Campbell, Ragland, Fortin Win Overall at 30th Tecate SCORE Baja 1000
Jonny Campbell, Larry Ragland, and Doug Fortin each collected a piece of history by claiming overall victories in the 30th Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 desert race in Ensenada, Mexico, last November. Campbell posted the fastest time in the 701.4-mile-race and captured the motorcycle title, while Ragland won the featured Trophy Truck division for the third straight year and Fortin claimed the overall pro and unlimited Class 1 victory. Ragland powered his Chevrolet C1500 to a time of 13:53:46, averaging 40.47 mph to hold off Robby Gordon's hard-driving but problem-plagued Ford F-150 by just over 30 minutes. Fortin survived a pro race saddled with mechanical problems of varying sorts to win in his Chevy V-4-powered Chenowth desert race car in 14:31:02. Fortin was third overall among four-wheeled vehicles behind Ragland and Gordon.
The 221 racers from 17 states and 5 countries started the race in brilliant sunshine to run a course made muddy by a prerace rainstorm. Campbell cruised to a victory margin of more than an hour and a half over the runner-up Honda team led by Marc Burnett.
Basking in the reflection of the full moon on a cloudless Baja night, Ragland relished the thought of his third consecutive Trophy-Truck victory in the legendary race.
Larry Ragland drove the first truck across the line in this year's anniversary race. His C
"It was a great sage race. We ran fast early, steady later, and backed off at the end after Robby Gordon broke near the end," Ragland said. "The last 10 miles were the slowest I've ever raced in my life. Our Chevy truck was fit to win. The only problems we had were my fault. I hit some things I shouldn't have and we had five flats.
"We had a lot of different challenges, including rain and some dust, to go along with some solid Trophy Trucks we were running against and the toughness of the course. Jon Nelson built this truck we have won three consecutive years in, and Dale White's team prepped it flawlessly," he said.
Ragland, of Phoenix, picked up his fourth career class win in the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 and will start the new year by racing again in the 6,000-mile Grenada to Dakar Rallye.
Prerace favorite Ivan Stewart, who won the Tecate SCORE Baja 500 Trophy Truck race in June, was forced out of the race at mile 213 while leading by more than 20 minutes. His new Toyota T100 V-8 suffered a failure in the heat exchanger, which caused the oil to heat up, resulting in engine failure.
Gordon, the defending Trophy Truck seasonal champion, kept his Ford F-150 near the front, dicing with Ragland much of the day and night.
Truck racing ambassador Ivan "Ironman" Stewart spends a Kodak moment with a fan prior to t
Behind as much as 30 minutes at one point, Gordon pulled to within 30 seconds of the leader with just over 20 miles to go when he went off the road, ripping apart two tires and breaking his transmission.
"I was just going strong, but playing catch-up in the dark is double tough," said Gordon, who left the desert this year for an ill-fated season of Winston Cup racing. "I just got it going strong in the Guadalupe Wash and lost it."
Plagued by a power steering problem and five flats, Gordon seemed to be playing catch-up throughout the entire race. "When we were running, I had to put the pedal down," he said.
Ryan Thomas of El Cajon, California, captured the Pro Truck class in his Dodge for the third straight race, while Carlton Beal III of Midland, Texas, won his third straight Class 3 SCORE Baja 1000 in a Nissan, and Dave Westhem of La Jolla, California, won Class 8 in a Chevrolet C1500.
Deputy Steve Williams of Carson, California, won the Stock Mini class in a Ford Ranger, while San Diego's Marc Stein took the Stock Full class in a Ford F-150. Brady Helm of Chatsworth, California, drove a Ford Ranger to the Class 7S win, and Perry McNeil of Lemon Grove, California, drove another Ford Ranger to victory in Class 7.