Team Gordon Ready To Tackle Baja 2000

ENSENADA, MEXICO (November 9, 2000) There’s a small barn on Bob Gordon’s property in Orange, California. And since Bob Gordon is a hay salesman by trade, you might expect to see a horse or two behind the barn’s double doors. Perhaps, but a horse or two just isn’t the case. Right now there are 750 of them, all Ford-bred, and all nestled into the V8, special-built race motor that will power Robby Gordon’s off-road Trophy Truck in this year’s Baja 2000 which begins at dawn this coming Sunday.

The Gordon barn is actually a full-blown off-road workshop used to prepare championship and Baja 1000-winning, Class-1 buggies over the last 20 years. This year the Gordon’s, father Bob and son Robby, have decided to team up to tackle the most grueling of all off-road races ever staged on the long, thin finger of Mexico south of the California border. The SCORE-sanctioned race will be just short of 2000 miles, starting in Ensenada, Mexico and finishing in Cabo San Lucas, the southmost tip of Baja California. Bob and Robby will share the driving duties with a third veteran off-road racer, Rob MacCachren. MacCachren recently wrapped up the Pro-4 CORR Truck Championship in his Ford F-150 with a series record 11 wins.

While Robby will handle the majority of driving over the expected 40-hour race, he contends that having his father and Rob MacCachren as co-drivers, along with Ford Power will be a tough combination to beat. Between them, they share 6 Baja 1000 titles.

“We’ve been quietly putting this program together in my dad’s garage 3000 miles away from our Cup program with the idea that we’re going to win this race and nothing short of that will do,” said Robby, currently driving in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series with his Team Gordon outfit located in Mooresville, NC. “I’ve had a couple of my best guys from the ¹96 SCORE championship team prepping the truck uninterrupted and I can’t tell you how excited I am to tear up Baja in it. We’ve got a motor in this truck that should run in the neighborhood of 165mph on the open road. After looking at the map, that’s going to be key because there are a few sections where we have long stretches of highway driving. Basically, I plan on making time in those sections by matting it.”

Gordon’s truck is the same truck he’s used the last two years in the Baja 1000, 1998 and 1999, producing 8th and 5th place finishes respectively, but gremlins have hindered chances at winning those races.

“We built this truck from the bottom up in 1998 and I’ll admit we tried to do some things with it that we’re almost too much for Baja”, explained Gordon. “Last year the truck was very reliable, except for a transmission input shaft that broke. Go figure. We changed trannies and had no problems the rest of the race. After that Baja race, we ran the truck in two races out in Nevada with the idea we were going to do this race and had virtually no problems. This year we¹ve really gone back to what we did in 1996 and kept it extremely simple. We’ve added a lot of horsepower with the Ford, but we’ve concentrated mostly on the shock package and making the truck bulletproof. In a race this long, it’s about getting the truck home in one piece and being smart about getting it on when the right times come along.”

For father Bob Gordon, the chance to run with his son was an opportunity he hesitated to take initially, but ultimately felt was important because the pieces were there for the two to enjoy the success they had early in Robby¹s career as an off-road racer. It was Bob who gave Robby his first opportunity in an off-road vehicle in 1986. Robby had broken his arm racing motorcycles, so Bob saw offering him a buggy to drive in the prestigious Mint 400 race as a way to get him off the 2-wheeled desert racing variety. Robby went on to win the race, beating his father by 20 minutes, something Bob says let him know immediately that Robby had special abilities.

“I gave him my pre-runner and with no guarantees,” laughed Bob, a 4-time Baja 1000 winner, the most recent coming in 1998. “The buggy wasn’t race-prepped and really wasn’t in very good shape. I had pre-run with it and so had Robby. The combination of that and Robby¹s driving style seemed lethal to the buggy’s longevity. I expected to see him parked on the side of the road 50 miles in and I told him that! Instead I never saw him until they handed him a trophy. He¹s just got this ability to drive beyond absolute limits at all times. Honestly, I don’t understand it and for that reason I stopped riding with him a long time ago.

“This year to race with him will be a lot of fun. Somebody else can have the scare ride sitting shotgun, I’ll be in a helicopter or chase vehicle while he drives. But seriously, it’s like the good Œol days all over again with the truck in the barn and the two of us pre-running together. And having MacCachren on board is a big deal too, between Robby and Rob, you’re not going to get any better desert racers. I’ve known Rob for a long time, he’s a perfect compliment to Robby. For me, I’m going to be the old man in the middle trying to keep whatever lead they give us until I turn it over to them again.”

The initial plan is for Robby to start the race and run the first 250 miles. MacCachren will take over and drive the next 500 miles before giving the reigns to Bob Gordon for roughly 300 nighttime miles. After that Robby will jump in again and finish the last 700 miles into Cabo San Lucas. For MacCachren, he feels like winning the Baja 2000 and racing with Robby will be a perfect end to the best season of his career.

“I’ve been having one of those years where I feel like nobody can beat me,” said MacCachren. “Our Ford truck has been unreal in the CORR series this year and it’s taken my driving to another level. The chance to team up with Robby and do this Baja 2000 with their truck is going to be great. It’s an unbelievable truck, right now there’s no better program. It’s up to Robby, Bob and me to stand on the gas and keep it off the rocks. If we do that we’ll be tough to beat.”

Going back to Bob Gordon’s comment about scare rides, riding with Gordon for the first stint will be Paul Menard. Paul is the son of Team Gordon co-owner John Menard whose Midwest home improvement chain Menards will co-sponsor the effort with CD-2 Engine Treatment. The younger Menard, 20, comes from a similar, yet completely different racing discipline as an ice racer in Wisconsin where he has won numerous races with his father. Paul is currently running in the NASCAR sanctioned ReMax Challenge Series. The chance to ride and pre-run with Robby was something he was very excited to be a part of even with its dubious billing as being a ‘scare ride’.

“Robby came up (to Wisconsin) last year and did some ice racing with us and we got to talking about Baja and running on dirt. I’m not going to drive obviously, but I can’t wait to ride and see what it¹s all about. Once I’m in, I’m in ­ scary or not!” laughed Menard.

The Baja 2000 begins November 12 in Enseñada, Mexico. Teams are given 80 hours to complete the race. In years past, motorcycles have always been the first to cross the finish line, but since the advent of the Trophy Truck division the trucks have taken the overall win in recent history.

In 1989, Robby Gordon was the first to win overall in a truck. It is expected that the winning truck will take in the neighborhood of 36 to 40 hours to finish. In Robby Gordon’s career he has won the Baja 1000 twice (1989 & 1991). He also has 6 SCORE Off-Road championships to his credit and 2 Mickey Thompson Stadium Championships. Rob MacCachren has an equal number of Baja 1000 victories (1992 & 1994), while recently focusing on the CORR Pro-4 Off-Road series. His championship in that series this year was his third in CORR and his second in three years. Bob Gordon’s list of accomplishments is too long to list in completion, but it can be noted that he has four Baja 1000 titles and 5 SCORE Off-Road Championships.

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©2001 Team Gordon.