LA PAZ, Mexico—As the final checkered flag drew a nostalgic end to a golden historic race on Saturday afternoon, Mexico’s youthful superstar Carlos ‘Apdaly’ Lopez teamed with his veteran father Juan C. Lopez to etch their name indelibly as the overall and SCORE Trophy Truck winners at the 50th annual BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 1000 on Mexico’s magnificent Baja California peninsula.
Final official results were released by SCORE race officials after the course closed, all data-tracking devices had been read and penalties assessed late Saturday afternoon in La Paz.
The race was the season-finale of the four-race 2017 SCORE Desert World Championship.
GOLDEN BAJA MIL
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.
THIRD TIME CHARM
The Lopez tandem became the second Mexican Nationals’ son/father team to win this legendary race overall. They join Gustavo ‘Tavo’ Vildosola Jr and his father Gustavo Vildosola who were the first to accomplish this feat when they won the point-to-point Ensenada to La Paz race in 2008.
As Baja itself claimed many of the frontrunners, turning great races into survival-mode finishes with several did not finishes, Apdaly, 22 and his father Juan C., 43 of Tecate, blasted through the terrain and the competition to earn a hard-fought struggle to capture the Golden checkered flag.
After two years of finishing second in this race behind Rob MacCachren, the third time was the charm as the Lopez teamm finished the unforgiving 1,134.40-mile race course in 19 hours, 53 minutes, 36 seconds with a very impressive speed average of 57.02 miles per hour in the No. 1 RPM Racing Chevy Rally Truck.
It also marked the 29th overall 4-wheel victory in the last 32 years for long-time SCORE sponsor BFGoodrich Tires who added a special Golden statue to their dynamic resume. BFGoodrich Tires also presented Lopez with a special record-contingency bonus of US$50,000 to honor his golden anniversary race victory driving on BFGoodrich Tires, a desert-racing staple for over 40 years.
TOP FIVE OVERALL 4-WHEEL
SCORE Trophy Truck recorded the top five overall placements among 4-wheel vehicle classes, when the dust settled officially finishing second to Lopez was Cameron Steele, San Clemente, Calif., in the No. 16 Desert Assassins Chevy Silverado in a time of 20:52:45 (54.33mph) and completing the podium in third place overall and in SCORE Trophy Truck was Dan McMillin, La Mesa, Calif., with a time of 21:13:10 (53.47mph), in the No. 23 Mark Racing Ford F-150
Fourth finisher overall was Billy Wilson, Corpus Christi, Texas, with a time of 21:22:41 (53.06mph) in the No. 15 Bevley/Wilson Racing Ford Raptor and fifth overall finisher and in SCORE Trophy Truck was Chris Miller, La Jolla, Calif., with a time of 22:20:09 (50.80mph) in the No. 40 Toyota Tundra.
ARREDONDO MOTORCYCLE MAGIC
In another memorable motorcycle battle, the motorcycles left the Ensenada starting line 10 hours before the four-wheel vehicles Thursday and Guatemala’s Francisco Arrendondo paced a five-rider team in the No. 45x BREMEN-Arredondo-Haines Racing Honda CRF450X raced hard and long, leading much of the race before being passed on the tedious trek by the team led by Mark Samuels of Yucca Valley, Calif., on the No. 1x Ox Motorsports Honda CRF450X.
Arredondo and his talented team claimed their third straight victory of the 2017 season when apparent winner Samuels was penalized after the race by SCORE race officials for a reckless incident at the finish line ramp. Ian Young was the rider for the last 200 miles of the race for the No. 1x.
Arredondo, 40, a veteran international rally racer, shading riding responsibilities for this race with Shane Esposito, 43, Temecula, Calif./Justin Morgan, 27, El Cajon, Calif./Max Eddy Jr, 33, Barstow, Calif./Ty Davis, Oak Hills, Calif. The Arredondo team finished the gritty challenge in 21:07:17 while averaging 54.157 mph. Beginning the race from the first position, they crossed the line at approximately 9:17 p.m. PT Thursday night.
It was the fifth overall motorcycle win in the SCORE Baja 1000 for Davis, second for Eddy Jr and first for Arredondo, Esposito, and Morgan.
For Samuels’ Ox Motorsports, SCORE Race officials assessed a 30-minute penalty which moved the No. 1x to second place with an adjusted total time 21:26:47.
Rounding out the motorcycle overall podium was the team led by Ray Dal Soglio, Scottsdale, Ariz., with a time of 23:02:09 on the No. 3x Ox Motorsports Honda CRF450X.
With the overall motorcycle victory, Honda extended their race-record total to 27 courtesy of the No. 45x Arredondo team.
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 so far, the elapsed-time race over a rugged 1,134.40-mile course. With a 48-hour time limit to become an official finisher, the course officially closed at 1:43 p.m. PT Saturday as racing for the motorcycles and quads started Wednesday at midnight PT followed by the start of the car/truck/UTV classes at 10 a.m. PT on Thursday morning in Ensenada.
Included in the 405 official starters in the elapsed-time race are 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.
All 36 marquee SCORE Trophy Trucks that started the race were geared up to halt the three-year SCORE Baja 1000 overall victory streak of off-road legend Rob MacCachren of Las Vegas. MacCachren was battling for the lead when he was put out of the race with engine failure at about race mile 550.
MacCachren, who was nearing the first of two driver changes, was attempting to become the first driver in the famed Baja event to win the overall in four consecutive years. But MacCachren wasn’t the only top race who fell to the wiles of the deceiving beauty and majesty of the Baja Peninsula, among the other leaders for much of the race where fast qualifier Robby Gordon along with Andy McMillin, Luke McMillin and Bryce Menzies who all have had various types of mechanical issues and several ended up as DNFs. Also out, with a transmission failure was two-time SCORE Baja 1000 race winner B. J. Baldwin.
The young Lopez commented after his team’s superlative racing effort, “It was a very rough race and the course was very dusty but we are here. Just before the sun set, the fog on the beach was very bad. We have been looking forward to this for a year and everything went as we planned it. Next year we are going to try and win another championship. This win is significant to me because I’ve always dreamed about winning the SCORE Baja 1000 and to win with my dad is amazing. Baja is family and my little brother is driving a Class 1 so my whole family is racing in the 1000. My mom was even on the highway chasing for all of us”.
Winning the new SCORE TT Legend division for SCORE Trophy Truck drivers 50 years and older was won by the team Gustavo Vildosola, Mexicali, Mexico, Rodrigo Ampudia, Ensenada, Mexico and Scott Bailey, Riverside, Calif. with a time of 23:43:38 averaging 48.4mph in the No. 21L Vildosola Racing Ford Raptor. The No. 21L also finished 12th overall among 4-wheel vehicles.
PRO UTV OVERALL WINNER
Leading a group of 43 starters in three Pro UTV class, the overall and Pro UTV FI class winner was the team led by Brandon Schueler, Phoenix with a time of 27:43:44 in the No. 2919 Polaris RZR XP4 Turbo. His teammates in golden victory were Miles Martin, Peoria, Ariz./Pat Stone, Payson, Ariz./Mitch Guthrie, Glendora, Ariz./Matt Park, Newport Beach, Calif./Jason Spiess, Peoria, Ariz.
PERFECT SEASON-PRO QUAD
With his class victory in this race, Said Sanchez, Tijuana, Mexico, finished the 2017 SCORE World Desert Championship with a perfect four-win season in the Pro Quad class. Leading a team riding on the No. 13a Honda TRX450R, Said had a finishing time of 26:38:46 with an average speed over the demanding course of 42.84mph. Earning the golden victory and season sweep with Sanchez at the SCORE Baja 1000 were Francisco Velez, San Felipe, Mexico/Francisco Vera, San Felipe, Mexico/Luis Velez, San Felipe, Mexico/Adolfo Arellano, Tijuana, Mexico.
SCORE BAJA 1000 MULTI CLASS WINNERS
Among the racers adding to their SCORE Baja 1000 legacy of multiple class wins with their class victories this year and their new totals were: venerable Off-Road Hall of Famer Rod Hall, who has 25 class wins as the all-time race leader and who won the Stock Full class this year.
Also adding to their collective SCORE Baja racing legacy with their class wins this year were: Richard Jackson (16, Pro Moto 60), Jeff Kaplan (14, Pro Moto 50), Steve Hengeveld (12, Trophy Truck Spec), Lou Franco (11, Pro Moto 50), Francisco Septien (9, Pro Moto 40), Gerardo Rojas (6, Pro Moto Limited), Donald Moss (13, Class 3) and Chad Hall (12, Stock Full), Pancho Bio, Ensenada, Mexico (5, Class 11), Shane Esposito (5, Pro Moto Unlimited), Reid Rutherford (5, Class 3000), Gustavo Avina (4, Class 5-1600), Cisco Bio (4, Class 11), Dave Westhem (4, Class 8) and Fred Willert (4, SCORE Lites).
MORE CLASS WINNERS
Among the other racers winning a class at this year’s SCORE Baja 1000 were Jon Walker, Tamuning (Class 1, Kreger-Chevy), John Langley, Santa Monica, Calif. (Trophy Truck Spec, Mason-Chevy), Cody Reid, Apple Valley, Calif. (Class 10, Alumi Craft-Chevy), Dan Fresh, San Juan, Capistrano. (Pro UTV, Polaris RZR XP1000 Turbo), Jason Vandenborn, Canada (Protruck, Ford F-150), Brian Finch, Hermitage, Tenn.(Baja Challenge, BTC-Subaru), Roberto Romo, Mexicali, Mexico (Class 1-2/1600, Romo-VW), Kevin Carr, San Diego (Class 5, VW), Al Hogan, Columbus, Mont. (Class 7, Ford Ranger), Rodrigo Martinez, El Centro, Calif. (Class7SX, Ford Ranger), Mark Murrell, Grand Junction, Colo. (Class 17, Jeep Wrangler), Timothy Vail, Houston (Vintage Trailblazer, Toyota Land Cruiser FJ40) and Casey Currie, Corona, Calif. (Hammer Truck Unlimited, Jeep Wrangler JK.
Santiago Creel, Mexico City (Pro Moto Limited, KTM 300EXC), John Maine, Corvallis, Ore. (Heavy Metal, Jeep CJ), Ryan Liebelt, Reedley, Calif. (Pro Moto 30, Yamaha WR450), Jano Montoya, Winter Garden, Fla. (Pro Moto 40, KTM 450XCW), Robert Gates, Victorville, Calif. (Pro Moto 50, Honda CRF450X), Jeff Benrud, Raeford, N.C. (Pro Moto Ironman, Honda CRF450X), Donald Lewis, Manchester, Conn. (Pro Moto 60, Honda CRF450X) and Earl Berg, Mexico City (Pro UTV Unlimited, Can-Am Maverick X3).
This year’s BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 1000 included 51 Sportsman racers competing in five total classes. Class winners were Cody Schaffer, Wheatridge, Colo. (SPT Motorcycle, Honda CRF450X), Oskar Espinoza, Ensenada, Mexico (SPT Quad, Honda TRX450R), Yuval Sharon, Israel (SPT UTV, Yamaha YXZ1000) and Ricardo Rodriguez, Ensenada, Mexico (SPT Buggy, Dimel-VW).
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 but says “you never know, ‘ole Rod may just be back for his 51st.
Commemorating the first race IN 1967, motorcycle and quad classes starte at midnight (PT) on Wednesday, and the car, truck and UTV classes began their journey in the elapsed-time race 10 hours later at 10 a.m. (PT) on Thursday. All vehicles will have 48 hours from the time each starts to complete the course and become an official finisher of the 50th anniversary race.
The start line in Ensenada was once again located on Blvd. Costero in front of the historic Riviera del Pacifico Cultural Center. The finish line in La Paz was located adjacent to the Grand Plaza Hotel on the outskirts of the city just off of Highway 1.
An astonishing 405 total vehicles started the epic 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.
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.
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 was also the $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.
As it has for over four decades, SCORE has put together another memorable race course for the 50th anniversary, this one is a point-to-point race, with all of the foreboding, unforgiving terrain that both the northern state and southern state of the majestic Baja California peninsula has to offer. SCORE CEO/president Roger Norman and SCORE Race Director Jose A. Grijalva have designed and finalized this year’s race course of 1,134.40 miles.
This year’s golden course will have five physical checkpoints along the way to the finish, 147 virtual checkpoints and 20 speed zones (37mph or 60mph for a total of 162.87 pavement miles).
Starting in the heart of Ensenada in front of the historic Riviera del Pacifico Cultural Center, the course travels east to Ojos Negros before launching its weaving way south to the finish line in La Paz.
The five checkpoints will be located at Coco’s Corner (race mile 312.30), Mujica Baja Sur (RM 524.22), near Loreto (RM 784.11), road crossing at the Lopez Mateos Highway (RM 930.58) and at Loma Amarilla (RM 1,033.65).
EL REY NETWORK
The four-race 2017 SCORE World Desert Championship in Baja California, Mexico along with the SEMA SCORE Baja 1000 Experience and the SCORE Baja 1000 Qualifying in Las Vegas are all airing on El Rey Network in the United States. International distribution is by way of syndication. The season-ending 50th BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 1000 will have a two-hour show produced while the other race shows are each one-hour telecasts.
El Rey Network is available in 45 million homes across the country through cable and OTT providers and via satellite on DirecTV Channel 341 and Dish Network Channel 253. For more information on how to watch El Rey visit http://elreynetwork.com.
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.
SCORE Baja 1000 Overall Champions
(1967 through 2016)
YEAR DRIVERS/RIDERS VEHICLE TIME
1967 Vic Wilson/Ted Mangels Meyers Manx VW 27:38
J.N. Roberts/Malcolm Smith Husqvarna 28:48
1968 Larry Berquist/Gary Preston Honda 20:38:28
Larry Minor/Jack Bayer Ford Bronco 21:11:32
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