SCORE Journal


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

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 92 of 117

THE LONG DRIVE SOUTH Four-Wheel Class Racers Deal With A Long Route And Challenging Conditions By Dan Sanchez, Paul Hanson, Guilherme Torres, and Jose Vazquez Photos by Get Some Photo As the four-wheel classes rolled off the starting line in Ensenada, Mexico, most knew it would be a long race, one with a high attrition rate and requiring mental fortitude to finish. For most of the classes, speed on the course wasn’t as much of a concern as was taking care of the vehicle enough to win the race. Starting positions made it easier for some but had others pushing hard to get to the front. One of the most exciting classes to watch was Class 7, where the Factory Honda team of Jeff Proctor teamed up with Indy Car champion Alexander Rossi, as well as Pro Moto legend Steve Hengeveld, and Richard Glaszczak as co-drivers. The team did not participate at the SCORE Baja 400, so they started third with 2020 Class Champion Dan Chamlee starting in the first position, followed by Scott Brady in second. Proctor made good use of his experienced drivers and the high-horsepower Honda Ridgeline to push into first place on the course early in the race. They maintained a solid lead and opened up a large gap between them and the rest of the competition, finishing first almost four hours ahead of Chamlee who crossed the finish line in second place. “I don’t know what to say other than all the hard work we put in, so many guys put in so much effort,” said Proctor. “I can’t thank those guys enough. This race is for them. It is just an emotional rollercoaster getting down here to La Paz. A point-to-point race is a special one for us to win. This is our seventh SCORE Baja 1000 representing the Ridgeline and American Honda. We want to push on for another decade of this program and make Honda a part of this sport.” “This is my first point-to-point race,” said Rossi. “This is a different animal than the loop races in Ensenada. I had a good time. I love racing here and coming down to Mexico. I love the excitement of the fans. It’s unlike anything else. I feel very lucky to be here. It doesn’t compare to other forms of racing, except for the four wheels and an engine. There is a learning curve for me coming from open-wheel circuit racing. When I first got a taste of it in 2018 I loved it and I’m glad we can do this journey with Honda, Jeff, and the whole team to finally get Honda the coveted SCORE Baja 1000 win.” For Chamlee, the race proved once again that a privateer can compete against a full factory race team and take home a class championship. With the second-place finish, Chamlee earned his 17th Class Championship. “I drove from start to finish,” said Chamlee. “It was rocky, rough, and bumpy. All through the night, we couldn’t see the tip of my hood. My visibility was horrible. It killed my average speed. We never had any issues with our BFGoodrich Tires and our King Shocks were nice and smooth. I was glad we finally got to do a Peninsula run.” SATTERFIELD WINS IN SCORE LITES This year’s peninsula run brought out seven competitors in SCORE Lites, of which nearly all finished the 1226.35-mile course. First in class was Doug Satterfield in the No. 1229 car, who also took home the class championship. “This is my first point to point SCORE Baja 1000,” said Satterfield. “This is a milestone. This is different terrain. The first part I was used to from racing the loop races. Coming down to La Paz adds to the whole experience.” Finishing in second place was the No. 1205 car of Miguel Cortez “It was a really difficult race,” said Cortez. “The course was very challenging, especially the final 25 miles, which were brutal. We’re super excited to be here. Not many racers get to the finish line of the SCORE Baja 1000 and we’re fortunate to be among them. We have a great team and are thankful for the support of our sponsors.” Lee Banning in the No. 1248 car finished the race in third place. “It was a tough course from start to finish and it threw a little bit of everything at us,” said co-driver Lee Banning Jr. “As usual, SCORE put together a challenging racecourse. This was the first race for this car in 10 years. We won this race in 2011, took it home and washed it, and parked it. We decided to pull it out and run it on its 10th anniversary and she is like she’s been racing the whole time.” YEE AND SANCHEZ BATTLE FOR A WIN Within the 1/2-1600 class, Eli Yee and Kevin Sanchez had battled all season long for each race win and an overall championship. It was a “must-win” for either team to take the class and SCORE fans saw these two teams battle over first-place positions along the course. In the end, Yee in the No. 1600 car managed a pass towards the end of the course and held on for the class win. “I started and was in first place for about 150 miles, then we were in second place,” said Yee. “Then at race mile 936, we took first place again. This is my 27th SCORE Baja 1000. I prefer the Peninsula races.” While Yee took the win, Sanchez in the No. 1621 car finished in second place and squeaked by to take the 2021 Class Championship by only four points. “The race was awesome. I did Loreto to the finish,” said co-driver Fernie Padilla. “I got the car in second place on the course but we were only five seconds from first. But unfortunately, we didn’t get the win.”  Finishing in third place was Ruben Osuna Gallardo in the No. 1699 car. “1200 plus miles is difficult, I don’t know how we did it,” said Gallardo. “It’s a dream come true. Not everyone can say they raced the SCORE Baja 1000 and finished third. I am very thankful. We were in fourth place but 70 miles from the finish we passed for third. The course was horrible, especially the last 20 miles. We just wanted to make it to the end.” HULSE’s HUSTLE Andrew Hulse entered the 54th BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 1000 Presented by 4 Wheel Parts in his Dodge 1500 truck in the Jeepspeed 4700 class. Hulse only had to finish to win the class and although that seemed easy enough, the course was long and difficult. “The first miles were fun and we were passing a bunch of vehicles,” he said. “But then it got brutal, slow, and rough. The coast was beautiful. Our co-driver Mike Kraft had a little barrel roll so we have no more body panels. That took a couple of hours to repair, then they got buried in silt. We have been racing for two years as part of our wolf pack team. I can’t say enough about my crew. My first race was the SCORE Baja 2000. I finished that in 56 hours. But this course was ten times harder. It was one of the hardest courses I’ve ever done and I’ve been racing for over 20 years.” GUTIERREZ TAKES CLASS 3 Driving a custom Jeep Grand Cherokee in Class 3, was Cesar Gutierrez from Tijuana, Mexico. He along with co-drivers Alfredo Nunez, Jesus Gonzalez, Isaac Medina, Jesus Arriaga, and Francisco Lesverdy finished to take the class win. The team finished barely ahead of the allotted 50-hours to complete the course but were happy to cross the finish line. “It was a very difficult race,” said Gutierrez. “We had several issues to deal with. One was to replace some parts and even tilted the car. We haven’t slept in two days and we were looking forward to getting to the finish line. I just want to thank the entire team, our drivers and co-drivers, mechanics and sponsors, and also my family, especially my wife, who understood I needed to be here even after our baby was born last week.”  CHASE WINS CLASS 5, GUTIERREZ WINS 5-1600 The popular Unlimited Class 5 brought out several competitors with upgraded engines for more power. Finishing first was Don Chase in the No. 523 car with co-drivers Travis Chase, Jake Lauxen, and Errol Hamlin. “We are excited to be here,” said Chase. “We anticipated taking 34 hours to get here and we arrived in about 28 hours. This car is flawless. We did go into limp mode a couple of times and we had to reset the computer. Other than that, it just didn’t miss a beat all day long. I’ve been racing since 1983. This is the first SCORE Baja 1000 win. And that’s what is going in my obituary.” Finishing second in class was Ben Swift in the No. 524 car followed by 2020 champion Trey Hernquist in the No. 500 car.  In Class 5-1600, Jorge Gutierrez struggled all season with DNF’s, except for a class win at the SCORE San Felipe 250. Fortunately, he and his team in the No. 598 car pulled it together to add another class win at the 54th SCORE Baja 1000. They were followed by the No. 571 car of David Heredia who finished in second place WILLILAMS AND MUNCEY ARE TOP WINNERS IN BAJA CHALLENGE CLASS  The SCORE Baja Challenge Class once again had all of the class starters finish the course. On top were the BC1 car with John Williams, Brian Finch, Kyle Tucker, Lance Clifford, and Brad Lovell as co-drivers. “It was a super tough race at 1,227 miles,” said Clifford at the finish line. “The longest La Paz race I’ve ever done. The car worked great. We had zero flat tires. These are off-the-shelf BFGoodrich mud terrains that you can buy at any store. I can’t say enough about BFGoodrich and their support of the sport and the pits and for us to come out here and show that these tires are tough. We just kept the hammer down through the silt. Couldn’t see anything, but it was fun. I am exhausted. I did 400 miles and I’m pretty beat up. I respect those guys that can ironman it. That is tough.” Finishing in second was the BC3 team of Bud Pecoy, followed by the BC2 team of Jesse Nemec who finished in third place. Fourth-place finisher Ed Muncey in the BC4 car had his family co-drive the course. This included his brother Roger Norman and their mom, American Motorsports Hall Of Fame Inductee Fran Muncey who became the oldest woman to drive the SCORE Baja 1000 at age 79. Their dad, Don Norman, also became the oldest man to drive the SCORE Baja 1000 at age 83. “My mom started the race and had a great time,” said Roger Norman. “She was super nervous about racing off-road but she did it. She pre-ran her section and did a great job. She did it perfectly. Then my sister took over. She ran flawlessly. Then my niece took over and she was flawless too. My brother, Ed Muncey, and Joe did the brunt of the work. My mom is in the American Motorsports Hall of Fame. There are only 10 women in the Hall of Fame, and she is in there with some of the most famous women in the world. My step-father died in an accident and he always asked her to continue and keep the team going no matter what. She did it with flying colors. She won seven Gold Cups and five Championships and I couldn’t be prouder of her for being nominated into the Hall of Fame.” The fourth-place finish gives Muncey the BC Class Championship, adding to the family’s legacy of racing history and accomplishments. “Wide Open Baja is amazing because you have a chase car and mechanics, spare engines and transmissions,” said Norman. “What an epic moment this whole race has been, for me and my family and having my mom and dad and the fact that they are the oldest competitors to ever attempt this and the fact that they wanted to do it is amazing.”  PARK AND DURON TAKE TRUCK CLASS WINS  In Class 7F Justin Park in his No. 714F Ford Ranger has won all but one race this season, adding the 54th SCORE Baja 1000 to his latest win. This also gave Park the Class Championship for a tremendous effort this year. Finishing in second place was Brandon Walsh in the No. 701F Toyota Tacoma finished in second place. The popular truck garnered a lot of attention from SCORE fans from the Ivan Stewart Toyota-inspired paint scheme. Armando Duron almost had a perfect season this year too in class 7SX, but still dominated the class in his No. 758 Ford Ranger. With family co-driving the truck, Israel, Armando Jr, Sergio Jr., and Sergio Sr. the Duron family can enjoy a well-deserved 2021 Class Championship. Finishing third in class was the No. 742 Ford Ranger of Brand Anderson. AMOS WINS CLASS 3000 The peninsula run this year brought out lots of vehicles, some of which SCORE fans had not seen too much of this season. A total of three Class 3000 vehicles entered the race with the 3006 Predator Chevy of Christopher Amos taking the class victory. John Slavic in the No. 6076 Trophy-Lite Chevy finished in second place. MARTINEZ WINS CLASS 11 While Class 11 is one of the toughest classes to finish a race in, the peninsula run brought out 12-amazing competitors ready to take the challenge. In this class, finishing is a must to take a win, and the top three finishers completed the course in 42 hours, well ahead of the 50-hour time limit. Taking the class win was the No. 1145 Bug of Hector Martinez, who had his uncle and veteran racer, Hector Sarabia, as one of the co-drivers. His experience helped Martinez complete the course. “I’ve been racing for 40 years and had this dream of winning this race, but I hadn’t been able to do it before,” said Sarabia. “I’ve won the SCORE Baja 1000 four times in the past, but always as a loop race, never when it ended here in La Paz. I had decided this would be the last year I’d try it and we finally did it. And to do it now, with my nephew behind the wheels, it’s just amazing. It wasn’t easy, our transmission broke just 20 kilometers away from the finish line and we were tense as we didn’t know if we’d be able to finish the race. But that’s part of the SCORE Baja 1000, anything can happen.”  Finishing in second place was the No. 1104 car of Jesus Ortiz. “It was difficult, and it took us more than 40 hours to get here and we’re really tired,” said Ortiz. “We had to make quite a few stops to fix things, but we’re here, which is what matters. The entire race was a battle between the Class 11 cars. The top four cars got a little edge at the start of the race, but when we were about halfway there, the ones who were behind caught us. And the battle between the four of us went on until the very last miles. Class 11 is a tough one but all of us race with our hearts, we give our lives to it. Completing the SCORE Baja 1000 is a dream. We started the team five years ago and the main goal we had was to be in this race.”  In third place was Alex Gonzales in the No. 1196 car, who gained enough season points to win the Class 11 Championship. “It was a long two days,” said Gonzales. “We had a couple of little mishaps early on and had to change the transmission. I got stuck and blew out reverse gear. So that took about two and a half hours. We also had a couple of other shock problems. Then I caught up to everyone else and was racing door to door up to race mile 900. Then we had another electrical mishap and fell back to second. About 15 miles before the finish, we ran out of fuel, found some and made it in for a third-place finish, and locked in the Championship for the season. It was a phenomenal battle in the Class 11s. The top 3 or 4 cars were battling all day long.”  Fourth in class was veteran Eric Solorzano in the No. 1111 car. “It was very tough, but it has been the best race and exposure for us,” said Solorzano. “Everyone worked together. The first four cars, all of us led at one time. This class has been evolving. We had problems like everyone else. and what killed us this race, is a short that burned wires. We lost a few hours and then a fuel pump gave out and we ran out of gas. But this is racing. I’ve been doing this for 30 years. I have won it eight times. I have been on the podium a few times, I know how to win. I miss winning but I feel very comfortable making it to the finish line. All of us are finishers and warriors.” As the season ends with this race, the stories will last a lifetime. All of this year’s competitors who raced the entire season, and those that came out to challenge the peninsula, put their best efforts on the line. SCORE fans appreciate everyone who was able to finish the race, and for many, that’s a win in itself.  See more racer stats on Score's Fan Pages SJ

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of SCORE Journal - SCORE-Journal-December-2021