With this year’s SCORE Baja 1000 coming up in a couple of weeks, a look back at the chaos that followed the 2012 Mil is in order.
Immediately following last year’s race, on November 16, 2012, the Redbull Trophy Truck of Gustavo and “Tavo” Vildosola were declared the winner. This was to be the second victory in the 1000 for this father-son Mexican team. B.J. Baldwin finished in second place down by 15 minutes.
Not only did those two trucks finish first and second, they were also physically on the road together and were battling for road position. As it is a timed event not a wheel-to-wheel race, passing a competitor doesn’t mean you gain a position. However, driving in someone’s dust slows you down and generally makes your life more difficult.
This is a clip of the Vildosola truck overshooting a corner while being chased down by Baldwin. Vildosola was criticized for this piece of driving. He charged through a spectator’s camp and took out an E-Z Up shelter on his way to get back on course and stay ahead of Baldwin. While this was considered bad form, Baja is Baja.
But things start really getting interesting though following the race. Another video showed up online showing what appears to be rolling pit service on the Vildosola truck. The video shows a pickup truck move directly in front of the Red Bull Trophy Truck on a highway section of the race where there is a speed limit. Someone crawled out the sliding rear window of the pickup and into the bed. This person reached out in order to manipulate the front light bar that had been knocked out of alignment in an incident earlier in the race that had also removed the bodywork from the front end.
Remember it is noted above the the Vildosola’s are Mexican team? In an online forum, Tavo Vildosola claimed that the men in the pickup were just overly enthusiastic Mexican fans that were trying to help the home team out. He claimed these fans just rolled out in front of him and started wrenching on his truck and there was nothing he could do about it. The Baldwin team became aware of the video and filed a formal protest. SCORE rules prohibit any pit service on paved sections of the course. SCORE officials didn’t accept the claim that eager fans were responsible. Two weeks after the end of the race, on November 30, 2012, SCORE decided to assess a 90 minute penalty on the Vildosola team for servicing the vehicle in an unapproved location, putting them into eighth place. B.J. Baldwin was declared the official winner.
That wasn’t the end of the story though. After the penalty was assessed, Vildosola filed a protest against Baldwin for failure to stop at a checkpoint. Again video surfaced. This time it showed Baldwin blowing through a checkpoint that requires a full stop.
On December 3, 2012 this protest was denied by SCORE. It turns out this checkpoint was problematic for a number of reasons and ironically, Vildosola also failed to stop at this checkpoint. There was miscommunication between SCORE officials and the checkpoint captain. SCORE assumed the captain had all the signage for the checkpoint, but the checkpoint captain did not have the equipment. He was under the assumption that SCORE was to deliver the proper stop signs to the checkpoint. Also, the checkpoint was not in the correct location on the official GPS files the racers were provided by SCORE.
At this point, SCORE stated they would no longer accept any additional competitor protests for the 2012 race.
From this saga, SCORE has evolved. They have indicated in the future there will be set a time limit for competitor protests which will be measured in hours following the race, not days and weeks. No more Youtube challenges.
This year’s Baja 1000 will be run from November 14 to November 17, 2013. The course this year is a “Loop Race” meaning it will start and end in Ensenada. The course is about 880 miles. Generally the race alternates between a “Loop Race” and a “Peninsula Run” from Ensenada to La Paz.