The finish of the Baja 1000 was one for the books. Rob MacCachren chased Apdaly Lopez the entire way, and actually physically finished second to Lopez, but was named victorious as it was determined that Lopez missed a few of the “virtual” checkpoints. He was penalized for the infractions, and it was those time penalties that put MacCachren and co-driver Andy McMillan ahead on time at the end.
These virtual checkpoints, all 95 of them, are possible thanks to the data logging and the electronics that now are part of the scorekeeping. Gone are the days of taping a beer can onto the roll cage where slips of paper were placed at manned checkpoints. Now, the teams are tracked in real time, exactly where they are on the course.
“My job was to get the truck down the track, keep it in good shape and give him (McMillan) something good to deal with, and if he needed to pick up time, he could go do that,” MacCachren said. “He ended up reeling the guys in, and though he wasn’t able to pass them he stayed close and never gave up.” McMillan added, “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.”
It was this attitude that has made them both past SCORE Baja champions and one that was truly needed. This year the race was an 821-mile loop that both started and finished in Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico and only 124 of the 239 teams that left the start/finish platform in the middle of Ensenada’s Boulevard Costero made it back to the finish within the 33-hour time limit. It was a tough year to be in a Class 11 VW as of the 7 starters, none finished.
One who did go the distance was the legendary Rod Hall. He, along with son Chad, Damien Michelin and Mike Winkel outlasted the competition in Stock Full class in their Hummer to finish with a time of 28:20:52. They were the only entrant of the 4 starters to finish.
The hotly contested UTV class was awash in entrants as with 24 teams, it was second only to the Trophy Trucks. Although 2014 winner Johnny Angal had a new car ready, and the Jagged X and Cognito teams were in full force, it was Wayne Matlock and Terry Hui backing up their Baja 500 win who took first overall.
Colton Udall, Mark Samuels and Justin Jones took the M-A Pro Moto Unlimited (open class) category with a time of 16:29:08, beating Ricky Brabec’s team by more than 20-minutes. It was Honda’s 25th win at Baja. In Limited MC, it was 111x of Chad Thornton, Tim Fitzpatrick, Alan Cameron, Mark Weirich, Grant Statley, Travis Flateau who tool the win on their KTM 350XCW-F.
At 800 plus miles, this was a “short” Baja 1000. But what it lacked in length, it made up for in hardship. The infamous silt beds claimed many and the fact that it was a circular course gave SCORE an opportunity to use trails and roads not normally used, and they found some rough ones. As we said, nearly half the starters never made it to the finish line. But that doesn’t mean that they won’t be back next year.
MacCachren summed up what many racers feel and believe about Baja; “Winning the Bud Light SCORE Baja 1000 is like no other feeling in the world. When you win this race, you know you’ve accomplished something.”
SCORE TROPHY TRUCK
(Unlimited Production Trucks)
(Starters: 31, Finishers: 20)
1. 11 Rob MacCachren, Las Vegas/Andy McMillin, San Diego, Ford F-150, 15:58:32 (51.41 miles per hour)
2. 5 Carlos Lopez, Tecate, Mexico/Clyde Stacy, Bristol, Va./Juan C. Lopez, Tecate, Mexico, Chevy Rally Truck, 16:14:55
3. 17 Eduardo Laguna, Mexicali, Mexico/Josh Daniel, Canyon Country, Calif., Chevy Silverado, 16:17:03
CLASS 1 (Unlimited single or two-seaters)
(Starters: 15, Finishers: 6)
1. 189 Jon Walker, Tamuning, Guam/Corey Keyser, Colorado Springs, Colo., Kreger-Chevy, 18:49:24 (43.64 mph)
2. 168 Shelby Reid, Apple Valley, Calif./Darren Ebberts, Corona, Calif./Dale Ebberts, Wilton, Calif., Custom-Chevy, 18:58:25
3. 153 Brian Wilson, Long Beach, Calif./Brad Wilson, Long Beach, Calif./Kyle Quinn, Long Beach, Calif., Jimco-Chevy, 19:24:26
(Full-sized two-wheel drive trucks)
(Starters: 3, Finishers: 1)
1. 808 Rick Sanchez, Chula Vista, Calif./Maury Arce/Miguel Padilla, Chevy Silverado, 32:04:22 (25.61 mph)
TROPHY TRUCK SPEC
(Unlimted Truck/SUV, stock, sealed V8s)
(Starters: 16, Finishers: 8)
1. 871 Larry Connor, Miamisburg, Ohio/Jason Ruane, England/Neal Mason, Temecula, Calif., Chevy Silverado, 18:33:24 (44.26 mph)
2. 888 Jim Anderson, Reno, Nev./Sandy Hall, Culpepper, Va./Andrea Tomba, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, Chevy Silverado, 23:18:35
3. 855 Lee Banning, Laveen, Ariz./Lee Banning Jr, Litchfield Park, Ariz., Chevy Silverado, 23:22:07
(unlimited Mini-Truck, 2.2/2.4-Liter Ecotec engine)
(Starters: 2, Finishers: 1)
1. 3030 Chad Broughton, Scotts Valley, Calif./Paul Broughton, Scotts Valley, Calif., BajaLite-Chevy, 31:46:40 (25.85 mph)
Rob MacCachren and Andy McMillan kept the Rockstar Energy/MacCachren Motorsports Ford right even though they spent the race playing catch-up after a flat rear tire and problems in the silt beds.
If not for a few missteps, Apdaly Lopez would have taken the win.
Colton Udall begins his victory celebration on one wheel as he approaches the finish, almost 16 and a half hours after leaving this very spot.
While Honda may have 25 overall bike wins, it was a first win for the Honda Ridgeline in the Unlimited Open-Wheel Car/Truck class as it came home first in class in a time of 25:09:47.
Besting the rest in Class 5 1600 was the 564 car of Hernando Martinez, Ruben Best and Miguel Rodriguez, who all hail from Ensenada, 29:04:46 (28.25 mph)
Dan Chamlee and Kurt Kimball took the Class 7 win in their Ford Ranger.
As always, Baja took its toll on the competitors.
Eduardo Laguna of Mexicali, Mexico and Josh Daniel were third overall Trophy Truck as they piloted their Chevy Silverado to a time of 16:17:03.
When they’re not competing at the King of the Hammers, the Shannon and Wayland Campbell are racing Baja and winning, as they finished first in Class 4400 with a time of 20:41:26.
Wayne Matlock and Terry Hui backed up their Baja 500 win with a first overall in the hotly contested Pro UTV class.