Author: Dominic Clark
Numbers speak volumes—a lingering, lasting, longing, luscious, look at history-making 50th BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 1000
Lopez tops field overall, Arredondo team wins overall M/C in 1,134-mile odyssey down Mexico’s Baja California peninsula; 405 total starters, race-record 238 finishers; racers from 44 U.S. States, District of Columbia, two U.S. Territories, 27 countries
2017 iconic Granddaddy of All Desert Races truly one for the ages
ENSENADA, Mexico—As the sands of time fly quickly by and life goes on, there are times in life to pause, take a huge breath and relive if even for a few brief shining moments highlights of what dramatic life experiences were part of last week’s history-making iconic 50th annual BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 1000.
The race is annually the finale of the four-race SCORE World Desert Championship, held exclusively for the past two years in Baja California.
Here’s some notable numbers to ponder while wistfully wishing November and the legendary SCORE Baja Mil is here again…
GOLDEN BAJA MIL
Five decades in the making and the culmination of nearly four years of exhaustive cooperative effort between SCORE International and the Secretary of Tourism in Baja California and the Secretary of Tourism in Baja California Sur along with the tourism groups in both Ensenada and La Paz as well as the people of Baja.
The world’s most iconic, oldest, prestigious and longest continuously held desert race, this year’s 50th BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 1000 was held over a 1,134.40-mile rugged race course down Mexico’s majestic Baja California peninsula, starting in Ensenada, Baja California Norte and finishing in La Paz, Baja California Sur.
The first green flag dropped at 12:01 a.m. PT on Thursday (Nov. 15) in Ensenada and the last checkered flag was waived at1:43:30 p.m. PT on (Saturday, Nov. 18) in La Paz
The legend-making, survivor-laced, did-not-finish-strewn course which traveled by and through such notable Baja California peninsula areas, towns and cities as Ojos Negros, San Felipe, Coco’s Corner, Bahia de Los Angeles, Vizcaino, San Ignacio and Loreto before finishing in La Paz.
History will forever remember Mexico’s son/father team of Carlos ‘Apdaly’ Lopez and Juan C. Lopez, both of Tecate, as the 4-wheel, overall and SCORE Trophy Truck race champions. Guatemala’s Francisco Arredondo and his team will be eternally recalled as the overall motorcycle and Pro Moto Unlimited race ‘ganadors’ in the golden anniversary race.
There were 405 total starters and 238 official finishers (58.77 percent) racing in Pro and Sportsman classes for cars, trucks, UTVs, motorcycles and quads. Racers came from 44 U.S. States, the District of Columbia, two U.S. Territories and 27 countries in the elapsed-time race over the rugged 1,134.40-mile course. With a 48-hour time limit to become an official finisher.
Early race leaders who did not finish the memorable race like former champions B.J. Baldwin, Andy McMillin and Rob MacCachren, all retired from the race after various engine issues. Afterwards, MacCachren, who was going for his record fourth-straight overall win, summed up their feelings, saying, “Baja showed us today who was boss. But, we will all continue to plan, practice and come back to tame the beast”.
Included in the 405 official starters in the elapsed-time race were 300 cars/trucks/utvs and 105 motorcycles/quads. The total number of entries was the third-most in the 50-year history of the SCORE Baja 1000 and the second-most in the 21 years it has finished in La Paz.
It was also the most number of finishers in the storied 50-year history of the Granddaddy of all Desert Races.
HALL-MARKS ALL OVER BAJA
This year’s race commemorated the achievements of legendary desert racers like Rod Hall. Hall, who turns 80 on Nov. 22, won Stock Full in the Rod Hall Racing Hummer H1 Alpha. Hall now has a race record 25 class wins (including one overall win in 1969) and he is the only racer who has competed in all 50 SCORE Baja 1000 races.
Helping Hall, of Reno, Nev. reach another milestone in his illustrious career were his son Chad Hall, Reno, Nev., who now has 11 class wins and motorsports executive Frank DeAngelo, Greenville, S.C. and. Hall was diagnosed December of 2015 with Parkinson’s disease.
At the finish line, Hall commented, “There aren't a lot of racers in this class but it only takes two guys to have a good race. We've had a good race all day and half the night. Hopefully this is my last one and I think that every good time comes to an end. I'm going to be 80 years old and I'm worn out. I'm not quite like the Hummer that you can put new tires on and be ready to roll. It has been a good run and the best part of Baja is the people down here. It is important to me for my last race to have a win in the BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 1000”.
THIRD-TIME CHARM IRONMAN
After finishing second each of the last two years in the extreme Pro Ironman motorcycle class for solo riders, Jeff Benrud won gold by defeating a group of 19 rugged warriors who were attempting to ride the course solo. Benrud, Raeford, N.C., covered the 1,134.40-mile course in 30:37:13. Only six of the 19 starters finished the race.
Coincidently, overall and SCORE Trophy Truck winner Lopez had also finished second each of the last two years before finishing on top of the podium this year.
Benrud said at the finish line, “It was brutal. I was feeling really bad about halfway through then I ate a bunch of food and felt better. I got a good shot of adrenaline the last 80 miles with all of the Mexicans cheering me on and I knew I was in the lead. Lots of prayers to make sure I would get here. I'm kind of numb in an out-of-body experience now. This is the third year I've finished across the line first in the Ironman class but I've been penalized to second twice. The silt is tough for me. I'm short and fall down in silt and I hate silt. It is terrible. I was down seven or eight times in it.”
With a time limit of 48 total hours in the elapsed time race, six racers needed almost the entire time but made it in less than 48 hour to become official finishers of the golden BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 1000.
Coming the closest to timing out was Dean Schlingmann, San Dimas, Calif. with a time of 47 hours, 50 minutes, seven seconds (Class 8). Also finishing in the final hour of the race were Dennis Hollenbeck, Ensenada, Mexico, 47:18:06 (Class 11), Aldo Salazar, Monterrey, Mexico, 42:37:48 (Pro UTV), Enrique Zazueta Jr, La Paz, Mexico, 47:09:49 (Class 5-1600), Rodolfo Martinez, Spring Valley, Calif., 47:39:32 (Class 5-1600) and Bruce Bukard, Hillsborough, Calif., 47:22:39 (Baja Challenge).
Physically the last vehicle to cross the finish line as he was from one of the final classes to start the race, Hollenbeck reflected afterwards, “Obviously the race was long for us in Class 11 but it was a wonderful race. We had our ups and we had our downs but we kept plugging away. There were hills, silt, sand and water crossings. You name it and it had it all. We finished with all four fenders and this is the first race we've finished with all four fenders.”
The significant and ever-expanding SCORE safety initiatives were at their highest level at this year’s BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 1000.
This year’s race utilized a new STELLA tracking system and there were 25 rescue vehicles and ambulances stretched along the race course provided by Cruz Roja Mexicana (Mexican Red Cross).
There were also three dedicated rescue vehicles with full complement of extrication tools, medical supplies and professional Fire-Rescue crews monitoring and advancing along with the race.
There were two medical Air Ambulances staffed with a critical care nurse and paramedic.
The SCORE Medical/Rescue Helicopter was staffed with two advanced life support rescue paramedics and supplies.
“Weatherman” race communications were at three locations with one fixed on Mount Diablo and two in separate airplanes following the race course for constant communications and safety for the participants.
Over 50 satellite radios/phones were utilized for direct safety communications along the course. There was full internet capability throughout the command centers and Rescue units that monitored live updates, locations, communications and any race-related emergencies.
The event’s experienced staff of medical and rescue/safety professionals also used standard VHF radio communications as well as cell phone communications.
SCORE BAJA 1000 LEGACY
A longing look at some overall stats from the 50 years of this legendary race reveal the popularity of this global treasure. A total of 13,389 vehicles have started the 50 races for an average of 267.78 starters per race. A total of 6,566 vehicles have finished the 50 races for an average of 129 finishers per race. Percentage-wise, 49.04% is the average finishing rate for this great race.
In the 50 years of this race, the most ever starters came in 2006 when 431 vehicles left the start line (Ensenada to La Paz) and second most starters was the 40th anniversary race in 2007 when there were 424 total starters (Ensenada to Cabo San Lucas) and third most was this year when there were 405 official starters (Ensenada to La Paz).
In 50 races, the most ever finishers came this year when 238 vehicles officially finished the 50th anniversary of this race and second most finishers were in 2007 when 237 finished the 40th anniversary race and the third most finishers was in 2006 when 234 vehicles finished the race.
In the first 50 years of the world’s most famous desert race, the fewest number of starters was the first race back in 1967 when there were 68 starters and the race with second fewest number of starters was in 1973 when 143 started.
In the first 50 years of this iconic race, the fewest number of finishers was in 1967 when there were 31 finishers and the second fewest number of finishers was back in 1978 when there were 56 finishers.
An astonishing 405 total vehicles started the epic 2017 journey with racers from 44 U.S. States, the District of Columbia, two U.S. Territories and 27 countries officially signed up to compete.
In addition to the United States, Washington, D.C., the U.S. Territories of Guam and Puerto Rico and host country Mexico, the other countries with racers entered are Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Columbia, Costa Rica, England, Finland, France, Germany, Guatemala, Hong Kong/China, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Peru, South Africa and Spain.
LA PRENSA ORO
Media staffing coverage of the 50th BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 1000 was also record-setting. In total, SCORE issued a record 421 total regular media, team media and commercial media credentials. For the golden anniversary, the largest single crew was from BCII TV of Los Angeles with a crew of 34 that is producing the two-hour special to air on the El Rey Network at a date to be announced.
A total of 12 countries were actively covering this global event. In addition to the United States, Baja California, Mexico, Baja California Sur, Mexico and mainland Mexico, also covering the event were media from Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, England, Germany, Israel, Japan, New Zealand and Spain.
Baja California and Baja California Sur tourism officials have announced preliminary figures that show over 400,000 total sensational spectators enjoyed the golden anniversary event all along the race route.
SALIDA Y LA META
This year’s race started for the 43rd time in Ensenada, Baja California and finished for the 21st time in La Paz, Baja California Sur.
ENSENADA BAJA 1000 WALK OF FAME
Much like the noted version in Hollywood, Baja California and Ensenada tourism officials unveiled the spectacular Baja 1000 Walk of Fame during last week’s pre-race festivities. Embedded spectacularly in marble and raised metal along the sidewalk in front of the Ensenada office of the Baja California Secretary of Tourism are commemorative embedded plaques honoring all of the 4-wheel and 2-wheel overall winners of the most prestigious desert race in the world.
BFGOODRICH TIRES UNMATCHED
BFGoodrich Tires is celebrating four decades as a major player in SCORE Baja racing. In addition to being the official tire of SCORE International for over four decades and was the title sponsor of this year’s race, BFGoodrich Tires has now produced the tire of choice for 29 of the overall 4-wheel vehicle winners in the SCORE Baja 1000, including 29 of the last 32 years along with a record-run of 20 straight from 1986 through 2005. In total, BFGoodrich Tires has now be the tire of choice for the overall 4-wheel vehicle winner in 87 SCORE Baja races including 31 in the SCORE Baja 500.
BFGoodrich Tires also provided unmatched pit support for racers using their tires with eight full service pit areas and more than 200 support crew personnel spread along the race course and complete radio relay the entire race course. BFGoodrich Tires also posted $50,000 contingency award money won by Lopez for his win in this year’s 50th BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 1000 for running exclusively on BFGoodrich Tires.
Official SCORE Sponsors: BFGoodrich Tires-Official Tire & Official Race Title Sponsor, Monster Energy-Official Energy Drink, King Shocks-Official Shock Absorber, RACELINE Wheels-Official Wheel, Axial R/C-Official R/C Vehicle, El Rey Network-Official Television Partner, Wide Open Excursions-Official Arrive and Drive Company, Crystal Bay Casino-Official Casino.
SCORE Official Partners: PCI Race Radios, 4 Wheel Parts, The Satellite Phone Store, Satellite Del Norte, Instant Mexico Auto Insurance, CETTO Vineyards.
Additional SCORE Associate Partners: Proturismo Ensenada, Baja California Secretary of Tourism, Baja California Sur State Government, Baja California Sur Secretary of Tourism, Mexicali Ayuntamiento, COTUCO Mexicali/San Felipe, Cruz Roja Mexicana, Corporate Helicopters, McKenzie’s Performance Products, Advanced Color Graphics.
Tijuana SCORE Desert Challenge Special Partners: XXII Ayuntamiento de Tijuana, Baja California Secretary of Tourism, Tijuana Comite de Turismo and Convenciones, Comite de Marcadotecnia Turistica, Asociacion de Hoteles del Noroeste.
For more information regarding SCORE, visit the official website of the SCORE World Desert Championship at www.SCOREInternational.com.