The team of Dofo Arellano, Wes Miller, and Jeremy Gray took home 2nd overall ATV and 2nd Class 25 Open Pro ATV at this year’s SCORE Baja 500. The grueling racecourse started and finished in Ensenada, Mexico and consisted of some of the
roughest conditions of any Baja 500. The rocks, slit, and whoops would be a true test of man and machine. The 9a team of Arellano, Miller, and Gray spent the weeks before the race preparing and pre-running their sections. Unlike the other
teams that would use 4 or 5 riders, the 9a team would be made up of just 3. Fitness would be key and the riders would be tested.
Coming into the race, Dofo Arellano had captured the win at the San Felipe 250 and was sitting first in points. The Baja 500 would be round 2 of the 3 race series and play a critical role in the team’s quest to win the SCORE Championship. The day before the race, the team had the race quad on display at the packed Azteca Motor sports booth on contingency row. Thousands of people crowded the streets to get a look at all of the pristine race vehicles before they would set out on the course.
In Baja racing, pit crews and strategy play a huge part of the race. 9a would do all of their fuel stops with JCR Honda. Lead by multi-time Baja winner, Johnny Campbell, the JCR pits are an essential part of a winning SCORE race program.
Race day morning, the crew awoke at 4:30am to prepare for the race and get to their respective locations. The 9a team was the first ATV off the line, with the pro bikes starting ahead of them. Dofo started and worked his way through some of the slower motorcycles. He maintained a strong pace with several teams in chase. Battling the dust and early morning sun, Arellano brought the quad through Ojos Negros with about a 30 second physical lead. Continuing to battle back and forth with 10a, Dofo brought the quad into JCR Honda 2 in second a few seconds back.
After a quick K&N air box lid change, Miller took the throttle from there through one of the most technical sections of the course called “the Summit”. This infamous stretch of the course is known for it’s almost impassible first gear rocky uphills and downhills. Wes rode hard passing a few more motorcycles and handing it off to Gray at Laguna Salada still in second place.
Riding at a blistering pace, Jeremy continued to chase the 10a team from the dry lakebed to Borrego. With temperatures near 100 degrees, both man and machine were tested. Gray held his ground and brought 9a to Arellano in second.
Dofo took over from Borrego with the challenge of pounding the whoops from there to San Matias. He dug deep and made some time on the leader through the 30 miles of almost solid three foot deep whoops. At race mile 230 in San Matias, the race had developed into a three-way battle between 10a, 9a, and 8a for the podium positions.
Just under half way through the race, Jeremy hopped back on and chased 10a into the mountains and up to Mike’s Sky Ranch. Gray had just beaten the race quad to the pit and took off without his gloves. From Mike’s the course headed to Rancho Coyote. This new section of the race had really been tore up by the pre-runner cars and had plenty of rocks and silt. Regretting not having his gloves, Jeremy’s hands blistered as he struggled to hold on. He pressed on to the Pacific side of the course, to Colonet and handed the quad to Miller with the 8a team hot on their tail.
Wes took off intent on closing the gap to 10a. At this year’s race, the sportsman bikes and ATV’s had been deviated from “the Summit”, cutting off about 130 miles of race course and actually putting them physically in the lead of the pro teams. This meant the faster pros would now have to pass their way through the unpredictable amateur riders. Miller quickly got past a few sportsman bikes and was riding hard. He turned into a line only to find that spectators had put ribbon and plastic strung across bushes at the end of it. Riding through it, the plastic wrapped around the axle and got caught in the rear brake. He quickly pulled over and started pulling it off. As he took off, the 8a was right behind and pushing hard. Miller pushed to stay ahead, but the rear brake still wasn’t working and the 8a got by. At the next JCR pit, the crew with the help of some shears were able to cut most of the plastic out of the brake and Wes was back and going. Now pushing even harder to make up lost time, Miller crossed Hwy 1 and rode to the coast. Passing Shipwreck’s, Quatro
Casa’s, all the way to Erendira. From the cobble stone whoops on the beach at Erendira, the course continued north. Dodging two-way local traffic on the roads, Wes pushed as hard as he could on this beautiful, high-speed part of the track. With a couple of close calls with cars, trucks, motorcycles, and even a cow, Miller was able to close a little time and brought the quad to Dofo in Uruapan in third place.
The twisting, rain rutted course took Arellano back towards Ojos Negros. Riding as hard as he could, Dofo continued to chase the leaders. To his surprise, he caught and passed the 8a team as they had a mechanical issue right before Ojos. Now back in second and with the leader having a comfortable gap, Arellano set a comfortable, safe pace and brought it to his waiting team at the finish.
Crossing the finish line in Ensenada, the 9a team of Arellano, Miller, and Gray finished second overall ATV, second Class 25, and very high overall among the motorcycles and trucks. In a true testament to the parts and products the team uses being the best in the world, they finished with the same Maxxis tires, DWT wheels with Tire Blocks that they started. They also never changed their K&N air filter, opting only to change the K&N air box lid twice. The Rich Morel motor never missed a beat. And overall, the quad was amazing. The second place finish sets the 9a team up in a first place tie in points going into the final and biggest race of the year, the Baja 1000.
Dofo, Wes, Jeremy, and their entire team want to thank all of their sponsors and crew for the tremendous support and congratulate the 10a team on their win. We look forward to a great race in November.