2009 SCORE Desert Series Preview
Enjoying his full-time return to desert racing in between his ‘day job’ as a NASCAR Cup team owner/driver, Robby Gordon has increased his point lead in the 2009 SCORE Desert Series point standings following his second win of the year at September’s 14th SCORE Terrible’s Primm 300.
With 292 points, Gordon, 40, who returns to his desert racing roots as often as his NASCAR schedule allows which is every race this year, is the SCORE Overall point leader and he additionally leads the marquee SCORE Trophy-Truck class for high-tech, 800-horsepower, unlimited production trucks in his No. 77 Team Gordon Chevy CK1500. Gordon is pulling double duty this week driving also driving in the NASCAR Cup season finale in Homestead, Florida on Sunday.
While assuming a big lead in the 2009 SCORE Desert Series point standings, Gordon, who lives in Charlotte, N.C., has earned his eighth and ninth career SCORE Trophy-Truck race wins this year along with one second and one seventh in the four races held so far this season.
After Gordon’s big lead of 24 points over second place in the SCORE Overall point standings (he also has an even larger 48-point lead in SCORE Trophy-Truck), only 16 points separate the rest of the top 10 in the 2009 SCORE Overall point standings.
After winning Class 10 in San Felipe, Ensenada and Primm in his Lothringer-VW, Mike Lawrence, Banning Calif., is leading the class he won the season championship in last year and stands second in SCORE overall points with 268.
Wilson Motorsports of Long Beach, Calif., currently leads two classes as well as being tied for third and 11th in SCORE overall points after four races.
With two Class 1 open-wheel desert race cars and two Class 1-2/1600 open-wheel cars with 1600cc VW engines, Randy Wilson, 50, the middle of three racing Wilson brothers, leads Class 1 and is 11th in overall points with 241. Ronny Wilson, 47, the youngest of the brothers, is fifth in Class 1 with 175 points while tied for the lead Class 1-2/1600 and tied for third in overall points with 265 is Brian Wilson, 24, Randy and Ronny’s nephew and son of Rick Wilson, 53, the oldest of the three Wilson brothers.
Tied with Brian Wilson for the lead in Class 1-2/1600 and tied for third with him in SCORE Overall points is Justin Smith, Capistrano Beach, Calif., who has two class wins this year in his Fraley-VW.
Eric Duran, Tecate, Calif., is driver of record for his family team and is fifth overall and third in Class 1-2/1600 in with 260 points in a Neth-VW.
SCORE points are based on starting and finishing as well as the number of starters in each class and placement position in every race. All class titles will go down to the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000.
Among the motorcycle and ATV classes, the open motorcycle Class 22 has the most entries to date with 19 followed by Class 30, riders 30 years old and over, which has 14. Leading the six Sportsman classes in the race is Sportsman Motorcycle over 250cc which has 36 entries and Sportsman Motorcycle under 250cc which has 16 entries to date.
Starting first in the ATV classes is the team led by Patrick Christensen, Pleasant Prairie, Wisc., who will ride a Yamaha Raptor in Class 25.
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, 33 individuals have officially declared that they will be attempting to complete the course riding solo.
Arizona’s journeyman driver Pete Sohren received the first starting position during the Oct. 10 computerized drawing for the race. While the grizzled veteran Sohren will pilot his No. 2 Ford F-150 SCORE Trophy-Truck, starting first among the motorcycle and ATV classes will be the team led by promising newcomer Adam Thissen of Reno, Nev. on a KTM 550XC-W motorcycle. Sohren finished fourth in June’s race, tying his best career SCORE Trophy-Truck race finish.
Drawing the second start in SCORE Trophy-Truck was Rick D. Johnson, Barstow, Calif., this year’s Tecate SCORE Baja 500 winner, who drives the No. 71 Ford F-150. Last year’s overall and SCORE Trophy-Truck winners in the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000, Roger Norman, Reno, Nev./Larry Roeseler, El Cajon, Calif., drew the 10th starting spot in the No. 8 Norman Motorsports Ford F-150.
This year’s race course will feature 6 outlying checkpoints where each vehicle is required to quickly stop before continuing on. The checkpoints will be located as follows: Checkpoint No. 1—No. of Santa Catarina (race mile 90.03), No. 2—West of Borrego (rm 213.27), No. 3—South of San Felipe (rm 309.80), No. 4—West of Borrego (rm 401.94), No. 5—San Vicente Vineyards (rm 535.32), No. 6—South of Ojos Negros (rm 631.25).
Total Mileage: 672.85 miles (6 checkpoints plus the finish line). Starts and finishes on Blvd. Costero, adjacent to the Riviera del Pacifico Cultural Center in Ensenada. From the start in Ensenada the course will go east to Ojos Negros for almost 40 miles which will be raced in both directions during the race. From Ojos Negros, the course will travel in a clockwise direction. From Ojos Negros, the course turns South to El Alamo and then east up through the Summit and makes a South turn at Cohabuzo Junction and on to the the infamous Laguna Salada, paralleling Mexican Highway 5. Next is San Felipe loop where the course will cover some of the rugged Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250 course including the magnificent Matomi Wash.
After the San Felipe loop, which travels in a counterclockwise direction from and back to Borrego, the course will head north and northwest, joining Highway 3 for a short distance to the Mike’s Sky Ranch turnoff. Then the course heads behind Mike’s and around Rancho Las Truchas and Rancho El Coyote and down the challenging Simpson’s hill. From this point the course is very similar to the Tecate SCORE Baja 500 heading north along the Pacific Ocean below San Vicente and past Erendira, back inland up through Santo Tomas then turning northeast just past Uruapan winding its way back to Ojos Negros for the final charge back to Ensenada. In the Erendira area, the course avoids the rocky section along the Pacific, taking instead a high plateau east of that area.
Pre-race festivities on Thursday, 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 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Boulevard Costero in front of the Riviera del Pacifico Cultural Center
with more than 50,000 spectators anticipated to be on hand. The pre-race mandatory driver/rider briefing will be held Thursday, at 7 p.m. in the Cathedral Room at the Riviera del Pacifico Cultural Center. Racer and media registration will be held at the San Nicolas Resort Hotel from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesday, and from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Thursday.
The post-race Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 Award’s Celebration will be held poolside at the San Nicolas Resort Hotel at 10 a.m. on Sunday.
Baja 1000 Facts & Stats:
With racers competing in 30 Pro and 6 Sportsman classes for cars, trucks, motorcycles and ATVs, the legendary race will be held Wednesday through Sunday in Ensenada, Mexico. Sal Fish’s SCORE International is completing its 36th year as the World’s foremost desert racing sanctioning body and the event is the finale of the five-race 2009 SCORE Desert Series. To date, 338 adventurers and the world’s best desert racers have come from 39 U.S. States and 14 countries to gather on the majestic Baja California peninsula. Among the entries are 24 class winners from last year’s race. Late entries will be accepted up until race morning.
This year’s 672.85-mile race will start for the 35th time and finish for the 20th time in Ensenada. The motorcycle and ATV classes will start their journey at 6:30 a.m. PST next Friday, with the car and truck classes starting at approximately 10:30 a.m., or three hours after the last ATV leaves the line. Vehicles will leave in 30-second intervals in the elapsed-time race and while the fastest finishers are expected to complete the course in approximately 14 hours. All vehicles will have a 31-hour time limit to become official finishers in the legendary adventure.
The race will start and finish 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’s the oldest and most well known of all desert races, and it remains as the single most appealing accomplishment to a racer. Since 1967, the Granddaddy of all desert races has been run over the mysterious Baja California peninsula. This year’s course will be run totally in the Northern part of
While all the rugged regulars in the world’s foremost desert racing series are headed to Mexico, the lure of this amazing race also attracts crossover racers as well as adventurers from all walks of life.
The talented field of desert-racing veterans includes 92 racers who have combined for 295 class wins in this race. In that group are 10 racers who have combined for a total of 31 overall 4-wheel vehicle wins and eight more riders who have combined for a total of 28 overall motorcycle victories. Included in the past overall winner’s group are the last five 4-Wheel winners and the last seven motorcycle winners.
One of the special entries this year is three-time SCORE Baja 1000 overall champion Ivan Stewart who will drive the final 175 miles to the finish line to help debut the fifth generation Toyota 4Runner in the Stock Mini class. Stewart has a total of 22 career class wins in the three SCORE Baja races.
Among the other entries venerable Hall, Reno, Nev., the only individual who has raced in all 41 previous Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 races.
The legendary Hall has a race-record 19 career class wins in this event and is the only driver to have competed every year (all in a car or truck class). Hall, who will turn 72 on Nov. 22, will be looking for two class wins this year as he is entered as the second driver for his sons Josh and Chad Hall in Hummer H3 vehicles in both the Stock Mini and Stock Full classes. As a family, the Halls of 30 class wins in this race as Chad has seven and Josh has won his class four times.
The car and truck classes with the most entries to date in the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 are SCORE Trophy-Truck (32), Class 1 (23), Class 1-2/1600 (16), SCORE Lite (15) and Class 10 (10).
With massive crowds reaching nearly 250,000 anticipated to again be spread out along the rugged course that travels from Ensenada to Ojos Negros, east down Laguna Salada to San Felipe, down through the legendary Matomi Wash, around Mike’s Sky Ranch, through both Rancho Las Truchas and Rancho El Coyote, down the infamous
Simpson’s Hill and back to the Pacific Coast below San Vicente and up through Santo Tomas, Uruapan and back to Ojos Negros, covering much of the northern half of the majestic Baja California peninsula to and from Ensenada.
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 drivers who complete every required mile of the five-race season. Being presented by Toyota Motorsports for the 24th consecutive year, a total of 16 drivers remain eligible after Round 4 of the 2009 SCORE Desert Series.
Under the sponsorship of BFGoodrich Tires, live tracking will be available through www.BFGoodrichTires.com and BFG Relay and live audio and video steaming updates starting out on course on Monday, contingency, from the start/finish line and other locations around the course will be available at www.DirtNewz.com. The tracking of all vehicles in the race is provided by International Racing Consultants, the official provider of tracking devices for all participants in SCORE International races.
Many teams use this event as a fund-raiser for various charities. Among the groups and racers this year are:
-Locos Mocos Pit Team: Taco Stand at race mile 205/395 to benefit Mexican children with cancer through the Castro-Limon Cancer Foundation. www.fundacioncastrolimon.org
-Anna Cody Racing, No. 150x (Class 20): for team racer Roger Hurd who is living with Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease. www.150xrockenracers.com/donatenow.htm
-Joe Bacal, No. 878 (Stock Full): Bacal, a cancer survivor, is driving to benefit the Cancer Treatment Centers of America.
-Robby Bell, No. 1x (Class 22): Blue C Wahoo’s Penhall Racing team is donating 1000 cans of food and supplies to people of Baja through the Acts of Kindness organization. www.AOKnick.org
-Jim Graham, No. 1104 (Class 11): racing for the International Diabetes Foundation. www.idf.org
This year’s Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 desert race will be televised on a delayed basis as a one-hour NBC Sports special, in association with SCORE and Aura360, for the sixth consecutive year. It is scheduled to air on NBC at 2 p.m. (EST) on Sunday, Dec. 19 on the NBC Television Network. It will also air on a delayed basis outside of the U.S. on ESPN International.
Current 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, Terrible Herbst Inc., Blue C Enthusiast Advertising, SignPros, P.C.I. Race Radios, McKenzie’s Performance Products and Advanced Color Graphics.
Additional associate sponsors for the 2009 Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 are Proturismo de Ensenada and the State Tourism Department of Baja California.
For more information regarding the series, contact SCORE at its Los Angeles headquarters 818.225.8402 or visit the official website of the 2009 SCORE Desert Series at www.score-international.com.
BFGoodrich Tires, long a staple in desert racing, had an amazing streak of 20 consecutive overall 4-wheel vehicle winners broken in 2006 by Toyo Tires, but won again both in 2007 and 2008.
In 4-wheel vehicle competition, Ford motor has produced 13 overall winners and VW motors is second with 12 overall winners, followed Chevy with 10, Porsche with 3, Toyota with 2, and Dodge with 1.
Among 4-wheel vehicles, Ford has produced the chassis for 11 overall winners while Chenowth has produced the chassis for 10 overall winners, followed by Chevy with 6,
Toyota, Funco, Raceco, Jimco and Smithbuilt with 2 each and Miller, Hi-Jumper, Dodge, and Meyers Manx with 1 each.
In motorcycle competition, Honda leads with 19 overall victories (including 12 straight), followed by Husqvarna with 11, Kawasaki with 9 and Yamaha with 2.
IRC Tracking Devices:
Continuing to help increase safety, verify route and speed, SCORE is again requiring the mandatory use of tracking devices from International Racing Consultants in ALL classes. Race tracking of all entries can be accessed at www.trackinginternational.com.
Back for more:
Another testament to how much this race means to the sport of desert racing, 24 of 27 Pro class winners from last year are back in the starting field for this year’s race.
Hall just keeps on going and going:
When veteran Rod Hall straps on his racing helmets and take the green flag, he will keep his incredible streak alive of being the only racer who has competed in all 42 SCORE Baja 1000 races. Hall, who will turn 72 on Nov. 22, will be the second driver in vehicles in both Stock Mini and Stock Full. Hall is the all-time winningest racer in this event with 19 class wins.
Jim O’Neal, an age-group motorcycle rider, has put together teams of riders who have seven class wins in the last five years, including an amazing three in 2006 (Class 40, Class 50 and Class 60). Larry Roeseler has an amazing five straight class wins (four in Class 1 and last year in SCORE Trophy-Truck). Francisco Septien has three straight wins (Class 30) along with Mike Shaffer (Class 17). Recording two class wins each year, with four straight motorcycle class wins is Craig Adams (Class 40, Class 50). With two straight class wins is Chad Hall (Stock Full, Arnoldo Ramirez (Class 1-2/1600), Kendall Norman (Class 22), Robby Bell (Class 22), Brett Helm (Class 40), Francisco Arredondo (Class 21) and Chad Black (Class 20). Arredondo and Black are entered in Class 22 this year.
The 2009 SCORE Desert Series also involves the hunt for the 24th annual SCORE Toyota Milestone Awards. The prestigious SCORE Toyota Milestone Awards are presented to every racer who completes every required mile of every race in the 2009 SCORE Desert Series. A total of 16 drivers are still eligible for Toyota Milestone awards.
Crossovers/Celebrity Racers: Among the crossover/celebrity racers officially entered in this year’s race are (as of 11/15/09):
–Robby Gordon, NASCAR Team Owner/Driver, three-time Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 Overall Winner, No. 77 SCORE Trophy-Truck
–Cameron Steele, action sports TV announcer, No. 16 SCORE Trophy-Truck
–Ivan Stewart, legendary “Ironman” desert racer returns, No. 778 Stock Mini
–Armin Schwarz, of Germany who lives in Austria, seven-time World Rally Championship race winner, No. 101, Class 1
–Armin Kremer, of Germany, top German rally racer, No. 104, Class 1
–Andreas Aigner of Austria, the 2008 WRC Production class point champion, No. 104, Class 1
–Jeff Kargola, the “Ox” is a top Moto X rider, part of the Metal Mulisha, co-rider on No. 18x, Class 22
–Max Eddy, versatile speedway pavement and Freestyle motocross rider, co-rider on No. 20x, Class 22
–Boris Said, NASCAR and SCCA sportscar racer, No. BC5, Baja Challenge Class
–Tara Dakides, top female professional snowboarder, No. BC5, Baja Challenge Class
–Bud Brutsman, TV producer who produced feature show the last two years from this race, BC6
While there are many families with lots of combined class wins, none have more than the Hall family of Reno, Nev., which has a total of 30 class wins. Led by dad Rod Hall’s race-record 19 class wins, his son Chad has seven and oldest son Josh has four. This year, Team Hummer will have Josh Hall in Stock Mini and Chad Hall will drive a different Hummers H3 in Stock Full. Rod Hall is entered as a second driver for both sons.
This race always has a few ‘bravehearts’ who enter in two classes, hoping for double wins. Among those this year are: Rod Hall (Stock Mini No. 761 and Stock Full No. 860), Jim O’Neal (Class 50 No. 500x and Class 60 No. 600x), Craig Adams (Class 40 No. 400x and Class 50 No. 548x) and Cisco and Pancho Bio (Class 9, No. 903 and SCORE Lite No. 1209).
Family Ties: Desert racing has always been about family teams and this year’s Tecate SCORE Baja1000 is a prime example of that fact. This year’s starting grid currently includes 49 brothers racing together and 12 racing separately. The race also has 28 fathers racing with their 32 sons and 9 fathers whose 11 sons are racing in separate vehicles.
Among the third generation racers are Andy McMillin (SCORE Trophy-Truck), Daniel McMillin/Luke McMillin (Class 1-2/1600), Harley Letner (Class 1), Brian Wilson (Class 1-2/1600).
Among the brothers racing together are: Tim Herbst/Troy Herbst (SCORE Trophy-Truck and Class 1), Mark and Gary Weyhrich (SCORE Trophy-Truck), , Randy and Ronny Wilson (Class 1), 37-year old TWIN brothers Arturo and Abel Velazco (Class 1-2/1600), Eric, Hiram and Evan Duran (Class 1-2/1600), Daniel and Luke McMillin (Class 1-2/1600), Donald and Kenneth Moss (Class 3), Nick, Michael and Larry Vanderwey (SCORE Trophy-Truck), 26-year old TWIN brothers Matt and Max Eddy (Class 22).
Among the father and sons racing together are Gus Vildsosola and his son Gus Vildosola Jr. (SCORE Trophy-Truck), Jesse and Danny Ashcraft (SCORE Trophy-Truck), Dan and Tom Chamlee (Class 7), Pancho and Cisco Bio (Class 9 and SCORE Lite), Gerardo Iribe and his father Carlos (Class 5/1600), Clive Skilton and his son Darren (Class 3), Dale Lenk and sons Brett and Grant and Miguel Jimenez and his sons Miguel Jr. and Guillermo (Class 30).
Among the father-sons who will race in separate vehicles include B.J. Baldwin (SCORE Trophy-Truck) and his father Bobby (SCORE Trophy-Truck), Curt LeDuc and his son Todd LeDuc, also both in SCORE Trophy-Truck, and Danny Ashcraft (SCORE Trophy-Truck) and his son Adam Ashcraft (Class 1).
Among the female racers expected to compete as a driver/rider or co-driver/rider are…
–Heidi Steele–Class 6-No. 617. Vice-President of Human Resources for a national home health-car firm, she is the wife of Cameron Steele, is a SCORE regular, was the 2005 SCORE Sportsman Car class point champ and is leading the Class 7SX points this year.
–Anna Cody—Class 20-No. 150x, defending season point champion.
–Dolores Casarez—Class 11-No. 1103
–Talya Dodson—Class 30-No. 312x, riding solo.
Thunder from Down Under:
Australia has a top desert motorcycle racing team entered in Class 22 on a factory-supported KTM. Riding the No. 16x are Brad Williscroft and Ben Grabham.