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 45th anniversary of the Tecate SCORE Baja, the legendary granddaddy of all desert races.
This year’s legendary desert classic, the final event of the five-race 2012 SCORE Desert Series, will be held Nov. 14-17 in Mexico on a brutally-rugged 1121.55-mile Sal Fish signature desert race course.
With the rugged course traveling 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 38th time in the first 44 years of the storied race that it has started in Ensenada and it will be the 19th 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 35 Pro and 7 Sportsman classes in the internationally televised race, entries have already come from 32 U.S. states and 16 countries. In addition to the 32 U.S. States, racers have entered from Argentina, Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Guatemala, Hungary, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway and the US Territory of Guam. With 30 days before the green flag drops on Thursday, Nov. 15, late 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 44 years ago.
This year’s historic 45th anniversary race will be held Nov. 14-17. 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 45th 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, there just wouldn’t be any desert racing,” 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 45th anniversary with a peninsula run will surely add another colorful chapter to the legacy of the SCORE Baja 1000. It has been and continues to be our privilege and honor to preserve this international motorsports treasure.”
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 founded the National Off Road Racing Association (NORRA) and 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.
NORRA 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 NORRA started 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.
NORRA’s last race, from Ensenada to La Paz, was in 1973. At that point, Mexican officials revoked NORRA’s 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 44 years, the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 has started 37 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 21 times, in La Paz 18 times, in Mexicali two times (1993, 1994), twice in Cabo San Lucas (2000, 2007) and once in Ojos Negros (1999). The last time it finished in La Paz was 2010.
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).
SCORE BAJA CELEBS
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 motorsport disciplines 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 10 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 75 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 44 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 in the Stock Mini class where he will split the driving with Emily Miller in a Hummer H3.
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 Tim 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 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.
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. 15) with the car and truck classes starting at approximately 11:30 a.m., or four hours after the last ATV leaves the line. The fastest finishers are expected to complete the course in approximately 20 hours.
Completing its 39th year as the world’s foremost desert racing sanctioning body, the event is the finale of the five-race 2012 SCORE Desert Series. The race will start on Boulevard Costero adjacent to the picturesque Bahia de Todos Santos in front of the iconic 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. 14, 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. 14 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 Sunday, Nov. 11 through Wednesday, Nov. 14. Media registration will be held at the San Nicolas Resort Hotel from Noon to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 13 and from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 14.
The post-race awards celebration and fiesta will be held on the Malecon in downtown La Paz, starting at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 17. 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 (38), Class 1 (21), and Class 10 (11).
Among the motorcycle and ATV classes, Class 22 for open motorcycles has the most entries to date with 11 and Class 40 (riders 40 years old and over) with 10.
Leading the entries in the six Sportsman classes in the race is Sportsman Motorcycle over 250cc which had 31 entries so far.
Veteran Arizona desert racer Pete Sohren received the first starting position during the live drawing at the Off-Road Expo on Oct. 6. While Sohren, who lives in Glendale, Ariz., will pilot his No. 2 Ford F-150 SCORE Trophy Truck, starting first among the motorcycle and ATV classes will be Chris Ridgway on a Honda CRF450X.
For this year’s granddaddy of all desert races, the drawing for the mammoth finale of the five-race 2012 SCORE Desert Series was held in the unique SCOREville exhibit at last weekend’s Off-Road Expo at the Fairplex in Pomona, Calif.
For the first time in race history, a female driver of record-Monica Greenhill of Crowley, Texas, will start first in the unlimited Class 1 for open-wheel desert race cars. There are 21 Class 1 vehicles entered to date. Greenhill, who also races with her husband David Greenhill and brother-in-law Mike Greenhill, is currently tied for third in the 2012 SCORE Class 1 season point standings.
This race also features the prestigious Sal Fish SCORE IronRider awards presented to each motorcycle and ATV rider who completes the entire course within the time limit while riding solo. To date, a total of 22 racers, all on motorcycles, have declared the intent to ride the entire race solo in their quests for the Sal Fish SCORE IronRider Award.
This year’s historic 45th anniversary race will run down the length of Mexico’s majestic Baja California peninsula. It will start in Ensenada, Baja California and finish in La Paz, Baja California Sur.
The challenging race course for this year is somewhat similar to 2010, but longer than the last time the race finished in La Paz, although the terrain has obviously changed significantly because of weather conditions and natural use.
With eight mandatory checkpoints spread down the peninsula plus the finish line, 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 just above Loreto, back to the Pacific near 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.
STRIVING FOR GOLD…
In addition to season class point championships, the racers are also competing for part of the nearly $400,000 in cash purse and contingency postings each race. Drivers in the Pro car and truck classes are also attempting 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 27th consecutive year, a total of 24 drivers are still in the hunt for the awards for the 2012 SCORE Desert Series after four rounds in the five-race series.
Racers are also competing for the annual SCORE Off-Roadsman of the Year awards, including the MasterCraft Safety SCORE Rookie of the Year award. All categories, except Engine Builder and Original Buggy Chassis Manufacturer, will be determined by public on-line voting while Engine and Buggy awards are determined by season points.
Tecate Beer is the title sponsor of the three SCORE Baja races.
MasterCraft Safety is co-title sponsor of the MasterCraft Safety Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250.
Official Sponsors of the 45th SCORE Baja 1000 and the SCORE Desert Series are:
-Tecate Beer, Official Beer
-BFGoodrich Tires, Official Tire
-Graham Watchmakers, Official Timekeeper
-Red Bull, Official Energy Drink
-Volkswagen of America, Official Vehicle
-Sunoco Race Fuels, Official Race Fuel
-Coca-Cola, Official Soft Drink
-Slime, Official Tire Sealant
-Symons Ambulance Company, Official Ambulance
-Bullet Liner, Official Spray-On Bedliner
-SatellitePhoneStore.com-Official Satellite Phone Rental Company
-Volaris Airlines, Official Airline
-Fox Car Rental, Official Rent-A-Car
-Lightforce Performance Lighting, Official Driving Light
-Maxtrax, Official Vehicle Recovery Device
-Azunia Tequila, Official Tequila
-Bilstein, Official Shock Absorber
-Instant Mexico Auto Insurance, Official Mexican Auto Insurance
Additional SCORE Sponsors are – Baja California Sur Tourism, Proturismo Ensenada, Baja California Secretary of Tourism, COTUCO Mexicali/San Felipe, Blue C Advertising, SignPros, PCI Race Radios, McKenzie’s Performance Products and Advanced Color Graphics.
For more information regarding SCORE International and the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000, with links to the newly enhanced SCORE social media platforms, visit www.score-internaitonal.com or call SCORE at 818.225.8402.
45th Annual Tecate SCORE Baja 1000
Schedule of Events
(Subject to Change—(All times PST) as of 10/15/2012)
PRE/POST RACE SHEDULE
SUNDAY, Nov. 11 (All Times PST)
Racer Registration, Grand Ballroom-San Nicolas Hotel, 1 p.m. – 6 p.m.
MONDAY, Nov. 12
Racer Registration, Grand Ballroom-San Nicolas Hotel, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
TUESDAY, Nov. 13 (All times PST)
Racer Registration, Grand Ballroom-San Nicolas Hotel, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Media Registration, Grand Ballroom-San Nicolas Hotel, 1 p.m. – 6 p.m.
WEDNESDAY, Nov. 14 (All Times PST)
Media Registration, Grand Ballroom-San Nicolas Hotel, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Racer Registration, Grand Ballroom-San Nicolas Hotel, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Contingency Row, Boulevard Costero, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Technical Inspection, End of Contingency Row, 10 a.m. – 6p.m.
Mandatory Racer Meeting-Cathedral Room, Riviera del Pacifico Cultural Center, 7p.m.
THURSDAY, Nov. 15 (all times PST)
Late Racer Registration—Red Room, Riviera del Pacifico Cultural Center (adjacent to Start line), 5:30 a.m.
Late Tech, Start Line, 5:30 a.m.
Late Media Registration—BFG Tires/Baja California Secretary of Tourism SCORE Media Center-Red Room, Riviera del Pacifico Cultrual Center, 6 a.m. to 1 p.m.
BFG Tires/Baja California Sur Secretary of Tourism SCORE Media Center—Emperor’s Ballroom, Grand Plaza Hotel (adjacent to Finish line) 10 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 15 to 4 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 17
Posting of Unofficial Results—Race in Progress, SCORE Media Center
FRIDAY, Nov. 16–(all times PST)
BFG Tires/Baja California Sur Secretary of Tourism SCORE Media Center—Emperor’s Ballroom, Grand Plaza Hotel
BFG Tires/Baja California Sur Secretary of Tourism SCORE Media Tent-Finish Line
Posting of UNOFFICIAL Results—BFG/SCORE Media Tent, Start/Finish line, hourly
SATURDAY, Nov. 17–(all times PST)
Awards Celebration-Malecon, downtown La Paz -5 p.m.
RACE SCHEDULE (all times PST) (1,121.55-mile course)
START: Adjacent to the Riviera del Pacifico Cultural Center, Blvd. Costero, in downtown Ensenada
FINISH: Adjacent to the tourism office on the outskirts of La Paz
THURSDAY, Nov. 15—(all times PST)
RACE STARTS: Motorcycles and ATVs-6:30 a.m.; Cars and Trucks-11:30 a.m. (Approx.)