The final race of the 2002 Optima SCORE Desert Series proved to be as tough for the drivers as the terrain they would be racing over. For the third consecutive year, the highly coveted Baja 1000 Trophy Truck title was won by the dynamic duo of Dan Smith and Dave Ashley of Riverside, California. Driving the grueling 1,017.31 miles from Ensenada to La Paz, Baja California, Mexico, in their 750hp unlimited production Enduro Racing Ford F-150 Trophy Truck at an average speed of 62.34 mph; the team finished the race in a blistering 16:19:03. "We spent almost four weeks down here practicing and we finished faster than we even expected. In Mexico, it's much faster racing, and much more fun".
Taking Second Place on the podium were brothers Ed and Tim Herbst who finished 45 minutes behind Smith and Ashley. "We got caught in fog and couldn't see anything for about 150 miles. We had to rely solely upon our GPS system," said Tim. With their Second Place finish, the Herbst team was able to end the 2002 season with a record third season championship of the marquee SCORE Trophy-Truck Division.
Former desert racer turned NASCAR driver Robby Gordon returned to conquer the course. However, he could only capture the third slot due to mechanical difficulties. With more than a two-hour gap between the Second and Third Place finisher, Gordon said, "I came down to win this race but we came up a little short. The game plan was to be first to San Felipe, and we were, but I ended up driving the whole way, as my dad didn't get to San Felipe in time.
Mike Julson of El Cajon, California, claimed the Unlimited Class 1 title. Julson, who was the only driver to win more than once in the first five events in Class 1, claimed the crown in the Baja 1000 with an impressive time of 17:04:48. Despite winning two races prior to the 1000, he was eighth in the class point standings. Finishing Second in Class 1 was the team of Doug Fortin and Charlie Townsley, who trailed Julson by more than half an hour. Troy Herbst and Larry Roesler placed Third. Like his two older siblings, the youngest of the three brothers on the Terrible Herbst Motorsports team was busy etching his name in the SCORE record books while capturing both the Unlimited Class 1 title and the 2002 SCORE Overall points championship. After the six races of the season, Troy Herbst earned 376 points, 31 more than his older brothers.
The 34th Annual Baja 1000 began with 234 racers poised to do battle with each other and the terrain, yet when all was said and done, only 151 of the gladiators crossed the finish line. For the other 83 warriors who were left stranded on the battlefield, there is always next season. Round One of the 2003 SCORE Desert Series will be the Laughlin Desert Challenge, held in January in Laughlin, Nevada.
For more information, contact: SCORE International Off-Road Racing, Dept. OR, 23961 Craftsman Rd., Ste. A, Calabasas, CA 91302, (818)225-8402, www.score-international.com.