Known as the second biggest desert race in the world, the SCORE Baja 500 is a warm up race for the grand daddy of all offroad races, the Baja 1000. Held every year in June, the 2010 Baja 500 started in the town of Ensenada, and would work its way through the Baja peninsula until it finally came back around and finished where it started. This year saw a huge entry list in the unlimited classes, with 39 Trophy Trucks starting and over 20 Class 1 cars.

As usual I made the trip down with friend and fellow media goon Scott Smith of Paradigm Productions. We decided to make it a quick trip, so we headed down early friday morning to get there for contingency. We made good timing and arrived in town just when they started letting race vehicles through the contingency line. My main goal for the day was to get shots of my clients vehicles going through town. At a race like Primm or Parker contingency photos aren’t that interesting, but the flair of Baja always makes for good photos as the trucks drive through the streets of Ensenada. Here are a few shots from the day.

Canidae Racing passing out “steekers” to the crowd.

Klaus Rasch from passing out flyers with the race course map.

Tried something different with a technique a lot of wedding photographers use. You lower the shutter speed, and using a flash you rotate the camera. The result is a photo that makes you dizzy when you look at it too long. The idea is to get something in the center in focus. Close enough!

Taco Meat

After only a few hours contingency got surprisingly dry with race vehicles, so we decided to just rest up before the big day. We headed over to the Coral Hotel and hung out with the McMillin Racing crew as they made last minute tweeks to the vehicles, and so Scott could get all the GoPro incars setup. Both Scott and Andy McMillin were presented with rings by BFG Tires for their win at the Baja 1000 last year, so I took the opportunity to snap a couple photos of it along with a few other feature shots.

Male model Dan McMillin

We didn’t have to shoot the bikes this year so we were able to get some decent sleep before the start of the race (sorry bike guys your race starts too early). We got up, headed to the truck, made sure our Baja survival kit was all set, and headed to the start line. A Baja survival kit consists of the following:

1. Case of water
2. Cheeze Its (midday snack)
3. Nutter Butters (lunch)
4. Nacho Cheese Doritos (24 hour snack)
5. Sunflower seeds (afternoon snack)
6. Chocolate Donuts (breakfast)
7. Cash for tacos (carne asada con queso por favor)

Oh ya, satellite phone, gps tracker, race radio, blah blah blah.

We started the day at the start line to get some dirt nation shots before the start of the race.

Cameron was tired.

I decided to shoot the start of the race at the second turn of the course where they are still on the pavement before they hit the dirt and leave town. I’ve never shot there before, and you always hear stories about someone spinning out or hitting a fence. No such luck this year, but still managed to get some cool shots in town.

Vildosala Racing

I moved around a bit to get some different angles.

Once the last car that we were covering went by we hauled ass back to the truck and made our way threw town. The plan was to head down to Borrego and shoot the area before the popular jump that we shot at last year for the 1000. Its a great place to shoot because of the jump and the large crowd there, but since we’ve shot there in the past we wanted to change it up a bit.

As we were heading down and got to the road crossing at Ojos, the military decided it would be a great place to setup a checkpoint. Ojos at 11am always has pretty slow traffic but this caused even more delays, so we were starting to get a bit worried that we’d miss the leaders where we wanted to shoot.

Back home my mom was following the race on IRC and the weatherman stream, so I asked her to start texting us updates on our Satellite phone. This proved to be a big help because we knew where they were about every 10 minutes, and if we didn’t have the updates we would of for sure missed them. When we were getting pretty close to Valley T, the updates showed what we feared, in that they were getting very close to Borrego. We made a judgment call and decided to pull off along side of the road sooner then expected so that we didn’t miss the leaders. Its always better to get a so so shot of someone versus missing them all together.

We stopped at a spot on the course we’ve shot before right next to the road. It was a straight away with a little drop down into a wash where the trucks will catch a little air. Here are a couple shots from that spot, the leaders came by us probably about 5 minutes after we got there. Close one!

Overall 4 Wheel race winner Andy and Scott McMillin of McMillin Racing

Monster Energy’s Robby Gordon

Bryce Menzies of Menzies Motorsports

Roger Norman of Norman Motorsports (he went the farthest)

We stayed at this spot until the lead group came through, then we headed back a little ways up course to where the course crosses a dirt road. There is a nice little rise when it crosses the road so makes for some good air shots.

General Tire’s Rick Johnson

All German Motorsports Armin Schwarz

A Class 1 car bottomed out at the base of the jump slamming the skid plate into the ground.

Mr. Tecate was in the crowd.

Borrego was one of the farthest points from Ensenada, so we knew we couldn’t stay too long there if we wanted to catch the leaders for a third time. The next spot we wanted to shoot was near the highway again when they cross back over through Ojos at about race mile 400.

On the drive we stopped for a little bit to shoot the road to Mikes Sky Ranch.

We kept getting updates back home as to where the leaders were, and we were going to be playing it pretty close on time. A lot of the pacific side of the race course is pretty fast, but luckily a section called Urapan is a slower and more technical part of the course, so that would help us on time. We arrived at the Ojos crossing with about 30 minutes to spare so we timed it pretty good.

This part of the course the racers come down a small hill and drop down into a little valley before crossing the road and heading towards the last 30 miles of the course.

Jesse Jones (also known as the guy who buys a trophy truck after each race)

Wilson Motorsports

By now the sun had started setting giving some pretty cool lighting.

Adam Householder

TSCO Racing

On the walk back to our truck there was a Dan McMillin sighting.

And thats all she wrote! Congrats to Andy and Scott McMillin and the whole McMillin Racing for another overall win. Next offroad race is the LOORRS race in Salt Lake City, stay tuned!

To see all our photos from this race check out our photo galleries.

2010 SCORE Baja 500 Photo Gallery