Matt Burroughs Follows Behind For Top Turbo Spot
Photos By: GetSOME Photos | Story By: Mike Ingalsbee
After much uncertainty and several postponements, the 52nd SCORE Baja 500 would finally be run but at a somewhat unique location. The infamous San Felipe loop that makes up the race course run at the San Felipe 250 is sometimes part of the Baja 500 course, but this year’s race would start, and finish in the tiny fishing village on the Sea of Cortez. It was 500 miles of terrain that typically destroys everyone after only 250 miles. It would pose a huge challenge to a motivated field of racers anxious to do battle after months of disappointing delays.
The course sent the racers right out into some of the biggest whoops that San Felipe is known for before hitting the dry lake bed that would give them a chance to run wide open for miles. Much of the second half of the course was made up of technical sand washes that are twisty, and filled with rocks. Some parts of the course were indiscernible from the piles of rocks that lay everywhere, and many teams earned penalties from missing the VCP’s (virtual check points).
After hours of racing, the field was spread out, but clear delineations were made as to the running order of the cars. Both Wayne Matlock in the Turbo class, and Kristen Matlock in the naturally aspirated UTV’s had worked their way from rear starts to run first in their respective classes. Absent from the fray was Blade Hildebrand who was taken out by a wrong way chase truck driver on the course. His RedBull Dakar Rally UTV looked to be destroyed in the crash. The only good news was that nobody was seriously injured. The number 2910 ORW car of Scott Trafton was also taken out in the incident as he was trailing Hildebrand in the dust at the time.
The overall running order was Wayne Matlock first on the road, chased by Monster Matt Burroughs, and the Murray Brothers Jason, and Derek. Kristen Matlock had passed all the N/A cars and was overtaking much of the turbos. With only 100 miles to go, Wayne Matlock suffered a broken upper control arm that forced him to limp his way out to the highway where his crew made repairs. The Murray’s loaned him a jack, and gave him water in a selfless act of good sportsmanship.
Despite the good karma points, Kristen Matlock was relentless in her charge to the front. Not content to win on corrected time, she made her way to first UTV on the road, and was first to physically cross the finish line. She won both her class, and the overall UTV, driving the entire way without relief. She credited co-driver Max Eddy Jr. for his skills in reading the Baja terrain, and a strong effort from the Matlock racing team as a whole.
Kristen was followed in by Matt Burroughs, the winner of the Turbo class, and Derek Murray who finished the race after brother Jason took the start. “It was a long battle on a rough course all the way to the end,” says Derek Murray. “It will come down to VCP’s, penalties, and seconds. Can Am’s finished the turbo class in first and second on a sandy and rocky course that had us pinned all day long. It was one of the roughest courses ever. We ran the San Felipe 250 twice.”
Wayne Matlock recovered to finish 3rd place in the turbo class and 4th overall. He thanked his team for all the hard work, and said that giving up was never an option. Second place in the N/A class; finishing around 3 hours after Kristen Matlock was Kaden Wells. He told of his losing a rear corner of the car which also ripped his exhaust off the engine. After making repairs they got the car to the finish line after a long exhausting day of racing. Visibly tired, and covered in dirt, he said it was rough; fast and rough. 1911 Scott Bergen was the only other N/A finisher to round out the podium in 3rd.
In the Unlimited UTV class Mike Leslie got the win over Elliot Watson. They were the only two to finish. Wayne Matlock’s longtime rival on ATVs, Mike Cafro, was racing in the pro stock UTV class in a mostly stock RZR. He got the win over Torey Rush in 2nd, and Randy Emberton in 3rd. Cafro said the course was brutal, and much rockier than normal, and that Jamie Kirkpatrick built the car in about a month. They had a flawless day with not even a belt change.
No matter how beat up and tired everyone was after the race, they were all thankful to have an opportunity to race in Baja again. SCORE International worked very hard with officials in Baja to make this race happen, and everyone is looking forward with anticipation towards the Baja 1000 on November 17th through the 22nd.