Granddaddy of all Desert Races to be televised as a two-hour special on El Rey Network
LA PAZ, Mexico – With racing continuing for many of the 405 starters until mid-day on Saturday, Mexico’s youthful superstar Carlos ‘Apdaly’ Lopez teamed with his veteran father Juan C. Lopez to become the unofficial overall and SCORE Trophy Truck winners Friday at the 50th annual BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 1000 on Mexico’s magnificent Baja California peninsula. Final official results will be released by SCORE race officials after the course closes and all data-tracking devices have been read and penalties assessed late afternoon on Saturday.
The Lopez tandem is the second Mexican Nationals’ son/father team to win this race overall. They join Gustavo ‘Tavo’ Vildosola Jr and 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 finished 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.
The race was the season-finale of the four-race 2017 SCORE Desert World Championship.
With 405 total starters in Pro and Sportsman classes for cars, trucks, UTVs, motorcycles and quads, racers have come 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 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.
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 is 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.
All 36 marquee SCORE Trophy Trucks 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 of 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. Also out, with a transmission failure was two-time SCORE Baja 1000 race winner B. J. Baldwin.
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 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. The adjusted finishing time for the 1x team was 21:26:47.
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 hours, seven minutes, 17 seconds 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.
For 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.
With the overall motorcycle victory, Honda extended their race-record total to 27 courtesy of the No. 45x team.
In the 4-wheel vehicle classes, when the dust settled unofficially finishing second to Lopez was Cameron Steele in the No. 16 Desert Assassins Chevy Silverado, third unofficially was Dan McMillin in the No. 23 Ford F-150, fourth unofficial finisher in SCORE Trophy Truck was Billy Wilson in the No. 15 Bevley/Wilson Racing Ford Raptor and fifth unofficial finisher in SCORE Trophy Truck was Troy Herbst in the No. 91 Monster Energy Terrible Herbst Motorsports Ford F-150.
With festivities continuing at the La Paz finish line adjacent the Grand Plaza Resort, the Lopez truck finished at 6:05 a.m. PT Friday.
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”.
The official course closure times on Saturday will be just before 2 a.m. PT for the motorcycles/quads and just before 2 p.m. PT for the cars/trucks/UTVs.
But not before more mesmorizing memories are etched into the golden granite history of the world’s most famous desert race.