We hear the same thing every year – “this year’s course was the gnarliest I’ve ever seen”. This year however, everybody really seemed to mean it. The Baja 1000 is an annual gathering of the best of the best. An opportunity for the best athletes, pit crews, and manufacturers to put it all on the line and prove who really has what it takes. The TeamBD roster left no questions in anyone’s mind at the 53rd Annual Score International Baja 1000 – using the industry’s best performing lights to take first place in every major class. TeamBD athletes scored a total of thirteen 1st Place finishes, and nineteen total podium finishes, in a year where very capable classes did not have a single driver cross the finish line.
The SLR Honda 1x bike was the first vehicle to cross the line, piloted by Justin Morgan, with Mark Samuels as rider of record. Years of dominating experience kept them in front of the pack for most of the race. Once the sun fell, their XL80/XL Racer Edition Dual Race Light provided the clear view needed to clinch a win for the 3rd year in a row.
The Davis brothers, Justin and Jeremy of Green Army secured the class 10 win and were the second overall in a buggy chassis. Relatively young, but with a few Baja races and wins to their name, they reflected on what Baja racing looks like in 2020. “Covid Contingency was definitely weird. Of course, we miss the crowds – that’s what makes Baja so special. Seeing all the fans cheering you on, throwing stickers and t-shirts – it definitely wasn’t the same, but we were just glad we got to race in Mexico” said Jeremy Davis. When it came to lights, they felt right at home according to Justin Davis. “I have always liked driving at night. I seem to go faster. There is less distraction, and it allows me to stay more focused. With the technology and performance of Baja Designs lighting it’s like driving in the daytime and allows a driver to never skip a beat or have to slow down”
Leading the UTVs was Wes Miller, who took the UTV Pro Forced Induction win in his Polaris RZR. Wes has so many Baja miles under his belt that when we asked him how many Baja 1000 wins he has taken, he replied “ I can’t remember how many I’ve won – I need to talk to Wayne.” Adding, “I’ve been racing UTV since 2015 and this is the one race out of the year that you absolutely want to win. We’ve been plagued with mechanical problems in the past and I’ve wanted to prove we have the speed to get the win. The race itself was super dusty, but the lights worked awesome. I’m not running a big light bar, just the 10” OnX6+ and two XL Racers on the bumper. It is all we run and it is enough light to get us up to 90 miles per hour comfortably.”
The young Eliott Watson piloted the Proctor Racing/Honda Powersports Talon UTV across the finish for a first-place win in the Pro UTV Unlimited class. His partner Steven Eugenio handed the car off for Eliott to complete the final section in the night. “I got back in the car for the last leg and it seemed like the hardest race in history with so many breakdowns, but the lights gave us so much confidence to be able to see and speed through the night. We really just ran one XL80 and one XL Racer Edition on front and they were perfect”
Baja Designs’ very own CEO Trent Kirby got into the mayhem this year. After spending his whole life on bikes and in the dirt, Trent was excited to race his first Baja 1000 with the Cornwell Racing team. The whole team of off road junkies at Baja Designs was very prideful to have one of our own out in the field, putting night miles down in the dust. Feedback around the water cooler on Monday morning echoed the statements of every other driver or rider we spoke to. The course was brutal, but Baja Designs lights are the best confidence booster you can have once the sun goes down. “It was a dream come true to race the 1000. I was thankful to have BD Lights, and more specifically a 10” OnX6+. Due to some unexpected charging system malfunctions, I ran from 8pm to sunrise off one 10” OnX6+ through the nastiest of terrain and not once did I feel out of my comfort zone, nor did we miss a critical ‘danger’ or turn.” said Trent Kirby.
Anyone that knows Trophy Trucks also knows the McMillin name. The youngest of the clan definitely made the name proud with a first-place finish. Luke McMillin has had an incredible year of racing. And taking home the Baja 1000 win in a TT is the cherry and bottle of champagne on top of any off-road racer’s cake. “I was in shock at the finish line. It’s like you chase something your entire life and then you get it. Man… I finally accomplished a lifetime goal.” said Luke. Baja racing is in his blood, so you know he means it when he says “It seems like we say it every year, but it’s true – this was the toughest Baja 1000 course. It literally had everything, beautiful coastline, silty and gnarly, technical and tight, and open desert.” Though, when it came to nightfall, Luke knew exactly what to expect after a decade of racing with Baja Designs lights. “I got in at mile marker 430 and the lights gave us everything we needed. They just keep you focused. I feel like I do better at night. Nighttime did not slow us down one bit. If anything, we got faster.”
In a year where everything has been tossed upside-down, seeing a successful Baja 1000 is a huge breath of fresh air for the entire community and industry. The entire team at Baja Designs takes huge pride in seeing our lights on the front of any car or bike competing in the dirt. Nothing beats seeing our favorite drivers come home with the win after the grueling torture test that is the Baja 1000. The proof is in the results yet again this year – the best run Baja Designs.