SCORE Journal


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

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 89 of 102

BAJA’S TWO-WHEEL HEROES SCORE’s Greatest Motorcycle Racers Of All Time-Part IX– Richard Jackson By Dennis “Ketchup” Cox. Photos by Get Some Photo Baja racing veteran Richard Jackson has more than 40 years of racing down the rugged peninsula and has one of the most enviable records of winning his class championships in the Baja 500 and Baja 1000s. “My first trip to Baja was in 1966. Back then we used a VW bus to haul a couple of 500cc Triumphs down there. We threw them on a trailer and headed down to check it out,” he said. “We rode about forty miles and got a good idea of how big that peninsula is. That was when there were no gas stations or any support systems to help you out. There were no chase trucks or other vehicles of any type. Talk about primitive. But we got a taste for racing down there and we wanted to come back, which we did in 1972 for our first Baja race.” Jackson competed in the Mexican International, the last NORRA event, and raced in a Class 6 car to finish ninth place out of 30-vehicles. “We had driven from Wyoming to Baja, basically racing on a beer budget,” said Jackson. “We had set up our sleeping bags, out in the wash, waiting for the start.” Once SCORE International was set up, Jackson returned to take on Baja. “The first SCORE Baja 1000 that we ran was in 1979, I believe,” said Jackson. “My buddy and I would go down and run the course and ultimately got used to the racing scene down there. I took pride in arranging the logistics for competing in the Baja 500 and 1000. Especially with no real race support back then.” Over time, Jackson has seen the courses in Baja change. “It has gotten rougher over the years since I first rode,” he said. “The whoops are deeper and longer than they were in the early days. The silt beds are even siltier. Occasionally, they even put in a new section. But with the advent of the SCORE Trophy Truck class, it takes a lot of creativity to race dirt bikes down there. The Trophy Trucks and cars have computers and the like, all to help them navigate their way today. Back then, we had to improvise more, and use our heads, not a computer, to remember where to go.” Despite not having GPS at the time, moto racers like Jackson learned the course and remembered where the hazards were. “A lot of times I rode solo for the entire event, especially the SCORE Baja 500,” he said. “It was a point of pride to me to be able to do that. “I remember that I rode solo at one of the SCORE Baja 1000s one year. That was epic. I “Ironman-ed” it and rode for twenty-six hours straight, some 840 miles! When you go that long riding, your mind starts to play tricks on you. That was a bit too long, even for me.”   Jackson admits riding for long hours in a race like the SCORE Baja 1000, your mind can play tricks on you. “I came around this one corner, and suddenly, I see a giant forty-foot high Gumby just standing out there,” he said. (Gumby was a clay animation children’s character on TV). “It was a giant Joshua tree, but as I said, your mind starts to play tricks on you when you’re that fatigued. So I continue riding and suddenly I hit this cow at night. Back then, when you hit the brakes on those early Huskies, your lights would go out! So I’m skidding to a stop through the brush, and I can’t see what’s coming.” After avoiding the Joshua tree and now hitting a cow, things didn’t get better for Jackson. “Suddenly, I can feel my face and all this stuff crawling all over it. Turns out it was that the cow had houseflies and they were scattered all over me. Tons of them. When I hit that cow, it seems all those flies came off and got it in under my helmet, under my goggles, under everything! “I was tired, beat up, and suddenly a bunch of insects was crawling in my mouth. That’s Baja though. You take it all in and keep going. That is what racing in Baja is really like.” SJ

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of SCORE Journal - SCORE-Journal-June-2022