LOS ANGELES—As the race clock quickly clicks down to 30 days remaining before the green flag drops and as teams finalize logistics, vehicle prep and prerunning trips, entries continue to arrive from around the globe for November’s 43rd Tecate SCORE Baja, the legendary granddaddy of all desert races.
This year’s legendary desert classic, the final event of the five-race 2010 SCORE Desert Series, will be held Nov. 16-20 in Mexico on a brutally-rugged 1072.67-mile Sal Fish signature desert race course.
With massive crowds reaching nearly 250,000 anticipated to again be spread out along the rugged course that travels on both sides of the peninsula, the world’s most famous desert race will start in Ensenada, Baja California and finish all the way down the peninsula in La Paz in Baja California Sur.
This year will be the 36th time in the first 43 years of the storied race that it has started in Ensenada and it will be the 18th time in has finished in La Paz.
It’s the oldest and most well known of all desert races, and it remains as the single most appealing accomplishment to a driver. Since 1967, the mother of all desert races has been run over the mysterious and majestic Baja California peninsula.
With over 300 expected entries for cars, trucks, motorcycles and ATVs competing in 33 Pro and 7 Sportsman classes in the internationally televised race, entries have already come from 35 U.S. states and 15 countries. In addition to the 35 U.S. States, racers have entered from Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Guatemala, Hong Kong, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Mexico, South Africa and the US Territory of Guam. With 30 days before the green flag drops on Thursday, Nov. 17, entries will be accepted up to race morning.
As the World Series is to baseball and the Super Bowl to football, the legendary Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 stands as tall at the pinnacle of the motorsports world today as it did when it began 42 years ago.
This year’s historic 43rd anniversary race will be held Nov. 16-20. It will start and finish in the heart of Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico and finish on the outskirts of LaPaz, Baja California Sur, Mexico. It will be the 43rd anniversary of the race shrouded in mystery that continues to lure adventurers and manufacturers from across the globe who all share the dream to conquer the Baja.
“Without the SCORE Baja 1000, desert racing would not be where it is today,” said Sal Fish, SCORE International’s President and CEO, which has sanctioned and produced the event since 1975. “The SCORE Baja 1000 continues to draw interest from all over the world and we now find second and even third generation racers appearing at the starting line with their family patriarchs cheering for their off-spring. This event continues to be the focal point of the SCORE Desert Series each year and to celebrate our 43rd anniversary with a peninsula run will surely add another colorful chapter to the legacy of the SCORE Baja 1000.”
The first known record run occurred in 1962. Dave Ekins and Bill Robertson Jr. timed their trip from Tijuana to La Paz on a pair of Honda 250 motorcycles. Ekins made it in 39 hours, 54 minutes, Robertson in less than an hour slower. There were no official timers, of course, and to establish that they had made the trip, the two motorcycle racers time-stamped a sheet of paper in the Tijuana telegraph office and time-stamped it again at the telegraph office when they arrived in La Paz.
Capitalizing on the pioneer effort of Ekins and Robertson, Chevrolet commissioned car builder Bill Stroppe to prepare a small fleet of trucks for the run to La Paz. Late that year they left Long Beach, Calif., and all of them reached La Paz. Advertising and publicity campaigns heralded the feat as “the roughest run under the sun.”
Enthusiast Ed Pearlman established the Mexican 1000. It started officially in Tijuana on October 31, 1967 with 68 entries. They actually motored at leisure speeds to Ensenada and restarted the next day.
Pearlman continued to organize the Mexican 1000, which came to be known as the Baja 1000. In 1968, Pearlman moved the start of the race to Ensenada, where it stayed with one exception until 1993. In 1972 he started it at Mexicali and ran the first half of the race down the east coast of the peninsula through the treacherous Three Sisters section. Pre-running for this race, Parnelli Jones and Walker Evans were among a group of competitors who nearly got swept out to sea during a tropical storm.
Pearlman’s last race, from Ensenada to La Paz, was in 1973. At that point, Mexican officials revoked his permits to stage races in Baja.
After the fuel crisis of 1974 forced local officials to cancel the event, SCORE International, founded by the late Mickey Thompson and headed soon after by Sal Fish, was invited by the northern state of Baja California to hold the race in 1975. The Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 became a loop event starting and ending in Ensenada.
In 1979, the government of Baja California Sur granted permission to resume the Ensenada-to-La Paz format and SCORE has used this route intermittently ever since.
The 1979 race was notable for Walker Evans’ overall win in a Dodge truck, the first truck to win the overall title of the race.
In its first 42 years, the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 has started 35 times in Ensenada, three times in Mexicali (1972, 1993, 1994), twice in Tijuana (1967, 1995) once in Santo Tomas (1998) and once in Ojos Negros (1999). The legendary race has finished in Ensenada 20 times, in La Paz 17 times, in Mexicali two times (1993, 1994), twice in Cabo San Lucas (2000, 2007) and once in Ojos Negros (1999).
Prior to the current global recession, entries and finishers for this legendary race peaked in 2006 and 2007 when a race-record 431 vehicles started the 2006 race to La Paz (231 finishers) and a race-record 237 finished the 2007 40th anniversary race to Cabo San Lucas (424 starters).
The famous and not-so-famous have tried their hand at conquering the Baja and they have come from all walks of life. Mark Thatcher, son of Great Britian’s then-prime minister Margaret Thatcher, raced in the 1982 SCORE Baja 1000. Celebrities James Garner, Ted Nugent and the late Steve McQueen all battled the Baja in the early 1970s and many racers from other forms of motorsports crossed over to try their skills.
Among the drivers from other arenas who have tested the Baja were Indy Car racers Rick and Roger Mears, Parnelli Jones, Danny Ongias, Danny Sullivan, Jimmy Vasser, Buddy Rice, Sebastien Bourdais, Oriol Servia, Roberto Guerrero, Michel Jourdain Jr., Johnny Unser and Mike and Robbie Groff, NASCAR’s Robby Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Boris Said, Brendan Gaughan, Brian Ickler and Justin Lofton, SCCA legend Elliot Forbes-Robinson, World Rally Championships’ Armin Schwarz, Armin Kremer and Andreas Aigner, world motorcycle champions Malcolm Smith, Larry Roeseler and Destry Abbott, Motocross legends Ricky Johnson and Jeremy McGrath, XGames star Travis Pastrana, drag racers Don Prudhomme and Larry Minor, Person Watercraft racing star Chris MacClugage and legendary SCORE founder and motorsports innovator Mickey Thompson.
The late Academy Award winning actor, racer and race team owner Paul Newman raced in the 2004 event. Jesse James, of ‘Monster Garage’ fame, and Hollywood film and TV star Patrick Dempsey have both raced this classic in the several times in the last seven years.
This year’s race will commemorate the achievements of legendary desert racers like Rod Hall, Ron Bishop, Johnny Johnson, and Larry Roeseler. Hall, who will turn 72 on Nov. 22, has a record 21 class wins (including one overall win in 1972), and is the only racer who has competed in all 42 SCORE Baja 1000 races. Bishop is the only racer who competed in the first 40 SCORE Baja 1000 races.
Hall will be racing this year for the first time in the featured SCORE Trophy-Truck division where he will split the driving with his sons Josh and Chad.
Bishop is the only racer who competed every year of the first 40 on a Motorcycle, but is not scheduled to race this year at this time. Johnson, now retired, had 15 class wins, amazingly in eight different classes.
Roeseler, has won 17 times in this race, including 13 overall wins (10 on a motorcycle). Roeseler will share driving duties this year in SCORE Trophy-Truck with brothers Tim and Ed Herbst in the No. 19 Terrible Herbst Motorsports Ford F-150. Roeseler won the unlimited Class 1 for four consecutive years (2004-2007), driving with the youngest of the three racing brothers, Troy Herbst, in the Smithbuilt-Ford open-wheel desert race car that was known as the ‘Land Shark’.
In 2008, Roeseler was split the driving with driver of record and team owner Roger Norman where they were the overall 4-wheel and SCORE Trophy-Truck champions and the pair was second in 2009. This year, Norman, who drew the first starting position for the 4-wheel vehicles in this year’s race, is scheduled to drive solo down the Baja California peninsula.
Lured by the same siren that enraptured the Ekins brothers in the 1950s, the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 remains as the No. 1 target of adventurers the world over, not to mention the cadre of pro and semi-pro desert racers who consider it the fitting climax to their racing season each year.
The motorcycle and ATV classes will start their journey at 6:30 a.m. (Thursday, Nov. 18) with the car and truck classes starting at approximately 11:45 a.m., or four hours after the last ATV leaves the line. The fastest finishers are expected to complete the course in approximately 19 hours.
The race will start on Boulevard Costero adjacent to the picturesque Bahia de Todos Santos in front of the historical Riviera del Pacifico Cultural Center in the heart of Ensenada. It will finish on the outskirts of La Paz near the Grand Plaza Hotel, race headquarters for the southern half of the event.
Pre-race festivities on Wednesday, Nov. 17, for the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000, including the vastly popular tech and contingency of all vehicles and the SCORE Manufacturer’s Midway will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Boulevard Costero in front of the Riviera del Pacifico Cultural Center. The pre-race mandatory driver/rider briefing will be held Wednesday, Nov. 17 at 7 p.m. in the Cathedral Room at the Riviera del Pacifico Cultural Center. Racer registration will be held at the San Nicolas Resort Hotel from Saturday, Nov. 13 through Wednesday, Nov. 17. Media registration will be held at the San Nicolas Resort Hotel from Noon to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 16 and from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 17.
The post-race awards celebration and fiesta will be held on the Malecon in downtown La Paz, starting at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 20. The entire race will be conducted on Pacific Standard Time.
While entries will be accepted up to race morning, late entries will be assigned the next available number and starting position within each class.
The car and truck classes with the most entries to date are SCORE Trophy-Truck (36), Class 1 (18), SCORE Lite (11) and Class 1-2/1600 (10).
Among the motorcycle and ATV classes, Class 22 for open motorcycles has the most entries to date with eight.
Leading the six Sportsman classes in the race is Sportsman Motorcycle over 250cc which had 35 entries so far.
While Norman received the first 4-wheel starting position during the Oct. 9 computerized drawing, starting first among the motorcycle and ATV classes will be Gabriel Williams, of Provo, Utah, on a Honda CRF450X motorcycle.
Norman, who won the 2008 SCORE Baja 1000 overall and in SCORE Trophy-Truck with Larry Roeseler as his second-driver, plans to drive solo in this year’s race down the peninsula. Williams has also confirmed that he will attempt to ride solo in the race on a motorcycle.
Drawing the first start among the ATV classes was the Class 25 team led by Felipe Velez, San Felipe, Mexico, who will ride a Honda TRX700X.
Drawing first start in Class 1 was SCORE Baja 500 class winner Steve Appleton, Boise Idaho, in a Chevy-powered Jimco open-wheel desert race car, while first off in SCORE Lite will be the team of Justin Davis, Chino, Calif./Daniel Folts in a Seagrove-VW. Leading the Class 1-2/1600 field will be the team of Jay Reichert/Cottonwood Shores, Texas/Clarence Dorrance, Austin, Texas, in a Jimco-VW.
Allowing a larger window of time than ever before, SCORE, completing its 37th year as the world’s foremost desert racing sanctioning body, started official pre-running of the course Oct. 8, from San Felipe all the way to La Paz. Practice on the race course from Ojos Negros to La Paz will begin Wednesday, Oct. 27 and pre-running from the start line in Ensenada to Ojos Negros will be allowed only on Tuesday and Wednesday, Nov. 16 and 17.
The challenging race course for this year is very similar to 2006, the last time the race finished in La Paz, although the terrain has obviously changed significantly because of weather conditions and natural use.
With 10 mandatory checkpoints spread down the peninsula, the course starts on the Pacific Ocean-side of Baja California in Ensenada and heads southeast to San Felipe on the Sea of Cortez before heading south through Coco’s Corner, Bahia de Los Angeles, San Ignacio, back to the Pacific at San Juanico, then back to the Sea of Cortez at Loreto, back to the Pacific at Ciudad Insurgentes heading down along the Pacific through Santa Rita before turning back east and down into La Paz for the finish.
All entries are provided with GPS programs defining the course and all are required to utilize special data recording devices that plot the actual route and speeds each vehicle takes during the mammoth race.
This year’s Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 desert race will be televised on a delayed basis as a one-hour NBC Sports special for the seventh consecutive year, airing on Dec. 19 on the NBC Television Network. It will also air on a delayed basis outside of the U.S. on ESPN International. It is being produced again by Aura360, SCORE’s electronic media partner, in association with SCORE.
As a special incentive to help bolster entries for the relatively new Class 4, Langley Productions owner and SCORE racer John Langley has posted a Special winner-take-all $10,000 SCORE/COPS Racing/BFG Tires bonus for the first-place finisher in the class for unlimited open-wheel, single or two-seat desert race cars with either a limited 2.2 or 2.4-liter GMC Ecotec sealed engine. COPS Racing, named for the popular television series produced by Langley Productions, has three vehicles entered in this year’s race in three different classes.
Class 4, one of the newest SCORE race classes, was designed for competitors to be able to use the chassis of both the current SCORE Class 1 and Class 10 catagories, according to SCORE Tech Director Bill Savage. To be legal for Class 4, these cars must use either a stock, sealed GMC Ecotec 2.2-liter engine for a single-seater or a stock, sealed GMC Ecotec 2.4-liter engine for a two-seat race car.
Savage has also reported that the current Class 2 vehicles are legal to run in Class 4 for this year’s Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 and a shot at the added $10,000 SCORE/COPS Racing/BFG Tires bonus. Class 2 will be merged into Class 4 permanently starting in 2011. Complete regulations for Class 4 are on the SCORE website under Tech Notes.
This race also features the prestigious Sal Fish SCORE IronRider awards presented to each motorcycle or ATV rider who completes the course within the time limit while riding solo. To date, 11 individuals have declared that they will be attempting to complete the course riding solo.
In addition to season point class point championships, drivers in the Pro car and truck classes are also racing to earn prestigious SCORE Toyota Milestone Awards given to all car and truck class drivers who complete every required mile of the five-race season. Being presented by Toyota Motorsports for the 25th consecutive year, a total of 17 drivers remain eligible after Round 4 of the 2010 SCORE Desert Series. The total mileage for the 2010 season will be 2,133.88 miles. Racers are also competing for the annual SCORE Off-Roadsman of the Year awards, including the MasterCraft Safety SCORE Rookie of the Year award.
SCORE official annual sponsors are: BFGoodrich Tires-official tire, Volkswagen of America-official vehicle, Sunoco Race Fuels-official fuel supplier, Bilstein-official shock, Instant Mexico Auto Insurance-official Mexican auto insurance, Slime-official tire sealant and Red Bull-official energy drink. Associate sponsors are: Tecate Beer, Coca-Cola of Mexico, Las Vegas Events, MasterCraft Safety, Blue C Advertising, SignPros, P.C.I. Race Radios, McKenzie’s Performance Products and Advanced Color Graphics.
Additional sponsors in Baja are the Secretary of Tourism of Baja California and ProTurismo de Ensenada and Secretary of Tourism of Baja California Sur.
For more information regarding the series, contact SCORE at its Los Angeles headquarters 818.225.8402 or visit the official website of the 2010 SCORE Desert Series at www.score-international.com.
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