The SCORE Baja 1000 is an off-road race that takes place in Mexico's Baja California Peninsula. The 2016 SCORE Baja 1000 is the final round of a four-race series, previous events are the SCORE Desert Challenge, the SCORE San Felipe 250 & the SCORE Baja 500. The 2016 round will be the 49th SCORE Baja 1000, occurring from November 16–20 over an 800-mile loop both starting and ending in Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico.
The Baja 1000 allows various types of vehicle classes to compete on the same course - from such small and large bore motorcycles, stock Volkswagen, production vehicles, buggies, Trucks, and custom fabricated race vehicles. The course has remained relatively the same over the years, about every other being either a point-to-point race from Ensenada to La Paz, or a loop race starting and finishing in Ensenada.
The name of the event can be misleading as the mileage varies for the type of event ("Loop" of 600 to 850 miles starting and finishing in Ensenada, or "Point to Point" also known as the 900. The first official race started in Tijuana, Baja California, on October 31, 1967, and was named the NORRA Mexican 1000 Rally. The course length that year was 849 miles (1,366 km) and ended in La Paz, Baja California Sur, with the overall winning time of 27 hours 38 minutes (27:38) set by Vic Wilson and Ted Mangels while driving a Meyers Manx buggy.
From 1967 to 1972, the race was organized by the National Off-Road Racing Association (NORRA) and grew in popularity with ABC's "Wide World of Sports" sending Jim McKay to cover the 1968 event, and attracting new participants like the late Mickey Thompson, Indy 500 winner Parnelli Jones and movie actor James Garner. By 1971, major sponsors such as Olympia Brewing Company and Minolta Cameras began to support Parnelli Jones in his Dick Russell designed and Bill Stroppe prepared "Big Oly" Bronco and Larry Minor in a similar Stroppe prepared Bronco.
In October 1973, the price for a barrel of crude oil shot up 70% overnight as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) launched the Arab Oil Embargo. Fearful competitors would abandon the idea of competing and stay home, NORRA abandoned the race - despite assurances from the Federal government run Petroleos Mexicanos (PEMEX) fuel prices would remain stable - and announced they would hold an event in the state of Arizona.
It was at that time in history, Baja California governor Milton Castellanos handed over sanctioning of the event to a non-profit Mexican corporation called the "Baja Sports Committee" (BSC). BSC renamed the event the "Baja Mil" (Baja 1000) and scheduled the race to run on the original dates chosen by NORRA. Though NORRA held a competing event in the United States that same weekend, BSC successfully ran the race from Ensenada to La Paz like the years prior. Unaware of the challenges, BSC found promoting Baja races more difficult than anticipated. Instead of giving up the race, the Mexican government requested help from Southern California Off-Road Enterprises (SCORE) in hosting and promoting future Baja races. Through negotiations with Mickey Thompson and his SCORE organization, the Government agreed to give exclusive rights to SCORE to hold Baja races and also reluctantly allowed SCORE to cancel the event for 1974 (a year where motorsport was curtailed in the United States because of the oil crisis). SCORE hired Sal Fish as president and took control of the Baja 1000 from that year on with the Baja 1000 race resuming under new control in 1975. In 2012, the racing organization was purchased by Roger Norman and continues to run under his presidency.
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