Everyone has heard of the Baja 1000 and knows that it is a roughly 1,000-mile endurance race on the Baja Peninsula in Mexico.
The notion of piloting a race vehicle through the desert in a ~1,000 miles endurance race is the thing of dreams. For the 217 teams that have entered the Baja 1000, our dream is their reality! We are exactly [1 week] away from the start of the 48th running of the SCORE Baja 1000. If you’re not super familiar with the race, here are some good things to know about it:
The notion of the Baja 1000 originated in 1962 with American Honda execs wanting to prove the toughness and capability of their new CL72 Scrambler motorcycle. To do that, they (the riders hired by Honda) posted the first known timed run on the Mexican Highway 1 Tijuana to La Paz route, which is about 950 miles. They completed the ride in 39 hours and 56 minutes. The posted time was accompanied by colorful stories of close calls and toughness of the route.
Later in the 1960’s, Bruce Myers beat the Honda Scrambler times in his 4-wheel buggy, the Myers Manx, by over 5 hours in a highly publicized run – which helped him achieve his objective of selling a whole lot more Manx(s?) to the general public. The Manx run also fueled more bike vs. buggy competition, and kicked off a wave of timed attempts of the Tijuana to La Paz Route.
The first Official “Baja 1000” was held in October 1967 in Tijuana, Mexico and was called the NORRA Mexican 1000 Rally. In the mid-1970s the SCORE (Southern California Off-Road Enterprises) organization, led by Mickey Thompson, was granted exclusive rights to hold Baja races and still does to this day. The name of the race was also changed to the Baja 1000 in the mid 1970’s, shortly before SCORE started putting on the event.
First off, the race isn’t actually 1,000 miles, and the actual race route differs every year. The race is either held as a point-to-point race (Usually over 1,000 miles) or as a loop race of 650-800 miles. Most years the race starts in Ensenada (and ends there, too if the course is a loop).
Because the course changes every year, team’s pre-run the course beginning in late October to mark turns and obstacles as well as to map out their remote pit locations. That doesn’t mean that unexpected things won’t happen! Locals are notorious for booby-trapping the course, and the route typically gets more and more chewed up with all the pre-running and race vehicle traffic.
The 2015 Course is an 840 mile loop beginning and ending in Ensenada.
There are 30 classes of vehicles entered in the 2015 Baja, ranging from megabuck tube-chassis Trophy Trucks to low-budget “JeepSpeed”, as well as a range of Motorcycle, Quad, and UTV classes.
The biggest (and fastest) class is Trophy Truck, with 30 entrants. These are the unlimited, purpose-built 850hp race machines with full tube chassis and upwards of 2 feet of suspension travel at each corner. These are the big boys with big budgets (Robby Gordon, Bryce Menzies, BJ Baldwin, etc.).
When is the Race?
The Baja 1000 is typically held in the third week of November, and this year the green flag waves early in the Morning on Friday, November 20 – starting with the Trophy Trucks taking off at one-minute intervals and continuing through all of the classes.
Where to Watch:
TV: CBS Sports will be airing a 2-hour “Main Event” program on the 2015 Baja after the race wraps up as well as a special on Baja 1000 qualifying – here are the first dates they’ll be aired:
- Bud Light SCORE Baja 1000 Qualifying @SEMA SCORE Baja 1000 Experience (first telecast-Sunday, December 20, 9 p.m. ET)
- Bud Light SCORE Baja 1000 (two-hour special) (first telecast-Sunday, December 27, 9 p.m. ET)
Who is going to win it?
We don’t have a damn clue! Our guess is that Robby Gordon starts off super fast, ends up breaking, and Apdaly Lopez (who has been on fire lately) brings it home with the overall win.
If you haven’t kept up with Baja or off-road desert racing before – stay tuned this year and get a taste of the excitement, adventure, and danger that makes the Baja 1000 legendary and the drivers/teams that win it legends in their own right.