If you heard that someone had won the Baja 1000 overall in a car with only 90 horsepower, what would you say?
Of course if they were talking about a race in the the Iron Age, say 1968, that might happen, like it did in one of the first Baja contests, before big horsepower buggies and trucks had appeared on the off-road scene.
But if it was in the time of Larry Ragland, Rod Hall, Walker Evans, and the prime time of the McMillin’s, you’d give very slim odds on that happening.
To set the scene, 1985 was the first year of the SCORE and HDRA combined to produce the year end champions and points winners. Sal Fish of SCORE and Walt Lott of HDRA had smoked the peace pipe and everything was hinky-dory between them.
Steve Sourapas and Dave Richardson, with their Class 10 Raceco, with a 90 horsepower VW engine, had placed second overall in two major races this season. the Mint 400 and the Frontier 500. (the two roughest, toughest races of the year). Near the season’s end. they enetered the Baja 1000 with only one goal in mind: to win their class title over Marty Reider.
The course ran a giant loop of 822 miles starting and finishing in Ensenada.
Steve drove the first half of the race, and planned to drive the last 100 miles or so.
After a fast but uneventful run, he handed the car over to Dave, Steve and a couple crew members drove back to Ensenada for dinner. Near the end of their meal, Steve went outside and contacted the Weatherman, who handled the SCORE communications for the race. The Weatherman sat on a mountaintop not far from Mike’s Sky Ranch and had good coverage over most of the racecourse. Regardless, communications of the day were sketchy at best.
Steve asked if any cars had come thorough San Felipe, around 200 miles from the finish, and the Weatherman said that #1004, had hit the checkpoint about 20 minutes previously and was the only car so far. Steve said, “you mean 104?” (a class 1 car), and the Weatherman said, “no, 1004”, their teams entry number. Steve ran back into the restaurant, and said “Check please”.
The odds on favorite at the race was Larry Ragland in his Chevy Truck, but had blown a transmission at Gonzaga Bay, over half way through the race.
Steve and company hauled buns out of town and down the road towards San Felipe to meet the car back on its way to the Ensenada finish. They met the car at the checkpoint at Ojos Negros, about 25 miles out.
Dave wanted to stay in the car. At an impromptu interview after getting the checkered flag, Dave related “There was patchy fog, heavy enough to slow everyone down, but that was to our advantage.. The bigger motors couldn’t use their power and speed in the fog and on the twisty terrain on the last part of the course. The car was very good.”
They were first overall car with a time of 17 hours and 54 minutes, and almost beat the first bike, which was 10 minutes faster.
It was the only time that a Class 10 car won overall for 4 wheeled vehicles at the Baja 1000, No one had done it before or since. Asked if it could every happen again, Steve had a very short answer—“impossible.”
But perhaps the teams biggest accomplishment happened in 1992; winning the overall points championship with their class 10 car. They won their class in all of the four SCORE races that season. Parker, San Felipe, Baja 500 and the Baja 1000.
Steve continues to race a full schedule with his son, Christian.