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

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THE BIG RACE Heavy Competition Is Expected For The 2021 SCORE BaJa 500 By Dan Sanchez Photo by Get Some Photo One of the biggest off-road races of the 2021 season will be the BFGoodrich Tires 53rd SCORE Baja 500 Presented by 4 Wheel Parts. After a very successful 34th SCORE San Felipe 250 that had the third most entries in the race’s history, the competition is expected to be even greater when the SCORE Baja 500 takes place June 10th-13th in Ensenada, Mexico. Heading into this second race of the 2021 SCORE World Desert Championship season, racers such as Bryce Menzies leads the SCORE Trophy Truck class with his first SCORE San Felipe 250 win and his sixth career SCORE Trophy Truck win. Driving the #7 AWD Red Bull truck, Menzies will start the SCORE Baja 500 race first, with 2020 SCORE Trophy Truck champion Luke McMillin in the #1 4WP truck right behind him. Starting in third will be three-time winner Andy McMillin in the #31 AWD Red Bull truck. Alan Ampudia in the #10 Papas & Beer truck will start fourth, followed by Rob MacCachren in the #11 BFGoodrich Tires Truck. These five top drivers alone will make for a very close race in which the winner could be decided by the competitor who has as close to a perfect run as possible. With an additional 27-30 competitors expected to compete in this class, no one will want to make any mistakes on what is bound to be a brutal course that will also challenge these vehicles. Pro Moto Division Spawns New Champions Returning to try for a second win this season is 5x Pro Moto Unlimited rider Derek Ausserbauer. He showed his riding talents by riding solo in San Felipe and finishing first to take the class lead heading into the SCORE Baja 500. The competition will be also difficult for the other Pro Moto Class riders who will come out to earn a win in Ensenada. Leading the Pro Moto Limited class is 2020 Champion Fernando Beltran on the #100x bike, and Ryan Liebelt leads the Pro Moto 40 class on the #408x bike, both of who will return to try for a second win. In Pro Moto 50 the competition between Giovanni Spinali and 2020 class champion Vance Kennedy is only beginning to heat up as both riders finished approximately one minute apart in San Felipe, where Spinali won the class. In the Pro Moto Ironman class, Edgar Cota on the 723x bike won in San Felipe, with this being his first Ironman race ever. He’s said he wants to win the class championship but the SCORE Baja 500 will definitely be a challenge for him. Cota will also have to contend with other talented racers who have stepped up to compete in this class, especially 2020 Champion Juan Carlos Salvatierra from Brazil, and an estimated 10 additional riders who are expected to compete in this year’s race. The Bar Is Raised In Class 1 With the introduction of some new AWD vehicles touting more powerful engines and 40-inch diameter BFGoodrich Tires, the next generation of Class 1 vehicles is sure to make the SCORE Baja 500 exciting to watch. In San Felipe, Reid Racing brought out their big-block buggy that started at the rear and dominated the field, winning the class. At the BFGoodrich Tires 53rd SCORE Baja 500 Presented by 4 Wheel Parts, the former Class 1 championship Wilson team are expected to return with their AWD buggy and add to the class challenge, as well as 2020 class champion Cody Parkhouse, and 2019 class champion Mason Cullen who are also expected to compete in Ensenada.   Pro UTV Classes Grow…Huge At the first race of the season, a total of 62 UTVs entered into the Pro Classes making for a very large field of competitors. The BFGoodrich Tires 53rd SCORE Baja 500 Presented by 4 Wheel Parts will most likely bring out more competition in the Pro and Sportsman classes, as more UTV competitors continue to enter into the 2021 SCORE World Desert Championship season. In the SCORE Pro UTV FI class alone, it has some of the most talented group of racers who continue to impress SCORE fans. We expect to see Brandon Schueler team up again with Cayden MacCachren to continue their class winning streak. With tough competitors such as Wes Miller, 2020 Champion Matt Burroughs, former Baja 500 Class Champion Craig Scanlon, and many others, the winner may be the team who makes the fewest mistakes on the course. Ensenada COVID Health Protocols In Place Last year, the SCORE Baja 500 was held in San Felipe, due to COVID-19 restrictions. While the race this year will be back in Ensenada, Mexico’s health protocols will still be in effect. This includes restricting the public from being at the race start/finish that will be on the outskirts of town. It also requires all SCORE staff, media, racers, and team family members in attendance, to social distance, wash their hands, get temperature checks before entering public enclosed areas, including SCORE registration, tech, and meeting centers. This included registration and tech inspection areas, as well as in and around the city.  “Just like last year and the season opener in San Felipe this year, SCORE International will apply official Health Protocols for race logistics and will work in coordination for the application of official Health Protocols by Hotels, Restaurants, and other service providers,” stated Jose A. Grijalva, SCORE President/Race Director.  “SCORE International’s focus on the health and safety of racers, sponsors, media, fans, and the citizens of Baja California continues to be our number one priority and we appreciate the patience and understanding of everyone involved during these unprecedented times and changing situations.” “For these reasons, contingency and the start/finish line compound will once again be restricted areas with no spectators allowed. We will have extensive live streaming coverage throughout race week airing on the SCORE website, on the new SCORE TV app, and SCORE Social Media platforms.” Recap Of 2020 SCORE BaJa 500 Winners  Last year’s event brought out 129 racers to the race that was moved to San Felipe due to COVID restrictions in Ensenada. The 493-mile course was challenging, but Dan McMillin with co-driver Justin B. Smith finished the race in 8:29:17 to take the Overall and in the SCORE Trophy Truck class. It was McMillin’s first SCORE Trophy Truck win that had him battling with Tim Herbst, who finished second, and cousin Luke McMillin who finished third. Robby Gordon was the top qualifier but finished fifth behind Alan Ampudia, who consistently puts up a great effort and finishes in the top five. Class 1 racers were stunned at the speed and capability of Cody Parkhouse, who pushed his Jimco Hammerhead buggy up to the SCORE Trophy Truck leaders and finished fifth overall. Parkhouse had his dad Brian drive portions of the course and the team’s fast but cautious pace led them to a class victory.  In the SCORE Trophy Truck Spec class, Santiago Creel pulled double duty, starting race day on the 66x Pro Moto Unlimited bike, then switching over to the Monkey Business SCORE TT Spec truck, and ultimately finished first to win the class. It was Creel’s first TT Spec win and a huge accomplishment for this multi-talented competitor.  Pro Moto Unlimited riders continued to marvel SCORE fans with their incredible riding skills. There was no doubt that the 1x team, headed by Mark Samuels was unstoppable. The championship team remained unchanged, with Justin Morgan and Justin Jones sharing riding duties and taking home another class and Overall Pro Moto victory.  Within the Pro UTV classes, Kristen Matlock took the spotlight again as she piloted her Polaris RZR to an Overall Pro UTV win and Pro UTV N/A class win. What made her accomplishment even more inspiring is that she drove the entire race herself, depending on her navigator, Pro Moto rider Max Eddy. Winning the Pro UTV FI class was Matt Burroughs in his Can-Am Maverick, edging out a host of veteran competitors. Can-Am also finished second with former SCORE UTV champions Jason and Derek Murray. Wayne Matlock finished third after making repairs to this vehicle. SJ

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