1000 Miles of Bad Trail on Two Wheels

2006 SCORE Baja 1000

Nov. 09, 2006 By Mike Hobbs
SCORE racing in Baja Mexico has experienced huge growth in recent years and it doesn't seem this trend is slowing down one bit.  At the time of this writing a record 405 starters are poised to do battle in the 2006 Baja 1000 that starts in Ensenada and finishes in La Paz . Out of the 405 entries, 71 of them are entered in various pro motorcycle classes.  I ran out of fingers, toes and finger nail clippings to add in the sportsman motorcycle classes.

Veteran Baja motorcycle racers are an entirely different breed from what most folks consider normal. These riders are tough as nails with perhaps a screw loose and quite possibly other abnormalities science has yet to discover.  Hopefully this article sheds some light on just what these brave soles go though in their pursuit of victory.  Of course this does not include the watched Dust to Glory crowd that think it'll be fun.  The Johnny come lately is in for a huge surprise. Racing in Mexico might seem like a lot of fun, it’s not.  It’s downright brutal.    Let me put this race into a tangible prospective for those without a clue.  If you trail ride a lot you might cover 1000 miles in a year. Now, think of the worst ride you've had all year, over the nastiest terrain imaginable.  Relive that ride over and over until you are ready to puke.  This is just a start of what participants will experience if indeed they make it to the checkered flag in La Paz.  My guess is that less then half of the motorcycles will finish.

If the physical and mental abuse one must endure is not enough...  Add into the mix of fun that by nightfall 700+ horsepower Trophy Trucks with candle watt power lights akin to the sun will be roaring past most of the bikes.  One might think heaven has called and you might be right if not careful and don't get out of the way.   These 4 wheel teams won't intentionally run a motorcyclist over but riders have been hit in the past.  Sad but true, that’s racing in Mexico.

Something else that needs to be considered is the racecourse itself.  Racecourse is a relative term here.  Mexican locals use a majority of the course as everyday roads. If dodging an old pickup truck were not enough it’s not uncommon to be racing around a corner only to find a bull locking eyes with you.  Johnny Campbell hit one of these future dinners a few years back. Campbell continued the race after some trailside repairs. Now that’s tough!

Even chase teams have an adventure ahead of them.  Recent Hurricane ‘John’ has left destruction in its wake.  Pre run reports suggest it will take chase vehicles longer to get to La Paz then the race itself.  It’s also noted that more than 70 stream crossings littered with stuck cars and big rigs face the support teams on the journey down the peninsula.

Understanding what a feat it is to just race the Baja 1000 on a motorcycle let’s take a look at some of the folks that think 1000 miles of bad road is fun:

Early reports were that Travis Pastrana would be racing a factory backed Suzuki with Dust to Glory star Mouse McCoy.  It looks like that deal fell threw. Our sources say McCoy was unhappy with part of the deal and went elsewhere.  Pastrana is still racing but in a class 1 car and McCoy will be in a class 7 truck.

Team Honda is hard to beat in Baja and this year is no exception.  Honda races two teams referred to as the “A” and “B” teams.  At the San Felipe 250 earlier this year the “A” team of Steve Hengeveld and Mike Childress were disqualified. Apparently for shortcutting a turn that was deemed by SCORE to be too far off course. That gave the Honda “B” team of Robby Bell and Kendall Norman the win at the 250.  This put Steve Hengeveld and Mike Childress in a curious position heading into the Baja 500.  Then disaster struck the duo one more time.   Childress had a hard get-off and reports are he rode with broken bones before handing the bike over to Hengeveld.   This misfortune once again gave Robby Bell and Kendall Norman the win.    Look for Steve Hengeveld and Mike Childress to ride the tires off of the CRFX450. Yep, that’s right, our inside info has the XR650R being retired as the “Baja King”.  Hengeveld and Childress are both fierce competitors, look for them to try and get the lead quickly and not look back.  How’s this for a wrench in the sprocket? The legend himself Johnny Campbell is supposed to ride with Bell and Norman !   This Honda battle alone will be very interesting to watch!

I've never understood multiple class entries where a rider gets off the bike a few yards after the start or on right before the finish.  In my humble opinion the rider of record should be required to at least ride 50 miles on each entry.

CLASS 22: 

Open Pro- Open displacement motorcycle

5x Robert Laughlin- Racing solo

6x Robby Bell- Look for Bell to ring it and get ahead of less qualified starters quickly. We don’t know when Johnny Campbell is going to get on the Honda 450X but the ‘B’ team just might become the ‘A’ team.

10x James Sones- Racing solo and a Baja guide for Malcolm Smith

12x Jesse Sharpe- Sharpe races out of the Dp racing camp and the team is currently running 3rd in points for the championship.  They’ve added a new rider to the team, Aaron Tuck ( Brawley, CA) who will start the race in Ensenada .  From what we’ve been told Tuck is an AMA District 38 racer and hauls the mail in Baja. Dp Racing is sponsored by: MotoWorld of El Cajon, Michelin Tires/Bib Mousse, Baja.Net, One Industries, Joe Hauler Motorcycle Carriers, No Fear, Baja Designs, Spectro Oils, FMF.

1x Steve Hengeveld- Steve will be on a mission, by the first pit stop look for ‘Henge’ to have gobbled up most of the field that started ahead of him. An unknown value at this point is if the 450 can handle 1000 miles with Henge and Mikey Childress beating the crap out of it. Honda must think so...   

17x Robert Barnum- Rob is going to race the 1000 solo.  Barnum took 1st place honors as the fastest Ironman at the 2004 Baja 1000. Can he do it again? Only time will tell.

18x Anna Cody- Anna is fast. Reports were that she was going to race solo against the boys then joined a team. Now we are hearing she’s racing Ironwoman again.  Anna is racing for a noble cause- Breast cancer.

19x Cameron Steele- Frequently know as “PAB” on the message boards as well as a Dessert Assassin member.   Steele is none other then one of the motorcycle race commentators you see on T.V.  We are not sure just how far Cameron Steele will actually ride since he’s racing in a car as well.  Steele is 4th in overall points going into the 1000.

22x Beau Hayden- Factory BMW HP2 with an almost all new Team of riders.   Most of the time when you see a BMW racing in Baja you think of Jimmy Lewis (Editor of dirt rider magazine) Lewis had other business obligations and is not racing the 1000 this year.  Lead off rider for BMW is Beau Hayden. Beau is the only remaining Team member from previous races. Beau has been riding the HP2 exclusively now for 5 months, in all types of terrain, and has figured out how to make the HP2 perform.  The second rider on the HP2 will be Ron Bishop. Ron has raced every single Baja 1000.  The third leg will be ridden by Chuck Dempsey. Chuck is part of the legendary long-time Baja racing Dempsey family and has proven to be a solid Baja racer.  Fourth leg of the race will be taken by Baja racing newcomer Tony Megla. Tony has a long riding and racing history and should be a solid rider on the big HP2.  The final stretch will be taken by former Baja class champ and all-around hard-core guy Pete Postel.

CLASS 21:  

Any two-stroke engine displacing 250cc or less or any four-stroke displacing 450cc or less

110x Kevin Johnson- Odds favorite to win the class


Open displacement motorcycle- Rider must be at least 30 years old

301x Brian Pinard- tied with Wilson at the Baja 500, is a contender for the class 30 title

307x Ron Wilson-  Also a contending team for the class title.  Riders are Scott Meyers, Steve Garnett as well as Tim Morton.  This is Tim’s 20th Baja 1000. The Team is primarily supported by Skin Industries, Temecula Motorsports, Baja Designs, and Precision Concepts.

300x Gerardo Rojas-  Defending champ still in the hunt

CLASS 40: 

Open displacement motorcycle- Rider must be at least 40 years old

400x Jim O'Neal- O’Neal would like to wrap the title up one more time.

 407x Brett Helm- Trying to beat O’Neal in this years 1000 seems to be costing this team some big bucks!  Reports out of Baja are that each rider is being paid $5000.00 as well as a free plane ride home!  

CLASS 50: 

Open displacement motorcycle- Rider must be at least 50 years old

506x Stephen Stenberg- Says he’s racing solo but has limited experience. 

549x Chris Haines- Late reports are that Haines has pulled out of this class and will be racing with his wife in another class.


Class 60 is a big let down.  SCORE sent out a press release announcing this class and only one entrant so far, 601x Donald Lewis .  1000 miles for any team is huge but at 60+ years old if this team finishes, our hat goes off to them! 

That’s it for now; see you at the Baja 1000!

Mike Hobbs

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