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BJ Baldwin and co-driver Johnny Nelson earned the 2013 SCORE Baja 1000 victory and the season championship.

Monster Energy/Toyo Tires Chevrolet driver BJ Baldwin crossed the finish line first in Ensenanda, Baja California, to earn his second consecutive SCORE Baja 1000 in the early morning hours of November 16. Baldwin faced a tough battle from the team of Rob MacCachren and Andy McMillin down the stretch, but he was able to muster up the energy to fend them off in spite of soloing the entire 883.1 miles of race course for the 2013 1000.

Baldwin came into the race heavy-hearted after an accident in Baja while preparing for the race cost him his beloved dog Xena. It was a long month of personal issues leading up the race and Baldwin said he was not as prepared as he’d like to be, but in spite of that he was able to put all of those issues behind him to earn the win.

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Racing is well underway after the four-wheeled vehicles left the line this morning for the 46th Annual Tecate SCORE Baja 1000. We spoke to a number of the lead Trophy Truck and Class 1 teams this morning about the race and how they felt before leaving the line. Most of them all talked about the difficulty this rough course will present .

Tavo Vildosola, who hopes to earn another Baja 1000 win this year with his Farther Gustavo Sr., knows the importance of this year regardless of the team’s peformacne thus far in 2013.

Rob MacCachren

Rob MacCachren will share driving duties with Andy McMillin at this year’s Baja 1000.

87. Eight-seven. 80-7. However you flip it, 87 is a big number, especially when you consider that when the flag drops for the 2013 SCORE Baja 1000 it will be Rob MacCachren’s 87th race of the year. A true professional in every sense of the word, MacCachren is always on the hunt for the ever-elusive Baja 1000 victory, but considering he’s sitting third in overall points, a win can potentially wrap up the Trophy Truck Championship for him as well.

Considering the longer-than-usual distance of this year’s Baja 1000 loop race, and the fact that most racers feel it will be a brutal one, MacCachren enlisted the help of some top-flight talent in the form of former Baja 1000 winner Andy McMillin. The two will share driving duties throughout the 883.1 miles, with Rob taking the truck off the line, Andy tackling the middle section, and Rob hopping back in for the finish.

Bryce Menzies earned the fastest time today in qualifying and will head off the line with clean air on Friday.

Bryce Menzies earned the fastest time today in qualifying and will head off the line with clean air on Friday. Photo: Josh Burns

Bryce Menzies put an exclamation point on the 2013 SCORE Baja 1000, and the race hasn’t even begun yet. Menzies placed first in qualifying today at a short five-mile track just outside of Ojos Negros in Baja California, Mexico. With race times now official, Menzies beat his next closest competitor by roughly 7 seconds.

Juan Carlos Lopez finished in second place behind Menzies. Finishing in third place during qualifying was Gustavo Vildosola Jr., who said that he likes the qualifying format despite a poor qualifying attempt at the Baja 500 last June.

Lucas-Oil-Logo-11-21-11It was another hot one here at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Saturday. After one trying day in the Nevada desert, the drivers and crews of the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, presented by GEICO, were back for more punishment here in Round 4 of the 2013 campaign. Yesterday, the newly-revised track helped many of those who had found success in the opening weekend at Firebird to continue their good fortune. Today, however, several drivers who stumbled at some point this weekend came roaring back this afternoon, earning a measure of redemption after one bad circumstance or another. With temperatures climbing even higher than yesterday, nobody had it easy out here, and anyone who met with success truly earned it.

Pro 2 Unlimited
The final race of the weekend was Pro 2 Unlimited, and once again, the drivers seemed to save the best for last. Brian Deegan had the early lead in his #38 Rockstar Energy Drink/Makita Power Tools Ford, and while it is usually the case that once he’s out front, he’s almost impossible to beat, local driver Patrick Clark shot that theory full of holes.

“Every mile of every race there are situations that can end your day,” Rob MacCachren reflects from La Paz.  “Crashes, fires, booby traps… Baja demonstrates this every year.”  With 1121 treacherous miles to cover in the 45th Annual SCORE Baja 1000 and three dozen Trophy Trucks fighting to etch their names into history, there is little margin for error.  Unfortunately for MacCachren and his teammates campaigning the No. 20 ROCKSTAR Energy Drink / BFGoodrich Tires / MasterCraft Safety truck, luck was not on their side.

Despite weeks of preparation the team lost first gear and reverse in their transmission early in the race.  The transmission was swapped at Viscaino by the dedicated chase crew, but the setback would erase the fresh air MacCachren enjoyed by starting third off the line in Ensenada.  “This race encompasses so many elements: Man versus man, man versus nature, and in our case man versus machine.” Robbie Pierce reflected.  Pierce drove the middle leg of the race through the cold darkness of the desert night.  “That is the siren song of Baja though.  I am thoroughly exhausted right now; there is nothing left in the tank.  Overcoming all of those elements will call me back here though.”

The Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series (LOORRS) heads to Firebird International Raceway in Phoenix this weekend for the final race of the season where the Pro2 Unlimited championship will be decided.  After Rob MacCachren suffered a disappointing weekend in Las Vegas, where he was absent from the podium for the first time of any LOORRS racing weekend this season, he has slipped to third in points behind rivals Brian Deegan and Marty Hart.  Never one to give up, MacCachren intends to put the ROCKSTAR Energy Drink / Makita Tools / BFGoodrich Tires / TRAXXAS team back on podium for the eighth time this season.  Following the final Round 15 of racing on Saturday, both the Pro2 and Pro4 trucks will take to the track for the $30,000 Lucas Oil Off Road Cup. MacCachren is famous for his performances in cup races, with three Governor’s Cups, three Borg-Warner Cups to his credit and a victory at the TORC Chairman’s Cup earlier this season.

The Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series (LOORRS) returns to Rob MacCachren’s hometown of Las Vegas this weekend for more door-to-door action.  Unlike past events at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the races will be held on Friday and Saturday nights under the lights of the speedway.  With only three rounds of competition remaining, every point counts for MacCachren as he fights for the Pro2 Unlimited season championship.  MacCachren is currently tied for season points with fellow ROCKSTAR Energy Drink / Makita Tools driver Brian Deegan.  In addition to being his in home town, Las Vegas is also where MacCachren earned a first place and second place finish last season.

MacCachren suffered a devastating crash last month in Reno, but his crew drove all night from Hemet to get Rob Mac his old championship winning truck to compete on Sunday.    “How lucky am I,” MacCachren asked rhetorically, “to have my title sponsors be an energy drink and a power tool company when me and my team have to work all night long.  We literally could not have raced on Sunday without plenty of ROCKSTAR Energy Drink and the Makita Power Tools in our hands.” Jim Blackmore and Dave Farrugia are now working feverishly to get the damaged truck ready for this weekend’s race in Las Vegas.  Will they make it in time?  No one knows! The only way to find out is to come out to Las Vegas Motor Speedway and see for yourself.

The first race with a new truck is never an easy task, even with the considerable talents of Rob MacCachren behind the wheel.  MacCachren has already racked up wins in the desert this season at Laughlin, San Felipe, and the Mint 400, but the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series (LOORRS) short course season is just heating up.  Speaking of heat, it was an issue in qualifying where temperatures at Firebird International Raceway in Phoenix were in the 90s, revealing a cooling issue with MacCachren’s brand new Pro2 Unlimited truck.  This limited Rob Mac’s practice time on the several high speed sections, spectacular jumps, and unique dual split line of Firebird’s track.

Fueled by ROCKSTAR Energy Drink and armed with a full complement of tools from Makita Power Tools, MacCachren’s talented crew resolved the cooling issue and performed some fine tuning of the suspension before Saturday’s opening round of LOORRS racing.  MacCachren strapped into his MasterCraft Safety 3G seat and started on the inside of the third row for Saturday’s race. The action started hot and heavy as soon as the green flag dropped and didn’t stop until the checkers came out.  After a generous dousing from the water truck prior to the race, other Pro2 Unlimiteds with lesser rubber weren’t able to match the traction of MacCachren’s BFGoodrich Tires and the field nearly piled up on the first lap.  By the middle of the race MacCachren had patiently worked his way up to third place and was battling for second with Robby Woods in some of the best action of the weekend.  With only two laps left to go MacCachren dove under Robby Woods at the hairpin at Turn 3 and never looked back.  While he ran out of time to reel in the leader, MacCachren put ROCKSTAR Energy Drink and new sponsor Makita Power Tools on the podium in his first race of the season.

On Sunday Rob set the fast time in qualifying, hitting speeds in excess of 90 mph on the tight track.  The inversion put the ROCKSTAR Energy Drink / Makita Tools / BFGoodrich Tires Pro2 Unlimited on the third row for Round 2 of racing, and during the first half of the race MacCachren made every effort to keep from getting tangled up with the 13 other trucks on the track.  LOORRS has instituted a new rule for the 2012 season where all competitors pull into the hot pits for two minutes at the midpoint of the race.  When this occurred on Sunday, the new car blues struck MacCachren’s team in the form of an electrical gremlin that severely limited power.

At this point a decision had to be made, and in an instant.  The ROCKSTAR Energy Drink / Makita Tools / BFGoodrich Tires team decided to continue the race, albeit at a greatly reduced speed, in order to avoid a DNF and earn valuable season points.  Being a consummate professional Rob pulled to the side of the course to let the field pass him by.  What seemed like a cruel April Fool’s Day joke had snatched away Rob Mac’s chance of another podium finish, but the perennial champion was not deterred.  “Our qualifying time definitely raised some eyebrows and I think that we are just scratching the surface on the true potential of this truck that Dave Farruggia and Jim Blackmore have designed.”  The next LOORRS race for MacCachren will be at the all new track at Lake Elsinore in Southern California on April 21st and 22nd.  Meanwhlie Rob continues his quest for the SCORE International Trophy Truck championship when he gets behind the wheel of the No. 20 MasterCraft Racing Trophy Truck at the Baja 500 on June 1-3.  He will also compete in the TRAXXAS TORC Series and continue to share driving duties with Steve Sourapas in Best In The Desert.  Having trouble keeping up with Rob Mac’s busy schedule?  You are not alone.  For the latest updates follow Rob MacCachren on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/21RobMac.

Photography by Jason Zindroski

The SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge wrapped up its two-race event on Sunday. Instead of being a two-day event that combined both day’s results into one race, this year SCORE created two separate races each day, making the weekend important to the top classes in terms of the overall points championship.

BJ Baldwin led from wire to wire on Saturday in the Trophy Truck class after qualifying first, while Rob MacCachren recovered from a ninth-place finish on Saturday to finish first on Sunday. Juan Carlos Lopez took home two second-place finishes both days of racing.

In Class 1, Adam Pfankuch earned the win on Saturday while Cody Parkhouse followed up his second-place finish on Saturday with the win on Sunday.

Check out this highlight video of action from the weekend. Below are SCORE’s official results from Sunday’s race.