The summer is officially here, as desert racing’s biggest stars are heading down to Ensenada for the 51st Baja 500. The second-largest event in the annual SCORE International World Desert Championship, the 500 is one of the sport’s crown jewel events, held on one of its longest courses and contested by most of its top talents in all classes.
This year’s 485.02-mile race will welcome nearly 250 entries, including 84 competitors who have combined for 249 Baja 500 class victories over the first half-century of the event. This year’s course marries two of the most popular forms of off-road racing, as the Lucas Oil Off Road Stadium used for short course racing at the Estero Beach Resort in Ensenada will serve as both the start and finish of this year’s event.
38 SCORE Trophy Truck entries are currently signed up for the event, led by 2018 Baja 500 winner and all-time winningest Trophy Truck driver Rob MacCachren. MacCachren is a seven-time winner of the event in various classes, and will look for his record-extending 18th career Trophy Truck victory after a disappointing run in the season-opening San Felipe 250. To do it, he’ll have to take on a talented group of racers that includes San Felipe winner Andy McMillin, Mint 400 and Silver State 300 winner Justin Lofton, off-road legend Robby Gordon, and many more.
In Class 1 buggy competition, Brad Wilson enters as the points leader after winning San Felipe, but a dozen others, including familiar names Rhys Millen and Brendan Gaughan, will be looking to take him down. Trophy Truck Spec winner AJ Jones will also aim to go back-to-back after San Felipe, but runner-up Sara Price was hot on his tail in the opener; she’ll look for a victory and to claim the points lead here.
As always, the biggest and baddest names in UTV competition will be on site in Ensenada this weekend as well. Defending Pro UTV Forced Induction champion Wayne Matlock, SCORE’s first overall champion from a UTV class, was back to his winning ways in San Felipe and will shoot for another victory this weekend. But regular front-runners Brandon Schueler, Justin Lambert, and Marc Burnett will be among those looking to take him down—and for those who have been following Seth Quintero’s ascent up the UTV ranks closely, he’ll be sharing a ride in the premier class with Craig Scanlon. Kristen Matlock and Kaden Wells will return to battle in Pro UTV NA, while Brad Lovell switches from a third place run in Trophy Truck Spec in San Felipe to Pro UTV Stock for this weekend.
The 51st SCORE International Baja 500 will see multiple days of contingency and festivities before kicking off at 4AM local time for motorcycles and quads, and 8AM local time for all remaining classes. The event will be televised on ABC’s World of X Games later in the summer.