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23 ‘Magnificent Moments’ from four-race 2023 SCORE World Desert Championship.
From the SCORE San Felipe 250 in April, to the SCORE Baja 1000 in November: Recalling 23 of the magnificent moments in the four 2023 SCORE Baja races
SCORE MEDIA CONTACT: Dominic Clark, Dominic@SCORE-International.com
SCORE MEDIA CONTACT: Dominic Clark, Dominic@SCORE-International.com
ENSENADA, Baja California, Mexico—‘Celebrating 50 Years of SCORE Desert Racing Excellence in 2023 as we launch the New Year of 2024, we take some time to reflect and recall 23 of the most magical, magnificent, moments that were among the many, many lasting memories of the four-race 2023 SCORE World Desert Championship.
They all add significantly to the growing legacy of SCORE International, which completed its 50th year as the World’s Foremost Racing Organization in 2023.
MAGNIFICENT MOMENTS—No. 23—
SCORE INTERNATIONAL DAY—SCORE Baja 500
SCORE International was honored by the government of Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico which has proclaimed the first Saturday of June as ‘SCORE International Day’ in Ensenada starting with the 2023 BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 500.
The Ensenada City Council unanimously voted in March of 2023 to proclaim that the first Saturday in June is henceforth now designated as ‘SCORE International Day’.
The vote unanimously passed the city council, so at the BFGoodrich Tires 55th SCORE Baja 500, Ensenada Mayor Armando Ayala Robles and City Council Member Ericka Gonzalez Pickett, presented SCORE with the declaration during the official pre-race starting ceremony on Saturday, June 3, 2023.
The City Council gave several reasons for issuing this declaration of SCORE International Day. SCORE celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 2023, after starting in 1973.
SCORE organizes the SCORE Baja 500, SCORE Baja 400, and SCORE Baja 1000 races in Ensenada, Mexico, which brings the largest number of visitors and generates the most revenue for Ensenada. Each SCORE race attracts an average of 150,000 visitors and produces an estimated $12 million over a 20-day period as it generates a 95 percent hotel occupancy rate, and brings a wide value chain from city-wide services.
SCORE races are promoted nationally and internationally through television, traditional media, and social media.
In 2017, the Ensenada City Council approved the designation of Ensenada as the ‘Off-Road Racing Capital of the World.’
MAGNIFICENT MOMENTS—No. 22—
ROBERT CREEMERS—SCORE San Felipe 250
Launching the 2023 SCORE World Desert Championship with three riders, all from New Zealand, Robert Creemers, 58, was rider of record and the trio marched to victory in the Pro Moto 50 class (riders over 50 years old) in the season-opening SCORE San Felipe 250.
Riding on their Tim Morton-prepped No. 501x Honda CRF450X, Creemers and co-riders Sean Clarke, and Kevin Archer finished the 282.51-mile race in seven hours, six minutes, and five seconds.
Co-Rider Archer said at the finish line on the Malecon in San Felipe, “We had a good plan and we had done a bit of pre-riding. Everything has come together good. The course was cut up a bit more than I expected but the bike was great. Awesome. We are happy with the performance.”
Creemers and his team went on to win their class at the SCORE Baja 500, and the SCORE Baja 400, ending up finishing second in the SCORE Baja 1000 to earn the 2023 season Pro Moto 50 class point championship to cap a stellar season.
MAGNIFICENT MOMENTS—No. 21—
DANIEL CHAMLEE—SCORE San Felipe 250
Veteran SCORE champion Daniel Chamlee, 61, of Montecito, Calif (who also lives in San Felipe, Mexico) drove again in Class 7 in his No. 700 The Factory Racing Ford Ranger. He won two races in 2022 and had one DNF (SCORE Baja 500) and a second-place podium finish in the SCORE Baja 1000 to earn yet another SCORE Class 7 season point title.
Chamlee has driven consistently to earn 19 SCORE Class 7 season point championships in the last 20 years.
In this year’s season-opener at the SCORE San Felipe 250, Chamlee won Class 7. Chamlee earned another Class 7 victory to add to his legacy in September where he earned his fourth consecutive victory in the four-year old SCORE Baja 400.
Driving solo, he won Class 7 in the SCORE San Felipe 250 in a time of 6:31:15 (43.32mph) over the 282.51-mile race course.
At the finish line after the SCORE San Felipe, the hard-working Chamlee commented, “It went pretty well. We broke a sway bar about halfway through, so it’s leaning a bit the last half of the race, but I feel like we kept a decent speed. It was rough and bumpy. Other than dragging the mirrors in the corners, no problems. We did our part for tree pruning. I was to thank my two navigators, my wife, my crew, BFGoodrich Tires, they are the toughest tires ever, King Racing Shocks.”
In his career he has also earned nine Rod Hall SCORE Milestone Awards, presented by Toyota Escondido, for racers who complete every required mile for that season.
In the SCORE Baja 1000, the ultra-dedicated Chamlee recorded 11 Class 7 victories between 2006 and 2020.
MAGNIFICENT MOMENTS—No. 20—
CAYDEN MacCACHREN—SCORE Baja 1000
Being son of the G.O.A.T. of off-road racing (Rob MacCachren), Las Vegas’ third-generation desert racer Cayden ‘Mini Mac’ MacCachren, 21, has clearly stepped away from his famous father’s tracks and is forming his own trail in desert racing. He capped his first season with the new four-vehicle Polaris Factory team by winning his Pro UTV Open class as well as being the fastest of 54 UTVs in four different classes in the 2023 SCORE Baja 1000.
In just a few short seasons, Cayden MacCachren has raced in multiple SCORE classes.
Cayden MacCachren finished his ‘rookie’ season by finishing third in the 2021 SCORE World Desert Championship point standings in the Pro UTV FI class as the second driver for Brandon Schueler. Cayden MacCachren was voted as the 2021 SCORE Rookie of the Year for his exemplary efforts. During the 2022 season, he raced part of the season in Pro UTV FI and part in the Trophy Truck Spec class.
Cayden MacCachren has spent several years in Baja prior to the last three seasons. Mini-Mac has driven for pre-running with his famous father while dad Rob records all the course notes for both of them.
He opened the 2023 season with a fourth-place finish in Pro UTV Open in the SCORE San Felipe San Felipe 250, 14th in the SCORE Baja 500, and fourth in the SCORE Baja 400 before defeating a field of 15 starters in his class with a victory margin of over 14 minutes in the SCORE Baja 1000.
He clearly had help from his friends as also driving part of the SCORE Baja 1000 in 2023 were former motorcycle champion Justin Morgan, 33, El Cajon, Calif., and New Zealand’s international drifting champion Rhys Millen, 51, who lives in Huntington Beach, Calif. They split the driving in the SCI Racing/Polaris Factory Racing No. 1821 Polaris RZR Pro-R.
With his new Polaris Factory Racing team, Cayden MacCachren is the driver of the No. 1821 SCI Motorsports Polaris Pro-R. The three teammates finished the 2023 SCORE Baja 1000 in a winning time of 27:25:03. ‘Mini Mac’ also finished third in the 2023 SCORE Pro UTV Open season point standings.
MAGNIFICENT MOMENTS—No. 19—
EDGAR COTA—SCORE Baja 1000
With a spectacular race to remember at the SCORE Baja 1000, Edgar Cota, 26, San Diego, defeated a SCORE-record 27 starters in the Pro Moto Ironman Class for solo riders on his No. 723x GasGas EX450 motorcycle. His special class had only nine finishers out of the record 27 starters and Cota covered the course in 38:33:04 with an average speed of 34.01 mph.
Following his amazing run, Cota commented at the finish line, “The race went very well for us. We had a good start and managed to quickly get to Loreto (race mile 300), where there were some silt beds, it was a lot of fun going through. There was a little bit of everything in the next sections, with rocks in Vizcaino (race mile 600) and a really fast section at Bahia de Los Angeles (race mile 700). The Catavina Loop (race mile 800) was crazy because we went through it in the evening and there were rocks, silt, and climbs, all together. When we got to San Felipe (race mile 1000) the sun was coming up and I didn’t have any issues from that point on. It’s my fourth victory in a SCORE race (second in 2023) and I’m very happy.”
MAGNIFICENT MOMENTS—No. 18—
FERNANDO BELTRAN—SCORE Baja 1000
Fernando Beltran, 46, Ensenada, Mexico, added to his growing legacy in 2023 as he and his team of co-riders secured another Pro Moto Limited point championship by winning the season-ending SCORE Baja 1000 in November over season-high 11 starters.
Beltran’s co-riders for the 2023 SCORE Baja 1000 were Larry Serna, 27, San Diego, Luis Flores, 21, Mexicali, Mexico, Mauri Herrera, 24, Ensenada, Mexico, Dilan Avalos, 17, N. Palm Springs, Calif., and Francisco Septien, 48, Ensenada, Mexico. The Beltran team rode their No. 100x Honda CRF450X to a championship-winning time of 29:17:51, averaging 44.75 mph.
The final rider to the finish line, Herrera remembered: “It was a very long race and just making it here to Ensenada is a big achievement for us. Nothing was easy during the last 29 hours, but fortunately we made it here. The entire team did a very good job today. My first section, in Baja Sur, had a lot of fast portions and also a lot of silt. The second section was a bit different, near Catavina, as it was very long and rocky. The bike was excellent, didn’t have any issues at all.”
Beltran has now earned four career SCORE season Pro Moto Limited point crowns--2014, 2020, 2022, 2023.
At the end of the season, Beltran was tied in points with 20-year-old Ely Ramirez, Tecate, Mexico, winning his fourth season crown by way of tie-breaker for finishing first in the season finale, one position ahead of Ramirez.
MAGNIFICENT MOMENTS—No. 17—
FAELLY LOPEZ—SCORE Baja 500
From San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico, strongman Faelly Lopez was officially a rookie in the 2022 SCORE World Desert Championship and he was competing in just his second season of the Pro Quad Ironman class for solo riders.
Lopez, 40, started 2023 by winning his class in the season-opening SCORE San Felipe 250 in April, the SCORE Baja 500 in June, and the SCORE Baja 400 in September on his No. 83a Honda TRX450R, earning his second straight season point championship, despite an unfortunate DNF in the 2023 SCORE Baja 1000.
In the 2023 SCORE Baja 500, riding solo, the ‘Puerto Rican Force’ covered the 473.67-mile race course in 16:16:30.
After his sterling SCORE Baja 500 victory, Lopez said, “It wasn’t easy, but we made it here. We prepared really well and fortunately it all went all. The quad ran great all day, we didn’t have to do anything with it outside of regular maintenance. I wanted to improve my time from last year and I’m going back home very happy. I didn’t pre-run at all and am really grateful for the team, they’re the real champions.”
MAGNIFICENT MOMENTS—No. 16—
KEVIN WARD—SCORE Baja 500
Pro Moto 60 saw a veteran team attack the season led by Rider of Record Kevin Ward, 61, Longview, Texas (Chatsworth, Calif.). Ward and his team committed to run the entire season after their class win in the 2023 SCORE Baja 500.
In the mid-season race, Ward and his team rode his No. 644x Honda CRF450X to victory in 13:35:18 with an average speed of 34.86 mph. His co-riders were veteran racers Jeff Kaplan, 63, Thousand Oaks, Calif., and Doug Smith, 66, Upland, Calif.
In the SCORE Baja 500, Ward started and rode to race mile 96, Kaplan rode from race mile 96 to race mile 210, Ward rode from race mile 210 to race mile 270, Kaplan rode from race mile 270 to race mile 340, Doug Smith rode from race mile 340 to race mile 400, Kaplan rode from race mile 400 to race mile 440, and Ward rode the final section from race mile 440 to the finish in Ensenada.
“I started the race and the dust was insane and it mixed with the fog,” said Ward after the race. “I don’t think this bike tipped over all day. Doug did a great job in his section because it’s difficult logistically when you get to the coast. I think the start was the most difficult part of the day because I couldn’t see anything. Jeff had a nice, clean run over the Summit (race mile 100) and I think the whoops were really tiring. We’re going to race the entire SCORE season and we’ll try to get the title.”
Ward’s effort paid off as he and his team won their class in all four races to earn the season point championship in Pro Moto 60, for riders over 60 years old.
For Ward, it is his second SCORE season class point title and his first since he won Pro Moto 30 in 2002. Kaplan has now earned 16 career season crowns.
MAGNIFICENT MOMENTS—No. 15—
JOE BOLTON—2023 SCORE WORLD DESERT CHAMPIONSHIP
A veteran SCORE racer, first on motorcycles and now in UTVs, Joe Bolton, 66, Corona, Calif., had a spectacular season in the Pro UTV NA (Normally Aspirated) class where he won the season class point championship with four podium finishes in 2023 of first, third, second, and second. He drove the No. 1957 Polaris RZR XP1000 to the season crown.
He drove solo to his class win in the SCORE San Felipe 250, with his son Austin Bolton, 28, Corona, Calif. to third place in the SCORE Baja 500 and second place in the SCORE Baja 400.
In the epic season-ending SCORE Baja 1000, Bolton’s additional drivers were his son Austin Bolton, veteran SCORE champion Mike Leslie, 63, Wildomar, Calif., and Matt Banuelos, 43, Whittier, Calif., and they finished in second place, less than eight minutes behind first-place Larry Janesky, Middlebury, Conn., after an extremely challenging 1310.94 miles in a time of 36:09:02.
In the 2023 SCORE Baja 1000, Joe Bolton started and drove to race mile 345, Austin Bolton drove from race mile 345 to race mile 750, Banuelos drove from race mile 750 to race mile 1020 and Lesle drove from race mile 1020 to the finish line in Ensenada.
At the finish line in Ensenada, Joe Bolton looked back on the race, saying, “We started the day very well and ran first and second all day. We got through the horrible silt in Loreto and there were 15-20 people stuck in there. Austin got on the car but he had a problem that cost us about 40 minutes. Matt drove his section solidly and Mike got the car in great shape and we were 50 miles behind the leaders, but he went for it. This is an incredibly special race and we wanted to win it, even if it risked the championship. He got to pass Larry (Janesky, No. 1914) but then we had a front-arm buckled. Larry passed us back but we heard he had stopped with issues too. We went for it again, but ended up finishing second, but still won the season championship which is awesome.”
MAGNIFICENT MOMENTS—No. 14—
JORGE CANO—SCORE Baja 1000
Jorge Cano, 49, Culiacan, Mexico, came to Baja in 2023 to race in the Pro UTV Stock class, improving his finish each race to earn the season class point championship.
Cano’s additional driver thorough the season was Francisco Ritz, 43, Culiacan, Mexico and the duo drove the No. 3936 Can-Am Maverick X3 Turbo XRC to his first SCORE season championship.
Cano started with a season with a fifth-place finish in class, followed by a fourth-place, a third-place and then second-place in the SCORE Baja 1000 to clinch the season point title in his class. Cano and Ritz covered the unbelievably-rugged 1310.94-mile course in 37:14:24.
In the 2023 SCORE Baja 1000, Cano started and drove to race mile 233, Francisco Ritz drove from race mile 233 to race mile 350, Cano drove from race mile 350 to race mile 637, Ritz drove from race mile 637 to race mile 785, Cano drove from race mile 785 to race mile 920, Ritz drove from race mile 920 to race mile 1015, and Cano drove from race mile 1015 to the checkered flag.
Cano had plenty to say at the finish line in Ensenada, saying, “We got a little bit of everything today. The course was tough and we got five flat tires. We got stuck on the silt too, but we managed to get the car going again and made it here. We lost our 4-wheel drive and our brakes and I don’t know how we managed to go through the last 100 miles. With the second place, we win the championship and we’re very happy about that.”
MAGNIFICENT MOMENTS—No. 13—
FRANCISCO VERA—SCORE Baja 500
Bursting on the scene rapidly in Class 10, Francisco Vera, 32, El Rosario, Mexico, won the 2023 Class 10 season point championship in his No. 1091 Alumi-Craft Chevy.
The first racer from El Rosario to win a season point title in the 50-year history of SCORE, Vera was fourth in a field of 19 Class 10 starters in his class in the SCORE San Felipe 250, first in his class out of 16 starters in the SCORE Baja 500, first again out of 12 starters in the SCORE Baja 400, and finished third out of 17 starters in the SCORE Baja 1000. Vera also ended up 11th in overall points in 2023 in his No. 1091 Alumi Craft Chevy.
Alexis Vera, 27, El Rosario, Mexico was Francisco Vera’s second driver for the first three races and that duo was joined by Arturo Gaza, Monterrey, Mexico, Mexico, as the team’s third driver in their podium finish in the SCORE Baja 1000.
In addition to winning the 2023 SCORE Class 10 crown, Francisco Vera was also the 2023 SCORE Open-Wheel point champion as well.
Francisco Vera established his credibility in Class 10 when he won the SCORE Baja 500 in a time of 10:29:40, averaging 45.13 mph.
In the SCORE Baja 500, Alexis Vera started and drove to race mile 210, and Francisco Vera drove from race mile 210 to the finish.
Francisco Vera said after the race, “We started in second place, but got to pass Justin Buckley (No. 1064) right after the start and never lost our spot. We ran a perfect race. I had a minor issue at the coast when I tried to pass some Trophy Truck Specs and got a flat tire, but we got it replaced and kept going. It was my first SCORE Baja 500 in a car and it’s been very unique and different. In a car, you need to race really smart and take good care of the vehicle.”
MAGNIFICENT MOMENTS—No. 12—
OLIVER FLEMATE—SCORE Baja 400
Considering it was his first full season racing in the SCORE World Desert Championship, it’s very accurate to say that Oliver Flemate, 46, Ensenada, Mexico, kept himself very busy in his official rookie season with SCORE.
Flemate and his team won all four races in Class 11 in the No. 1105 Flemate Racing stock VW Sedan to win the season point championship in the venerable racing class. He and his team also finished sixth in the huge Trophy Truck Spec season point standings and he also raced in SCORE Lite in two races with a second-place class finish in the 2023 SCORE Baja 500.
While splitting his driving time up between vehicles all season, Flemate’s principal co-driver in Class 11 was Antonio Espinoza, 29, Ensenada, Mexico.
In the SCORE Baja 400 last September, Espinoza started and drove to race mile 190 and Flemate drove from race mile 190 to the finish of the 384.66-mile race.
Following the SCORE Baja 400 win in Class 11, Flemate commented, “We are so happy to have won the SCORE Baja 400, it was a very tough race. It was very technical and hard and we saw a lot of accidents out there. It was a really tough course and I found it more difficult than the one of the SCORE Baja 500, but we made it. We built the car in our shop here in Ensenada and it took us a lot of effort to get it done.”
MAGNIFICENT MOMENTS—No. 11—
LUKE McMILLIN—SCORE San Felipe 250
Picking up where he left off in 2022, San Diego’s defending race and 2023 season SCORE Overall and SCORE Trophy Truck season point champion Luke ‘The Luke’ McMillin roared through the Baja desert to defeat a massive 285 starters in the April 2, 2023 King Shocks 36th SCORE San Felipe 250, fueled by Baja Vida.
‘The Luke’, 30, drove solo to power his stunning No. 1 Mason-built all-wheel drive Chevy 1500 to lead the third-largest number of starters and finishers in race history to an awe-inspiring, error-free, penalty-free winning time of four hours, 29 minutes, and 27 seconds over the sun-drenched, rock-filled, silt-strewn 282.51 miles for a remarkable average speed of 62.91 miles per hour.
Under sunny skies, light winds, and mild temperatures in the mid-70s Fahrenheit and thousands of fans spread around the desert, McMillin had plenty of competition behind him in the superb field of 39 of the marquee SCORE Trophy Trucks and total 285 starters, third-most in the 36-year history of the race.
After his solo victory, a calm and relaxed ‘The Luke,’ said at the finish line, “It was awesome. We had a perfect day. We just cruised all day. We just stopped one time at our planned pit stop and took 18 seconds of fuel, that was it.”
“Not a single flat tire. These are the same great BFGoodrich Tires that were on here this morning. They went the whole way. Jason Duncan (Navigator) called a perfect race. We didn’t make one mistake. We didn’t bobble once. We just drove 80% all day, we just drove it around. That’s what it takes.”
“I’m really excited, really grateful to be able to pull off another win. Thanks to my team. I get emotional. Thanks to my team, my mom, my dad, my wife, my baby that is due the end of May. A lot to be thankful for. I am bummed for my brother (Dan McMillin, 15th place). We pride ourselves on having two trucks that run flawless. On race mile two he (Dan) had an absolutely freakish failure. Totally out of our control. That was too bad. But perfect race for the No. 1 truck.”
“Thank you to SCORE and Jose G (Race Director Abelardo Grijalva) and Juan Tintos (General Manager). They do an amazing job put these events together here in Baja—the greatest place in the world to desert race.”
McMillin finished fourth in the SCORE Baja 500 after battling back from 10th place on course, and finished second in the SCORE Baja 400, and completed a great season with another second-place, splitting the driving the Rob MacCachren in the SCORE Baja 1000 to finish the year second in SCORE Trophy-Truck points and third in SCORE Overall points.
MAGNIFICENT MOMENTS—No. 10—
GUSTAVO VILDOSOLA SR—SCORE Baja 500
In the 2023 SCORE Baja 500, Gustavo Vildosola Sr, 70, Mexicali, Mexico, was ninth overall and won his SCORE TT Legend class for SCORE Trophy Truck drivers over 50 years old in his No. 1L Vildosola Racing Ford Raptor. He finished this race in a time of 9:56:25 while averaging 47.65 mph.
Vildosola Sr had another memorable season, winning all four races in the 2023 SCORE World Desert Championship, to earn his third career SCORE TT Legend season point title and his team’s eighth consecutive class win.
Vildosola Sr also won the SCORE TT Legend season point championship in 2018 with Scott Bailey as a second driver.
He won all four 2023 races with help from legendary Hall of Fame racer Ricky Johnson, 59, El Cajon, Calif., who drove the first half of each race in the Vildosola Racing No. 1L AWD Ford Raptor built by Mason Motorsports.
Vildosola reflected at the finish line of the SCORE Baja 500, “I’m very happy. It was a very difficult race, but I feel like we’re at our best in races like this. If it was an easy race, we would be able to do it again without any issues, so this means a lot. We had an excellent day. The toughest part was around Ojos Negros (race mile 440). The course was really chewed up but the truck handed it pretty well.”
Vildosola Sr also has three career SCORE Trophy Truck race wins in his illustrious career in SCORE desert racing.
MAGNIFICENT MOMENTS—No. 9—
FABRICIO FUENTES—2023 SCORE World Desert Championship
Another Bolivian superstar (like Juan Carlos Salvatierra), Fabricio Fuentes, 46, won the Pro Moto Ironman crown for solo riders in 2023 on his No. 785x GasGas EC350F motorcycle without winning a single race.
Consistency paid big dividends for Fuentes in winning his first SCORE title with finishes of ninth in the SCORE San Felipe 250, fourth in the SCORE Baja 500, third in the SCORE Baja 400 and fifth in the SCORE Baja 1000. The popular class that had 45 total starters in 2023, including a SCORE-record 27 in the SCORE Baja 1000.
Following his grueling fifth-place finish at the SCORE Baja 1000, an obviously exhausted Fuentes reflected after crossing the finishing line in 46:56:46, “This was a memorable SCORE Baja 1000. It was very demanding and technical and the geography here in Mexico is great for it. I’m very happy that I managed to finish this race in the Pro Moto Ironman class. It felt like the race was never going to end, but I’m here and that makes me happy. There were several accidents and I made a few stops to help other drivers on the way here. SCORE’s organization was flawless, not only with the course but in every aspect.”
MAGNIFICENT MOMENTS—No. 8—
BOCK HEGER—SCORE Baja 500
In 2023, Brock Heger, 23, El Centro, Calif., drove the No. 1896 SCI Motorsports Polaris Pro-R, the inaugural season of the new Polaris Factory Racing team. He finished 10th in his class in the SCORE San Felipe 250 to open the season and then won his competitive class in both the SCORE Baja 500 and the SCORE Baja 400. in his Pro UTV Open class. He capped his season and won his class championship with a podium, third-place finish in the grueling SCORE Baja 1000. In the season finale, Heger split the driving with Ronnie Anderson and J.D. Marsh.
Heger also finished 14th in the 2023 SCORE Overall point standings while earning the Pro UTV Open season point championship.
Heger has excelled in every discipline of racing and has over 100 wins and 200 podiums on his resume despite his young age.
Most recently, Heger has raced in Pro-Lite short course trucks and Production UTVs in the Champ Off Road Series, earning championships in both classes as well as most recently as the second driver in the Trophy Truck Spec class in SCORE races.
In the SCORE Baja 500, he won his class over 20 starters, with a time of 10:45:28 (44.03 mph). He had over a 15-minute lead over second place and was the fastest UTV in the race that featured four different classes for the side-by-side vehicles.
At the finish of the SCORE Baja 500, Heger, who drove solo in the first three races of the season, said, “We had a really good day. We started with four brand-new BFGoodrich Tires and we finished on the same four. We had some minor pit issues with the fuel, but we never got out of the car and couldn’t have asked for a better day. This is my first year in this class and I Iron manned the SCORE San Felipe 250 and now the SCORE Baja 500.”
MAGNIFICENT MOMENTS—No. 7—
JUAN CARLOS SALVATIERRA—SCORE Baja 1000
Bolivia’s national hero, legendary athlete, and Dakar Rally veteran Juan Carlos Salvatierra won his fourth consecutive SCORE motorcycle class season point championship in 2023, including a major victory in the iconic season-ending SCORE Baja 1000.
Switching from the unique Pro Moto Ironman class for solo riders after winning two straight season class point championships (2020, 2021) Salvatierra has put together teams that won the Pro Moto Unlimited class the past two consecutive years (2022, 2023).
In the 2023 SCORE Baja 1000, Salvatierra and his five-rider team overcame a pair of pre-running injuries to earn Salvatierra’s first SCORE overall motorcycle race victory on his team’s No. 1x KTM 450SX-F in a winning time of 26:37:17.
Salvatierra was one of the injured riders but he mustered enough to start the race in La Paz and ride a short distance before handing off the bike.
Salvatiera, 42, had a team of four riders doing the bulk of the work in Shane Logan, 21, Lake Havasu City, Ariz., Argentina’s international rally racer Diego Llanos, 30, Carter Klein, Agua Dulce, Calif., and Corbin McPherson, 22, Hurricane, Utah.
Starting first and leading the entire race, Salvatierra and his talented team finished in a time of 26:33:41.
In earning their first SCORE overall motorcycle race victory, Salvatierra started the race and quickly turned the motorcycle over to Shane Logan who rode to race mile 175, McPherson rode from race mile 175 to race mile 350, Llanos rode from race mile 350 to race mile 767, Logan rode from race mile 767 to race mile 960, Klein rode from race mile 960 to race mile 1243 and Logan rode from race mile 1243 to the finish line.
Salvatierra commented at the finish line, “It feels really good to be at the finish, especially with this being the second-longest SCORE race ever. It’s great to think we made history here. We had a very eventful week with two of our riders getting injuries and another one getting sick. But we have lions in our team and Shane and Diego had to step up for us and take sections from other riders without pre-running them and did a wonderful job. I couldn’t do my section because I got injured on Friday. The bike was flawless during the entire race. Outside of tire changes and regular maintenance things, we didn’t have to do anything on it.”
MAGNIFICENT MOMENTS—No. 6—
JASON MURRAY—2023 SCORE World Desert Championship
Veteran Jason Murray, 40, North Tustin, Calif., has been crowned the 2023 SCORE Overall UTV and Pro UTV FI (Forced Induction), driving his No. 2917 Can-Am X3 through the 2023 SCORE World Desert Championship to earn 485 season points, more than any other driver in the four SCORE UTV classes.
In earning his first SCORE season point title, Murray started the season slowly with a 12th place finish in his class out of a SCORE-record 30 starters in his class in San Felipe, finished second in Round 2, fourth in Round 3 and solidified his championship with a first-place finish in Pro UTV FI in the season-ending SCORE Baja 1000. His class had 45 total racers in 2023.
Splitting the driving with him all season was his brother Derek Murray, 39, Yorba Linda, Calif. and for the SCORE Baja 1000 their additional drivers were PJ Jones, 54, Cave Creek, Ariz. and Michael McFadden,
Murray also finished ninth in the 2023 SCORE Overall point standings.
After his massive win in the SCORE Baja 1000, Derek Murray commented, “It was a long race but man, did we do awesome. My brother Jason started and got up into first or second place. Then Michael got in and held second, kept pushing, did awesome. Then PJ did the third section. And I got in around race mile 922 and took it home. The guys did an amazing job and gave me a great car. Super clean, super tight. Pushed it all day. We had some great battles with Phil Blurton (No. 2944). He had a flat. We blew a belt. My section was rocky and muddy. Nothing like getting the car in San Felipe after almost 1000 miles on it. It was wicked. This course pushed the limits. We went through mud puddles, went through rags all day long. This car did amazing. Super pumped. Wouldn’t expect anything less for the second-longest SCORE Baja 1000. We pulled off the Championship with this win.”
MAGNIFICENT MOMENTS—No. 5—
BRYCE MENZIES—SCORE Baja 400
Helping cap the week-long celebration of the 213th anniversary of Mexican Independence, Las Vegas’ Bryce Menzies repeated as overall and SCORE Trophy Truck winner for the third consecutive year in September’s K&N 4th SCORE Baja 400, presented by VP Racing Fuels. The race launched the second half of the four-race 2023 SCORE World Desert Championship.
Menzies qualified sixth, but moved up quickly, battling for over 100 miles with runner-up Luke McMillin and Alan Ampudia, who eventually finished fourth overall in his class. He eventually got by both and finished with a victory margin of two-minutes, 16.73-seconds.
Menzies stayed in front of the race-record hungry field of 207 starters in his Mason Motorsports-built All Wheel Drive No. 7 Menzies Motorsports Ford Raptor, posting an admirable error-free, penalty free winning time of 7:53:55 with an average speed of 48.70 mph over the typically-challenging 384.66-mile race course.
An ecstatic Menzies had plenty to say at the finish line, “It was a good day. We started sixth and it was dusty, we knew we were going to have to fight really hard, so we just charged as hard as we could. We got Letner (Harley, No. 70) early on, he had a big crash, and Tavo (Vildosola, No. 21) pulled off. We got Alan (Ampudia, No. 10) in the pits and then we caught Luke (McMillin, No. 1) right at the crossover. Down the highway, he pulled off in his pit and we got him there.”
“My plan was to try to be first on the road by the beach, but when I got there, around race mile 230, I lost my front-wheel drive. I knew it was going to be a long way from there with those guys charging hard from behind me. I just had to play it smart, keep my eyes on the ball and have no flats because that was really going to make it hard for us.
“We kept those guys behind us and just kind of cruised all the way from there. I had to go back to my two-wheel drive days, but it was unreal. What a day.”
MAGNIFICENT MOMENTS—No. 4—
CODY REID—SCORE Baja 500
With some serious driving assistance from his SCORE champion mother Shelby Reid in the SCORE Baja 1000, Cody Reid, 31, Apple Valley, Calif., used one class win (SCORE Baja 500), and three more podium finishes (one second and two third places) to win the 2023 SCORE unlimited Class 1 point championship in his AWD No. 168 Alumi Craft-Chevy while earning his third career SCORE class point crown.
In the SCORE Baja 500, Cody Reid powered his race car to a finishing time of 10:17:02 while averaging 46.06 mph over the rugged 473.67-mile race course. He also finished 14th overall over 240 total starters, including nine in Class 1.
After driving solo to his SCORE Baja 500 Class 1 victory, Cody Reid relaxed at the finish line, saying, “The race was great. It was really, really dusty. We spent the first 190 miles until we got a bit of clean air and then we got up front. We had a good battle going with Brad Wilson (No. 153) for a while, we were going back and forth, it was a lot of fun. By the time we got to Borrego (race mile 210) we got the lead and just kept it there. We tried to fight through the trucks, but didn’t have much luck. The whole course was tough. The San Felipe portion (race mile 240) was much harder than I expected, we had some temperature issues there. But other than that, we had a really clean, flawless run.”
MAGNIFICENT MOMENTS—No. 3—
JANO MONTOYA—SCORE Baja 500
Jano Montoya, 51, who lives in Winter Park, Fla. but is originally from Peru, led his team to victory in the Pro Moto 30 class in the SCORE Baja 500 enroute to an undefeated 2023 season with four class wins. Montoya also earned the coveted SCORE Overall Motorcycle point title, marking the first time that an age-group moto racer has won that title in SCORE history.
Riding on the No. 300x KTM 450EXCF, Montoya and his team finished the 473.67-mile 2023 SCORE Baja 400 in a time of 12:02:21 while averaging 39.34 mph.
Montoyta and company were also the ninth overall motorcycle to finish the race.
In the 2023 SCORE Baja 500, besides rider of record Montoya, his Pro Moto 30 class-winning team included Kyle Tichenor, 31, Mesquite, Nev., and David Zarate, 35, La Paz, Mexico.
In the SCORE Baja 500, Tichenor started and rode to race mile 77. Zarate rode from race mile 77 to race mile 160. Montoya rode from race mile 160 to race mile 240. Zarate rode from race mile 240 to race mile 270. Montoya rode from race mile 270 to race mile 300. Zarate rode from race mile 300 to race mile 330. Tichenor rode from race mile 330 to race mile 440 and Montoya rode from race mile 440 to the finish.
After he led his team to victory in the SCORE Baja 500, Montoya commented, “We’re very happy that we made it to the finish line here at the SCORE Baja 500. It was an interesting race. We had to work a little bit on the bike during the race to adjust the suspension, but overall we did good. There were a lot of rocks and a lot of whoops in my section, but we know that area pretty well and didn’t have any major issues. It was fun.”
With his undefeated 2023 season, Montoya now has earned five motorcycle age group SCORE season class point championships in the last seven years (2016, 2017, 2018, 2022, 2023).
MAGNIFICENT MOMENTS—No. 2—
JASON McNEIL—SCORE Baja 400
After his victory in the SCORE Baja 400, McNeil, 45, El Cajon, Calif., who drove solo for the first three races of the season, said, “It was a pretty ridiculous day just with everything. We got hung up on a rock and damaged the drive shaft, so we could only go up to 80 miles/hour, it was vibrating pretty bad. We got passed during a bottleneck, but ended getting back around them and just kept going after that. It was a great race. SCORE did a good job and I’ll remember this one for a while. The entire team helped me out so much, I couldn’t have done it without them.”
The victory was his second straight 2023 win in the behemoth Trophy Truck Spec class. In the SCORE Baja 400, McNeil covered the grueling course in 8:28:57 while averaging 45.35 mph in his No. 234 TSCO-Chevy. He defeated a race-high 37 starters in his class and finished 14th overall in the September race.
After finishing second in the SCORE San Felipe 250 in his class, and then winning his class in both the SCORE Baja 500 and the SCORE Baja 400, McNeil put him at the head of the class. He held on through several mechanical issues in the SCORE Baja 1000 for an 18th-place finish in the season finale to earn not only the SCORE Overall point championship for 2023, but also the SCORE Overall Truck point championship and his Trophy Truck Spec class point title.
MAGNIFICENT MOMENTS—No. 1—
BRYCE MENZIES/ANDY McMILLIN/GUSTAVO ‘TAVO’ VILDOSOLA JR—SCORE Baja 1000
Culminating 50 Years of SCORE Desert Racing Excellence, the desert racing ‘Super Team’ of Las Vegas’ Bryce Menzies, Mexico’s Gustavo ‘Tavo’ Vildosola Jr, and San Diego’s Andy McMillin, split the driving Thursday (Nov. 16, 2023) and Friday (Nov. 17, 2023), to capture the BFGoodrich Tires 56th SCORE Baja 1000, presented by K&N.
The race, the culmination of the 50th anniversary of pioneer desert-racing organization SCORE International, started Thursday (Nov. 16, 2023) in La Paz, Baja California Sur for the first time and finished for the 29th time in Ensenada, Baja California (Friday, Nov. 17, 2023).
The grueling race covered 1310.94 race miles as the season-finale of the four-race SCORE World Desert Championship and Menzies and his talented team finished the iconic race with a one-minute, 18-second margin over another Dream Team of San Diego’s Luke McMillin (Andy’s younger cousin) and Las Vegas’ Rob MacCachren.
Driving their amazing AWD No. 7 Red Bull Ford Raptor SCORE Trophy Truck built by Mason Motorsports, Menzies won for the third consecutive race in 2023 to also earn the SCORE Trophy Truck season point championship. Together, this talented trio covered the unforgiving course in a total time of 22 hours, 35 minutes, 33 seconds with an impressive average speed of 58.03 miles per hour in this race.
Menzies also became just the 10th SCORE racer to have earned the prestigious SCORE Baja Triple Crown award for winning the overall in all the historic SCORE Baja races—SCORE San Felipe 250, SCORE Baja 500, and SCORE Baja 1000.
At the finish line celebration of three teams combining for the huge victory, all three drivers had plenty to say about the race and their team…
Menzies said at the finish line, “This one feels really special. It’s taken me 12 years to win the SCORE Baja 1000 and to win the second-longest SCORE race in history, it feels pretty special. I had a very smooth first section, with no flats or anything, Andy had one flat in his part but did a great job too and Tavo went through San Felipe and all the bumps and the cold weather. I also wanted to thank SCORE for putting on another amazing race here in Baja.”
McMillin shared at the end, “Bryce got me the truck in a great spot, first on the road and on time. Unfortunately, I had a flat tire early in my section and had to change it, so some of the guys behind us got closer. I really had to dig deep and continue to push forward. I knew that if we were still first at around race mile 640, in the Bay of LA, we were going to make dust in those big, fast roads and no one was going to be able to come around. We were able to make up some time there”.
“In the Catavina Loop, we just wanted to keep the truck clean, even if we needed to go slow. This is a very grueling and demanding race on your mind, your body and your emotions and when you chase it for so long and you come up short, there’s a lot to be said about that. Bryce has been trying to win his first SCORE Baja 1000 for 13 years and he always came back and kept fighting. That says a lot about his character and the kind of person he is. I’m very thankful for them having me here racing for them[d1] ”.
Vildosola Jr commented, “Having been racing down here for the last 25 years, I was very familiar with my section. The Valle de la Trinidad section is always very difficult, but it wasn’t as bad this time. The Goat Trail was ridiculously wet and it was really hard to even see anything in there. Luke (McMillin, No. 1) was making up time on me so I just put my shield up from Ojos Negros to the finish and kept pushing. It was an interesting final 120 miles. It feels great to win the race. We knew we were a great team and a lot of people expected us to win it, but I’m glad we actually did it.”
SCORE had nearly 1,200 different racers from a total of 38 U.S. States and 26 countries compete in the 2023 SCORE World Desert Championship and these Magnificent Moments reflect several of the many, many wonderful memories of the 50th year of SCORE International.
SCORE salutes all the racers and teams that have added so much to the legacy of SCORE in 2023. From the start of the season in San Felipe, to the end of the season up the Baja California peninsula from La Paz to Ensenada, the racers and teams have all had Magnificent Moments and those listed in this media release are just a specific sampling of the wonderful exploits of SCORE racers during the 2023 SCORE World Desert Championship.
2024 SCORE SCHEDULE
Here are the dates for the four-race 2024 SCORE World Desert Championship which will be held in Baja California, Mexico for the ninth consecutive year:
· King Shocks 37th SCORE San Felipe 250, presented by Baja Vida—
March 20-24, San Felipe, Baja California, Mexico
· BFGoodrich Tires 56th SCORE Baja 500—
May 29-June 2, Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico
· 5th SCORE Baja 400, presented by VP Racing Fuels—
September 11-15, Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico
· BFGoodrich Tires 57th SCORE Baja 1000—
November 12-17, Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico
Official SCORE Sponsors: BFGoodrich Tires-Official Tire and Race Title Sponsor, Ford-Official Truck and SUV, King Shocks-Official Shock Absorber and Race Title Sponsor, Polaris RZR-Official UTV, VP Racing Fuels-Official Fuel and race presenting sponsor, Baja Vida-Official Snacks and race presenting sponsor, Optima Batteries-Official Batteries, Rugged Radios-Official Radio Communications, Wide Open Excursions-Official Arrive and Drive Company, Crystal Bay Casino-Official Casino.
SCORE Official Partners: The Satellite Phone Store, Instant Mexico Auto Insurance.
Additional SCORE Associate Partners: Baja California Secretary of Tourism, MEXICO Secretary of Tourism, San Felipe Foundational Municipal Council, Ensenada Municipal Government, San Felipe Marketing Tourism Committee, Ensenada Marketing Tourism Committee, Ensenada Hotel and Motel Association, Proturismo Ensenada, Cruz Roja Mexicana, Baja California Sur State Secretary of Tourism and Economy, Baja California Sur State Tourism Trust (FITUES), Municipal Government of La Paz, Municipal Government of Comondu, Municipal Government of Loreto, and the Municipal Government of Mulege.
For more information regarding SCORE, visit the official website of the SCORE World Desert Championship at www.SCORE-International.com.