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Baja 1000 is an off-road race that takes place on Mexico's Baja California in the fall. The event includes various types of vehicle classes such as small and large bore Motorcycles, stock VW, production vehicles, Buggies, Trucks, and custom fabricated race vehicles. The course has remained relatively the same over the years with the majority of events being either a point to point race from Ensenada to La Paz, or a loop race starting and finishing in Ensenada. The name of the event is misleading as the mileage varies for the type of event (loop or point to point) and has represented Kilometers in the past.
The first official race started in Tijuana, Baja California on October 31 1967 and was named the NORRA Mexican 1000 Rally. The course length that year was and ended in La Paz, Baja California with the overall winning time of 27 Hours 38 Minutes (27:38) set by Vic Wilson and Ted Mangels while driving a Meyers Manx buggy.
From 1967 to 1972 the race was organized by the National Off Road Racing Association (NORRA). In 1973, Baja California Governor Milton Castellanos handed over sanctioning of the event to a Non-profit Mexican Corporation called Baja Sports Committee (BSC). BSC renamed the event to Baja Mil (Baja 1000) and scheduled the race to run on the original dates chosen by NORRA. Though NORRA held a competing event in the United States that same weekend, BSC successfully ran the race from Ensenada to La Paz like the years prior. Unaware of the challenges, BSC found promoting Baja races more difficult than anticipated. Instead of giving up the race, the Mexican government requested help from Short Course Off-Road Enterprises (SCORE) in hosting and promoting future Baja races. Through negotiations with Mickey Thompson and his SCORE organization, the Mexican Government agreed to give exclusive rights to SCORE to hold Baja races and also reluctantly allowed SCORE to cancel the event for 1974. SCORE hired Sal Fish as president and took control of the Baja 1000 from that year on with the Baja 1000 race resuming under new control in 1975.
Prelude to the eventEdit
First timed runEdit
When Jack McCormack and Walt Fulton of American Honda decided to hold a long distance run to prove the reliability of Honda's new CL72 Scrambler, they approached well known Off-road dirt biker and local Honda dealer Bud Ekins for suggestions. Bud suggested the Tijuana to La Paz route (Mexican Highway 1) which was of rocks, sand washes, dry lake beds, cattle crossing, mountain passes, and paved road. Bud Ekins declined to perform the run because of Triumph motorcycle ties, however, Dave Ekins (Bud's brother) and Billy Robertson Jr. agreed to perform the trip for American Honda. After pre-running the Baja California in Fulton's Cessna 180, they began the journey to La Paz just after midnight on March 22, 1962. While being followed by two journalists in an airplane and using Telegraph offices at the Mexican border and in La Paz, Dave Ekins recorded the first official timed run in 39 hours 56 minutes (39:56) with a total distance of . The event appeared in the The Globe (tabloid), Argosy (magazine), and Cycle World magazines touting adventure, awe and respect for Honda and the Baja run. The Globe and Argosy also included close encounters with death and other dangers which Ekins claims were "colorful additions".
Four wheels vs twoEdit
Wanting to beat the existing motorcycle record and to help fuel sales of the Meyers Manx, Bruce Meyers used his original prototype buggy called "Old Red" for an attempt at breaking the record set by Ekins. After pre-running a course south to La Paz, Ted Mangels and Bruce Meyers started the record breaking attempt back to Tijuana from La Paz at 10:00pm on April 19, 1967. With journalist from Road & Track magazine following the two to witness the attempt, the final official time was 34:45 beating Ekins run by more than 5 hours. Upon returning back to the United States, the journalist documenting the run sent out press kits with photographs and a news release with the headline "Buggy Beats Bike in Baja." to hundreds of magazines and newspapers. Soon, more stories of adventure, close calls, and broken speed records flooded media coverage around the world. Following the event, Bruce Meyers and his Meyers Manx became an overnight sensation and the competition between four wheels and motorcycles for the fastest Baja run began.
In the following months, more attempts at breaking the record would continue. One of the attempts included a multiple vehicle run organized by Ed Pearlman (Mexican 1000 founder) that ended in an official four-wheel drive record being recorded but with the overall time falling short of the record set by Meyers. On July 4, 1967, an American Motors Rambler American Sedan would leave Tijuana at 9:00am to successfully break the record set by Meyers with an overall time of 31 hours.
As the timed runs recorded via telegraph became popular, a need for an organized event to compete for the quickest Baja run was starting to grab the attention of other competitors. Once Ed Pearlman caught word of Meyers run, Ed convinced Dick Cepek, Cluade Dozier, Ed Orr, Drino Miller and journalist John Lawlor to give a run to La Paz a try. In June of 1967, Ed Pearlman and group left Tijuana and immediately ran into mechanical troubles. This trip provided much downtime for Ed Pearlman to brainstorm the idea of the National Off-road Racing Association (NORRA). After Pete Condos and Perlman put up the funds to incorporate NORRA, the group announced an official recognition of the previous record setters and created classes that related to the type of vehicle used to break the record. During the later part of summer, NORRA named the event the "Mexican 1000 Rally" and announced the first official race from Tijuana to La Paz was to be held on November 1, 1967.
Although motorcyclists participate and are often the overall winners, many competitors drive modified or stock 4-wheel vehicles such as cars, trucks, ATVs and Dune buggies. Race teams consist of factory supported groups that build custom fabricated vehicles and provide chase vehicles via helicopter, to the much smaller and less glamorized sportsman teams competing in an all-stock vehicle with no chase vehicle support at all. Stock VW are modified for use in off road terrain, known as Baja Bugs, have been a common sight throughout the event duration, but the factory-supported all-spaceframe Trophy Truck entries are the most visible.
In contrast to the current factory EX supported modern race vehicles that overall the car and truck classes, Erik Carlsson drove a basically stock front wheel drive Saab 96 V4, finishing third in 1969 and fifth in 1970.
- Point to point: A point to point race is one that starts and ends in two different locations. The start is traditionally held in Ensenada but has been held in Tijuana and Mexicali as well. The course length varies for a point to point but is often over a 1000 miles and ends in La Paz.
- Loop race: A loop race is one that starts and finishes in the same location. Traditionally the race starts and ends in Ensenada but has started/finished in Mexicalli as well. The course length averages .
Sabotage and booby-trapsEdit
Each year there are reports of spectators sabotaging or booby-trapping the course by digging holes, blocking river flow, or burying obstacles. Racers are warned to beware of large crowds of spectators in remote parts of the course since it may indicate hidden traps or obstacle changes. Many of the booby traps are not created to intentionally injure the contestants but are created by the local spectators as jumps or obstacles for spectator entertainment. The haphazardly-designed jumps, created by the spectators, are very dangerous as the contestants are not aware of the course changes (after previewing or prerunning the course) and may negotiate the modified terrain at a much higher speed than the competing machine can handle. Awareness of booby traps and course changes are often part of race day strategy but competitors quickly communicate course hazards to other competitors through on-board radio communications and radio relay.
- Year - Racer(s) (Vehicle) time
- 1967 - Mangels, Vic Wilson (Meyers Manx VW) 27:38
- 1968 - Larry Berquist, Gary Preston (American Honda) 20:38
- 1969 - Rod Hall (racer), Larry Minor (Ford Bronco) 20:48
- 1970 - Drino Miller, Vic Wilson (Miller VW) 16:07
- 1971 - Parnelli Jones, Bill Stroppe (Ford Bronco) 14:59
- 1972 - Parnelli Jones, Bill Stroppe (Ford Bronco) 16:50
- 1973 - Bobby Ferro, Johnny Johnson (VW Buggy) 16:50
- 1974 - No race
- 1975 - Al Baker, Gene Cannady (Honda) 18:23
- 1976 - Larry Roeseler, Mitch Mayes (Husqvarna) 11:30
- 1977 - B. Wallingsford, Scott Harden (Husqvarna) 14:37
- 1978 - Larry Roeseler, Jack Johnson (Husqvarna) 10:23
- 1979 - Larry Roeseler, Jack Johnson (Husqvarna) 19:48
- 1980 - Larry Roeseler, Jack Johnson (Yamaha) 12:45
- 1981 - Scot Harden, B. Wallingsford (Husqvarna) 17:14
- 1982 - Al Baker, Jack Johnson (Honda) 17:25
- 1983 - Dan Smith, Dan Ashcraft (Husqvarna) 14:48
- 1984 - Chuck Miller, Randy Morales (Honda) 14:34
- 1985 - Randy Morales, Derrick Paiemant (Honda) 17:44
- 1986 - Bruce Ogilvie, Chuck Miller (Honda) 18:05
- 1987 - Dan Ashcraft (Honda) 12:02
- 1988 - Paul Krause, Larry Roeseler, Danny LaPorte (Kawasaki) 11:33
- 1989 - Larry Roeseler, Danny LaPorte, Ted Hunnicutt Jr. (Kawasaki) 17:53
- 1990 - Larry Roeseler, Danny LaPorte, Ted Hunnicutt Jr. (Kawasaki) 11:11
- 1991 - Larry Roeseler, Ted Hunnicutt Jr., Marty Smith (Kawasaki) 13:35
- 1992 - Danny Hamel, Garth Sweetland, Paul Ostbo (Kawasaki) 16:50
- 1993 - Ivan Stewart (Toyota) 13:29
- 1994 - Danny Hamel, Larry Roeseler, Ty Davis (Kawasaki) 10:20
- 1995 - Paul Krause, Ty Davis, Ted Hunnicutt Jr. (Kawasaki) 19:31
- 1996 - Paul Krause, Ty Davis, Greg Zitterkopf (Kawasaki) 14:11
- 1997 - Johnny Campbell, Tim Staab, Greg Bringle (Honda) 13:19
- 1998 - Johnny Campbell, Jimmy Lewis (Honda) 18:58
- 1999 - Johnny Campbell, Tim Staab (Honda) 14:15
- *2000 - Johnny Campbell, Tim Staab, Craig Smith, Steve Hengeveld (Honda) 30:54
- 2001 - Johnny Campbell, Tim Staab (Honda) 13:51
- 2002 - Steve Hengeveld, Johnny Campbell, Andy Grider (Honda) 16:17
- 2003 - Steve Hengeveld, Johnny Campbell (Honda) 15:39
- 2004 - Steve Hengeveld, Johnny Campbell, Kendall Norman (Honda) 15:57
- 2005 - Steve Hengeveld, Johnny Campbell, Mike Childress (Honda) 14:20
- 2006 - Steve Hengeveld, Mike Childress, Quinn Cody (Honda) 18:17
- 2007 - Steve Hengeveld, Johnny Campbell, Robby Bell, Kendall Norman (Honda) 24:15
*Officially the race was called the Baja 2000 (1726 miles) for the year 2000.
- Steve Appleton, President/CEO Micron Technology
- Ron Bishop, Only motorcycle racer to compete in every Baja 1000
- Ken Goggin Prince of Canada
- Erik Carlsson
- Anna Jo Cody - First Female to complete the baja 1000 solo.
- Patrick Dempsey
- Walker Evans (racer)
- James Garner
- John Johnson
- Rod Hall (racer) - Most class wins in history
- Parnelli Jones
- Beccy Gordon - sister of Robby
- Bob Gordon (racer) - father of Robby and off road legend
- Robby Gordon
- Roberto Guerrero
- Jesse G. James
- Rick Johnson (motocross)
- Danny LaPorte
- Hiro Matsushita
- Corky McMillin
- Steve McQueen
- Chad McQueen
- Roger Mears
- Rod Millen
- Scott Morris
- Gunnar Nilsson
- Patrick Norton
- Larry Ragland - several trophy truck class wins
- J.N. Roberts
- Armin Schwarz
- Jim Smith (NASCAR)
- Malcolm Smith (motorcyclist)
- Marty Smith
- [Jim Wright] 1989 factory jeep 1st place
- Rat Sult - 2 Time X games gold winner, 2 time gravity games gold winner
- Jūgatsu Toi
- Mickey Thompson
- Frank "Scoop" Vessels
Current and past classesEdit
- SCORE Trophy-Truck: Unlimited Production Trucks.
- Class 1: Unlimited open-wheel single- or two-seaters.
- Class 1/2-1600: open-wheel single- or two-seaters to 1600 cc.
- Class 3: Short wheelbase 4X4.
- Class 5: Unlimited Baja Bugs.
- Class 5-1600: 1600 cc Baja Bugs.
- Class 7: Open mini trucks.
- Class 7S: Stock mini trucks.
- Class 7SX: Modified mini trucks.
- Class 8: Full-sized two-wheel drive trucks.
- Class 9: Short wheelbase, open-wheel single- or two-seaters.
- Class 10: open-wheel single or two-seaters to 1650 cc.
- SCORE Lites: Limited open-wheel single-(1776cc) or two-seaters(1835cc).
- Class 11: Stock VW Sedans.
- Stock Full: Stock full-sized trucks.
- Stock Mini: Stock mini trucks.
- Pro Truck: Limited Production Trucks.
- Baja Challenge: Limited, identical open-wheel Baja touring cars.
- Class 20: 125 cc or smaller two-stroke and 250 cc or smaller four-stroke motorcycles.
- Class 21: 126 cc to 250 cc.
- Class 22: 250 cc or more.
- Class 30: Riders over 30 years old.
- Class 40: Riders over 40 years old.
- Class 50: Riders over 50 years old.
- Class 60: Riders over 60 years old.
- Class 24: 250 cc or less.
- Class 25: 251 cc or more.
- 1998 Baja 1000
- Fiolka, Marty (2005). 1000 Miles to Glory. Arizona: David Bull Publishing. ISBN 1-893618-36-6.
There are plans to change the 2009 Baja 1000 Dates, to early July or late September.
- 1967 Baja 1000 ( Twenty Seven Hours To La Paz - Video )
- Short Course Off-Road Enterprises (SCORE)
- Dust to Glory, the documentary about the 2003 race
- Baja 500 (from Ensenada, in June),
- San Felipe 250 (from San Felipe, Baja California, in February or March)
- Ensenada morgue guards killed by dozens of gunmen: body seized after fatal helicopter crash at Baja 1000.