The Baja 1000 and Baja 500 races are two of the most important off-road races in the circuit. The shorter race happens in June, followed by the Baja 1000 every November. Both draw a variety of vehicles and fans who come to cheer on their favorite drivers. Both of these desert races on the peninsula known as Baja are packed with thrills and have gained their places as some of the most legendary desert races out there.
While the history of the Baja 1000 may not date to the early days of the automobile industry, the race does have an interesting history. The initial race kicked off in Tijuana on the last day of October in 1967, first called the Mexican 1000 Rally. The course stretched from Ensenada to La Paz. It took the winning team of Teed Mangels and Vic Wilson 27 1/2 hours to drive their Meyers Manx Buggy the 849 miles. From there, the race was sponsored by the National Off-Road Racing Association and got even more popular when it was broadcast on the Wide World of Sports. In 1973, the future of the race was thrown into question when the oil embargo shot the price up of oil seemingly overnight. NORRA bowed out, and the newly created Baja Sports Committee was created to keep the race going. By 1975, SCORE International, the official sanctioning body of desert racing was in charge, an arrangement that continues today. The Baja 500 race started in 1969 and also is under the watch of SCORE International.
Baja 1000 Route
Baja 1000 Route Image: wisley (flickr)
The route has changed since the first races, and can change from year to year. Drivers from all over the world get their motorcycles, ATVs and other vehicles to the starting line before the beginning the race. The route depends on the race; a loop race begins and ends in Ensenada, covering 830 miles of desert landscape. Some of the races are point-to-point, beginning in one location and ending in another. Lately, the point-to-point route is Ensenada or Tijuana to La Paz, some 1,000 miles when the entire loop is driven.
Baja 500 Route
Baja 500 Route Image: wisley (flickr)
While the course of the Baja 1000 has changed a lot since the beginning, the route for the Baja 500 has pretty much been the same since the first race kicked off. The route is just under 500 miles and loops from Ensenada and back. It travels off the beaten path through the desert before returning back to the town of Ensenada, a town where the cruise ships stop.