Picking just one team to watch in next weekend’s 51st SCORE Baja 1000 is an impossible task when so many superteams have been assembled in all classes. But owing to its status as the marquee class of racing in desert racing’s most significant event, the entry list of 37 Trophy Truck teams is as deep as it gets.
Starting first is Team C, with driver of record Larry Connor in their Mason-built truck. Connor has assembled some top-flight talent to partner with him, though, as legendary off-road racer Ricky Johnson will join him behind the wheel in the grueling race. It was Johnson who set the top qualifying time in TT last week, conquering two laps of the course at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 1:51.917 on the Tuesday night of SEMA week. Johnson’s son Luke will also spend time behind the wheel of the pole-winning truck next weekend.
While Johnson’s time was more than a second faster than first place, the rest of the top five all qualified within a second of one another. Luke McMillin, Robby Gordon, and Cole Potts will roll off second, third, and fourth, while Bryce Menzies will complete the top five. All three McMillins in the race have enlisted some quality help behind the wheel for the event: Luke has tapped the legendary Larry Roeseler, winner of 10 Baja 1000s and 12 Baja 500s, while Dan will team with Gary Weyhrich and Andy will compete with Tavo Vildosola as one of the favorites to win it all.
Meanwhile, Menzies teams up with legendary Australian motorcycle racer Toby Price for the event; Price, who became the first Australian to ever win any class of the Dakar Rally in 2016, has added four-wheel racing to his resume in both off-road buggies and Stadium Super Trucks competition in recent years. Menzies will look to make up for a disappointing late-race mechanical failure in General Tire Vegas to Reno, a race he had been leading in a brand-new, all-wheel drive build that turned heads anywhere it went and impressed greatly in its first run.
SCORE points leader Rob MacCachren looks to complete a dual-championship year in Mexico next weekend, just about a month after clinching his fifth Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series Pro 2 championship in short course action. To do it, he’s enlisted the help of Jason Voss, one of the most dominant racers in Best in the Desert competition over the past decade and a four-time series champion. They’ll start eighth in the 37-truck field.
Both Terrible Herbst entries have also brought in some extra talent in hopes of claiming this year’s victory. Tim Herbst, who sits third in class points, will be joined by accomplished off-road racer and rally champion Ryan Millen, as they look to improve on their 10th place starting spot. Back in 16th, meanwhile, Troy Herbst will be joined not only by brothers Brett and Christian Sourapas, two of BITD’s top racers, but also 2018 LOORRS Pro Lite champion Ryan Beat.
In addition to the above, “Ballistic” BJ Baldwin will roll off 11th, while Cameron Steele looks to follow up his first career SCORE win in this year’s Laughlin Desert Challenge and improve on his second place rank in points from the 13th starting spot, where he’ll partner with Pat Dean. Three-time defending SCORE champion Carlos Apdaly Lopez will roll off one minute behind Steele in 14th. And don’t count out Justin Matney, who will pair with Josh Daniel in the 21st starting spot.
Four-wheel classes will start the 51st SCORE Baja 1000 next Friday at 10:30AM local time. The 806.76-mile course will both start and finish in Ensenada, Baja California. Lopez is the defending event champion, with Steele and Dan McMillin completing last year’s Trophy Truck podium.