After a lengthy offseason that began with the conclusion of last year’s Baja 1000, the 2019 SCORE World Desert Championship finally kicks off this weekend with a return to the Baja California peninsula and the San Felipe 250. The first of four rounds in this year’s championship has drawn a record 234 entries, including 45 Trophy Trucks and 21 defending class winners among car, truck, motorcycle, quad, and UTV classes.
This year’s San Felipe course is longer and tougher than ever, extending well beyond the “250” in the race name to nearly 350 miles. The race will start and finish on Saturday on the Malecon beachfront in San Felipe, and features a compelling mix of dry lake beds, canyons, trails, washes, and dirt roads that will challenge even the sport’s most talented and calculated competitors.
Defending San Felipe 250 winner and defending SCORE Trophy Truck champion Rob MacCachren will lead the way on Saturday’s race day, having drawn the top starting position. He’ll be followed off the line by Ryan Arciero and Apdaly Lopez. The entry list includes many of the sport’s top drivers, from defending Baja 1000 winner Cameron Steele to King of the Hammers Desert Invitational winner Luke McMillin and Mint 400 winner Justin Lofton.
Last year’s overall SCORE champion didn’t come from the Trophy Truck class, though; it was Pro UTV Forced Induction champion Wayne Matlock who delivered UTV racers their first overall SCORE title, and he’ll be back to chase another starting in San Felipe. Matlock is one of five drivers in the 18-entry Pro UTV FI field to elect to rear start the event, and thus he’ll be the last racer in class off the line. Matlock’s wife Kristen, the overall UTV winner of last year’s Baja 500, will utilize the same strategy in the Pro UTV Normally Aspirated class.
Don’t be surprised to see some familiar faces in different classes, though. Rhys Millen’s motorsports journey has seen him run just about anything there is to race in any discipline, but after running in UTVs last season, he’ll be in a Class 1 car in San Felipe. So will Brendan Gaughan, the Las Vegas native who turned his off-road roots into a long and competitive career at NASCAR’s highest levels.
The 33rd SCORE San Felipe 250 will air later this year as part of ABC’s World of X Games series. After San Felipe, the season resumes on May 29-June 2 with the 51st running of the Baja 500 in Ensenada. The second half of the season includes the inaugural Baja 400 on September 19-23 and the legendary Baja 1000, now in its 52nd running, on November 19-24.