Trends in racing depend on technology, rules, and winning strategies. Since the goal for the carnal-driven competitor is to be victorious, we often see a race strategy formed around driver alliances. This has become most prevalent in endurance and long-distance off-road racing. Because what is better than one apex racer? If we are talking about the granddaddy Baja 1,000, then two elite drivers teaming up to cover the distance seems most appropriate. For the 55th SCORE Baja 1000, we are seeing several super teams come together.
Baja 1000 Super teams may be common nowadays, but it didn’t start that way. Back in the 1960s when NORRA created sanctioned off-road racing at the Mexican 1000, they had a rule that starting drivers would go to the halfway point down the peninsula, and then have to turn the car over to a second driver. This was a safety precaution. This did not sit well with Bobby Ferro who was a fierce competitor. He objected to the rule and argued his point with race officials. He asked them who he could put in his car that would be as fast as he was. They had no answer, so the rule was dropped. Ferro was the original ironman.
We thought it was interesting enough to share this Baja 1000 Wikipedia record going back to 1967 presenting duos who have won together.
The Baja 1000 Of This Generation Is A Whole Different Game
Today, the unlimited trucks and cars will outlast the driver. The number of racers at the Baja 1000 who compete “Ironman” style or even drive solo with a co-driver is dwindling. Drivers need to be at 100-percent to maintain the pace at the front of the pack.
Rob MacCachren, who many consider the G.O.A.T (greatest of all time), learned this back in 1992. “I lost the 1992 Baja 1000 to Dave and Paul Simon,” says Rob. “Dave started the race and Paul got in the truck at San Ignacio around 5:00 p.m. Baja becomes a different place once the sun goes down. While Paul was fresh and well-rested, I was hallucinating in the dark. Cactus looked like people to me. I had been racing for hours at that point. I had an absolutely perfect day, but they beat me by 50 minutes.
One Of The Greatest Baja 1000 Super Teams Of All Time?
“When we won in 2014, I teamed up with Andy McMillin. There was a bad hurricane that year and reports came in that the roads in Baja Sur were nearly impassable. Andy and I began thinking we might need a third driver if the race was going to take hours and hours to complete. We brought in Jason Voss to drive the final leg. He had been resting the day before and went to bed early. At 5:00 a.m. he took the wheel of the truck from Andy. The roads ended up being better than anyone thought, so he had a typical drive to the finish. He said he normally gets up at 5:00 and drives to work at the family quarry so it was like just another day for him except he was winning the Baja 1000.”
A Baja 1000 Super Team That Is Tried And True
Teaming up with other drivers and teams has proven to be a winning strategy. Every year, rumors start to circulate about who will drive together at the Baja 1000. When word gets out, the speculation over who will win takes over. These “super teams” are impressive. When you take two drivers who are both top contenders and combine them into a single team, with a single goal, you would think they would be unbeatable. The problem is, there are so many incredible racers in the sport, it’s hard to choose one super team over the other. This year for the 2022 Baja 1000, Rob MacCachren is teaming up with Luke McMillin once more. The pair won the race last year. Luke and Rob also currently occupy the top two spots in the SCORE Trophy Truck points standings.
The 2022 Baja 1000 Super Teams Are Loaded With Talent.
How could anyone beat them? Well, you could pair Luke’s cousin Andy, who has won the Baja 1000 five times, with another capable, accomplished racer like Bryce Menzies. Both Andy and Bryce are long-time Red Bull drivers and are considered a favorite to win any race entered. These two have teamed up in the past and have once again joined forces to conquer the Baja 1000. Could this be their year?
Speaking of Red Bull racers, Toby Price will be racing with Paul Weel. Toby has many Dakar Rally wins on a bike, and won the Finke Desert Race for the second time this year in a truck. It gave him his eighth King of the Desert title and distinguished him as the only Finke competitor to have won on two and four wheels. Paul Weel has tons of pavement racing experience that he is applying to the dirt. Toby Price was on a driver team who won Trophy Truck Spec in the 2019 Baja 1000. Maybe it’s the Australian’s year in 2022.
Changing Drivers During The Baja 1000 Allows Maximum Aggression
What if you paired two of the fastest, most aggressive drivers ever to race in Baja together; both of which are previous winners? That’s what you have with the super team of Alan Ampudia and Tavo Vildosola. The Ampudias won the 2019 Baja 1000 and the Vildosolas won in 2010. The steed for these two will be Tavo Vildosola’s brand new Mason all-wheel-drive Trophy Truck which they have dubbed Black Jack.
Those two teams are known for their exciting driving style. They go all-out and are checkers or wreckers every race. Not because they are reckless, but because they are so driven to win and have incredible driving skills. They will attempt things that few other drivers would even think possible. They are also huge crowd favorites with the locals, one of the intangibles that can make a big difference.
Other Baja 1000 Super Teams Are Full Of Talent
Another Ampudia, Rodrigo Ampudia will be teaming up with Austin Jones in his South Racing Dakar CanAm UTV machine. The Desert Assassins will have two trucks in the field. Cameron Steele will be racing with Ryan Arciero who is fresh off back-to-back Vegas to Reno wins, and Bobby Pecoy will be sharing the wheel with Rhys Millen. Rumor has it that “Lightning” Larry Ragland will be racing with Dallas Luttrell in the number 87 entry. Will this be the year for Dan McMillin? He is usually in the mix and his choice to drive with him this year is the always-fast Josh Daniel.
You Cannot Bet Against Years Of Baja 1000 Results
With so many drivers working together you might wonder who is driving the whole way by themselves. One racer who is up to the challenge is Mr. Baja himself, Larry Roeseler. Just because he is driving without relief doesn’t mean the super teams will have it easy. Larry will be going for his 15th Baja 1000 win. He’ll be loaded up with Baja Jerky and the knowledge gained from winning in Baja since his first victory in 1976. Larry can drive at 80-percent all day and all night, and he finds it difficult to hand his truck off to somebody else; just like Bobby Ferro.
Self Reliance Or Adding A Team Driver Is A Huge Variable And Leaves A Lot On The Line
Someone else who struggled with the question of whether to share the driving duties was SCORE overall points leader Christopher Polvoorde. “I don’t like it,” says Polvoorde. “There is a lot at stake. Then you need to decide, do I start the race and then hand the wheel over to someone else, or count on someone to give me a solid truck in contention for the win? Or do I drive the first part, hand it over for the middle third, and then get back in for the finish? That means two driver changes where something can go wrong.”
“Honestly, this decision was very difficult to work through and stressed me out. I had to decide if after 16 to 18 hours in the truck, do I still have my “A” game. I decided to bring in someone I really respect; a driver who has hidden gear. He can run a conservative pace and then bring it up a notch with a lot of speed, like a sniper ready to strike. He’s a really solid driver with a lot of experience driving all kinds of trucks. He brings a big book of knowledge to the team. I will be teaming up with Ray Griffith at the Baja 1000. We will be testing this week and then heading south for some prerunning before the race. I’m very excited.”
Christopher Polvoorde Is A Rising Talent And Already A Baja Force To Be Reckoned With
Despite only a few years of desert racing experience, Christopher’s Trophy Truck Spec program is totally proven to perform. The outfit operates almost as a super team already. Polvoorde has been on a great run this season winning both the SCORE San Felipe 250 and the Baja 400. This stellar performance makes Christopher Polvoorde the current 2022 SCORE-International overall points leader in addition to leading his Trophy Truck spec class. He also won another big race at the beginning of the year and blew some minds!
Baja 1000 Super Teams Spread Across The Trophy Truck Spec Division
Christopher and Ray will have other potent teams to contend with in the Trophy Truck Spec class. Ryan Hancock will have Brock Heger and CJ Hutchins on his driver roster. Christian Sourapas is teaming up with one of the hottest drivers of late, Cayden MacCachren. His father Rob finished 12th place at the Baja 400. After that, Cayden took the truck straight to the California 300 and won the Unlimited Truck class. At the last minute, Cayden decided to enter the Best in the Desert Laughlin Desert Challenge. With the same Baja 400 prep, he took the number one qualifying position on Thursday. Cayden “Little Mac” then won back-to-back on Saturday and Sunday for the Trick Truck win.
Jorge Sampietro is sitting in Second Place in the Trophy Truck Spec standings behind Polvoorde. He will be racing with Dan Fresh; a solid, experienced, and winning racer. The pair have tons of Baja experience that will come into play.
Will one of the Baja 1000 super teams come out on top, or will Mr. Baja’s unrelenting 80-percent pace be enough to take the win? It’s anyone’s guess, that’s why they run the races. Anything can happen in Baja. I wouldn’t bet against any of these teams or drivers.