When the majority of motorsports fans think of Bristol, images of the city split between two states, Tennessee and Virginia, along with the shrine to NASCAR racing called the Bristol Motor Speedway quickly come to mind.
After the upcoming 45th Annual Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 desert race in Baja California, Mexico, Bristol will likely become known for something more than a city in two states, moonshine and stock car racing as RPM Racing, based in Bristol, Tennessee, attempts to make racing history with eight cars and trucks entered in eight classes in the granddaddy of all desert races. And they won’t be racing on pavement and making never-ending left-hand turns.
As pre-running the rugged 1,121.55-mile Sal Fish signature desert race course from Ensenada to La Paz continues at an increased pace and teams complete extensive logistics plans with just over one week before the green flag drops, the season-finale of the five-race 2012 SCORE Desert Series will be held on Mexico’s magnificently mysterious Baja California peninsula Nov. 14-17.
With the bone-jarring 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, Baja California Sur.
COAL MINER’S SONS
Obviously with a whole lot of help from their friends, 27-year old RPM Racing team owner Justin Matney, Bristol, Tenn. and partner/teammate Clyde Stacy, 67, from the other half of Bristol in Virginia, have in a few short years built a racing team like no other in the 39-year history of the SCORE, the world’s foremost desert racing series.
With family roots still tied to the coal-mining industry, RPM Racing is supported extensively by the RAPOCA Energy Company which is based in Big Rock, Virginia. One might say that Matney, his father John Matney, Stacy and several other members of RPM Racing have traded their hard hats and coal-mining gear for racing helmets and drivers suits and come above ground to challenge the desert landscape in a fleet of technically-conceived and electronically-built desert racing cars and trucks.
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. The adventure will finish on the outskirts of La Paz on Highway 1 near the Grand Plaza Hotel, race headquarters for the southern half of the event.
HOW MANY FLAGS?
With over 300 expected entries for cars, trucks, motorcycles and ATVs competing in 35 Pro and 7 Sportsman classes in the internationally-showcased race, entries have come from 34 U.S. states and 22 countries. In addition to the 34 U.S. States, racers have entered from Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bolivia, Canada, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Guatemala, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, South Korea, Spain and the US Territory of Guam. With 10 days before the green flag drops on Thursday, Nov. 15, additional late entries are expected up to race morning.
REVVING THE RPMs
RPM Racing not only has a SCORE-record eight entries in the upcoming Tecate SCORE Baja 1000, the team is leading the season point championship races in six of those classes, is second in one and tied for third in the other. RPM has already recorded a SCORE-record 18 class wins in the first four races of the year.
With team principals Justin Matney and Clyde Stacy, who each have already captured four SCORE season class point titles individually as drivers of record, RPM Racing has entries in the marquee SCORE Trophy Truck division, unlimited Class 1 for open-wheel desert race cars, Class 5-1600, Class 6, Class 8, Class 4, Class 2 and Sportsman Buggy.
RPM is leading the points entering the season-finale in Class 5-1600 (3 wins), Class 6 (3), Class 8 (4), Class 4 (3), Class 2 (3) and SPT Buggy (3). The team is second in SCORE Trophy Truck and tied for third in Class 1.
While Stacy is driver of record this year in three classes (Class 1, Chevy-powered Geiser desert race car, Class 5-1600, VW Baja Bug and Class 2, Mason-Chevy), Matney has been limited with back issues and will be a second driver in the RPM Class 1 vehicle as well as a back-up in the SCORE Trophy Truck and Class 6. As a team, Stacy and Matney are registered for all vehicles, just in case.
With several other second and third drivers, some from the U.S. and some from Mexico, the other RPM drivers of record for this race and the vehicle they will be driving are: Juan C. Lopez, 38, Tecate, Mexico (SCORE Trophy Truck, Chevy Silverado), Eduardo Laguna, 22, Mexicali, Mexico (Class 6, Chevy Colorado), Rudolofo Iribe, 44, Tijuana, Mexico (Class 8, Chevy Silverado), Derek Fletcher, 27, Abingdon, Va. (Class 4, PSD-Chevy) and Jim Bunn, 64, Bristol, Va. (SPT Buggy, Geiser-Chevy).
Justin’s father John Matney, 57, races with Bunn in the SPT Buggy class.
Attempting to overcome season point leader Rob MacCachren, of Las Vegas, in SCORE Trophy Truck, RPM has enlisted the talented services of NASCAR Team owner/driver and SCORE champion racer Robby Gordon, 43, Charlotte, N.C. Driver of record Lopez trails MacCachren by just six points. Gordon has three overall 4-wheel vehicle wins in the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000, most recently in 2006 when the race also ended in La Paz.
Expressing RPM’s intrigue with SCORE desert racing, Justin Matney commented, “The SCORE series is the most exciting, most difficult and most challenging sport anyone can be involved in and Sal Fish has always provided us racers with the most challenging race courses to be found anywhere in the world. We never know what to expect in any race, but we do know it will be challenging, difficult and a really rewarding experience.
“Our 2012 season has been an excellent and exciting year for RPM Racing in SCORE. We have surpassed our goals for desert racing this year but we hope for even more success at this race and in the years to come. Working with Robby Gordon Motorsports, Geiser Brothers, BFGoodrich Tires, King Shocks, Dougan’s Racing Engines, Rancho and Culhane Transmissions has helped produce and astounding year.”
“We like new challenges so that’s why we change classes from year-to-year. Next year we plan to campaign two SCORE Trophy Trucks, and one RPM Racing vehicle each in Class 1, the new SCORE Super 8 Truck, Class 7 and Class 10.”
Senior statesman Stacy, who by his own admission waited for over 30 years to start racing in the SCORE Desert Series, said, “The SCORE Baja races are so stellar. Baja feels like home for us and the people there treat us like family. Racing in the SCORE Desert Series has been a great experience. It’s difficult at times, but the most exciting sport in the world. SCORE racing is habit forming and the only cure is in returning to the deserts of Baja California, Mexico.”
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 racer. Since 1967, the legendary race has been run over the mysterious and majestic Baja California peninsula.
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 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 13 and from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 14.
POST GREEN FLAG
As the celebration continues throughout all day on Friday (Nov. 16) and Saturday morning (Nov. 16) while official finishers cross the line and tales are added to the legacy of the event, the post-race awards 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 (23), Class 10 (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 11.
Leading the entries in the seven Sportsman classes in the race is Sportsman Motorcycle over 450cc which has 36 entries so far.
A very important element of this event, pre-running on the majority of the race course from Ojos Negros to La Paz began Friday (Oct. 26) and pre-running from the start line in Ensenada to Ojos Negros will be allowed only on Tuesday and Wednesday of race week, Nov. 13 and 14.
This year’s historic 45th anniversary race will run down the length of Mexico’s majestic Baja California peninsula. 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. This year even more changes are occurring because of Hurricane Paul that came through the southern portion of the course several weeks ago.
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.
Leading the car and truck classes into the Baja desert will be the featured SCORE Trophy Trucks, the high-tech, 850-horsepower, unlimited production trucks that have been the showcase of SCORE since Sal Fish created the spectacular class in 1994. To date for this year’s race there are 38 official entries in SCORE’s marquee racing division, including class winners in the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 from eight of the last nine years. Among the entries are 13 of the 18 season point champs in the class.
BFGOODRICH TIRES UNMATCHED
In 2012, BFGoodrich Tires is celebrating its 37th year as a major player in SCORE Baja racing. In addition to being the official tire of SCORE International for nearly four decades, BFGoodrich Tires has produced the tire of choice for 25 of the overall 4-wheel vehicle winners in the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000, including 25 of the last 26 years along with a record run of 20 straight from 1986 through 2005.
BFGoodrich Tires also provides unmatched pit support for racers using their tires with eight full pit areas along the race course to La Paz and complete radio relay the entire 1,121.55 miles.
SAL FISH IronRider AWARDS
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 29 racers, all but one on motorcycles, have declared the intent to ride the entire race solo in their quests to earn a Sal Fish SCORE IronRider Award.
AWARDS LIKE NO OTHER
Iconic GRAHAM-Watchmaker, headquartered in Switzerland, the Official Timekeeper of SCORE International, has designed and produced a limited-edition, high-end Chronofighter Oversize SCORE Baja 1000 collector’s timepiece that will also be one of two unique and special awards to be presented to the overall winners of the race. One of the unique, individually numbered collectible timepieces will be awarded to each of the three overall race division winners—the overall 4-wheel vehicle, motorcycle and ATV champions at this year’s granddaddy of all desert races. The three overall category champions will be awarded a category customized/personalized Chronofighter Oversize SCORE Baja 1000 limited-edition timepiece.
In addition to the once-in-a-lifetime GRAHAM Chronofighter Oversize SCORE Baja 1000 timepieces, the overall champions in the race will also each receive a special commemorative trophy Tecate, the title sponsor of the race.
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-international.com
or call SCORE at 818.225.8402.
RPM Racing—Bristol, Tennessee
(Sponsors: Speed Energy, RPM Offroad, Rapoca, BFGoodrich Tires, Dougans Racing Engines, Rancho Trans/Culhane Racing Trans, Geiser Bros)
45th Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 entries
CLASS, Vehicle Number, Driver of Record, hometown, co-driver, hometown, vehicle
*SCORE TROPHY TRUCK
18 Juan C. Lopez, 38, Tecate, Mexico/Robby Gordon, 43, Charlotte, N.C./Justin Matney, 27, Bristol, Tenn., Chevy Silverado
106 Clyde Stacy, 67, Bristol, Va/Justin Matney, 27, Bristol, Tenn./Michael Powell, 26, Bristol, Tenn., Geiser-Chevy
579 Clyde Stacy, 67, Bristol, Va./Thomas Fernandez, 38/Ramon Fernandez, 36, Ensenada, Mexico, VW Baja Bug
619 Eduardo Laguna, 22, Mexicali, Mexico/Jesus Rubio, 24, Mexicali, Mexico/Justin Matney, 27, Bristol, Tenn., Chevy Colorado
839 Rudolfo Iribe, 44, Tijuana, Mexico/Mark Newhan, 45, Lakeside, Calif., Chevy Silverado
419 Derek Fletcher, 27, Abingdon, Va./Christyan Samano, 23, Ensenada, Mexico, PSD-Chevy
219 Clyde Stacy, 67, Bristol, Va./Mike Powell, 26, Bristol, Tenn./Steven Arlia, 43, Phoenix, Mason-Chevy
1449 Jim Bunn, 64/John Matney, 58/Charlie Holbrook, 27, Bristol, Va., RGBuggy-Chevy
*Second in class points entering Tecate SCORE Baja 1000
**Tied for third in class points
***Leading class points