Some unfortunate news leading up to the Baja 500. Argentine rider Juan Zunino died on Monday, May 29, 2023, following an accident in the pre-running sessions leading up to the racing on Saturday, June 3, 2023.
The 28-year-old racer figured in a single-vehicle accident near Cohabuzo, at the 132nd mile of the race course. The accident was reported by another racer, Arturo Salas Jr., who notified Baja 500 personnel stationed in the pit areas two miles away. Unfortunately, Zunino's accident was so bad that he was pronounced dead at the scene. Reports state that the Argentine racer suffered "severe head trauma," although as of this writing, the specifics have yet to be announced.
Following the unfortunate incident, Arturo Salas Jr. stated, "I had the worst experience of my life today. I never thought I would see something so harsh in my sport, more so being there… I hope evervone takes care of themselves in whatever they do, take care prerunning this baja! Blessings to all…”
Meanwhile, SCORE, the governing body of the Baja 500 expressed its grief over the incident. The organization's president, Abelardo Grijalve stated, "The details of the incident are still being investigated but all of us at SCORE are deeply saddened by the loss of one of our racers. Juan was just launching his SCORE racing career that started with his victory on our season-opening SCORE San Felipe 250 in April."
Juan Zunino was a rookie in the SCORE International WoOrld Desert Championship, however, had impressive experience in the world of racing, particularly in the Pro Moto Unlimited during the 2022 Baja 400, where he finished third. In 2023, Zunino decided to race on his own, where he finished third overall in the San Felipe 250 in April. Juan Zunino's younger brother, Gianfranco Zunino, passed away in a crash in 2019 at the age of 17, and Juan dedicated his success in the sport to the memory of his borther.
Juan Zunino would have been one of the eleven talented solo riders set to compete in the Baja 500's Pro Moto Ironman division. Needless to say, we at RideApart extend our sincerest condolences to the family and friends of Juan Zunino. We also wish all the riders in the upcoming Baja 500 a safe and enjoyable race.