Colorful pre-race festivities start Wednesday for the 41st Anniversary celebration of the legendary Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 desert race, but when the green flag drops on Friday morning in Ensenada, Baja California, the racing will be as intense as it gets with 2008 SCORE Desert Series season point championships on the line.
This year’s 41st anniversary odyssey of the world’s longest non-stop and most famous desert race will be a grueling 631.35-mile adventure around the northern half of the majestic and mysterious Baja California peninsula.
The season-finale of the five-race 2008 SCORE Desert Series will see more than 375 entries from 39 U.S. States and 24 countries. From weekend warriors to Hollywood actors and producers, the famous and not-so-famous will compete in 28 Pro and 7 Sportsman classes for cars, trucks, motorcycles and ATVs. Among the entries are 27 class winners from last year’s race.
The 631.35-mile race will start for the 34th time and finish for the 19th time in Ensenada. The motorcycle and ATV classes will start their journey at 6:30 a.m. 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 13 and one-half hours. All vehicles will have a 31-hour time limit to become official finishers in the legendary adventure.
Live internet coverage of the race, including live action video, interviews, leaderboard and finish line coverage will be available at www.2008SCOREBaja1000.com
. The site is being produced by BFGoodrich Tires and Volkswagen of America and combined with partnerships through SPOT Tracker, Aura360 and DirtNewz.com.
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 Granddaddy of all desert races has been run over the mysterious Baja California peninsula. Because of the economics and logistics involved, some years it is a peninsula run while most years it is a loop race, starting and finishing in Ensenada.
While all the rugged regulars in the world’s foremost desert racing series will be in 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 107 racers who have combined for 307 class wins in this race. In that group are 7 racers who have combined for a total of 16 overall 4-wheel vehicle wins and 12 more riders have combined for 25 overall motorcycle victories. Included in the overall winner’s group are the last four 4-Wheel winners and the last 11 motorcycle winners.
Pre-race festivities officially start from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Wednesday with the annual El Vigia newspaper SCORE Fiesta at the Ventana al Mar Plaza on Boulevard Costero in the heart of Ensenada where vehicle displays, vendors and many of the top racers on the sport will be on hand for an autograph party and photo opportunities.
On Thursday, with more than 50,000 spectators expected on the day Mexico celebrates the Mexican Revolution of 1910, the vastly popular tech and contingency of all vehicles and the SCORE Manufacturer’s Midway will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Boulevard Costero in front of the Riviera del Pacifico Cultural Center. 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 Survivor’s Celebration will be held poolside at the San Nicolas Resort Hotel at 10 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 23.
The race will start and finish on Boulevard Costero along the picturesque Bahia de Todos Santos in front of the historical Riviera del Pacifico Cultural Center in the heart of Ensenada. With massive crowds reaching nearly 300,000 anticipated to again be spread out along the rugged course that travels through the Pine Forest up over the infamous La Rumorosa grade to near Tecate and Mexicali, down Laguna Salada to San Felipe and back to the Pacific Coast and up through Santo Tomas and back to Ojos Negros on the way back to Ensenada, covering much of the northern half of the majestic Baja California peninsula.
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 fifth consecutive year, scheduled to air at 1 p.m. (EST) on Sunday, Dec. 14 on the NBC Television Network. It will also air on a delayed basis outside of the U.S. on ESPN International.
Brian Collins in SCORE Trophy-Truck and Grant Steele in Class 22 (open motorcycles) drew the first starting positions for the race in a live drawing held on Oct. 11.
Collins, 46, of Las Vegas, is currently second in SCORE Trophy-Truck points and won this year’s Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250 in March in his No. 12 Dodge Ram1500. Splitting the driving with Collins will be veteran racer Chuck Hovey, Escondido, Calif. and the pair will be the first four-wheel vehicle to leave the starting line, three hours after the last Sportsman Sidecar motorcycle departs. The first vehicle off the line Friday morning will be Grant Steele, 38, Temecula, Calif., and his team, who will lead the 16 entries to date in Class 22 for open motorcycles on a Honda CRF450X. Grant’s older brother Cameron Steele, San Clemente, Calif., drives the No. 16 SCORE Trophy-Truck and will be a third driver in Class 7SX on the team led by his wife Heidi Steele. Heidi Steele is leading her class point standings entering the race and is attempting to become the first female driver of record in history to capture a SCORE season truck class point title.
Sal Fish’s SCORE International is completing its 35th year as the World’s foremost desert racing sanctioning body and the event is the finale of the five-race 2008 SCORE Desert Series. To date, the 371 official entries have come from 39 U.S. States and 24 countries. SCORE points are determined both on final finishing position and number of vehicles which started the race within the individual class. After four events, just 36 points separate the top 10 and just 44 points separate the top 15 SCORE point leaders and for 2008. Adam Pfankuch has earned 288 points to lead the SCORE overall points and Class 1-2/1600 as well in their in a VW-powered Mirage. In what has developed into one of tightest overall point battles in SCORE history, second in overall and leading the unlimited Class 1 is B.J Richardson (285), while third overall and leading SCORE Trophy-Truck points is B.J. Baldwin (Chevy Silverado-271).
Fourth overall and second in Class 1 is the team of Armin Schwarz/Martin Christensen with 269 points in a Jimco-BMW while fifth overall and second in Class 1-2/1600 with 268 points is rookie Cory Boyer in a Lothringer-VW.
While late entries are accepted up to Friday morning, a total of 371 entries have officially been accepted for the race as of today which will put the starting field in the top five in the 41-year history of the storied event with possibly the largest field ever for a loop race.
The car and truck classes with the most entries to date are the unlimited Class 1 (31), SCORE Trophy-Truck (29), Class 1-2/1600 (19), Class 5/1600 (16), SCORE Lite (14), Baja Challenge Class (13) and Class 10 (12).
Among the motorcycle and ATV classes, Class 22 for open motorcycles has the most entries to date with 16, followed by age group classes Class 30 (riders 30 and older) with 11 and Class 40 (riders 40 and older) with 10.
Leading the Sportsman classes in the race to date are Sportsman Motorcycle over 250cc (44), Sportsman ATV (17) and Sportsman Motorcycle under 250cc (16).
In addition to the U.S. and host Mexico, the 24 total countries with entries in this year’s race are:
Argentina, Australia, Austria, Britain, Canada, Columbia, Denmark, El Salvador, France, Germany, Guatemala, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Panama, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Uruguay.
NASCAR Sprint Cup team owner/driver Robby Gordon, Charlotte, N.C., whose roots are in SCORE desert racing, will start 26th in SCORE Trophy-Truck in the Team Gordon No. 77 Chevy CK1500. Gordon will be heading to the the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 right after finishing 26th in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup season finale in Florida. Gordon has three overall wins in this race.
Making its debut in the race in the marquee SCORE Trophy-Truck division will be the new No. 81 Red Bull Volkswagen Baja Race Touareg TDI, the first clean Turbo-diesel vehicle ever raced in SCORE Trophy-Truck.
The new vehicle will be driven by the veteran team of Mark Miller, Cave Creek, Ariz./Ryan Arciero, Foothill Ranch, Calif. With seven career SCORE Trophy-Truck race wins between them, including three together, Miller/Arciero will start 14th in class in the first Turbo-diesel to run in the featured SCORE racing division. Two entries with second-generation SCORE desert racers feature drivers who are running pavement series. Las Vegas’ Brendan Gaughan is a NASCAR Truck Series regular who will race in the unlimited Class 1 in Baja, while Justin Loftin, Westmorland, Calif., who was a regular in the 2008 ARCA/Re-Max Series will drive in the featured SCORE Trophy-Truck division.
Among the other entries is the venerable Rod Hall, Reno, Nev., who is one of the only two individuals who has raced in all 40 previous Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 races.
The legendary Hall, 70, of Reno, Nev., (who will celebrate his 71st birthday on Saturday) has a race-record 19 career class wins in this race and is the only driver to have competed every year in a car or truck class. Hall returns this year as the defending class champion in a Hummer H3 in the Stock Mini class. The 2008 SCORE Desert Series also includes the chase for the $20,000 Volkswagen of America Point Leader Bonus and the run for the Toyota Milestone Awards for car and truck racers who complete every required mile of the season. A total of 15 drivers are still eligible for the Toyota Milestone Awards.
The Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 also features the $5,000 Volkswagen bonus to the highest finishing Volkwagen-powered vehicle in the race. Among the other special awards at the event will be the Sal Fish SCORE IronRider award presented to all declared motorcycle and ATV riders who are official finishers of the race while riding solo. To date, a total of 33 riders have officially entered as solo riders. 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, Kartek Off-Road, American Suzuki, SignPros, P.C.I. Race Radios, McKenzie’s Performance Products and Advanced Color Graphics. Additional associate sponsor for the 2008 Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 is the Fideicomiso Publio para la Promocion Turistica de Ensenada.
For more information on the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000, contact SCORE at its Los Angeles headquarters 818.225.8402 or visit the official website of the 2008 SCORE Desert Series at www.score-international.com.