Beta Sounds Off on Baja 500 Win

July 1, 2009
Courtesy of Beta Motorcycles
Beta Motorcycles

When the dust settled on the 41st annual SCORE International Baja 500, a Beta Motorcycles dealer-sponsored team won the series’ premier Open Pro Motorcycle class on a Beta 450 RR.

In Baja’s extreme terrain and weather conditions, where the temperature reached more than 100 degrees, Threat Racing’s near-stock 450 RR ran flawlessly. In 432 grueling miles, the bike needed just an air filter and a rear tire throughout nine hours and 33 minutes of punishment.

With this victory, the ultra-versatile Beta 450 RR has now gained international acclaim from the Baja Peninsula to the woods of Finland, where Mirko Gritti recently rode to a podium finish in the FIM World Enduro Championship series.

The Threat Racing team consisted of Baja veteran Craig Smith, 35, and teenage brothers Cameron, 18, and Kyle Corfman, who is just 16 years old. Kyle was flabbergasted with the trio’s results. “At first,” he said, “I didn’t believe that we won. Then, a billion text messages came in and my phone started ringing.”

Smith, who started racing long before either of his teammates was born, also won the Baja 500 in 1995. His latest south-of-the-border adventure went according to plan. “Other than staring down a cow in the middle of a fireroad at 50 mph, things went real smooth,” said the alfalfa farmer from Brawley, Calif.

Cameron Corfman  Baja 500Beta 450 RR
18-year-old Cameron Corfman (left) rode to a victory at the Baja 500 on a Beta 450 RR (right).

American Beta’s 2008 Dealer of the Year, Threat Racing is a family-owned shop doing business for more than a decade in the desert community of El Centro, Calif., just 10 miles from the Mexican border. Shop owner Chip Corfman took on Beta last year as the dealership’s first motorcycle franchise. His rationale was simple: “We used to compete on other bikes, but I didn’t like it when we’d race on Sunday, do well and prospective customers would go buy a bike somewhere else on Monday.”

Tim Pilg, American Beta’s founder, stressed that it was Beta dealers’ personalized, old-school service that sets the company apart from other brands: “My experience in motorcycle dealerships taught me that American distributors focused on how many units they could sell instead of ways to improve customer service. While we also concentrate on sales, we are ultimately focused on giving our customers the personalized attention that keeps them coming back.

“We’re proud of Threat Racing’s Baja 500 performance and look forward to more success in competition and on the showroom floor.”

In the United States, American Beta is the exclusive U.S. distributor of Beta’s California Green Sticker-approved off-road bikes and 50-state-legal dual-sport motorcycles.

Founded in 1904, Beta is one of the world’s oldest family-run motorcycle businesses. Based near Florence, Italy, the company holds seven FIM World Trials championships and six Indoor World Trials titles in international competition. It employs 111 people and produces 17,000 vehicles annually. Beta’s 40-model 2009 domestic lineup covers the motorcycling universe with everything from 50cc trials bikes and scooters to 525cc Supermoto racers.