This year, helping cap the week-long celebration of the 213th anniversary of Mexican Independence, Bryce Menzies repeated as overall and SCORE Trophy Truck winner for the third consecutive year at Saturday’s K&N 4th SCORE Baja 400, presented by VP Racing Fuels.
The race launched the second half of the four-race SCORE World Desert Championship.
Menzies qualified sixth, but moved up quickly, battling for over 100 miles with runner-up Luke McMillin and Alan Ampudia, who eventually finished fourth overall in his class. He eventually got by both and finished with a victory margin of two-minutes, 16.73-seconds.
Menzies stayed in front of the race-record hungry field of 207 starters in his Mason Motorsports-built All Wheel Drive No. 7 Menzies Motorsports Ford Raptor, posting an admirable error-free, penalty free winning time of seven hours, 53 minutes, and 54.72 seconds with an average speed of 48.70 miles per hour over the typically-challenging 384.66-mile race course.
Under cloudy skies light winds with mild temperatures in the mid-70s Fahrenheit, finishers enjoyed the mostly temperate weather as well as the rugged race course.
Results were made official late Sunday morning by SCORE President/Race Director Abelardo Grijalva following complete data tracking review of all finishing vehicles.
There were a race-record 207 official starters and 143 official finishers for a solid finishing rate of 69.08 percent.
Round 3 of the four-race SCORE World Desert Championship was held this week in Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico. The race started, finished and colorful pre-race activities were again held in the heart of Ensenada at the iconic Riviera del Pacifico Cultural Center and the adjacent fantastically fan-friendly Boulevard Costero. Tourism officials estimated over 150,000 fans for the event which included tech and contingency on Friday and the race itself on Saturday and Sunday.
Ensenada, ‘The Off-Road Racing Capital of the World,’ is located 80 miles South of the U.S. Border near San Diego.
Helping mark the 50th year of SCORE International, the World’s Foremost Desert Racing Organization, was the featured SCORE Trophy Truck division with a total of 37 of these ‘Super Stars of the Desert’ starting the race. Created by SCORE and started in 1994 by then SCORE-owner Sal Fish, SCORE Trophy Truck is the featured SCORE racing division in the sport for high-tech, 1000-horsepower unlimited custom trucks.
Participating racers represented 27 U.S. States, U.S. Territory Puerto Rico, and 10 countries. The countries with at least one racer so far are United States, host country Mexico, Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Canada, France, Israel, New Zealand and Peru.
All four SCORE races are being held on Mexico’s magnificent Baja California peninsula for the eighth consecutive year.
SCORE, the World’s Foremost Desert Racing Organization, is celebrating its 50th season in 2023.
An international Rally Racer as well as a long jump artist, Menzies, 36, was the 2011 SCORE Trophy Truck season point champion earning the 2011 SCORE Rookie of the Year award as well.
Saturday’s victory was not only his third straight in the K&N SCORE Baja 400, presented by VP Racing Fuels, Menzies has now earned 10 career SCORE Trophy Truck race wins.
It was his second straight victory as he also won June’s SCORE Baja 500.
Menzies led a parade of Mason Motorsports AWD SCORE Trophy Trucks to the podium as Luke McMillin and his cousin Andy McMillin, finished second and third overall on Saturday.
After starting fourth, Luke McMillin, 30, finished pushed to the end and led a few times and finished second in his No. 1 McMillin Racing Chevy 1500 in a time of 7:56:12, averaging 48.47 mph.
Claiming the final spot on the podium in third place, Andy McMillin, 36, also of San Diego, completed the course in 7:58:54 with an average speed of 48.19 mph.
An ecstatic Menzies had plenty to say at the finish line.
“It was a good day. We started sixth and it was dusty, we knew we were going to have to fight really hard, so we just charged as hard as we could,” Menzies said. “We got Letner (Harley, No. 70) early on, he had a big crash, and Tavo (Vildosola, No. 21) pulled off. We got Alan (Ampudia, No. 10) in the pits and then we caught Luke (McMillin, No. 1) right at the crossover. Down the highway, he pulled off in his pit and we got him there.
“My plan was to try to be first on the road by the beach, but when I got there, around race mile 230, I lost my front-wheel drive. I knew it was going to be a long way from there with those guys charging hard from behind me,” Menzies continued. “I just had to play it smart, keep my eyes on the ball and have no flats because that was really going to make it hard for us.
“We kept those guys behind us and just kind of cruised all the way from there. I had to go back to my two-wheel drive days, but it was unreal. What a day. To win the SCORE Baja 400 three times in a row and get to start first in the SCORE Baja 1000, I can’t wait for it.”
BOLIVIAN BOMBER STRIKES AGAIN
Following significant penalties imposed on the first two unofficial finishers, Bolivia’s super star motorcycle racer Juan Carlos ‘Chavo’ Salvatierra with a nine-year history in the Dakar Rally, and his team were declared the official overall and Pro Moto Unlimited winners in this year’s race. Riding the No. 1x KTM 450SX-F motorcycle with riders from three countries, Salvatierra overcame significant mechanical issue to win the race in a time of 8:52:58 with an average speed of 43.30 mph.
Salvatierra, 42, of Santa Cruz, Bolivia, teammates for this race were Shane Logan, Diego Llanos and newcomer Justin Carnes.
Logan started and rode to race mile 120, Llanos rode from race mile 120 to race mile 230, Justin Carnes rode from race mile 230 to race mile 330, and Salvatierra rode from race mile 330 to the finish line.
HEGER TOPS UTVs…AGAIN
Defeating 48 UTVs in four different classes and 16 in his own class alone, Brock Heger was the Overall UTV and Pro UTV Open winner with a corrected time of 9:01:57 in his No. 1896 Polaris RZR Pro R. He averaged 42.59 mph and won the UTV Overall by nearly seven minutes.
Heger finished 10th in class in the SCORE San Felipe 250 in his first race with the new Polaris Factory Team and was the Overall UTV and Pro UTV Open winner in the SCORE Baja 500 as well.
The class win gives the new Polaris Factory Team three straight wins in the Pro UTV Open class as team principal Craig Scanlon won the class in San Felipe.
VILDOSOLA SR—SCORE TT LEGEND
Mexico’s veteran SCORE champion Gustavo Vildosola Sr. backed up his 2022 season point championship in SCORE TT Legend (drivers over 50 years old) following his undefeated season of four straight class wins with his third straight victory in this year’s K&N 4th SCORE Baja 400.
Vildosola Sr, 70, Mexicali, also won the SCORE TT Legend season point championship in 2018 with Scott Bailey as a second driver.
He won all four 2022 races and the three two in 2023 with help from legendary Hall of Fame racer Ricky Johnson, who drove the first half of each race in the Vildosola Racing No. 1L AWD Ford Raptor built by Mason Motorsports. Their finishing time was 8:20:12.
Vildosola Sr. won against eight starters in his class in San Felipe and seven in the SCORE Baja 500 and eight in his class in this race. He also finished eighth overall out of 285 starters in this year’s San Felipe race and ninth out of 240 starters in the SCORE Baja 500 and 12th out of 207 starters in the SCORE Baja 400.
Vildosola Sr. also has three career SCORE Trophy Truck race wins in his illustrious career in SCORE desert racing.