SCORE Legends! | Bob Gordon

Photos by Kurt Scherbaum and courtesy ORMHOF.

Bob Gordon

Started in a Truck, Became Famous in a Buggy

Story by Mike Ingalsbee. / Photos by Kurt Scherbaum and courtesy ORMHOF.
Excerpted from SCORE's "Racing Into History - Vol.1 & Vol. 2"

You don’t get a nickname like “Baja Bob” without earning it. Bob Gordon has an impressive record racing on the Mexican Peninsula befitting of the nickname “Baja Bob”. Gordon was a three-time winner of the Baja 500; two of which were overall wins, and at the Baja 1000, he was a five-time winner; also having attained 2 overall victories. His winning record would have continued to grow had he not hung up his driving gloves to support his son Robby in his own racing career. The results of which were apparent with Robby winning the Baja 500 back to back in '89 and '90.

Bob got his introduction into offroad racing from friend Frank “Scoop” Vessels and was picked by BF Goodrich to pilot one of their iconic BFG Blazers as a part of a two truck team with Vessels. Gordon may have got his start in a truck, but he became famous for his prowess behind the wheel driving Chenowth buggies. His first victory at the Baja 500 came in 1980 racing a Chevy powered Chenowth buggy in class 1. He backed it up in 1987 with his second 500 win. This time, his Chenowth class 2 had Porsche power. Both the win in ’80, and ’87 were overall victories. For those of you who are unaware, SCORE International used to have 2 different unlimited, open wheeled classes. Class 2 was for 2 seat cars. Class 1 was for single seat unlimited cars. The two classes were combined into class 1 in 1990. In 1998, “Baja Bob” was back on top at the Baja 500 taking the class 1 victory again. This time however he was edged out of the overall win by Ivan Stewart and his Toyota Trophy Truck.

In addition to his driving talent, one of Bob’s secrets to success was his understanding of off-road vehicles His attention to detail, and work ethic were also second to none. The many people he mentored, and helped along the way are strong evidence of the skill and knowledge he possessed. The competition may have been able to beat him now and then, but nobody ever out-worked him. He also had an uncanny ability to remember people’s names and faces. No matter the pressing concern at hand, Bob would always take a minute to wave or say hello, and would offer assistance to anyone in need. The true essence of Baja, and fitting of his nickname. Bob’s legend lives on as well, with his 2017 induction into the Off-Road Hall of Fame.

Family and Tradition

Family and tradition are at the core of every SCORE race. It’s these values that Robby Gordon knows well. Robby inherited his love of the sport from his father “Baja” Bob Gordon. Now Robby’s 10-year-old son Max is also following in his dad and grandpa’s footsteps.

But to win an off-road desert race it takes more than having the right DNA. It takes determination. Robby has demonstrated that mindset tenfold by becoming a four-time SCORE Baja 500 Overall Champion (1989, ‘90,’05, ‘13) and five-time SCORE Baja 500 Class Champion (‘88, ‘89, ‘90, 05, ‘13).

In 2018 Robby started the SCORE Baja 500 in 18th position, but never made up the time, even though his truck ran flawlessly. “The SCORE Baja 500 is an extremely technical course,” said Robby. “But my new truck doesn’t like to idle, and slower speed zones isn’t great for my setup because it fouls the plugs.”

No doubt he’ll see his fifth SCORE Baja 500 Overall Championship happen sooner rather than later. Maybe even with Max.

Robby, Max and Steve Stahovich after the finish at the 2018 SCORE Baja 500 50th Anniversary

SCORE Baja 1000 & 500 50th Anniversary Books!

New books celebrating the SCORE Baja 1000 & 500 50th Anniversary. Racing into History Volumes 1 & 2

  • Pictorial Celebrations of Both Races
  • Capturing the Historic 50th Anniversary race weeks from set-up to the finish line.
  • Massive 416 page & 432 page Commemorative Hardbound Books listing all entrants and finishers.
  • Race History highlights of the SCORE Legends.
  • Historic Vehicle Overview.
  • Historical Reference with SCORE Baja 1000 & 500 statistics for the past 50 years.