Competitors at this year’s SCORE Baja 500 started down the Pacific Ocean side of the Baja Peninsula, went up and over the interior mountains, and then endured the San Felipe loop before heading back to the finish where it all began in Ensenada.
Filled with rocks, silt, and mud, the course had twisty technical sections in the mountains and flat out
running through the sand whoops in San Felipe. It was torturous for its entire 513 mile length. For racer
Matt Ferrato, the race was the culmination of a year’s worth of planning. After a string of podium
finishes, Ferrato and his The Hollywood Way BBQ / Radar Tires Class 12 team were able to overcome
all the challenges they faced and seize Matt’s first Baja 500 win.
Ferrato finished the race with an approximate seven minute lead over the next competitor, running the 513 miles on the same set of tires he started on. This marks the second win for Ferrato in 2017, who also won the SNORE Motion Tire Ridgecrest 300 back in April and the 5th Baja win for sponsor Radar Tires who entered into racing in 2013 with their Radar Renegade R5 tire family.
“We did careful planning, preparation, and pre-running for the Baja 500,” said Ferrato, “Some people
had problems with the uphill silt sections along the coast but we sailed right through it. Mike Majesky
drove that section and put an hour on the rest of the field. He is a stunt driver, so he is right at home on
the edge, and can put the car exactly where he wants it. The course got rocky in the mountains but our
Radar tires handled that too; we ran the entire race on the same set of tires. There are always
communication problems in the mountains, even with satellite phones. If you get a flat tire there, you’re
on your own. We went an hour at one point with no contact from the crew. Once we got to the San
Felipe loop, we were feeling confident; our car is a little heavier, and set up for the rough. Our only
issue was a bad alternator. We lost some of the huge lead Mike built up for us when we stopped to
change it. The spare that was on our chase truck was only a standard part, not a high output. It would
have been fine during the day, but it was dark out so we had to run with only one set of lights on. I had
pre-run this section, so I knew what to expect, but the fog came in making it even tougher. It got twisty
with a lot of steep, up and down hills. With the limited vision, I started getting car sick, but I fought
through it. After finishing second place so many times, it’s great to finally get the win. We covered every
type of terrain you could imagine. Our King shocks made a huge difference in the San Felipe whoops,
and our Radar tires were flawless the entire way.”
The Baja 500 threw everything at racers this year. The competition was almost secondary to the
incredible challenge that the Baja terrain posed to the field. Ferrato’s team averaged 35.5 miles per
hour and after 14 hours of racing, the margin of victory was around 7 minutes. Out of the 12
competitors who started the race, only 6 class 12 cars managed to finish.