Capping off an amazing 2016 season, Rob MacCachren took home the big prize at the 49th Annual Baja 1000. Teaming with Jason Voss, the duo left the rest of the competitors in the dust as they completed the 854.50-mile race in 17 hours, 12 minutes and 58 seconds while averaging a solid 49.63 miles per hour in the No. 11 Rockstar Energy MacCachren Motorsports Ford F-150.
This years course was a loop that started and finished in Ensenada, and saw MacCachren pull off a three-peat as he as taken the overall win an amazing 3 times in a row against the best desert racers in the world. In winning for the third straight year, this “Dream Team” defeated a very capable field that saw a total of 270 starters that included 31 Trophy Trucks. For the second straight year, Mexico’s Carlos ‘Apdaly’ Lopez of Tecate, finished second in the No. 1 RPM Racing Chevy Rally Truck, splitting driving with his father Juan C. Lopez in a time of 17:39:45 with an average speed of 48.38 mph. Third overall and in SCORE Trophy Truck in the new No. 91 Monster Energy Terrible Herbst Motorspors Ford F-150 was Las Vegas Troy Herbst and Ryan Arciero, in 17:42:10 at 48.27 mph.
The hotly contested UTV classes saw a ringer taking the Pro UTV win as multi-talented Rhys Millen pushed his Polaris RZR hard to a 136th overall finish. Kristen Matlock and Dodge Poelman, both in Polaris RZR’s, finished in the second and third positions. Alphonso Lopez, the 2016 SCORE season champion, finished 4th in his Polaris RZR.
Pro UTV Turbo saw Brandon Sims (POL) again in the winner’s circle while another Matlock finished in second place. This time it was Wayne Matlock taking silver in his Polaris RZR while Brandon Schueler, also Polaris mounted came in third. It should be noted that with his Third Place finish, Schueler sewed up the 2016 SCORE season championship.
Another multi-time 1000 winner, Colton Udall was trying to finish out the 2016 SCORE World Desert Championship with an undefeated season in the Pro Moto Unlimited class, but it turned out to be harder than he imagined. He was originally going to ride solo, but crashed heavily while pre-running only days before the start. He quickly had surgery to fix himself up, assembled a team around him, and still took the Pro Moto win on his 1X Honda, broken collarbone and all. Granted he rode only a portion of the first section before turning the bike over to teammates, but regardless, it still turned out to be Udall’s fourth 1000 Pro Moto Unlimited win.
Other racers winning their class in 2016 were Ronny Wilson, Long Beach, California (Class 1, Jimco-Chevy), Rod Lewis, San Antonio, Texas (Trophy Truck Spec, Jimco-Chevy), Justin Davis, Chino Hills, California (Class 10, Custom-Chevy), Branden Sims, Pescott Valley, Arizona (Pro UTV FI, Polaris RZR XP4 Turbo), Gustavo Avina, Ensenada, Mexico (Class 5-1600, VW Baja Bug), Rich Roberts, Prescott, Arizona(SCORE Lites, Foddrill-VW), Jeff Proctor, San Dimas, California (Class 2, Honda Ridgeline). Rick Sanchez, San Vicente, Mexico (Class 8, Chevy Silverado), Bill Weber, Las Vegas (Baja Challenge, BTC-Subaru), Aaron Celiceo, San Diego (Class 7, Toyota Tacoma), J. David Ruvalcaba, Ensenada, Mexico (Class 1/2-1600, VBR-VW), Noe Gutierrez, Ensenada, Mexico (Class 11, VW Sedan), Shannon Campbell, Gilbert, Arizona (Hammer Truck Unlimited, Custom-Chevy) Mark Winkelman, Cedar Hill, Texas (Pro Moto 50, No. 507x Honda CRF450X) Tony Gera, Santa Cruz, California (Pro Moto Ironman, Honda CRF450X) and Mark Hawley, Anaheim, California (Pro Moto 60, Honda CRF450X).
As stated, this year’s SCORE Baja 1000 race course started and finished in the heart of Ensenada in front of the historic Riviera del Pacifico Cultural Center. The course traveled in a counter-clockwise direction and went south from Ojos Negros through Santo Tomas and then ran along the picturesque Pacific Ocean for over 100 miles. It then crossed to the center of Baja California Norte. The course covered both sides of the peninsula and included four checkpoints and 122 virtual checkpoints, which are possible thanks to the electronic scoring data now prevalent in off-road racing. All vehicles had a 36-hour time limit from the time each left the start line in the elapsed-time race. No problem for the Trophy Trucks, but a little tough for the Class 11 guys.
In addition to the 33 states represented on the entry list, racers came from 18 countries. In addition to the United States, entries came from Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, Costa Rica, England, Finland, France, Germany, Guatemala, Japan, Lithuania, Mexico, New Zealand, Thailand, Venezuela and the US Territory of Guam.
Buzz is already swirling around next year’s 50th Anniversary race. It will be a point-to-point race ending in La Paz and everyone will be pulling out all the stops for it. It will be exciting to see what MacCachren has up his sleeve. “It makes me hungry to win another one now,” said MacCachren. “Next year being the 50th anniversary, winning that one would be special. My first SCORE Baja 1000 win was in 2007 and that was the 40th anniversary. Strategy (usually) starts 365 days before the race but I can say that before this race even started, I was working on my 2017 plans.”
We can’t wait.