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SCORE Baja 1000 is an off-road race that takes place on Mexico's Baja California Peninsula in November. The Baja 1000 is part of the SCORE Championship Desert Racing Series that include the Baja 500, San Felipe 250 and the new San Felipe Challenge of Champions in place of the Primm 300 which had been the only SCORE race in the United States. The Baja 1000 allows various types of vehicle classes to compete on the same course - from such small and large bore motorcycles, stock VW, production vehicles, buggies, Trucks, and custom fabricated race vehicles. The course has remained relatively the same over the years with the majority of events being either a point-to-point race from Ensenada to La Paz, or a loop race starting and finishing in Ensenada.
The name of the event can be misleading as the mileage varies for the type of event ("Loop" of approximately 650 miles starting and finishing in Ensenada, or "Point to Point" also known as the "Peninsula Run" of 900 to 1,100 miles from Ensenada to La Paz) and has represented kilometers in the past. Because the Mexican government was proud to play host, the race was initially called the "Mexican 1000" up to 1972.
The first official race started in Tijuana, Baja California, on October 31, 1967, and was named the NORRA Mexican 1000 Rally. The course length that year was 849 miles (1,366 km) and ended in La Paz, Baja California Sur, with the overall winning time of 27 hours 38 minutes (27:38) set by Vic Wilson and Ted Mangels while driving a Meyers Manx buggy.
From 1967 to 1972, the race was organized by the National Off-Road Racing Association (NORRA) and grew in popularity with ABC's "Wide World of Sports" sending Jim McKay to cover the 1968 event, and attracting new participants like the late Mickey Thompson, Indy 500 winner Parnelli Jones and movie actor James Garner. By 1971, major sponsors such as Olympia Brewing Company and Minolta Cameras began to support Parnelli Jones in his Dick Russell designed and Bill Stroppe prepared "Big Oly" Bronco and Larry Minor in a similar Stroppe prepared Bronco.
In October 1973, the price for a barrel of crude oil shot up 70% overnight as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) launched the Arab Oil Embargo. Fearful competitors would abandon the idea of competing and stay home, NORRA abandoned the race - despite assurances from the Federal government run Petroleos Mexicanos (PEMEX) fuel prices would remain stable - and announced they would hold an event in the state of Arizona.
It was at that time in history, Baja California governor Milton Castellanos handed over sanctioning of the event to a non-profit Mexican corporation called the "Baja Sports Committee" (BSC). BSC renamed the event the "Baja Mil" (Baja 1000) and scheduled the race to run on the original dates chosen by NORRA. Though NORRA held a competing event in the United States that same weekend, BSC successfully ran the race from Ensenada to La Paz like the years prior. Unaware of the challenges, BSC found promoting Baja races more difficult than anticipated. Instead of giving up the race, the Mexican government requested help from Short Course Off-Road Enterprises (SCORE) in hosting and promoting future Baja races. Through negotiations with Mickey Thompson and his SCORE organization, the Government agreed to give exclusive rights to SCORE to hold Baja races and also reluctantly allowed SCORE to cancel the event for 1974. SCORE hired Sal Fish as president and took control of the Baja 1000 from that year on with the Baja 1000 race resuming under new control in 1975.
When Jack McCormack and Walt Fulton of American Honda decided to hold a long-distance run to prove the reliability of Honda's new CL72 Scrambler, they approached well known off-road dirt biker and local Honda dealer Bud Ekins for suggestions. Bud suggested the Tijuana to La Paz route (Federal Highway 1) which was 950 miles (1,530 km) of rocks, sand washes, dry lake beds, cattle crossing, mountain passes, and paved road. Bud Ekins declined to perform the run because of Triumph Motorcycles ties, but Dave Ekins (Bud's brother) and Billy Robertson Jr. agreed to perform the trip for American Honda. After pre-running the peninsula in Fulton's Cessna 180, they began the journey to La Paz just after midnight on March 22, 1962. While being followed by two journalists in an airplane and using telegraph offices at the Mexican border and in La Paz, Dave Ekins recorded the first official timed run in 39 hours 56 minutes (39:56) with a total distance of 952.7 miles (1,533.2 km). The event received coverage in the Globe, Argosy, and Cycle World magazines, earning awe and respect for Honda and the Baja run. The Globe and Argosy accounts also included close encounters with death and other dangers which Ekins claims were "colorful additions".
Wanting to beat the existing motorcycle record and to help fuel sales of the Meyers Manx, Bruce Meyers used his original prototype buggy called "Old Red" for an attempt at breaking the record set by Ekins. After pre-running a course south to La Paz, Ted Mangels and Bruce Meyers started the record-breaking attempt back to Tijuana from La Paz at 10:00pm on April 19, 1967. With journalist from Road & Track magazine following the two to witness the attempt, the final official time was 34:45 beating Ekins' run by more than 5 hours. Upon returning to the United States, the journalist documenting the run sent out press kits with photographs and a news release with the headline "Buggy Beats Bike in Baja." to hundreds of magazines and newspapers. Soon, more stories of adventure, close calls, and broken speed records received media coverage around the world. Following the event, Bruce Meyers and his Meyers Manx became an overnight sensation and the competition between four wheels and motorcycles for the fastest Baja run began.
In the following months, more attempts at breaking the record would take place. One of the attempts included a multiple vehicle run organized by Ed Pearlman (Mexican 1000 founder) that ended in an official four-wheel drive record being recorded but with the overall time falling short of the record set by Meyers. On July 4, 1967, an American Motors Rambler American sedan would leave Tijuana at 9:00am to successfully break the record set by Meyers with an overall time of 31 hours.
As the timed runs recorded via telegraph became popular, a need for an organized event to compete for the quickest Baja run was starting to grab the attention of other competitors. Once Ed Pearlman caught word of Meyers' run, Ed convinced Dick Cepek, Claude Dozier, Ed Orr, Drino Miller and journalist John Lawlor to give a run to La Paz a try. In June 1967, Pearlman and group left Tijuana and immediately ran into mechanical troubles. This trip provided much downtime for Pearlman to brainstorm the idea of the National Off-road Racing Association (NORRA). After Pete Condos and Perlman put up the funds to incorporate NORRA, the group announced an official recognition of the previous record setters and created classes that related to the type of vehicle used to break the record. During the later part of summer, NORRA named the event the "Mexican 1000 Rally" and announced the first official race from Tijuana to La Paz was to be held on November 1, 1967.
Although motorcyclists participate and are often the overall winners, many competitors drive modified or stock 4-wheel vehicles such as cars, trucks, ATVs and dune buggies. Race teams consist of factory-supported groups that build custom fabricated vehicles and provide chase vehicles via helicopter, to the much smaller and less glamorized sportsman teams competing in an all-stock vehicle with no chase vehicle support at all. Stock Volkswagen Type One Beetles are modified for use in off-road terrain, known as Baja Bugs, have been a common sight throughout the event duration, but the factory-supported all-spaceframe Trophy Truck entries are the most visible.
In contrast to the current factory EX supported modern race vehicles that overall the car and truck classes, Erik Carlsson drove a basically stock front wheel drive Saab 96 V4, finishing third in 1969 and fifth in 1970.
Each year there are reports of spectators sabotaging or booby-trapping the course by digging holes, blocking river flow, or burying and hiding obstacles. Racers are warned to beware of large crowds of spectators in remote parts of the course since it may indicate hidden traps or obstacle changes. Many of the booby traps are not created to intentionally injure the contestants but are created by the local spectators as jumps or obstacles for spectator entertainment. The haphazardly-designed jumps, created by the spectators, are very dangerous as the contestants may inadvertently enter the booby-trap at unsafe speeds, resulting in damage to the vehicles or injuries to competitors or spectators. Awareness of booby traps and course alterations are often part of race-day strategy and convey an advantage to the best prepared teams — nonetheless given the danger the traps pose, it is customary for competitors to quickly communicate course hazards to other competitors through on-board radio communications and radio relay.
|Cars & Trucks||Motorcycle|
|1967||*Vic Wilson, Ted Mangels||Meyers Manx VW||27:38||J.N. Roberts, Malcolm Smith||Husqvarna||28:48|
|1968||Larry Minor, Jack Bayer||Ford Bronco||21:11:32||*Larry Berquist, Gary Preston||Honda||20:38:28|
|1969||*Larry Minor, Rod Hall||Ford Bronco||20:48:10||Gunnar Nilsson, J.N. Roberts||Husqvarna||21:35:52|
|1970||*Drino Miller, Vic Wilson Miller||VW||16:07||Mike Patrick, Bill Bowers||Yamaha||18:31|
|1971||*Parnelli Jones, Bill Stroppe||Ford Bronco||14:59||Malcolm Smith, Gunnar Nilsson||Husqvarna||16:51|
|1972||*Parnelli Jones, Bill Stroppe||Ford Bronco||16:47||Gunnar Nilsson, Rolf Tibblin||Husqvarna||19:19|
|1973||*Bobby Ferro, Johnny Johnson||Funco VW||16:50||Mitch Mayes, A.C. Bakken||Husqvarna||18:42:51|
|1974||No Race||No Race|
|1975||Malcolm Smith, Dr. Bud Feldkamp||Hi-Jumper VW||18:55:49||*Al Baker, Gene Cannady||Honda||18:22:55|
|1976||Ivan Stewart||Chenowth VW||12:17:28||*Larry Roeseler, Mitch Mayes||Husqvarna||11:30:47|
|1977||Malcolm Smith, Dr. Bud Feldkamp||Funco VW||15:10:42||*Brent Wallingsford, Scot Harden||Husqvarna||14:37:07|
|1978||*Mark Stahl||Chenowth VW||12:55:42||Larry Roeseler, Jack Johnson||Husqvarna||14:37:07|
|1979||Walker Evans, Bruce Florio||Dodge Pickup||20:48:27||*Larry Roeseler, Jack Johnson||Husqvarna||19:48:04|
|1980||Mark Stahl||Chenowth VW||13:33:55||*Larry Roeseler, Jack Johnson||Yamaha||12:45:13|
|1981||Mark McMillin, Thomas Hoke||Chenowth VW||20:29:14||*Scot Harden, Brent Wallingsford||Husqvarna||17:14:05|
|1982||Mickey Thompson, Terry Smith||Raceco VW||19:40:23||*Al Baker, Jack Johnson||Honda||17:25:27|
|1983||Mark McMillin, Ralph Paxton||Chenowth VW||20:29:14||*Dan Smith, Dan Ashcraft||Husqvarna||14:48:10|
|1984||Mark McMillin, Ralph Paxton||Chenowth VW||16:27:09||*Chuck Miller, Randy Morales||Honda||14:34:34|
|1985||Steve Sourapas, Dave Richardson||Raceco VW||17:54:55||*Randy Morales, Derrick Paiement||Honda||17:44:42|
|1986||Mark McMillin, Ralph Paxton||Chenowth Porsche||18:26:28||*Bruce Ogilvie, Chuck Miller||Honda||18:05:52|
|1987||Bob Gordon, Malcolm Smith||Chenowth Porsche||13:15:04||*Dan Ashcraft, Bruce Ogilvie||Honda||12:02:14|
|1988||Mark McMillin||Chenowth Porsche||18:07:09||*Paul Krause, Larry Roeseler, Danny LaPorte||Kawasaki||17:53:16|
|1989||Robby Gordon||Ford Pickup||18:04:07||*Larry Roeseler, Danny LaPorte, Ted Hunnicutt Jr.||Kawasaki||17:53:16|
|1990||Bob Gordon, Robyn Gordon, Robby Gordon||Chenowth Chevy||12:30:45||*Larry Roeseler, Ted Hunnicutt Jr., Danny LaPorte||Kawasaki||11:11:45|
|1991||Larry Ragland||Chevrolet Pickup||16:37:35||*Larry Roeseler, Ted Hunnicutt Jr., Marty Smith||Kawasaki||13:35:25|
|1992||Paul Simon, Dave Simon||Ford Ranger||16:53:02||*Danny Hamel, Garth Sweetland, Paul Ostbo||Kawasaki||16:50:12|
|1993||*Ivan Stewart||Toyota SR5||13:29:11||Danny Hamel, Larry Roeseler, Ty Davis||Kawasaki||13:57:23|
|1994||Dave Ashley, Dan Smith||Ford F-150||10:43:43||*Danny Hamel, Larry Roeseler, Ty Davis||Kawasaki||10:20:47|
|1994||Jim Smith||Ford TT||10:28:56|
|1995||Dale White||Chevy Truck||21:57:03||*Paul Krause, Ty Davis, Ted Hunnicutt Jr.||Kawasaki||19:31:19|
|1995||Larry Ragland||Chevrolet TT||20:14:12|
|1996||Ryan Thomas||Chenowth||15:53:56||*Paul Krause, Ty Davis, Greg Zitterkopf||Kawasaki||14:11:02|
|1996||Larry Ragland||Chevrolet TT||14:38:59|
|1997||Doug Fortin||Chenowth||14:31:02||*Johnny Campbell, Tim Staab, Greg Bringle||Honda||13:19:59|
|1997||Larry Ragland||Chevrolet TT||13:53:46|
|1998||Ivan Stewart||Toyota||19:08:20||*Johnny Campbell, Jimmy Lewis||Honda||18:58:48|
|1999||Larry Ragland||Chevy||14:26:36||*Johnny Campbell, Tim Staab||Honda||14:15:42|
|2000**||Dan Smith, Dave Ashley||Ford||32:15:39||*Johnny Campbell, Tim Staab, Craig Smith, Steve Hengeveld||Honda||30:54:12|
|2001||Doug Fortin, Charlie Townsley||Jimco Chevy||14:35:42||*Johnny Campbell, Tim Staab||Honda||13:51:40|
|2002||Dan Smith, DaveAshley||Ford||16:19:03||*Steve Hengeveld, Johnny Campbell, Andy Grider||Honda||16:17:28|
|2003||Doug Fortin, Charlie Townsley||Jimco Chevy||16:24:02||*Steve Hengeveld, Johnny Campbell||Honda||15:39:52|
|2004||Troy Herbst, Larry Roeseler||Smithbuilt-Ford||16:18:14||*Steve Hengeveld, Johnny Campbell, Kendall Norman||Honda||15:57:37|
|2005||Larry Roeseler, Troy Herbst||Smithbuilt-Ford||15:06:19||*Steve Hengeveld, Johnny Campbell, Mike Childress||Honda||14:20:30|
|2006||Andy McMillin, Robby Gordon||19:15:17||*Steve Hengeveld, Mike Childress, Quinn Cody||Honda||18:17:50|
|2007||Mark Post, Rob MacCachren, Carl Renezeder||Ford||25:21:25||*Robby Bell, Kendall Norman, Steve Hengeveld, Johnny Campbell||Honda||24:15:50|
|2008||Roger Norman, Larry Roeseler||Ford||12:40:33||*Robby Bell, Kendall Norman, Johnny Campbell||Honda||12:29:10|
|2009||Andy McMillin, Scott McMillin||Chevy||14:19:50||*Kendall Norman, Timmy Weigand, Quinn Cody||Honda||13:27:50|
|2010||*Tavo Vildósola, Gus Vildósola||Ford F-150 TT||19:00:04||Kendall Norman, Quinn Cody||Honda||19:20:52|
|2011||Andy McMillin, Scott McMillin||Ford Raptor TT||14:51:36||*Kendall Norman, Quinn Cody, Logan Holladay||Honda||14:14:25|
*Best overall time.
**Officially the race was called the Baja 2000 (1726 miles) for the year 2000.
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