SCORE Legends! | Parnelli Jones

Portrait by Jack Wright

Parnelli Jones

The Legendary Indy Racer

By Dan Sanchez
Excerpted from SCORE's "Racing Into History - Vol.1 & Vol. 2"

Parnelli Jones, made famous by winning the Indy 500, heard about Baja racing but never intended to try it. After being challenged by then Stock Car builder Bill Stroppe, he was out to prove he could win any race he entered, including the SCORE Baja 500.

Jones was admittedly hard on race vehicles and in his first SCORE race, he tore out the front end of a Stroppe Ford Bronco. Jones eventually learned to back off in order to save the vehicles, but wanted a race car that could keep up with his style of racing. After several attempts he drove an experimental Bronco, one that was lighter, more capable, and had two-wheel drive and an I-beam suspension system and won the 1970 Baja 500.

He convinced Bill Stroppe to build him a specialized Ford Bronco, the famous Big Oly, with a full-tube chassis, fiberglass fenders and an I-beam suspension system. “It was one of the reasons why we built Big Oly pretty tough, simply because I would run it so rough,” said Jones.

Parnelli Jones refined his off-road driving skills and won the 1973 Baja 500, (as well as the 1971-’72 Baja 1000). His legacy in off-road racing paved the way for the modern SCORE Trophy Truck while his clout attracted fame and notoriety to the SCORE Baja 500 for decades to come.

SCORE Baja 1000 & 500 50th Anniversary Books!

New books celebrating the SCORE Baja 1000 & 500 50th Anniversary. Racing into History Volumes 1 & 2

  • Pictorial Celebrations of Both Races
  • Capturing the Historic 50th Anniversary race weeks from set-up to the finish line.
  • Massive 416 page & 432 page Commemorative Hardbound Books listing all entrants and finishers.
  • Race History highlights of the SCORE Legends.
  • Historic Vehicle Overview.
  • Historical Reference with SCORE Baja 1000 & 500 statistics for the past 50 years.