BJ Baldwin put on an Iron Man-esque performance to win the 46th annual Tecate SCORE Baja 1000.
Baldwin completed the 883.1-mile loop course in 28 hours and 34 minutes to earn his second straight Baja 1000 victory and the 2013 Trophy Truck Championship.
“Compared to last year this race win means a lot more,” Baldwin said in an interview with OffRoad.com. “Last year I worked really really hard to win the Baja 1000, and my moment kind of got taken away from me with some stuff that happened last year with some other competitors, so I didn’t win the race until about three weeks later. But this year it’s pretty clear that we’re the winner. We didn’t have any rule infractions or anything like that.”
Rob MacCachren and co-driver Andy McMillin tried to track down Baldwin down the stretch, but a mistake at race mile 520 would prove devastating. McMillin was pushing hard through a “gnarly and rocky” section when he collided with a rock, blowing the right front tire and bending the wheel.
After struggling with jack issues and repairs for more than 10 minutes, the team finally returned to the course behind Bryce Menzies – who was the class leader at the time – and Baldwin.
However, Menzies’ dreams of winning the Baja 1000 were shattered when transmission issues eliminated him from contention at the 650-mile mark. This handed Baldwin the lead and moved McMillin/MacCachren into second, where they would ultimately finish.
“Our two trucks were within a couple of miles of each other,” MacCachren said of Baldwin. “They never separated by more than a couple miles. It was a battle. It’s a chess game. The cards are played, and when things happen, you deal with them.
“When BJ got in front of us, he kind of had us in the place where he needed us, and we needed to get ahead of him to beat him on time and it didn’t quite work out.
“We’re happy to be here. It’s very rewarding to finish this race, it was very difficult, the most difficult Baja 1000 loop race that I’ve ever been involved with, and we’re happy to be here at the finish line.”
Troy Herbst and co-driver Ryan Arciero finished in third, overcoming a tough qualifying session and poor starting spot. Herbst drove an impressive first stint before handing the truck over to Arciero, who drove the truck to the final podium spot.
Juan Carlos and his 18-year-old son Apdaly drove to a fourth place finish with Dan McMillin’s crew in fifth.
Robby Gordon lost an hour and a half early in the race after breaking his right front spindle, but recovered to finish sixth.
“You never know in Baja,” Gordon said. “It was a good run for us. It was a tough course.”