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1974 THE FIRST SCORE BAJA 500 RAce SCORE’s First Baja Race Began As The Baja International By Dan Sanchez The first Baja 500 race actually started in 1969 by NORRA. Then in 1972, it was organized by a Mexico tourism group called the Baja Sports Committee, before it was handed over to SCORE International to organize it for the first time in 1974. Legal issues, however, prevented SCORE from calling it the “Baja 500” until 1991. The race was not only the first Baja 500 for SCORE International, it was also former SCORE owner Sal Fish’s first race to organize. “I was still new to SCORE and I didn’t have the experience organizing races like Mickey and his son Danny had already done,” recalled Fish. “This first SCORE Baja International was a real bath of fire for me. I was in this new role of being the president, and it’s not like you’re sitting in the owner’s box at the Indy 500 or standing in the pits of a drag race or NASCAR watching things unfold in front of you. It was hands-on, trying to deal with everything thrown at you all at once.” The race started July 26, 1974 in Ensenada with 279 starters and 173 official finishers. According to records, motorcycles left the starting line at 6:45 a.m., followed by the rest of the classes at 8:15 a.m. After several hours, the team of Mitch Mayes and A.C. Bakken on a Husqvarna crossed the finish line. They were followed by the team of Jim Jasper and Joe Padilla, also on a Husqvarna. Five minutes later, Bobby Ferro, in a Sandmaster single-seater he co-drove with Don Emstmeyer, crossed the finish line to be the overall four-wheel winner. This first of SCORE’s Baja races also attracted some of the biggest names in off-road racing, who would later become inductees of the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame and also become legends in SCORE. These included Malcom Smith, Bud Feldkamp, Walker Evans, Parnelli Jones, Rod Hall, and Ivan Stewart. At this first 1974 race, there were also two young moto racers who wanted to try Baja racing for the first time, Larry Roeseler and Andy Kirker (SCORE’s current moto liaison). “In our mind, Baja was the next level, top of the food chain for off-road racing, and the SCORE Baja International was our crown jewel to go after. I teamed up with Larry and were leading, but we had a problem with the rear drum brake stay that broke on my riding section along the beach. It messed up the whole mechanism. Some locals helped me fix it, but I had no rear brake for about 100 miles. Brought the bike to Larry, and he made up a lot of time for us to finish in third place.” Throughout the decades of this famous race, two of these legendary racers have won it numerous times. The most is Larry Roeseler with 12 Overall wins, (nine on a motorcycle and three in a four-wheel vehicle). Ivan Stewart is the other, with the most Overall wins in a four-wheel vehicle with 10. SJ

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