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SCORE CLASS 10 CHAMP & OPEN WHEEL OVERALL CHAMP Ethan and Ben Hagle Come From Behind To Win A Championship By Dan Sanchez Photos by Get Some Photo The SCORE 2021 Season didn’t start off that great for the Hagle team of Ethan and his brother Ben. With Ethan as Driver of Record (DOR) they finished 10th during the first two races of the season. But at the SCORE Baja 400 and SCORE Baja 1000, they finished first in their class and took home the season Class 10 Championship and Overall Buggy Season Points Champion. The Hagle family had a history of racing SCORE Class 10, and the two brothers had heard all of the stories from their grandfather, dad and uncle. They wanted to try and carry on the tradition and gain experience, and ultimately worked their way to earning a Class 10 Championship. Ethan’s brother Ben told SCORE Journal of their family’s history and how they came to becoming 2021 Champions. SJ: Tell us about your racing experience and how you came to racing in SCORE? Ben Hagle: Me and my brother Ethan grew up racing motocross and riding dirt bikes in the desert until our late teens. We only rode the desert for fun but our dad took us on really gnarly big rides with technical trails. I think that’s what sparked our love for exploration and challenges.  I remember crying on several occasions having to do something really challenging, then getting through it and being stoked!  In 2018, along with a customer of our company, we decided to race the SCORE Baja 500 on a motorcycle and the company sponsored the whole thing.  It was awesome, my first time in Baja was crazy.  We were so unprepared.  No GPS, no mousse in our tires, no big tank.  We finished that race miraculously after several mistakes and overcoming a bunch of adversity.  It really sparked something inside me and it was a race format that suited my style.  I loved the idea of this endurance/adventure style racing.  Just making it pit to pit was a big deal.  The solitude of the desert and the relief of making it across to the next pit.  I think that’s what drew me in to wanting to keep racing down south.  The people were cool,  the landscape was rugged,  I loved the logistics of the program.  So in 2019 we came back again to race the SCORE Baja 500 on a motorcycle and finished well. We weren’t challenging for wins but we didn’t get passed by the trucks this time.   SJ: Your family has some history racing in SCORE, how did that influence you? Hagle: Fast forward to 2020, we were talking one day in the office about how cool it would be to go race four-wheels off-road.  My grandfather Ralph, uncle Rick, and dad John, started in the limited classes back in the early ’80s and eventually became race winners in Class 10 in SCORE and the other race organizations.  So I had heard hundreds of stories but never really understood what it was all about.  We decided to buy a used Class 10 Alumicraft and shook it down once or twice. We then signed up to race the Silver State 300 and finished 7th, I think, in our first outing. It was a real eye-opener. Those guys were fast and we knew there was going to be a learning curve.  Next, we raced Vegas to Reno and ended up 6th out of over a dozen guys so we were happy with that.  We took those two races and signed up for our first SCORE Baja 1000 that November.  I pre-ran on my motorcycle solo and Ethan pre-ran with our navigator Dalton in our Polaris.  It was a super technical course and we got stuck multiple times but ended up on the podium in 3rd after almost 27 hours of racing. We were hooked.   SJ: Tell us how your 2021 SCORE Season unfolded at each race. Hagle: Going into the new year, we raced KOH and showed good speed and ran near the front and proved that we could be contenders in Class 10.  We showed up to the SCORE San Felipe 250 with a solid plan and pre-ran all week, only to come up short on fuel about 15 miles from the first pit.  This put us down 2-3 hours.  I was pissed but Ethan kept his cool and said we were going to finish, and we did in 10th place. We had shown good speed early on and I believe we would have been on the box that day.   Next up was the SCORE Baja 500.  We pre ran that race with my grandpa Ralph in his Polaris, so that was really cool. He is 83 and loves Baja. He’s got the best stories, so to make some of our own with him was a dream come true.   Ethan started the race and ran second physical on the course all day close to the lead on corrected time until we got stuck in that famous bottleneck.  We went down an hour, and by the time I got the car, we were basically eating dust and fighting to just finish the race.  Again, we showed good pace and our car held up perfect all day and finished 10th again. We knew with the right track position and a little luck, we could win one of these.   We acquired a bad-ass used pre-runner before the SCORE Baja 400 and it really allowed us to pre-run properly.  It has a big V8, and is a three-seat Class 1 pre-runner with 37” tires and race-like cockpit that allowed us to practice the course and understand what it would be like in the race car. It made all the difference.  We had our sections down.  I started the race and pushed really hard from the get-go.  It was a battle the whole time.  We started  13th, I think, and by the time we were going up the mikes road, we were in 2nd.  I had clean air from Mikes all the way over to the cross-over road and we just nailed our section perfectly and made up a ton of time.  We have a small crew so our driver change was on the side of the road with my brother and his navigator. We did it in less than a minute, and he proceeded to make up almost four minutes in second place en route to our first SCORE Class 10 win. It was a perfect day and we won by a minute and thirty seconds.  Unreal!   To get our first win in a competitive class like 10, and in our sixth race ever, was amazing.  We went into the SCORE Baja 1000 knowing we could do it. The course was tough, however, and we began with problems in the pre-runner. We couldn’t see all our miles but we had seen the trouble spots and felt confident going into race day.  We had Vic Bruckmann and Ricky Kern on as a third driver and navigator starting the race. He did his job perfectly and brought us a flawless car.   We made it through the silt sections, tractor trail,  and put the hammer down.  We had about 10 people chasing us and a six-man driving team so it was a very tight crew.  We utilized the BFG pits the whole way down and they are a huge asset to our program.  I got in the car at RM305 and took it to Ethan at RM850.  He took off in the lead and was passed right away, got a flat,  got stuck, and still managed to come out of the last pit in the physical lead. We had managed to keep the car in good shape the entire race and he knew he could push to the finish, and that’s what we did.  Before a few VCP penalties, we had won the race by over two hours.  It was a dream come true.  We knew if we kept the car running and minimized our mistakes, we could win the race.  It wasn’t all smooth sailing the whole way down, but I’d have to write a book to tell all the stories that added up to our peninsula run race win!   SJ: How did you and your brother feel about winning the Class 10 Championship? Hagle: The Championship was just icing on the cake. We knew the points were tight, really tight.  I couldn’t quite figure out the way SCORE calculated the points, so we basically waited about a week or two until the official points were out to find out.  The championship was cool, and getting two race wins along the way is what makes it worthwhile.  If we had won the points race without winning a single event we wouldn’t be half as proud.  Winning two SCORE races is the highlight of our season and that peninsula run victory will undoubtedly be one of the highlights of my life.   If you had told me after the SCORE San Felipe 250 that we would be race winners and champs I would have called you crazy.  Just goes to show it takes some heart, some luck,  and a lot of balls to keep coming back and win one of these races - let alone two.   We believe SCORE is the premier racing organization with the most talented drivers in the off-road world, and we plan on racing the full season in 2022.  SCORE holds the most weight when it comes to individual race wins and we will be going for victories in Class 10 from here on out. SJ

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