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The 2015 SCORE International 48th annual Baja 1000; by Frank Robinson

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Ensenada, Mexico (December 14, 2015) – The 2015 SCORE International 48th annual Baja 1000 was held on Nov. 18th-22nd in Baja, California. The race course was a loop starting and ending in Ensenada. It took the 239 officially entered teams on an approximately 821 mile run through Baja Norte, down the Pacific side, across to the Gulf of California. It was a mix of technical terrain, fast, flat-out running, and difficult silt bed and sand sections.

The entire Score International team, led by Roger Norman, CEO and President, and Elise Norman, Vice president, put on an outstanding race series for 2015. Using a sophisticated GPS tracking system, the race can be followed in real time showing every vehicle on the course. This system also allowed a much greater ability for race officials to verify the racers on course progress and official times for the race.

There were some notable stories coming into the race, and others that unfolded during the race.

Carlos ‘Apdaly’ Lopez racing in the #5 RPM Off road racing Chevy Rally Truck crossed the finish first with the official time (penalties added) of 16 hours 14 minutes 55 seconds, the two 10 minute course penalties for failing to hit designated virtual checkpoints allowed Rob MacCachren, and finishing driver Andy McMillin in the # 11 Rockstar Energy drink Ford F-150 to take a repeat overall win at 15 hours 58 minutes 32 seconds with an average speed of 51.41 mph.

Carlos Lopez is the first SCORE racing champion in the Trophy tuck class from Mexico.

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CARLOS LOPEZ, No. 5 (Second in class and second overall four-wheel vehicle to finish. Lopez shared driving duties with Juan C. Lopez.) Lopez said“It was a very hard day and the competition in the SCORE Trophy Truck class is amazing. I started the race and battled with Robby Gordon and then with Rob MacCachren in the final miles. We had a front flat but, other than that we had a clean day. The race course was really rough and the weather conditions changed in different sections of the course. The course was technical and we had to work to take care of the truck.”

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ROB MacCachren, No. 11 (First in class and first overall four-wheel vehicle to finish. MacCachren drove to race mile 470 and Andy McMillin finished.) Said in a post race interview, “We started off running a good conservative pace. This morning was really slow and Ricky Johnson (Justin Matney No. 4) started first and he knew he had control of the race so he was going pretty slow. It was pre-run speed but it helped us with gas mileage so we were going to stretch our first pit to 200 miles. Ricky went out on the beach and the pace picked up a little bit. Unfortunately, I got a right-rear flat and lost a couple of spots. We worked our way back up to Apdaly Lopez’s dust and we had to pull into our pit which allowed Cameron Steele to get by and that hurt us. When the sun was getting ready to set, the wind stopped and the dust was hanging. I would be within 30 seconds of Cameron and then a few miles down the road I would be five minutes back because the dust hangs so badly in the silt. We struggled with that for about 150 miles. When I gave Andy the truck today I got on the radio and told him that the truck was in great shape. My job was to get the truck down the track, keep it in good shape and give him something good to deal with and if he needed to pick up time he could go do that. He ended up reeling the guys in and though he wasn’t able to pass them, he stayed close and never gave up. I had an early flat, got behind a little bit and over the radio my crew said to me “You can do this.” That gave me a lot of hope and kept me fighting. Winning the Bud Light SCORE Baja 1000 is like no other feeling in the world. When you win this race you know that you’ve accomplished something. We’ve got a very powerful team between the two of us and we both know how to win the race and the guys who work on the truck do what it takes.” CO-DRIVER Andy McMillin said: “In the last 200 miles I knew we had to pass Apdaly to win and put some time on him as well. I was pushing really hard and the truck gave more than I really could ask from it. I was giving it my all with every gear hitting the rev limiter and really driving as hard as I could. My dad said while we were out there “Don’t give up because you never know what can happen before you get to the finish line.” Here we are at the finish and it looks like he was right. I think Rob and I are complementary drivers and have similar styles. Rob has a tremendous team of professionals that work on his truck and prepare for the races and it makes all the difference. When I get in this truck I feel next to invincible. Up until the very last corner I told myself that anything can happen out here. It is Mexico, it is the middle of the night and you just never know. You have to stay mentally focused out here because there are so many things happening so quickly that if you lose one second of concentration it could end your race.”

Apdaly Lopez also took SCORE 2015 Rookie of the Year honors Dec. 12 at the SCORE Tech Shop in El Cajon, California during the 2015 SCORE Awards Night. The facility is located just east of San Diego.

There were a total of 31 unlimited trophy truck teams entered with 20 finishing the race.
Another notable story was of a mother and son Shelby and Cody Reid, Cody Reid winning the Baja 1000 CLASS 10 (Single or two-seaters to 1650cc)

Shelby Reid his mother taking 2nd in CLASS 1 (Unlimited single or two-seaters). Cody ended up 2nd overall for the season class 10 and Shelby was 5th overall class 1 (Reid shared driving duties with Danny Ebberts and Dale Ebberts.) In a post race interview she said, “I’m glad we got it here because it was tough. We pre-ran and pre-ran and I thought I was prepared for everything and we got out there at night and everything looked completely different. We had some flats and broke a wheel in half. It got wrapped around the rotor so it took us a while to get it off. We were in the lead at that point but got passed while changing the wheel. We were trying to play catch up right after I got in the car. It was rocky in my section and I hit one of them hard.”

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CODY REID, No. 1068 (First in class. Reid shared riding duties with Mike Majesky and Louis Chamberland.) Cody said in a post race interview “We had a few little mechanical issues and we made a few mistakes early on but nothing that was too big of a deal. Louis had some injector issues and we got that swapped out and going again. Then it happened again when I got in the car. Once we got that fixed we chased back down the car in front of us and here we sit.” CO-RIDER MIKE MAJESKY said: At about 150 miles into my section I caught an owl right in the face mask. He stayed in the car with me for another 150 miles sitting between the two seats. We got stuck in a rain rut and we let him go and he seemed okay. I had two flats at once which weren’t good but fortunately we were right by the highway near our chase crew. It was a trying day. We all got stuck and we all had issues but nothing kept us down for more than 20 minutes or a half hour at a time. Every time we got in the car we made the time back up and just kept pushing.”

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Class 7
All female team and main driver 722 Paige Sohren, Glendale, Ariz./Jessi Combs, Rapid City, S.D./Britney Myers/Tamara Myers, Blair Sohren, finished the race and placed 2nd in class 7 (Open production mini trucks) in a Toyota Tacoma, finishing time of 32:52:38. They overcame a terrible crash in a gully with the truck stuck vertical nose down, but got back on course to finish.
Moto Class 30 (Riders over 30 years old) Despite one rider going down and suffering a broken wrist and concussion, the 300x CRF450X Honda of Mark Winkelman, Cedar Hill, Texas/Jim O’Neal, Simi Valley, Calif./Kevin Murphy, Camarillo, Calif./Jason Trubey/Aaron Tuck, Brawley, Calif./Chuck Dempsey, Oak Hills, Calif., finished first with a time of 21:08:55 (38.84 mph).
STOCK FULL (stock, full-sized trucks) 1. 8101 Rod Hall, Reno, Nev./Chad Hall, Reno, Nev./Damien Michelin, France/Mike Winkel, Reno, Nev., Hummer H1, 28:20:52 (28.98 mph). (Starters: 4, Finishers: 1)

Rod Hall is an Icon in the desert racing sport, he said in post race interview by “I think it is my 23rd Baja 1000 class win and I had one overall win which was in my little Bronco. You don’t have to get old just because you’ve been around a long time. I can’t talk much anymore and there are other things I can’t do much anymore, but I can still sit in a driver’s seat and make this thing go down the road. We loved the silt. If the silt beds are deep enough and long enough we go from last to first. CO-DRIVER CHAD HALL said: It was wild out there last night and I think we drove into the ocean because I’m just not sure where we went. There was a lot of fog and a lot of silt. We blocked the radiator with silt and pumped all the water out of it but other than that we had a trouble-free race.”

Official finishers recap.
Total Starters: 239; Total Finishers: 124 (51.88 percent)
(From 30 U.S. States, U.S. Territory of Guam, 20 Countries)

I would like to thank Pete Joseph for taking me along for this awesome experience, also special thanks to Fran Muncey for her generous hospitality and allowing my wife Lisa and me the chance to see the event with her and the other amazing people in the group.

The race was a great success both on the course and behind the scenes proving that under the new ownership of Roger Norman and his team the SCORE international racing series will grow in a positive direction year after year. I am looking forward to the upcoming season and hope to continue with more in depth photography and reporting.

There were a few injuries and unfortunately, 56-year-old Monte Droogsma of the Mango Racing team was fatally struck by a spec trophy truck while digging a mired vehicle out of a silt bed at Race Mile 436. RIP Monte.

Frank Robinson

Scroll down to check out Frank’s complete gallery from the SCORE International 2015 Baja 1000.

Words and photos courtesy of Frank & Lisa Robinson.

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