47th Bud Light SCORE Baja 500 Underway

Jun. 06, 2015 By Josh Burns & Scott Rousseau, Photos by Josh Burns & Scott Rousseau
Robby Gordon leaves the starting line in Ensenada for the 47th Bud Light SCORE Baja 500.

Racing has begun here in Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico, for the 47th Bud Light SCORE Baja 500. Motorcycles and ATVs left the line this morning at 5:30 a.m., with Trophy Trucks heading off the line starting at 10 a.m.

A lengthy delay stopped the action this morning after a racecar lost control of their vehicle only a few turns into the race, thereby knocking down a power line that forced a complete stop to the race. All vehicles have now left the line with the hopes of returning to finish the 510.58-mile course that SCORE CEO Roger Norman and crew designed for this year’s race.

After qualifying first to earn the pole position, Robby Gordon will look to put another Baja 500 trophy in his case today, but as he well knows, qualifying fast doesn’t ensure anything down in Baja.

“Qualifying is one thing, finishing is another,” Gordon said. “We’ve worked really, really hard on our whole package, and we’ve made a bunch of changes, but this truck is 12 years old, and I don’t know what I would do different with it for today. It definitely goes fast in a straight line, and it handles really well. You know what they say, ‘You stay with the girl you know,’ and she’s a good girl, so hopefully we can get her another victory here in Baja. I think this truck has won the Baja four times.”

Robby Gordon

Gordon is keeping a close eye on the Stadium Supertruck happenings at the X Games in Austin, Texas.
“Those are all my trucks,” Gordon said. “I’m very excited about it, and I’m excited to have guys like Rusty Wallace and Travis Pastrana as well as some newcomers to off-road racing involved. X Games obviously is big for off-road racing even though it is Texas and we’re here in Baja. I think they relate, and people will understand more about desert Baja from the Stadium Supertrucks. I’ve been in contact with the boys up there, and everything seems to be good.”
Third off the line today in the Trophy Truck class was Luke McMillin, who looks to earn his first Baja 500 victory.

Luke McMillin

“Starting up front is going to help us out,” McMillin said. “As soon as we get through the first 20 miles, which is a lot of speed limit while getting out of town, we hit the Pine Forest, and that’s just going to be a dusty mess. I have two fast guys in front of me [Gordon and Nick Vanderwey], so if I can let them dice it out, and we can charge hard but stay consistent, hopefully we can get to the front physically. From there we have to get through the desert, and then once we get to the beach we’ve just got to make dust. This Baja 500 is actually over 500 miles, which we haven’t seen in a while. Not only that, we drop down in the desert for a longer section, and it’s going to be hot, and it’s rougher than ever. You want to charge hard, but at the same time you can screw up your truck.”
“But we’re here to win, and that’s it,” McMillin added. “We don’t want a podium. We’re not here for points. We’ve come to the Baja 500 to get a win.”
Jason Voss

Jason Voss, who teamed up with Rob MacCachren and Andy McMillin to win last year’s Baja 1000, isn’t looking to simply finish the race either – he wants another SCORE victory.

“A good day is going to be us coming across the finish line first, right?” Voss said. “I just think we have to be patient. The race doesn’t really start until we get to Race Mile 150, get into the desert, and things open up. We’ll see where we can be sitting at that point, and then it is going to be ‘Game on.’”
Voss said there are plenty of places where the race can be lost before Race Mile 150, however.
“You can lose the race anywhere, but there is definitely some tight stuff up in the Pine Forest,” Voss said. “There are some logs sticking out, and some rocks. If you get a flat tire or early on or get stuck on the side of a hill, there you go, you’re probably going to find yourself five or six spots back. So you’ve got to hold your position, not go backwards. If we can keep it in fourth place and one or two guys have a problem in front of us, and we can get up to third or second before we hit Race Mile 150, we’ll be good to go from there. Then it’s on.”

Bryce Menzies
The Baja 500 seems to suit Bryce Menzies just fine, but the defending Baja 500 Champion, and winner of three of the last four races, will be facing some of the new sections on the course this year.

“This is the first time that I’ve run through the Pine Forest and down through La Rumarosa, and it’s really tough, really brutal with lots of whoops,” Menzies said. “I think we’re just going to do what we always do. You’ve got to be smart in the first half of the race and keep your truck together, and then toward the finish it is kind of the same course on the beach. We know it really well and we can push really hard there. We’ve won this race three times in the last four years, and we want to make it four [in five years], so we’ve just got to be smart. If you push too hard early on, it’s rough and you could break something.”
Voss said the race will really start to heat up around Race Mile 150. Menzies, who started sixth off the line, disagreed.
“Race Mile 150 is right in the middle of the whoops, so I would say that it will really start around Race Mile 250,” Menzies said. “Once we get through the desert and through the heat, we can cool the shocks down and cool the truck down, and then we can race hard from there. It’s going to be a race where you have to preserve your truck. This is probably one of the roughest 500s that we’ve had. Hopefully it will come down to a close battle for the win. That always makes it interesting for the fans and for the drivers.”

Rob MacCachren
MacCachren will be racing this year’s Baja 500 with an injured right knee, though he’s not using it as an excuse for his performance.

“I hyperextended my knee at a short course race a few weeks ago, but it’s fine,” MacCachren said. “I mean, I can’t dance, but down here it is fine. I don’t really need to move it that much to step on the throttle, so I think we’re going to be okay.”
MacCachren, who was the 11th Trophy Truck off the line this morning, knows that preserving the truck early will be the key to winning this race.

“This one is going to be rough, and it’s going to be really hot in the desert,” MacCachren said. “So I think it will come down to whoever can come out of there with the freshest truck. It’s going to be interesting.”

More SCORE Baja 500
Robby Gordon Bests Trophy Trucks at SCORE Baja 500 Qualifying

SCORE Baja 500 Photo Gallery

SCORE Announces 216 Entries for 47th Bud Light Baja 500

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