SIX of Eight Class-1 Finishers = Jimco-Built Race Cars
Most people are aware the Baja 1000 is as treacherous as it is historical, where absolutely nothing is guaranteed except that stories from the race will be passed around among friends, like the gravy boat at Thanksgiving dinner. Some stories may have sucked as they happened, but become funnier as time goes on. Some stories create wisdom for future race strategies. Some stories of today, will become the legends of tomorrow.
Nineteen Class-1 race cars left Ensenada in the late morning of Thursday, November 16th. The Baja peninsula was hungry, digesting many race teams before the sun even set. During the night the feast continued, when the sun came up over the Sea of Cortes, only a handful of surviving Class-1 race cars stood firm on four-wheels to the finish. Eight total Class-1’s completed their journey, and six of those cars were Jimco-built.
Brad Wilson, in the 158, lead the majority of the race but an electrical issue about 70-miles from the finish caused some down time. Brad, and other finishers, commented on the insanity of the silt, but he had done his pre-running homework and managed to finish second in class!
Al Torres in the 114, finished third in class. The Torres team knows Baja; they completed the San Felipe 250, the Baja 500, and the Tijuana Desert Challenge this year. But, this was the first year Torres tried the peninsula run of the Baja 1000. “…You’re not going to win it in the first half, you’ve got to be consistent the whole way,” Torres said of his successful finish. He had to be patient, more patient than he wanted, due to a sticky throttle issue forcing Torres to go conservative on the pedal.
With a race this long and grueling the work load is often shared. A good example of racing being a team sport is that of, Brian Wilson. In the 138, Brian finished fourth at the Baja 1000 and secured the top spot in the SCORE International points championship of 2017. Brian humbly credits the Wilson Motorsports team for accomplishments with his name on it. Brian started the race, and was running in towards the top at race mile 540 when co-driver Randy Wilson took the reigns. Randy was competitive, clean, and in the top-3, when he handed the car over to another co-driver, Kyle Quinn at race mile 720. After about 100-miles, Quinn misjudged a corner and according to him, “slid off hitting a pretty square face.” Heavy front end damage left the car parked for a couple hours while the Wilson Motorsports crew came to the rescue and made critical repairs so that Quinn could continue. Unshaken, he kept pace the remaining 200-miles and finished the Baja 1000, contributing to the Wilson Motorsports Team championship season.
Finishing fifth in Class-1; Matt Cullen in the 105, who’s team members commented that they had been trying to finish the Baja 1000 for the past several years, and expressed indescribable excitement when that finishing moment had finally come for them. The sixth place Class-1 finisher was Pat McCarthy, in his number 147 Jimco 2000 race car. Finishing seventh in class all the way from Anchorage, Alaska, Pat Bell in the number 121.
Stories From the Trophy Truck Class
Four Jimco Trophy Trucks completed the journey south to La Paz, including the fourth place overall finisher, Billy Wilson in the number fifteen. Those tuning in state-side via various track providing websites, may have been confused to see Billy “come out of nowhere” on the live feed, as his tracker malfunctioned early on the course after a minor ditch incident, and his on-screen locator dot went invisible. Wilson had co-driver Chad Bunch share the driving duties from race mile 520 on to race mile 950. Proud of his finish, Wilson made mention of all the drivers doing their homework and how it felt like he was racing the competitors and not just the terrain.
This could be seen on the finish live live feed, as Robbie Pierce’s 30racing Trophy Truck and Justin Lofton 41 AHBEEF Trophy Truck approached the checkered flag. Lofton had qualified his truck well, and left Ensenada with decent visibility but mid-race, Lofton was forced to square up with a rock in order to avoid a motorcycle racer. While there were no physical injuries, Trophy Truck 41 needed mechanical attention. Meanwhile, the 30, who started a handful of positions behind Lofton, was finishing up a rear end swap, north of where the 41 was now a sitting duck. The night got darker and during the time Lofton’s truck was nearing completion, the lights of Robbie Pierce’s up-and-running truck sailed right on by. A little over a half an hour later, Justin Lofton’s truck, now with co-driver Matt Loiodice saddled up, was also up-and-running… running after the 30, who was being piloted by Robbie Pierce’s co-driver, Mike Julson. NOTE: Mike Julson is Matt Loiodice’s father.
The gap between the tracking dots of the 41 Jimco and the 30 Jimco began to pull closer and closer together, and as the dots on the tracking screen approached the finish line, those watching knew they had to be right next to each other. On finish line live-feed, there was suddenly a massive dust cloud, and the sound of two growling trophy truck motors overtook the audio. Who was it going to be first between the two; The 30 of the 41? Two Jimco grills, side-by-side around sweeping a corner and then, the bright orange and black paint of the 41 truck darted in front of the blue 30. Matt Loiodice physically finished ahead of his father Mike Julson in the final seconds of their race. On the clock, Robbie Pierce’s 30 finished 13th in class, Justin Lofton’s 41 finished 14th.
Gary Magness in the Jimco Trophy Truck number 45 finished 10th in class.
To Race the Baja 1000 is to Overcome the Unplanned
Thirteen SCORE lites began in-tact at the drop of the green flag but eight of them never saw the dirt in La Paz. Of the five finishers, two were Jimco produced. Miguel Bonilla finished 5th in class and Freddie Willert grabbed the first place spot. The Willert team believed this was one of the toughest courses they had ever seen with “incredibly deep silt and lots of rocks in Loreto.” Co-driver Dan Worley just wanted to maintain his section, saying he just cruised to not inflict any damage on the car, or the lead.
Additional finishers of the 50th Baja 1000 in Jimco machines are as follows:
Even after they both had roll-overs at separate times, both 6100-trucks of the SPITFIRE racing team made it to La Paz on all four-wheels on the ground. Rod Lewis and co-driver Clint LaRue finished 6th in class, while Ryan Lewis and co-driver Brad Pace finished 11th. The 6100-class had 17-finishers.
The 1082 of Miguel Angel Monroy finished 17th in class.
Wayne Matlock in his 2971 finished 5th out of 20 finishers in his class.
Kristen Matlock, who “iron-womaned” the milestone event, finished 5th in her UTV class.
Robbie Pierce made mention on social media about how it took 100-people and 5-teams to get his Trophy Truck number 30 from Ensenada to La Paz. That is the brutal truth of this sport and more particularly, this race. It isn’t for the unmotivated, the unorganized, or the easily discouraged. It’s a team effort from before the start to after the finish… and everyone involved is a piece of the story.