Baja 500: Series event summary

By mere 7 seconds after 441.15 miles, B.J. Baldwin beats Post/MacCachren for 4-wheel Overall victory at 40th Tecate SCORE Baja 500 Bell/Norman ride Honda CRF450X to 3-peat Overall Motorcycle desert racing victory over 289 starters in Ensenada,...

By mere 7 seconds after 441.15 miles, B.J. Baldwin beats Post/MacCachren for 4-wheel Overall victory at 40th Tecate SCORE Baja 500

Bell/Norman ride Honda CRF450X to 3-peat Overall Motorcycle desert racing victory over 289 starters in Ensenada, Mexico

ENSENADA, Mexico--In what will likely go down in history as one of the most classic battles in desert racing history, solo driver B.J. Baldwin held it all together for 441.15 miles of the rugged Baja peninsula to capture the Overall 4-Wheel victory Saturday by a mere seven seconds over the veteran team of Mark Post/Rob MacCachren at the 40th Tecate SCORE Baja 500 in Ensenada, Mexico.

Driving the No. 97 Baldwin Motorsports Chevy Silverado SCORE Trophy-Truck, Baldwin, of Las Vegas, covered grueling desert race course in nine hours, 10 minutes, 47 seconds, averaging 48.06 miles per hour to win the closest overall 4-wheel vehicle finish in the 40-year history of the second oldest desert race in the world.

Post of Laguna Beach, Calif. and Las Vegas' MacCachren, the reigning SCORE Trophy-Truck point champions finished first physically in the elapsed-time race but the corrected-time results revealed their second place finish as Baldwin started 60 seconds behind Post/MacCachren No. 1 Riviera Racing Ford F-150 SCORE Trophy-Truck, but came into the finish line just 53 seconds after MacCachren had crossed it.

With racing continuing in the elapsed-time race that had a 20-hour time limit until 6:35 a.m. Sunday, both the start and the finish line were located in the heart of Ensenada, Mexico on Boulevard Costero adjacent to the historic Riviera del Pacifico Cultural Center. It was the first time in race history that the pre-race activities and the finish were held on this historic boulevard. Mexican tourism officials estimated the race-day crowd spread out along the course at more than 100,000.

Round 3 of the five-race 2008 SCORE Desert Series, the World's Foremost Desert Racing Series, featured 289 starters, competing in 27 Pro and 6 Sportsman classes for cars, trucks, motorcycles and ATVs over the rugged 441.15-mile course. Entries came from 24 U.S. States from Hawaii to Connecticut as well as Mexico, Canada, France, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Japan and Uruguay. The total number of starters was the 12th most in the 40-year history of the popular race. The starting list included 150 cars and trucks and 139 motorcycles and ATVs. There were a total of 195 finishers, the third most in the event's 40-year history, for an impressive finishing percentage of .675.

"This win is massive. It is very important to me," said Baldwin, the 2006 SCORE Trophy-Truck season point champion. "I have a hand full of trophies, but what I don't have is that Montezuma thing, the first overall in a SCORE Baja race. That's what I always wanted."

"The truck is hurt," added Baldwin. "It's been hurt since the beach. The brakes on this thing are shot. When I rev it out really hard, the power steering belt slips. It's been a lot of hard work to get it here. I really sucked it up. I'm going to have to go back to the hotel for some beer and some advil."

"For 60 miles I was stuck behind Ron (Whitton). We had a little bit faster pace than him, but I could get around him because of the dust. Every time we got close, I just didn't want to take the chance."

For Baldwin, who finished second to Post/MacCachren in the 2007 SCORE Trophy-Truck points, it was his third career SCORE Trophy-Truck win and his first in the Tecate SCORE Baja 500. With a second and seventh place finish this season prior to this victory, Baldwin will increase his season point lead in the marquee SCORE Trophy-Truck racing division for 800-horsepower, high-tech, unlimited production trucks.

"We've been running hard ever since the beach,0x00b4 said MacCachren, who took over driving from Post at race mile 206 to the finish line. "He (Baldwin) kind of had the advantage because he could stick to me and follow me. "The last 30 miles we tried to pick it up and put time on him. We did the best we could. We tried to get away from him. We just couldn't."

"Mark had some flat tires," MacCachren added, But it doesn't matter if you get them or not. Ultimately, it's like a chess game. You're cruising along trying to stay somewhere near the front of the pack and pick your battles at the end. The course was torn up a little bit."

"I'd like to have made it here eight seconds faster," said Post whose Riviera Racing team now has two second-place finishes in 2008 following a rare did-not-finish in the season opener. "I was 40 seconds behind B.J. when I gave the truck to Rob, so we got back on the pace. I had three flats otherwise we would have had a nice truck today. That was a heck of a run. It's the SCORE Baja 500, a technical race. It's just a great race."

Hoping for a 3-peat victory, Las Vegas' Brian Collins came up a bit short, finishing third Overall and in SCORE Trophy-Truck with new teammate Chuck Hovey, Escondido, Calif., crossing the line 15 minutes behind Baldwin in a time of 9:25:47 in the No. 12 Collins Motorsports Mopar Dodge Ram 1500. Driving solo, Collins won this year's Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250 in March and this was Hovey's first SCORE race with Collins Motorsports after driving several years for his own team in the unlimited Class 1 for open-wheel desert race cars.

Earning a third consecutive overall motorcycle victory was the team of Robby Bell, Murrieta, Calif./Kendall Norman, Santa Barbara, Calif., on the No. 1x Johnny Campbell Racing Honda CRF450X. The defending SCORE Desert Series Class 22 point champions used their experience and factory-sponsored motorcycle held off the team led by Ryan Penhall, completing the course in 8:43:38, averaging 50.55mph, three miles per hour quicker than their average speed last year.

Riding the fastest ATV in the race for his second win of the season and first in this race was the team led by Wayne Matlock, El Cajon, Calif./Marc Spaeth, Ramona, Calif./Wes Miller, El Cajon, Calif., on a new Honda TRX700XX. Matlock and his team finished in 10:10:40, beating the team led by Javier Robles, Mexicali, Mexico, by just 21 seconds and the two-time defending ATV race winning team led by Danny Prather, Ramona, Calif., by eight minutes, 25 seconds.

Bell and Norman each rode three separate sections of the course on the way to the overall motorcycle win. Bell started and rode to race mile 103, Kendall rode from rm 103 to rm 206, Bell from rm 206 to rm 207, Kendall from rm 270 to rm 398.5 and Bell from rm 398.5 to the finish line.

"It was just experience, just knowing not to get too excited with them (Penhall) riding with us," said Bell, who won this year's Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250 with SCORE Baja legend Johnny Campbell while Norman was recovering from knee surgery. "We didn't get too nervous. As soon as you start to worry about the team behind you, you start making mistakes. Around Valle de Trinidad (race mile 260) was the closest they got. I had to do a quick repair on the bike and they came in one second behind me. From there, we kind of kept pulling away."

Luis Ramirez Jr. of Cabo San Lucas was the first Mexican national to win the unlimited Class 1 in this race, finishing fourth overall among 4-wheel vehicles in a Chevy-powered HMS open-wheel desert race car in 9:36:55.

Fifth overall and fourth in SCORE Trophy-Truck was Roger Norman, Reno, Nev., who split driving with his new teammate Larry Roeseler, Irvine, Calif., in the No. 8 Roger Norman Racing Ford F-150 in 9:44:55. For Roeseler, who has a race-record 11 overall victories among his 16 total class wins in this race, it was his first race with Norman, the Northern Nevada casino owner and developer.

Venerable veteran Rod Hall, Reno, Nev., became the all-time winningest driver in the history of this race by earning his 18th class win and remaining undefeated in three SCORE races this year. Hall and Mike Winkel, also of Reno, piloted his Rod Hall Racing Hummer H3 to first place in Stock Mini in a time of 14:42:54. Hall, 70, finished an hour and a half after his youngest son Chad Hall, also of Reno, won the Stock Full class in a Hummer H3Alpha for Team Hummer in 13:09:53 for his first win in the Tecate SCORE Baja 500 and second class win this season.

With co-riders Brent Harden, Sun City, Calif. and Mike Childress, Wrightwood, Calif. splitting the riding time on a Honda CRF450X, Penhall, Corona, Calif., stayed within minutes of the Bell/Norman tandem throughout the race, with Penhall losing ground at the end, riding the final 40 miles to the finish with a broken arm. Penhall crossed the finish line with a time of 9:12:00 and was immediately transported to a nearby local hospital to treat his injury. The team finished as the second overall and second Class 22 motorcycle.

Defending Class 30 winner Scott Myers, Sun City, Calif., switched teams this year and beat last year's lead rider Jim O'Neal while finishing an impressive third overall motorcycle in 9:13:46 on a Kawasaki KLX450. Myers co-riders this year where Shane Esposito, Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif./Steve Garnet, Carson City, Nev./Francisco Septien, Ensenada, Mexico/Jeff Sheets, Henderson, Nev.

O'Neal, Simi Valley, Calif., saw his Class 30 team that included himself, his son Jimmy O'Neal Jr., Simi Valley, Calif./Jason Trubey, Mohave Valley, Ariz./Scott Glimp, Las Vegas/Gerardo Rojas, Vicente Guerrero, Mexico finish second in Class 30 and fourth overall on a Honda CRF450X in 9:23:16.

Earning his 12th career class win in this race and 11th in the last eight years, another talented team led by O'Neal won Class 50 on a Honda CRF450X. O'Neal's co-riders in Class 50 were Doug Heil, Monrovia, Calif./Andy Kirker, Santa Ana, Calif./Dan Dawson, Agua Dulce, Calif./Paul Needles, Westlake Village, Calif./Mike Sixberry, Bullhead City, Ariz./Craig Adams, San Clemente, Calif.

Rick St. John, Encinitas, Calif., won for the second time this season in SCORE Lite and finished 10th overall in a Duvell-VW, picking up the $5,000 bonus purse from Volkswagen of America as the highest-finishing VW-powered finisher in the race.

Staying undefeated in 2008 with their third straight win and their sixth class win in this race was the Moss Brothers Racing team, led by Donald Moss, who won Class 3 in a Ford Bronco.

Also winning for the second time this season were Adam Pfankuch, Carlsbad, Calif., (Class 1-2/1600, Mirage-VW), Jason Voss, Cupertino, Calif. (Protruck, Ford F-150) female driver Heidi Steele, San Clemente, Calif. (Class 7SX, Ford Ranger) and Kevin Carr, San Diego (Class 5, unlimited VW Baja Bug). Pfankuch, along with co-driver Steven Eugenio, El Centro, Calif. also finished 12th overall.

Winning their respective classes for the second straight year were: Jose Montoya, Ensenada, Mexico (Class 5/1600, 1600cc VW Baja Bug), Dan Chamlee, Carpenteria, Calif. (Class 7, Ford Ranger) and Ramon Fernandez, Ensenada, Mexico (Class 11, VW Sedan).

Other 4-wheel vehicle class winners included: Jesus Gonzalez, Ensenada, Mexico (Class 10, Dunrite-Honda), Daniel Reyes, Calexico, Calif. (Class 9, Venegas-VW) and Noah Ostanik, Encinitas, Calif. (Class 8, Ford F-150).

Among the motorcycle classes, two other teams won their respective classes for the second straight year: rider of record Carlos Casas, Chula Vista, Calif. (Class 21, KTM 450CXF) and the team led by rider of record Brett Helm, Poway, Calif. (Class 40, Honda CRF450X).

Both reigning SCORE Class point champions, Casas' co-ride in Class 21 was Noe Ibarra, Tijuana, Mexico while Helm's teammates in Class 40 were Jeff Kaplan, Thousand Oaks, Calif./Jon Ortner, Santa Barbara, Calif./Lou Franco, Sherman Oaks, Calif./Craig Adams, San Clemente, Calif./Bob Johnson, Temecula, Calif.

Winning the motorcycle Class 20 race was the team lead by Chad Black, Laguna Hills, Calif., on a Honda CRF250X while winning the ATV Class 24 race was the team led by Francisco Servin, Chula Vista, Calif., on a Honda TRX450R.

The team led by Donald Lewis of Marlborough, Conn., won Class 60 for riders over 60 years old for the second straight race of the season on a Honda CRF450X. Also riding with Lewis for separate sections of the course were Gene Dempsey, Apple Valley, Calif./Sam Dempsey, Lake Balboa, Calif./Bob Gates, Hesperia, Calif.//Mike Harper, Landers, Calif.

Aura360, SCORE's electronic media partner, filmed this year's race to be televised in 22 countries on ESPN International while the domestic telecast is being finalized and will be announced shortly. Aura360 is also producing the exclusive Tecate SCORE Baja 500 40th anniversary DVD which will be available online at thebajaunlimited.com.

This race began in 1969 under the auspices of the old NORRA organization and SCORE began its enduring run on July 26, 1974. This year is the 35th anniversary of the first SCORE race in Baja.

-credit: score

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Score
Drivers Rob MacCachren , Rod Hall , Larry Roeseler , B.J. Baldwin , Mark Post , Heidi Steele , Johnny Campbell , Luis Ramirez Jr.