Baja California, Mexico – The Tecate SCORE Baja 500 has been a good race for BJ Baldwin. Not only does he love racing in Mexico but he has always done well at the annual 500 mile race. He has been a frequent sight on the podium and came very close to an overall win last year. After a long day nursing his wounded transmission, he finished 11 seconds behind the winner in 2012.
BJ was the first truck to qualify. “The first guy to qualify will hit every rock and bump on the course,” said BJ, “In rally racing they call it “sweeping the road.” BJ ended up qualifying in 5th place (see more on Off-Road.com’s coverage here). “It’s harder to keep track of the competition when you are out front,” says BJ, “When you are out front it’s tough to get good split times on the competition. After you go through, the crew moves to the next spot. They don’t always hang around to see how far back the others are. Sometimes it’s a radio issue. You get out of range by the time they come through. It’s better to stalk your prey than to try and outrun it.”
Of course, the goal is always to outrun the rest. That is one reason BJ loves this race so much. The course has long sections where he can run wide open. “Running for miles at 120 to 130 separates the fastest guys from the rest of the field,” says BJ, “To go that fast you need to have a great truck and you have to do your homework prerunning. I hope to have a cognitive advantage by knowing every mile of the course. The sections that are closed to prerunning will be new but it will be the same for everyone. I really want to win one for my crew. They have worked so hard, they deserve to get a win. ”
BJ will be racing his Monster Energy, Toyo Tires, Rigid Industries and Method Race Wheels SCORE Trophy Truck “Rampage” that is well suited for the long, high-speed sections of the course regardless if it’s in the daylight or after dark thanks to his Rigid Industries lighting. After BJ logs the necessary hours prerunning it will be some fun at the Monster Energy SCORE Kick Off Party on Thursday, May 30 from 7 p.m. until Midnight at the start/finish line area in the heart of Ensenada.
Donations will be collected for La Cruz Roja Mexicana (Mexico’s Red Cross), at the event which will include a racer’s autograph party and vehicle display then it’s all business on raceday. No matter where BJ qualifies to start, he will be pushing everyone to keep up every mile until the finish.
Follow BJ’s race LIVE beginning Saturday, 10:30am PST as he punishes through the Baja terrain via score-international.com.
Photography By: Brian Binkert