Baja 1000: Winners and also-rans

Image by Boyd Jaynes/SCG

Baja 1000: Winners and also-rans

Off Road

Baja 1000: Winners and also-rans


Also Ran: Robby Gordon

The prodigal son of “Baja” Bob Gordon, for the past three decades Robby Gordon has been the sport’s most recognized personality. When it comes to that “it” factor, nobody’s come close since Ivan “Ironman” Stewart or Walker Evans in the 1990s. This is especially true for the ever-present local fans up and down the peninsula. Gordon’s behind-the-wheel bravado is untouched, as is a flair for theatrics he must channel from the late, great Mickey Thompson.

Gordon knows he is in the business of show, and he is good at it. But he hasn’t won a Baja 1000 since 2006, when teamed with a young Andy McMillin. His efforts in recent years have been a bit unfocused given his busy schedule with Stadium Super Trucks and UTVs. This year he crashed a new all-wheel-drive truck that was set to debut and jumped last minute into a new Geiser-prepared RPM Trophy-Truck. He finished a disappointing 16th in class. His fans on both sides of the border desperately want and deserve more. They want to their hero win.

Winner: The Jones family

Unlike Gordon, longtime off-road racer Jesse Jones prefers a far lower profile. One of the best gentlemen drivers in the Trophy-Truck division, Jones came to the Baja 1000 with a new all-wheel-drive Mason-built machine and a leg cast due to an injury at the Baja 400 (it was a Vespa accident!). Undeterred, the Arizonan dialed up a duo of Dakar Rally champions, Australian Toby Price and Qatar’s Nasser Al-Attiyah. Neither had driven the truck before coming to Baja last week, and it was Al-Attiyah’s first trip to the race. Overcoming a somewhat embarrassing pre-race testing roll-over by Price, the tandem used their world-class talent and experience to bring the No. 76 Red Bull-backed truck home second in class.

The Baja mud couldn’t slow Toby Price and company. Image by Get Some Photo

“This is my first Baja 1000 and it was fantastic,” declared Al-Attiyah. “Compared to my Dakar car, there is no limit with these trucks and I really love to be here. I promise I am coming back next year.”

Adding insanity to injury, Jones’ ultra-fast 23-year old son AJ Jones dominated the Trophy-Truck Spec class, winning the division by more than 90 minutes with help from Brock Heger. This year, everybody wanted to keep up with the Joneses.

Winner: Sara Price/Kristen Matlock

Unlike most other forms of motorsports, women have been a welcome addition to the culture since Mary McGee and Donna Crean were part of the first NORRA Mexican 1000s. It was a heritage passed to other pioneering ladies, most especially to Jean Calvin and Judy Smith in the 1970s. That legacy took two impactful steps forward at the 2019 Baja 1000, as both Sara Price (No. 204 4WP Trophy Truck Spec) and Kristen Matlock (No. 1954 Polaris Pro UTV NA) not only competed in the epic endurance race but did it as solo drivers!

Sara Price endured all Baja could throw at her solo. Image by Get Some Photo

Both racers are hardly backmarkers, but their incredible spirit and final results cemented their impact on the sport for others around the world. For Price (whose co-driver was another female, Erica Sacks) a second-place finish in an ultra-competitive class earned her the 2019 SCORE championship. In terms of this year’s 1000, Matlock did even one better, taking the category title over a dozen other entries. Their performance wasn’t just historic, but impressive on every level imaginable.