence, Banning, Calif., in the No. 85L Chevy Silverado (Herbst/Smith).

BODACIOUS BAJA
With pre-running underway since last Saturday, SCORE President/Race Director Jose A. Grijalva has put together another memorable race course to challenge the world’s best desert racers. The final distance is 473.67 miles.
It will be starting and finishing again on fan-friendly Blvd. Costero adjacent to the iconic Riviera del Pacifico Cultural Center in the heart of Ensenada. Pre-race Contingency will also be held on Blvd. Costero on Friday, June 2 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT.
The course runs in a clockwise direction out of and back to the start/finish line compound in Ensenada, traveling through such noted areas as Ojos Negros, Santa Catarina, the Summit, Cohabuzo Junction, Saldana, La Ventana access, Las Cuevitas Wash, San Matias Pass, Valle de Trinidad, Llano Colorado, Cerro Solo, San Vicente Wash, Erendira, Santo Tomas, Uruapan, Los Encinitos, Rancho El Mezcal and Ojos Negros.
The course has two complete stop physical checkpoints, 187 total virtual checkpoints and 13 speed zones for a total of 58.27 miles.
Checkpoint 1 is located at race mile 211.62 (Laguna Amarga) and Checkpoint 2 is at rm326.64 (Llano Colorado).
All Sportsman classes, Class 11 and Class 7SX will run a reduced course of a total of 440.72 miles.
This will be the first time since the 2016 SCORE Baja 1000 that a SCORE race course has gone over the Summit (around race mile 108.23) and it will be the first time since the 2019 SCORE Baja 1000 that the course will go through Ejido Nativos between Erendira and Santo Tomas.

GRAN HISTORIA
This year’s SCORE World Desert Championship includes another special tribute to the iconic SCORE Baja 500.
The SCORE Baja 500 is one of the top motorsports events in the world. It was started originally in 1969 by the NORRA organization. After NORRA was removed from Baja after the 1972 race, the local Baja Sports Committee produced the 1973 event. Mickey Thompson and his SCORE International organization were invited by the Mexican government to take over the event starting in 1974. Sal Fish ran and later owned and produced the SCORE Baja 500 for 39 years until he sold SCORE in December of 2012.
The first Baja 500 organized and produced by SCORE was held on July 26, 1974 in Ensenada as the first of nearly 165 SCORE Baja races.
This year’s SCORE Baja 500 will start for the 49th time in Ensenada and finish for the 45th time in Ensenada.

GRANDEST MARSHAL FOR GOLDEN YEAR
Sal Fish, admired as the iconic ‘godfather’ of SCORE desert racing who is a foundational pillar of the organization, is the Grand Marshal of the Year for the entire four-race 2023 SCORE World Desert Championship.
Revered all over Baja California, Fish, who will turn 84 tomorrow (May 2), is a former publisher of Hot Rod Magazine and a 2006 inductee into the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame. He led SCORE for 38 years, from 1974 until he sold the organization on Dec. 20, 2012.
His footprint left an indelible mark on all of desert racing as he was an extraordinary innovator and visionary for SCORE and the entire world of desert racing.
He expanded TV coverage of SCORE races and in 1994 created the SCORE Trophy Truck class, the marquee racing division in the sport of desert racing.

SCORE BAJA 500 GRAND MARSHALS
SCORE has announced that Ivan Stewart, Alpine, Calif., and Johnny Campbell will be the co-Grand Marshals for this year’s BFGoodrich Tires 55th SCORE Baja 500.
When it comes to desert racing there is only one ‘Ironman’ standing at the top of the list of solo drivers/riders. San Diego’s iconic Ivan ‘Ironman’ will be celebrating his 78th birthday on June 4, during the conclusion of this year’s SCORE Baja 500.
The ‘Ironman’ celebrated his birthday annually over the years with 17 career class wins including a race-record 10 overall 4-wheel vehicle victories in the SCORE Baja 500.
The legendary Stewart has been inducted into the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame (2006), the San Diego Hall of Champions Breitbard Hall of Fame (2009) and the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America (2020). Driving most of his career for Toyota Motorcycles, Stewart continues as a spokesperson for Toyota Racing Development.
Campbell, 52, San Clemente, Calif., is a stellar SCORE motorcycle racing champion with six career class wins including five overall victories in the SCORE Baja 500. He also has a race-record 11 overall motorcycle victories in the SCORE Baja 1000 on his resume.
Campbell is also an 11-time SCORE season point champion in the Pro Moto Unlimited class on his Honda CRF450X. He also rode in the 2001 Dakar Rally, finishing eighth overall.
Campbell has been inducted into the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame (2018) and the Trailblazers MC Hall of Fame (2021).
Today he continues as the Off-Road Coordinator for American Honda in addition to running his own successful team—Johnny Campbell Racing/Honda (JCR) with several top desert motorcycle racers.
SCOREscope

2023 GOLDEN ANNIVERSARY SCHEDULE
Here are the dates for the remaining three races in the four-race 2023 SCORE World Desert Championship Golden Anniversary season, ‘Celebrating 50 Years of SCORE Desert Racing Excellence’, which are being held totally in Baja California, Mexico for the eighth consecutive year:
· BFGoodrich Tires 55th SCORE Baja 500—
May 31-June 4, Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico
· 4th SCORE Baja 400, presented by VP Racing Fuels—
September 12-17, Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico
· BFGoodrich Tires 56th SCORE Baja 1000—
November 13-18, La Paz, Baja California Sur to Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico
For more information regarding SCORE, visit the official website of the SCORE World Desert Championship at www.SCORE-International.com.

 

Source Score International

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