SCORE Journal

SCORE Journal - JAN 2019

SCORE Journal - The Official Publication of SCORE Off-Road Racing

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Page 82 of 92

Championships On A Budget 2018 Class 7 Champion Dan Chamlee says you don’t have to have the nicest truck to win By Dan Sanchez Photos by Get Some Photo Winning his 14th Class 7 SCORE Season Championship, one can say that Dan Chamlee knows a bit about racing in Baja. His introduction to it happened at an early age but in a big way. “I was eight when the Parnelli Jones Big Oly Bronco was on display at a local Firestone store,” said Chamlee. “I rooted for that car every time and since then, I dreamed about racing in Baja.” After working with a team to help chase, he built a Class 7 truck, building it with the idea that it may not be fast enough, but it had better be durable enough to finish. “I had a super low budget at the time and I wanted to make it to the finish line before the time cut off,” said Chamlee. Slowly, Chamlee would finish races and make repairs until he found himself finishing races and leading in points in the process. “Our first year racing, around 2002 or 2003, we ended up third in points for a championship,” he said. “The following year we won the points championship.” That philosophy, even with a changing class, helped Chamlee succeed in the class as he gained experience and knowledge in Baja. After the 2018 season, Chamlee and his team won their 14th Class 7 Championship and continues to enjoy his efforts racing in SCORE. “We built a new truck after six years and have stuck with parts that had proven to be reliable while improving on all of the things I wanted to,” said Chamlee. We’ve won three to four SCORE Baja 500’s in a row (in class) and have also won championships in other series.” Chamlee runs a Ford Ranger with a custom tube chassis and a V6 Ford Ecoboost engine that makes over 400 horsepower. “That truck has so much torque and twice the fuel economy of any other motor in its horsepower range,” says Chamlee. “We ran that same motor for three full seasons.” In 2018, Chamlee finished fourth in class, due to miscalculating their fuel and an engine fire. “Two guys passed us within minutes of us fixing everything, but we finished,” said Chamlee. By the time the SCORE Baja 500 came around, Chamlee had a good run and finished second behind Jeff Proctor and the factory Honda team. “That Honda Ridgeline was flat out much faster than everyone else,” said Chamlee. “We race on a budget, so we don’t have the finances that teams like that have to make lots more power from a factory engine. But we were happy with our performance.” At the Lucerna Hotels & Resorts SCORE Desert Challenge, Chamlee got his first class win of the season, but it wasn’t easy. “The first day we were a few minutes back behind the leader after taking a bad line where we had to take three tries to climb a hill,” said Chamlee. “The second day we had a good run and went for a solid finish.” The showdown happened at the 51st SCORE Baja 1000, where Chamlee and Proctor battled it out for the win. “Proctor and I want back and forth several times,” said Chamlee. “Everyone was getting stuck in the silt and bottlenecks. We got stuck with them at one point and Proctor’s chase team helped us get unstuck after they helped their team first. I saw everyone get stuck again at another deep silt trench, including Proctor, and we pulled out first and put down a lot of time between us. We knew we were way ahead and so I backed down and saved the truck and crossed the finish line first.” Without big sponsors and a huge team, Chamlee is a perfect example of what SCORE racing is all about. “We do all of the vehicle building and prep with family and friends helping,” says Chamlee. “My wife Laurie doesn’t co-drive with me much anymore, but she still manages the logistics and the team. It’s a key part to us winning and being at the right place at the right time. I’m thankful to all of them for their support and efforts.” For the 2019 SCORE season, SCORE fans can count on Chamlee and the number 700 Ford Ranger to be at the top of the Class 7 pack again. This time, Chamlee is swapping out the manual transmission for an automatic, which he hopes will make the car faster and increase his chances of winning more races. SJ

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