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July 30, 2014

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B.J. Baldwin repeats as Baja 1000 champion; Las Vegas racers finish 1-2-3

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B.J. Baldwin.

B.J. Baldwin

B.J. Baldwin

He’s known as the “Monster Masher.” Las Vegas driving star B.J. “Ballistic” Baldwin proved his nickname by winning the brutal Baja 1000 desert race over the weekend in Baja California.

It was a rare back-to-back victory for B.J., as he was forced to abandon his normal gung-ho, top-speed style to drive patiently over a tight, technical course, and he did it by himself — solo from start to finish in Ensenada. The SCORE Trophy Truck Baja 1000 is known as the granddaddy of all desert races.

Last year, his run was all about speed, but this past weekend, he faced twisty, silt-ladden, rocky and old-fashioned brutality over the 883.1-mile race, one of the roughest in the sport’s history. He reached the finish line with a time of 18:36:10, averaging 47.47 mph.

Las Vegas racers made it a sweep at the winner’s podium, with second and third overall four-wheel-vehicle finishes. Rob MacCachren was second in his No. 11 Rockstar MacCachren Motorsports Ford F-150, and Troy Herbst, in the No. 91 Monster Energy Terrible Herbst Motorsports Ford-F150, was third. Rob finished at 18:43:29, and Troy completed the course in 19:15:34.

The results were declared official by SCORE International officials Sunday morning. In all, 251 competitors from 36 states, Guam and 23 countries battled the rugged terrain, but only 125 finished. This year’s desert classic was the final event of the 2013 SCORE Desert Series and concluded the 40th anniversary year.

At the finish line, B.J, son of CityCenter chief Bobby Baldwin, said: “I had to really push the tires in some of the roughest terrain. This racecourse is tight and technical and not something I’m particularly good at; I’m better at fast roads and backing it into corners between 85 and 110 mph. The tight, technical stuff isn’t nearly as much fun as rotating the truck at very high speed. I just ground it out, and I’m surprised that we are here. We had a good day.

“I've got this 99-cent rear-view mirror on this half-million-dollar truck, and it actually worked pretty well. In the Baja 1000, you want to win by seconds and not by minutes, or you’ll never get here. The truck can only take so much, and your body can only take so much mentally and physically. Any time I saw Rob MacCachren following close behind, I just put this thing on the chip and let it eat up the bumps.

“Rob put on a hell of a race, and it was a fist fight for the last 50 miles. He is ruthless. I believe that I had the best light setup but unfortunately when we were adjusting them last night, we tightened them too much and the lights arched down too much. I could see everything 50 yards in front of me clear as day, but I wasn’t able to see far out, so I had to maintain track position.”

This year was the 39th time in the first 45 years of the storied race that it has started in Ensenada and was the 22nd time it finished in Ensenada, as well. It’s the oldest and most well known of all desert races, and it remains as the single most appealing accomplishment to a driver. Since 1967, the mother of all desert races has been run in Baja California.

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.

Follow Vegas DeLuxe on Twitter at Twitter.com/vegasdeluxe.

Follow Sun A&E Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.

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