Baja 1000

The Baja 1000 is a Mexican off-road motorsport race held each year on the Baja California Peninsula. The race was founded by Ed Pearlman in 1967 and is sanctioned by SCORE International.[1][2] It is one of the most prestigious off-road races in the world, attracting competitors from Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Brazil, Belgium, Canada, England, Finland, France, Germany, Guam, Guatemala, India, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Uruguay, The Balkans, and from every state in the United States, as well as the host country of Mexico.[2] The race is the final round of a four-race annual series, including the SCORE Desert Challenge, the SCORE San Felipe 250 and the SCORE Baja 500. The 2017 Baja 1000 marked the 50th anniversary of the race.[3]

The Baja 1000 allows various types of vehicle classes to compete on the same course with classes for cars, trucks, motorcycles, ATVs and buggies.[2] The course has remained relatively the same over the years, about every other event being either a point-to-point race from Ensenada to La Paz, or a loop race starting and finishing in Ensenada. The name of the event can be misleading as the mileage varies for the type of event ("Loop" of 600 to 850 miles starting and finishing in Ensenada, or "Point to Point" also known as the 900.

Race historyEdit

1962: The first timed runEdit

When Jack McCormack and Walt Fulton of Honda's American subsidiary decided to hold a long-distance run to prove the reliability of the new Honda CL72 Scrambler motorcycle, they approached well-known off-road motorcycle racer and local Triumph and Honda dealer, Bud Ekins for suggestions.[4][5][6] Ekins suggested the Tijuana to La Paz route (Federal Highway 1) which was 950 miles (1,530 km) of rocks, sand washes, dry lake beds, cattle crossings, mountain passes, with few paved roads. Ekins declined to undertake the run because of his professional association to Triumph but, suggested that his brother Dave Ekins and the son of another Southern California Honda distributor, Billy Robertson Jr. could accomplish the trip for American Honda.[4]

After performing an aerial pre-run over the peninsula in Fulton's Cessna 180, Ekins and Robertson began the journey to La Paz just after midnight on March 22, 1962. While being followed by two journalists in an airplane and using telegraph offices at the Mexican border and in La Paz, Dave Ekins recorded the first official timed run in 39 hours 56 minutes (39:56) with a total distance of 952.7 miles (1,533.2 km).[4][5][6][7] The event received coverage in the Globe, Argosy, and Cycle World magazines, earning awe and respect for Honda and the Baja run. The Globe and Argosy accounts also included close encounters with death and other dangers which Ekins claims were "colorful additions".

Four wheels vs two wheelsEdit

Wanting to beat the existing motorcycle record and to help fuel sales of the Meyers Manx, Bruce Meyers used his original prototype buggy called "Old Red" for an attempt at breaking the record set by Ekins. After pre-running a course south to La Paz, Ted Mangels and Bruce Meyers started the record-breaking attempt back to Tijuana from La Paz at 10:00 pm on April 19, 1967. With journalist from Road & Track magazine following the two to witness the attempt, the final official time was 34:45 beating Ekins' run by more than 5 hours. Upon returning to the United States, the journalist documenting the run sent out press kits with photographs and a news release with the headline "Buggy Beats Bike in Baja." to hundreds of magazines and newspapers. Soon, more stories of adventure, close calls, and broken speed records received media coverage around the world. Following the event, Bruce Meyers and his Meyers Manx became an overnight sensation and the competition between four wheels and motorcycles for the fastest Baja run began.

In the following months, more attempts at breaking the record would take place. One of the attempts included a multiple vehicle run organized by Ed Pearlman that ended in an official four wheel record being recorded but, with the overall time falling short of the record set by Meyers. On July 4, 1967, an American Motors Rambler American sedan would leave Tijuana at 9:00 am to successfully break the record set by Meyers with an overall time of 31 hours.

1967: The Mexican 1000Edit

As the timed runs recorded via telegraph became popular, a need for an organized event to compete for the quickest Baja run was starting to grab the attention of other competitors. In response to Meyers' record setting run, Ed Pearlman convinced Dick Cepek, Claude Dozier, Ed Orr, Drino Miller and journalist John Lawlor to make the run to La Paz. In June 1967, Pearlman and group left Tijuana and immediately ran into mechanical troubles. This trip inspired Pearlman to organize an off-road race down the Baja peninsula by creating the National Off-Road Racing Association (NORRA).[4] After Pete Condos and Pearlman put up the funds to incorporate NORRA, the group announced an official recognition of the previous record setters and created classes that related to the type of vehicle used to break the record. During the later part of summer, NORRA named the event the "Mexican 1000 Rally" and announced the first official race from Tijuana to La Paz was to be held on the peninsula.

The first official race started in Tijuana, Baja California, on October 31, 1967, and was named the NORRA Mexican 1000 Rally. The course length that year was 849 miles (1,366 km) and ended in La Paz, with the overall winning time of 27 hours 38 minutes (27:38) set by Vic Wilson and Ted Mangels while driving a Meyers Manx buggy. From 1967 to 1972, the race was organized by NORRA and grew in popularity with ABC's "Wide World of Sports" sending Jim McKay to cover the 1968 event, and attracting new participants like the late Mickey Thompson, Indy 500 winner Parnelli Jones, movie actor James Garner, and Mary McGee, the first woman to compete in the event. By 1971, major sponsors such as Olympia Brewing Company and Minolta Cameras began to support Parnelli Jones in his Dick Russell designed and Bill Stroppe prepared "Big Oly" Bronco and Larry Minor in a similar Stroppe prepared Bronco.

1973 oil crisis and SCOREEdit

In October 1973, the price for a barrel of crude oil shot up 70% overnight as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) launched the Arab Oil Embargo. With fear that competitors would abandon the idea of competing and stay home, NORRA cancelled the 1974 Baja race – despite assurances from the Federal government run Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) that fuel prices would remain stable – and announced they would instead hold an event in the state of Arizona.

It was at that time in history, Baja California governor Milton Castellanos handed over sanctioning of the event to a non-profit Mexican corporation called the "Baja Sports Committee" (BSC). BSC renamed the event the "Baja Mil" (Baja 1000) and scheduled the race to run on the original dates chosen by NORRA. Though NORRA held a competing event in the United States that same weekend, BSC successfully ran the race from Ensenada to La Paz like the years prior. Unaware of the challenges, BSC found promoting Baja races more difficult than anticipated.

Instead of giving up the race, the Mexican government requested help from SCORE International in hosting and promoting future Baja races. Through negotiations with Mickey Thompson and his SCORE organization, the Government agreed to give exclusive rights to SCORE to hold Baja races and also reluctantly allowed SCORE to cancel the event for 1974 (a year where motorsport was curtailed in the United States because of the oil crisis). SCORE hired Sal Fish as president and took control of the Baja 1000 from that year on with the Baja 1000 race resuming under new control in 1975.

The 1979 race was notable for Walker Evans’ overall win in a Dodge truck, the first truck to win the overall title of the race.[2] In 2012, the racing organization was purchased by Roger Norman and continues to run under his presidency.

RPM Trophy Truck at the 2015 Baja 1000 qualifying


The Baja 1000 is open to entrants competing in several classes ranging from motorcycles, ATVs, UTVs, stock Volkswagens, production vehicles, buggies, trucks, and custom fabricated race vehicles. Race teams consist of factory-supported groups that build custom fabricated vehicles and provide chase vehicles via helicopter, to the much smaller and less glamorized sportsman teams competing in an all-stock vehicle with no chase vehicle support at all. Stock Volkswagen Type One Beetles are modified for use in off-road terrain, known as Baja Bugs, have been a common sight throughout the event duration, but the factory-supported, all-spaceframe Trophy Truck entries are the most visible.

In contrast to the current factory EX supported modern race vehicles that overall the car and truck classes, Erik Carlsson drove a basically stock front wheel drive Saab 96 V4, finishing third in 1969 and fifth in 1970.

Baja courseEdit

  • Point-to-point: A point-to-point race is one that starts and ends in two different locations. The start is traditionally held in Ensenada but has been held in Tijuana and Mexicali as well. The course length varies for a point to point but is often over 1,000 miles (1,600 km) and ends in La Paz.
  • Loop race: A loop race is one that starts and finishes in the same location. Traditionally the race starts and ends in Ensenada but has started/finished in Mexicali as well. The course length varies from 600 to 850 miles, depending on the course route.


The starting order is generally determined by a random draw, except when preferential starts are given to those who finished in top positions in the previous race/season, or when qualifying is held. For Trophy Trucks & Class 1 vehicles, qualifying for the Baja 1000 is now held during SEMA at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Sabotage and booby-trapsEdit

Each year there are reports of spectators sabotaging or booby-trapping the course by digging holes, blocking a river to create a makeshift watersplash, or burying and hiding obstacles. Racers are warned to beware of large crowds of spectators in remote parts of the course since it may indicate hidden traps or obstacle changes. Many of the booby traps are not created to intentionally injure the contestants but are created by the local spectators as jumps or obstacles for their own entertainment and to create intriguing moments to be caught on videotape. The haphazardly designed obstacles, created by the spectators, are often very dangerous as the contestants may inadvertently enter the booby-trap at unsafe speeds, resulting in damage to the vehicles or injuries to competitors or spectators. Awareness of booby traps and course alterations are often part of race-day strategy and convey an advantage to the best prepared teams – nonetheless given the danger the traps pose, it is customary for competitors to quickly communicate course hazards to other competitors through on-board radio communications and radio relay.

In popular cultureEdit

  • In the film Timerider (1982), the hero Swann is competing in the Baja 1000 when he inadvertently stumbles on to a time warp experiment and is sent back to the Old West in the 1870s.
  • The documentary Dust to Glory (2005) follows contestants of the Baja 1000
  • The follow-up documentary to Dust to Glory, Dust 2 Glory follows contestants over the 2016 season before being released in-time for the 50th anniversary Baja 1000 in 2016.
  • SCORE International Baja 1000, known in Europe as SCORE International Baja 1000: World Championship Off Road Racing, is a video game developed by Left Field Productions and published by Activision in 2008. It was released for PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Wii, and Xbox 360.[8]

Overall winnersEdit

Year Route Cars & Trucks Motorcycle
Drivers Vehicle Time Riders Vehicle Time
1967 Tijuana-La Paz   Vic Wilson
  Ted Mangels
Meyers Manx VW 27:38   J.N. Roberts
  Malcolm Smith
Husqvarna 28:48
1968 Ensenada-La Paz   Larry Minor
  Jack Bayer
Ford Bronco 21:11:32   Larry Berquist
  Gary Preston
Honda 20:38:28
1969 Ensenada-La Paz   Larry Minor
  Rod Hall
Ford Bronco 20:48:10   Gunnar Nilsson
  J.N. Roberts
Husqvarna 21:35:52
1970 Ensenada-La Paz   Drino Miller
  Vic Wilson Miller
VW 16:07   Mike Patrick
  Phil Bowers
Yamaha 18:31
1971 Ensenada-La Paz   Parnelli Jones
  Bill Stroppe
Ford Bronco 14:59   Malcolm Smith
  Gunnar Nilsson
Husqvarna 16:51
1972 Mexicali-La Paz   Parnelli Jones
  Bill Stroppe
Ford Bronco 16:47   Gunnar Nilsson
  Rolf Tibblin
Husqvarna 19:19
1973 Ensenada-La Paz   Bobby Ferro
  Johnny Johnson
Funco VW 16:50   Mitch Mayes
  A.C. Bakken
Husqvarna 18:42:51
1974 No Race
1975 Ensenada-Ensenada   Malcolm Smith
  Dr. Bud Feldkamp
Hi-Jumper VW 18:55:49   Al Baker
  Gene Cannady
Honda 18:22:55
1976 Ensenada-Ensenada   Ivan Stewart Chenowth VW 12:17:28   Larry Roeseler
  Mitch Mayes
Husqvarna 11:30:47
1977 Ensenada-Ensenada   Malcolm Smith
  Dr. Bud Feldkamp
Funco VW 15:10:42   Brent Wallingsford
  Scot Harden
Husqvarna 14:37:07
1978 Mexicali-Ensenada   Mark Stahl Chenowth VW 12:55:42   Larry Roeseler
  Jack Johnson
Husqvarna 14:37:07
1979 Ensenada-La Paz   Walker Evans
  Bruce Florio
Dodge Pickup 20:48:27   Larry Roeseler
  Jack Johnson
Husqvarna 19:48:04
1980 Ensenada-Ensenada   Mark Stahl Chenowth VW 13:33:55   Larry Roeseler
  Jack Johnson
Yamaha 12:45:13
1981 Ensenada-Ensenada   Mark McMillin
  Thomas Hoke
Chenowth VW 20:29:14   Scot Harden
  Brent Wallingsford
Husqvarna 17:14:05
1982 Ensenada-La Paz   Mickey Thompson
  Terry Smith
Raceco VW 19:40:23   Al Baker
  Jack Johnson
Honda 17:25:27
1983 Ensenada-Ensenada   Mark McMillin
  Ralph Paxton
Chenowth VW 20:29:14   Dan Smith
  Dan Ashcraft
Husqvarna 14:48:10
1984 Ensenada-Ensenada   Mark McMillin
  Ralph Paxton
Chenowth VW 16:27:09   Chuck Miller
  Randy Morales
Honda 14:34:34
1985 Ensenada-Ensenada   Steve Sourapas
  Dave Richardson
Raceco VW 17:54:55   Randy Morales
  Derrick Paiement
Honda 17:44:42
1986 Ensenada-La Paz   Mark McMillin
  Ralph Paxton
Chenowth Porsche 18:26:28   Bruce Ogilvie
  Chuck Miller
Honda 18:05:52
1987 Ensenada-Ensenada   Bob Gordon
  Malcolm Smith
Chenowth Porsche 13:15:04   Dan Ashcraft
  Bruce Ogilvie
Honda 12:02:14
1988 Ensenada-Ensenada   Mark McMillin Chenowth Porsche 18:07:09   Paul Krause
  Larry Roeseler
  Danny LaPorte
Kawasaki 17:53:16
1989 Ensenada-La Paz   Robby Gordon Ford Pickup 18:04:07   Larry Roeseler
  Danny LaPorte
  Ted Hunnicutt Jr.
Kawasaki 17:53:16
1990 Ensenada-Ensenada   Bob Gordon
  Robyn Gordon
  Robby Gordon
Chenowth Chevrolet 12:30:45   Larry Roeseler
  Ted Hunnicutt Jr.
  Danny LaPorte
Kawasaki 11:11:45
1991 Ensenada-Ensenada   Larry Ragland Chevrolet Pickup 16:37:35   Larry Roeseler
  Ted Hunnicutt Jr.
  Marty Smith
Kawasaki 13:35:25
1992 Ensenada-La Paz   Paul Simon
  Dave Simon
Ford Ranger 16:53:02   Danny Hamel
  Garth Sweetland
  Paul Ostbo
Kawasaki 16:50:12
1993 Mexicali-Mexicali   Ivan Stewart Toyota SR5 13:29:11   Danny Hamel
  Larry Roeseler
  Ty Davis
Kawasaki 13:57:23
1994 Mexicali-Mexicali   Jim Smith Ford TT 10:28:56   Danny Hamel
  Larry Roeseler
  Ty Davis
Kawasaki 10:20:47
1995 Tijuana-La Paz   Larry Ragland Chevrolet TT 20:14:12   Paul Krause
  Ty Davis
  Ted Hunnicutt Jr.
Kawasaki 19:31:19
1996 Ensenada-Ensenada   Larry Ragland Chevrolet TT 14:38:59   Paul Krause
  Ty Davis
  Greg Zitterkopf
Kawasaki 14:11:02
1997 Ensenada-Ensenada   Larry Ragland Chevrolet TT 13:53:46   Johnny Campbell
  Tim Staab
  Greg Bringle
Honda 13:19:59
1998 Santo Tomás-La Paz   Ivan Stewart Toyota 19:08:20   Johnny Campbell
  Jimmy Lewis
Honda 18:58:48
1999 Ojos Negros-Ojos Negros   Larry Ragland Chevrolet 14:26:36   Johnny Campbell
  Tim Staab
Honda 14:15:42
2000** Ensenada-Cabo San Lucas   Dan Smith
  Dave Ashley
Ford 32:15:39   Johnny Campbell
  Tim Staab
  Craig Smith
  Steve Hengeveld
Honda 30:54:12
2001 Ensenada-Ensenada   Doug Fortin
  Charlie Townsley
Jimco Chevrolet 14:35:42   Johnny Campbell
  Tim Staab
Honda 13:51:40
2002 Ensenada-La Paz   Dan Smith
  Dave Ashley
Ford 16:19:03   Steve Hengeveld
  Johnny Campbell
  Andy Grider
Honda 16:17:28
2003 Ensenada-Ensenada   Doug Fortin
  Charlie Townsley
Jimco Chevrolet 16:24:02   Steve Hengeveld
  Johnny Campbell
Honda 15:39:52
2004 Ensenada-La Paz   Troy Herbst
  Larry Roeseler
Smithbuilt-Ford 16:18:14   Steve Hengeveld
  Johnny Campbell
  Kendall Norman
Honda 15:57:37
2005 Ensenada-Ensenada   Larry Roeseler
  Troy Herbst
Smithbuilt-Ford 15:06:19   Steve Hengeveld
  Johnny Campbell
  Mike Childress
Honda 14:20:30
2006 Ensenada-La Paz   Andy McMillin
  Robby Gordon
Chevrolet 19:15:17   Steve Hengeveld
  Mike Childress
  Quinn Cody
Honda 18:17:50
2007 Ensenada-Cabo San Lucas   Mark Post
  Rob MacCachren
  Carl Renezeder
Ford 25:21:25   Robby Bell
  Kendall Norman
  Steve Hengeveld
  Johnny Campbell
Honda 24:15:50
2008 Ensenada-Ensenada   Roger Norman
  Larry Roeseler
Ford 12:40:33   Robby Bell
  Kendall Norman
  Johnny Campbell
Honda 12:29:10
2009 Ensenada-Ensenada   Andy McMillin
  Scott McMillin
Chevrolet 14:19:50   Kendall Norman
  Timmy Weigand
  Quinn Cody
Honda 13:27:50
2010 Ensenada-La Paz   Tavo Vildosola
  Gus Vildosola
Ford F-150 TT 19:00:04   Kendall Norman
 Quinn Cody
Honda 19:20:52
2011 Ensenada-Ensenada   Andy McMillin
  Scott McMillin
Ford Raptor TT 14:51:36   Kendall Norman
  Quinn Cody
  Logan Holladay
Honda 14:14:25
2012 Ensenada-La Paz   BJ Baldwin Chevrolet TT 20:00:59   Colton Udall
  Timmy Weigand
  David Kamo
Honda 20:09:30
2013 Ensenada-Ensenada   BJ Baldwin Chevrolet TT 18:36:10   Colton Udall
  Timmy Weigand
  David Kamo
  Mark Samuels
Honda 18:29:14
2014[9] Ensenada-La Paz   Rob MacCachren
  Andy McMillin
  Jason Voss
Ford TT 22:31:27   Ricky Brabec
  Robby Bell
  Steve Hengeveld
  Max Eddy Jr.
Kawasaki 24:24:01
2015 Ensenada-Ensenada   Rob MacCachren
  Andy McMillin
Ford TT 15:38:33   Colton Udall
  Mark Samuels
  Justin Jones
Honda 16:29:08
2016 Ensenada-Ensenada   Rob MacCachren
  Jason Voss
Ford TT 17:12:58   Justin Jones
  David Kamo
  Mark Samuels
  Daymon Stokie
  Colton Udall
Honda 18:16:42
2017 Ensenada-La Paz   Juan C. Lopez
  Apdaly Lopez
Ford TT[10] 19:53:36   Francisco Arredondo
  Shane Esposito
  Justin Morgan
  Max Eddy Jr.
  Ty Davis
Honda 21:07:16
2018 Ensenada-Ensenada   Cameron Steele

  Pat Dean

Ford TT 16:24:02   Justin Morgan
  Mark Samuels
  Justin Jones
Honda 16:23:26
2019 Ensenada-Ensenada   Alan Ampudia

  Aaron Ampudia

Ford TT 16:10:35   Justin Morgan
  David Kamo
  Max Eddy Jr
  Shane Esposito
Honda 17:34:28
2020 Ensenada-Ensenada   Luke McMillin

  Larry Roesler

Ford TT 19:10:25   Justin Morgan
  Mark Samuels
  Justin Jones
Honda 20:50:30

**Officially the race was called the Baja 2000 (1726 miles) for the year 2000.

Notable competitorsEdit

Current and past classesEdit

Cars and TrucksEdit


  • SCORE Class 20: 125cc or smaller two-stroke and 250cc or smaller four-stroke motorcycles.
  • SCORE Class 21: 126cc to 250cc.
  • SCORE Class 22: 250cc or more.
  • SCORE Class 30: Riders over 30 years old.
  • SCORE Class 40: Riders over 40 years old.
  • SCORE Class 50: Riders over 50 years old.
  • SCORE Class 60: Riders over 65 years old.
  • SCORE Sportsman MC > 250cc: Sportsman riders 250cc (2-stroke) or 450cc (4-stroke) or greater.
  • SCORE Sportsman MC < 250cc: Sportsman riders 250cc (2-stroke) or 450cc (4-stroke) or less.


See alsoEdit


  • Fiolka, Marty (2005). 1000 Miles to Glory. Arizona: David Bull Publishing. ISBN 1-893618-36-6.
  • Ekins, Dave. "A Ride Down the Peninsula". Archived from the original on September 29, 2007. Retrieved 2006-12-24.
  • SCORE International (2006). "2006–2010 Off-Road Racing Rules and Regulations".
  • SCORE International. "2009 New Classes & Existing Class Rule Amendments
  • 2009 Baja 1000 Press Release


  1. ^ "SCORE OFF-ROAD RACING –". Archived from the original on August 24, 2015. Retrieved December 28, 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai "SCORE crown jewel since 1967 (October 6, 2005)". Desert Racing. Archived from the original on March 6, 2012. Retrieved November 5, 2010.
  3. ^ SCORE. "2017 Schedule". Score-International. Retrieved October 30, 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d "A Ride Down The Peninsula". Retrieved February 4, 2017.
  5. ^ a b "Honda's First Four Years in America: and you thought it was easy". Retrieved August 12, 2018.
  6. ^ a b "American Honda Motor Company and Honda Motor Company". Retrieved August 12, 2018.
  7. ^ "Honda's First Four Years in America". Retrieved February 4, 2017.
  8. ^ Geddes, Ryan (November 5, 2008). "Score International Baja 1000 Review (Wii)". IGN. Archived from the original on November 8, 2008. Retrieved April 2, 2016.
  9. ^ Clark, Dominic. "MacCachren/A. McMillin/Voss 'Rockstars' earns Overall, SCORE Trophy Truck win at 47th Tecate SCORE Baja 1000". SCORE International. Archived from the original on December 26, 2014. Retrieved December 26, 2014.
  10. ^ "Geiser Bros on Instagram: "The @rpmoffroad #team is #mexico 🇲🇽 bound for the @scoreinternational #baja1000 👊🏽 🏁 - #geiser #geiserbros #trophytruck #geiserbrostt…"". Instagram.
  11. ^ Kelioh, Graham (April 16, 2019). "Jenson Button takes on The Mint 400". Motor Sport. Archived from the original on February 26, 2020. Retrieved May 6, 2020.
    Chokhani, Darshan (November 25, 2019). "Button spent nearly 17 hours stranded in unique Baja1000 Experience". Retrieved May 6, 2020.
  12. ^ Burns, Josh. "Kendall Norman, Quinn Cody Earn 2010 SCORE Baja 1000 Motorcycle Victory." Off-Road.Com. November 18, 2010 Retrieved 1:35 p.m., Sunday, April 6, 2014 (PDT).
  13. ^ "Valentino Danchev Competes in Baja Challenge Class at the 48th Annual Bud Light SCORE Baja 1000".
  14. ^ "Valentino Danchev Competes in Baja Challenge Class at the 48th Annual Bud Light SCORE Baja 1000".
  15. ^ "E-commerce pioneer bike bandit's ken wahlster". Dealer news. Archived from the original on February 18, 2015. Retrieved April 5, 2015.

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 31°52′05″N 116°38′01″W / 31.86806°N 116.63361°W / 31.86806; -116.63361