The First Mickey Thompson / SCORE Off Road Race - Birth of the Baja Off-Road Racing Legacy
Rare pair of race course maps showing the race course for the Score Parker 400, the first of the SCORE series of off-road races.
The legacy of SCORE International's desert racing is deeply intertwined with the vision of one man, Mickey Thompson. When Thompson founded SCORE (Southern California Off Road Enthusiasts) in August 1973, it signaled the birth of a new chapter in off-road racing. While Thompson is often celebrated for creating short-course events, such as the SCORE World Championship at Riverside International Raceway, his influence reached far beyond these tracks.
Just a few months after the inception of SCORE, in early 1974, the first desert race under the SCORE banner was organized – the SCORE Parker 400. Unique in its format, this race was designed to challenge racers with terrains from both California and Arizona. Participants would race a loop on the Californian side of the Colorado River before transitioning and then embarking on two loops around the Arizona side. This format wasn't just a test of endurance but also of adaptability, demanding racers to be proficient in navigating varied terrains and conditions.
However, it was on July 26, 1974, that SCORE's footprint in desert racing was truly solidified with the inauguration of the SCORE Baja Internacional. This event, later evolving into the now-iconic SCORE Baja 500, would become a linchpin in off-road racing, drawing competitors and spectators from around the world. Year after year, the Baja races have not only tested the mettle of racers but have also showcased the rugged beauty of the Baja California Peninsula.
In retrospect, Mickey Thompson's vision for SCORE wasn't just about establishing a racing body; it was about pioneering a movement. Through events like the SCORE Parker 400 and the SCORE Baja 500, Thompson and SCORE played a pivotal role in shaping the landscape of desert racing, ensuring that the spirit of off-road competition would be celebrated for generations to come.