Patience, guts, and a good truck carried hall-of-famer Rob MacCachren to victory in this weekend’s BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 500.
Starting from the pole thanks to his win at San Felipe earlier in the SCORE season, off-road ace MacCachren led flag-to-flag in the Baja 500, locking down a win and a big payday thanks to BFGoodrich.
In fact, MacCachren never lost the physical lead on his way to finishing first in the elapsed-time race. He bested a strong field, comprised of 321 starters including 33 in the marquee Trophy Truck racing division. MacCachren, 53, drove to victory over a tough 542.12-mile race course in his No. 11 Rockstar Energy MacCachren Motorsports Ford F-150 (built by Geiser Bros of Phoenix) in a penalty-free 11 hours, 21 minutes, 15 seconds, averaging 47.75 miles per hour.
Sure, you probably average more than that on your morning commute but while the Beltway might be riddled with potholes it has nothing on the brutal Baja 500 course that started and finished in Ensenada. MacCachren’s margin of victory was three minutes, 32 seconds ahead of Luke McMillin, who finished second overall in 11:24:47 at 47.50 mph, also in an F-150.
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For MacCachren, this marks his sixth class win. It is also his second overall triumph in the Baja 500, as he increases his total of career SCORE Trophy Truck race wins to 17. That’s a record, by the way. When the race course officially closed Sunday morning at 8:28 a.m., 187 of 321 starters completed the rugged course within the prescribed 22-hour time limit.
Trophy Trucks get all the attention but there were plenty other tough classes of racers putting on a good show as well. Justin Davis of California captured the unlimited Class 1 while finishing 12th overall in his Chevy-powered Jimco open-wheel desert race car. His winning effort was completed in 12:25:39 (43.62mph). Like MacCachren, he started first he never looked back, beating a dozen competitors and finishing with a victory margin of over 45 minutes.
Proving that running a smart race can trump outright horsepower, Kristen Matlock took the overall win in the UTV class in a naturally-aspirated machine. Her rig was less powerful than the forced-induction UTVs, yet she drove solo to a winning time of 14:26:47 in a Polaris RZR XP4 1000 for a victory margin of over 31 minutes. among all 51 of the Pro UTVs that started the race. Matlock is a veteran competitor in her class and won the season opener in San Felipe.
At the finish line, overall winner Rob MacCachren commented, “This was the roughest, toughest, longest and most spectacular SCORE Baja 500 race course in the 50-year history of this glorious race. Early on we had Cameron Steele behind us and something happened and it’s hard when you’re out front to know how hard to run. Then the last time we checked we had about a 1 minute, 44-second gap on Andy (McMillin)”. Having earned an extra $25,000 thanks to contingency money fronted by BFGoodrich, MacCachren blurted “Love being in Baja!” Yes, Rob, we’d imagine you do.
Eleven of the top 12 overall finishers in the race were from the marquee SCORE Trophy Truck class. The one that wasn’t from SCORE Trophy Truck was Davis from Class 1. Among the racers earning their first class wins in the 2018 SCORE World Desert Championship were Gustavo Vildosola Sr (SCORE TT Legend, Ford Raptor), Mark McNeil (Class 5, VW Baja Bug), and Casey Currie (Hammer Truck Unlimited, Jeep Wrangler).
Ivan ‘Ironman’ Stewart, who took seven overall wins in the 1990s alone, was co-Grand Marshal of this year’s Baja 500 along with former SCORE owner Sal Fish who ran the joint from 1974 to 2012. Fish turned 79 on May 2 and Stewart will turn 73 on Monday.
2018 SCORE World Desert Championship is being held entirely on the Baja peninsula this year. Its next event is the Tijuana 22nd Desert Challenge, coming up on Sept. 19th – 23rd.