On Nov. 18, more than 275 entries would start the 2011 Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 in Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico with the expectations to finish the race and be the first to cross the finish line. The #1A Matlock Racing Team of Wayne Matlock, Wes Miller and Josh Caster was the first ATV team to cross the finish line after an extremely rough 705 miles through the Baja landscape.
With a rough start earlier in the year at the Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250 and Tecate SCORE Baja 500, the Matlock Racing team was looking forward to a trouble free race. The team spent months preparing for the upcoming race and their goal was to take the overall win once again and seal the points lead for the championship and the #1A plate.
The whole team headed south across the border a week before the race to begin pre-running each of their sections. Matlock and Miller would head to Ensenada as a base for pre-running their sections and Caster would head to San Felipe. Weather was harsh early in the week of pre-running with heavy rains leaving huge mud puddles and washouts along most of the course. All of the team would have to pre-run in the extreme weather to get the course completely covered.
All of the riders ended up having issues during the pre-run at one point or another leaving them stuck out in the middle of Baja waiting for another team member to come rescue them. Even with all the pre-running issues the team felt confident on each section. One thing that each rider commented on was how rough the race course was. This course was as rough or even more so than any other race the riders could remember and with only three riders it would be difficult.
The team’s goal was to set a fast but safe pace through San Felipe before they would re‐evaluate where they were position wise before stepping up the pace if needed. On race morning, Matlock would start fourth and work his way out of Ensenada towards the famous Ojos Negros highway crossing before handing the quad off to Caster at race mile 70. The start was comprised of mud filled washes and streams from the earlier week’s rainy weather. Early in the race Matlock was able to work his way up to second place but after reaching the tight and twisty new section added by SCORE up in the hills before Ojos Negros, Matlock found he was not comfortable pushing the big 700xx through the tight trails and he lost a few positions before reaching Ojos Negros at race mile 45.
Frustrated, along with silt and mud covered goggles, Matlock decided it would be better if Caster would take the quad from him at race mile 45 and continue on to his planned section.
Caster would jump aboard the quad and continue on to race mile 91 for his planned rider change with Miller at the JCR Honda pit 2. Keeping with the fast but safe pace Matlock set early in the race, Caster continued to pass quads working the #1A quad back to the front of the pack. As Caster reached the JCR Honda pit 2 at race mile 91, he slid into the pit just behind the second place quad.
Miller would jump aboard and with a quick fuel up, he was off and now in the second overall position, on his way towards the rough and rocky summit section of the course. Miller would battle for the second place position all the way down the summit before pulling away along the Laguna Salada dry lakebed. During Miller’s push to gain the lead he also passed the #7A quad who had been the lead quad most of the morning, but was experiencing motor issues. Before Miller reached JCR Honda pit 5 at race mile 208, he had gained a 2 minute lead over the second place quad and was able to hand the quad off to Caster in the lead.
Caster would take the quad from Miller at the JCR Honda pit 5 and continue on to the JCR Honda pit 8 at race mile 330. Once aboard the quad, Caster continued the pace set earlier in the race before reaching Diablo dry lakebed. However, due to mixed radio communication, Caster believed he had over a 10-minute lead at this point and slowed the pace to the JCR Honda pit 6 at race mile 256. As Caster was fueling at the JCR Honda pit 6, the second place quad came into view causing Caster to quickly leave the pit and pick up the pace for the remainder of his section. As Caster reached the JCR Honda pit 8 at race mile 330, he had gained eight minutes on the second place quad.
With a quick fuel stop, Matlock was now back on the quad and headed up the whooped out sandy washes towards San Felipe. With no radio communication in this remote area, Matlock was unsure of the lead Caster had gained, so he set a fast pace to gain as much time as possible. When Matlock reached the JCR Honda pit 9 at race mile 374, he had gained more time and was able to do a quick tire change and mount the Baja Designs lights on the quad. Off once again, Matlock worked his way back up the final wash towards the town of San Felipe. As Matlock reached race mile 404, he had gained over another eight minutes to the lead, leaving Caster a comfortable 16-minute lead as he headed north out of San Felipe.
With a comfortable lead now in place, Caster was able to back the pace back down a bit on his way back towards Borrego and the JCR Honda pit 11 at race mile 459. As Caster was nearing the JCR Honda pit, Matlock contacted him on the radio to notify him that he was held up by traffic at a military check point and would not be at the pit in time for the rider change. Caster would have to continue on until Matlock could get ahead enough to get back on the quad. Matlock would race ahead in the chase truck and be ready at the San Matias road crossing at race mile 466.
Matlock would jump on the quad once again at the San Matias road crossing and continue on to the famous Mike’s Sky ranch loop before heading back towards Valle De Trinidad. Matlock continued to push the lead while running up through the thick fog and high winds before handing the quad off to Miller at race mile 504 with a 30 minute lead.
Miller was off into the dark for his second ride of the day, heading towards the coast in the thick fog. As Miller reached the Pacific coast, he got caught in a thick patch of silt causing the quad to stall. With a quick check of the air filter, Miller was off once again heading up the coast before reaching Santo Tomas where the crew would change the air filter as a precaution from the earlier silt sections. Once the filter was changed, Miller set a safe fast pace back towards Ojos Negros at race mile 657 where he would hand the quad off to Matlock once again.
Once Miller reached the field near Ojos Negros at race mile 657, Matlock would mount the quad for his final ride back into the town of Ensenada. In the early morning hours, Matlock worked his way back into Ensenada thru the streams and mud covered washes before crossing the finish line as the first overall quad. The #1A Matlock Racing team not only finished 2 hours, 18 minutes ahead of the next class 25 quad, but they also covered the course as the fastest Overall ATV in 18:43:21 hours with an average of 37.66 mph over the extremely rough course.
The class 25 and Overall ATV win was good enough to seal the season championship once again. This year marks Matlock Racing’s fourth season championship in a row and the #1A plate setting them into the record books with a tie for the most season championships in class 25 in SCORE’s history.
Wayne, Josh and Wes would like to personally thank all of the chase crew, which is made up of wives , girlfriends, mothers and fathers along with friends and family. We would also like to thank all of our sponsors for their continual support enabling us to win races and championships like this. We realize without all of these people behind us, none of this would be possible and the team is truly appreciative of all the support!
Matlock Racing would like to thank all their sponsors: Rocky Mountain ATV, Maxxis, Kicker, PRM‐ATV.com, JCR, American Honda, Rich Morel Race Motors, Scott Goggles, Renthal, Elka, Big Gun Exhaust, KZ Trailers, Precision Concepts, Houser, Vey’s Powersports, Fly Racing, Vortex Ignitions, IMS‐Roll, IMS, DWT, OMF, Tire Balls, Quad Tech, Streamline, Precision Racing Products, Baja Designs, Motion Pro, UNI, DID, Hammer Nutrition, Premier Nutrition, H‐Bomb Media