Rob MacCachren might have been in a celebratory mood in the six days since winning the 54th Baja 500, but a number of his fellow competitors were less than pleased with their placements in the official results by SCORE International. On Thursday, in the wake of multiple driver protests and appeals, SCORE released an amended finishing order that added or erased penalties, and awarded time credits that removed chunks from their finishing times. Much of these come in response to a bottleneck that greatly hindered the field’s races.
The bulk of the situation developed at the 102nd mile which lies a mountain point called the Summit, where Dan Myers‘ Trophy Truck co-driver suffered from heat exhaustion and required medical attention. After fellow competitors assisted the navigator, he was driven down the Summit and airlifted via helicopter to hospital. While Myers’ truck was stopped, John McNeil‘s Trophy Truck Spec went off course to go around it but got lodged on a rock, destroying the vehicle’s driveshaft and blocking the path. A support Ford Ranger owned by Ramon Torres helped drive the co-driver back to base before pulling McNeil’s truck out of its rut. The co-driver has since recovered, while Myers and McNeil would respectively finish seventeenth and twenty-first in their classes.
SCORE released the results on Sunday, initially regarded as official before being taken down and re-posted with slight adjustments to settle errors like a four-hour speeding penalty on Class 11 winner Alex Gonzales. However, the second edition was also met with uproar as drivers argued their ensnaring in the delays severely impacted their final times. Twenty-two entries received credits for sacrificing time to aid those like Myers’ team; Trophy Truck Spec drivers Christian Sourapas and Jordan Brenthel along with Trophy Trucker Gary Magness were awarded credits that nullified over an hour of lost time.
However, others argued they should have received credits as well and called out SCORE for the supposedly arbitrary manner of their allocations, especially as credits have the power to impact the order. Sourapas initially got just twelve minutes of credits despite being “one of the vehicles actually assisting in the medical emergency.”
In the Pro UTV Forced Induction class, Brandon Schueler got a twenty-five-minute credit to place second ahead of Branden Sims despite the latter physically finishing ahead of him without penalties. In a since-deleted Instagram post, Sims condemned the time credit by claiming SCORE “randomly pick and chose which vehicles received a ‘time credit’ for sitting in an emergency situation logjam where over 50+ vehicles were stuck not able to do anything except sit and wait. Some teams received a time credit for this and others did not, feels like I was penalized without doing anything wrong.” He also went as far as to threaten the 500 would be “my last race with @scoreinternational if they don’t fix this issue, I work too hard to be robbed of the position my team and I earned.” Fortunately for him, such an ultimatum was unnecessary as the new results restored his runner-up finish.
“Huge mess with the bottleneck and only giving 19 out of the 100 cars in it a time credit, and not even in the order of arrival? Makes absolutely no sense,” commented Class 10 driver Chase Warren on Race-DeZert.com. He also had questions about his result as he failed to finish the 500 but was originally labelled as a disqualification for cutting the course, which he explained was due to his Stella transponder being recorded as moving while he was returning to SCORE’s headquarters to drop it off. The DQ was eventually dropped.
While class winners remain the same, the updated results list forty-four entries with time credits, all for “SOS aid” at the bottleneck. Class 10’s Justin Buckley was the recipient of a fifty-three-minute credit and had an eleven-minute speeding/Virtual Checkpoint violation penalty dropped, both of which pushed him from seventh in class to third. Hiram Duran, who was bumped off the podium for Buckley, got a credit worth forty-six minutes but officially placed seventeen minutes behind.
Other actions on the new results include promoting Mike Cafro to second in Pro UTV Open over Craig Scanlon via a 37:18 credit and moving Pro UTV FI’s Wes Miller and Edgar Garcia Leon respectively from sixth to fourth and eleventh to eighth on credits worth 30:27 and 33:03.
Sims got twenty-two minutes struck from his time and wrote in a follow-up post, “I appreciate @scoreinternational for being thorough and taking the time to make sure everything was correct on this final revision of the results. That being said, this @tensortire backed @polarisrzr will be back for the win at the Baja 1000“.
Nevertheless, not everyone stuck was a benefactor. Another Pro UTV FI racer Matt Burroughs pointed out he did not get one despite being bogged down at RM 102, and Leon’s promotion led to Burroughs being relegated from tenth to eleventh: “I was the next UTV behind (Austin) Weiland and in front of Jagged (Schueler). I got no time credit. Difference between 11th and 9th has a big impact on season points for us.” Sims corroborated Burroughs’ story and suggested approximately twenty-six minutes’ worth of credit should have been granted.
UPDATE (11 June): SCORE has updated the results yet again, this time granting a fifty-four-minute time credit to Mike Perez (TT Spec) and fifteen minutes for Marc Burnett (Pro UTV FI). Conversely, Elijah Kiger (TT Spec) loses his fifty-one-minute credit. With the revisions, Kiger falls from fifth to eighth in class while Perez remains fourteenth, while Burnett leapfrogs Miller for fourth in their category.