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GAME ON Racers Prepare For The 55th BFGoodrich Tires SCORE BaJa 500 By Dan Sanchez Photos by Get Some Photo  One of the most anticipated races of the 2023 SCORE 50th Anniversary Season is the 55th running of the BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 500. For off-road racing competitors, this race is one of the most prestigious, as it has launched the careers of many off-road racing’s legendary racers.  The race will take place from May 31st through June 4th and is slated to attract more than 300 competitors from around the globe. This year’s race is a 473.67-mile loop course that starts and finishes on Blvd. Costero, in front of the Riviera del Pacifico Cultural Center in downtown Ensenada, Mexico.  The history of the SCORE Baja 500 started in 1969, originally put on by NORRA. It wasn’t until 1974 that SCORE International took over the race, with Mickey Thompson and Sal Fish organizing it to continue its overall success. The rich story of the first SCORE 1974 race is in this issue.  While this is considered one of the toughest off-road races in the world, several talented racers have conquered it several times, turning them into some of SCORE’s legendary racers.   Larry Roeseler is the true champion of this race. He has won it overall twelve times, topping the list of multi-time overall winners. Winning it in both two and four wheels, Roeseler also holds the record in the moto category, winning the race overall nine times out of his twelve overall wins. Roeseler will compete in this year’s race in the No. 43 Cantina Racing Baja Vida SCORE Trophy Truck. Perhaps the most synonymous racer associated with the Baja 500 race is Ivan “Ironman” Stewart. Earning legendary status from winning the most races overall in a four-wheel vehicle, ten total, he has also won the hearts of the Mexican people and SCORE fans. Stewart is also the Co-Grand Marshal for this event.  Winning five overall Baja 500 races in a four-wheel vehicle is Larry Ragland. Winning multiple SCORE Class Championships, Ragland became a factory Chevrolet off-road racer and won five SCORE Baja 1000 races overall.  In the two-wheel category, Steve Hengeveld has won the race overall seven times. Known as the fastest night racer, Hengeveld’s experience has propelled him to legendary status among moto racers.  Known for his racing wins on the Honda Factory team, Johnny Campbell is perhaps one of the most respected two-wheel SCORE racers. He has won the Baja 500 overall five times and spawned other talented moto racers from his JCR Honda team. Campbell is also the Co-Grand Marshal for this year’s event. 2022 REWIND  The 2022 SCORE Baja 500 began showcasing some of the best racers of the season, starting with legendary racer Rob MacCachren. Finishing first Overall and in the SCORE Trophy Truck class, MacCachren started the race fourth behind Luke McMillin, Bryce Menzies, and Mike Walser. McMillin put a ten-minute lead on everyone with an extremely fast pace through more than the halfway mark on the course. MacCachren’s pace kept him within a striking position of the leaders, but it also made it easier on his vehicle.  Eventually, MacCachren passed Menzies who had a blown engine, then Walser who had a flat tire. He finally caught up with McMilllin, who had a broken steering box, to win the race. Broc Dickerson and Larry Roeseler followed MacCachren to the finish to place second and third in the race. After switching from a championship season in SCORE Pro Moto Ironman, Juan Carlos Salvatierra and his 10x team of Arturo Salas Jr., Shane Logan, and Diego Llanos continued their winning streak. The 10x team won the previous SCORE San Felipe 250 and came in first at the SCORE Baja 500. The team experienced no issues with their KTM 450SZX-F and would continue to reach a championship season after this win.   MORE WINNERS  In the SCORE Trophy Truck Legends class, Gustavo Vildosola Sr with AMA Hall of Famer Ricky Johnson won the class in their new AWD SCORE Trophy Truck. Class 1 had Cody Reid driving solo for the win in his big-block V8-powered Alumi Craft buggy.  SCORE Trophy Truck Spec class winner Jorge Sampietro, in the No. 297 truck, ran a very tough and close race to win it.  UTVs were abundant at last year’s race, and among the large field, Austin Weiland in his No. 2954 Can-Am won Overall and in the Pro UTV FI class. Winning in the SCORE Pro UTV NA class in the No. 1925 Honda Talon was Zach Sizelove, and in the Pro UTV Open class it was Mike Pratt in the No. 1867 Polaris RZR Turbo S. This race also had multiple class winners, including moto veteran Jim O’Neal who was a co-rider with the Pro Mot 50 winner Giovanni Spinali. The win gave O’Neal a race-record twenty-fourth-class win in the SCORE Baja 500. It was also Spinali’s sixth career class victory in this race.   Other racers with the most multiple class wins in this year’s race were Ramon Fernandez who won Class 5 to give him seven wins, and Daniel Chamlee in Class 7 earned his sixth class win and first since 2010 in this race. Peru’s Jano Montoya won in Pro Moto 30 for his fifth SCORE Baja 500 class win, as did Mexico’s Said Sanchez who also earned his fifth in the Pro Quad Class. Winning his second Pro Quad Ironman win of the season was Faelly Lopez from Puerto Rico riding his No. 83a Honda TRX450R. Doug Smith, Upland, Calif., earned his fifth class win, this time as a co-rider for Canada’s Guy Laycraft in Pro Moto 60, and Jason Trubey also got his fifth class win as a co-rider for Ryan Liebelt, Reedley, Calif., in Pro Moto 40.    THE 2023 LINE-UP  The 55th BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 500 is looking to be a challenging race, not just because it’s usually on a difficult course, but also because of the level of competition. In the SCORE Trophy Truck Class, the starting grid includes Luke McMillin in the No. 1 truck, followed by Alan Ampudia in the No. 10 truck. Starting third is Bryce Menzies in the No. 7 truck. These are all AWD Mason trucks that are extremely fast, capable, and with three of the fastest drivers behind each one. In the SCORE Trophy Truck Spec class, all bets are on the No. 21L truck of Gustavo Vildosola Sr. with co-driver Ricky Johnson. The competitive SCORE Trophy Truck Spec class will undoubtedly have the most participants in the SCORE Trophy Truck field, but it’s anyone’s race to win. Thor and Pierce Herbst in the No. 291 truck will start first, followed by the No. 234 truck of Jason McNeil. But starting positions don’t matter much if you break down, and waiting in the back will be Christopher Polvoorde in the No. 204 truck, Elijah Kiger in the No. 238 truck, as well as Jason Coleman, Jorge Sampietro, and Mason Cullen– all who have won SCORE races in the past. Class 1 and Class 10 competition is also very tough, but starting positions can make a difference for the top racers who have a chance at winning this year’s race. Cody Parkhouse in the No. 127 car will start first, followed by Brad Wilson in the No. 153 car. He is followed by Cody Reid in the No. 168 car. These three will make it difficult for anyone to get by.  Starting first in Class 10 will be Jason Buckley in the No. 1064 car, but this class has some new faces and veterans in it, including Hiram Duran in the No. 1016 car and Stan Potter in the 1006 car who also have some Baja race wins in their experience. The Moto classes will be a great battle between the 3x team of Cirian Naran and the 1x team of Juan Carlos Salvatierra. While the 10x team has been working through some electrical issues, it’s certain they won’t let that stop them from a victory here. But we also can’t count out Derek Ausserbauer on the 23x bike, who has always finished in the top three and can win this race if he runs it clean.  In the Pro Quad classes, the 1a team running under the Nicolas Velez ROR has shown they are still at their championship level, as is Pro Quad Ironman Faelly Lopez who is looking for a second class championship and a win at every race.   RACE DAY Racing begins Saturday, June 3rd, with the Motorcycle and Quad classes taking off from the starting line at 4 a.m. Opening ceremonies for the 55th annual running of the SCORE Baja 500 will begin at 7:30 a.m., followed by the race start of the SCORE Trophy Trucks at 9 a.m. The remaining classes will start in order with a thirty-second-time gap until all vehicles have left the starting line.  All vehicles participating in this year’s event will have a twenty-hour time limit to finish the race. Official race results will be posted at noon on Sunday, June 4th, followed by an awards ceremony at 12:30 p.m. at the Cathedral Room in the Riviera del Pacifico Cultural Center. SJ

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