SCORE Journal


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

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TRIPLE THE ACTION A Preview To The 3rd SCORE BaJa 400 Presented By VP Racing Fuels By Dan Sanchez Photos by Get Some Photo The SCORE Baja 400 enters its third year as part of the SCORE World Desert Championship Series. This race started in September 2019 in Ensenada, Mexico, but was postponed in 2020 due to the COVID pandemic, and continued again in 2021. Both times it was held and hosted by the city of Ensenada, Mexico, which will host the race again in 2022. The idea of adding this race in the SCORE World Desert Championship was conceptualized by SCORE President and Race Director Jose A. Grijalva, who wanted another race that would first be as exciting as the SCORE Baja 500 but also act as a prelude to the SCORE Baja 1000. Whatever position racers finish in the SCORE Baja 400 will be their starting position for the SCORE Baja 1000 held in November. THE INAUGURAL 2019 RACE At the inaugural event in 2019, racers attended a pre-race event at Cameron Steele’s Baja HQ off-road shop in San Clemente, California where all racers’ starting positions for each class were determined by a draw. Within the SCORE Trophy Truck Class, Brett and Christian Sourapas, sons of SCORE Champion Steve Sourapas, got the first starting position in their first-ever SCORE Trophy Truck race. BJ Baldwin drew a second-place start, but other top competitors such as Andy McMillin, Ryan Arciero, Rob MacCachren, Robby Gordon, and Bryce Menzies drew starting positions well within the middle of a pack. The most unfortunate draws were Dan McMillin starting in last place despite his great 2018 SCORE season, and his brother Luke McMillin starting in 24th place, just ahead of Troy Herbst and Apdaly Lopez. It was the same in other classes where some of the favored race teams had an unlucky draw and had to fight their way to a podium finish. The race, however, was quick and decisive with Ryan Arciero winning it overall after starting in 15th place and crossing the finish line behind three other competitors, including Andy McMillin who finished in second after the times were finally calculated. 2021 2nd SCORE Baja 400 After a year of postponement due to the COVID pandemic, the 2nd SCORE Baja 400 Presented by VP Racing Fuels was a welcome competition for many of the racers who had to take the 2020 season off. This year, instead of a draw for starting position, racers in the SCORE Trophy Truck, TT Legend, TT Spec, and Class 1 categories competed in a qualifying session a few days ahead of the race start. The action during this strategic session had SCORE fans on edge, especially after Bryce Menzies and Luke McMillin came within .51 hundredths of a second to get the first starting position, with Menzies having the faster time. In Class 1, Cody Parkhouse had the fastest time to start first in his class, and Chris Polvoorde had the fastest time in SCORE TT Spec to start the race first in class. The race was much tougher than expected and many of the teams missed the fans at the start and finish due to the COVID protocols. In the end it was Bryce Menzies who had the best time and finished first overall to win the race. CONTINUING A FAST TRADITION This year’s race will take place September 13-18, 2022 on the 397.64-mile course. Once again, racers will have to qualify to determine their starting positions for SCORE Trophy Truck, TT Legend, Class 1, and TT Spec classes. All other classes will be determined by a draw. Qualifying adds another layer to the race, as well as to the final race of the season, as the finishing positions at the SCORE Baja 400, determine the start positions for the SCORE Baja 1000. Because of this, some teams will want to put their short-course racing skills to the test and try for a first starting position during qualifying. Others will want to take it easy on their vehicles and put in a qualifying time that is fast enough to ensure they end up in the top five starting positions. Either way, fans will get a great show during qualifying and the course will be revealed to racers shortly before the race. Qualifying takes place on September 14th. No matter what the plan is to qualify, all the racers will also have a game plan for the race. Some will put forth a conservative race and finish in the top five. This allows them to minimize the wear and subsequent tear-down of their vehicles while also positioning them with a good starting position to win the SCORE Baja 1000. Other racers want to attack and go all out during the SCORE Baja 400, anxious to add another win towards a season championship but to also get the first starting position in their class and gain any advantage to the high level of competition that show up to race in some classes. For this year’s race, it’s hard to call who will have any advantage whatsoever. Nevertheless, you can’t count out 2021 winner Bryce Menzies who has been one of the fastest SCORE Trophy Truck class racers this season, along with Luke McMillin who won the SCORE San Felipe 250 earlier this season. You also can’t count out the legendary veterans including Rob MacCachren who pulled out a stunning victory at the SCORE Baja 500, and Larry Roeseler who finished third at the SCORE Baja, and Ryan Arciero the winner of the inaugural race. CONTINGENCY DAY Set for Friday, September 16th, Contingency day for the SCORE Baja 400 will again be in front of the Riviera del Pacifico Cultural Center on Boulevard Costero. If the crowds during the SCORE Baja 500 were any indication of SCORE fans’ willingness to participate and see all the racers, vehicles, and teams, this year’s Contingency is sure to be an exciting event. In addition to the racers and atmosphere, all the excitement will be broadcast for fans to see and hear on the SCORE Vision screen with SCORE Emcees Rat Sult and Dave Arnold. Live Streaming Of Events SCORE International’s media team will live stream the events including Qualifying, Contingency and Race Day activities with New SCORE Starlink systems now enabling continuous broadcasting for the entire race. he race will also be broadcast live on the SCORE International website, Social Media pages, and the SCORE app. RACE DAY The 3rd SCORE Baja 400 Presented by VP Racing Fuels begins with the Motorcycle and Quad classes starting at 6am Saturday, September 17th, adjacent to the Riviera del Pacifico Cultural Center on Blvd. Costero. The first teams off the starting line are the Pro Moto Unlimited division racers that take the green flag with a 60-second split between racers. All other classes start one vehicle every 30-seconds. After a gap of three and a half hours, the race ceremonies begin, followed by the lining up of cars, trucks, and UTVs who are gathered at the starting line for the start. First off is SCORE Trophy Truck class, and the remaining classes will start vehicles every 30-seconds apart. Watching the various classes leave off the starting line is an exciting and integral part of watching a SCORE race. Once all the vehicles are gone, fans can grab some lunch at a variety of local restaurants or from local street vendors and enjoy the amenities that the city of Ensenada has to offer. Fans typically return in the early afternoon to see the moto classes come in from when their journey started before sunrise, and witness the celebration for the first winner of this event. A few hours later, the SCORE Trophy Trucks will cross the finish line, but fans are aware that penalties for missing a virtual checkpoint or exceeding speed limits where there are restrictions will alter how these vehicles finish. Those fans watching the SCORE Live Streaming feed will be able to calculate who the eventual winner may be, as well as see some new in-car footage and course footage added with new technology SCORE’s Media Production Crew has brought to this race. But waiting for SCORE officials to make the final call is always a great moment of celebration with the victors showering themselves with champagne and fans cheering for the occasion. For those fans that stick around until Sunday, September 18th, the SCORE Awards Celebration held at the Riviera del Pacifico Cultural Center will honor all the first through third place racers in every class. SJ

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