Penalty Gives Steele Baja 1,000 Triumph


ENSENADA, Mexico — After the dust settled early Sunday morning and the vehicle tracking devices had been reviewed, Cameron Steele was awarded the overall four-wheel vehicle and SCORE Trophy Truck victory at the 51st SCORE Baja 1,000.

Finishing second behind apparent winner Rob MacCachren, Steele was later awarded the victory after MacCachren was penalized for a course infraction.

Steele finished the radically challenging 806.76-mile race in 16 hours, 24 minutes and two seconds in his No. 16 Monster Energy Desert Assassins Geiser Bros. built Ford Raptor with an average speed of 49.19 mph.

“It was a good day. The team was firing on all cylinders. The Desert Assassins were on point. The pits were great, the prep was amazing. Rene (Brugger) gave us a great truck,” Steele said. “A lot of praise for Pat Dean who’s been driving with me for five years, an old guy that never really accomplished much (lol), but here we are, on top of the podium. Pretty amazing. We have a ton of respect to Rob (MacCachren) and Bryce (Menzies) and our other competitors. So many of our friends that can’t be here – my dad. We prayed this morning about my dad and Cody’s mom (navigator Cody Stuart) and all our friends that can’t be here anymore. It is special to us to represent for them and for the team. I want to thank God for keeping us safe.”

Finishing behind Steele, the top five overall four-wheel vehicle finishers were all SCORE Trophy Trucks.

Second overall and in SCORE Trophy Truck was the team of Andy McMillin and Gustavo Vildosola with a penalty-free time of 16:28:51 in their No. 31 McMillin Racing Mason-built Chevy Silverado. Completing the podium was the MacCachren and Jason Voss tandem in a final time of 16:32:57 in the No. 11 MacCachren Motorsports Geiser Bros. built Ford F-150.

Finishing fourth overall and in SCORE Trophy Truck was the team of Dan McMillin and Gary Weyhrich in a penalty-free time of 16:47:44 in their Mark Racing Racer-built Ford F-150.

Rounding out the top five finishers overall and in SCORE Trophy Truck was Las Vegas’ Bryce Menzies, who teamed with Australia’s Toby Price to finish in a time 16:52:47 in the No. 7 Menzies Motorsports Huseman-built Ford Raptor.

In the two-wheel category, Justin Morgan led his team to a perfect season in the SCORE World Desert Championship, capped by a convincing overall motorcycle victory in the 51st SCORE Baja 1000.

Morgan led from green-to-checkered to earn his second win in the race. Morgan split the riding on the No. 7x Honda CRF450X with Mark Samuels and Justin Jones in a winning time of 16:23:26 with an average speed of 49.22 mph.

His time was also the fastest of all vehicles in the race. It was the first time since 2013 that a motorcycle had the fastest time of all vehicles in the race. In race history, motorcycles have now had the overall fastest time in the race 38 times compared to just 13 for the four-wheel vehicles.

COPS Racing picked up their fourth win as a team in the SCORE Baja 1,000. Morgan Langley won the unlimited Class 1 in the No. 150 COPS Racing ESM-Chevy open-wheel desert race car. Langley shared driving with Paul Keller and Mike Malloy. There winning time was a near penalty-free 19:35:21.

Earning his fifth class win in the SCORE Baja 1,000 was Clyde Stacy, co-owner of the prominent RPM Racing team that had five vehicles running in this year’s race. Stacy, 73, won the SCORE TT Legend division, the class for SCORE Trophy Truck drivers over 50 years of age who chose to run in this class within a class.

Splitting the driving with Stacy with veteran World Rally Championship and SCORE racer Armin Schwarz as the duo teamed to finish an impressive 10th overall among four-wheel vehicles while winning their class in the No. 5L Geiser Bros. built Chevy Rally Truck.

Veteran champion SCORE racer Wayne Matlock, 40, dove solo in his Polaris RZR XP4 Turbo to lead all 49 Pro UTV finishers in three different classes while winning his Pro UTV FI (Forced Induction) class to earn the overall Pro UTV title as well over a field of 29 starters in his class. It was his second class race win of the year and it was his seventh all-time class victory in this event. His time was a penalty-free 20:25:18.

Winning his third race of the season, veteran Mexican motorcycle racer Francisco Septien rode flawlessly to capture the checkered in the Pro Moto Ironman class for solo riders.

A total of five racers won their class in each of the four races held in 2018. The first two were run over race-record long courses for each event.

The only undefeated racer in the 4-wheel vehicle classes was Vincent Munoz (Heavy Metal, No. 894 Ford Ranger).

Besides Morgan/Samuels/Jones in Pro Moto Unlimited, the other motorcycle class winners who were undefeated in 2018 with identical 4-0 records after their SCORE Baja 1,000 class wins were teams led by Jano Montoya (Pro Moto 40, No. 400x KTM 450EXCF), Giovanni Spinali (Pro Moto 50, No. 510x Yamaha YZ450FX) and Guy Laycraft (Pro Moto 60, No. 649x Honda CRF450X).

Among the other class winner in 4-wheel vehicle classes were: Bryce Swaim (Trophy Truck Spec, TSCO-Chevy), Ruben Torres (Class 10, Alumi Craft-Chevy), Bruce Yee (Class 1/2-1600, Alumi Crat-VW), Freddie Willert (SCORE Lites, Jimco-VW), Ben Swift (Class 5, VW Baja Bug), Tyler Backus (Pro UTV NA, Polaris RZR XP1000), Kris Werth (Pro UTV Unlimited), Can-Am X3 DCR and Larry McRae (Baja Challenge, BTC-Chevy).

Among the other motorcycle class winners were: Carlos Miranda (Pro Moto Limited, KTM 350XCF) and Chad Thornton (Pro Moto 30, KTM 450XCF).

Winning the Pro Quad class for the third time this season in four races was Said Sanchez (Pro Quad, Honda TRX450R).

This year’s 51st SCORE Baja 1000 included 34 Sportsman racers competing in five total classes. Fastest Sportsman class winners were Diego Lopez (SPT M/C, Honda CRF450X) and Danny Magdalena (Honda TRX450R).