In a ritual nearly as old as the sport itself, off-road racers from around the world will begin final preparations for June’s historic 50th running of the BFGoodrich SCORE Baja 500 as pre-running opens this weekend in the vast desert terrain of Northern Baja, Mexico.
Round 2 of the four-race 2018 SCORE championship season will be held May 29-June 3. The internationally televised race will start and finish in Ensenada, the seaside port on the Pacific Ocean, 80 miles south of San Diego. Over 350 vehicles, in classes for cars, trucks, UTVs, motorcycles and quads, are expected to take the green flag on Saturday, June 2 with racers from as many as 30 U.S. states and 20 countries anticipated.
To make things even more interesting, race title sponsor BFGoodrich Tires has posted a $25,000 contingency bonus to help commemorate this year’s race.
Official pre-running on the official race-record 542.12-mile course for this year’s BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 500 will open this Saturday morning. Pre-running will start at race mile 39.30 at Rancho Mezcal and that section from the start to race mile 39.30 may only be run outbound on Thursday and Friday of race week. For safety reasons new trails will be used for the racecourse in the Ojos Negros area.
While it is also desert racing tradition to speak of how rough a course is, seasoned race insiders have shared that this year’s competition may indeed go down in the record books as the roughest, and hottest, Baja 500 in history.
As is Baja 500 tradition, the race will be an elapsed-time race with staggered starts as the green flag will drop first for the motorcycles and quads at 3:30 a.m. (PDT) and then approximately 8 a.m. (PDT) for the cars, trucks and UTVs. While the fastest vehicles are expected to finish in around 11 hours, all vehicles will have a 22-hour time limit from the time each start to become an official finisher.
Thanks to his timely victory at April’s SCORE San Felipe 250, former Baja 500 overall winner and Off Road Motorsports Hall of Fame (ORMHOF) inductee Rob MacCachren (pictured, top) earned the highly coveted four-wheel pole position for the race in his No. 11 Rockstar/Makita/BFGoodrich Ford Trophy Truck. Additional past overall Baja 500 winners expected for the 2018 event include Trophy-Truck drivers Troy Herbst, Robby Gordon, B.J. Baldwin, Carlos “Apdaly” Lopez and Andy McMillin.
Many eyes will also be on France’s international rally raid superstar Cyril Despres, subbing for injured Red Bull-sponsored racer Bryce Menzies. Despres, 44, has raced the last three years in the iconic Dakar rally driving a factory Peugeot car. Menzies has taken the race’s overall title on three separate occasions.
Former Toyota factory truck driver Ivan “Ironman” Stewart holds the Baja 500 record for overall four-wheel victories with 10, including 17 race wins in his class. Stewart has been asked to serve as Grand Marshal for the upcoming race, a title he will co-share with former SCORE President Sal Fish.
Watch for complete coverage of the 50th anniversary BFGoodrich SCORE Baja 500 on RACER.com, including on-site interviews with the race’s top drivers and celebrities.