It was a daunting enterprise.
FOR SCORE, planning and executing a point to point Baja 1000 is difficulty enough, but to double the distance and double the checkpoints is quite another thing.
Score’s boss Sal Fish decided to do just that in the year 2000, to celebrate his outfit’s and off-road racing’s move into a new century.
The country had barely overcome the Y2K scare, if one can recall, when all the computers and data in them would be rendered useless. Government task forces were established around the globe to deal with any problems, which luckily, never occurred. Casey Folks and Best in the Desert had run the Nevada 2000 earlier in the year without a major hitch. Theirs was a 3 day event which ran all over the state of the same name.
The Baja 2000, as SCORE’s event was called, was quick to receive more than its share of pre-raced hoopla, and it promised to be an unforgetable event, stretching over 4 days . The plan was to run a course almost 2000 miles in length, criss-crossing the peninsula, but because of access and logistics problems had to be shortened to 1679 miles, which was already double the mileage of a point to point Baja 1000. The race was to start in Ensenada, its normal starting spot, and ending this time in the resort town of Cabo San Lucas, at the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula.
The race drew competitors from 31 states, and eight countries, To be considered finishers (and receive the coveted “finishers’ pin), their team would each have to reach the finish line in Cabo within an 80-hour time limit.
Off the start near Ensenada, the course headed east along a large section of the classic Score Baja 500 route, right into a huge man-made mudhole just out of town that covered each compeitor with a veneer of mud that covered most of their paint jobs, turning all that sponsorship exposure that companies were hoping for almost worthless.
At the 400 mile mark or so, Stewart assumed the lead in his radical Toyota Truck, and continued to stretch that lead. At the Rosalita pits, 530 miles, Stewart pitted at check point Rosalita in 11 hours, 21 minutes, and 31 seconds. Ragland came in five minutes behind, followed by Smith and Ashley more than a half hour later.
Stewart, with co-driver Larry Roesseler held nearly an hour’s lead throughout the night until, near the town of San Ignacio (900 or so miles into the course), Stewart’s truck blew an engine, so Dan Smith and co-driver David Ashley inherited the lead and went on to win the race among four wheel vehicles in their V-10 Ford F-150 Duralast truck in 32 hours, 15 minutes, and 39 seconds. That’s an average speed of 52 mph over some very tough real estate.
Not to slight our two-wheeled brothers, the overall winners, on a Honda. were Johnny Campbell along with his co-riders Tim Staab, Craig Smith, and Steve Hengeveld, in the overall time of 30 hours, 54 minutes..
But to put it all in another persepective, a few facts and figures from the newly released book, “Big Blue M, the McMillin racing story” helps us understand the enormity of the event.
For SCORE: three and a half weeks to mark the course, using 465.000 staples, 175,000 feet of ribbon, over a mile worth of reflective tape, 13,000 directional arrows and 300 volunteers to man the start, 22 checkpoints and the finish line.
For BFGoodrich: 56,000 gallons of race fuel, 20,000 gallons of fuel for support vehicles, 7,800 meals, 400 support people, 15 full service pits and 6 full-sized tractor trailers.
And for McMillin racing (one of the larger class one competitors), 120 spare wheels and tires, 21 support vehicles, 15 satellite phones, 4 support trailers, 3 racecars and one support aircraft.
“Big Blue M, the Mc Millin racing story”. The epic 536 page full color history book of the team’s efforts and hundreds of support personnel will be available for purchase from www.mcmillinracing.com, Cost is unknown at this time, and it has been announced that it will published online by November.