30th annual SCORE San Felipe 250
San Felipe, Baja Mexico
Words and Photos by Art Eugenio
Once a year this sleepy fishing town and now growing retirement community turns into a full on 110% racing mecca when the SCORE Championship series comes to town.
Just a few hours south of the U.S. / Mexico border, the San Felipe 250 has become known as one of the most punishing off-road races there is. Even though the 250 is considered a “sprint race”, the miles of 3ft to 4ft whoops, rocks, boulders, sand, silt, and more whoops has proven to best even the most prepared teams in desert racing. This year’s San Felipe 250 would be no different.
Every SCORE race in Baja starts with contingency and San Felipe’s has long been known as a fan favorite. Picture a giant party with thousands of people complete with music, food, beer, t-shirt vendors and most importantly, race cars; and all that is happening right down on the edge of the Sea of Cortez. A seriously good time.
At first light on Saturday morning, the bikes would be the first to take to the course. As the true tough guys of desert racing, these riders attack the desert on two wheels and are open to the elements.
Shortly before noon, the 900+hp SCORE Trophy Trucks line up to take the start. As the green flag drops, each leaves the line 30 seconds apart and into the harsh desert landscape.
Just a few miles into the race, the drivers enter the treacherous “Zoo Rd” where thousands of spectators watch their favorite drivers drive full speed across huge whoops. The trucks are reaching between 90 and 120 mph through this section. The speed depending on the driver’s testicular fortitude.
Spectating the race is wide open, reminiscent of the early days of motorsports. It can be dangerous and fans here make the best of it.
At the half way point in the race, half of the racers had either had trouble or dropped out of the race. With the hardest part yet to come, the top four trucks (BJ Baldwin, Cameron Steele, Corey Keysar and Billy Wilson) pressed on with a healthy lead over the rest of the field.
As the leaders continued on through the remaining 100 miles of the race course they continued to thin out, due to mechanical problems or making mistakes. At this point it seemed that the past champion BJ Baldwin would take home the win with nearly a 30 min lead in hand over Billy Wilson.
But as they say, it ain’t over ’till its over. With just a few miles to go, BJ lost the engine in his #97 Trophy Truck, handing Billy Wilson his first ever Trophy Truck win in only his second race in the class.
We caught up with Billy Wilson at the finish and he told us about his race. “Starting 11th we thought we would be pretty far back in the dust and having issues,” said Wilson. “We had some navigational issues with the GPS and in the first 20 miles we were kind of running in the dark and blind. It is hard to run at race speed without the GPS. Right off the bat around race mile two we noticed we had some oil cooler failures, so we were pacing ourselves so we wouldn’t end the race in the first few miles. Obviously that paid off. This is my second race in SCORE Trophy Truck but I’ve been racing in SCORE for about seven years. Matomi wash collapsed and was narrower than the truck at one point so we were scraping by. We were behind a few people swapping back and forth but you’ve got to keep a clear head, a straight face, and don’t overdo it or you’ll end up having issues.”
Colton Udall and team would take the win in the Pro Moto class.
“We had a really gnarly battle with the 4x team (Francisco Arredondo) and they actually caught us over time” said Udall. “At race mile 146 when we changed a tire I got back on the bike and barely got in front of them. We were practically holding hands going down the highway. I was checking my odometer and we were going 58 or 59 miles-per-hour and just staying with each other. He had to peel off to pit and that’s the last time I saw him. This race course is so extremely gnarly. It really is a test of man and machine. The biggest terrain challenges were three and four foot-sized rock whoops where if you make any mistakes you’ll hit a rock the size of a football. It will throw the bike sideways or you’ll endo. After my pit I went down old Puertecitos road which is extremely gnarly. I just stuck my head down and it’s a full-body experience because it’s hard on your legs, arms, lower back and neck. I just kept on breathing through it and didn’t put the bike on the ground. I nailed everything I had through the sand washes and I got back here in one piece so I’m happy. We are really happy to be here and really happy to be safe.”
San Felipe is just the start of the SCORE World Desert Championship season. Yet to come is one of the biggest and best races known in the off-road world, the 48th SCORE Baja 500 coming this June. Stay tuned.
Class winners at the 30th SCORE San Felipe 250
- SCORE TROPHY TRUCK (Unlimited Production Trucks)—1. 15 Billy Wilson
- CLASS 1 (Unlimited single or two-seaters)—1. 138 Ronny Wilson
- TROPHY TRUCK SPEC (unlimted Truck/SUV, stock, sealed V8s)—1. 202 Chad Broughton
- CLASS 10 (Single or two-seaters to 1650cc)—1. 1081 Todd Winslow
- CLASS 1/2-1600 (VW-powered, single or two-seaters to 1600cc)—1. 1697 Jorge Sampietro
- SCORE LITES (VW-powered, Limited single-1776cc-or two-seaters-1835cc)—1. 1210 Luis Barragan
- CLASS 8 (Full-sized two-wheel drive trucks)—1. 836 Aaron Ampudia
- CLASS 5 (Unlimited VW Baja Bugs)—1. 524 Ben Swift
- CLASS 7 (Open, production mini trucks)—1. 722 Pete Sohren
- PRO UTV (Naturally Aspirated, Stock 4-wheel Utility Vehicle)—1. 1992 David Nance
- PRO UTV FI (Forced Induction, 4-wheel Utility Vehicle)—1. 2905 Marc Burnett
- CLASS 5-1600 (1600cc VW Baja Bugs)—1. 553 David Heredia
- CLASS 11 (stock VW sedan)—1. 1103 Noe Gutierrez
- PRO MOTO UNLIMITED (450cc or more)—1. 1x Colton Udall
- PRO MOTO 30 (Riders over 30 years old)—1. 313x Mario Murillo Jr
- PRO MOTO 40 (Riders over 40 years old)—1. 455x Mike Johnson
- PRO MOTO IRONMAN (Solo Riders)—1. 702x Tony Gera
- PRO MOTO 50 (Riders over 50 years old)—1. 507x Mark Winkelman
- PRO MOTO LIMITED (449cc or less)—1. 106x Garrett Poucher
- PRO QUAD (450cc or more)—1. 1a Javier Robles Jr
- SPT M/C—1. 230x Kristopher Harvey
- SPT QUAD—1. 117a Erik Ruiz