Rob MacCachren’s three-peat headlines winners at Baja 1000

Photos courtesy Art Eugenio/GetSomePhoto
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This weekend saw SCORE International Off-Road Racing’s marquee event, the 49th Baja 1000, take place in Baja California, Mexico and for the third straight year one of off-road racing’s aces, Rob MacCachren, took the overall win.

MacCachren shared the No. 11 Rockstar Energy MacCachren Motorsports Ford F-150 SCORE Trophy Truck with Jason Voss en route to the win. The two completed the 854.50-mile (1,374-plus kilometers) course, which was a loop race that started and ended in Ensenada in 17 hours, 12 minutes and 58 seconds, averaging 49.63 mph.

MacCachren had co-driven with Andy McMillin to win in the last two years, before the two went into separate trucks this year. McMillin finished seventh, co-driving with the winningest driver in Baja history, 13-time champion Larry Roeseler.

The teams of Carlos “Apdaly” Lopez/Juan C. Lopez and Troy Herbst/Ryan Arciero completed the Trophy Truck and overall podium, and were also the only three teams of the 270 starters who finished the race in under 18 hours.

A key pass of both trucks when they were making pit stops helped net MacCachren the lead, proving unassailable as he took the BFGoodrich-shod entry to another win. BFGoodrich, which celebrated its 40th anniversary of off-road racing at Baja this year, was a popular choice among most of the field.

MacCachren (top row, far right) and team. Photo: Art Eugenio/GetSomePhoto
MacCachren (top row, far right) and team. Photo: Art Eugenio/GetSomePhoto

“We had a flawless day with 854 miles of the most brutal desert in Baja,” he said after the race. “We had over 80 people down here helping us with this race. We had 11 chase trucks and four fuel stops and lots of people at home rooting us on. It was a really good day. We qualified fifth, hung out with everybody in the race and it slowly materialized. When we were first on the road we had an alternator wire that had broken off so we had to get that fixed. That put us down for about nine minutes. After that we were fourth on the road and we started working our way back up.

“Around mile 475, the Riviera truck and one of the Herbst trucks was still in front of us but they pulled over to pit so we went on by. I gave the truck to Jason at mile 498. He was first on the road from there and just nailed it. He went across the crossover road and gained five minutes on everybody. We felt really good but nervous wondering if the truck was going to make it. The competition is so tough that you’ve got to push the truck and cross your fingers that it is going to make it.”

MacCachren reflected on the achievement of the three-peat in the punishing, brutal, yet immensely rewarding race in Baja.

“Larry Ragland won three SCORE Trophy Truck races in a row and he was always somebody I looked up to and respected. I saw him this morning and I shook his hand and said, ‘I’ve been thinking about you all day because of the three-peat and I hope I can do that.’ I’ve wanted to do that for a long time and we got it done.

“It makes me hungry to win another one now. As every win happens you want another and next year being the 50th anniversary, winning that one would be special. My first Baja 1000 win was in 2007 and that was the 40th anniversary. Strategy starts 365 days before the race but I can say that before this race even started I was working on my 2017 plans. We already have our motel rooms done here and in La Paz. I’ve already spoken with Jason about helping in 2017 so hopefully that happens.”

MacCachren’s win was not the only one at Baja, of course. With 270 starters and a wealth of other classes, here’s the roundup of winners. I was in Baja for this race last week, hence why I was offline for a few days. Reflections on what is simply a surreal and incredible event will come in the following days here.

SCORE TROPHY TRUCK (Unlimited Production Trucks)—1. 11 Rob MacCachren, 51, Las Vegas/Jason Voss, 29, Cupertino, Calif., Ford F-150, 17:12:57 (49.63 miles per hour)

CLASS 1 (Unlimited single or two-seaters)—1. 138 Ronny Wilson, 54, Long Beach, Calif./Randy Wilson, Long Beach, Calif./Brian Wilson, Lakewood, Calif., Jimco-Chevy, 19:21:07 (44.16 mph);

TROPHY TRUCK SPEC (unlimted Truck/SUV, stock, sealed V8s)—1. 277 Rod Lewis, 62, San Antonio, Texas/Clint LaRue/Eric Jacobs/Justin Hermann, Jimco-Chevy, 21:58:53 (38.87 mph);

CLASS 2 (Unlimited Open-Wheel, car/truck, 3.6-Liter Turbo or supercharged)—1. 2001 Jeff Proctor, 38, San Dimas, Calif./Jason LaFortune, 37, Upland, Calif./Jeff Mortise, Honda Ridgeline, 27:09:13 (31.47 mph). (1 Starter, 1 Finisher)

HAMMER TRUCK UNLIMITED (unlimited Rock Crawler/Hammer Truck)—1. 4405 Shannon Campbell, 46, Gilbert, Ariz./Wayland Campbell, Custom-Chevy, 22:12:20 (38.49 mph);

CLASS 10 (Single or two-seaters to 1650cc)—1. 1085 Justin Davis, 23, Chino Hills, Calif., Custom-Chevy, 21:01:27 (40.64 mph);

CLASS 8 (Full-sized two-wheel drive trucks)—1. 808 Rick Sanchez, 41, San Vicente, Mexico/Enrique Lara, Colonet, Mexico, Chevy Silverado, 25:35:03 (33.40);

CLASS 1/2-1600 (VW-powered, single or two-seaters to 1600cc)—1. 1609 J. David Ruvalcaba, 43, Ensenada, Mexico/Esteban Cruz, Ensenada, Mexico/Marcos Nunez, Ensenada, Mexico, VBR, 24:23:53 (35.02 mph);

SCORE LITES (VW-powered, Limited single-1776cc-or two-seaters-1835cc)—1. 1208 Rich Roberts, 58, Prescott, Ariz./Kirk Kontilis, 53, Blythe, Calif./Rob Martensen, 43, Phoenix, Foddrill, 26:07:42 (32.70 mph);

CLASS 5 (Unlimited VW Baja Bugs)—1. 500 Victor Cesena, 29, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico/Gerardo Iribe, Santa Ana, Calif., 24:46:46 (34.48 mph);

HEAVY METAL (Open Production Trucks, V-8 engines)—1. 8013 Ivan Rivera, Mexicali, Mexico/Marco Rivera, Mexicali, Mexico/Javier Pacheco, Mexicali, Mexico/Jorge Rivas Jr, Mexicali, Mexico, Chevy Silverado, 29:47:57 (28.67 mph)

Trophy Lite (Unlimited Mini-Truck, 2.2/2.4-Liter Ecotec engine)—1. 6077 Ryan Lewis, 22, Nashville, Tenn./Brad Pace/Casey Adkisson/Eric Sheetz, TrophyLite-Chevy, 28:58:38 (29.49 mph)

CLASS 7 (Open, production mini trucks)—1. 704 Aaron Celiceo, 44, San Diego/Kevin Adler, 50, Hawthorne, Calif./Adrian Celiceo, 46, San Ysidro, Calif./Mario Melgar Sr, 52, San Ysidro, Calif./Pedro Mercado, San Diego/Mario Melgar, Jr., Toyota Tacoma, 26:29:28 (32.26 mph);

PRO UTV FI (Forced Induction, 4-wheel Utility Vehicle)—1. 2913 Branden Sims, 30, Prescott Valley, Ariz./Justin Krause, 31, Prescott Ariz., Polaris RZR XP4 Turbo, 22:33:51 (37.87 mph);

PRO UTV (Naturally Aspirated, Stock 4-wheel Utility Vehicle)—1. 1967 Rhys Millen, 44, Huntington Beach, Calif./Stephan Verdier, Polaris RZR XP1000, 22:06:46 (38.64 mph);

CLASS 5-1600 (1600cc VW Baja Bugs)—1. 578 Gustavo Avina, 44, Ensenada, Mexico/Gabriel Avina, 24, Ensenada, Mexico/Gustavo Avina Jr, 21, Ensenada, Mexico/Erik Rivera, 31, Ensenada, Mexico, 26:31:53 (32.21 mph);

CLASS 3 (short wheelbase 4X4)—1. 302 Donald Moss, 53, Sacramento, Calif./Ken Moss, 49, Bishop, Calif., Ford Bronco, 34:54:42 (24.48 mph).

BAJA CHALLENGE (Spec, Subaru-powered Baja Touring Cars)– 1. BC2 Bill Weber, 63, Las Vegas/Jay Jakupa, Greenville, S.C./Rich Minga, 55, Fallbrook, Calif./Mike Johnson, Glen Allen, Va./Larry McRae, St. George, Utah/Lance Clifford, St. George, Utah, 28:06:29 (30.40 mph);

STOCK FULL (Stock, Full-sized Trucks)—1. 8101 Rod Hall, 79, Reno, Nev./Chad Hall, Reno, Nev./Frank DeAngelo, Greenville, South Carolina/Shelby Hall, Reno, Nev., Hummer H1Alpha, 32:13:59 (26.51 mph);

CLASS 11 (stock VW sedan)—1. 1103 Noe Gutierrez, 32, Ensenada, Mexico/Sergio Fabela, 31, Ensenada, Mexico/Oscar Beltran/Jorge Maldonado, Ensenada, Mexico, 31:56:53 (26.75 mph).

SPT UNLIMITED TRUCK—1. 1444 Jim Bunn, 68, Bristol, Va./Raymon Fernandez, 40, Ensenada, Mexico/Thomas Fernandez, 42, Ensenada, Mexico, Chevy Silverado, 27:26:49 (31.13 mph).

SPT UNLIMITED BUGGY—1. 1504 Ricardo Rodriguez, Ensenada, Mexico/Ramon Ortega, Ensenada, Mexico/Luis Magana, Ensenada, Mexico/Rogelio Robles, Ensenada, Mexico, Custom-VW, 35:59:37 (23.74 mph).

PRO MOTO UNLIMITED (450cc or more)—1. 1x Colton Udall, 30, Yucca Valley, Calif./Mark Samuels, 27, Yucca Valley, Calif./Daymon Stokie, Australia/Justin Jones, Murrieta, Calif./David Kamo, Boise, Idaho, Honda CRF450X, 18:16:42 (46.75 mph);

PRO MOTO 30 (Riders over 30 years old)—1. 321x Benjamin Petter, 34, Renton, Wash./Reid Edwards/Kyle James, KTM 500XCF, 23:41:50 (36.06 mph);

PRO MOTO 40 (Riders over 40 years old)—1. 404x Jano Montoya, 45, Winter Garden, Fla./Francisco Septien, 41, Ensenada, Mexico/Gerardo Rojas, 45, Vicente Guerrero, Mexico/Kirk Russell, KTM 450XCW, 20:44:12 (41.21 mph);

PRO MOTO LIMITED (449cc or less)—1. 101x Mark Winkelman, 58, Cedar Hill, Texas/Jim O’Neal, 70, Simi Valley, Calif./ Austin Miller, Austin, Texas/Grant Statley, La Jolla, Calif./Schuyler Shoonmaker, Alpine, Calif./Mark Bradford, Santa Clarita, Calif./Ricky de La Pena, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., Husqvarna 350, 20:55:34 (40.83 mph);

PRO MOTO 50 (Riders over 50 years old)—1. 507x Mark Winkelman, 58, Cedar Hill, Texas/Lou Franco, Sherman Oaks, Calif./Jim O’Neal, 70, Simi Valley, Calif./Jeff Kaplan, Thousand Oaks, Calif./Andy Kirker, Irvine, Calif./Flipper Manchester, Reno, Nev./Bryan Campbell, Bakersfield, Husqvarna 350, 25:39:17 (33.31 mph);

PRO MOTO IRONMAN (Solo Riders)—1. 702x Tony Gera, 21, Santa Cruz, Calif., Honda CRF450X, 25:01:28 (34.15 mph);

PRO MOTO 60 (Riders over 60 years old)—1. 625x Mark Hawley, 65, Anaheim, Calif./Robert Koch/Dennis Greene/Dennis McLaughlin/John Marshall/Ropert Hanson, Reno, Nev., Honda CRF450X, 32:24:58 (26.36 mph)

PRO QUAD (450cc or more)—1. 1a Javier Robles Jr, 26, Guadalupe Victoria, Mexico/Josh Row, El Cajon, Calif./Felipe Velez, San Felipe, Mexico/Jose Meza Velez, San Felipe, Mexico, Honda TRX450R, 20:49:12 (41.04 mph);

SPT M/C—1. 235x Fernando Barbosa, Miami/Fernando Ferreyra, Miami/Alberto Ruiz/Alejandro Holguin, Honda CRF450X, 23:27:33 (36.43 mph);

SPT QUAD—1. 103a Greg Delgado, 41, Chino, Calif./Oskar Espinoza/Hector Orozco/Heriberto Marquez, Honda TRX450R, 22:40:12 (37.69 mph);

As expected, FIA denies granting Colton Herta a Super License to race in F1

Colton Herta Super License
Brian Spurlock/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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The governing body for Formula One on Friday said IndyCar star Colton Herta will not be granted the Super License that the American needs to join the F1 grid next season.

“The FIA confirms that an enquiry was made via the appropriate channels that led to the FIA confirming that the driver Colton Herta does not have the required number of points to be granted an FIA Super Licence,” the FIA said in a statement.

The FIA decision was not a surprise.

Red Bull was interested in the 22-year-old Californian and considering giving Herta a seat at AlphaTauri, its junior team. AlphaTauri has already said that Pierre Gasly will return next season and Yuki Tsunoda received a contract extension earlier this week.

However, AlphaTauri has acknowledged it would release Gasly, who is apparently wanted at Alpine, but only if it had a compelling driver such as Herta to put in the car. F1 has not had an American on the grid since Alexander Rossi in 2015, but Herta did not particularly want the FIA to make an exception to the licensing system to get him a seat.

At issue is how the FIA rates IndyCar, a series it does not govern. The points it awards to IndyCar drivers rank somewhere between F2 and F3, the two junior feeder series into F1.

IndyCar drivers have criticized the system in defense of Herta and the intense, close racing of their own highly competitive series. Herta has won seven IndyCar races, is the youngest winner in series history and has four starts in the Indianapolis 500. He qualified on the front row in 2021 and finished a career-best eighth in 2020.

Rossi, who has spent the last four seasons as Herta’s teammate at Andretti Autosport, lashed out this week because “I’m so sick and tired of this back and forth” regarding the licensing.

“The whole premise of it was to keep people from buying their way into F1 and allowing talent to be the motivating factor,” Rossi wrote on social media. “That’s great. We all agree Colton has the talent and capability to be in F1. That’s also great and he should get that opportunity if it’s offered to him. Period.

“Motorsport still remains as the most high profile sport in the world where money can outweigh talent. What is disappointing and in my opinion, the fundamental problem, is that the sporting element so often took a backseat to the business side that here had to be a method put in place in order for certain teams to stop taking drivers solely based on their financial backing.”

Rossi added those decisions “whether out of greed or necessity, is what cost Colton the opportunity to make the decision for himself as to if he wanted to alter career paths and race in F1. Not points on a license.”

The system favors drivers who compete in FIA-sanctioned series. For example, Linus Lundqvist earned his Super License by winning the Indy Lights championship.

Lundqvist’s required points come via the 15 he earned for the Lights title, 10 points for finishing third in Lights last year and his 2020 victory in the FIA-governed Formula Regional Americas Championship, which earned him 18 points.

That gave the 23-year-old Swede a total of 43 points, three more than needed for the license.

Herta, meanwhile, ended the IndyCar season with 32 points. He can still earn a Super License by picking up one point for any free practice sessions he runs this year; McLaren holds his F1 rights and could put him in a car. Herta could also potentially run in an FIA-sanctioned winter series to pick up some points.

Michael Andretti, who has petitioned the FIA to expand its grid to add two cars for him to launch a team, said he never bothered to explore potential replacements for Herta on the IndyCar team because he was confident the Super License request would be rejected.

Andretti has been met by severe resistance from existing F1 teams and even F1 itself in his hope to add an 11th team. Andretti could still get on the grid by purchasing an existing team and he’d like to build his program around Herta, who is under contract in IndyCar to Andretti through 2023.