LOS ANGELES — With all of the many other desert races seeming to serve as a prelude each year, motorsports enthusiasts from around the world are now turning their collective focus to the granddaddy of all desert races, the legendary Tecate SCORE Baja 1000. This year’s internationally-televised 44th anniversary celebration will be a large loop race starting and finishing in Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico as race week festivities will run from Nov. 16-20.
With the season-finale of the five-race 2011 SCORE Desert Series starting on Friday, Nov. 18, official entry forms will be available online starting Monday on the SCORE website at www.score-international.com. Entries from over 30 US States and 15 countries are expected to take the green flag in November, competing in 35 Pro and six Sportsman classes for cars, trucks, motorcycles and ATVs.
The official course map for the 2011 will be released publically by SCORE CEO/President Sal Fish on Saturday, Oct. 8 at the Off-Road Expo in Pomona, Calif. The computerized drawing, by class, for starting positions, will be held in the SCORE headquarters in Los Angeles on Saturday, Oct. 15.
“The Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 is our flagship event and although it takes more work to produce than the entire rest of our SCORE Desert Series, it is the ‘Super Bowl’ of our sport and we are privileged to be caretakers of such an amazing motorsports treasure,” commented Fish, who has been leading SCORE since soon after it was founded in 1973. “Each year provides another magnificent chapter in the never-ending story of the fabled SCORE Baja 1000 and this year will add yet another dimension to the legend of this memorable event held on the northern part of Mexico’s majestic Baja California peninsula.”
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 Baja California peninsula every year except 1974 when the international fuel crisis forced a cancellation.
The Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 has captured the imagination of the entire world as entries have come not only from every state in the United States and the District of Columbia, but also has attracted racers from Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Brazil, Belgium, Canada, England, Finland, France, Germany, Guam, Guatemala, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Panama, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Uruguay, Yugoslavia as well as the host country of Mexico.
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.
On the eve of the 44th anniversary of this motorsports adventure, Ensenada Mayor Enrique Pelayo expressed the thoughts of his city regarding the race, saying, “As Mayor of Ensenada, I want to tell you how excited we are and to personally welcome everyone to our city as well as to congratulate those that will be part of this year’s 44th Tecate SCORE Baja 1000. Sal Fish and SCORE desert racing are part of the foundation of our city and a vital part of our culture and our economy. We are excited to have this legendary race once again start and finish in the heart of Ensenada in front of the Riviera del Pacifico Cultural Center and we look forward to your visits here for pre-running and the race itself to be enjoyable, safe and as always memorable.”
In its first 43 years, the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 has started 36 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 20 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).
Manufacturers, after-market companies and racers from around the world have followed the call to conquer the Baja and use this historic event as a proving ground for both man and machine. And none in those categories has done it any better than BFGoodrich Tires-24 overall 4-wheel vehicle wins, American Honda motorcycles-21 overall 2-wheel victories, the venerable 72-year-old Rod Hall who has driven a race truck in all 43 races and has an event-record 21 class wins and Southern California’s second-generation desert racer Cameron Steele and his wife Heidi Steele are currently the only husband and wife who each races in the SCORE Baja 1000 in separate classes. From the heart of the South in Tennessee and Virginia, the RPM Offroad Team will have as many as seven entries in this year’s historic race.
Frank DeAngelo, BFG Tires Motorsports Manager, expounds easily when it comes to this race, commenting, “The Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 is the King of all Desert Races and BFGoodrich is proud to have been a part of this great event for the past 36 years. As the Official Tire of SCORE, BFGoodrich brings more than sponsorship dollars to the series and the event. BFG brings support to the racers with pitting, communications, contingency and tire service and BFG brings support to SCORE by providing support for mapping, GPS, race notes and the assisting with the event media center.
“I think the course that Sal (Fish) has laid out for this year is going to be great for the competitors. It is easy to access, easy to pre-run and great for pitting. This should allow teams to race the biggest event of the season without breaking the bank to do it.
“BFGoodrich Tires will be on-site providing five full service pits, radio and satellite communications for any teams racing on BFGoodrich tires. Each BFGoodrich pit will be staffed with mechanics, welders, fabricators, tire changes, gas men, medics and cooks to feed each crew of around 25 people per pit. BFG Teams can go to the SCORE web site or www.rlhcomm.com from October 15 to the November 4 to sign up for free pit support. Combine this type of support with the course Sal has laid out and it is a win-win for competitors.
“Mexico is very, very special to the BFG brand, and a place where we have had great success winning 24 SCORE Baja 1000 races overall out of the last 25 years. Look at the sidewalls of our All Terrain T/A KO and Mud Terrain T/A MM2 tires. They all say Baja Champions. Baja is our proving grounds and we thank Sal and everyone at SCORE for making the SCORE Baja 1000 the premier event that it is. We look forward to this year’s SCORE Baja 1000 and hope that with what Sal has done to make this event affordable and logistically easier to compete in will encourage record entries and maybe even bring some of those older vehicles out of the garage to experience another adventure of a lifetime.”
American Honda motorcycles are the winningest in the history of the world’s great desert race with 21 overall two-wheel vehicle titles including 14 straight. Leading the factory Honda program in SCORE Baja racing now is the legendary 11-time overall SCORE Baja 1000 winner Johnny Campbell, San Clemente, Calif., and his JCR/Honda race team. Since stepping down as a regular rider, Campbell’s two-team effort has produced the overall 2-wheel winners the last two years.
“Everything we do, all of our racing all year long, is centered around one thing–to be the best at the SCORE Baja 1000 every year,” said Campbell. “We are always excited for the opportunity to be in Baja. Our main focus every year is anchored by our ultimate goal to finish 1-2 in the SCORE Baja 1000. It takes a tremendous amount of preparation, perseverance, amazing equipment and dedicated pit support to compliment great riders to make it all come together in the toughest race in the universe. For up to 40 other teams, we offer JCR/Honda Pit Program with 15 or 16 full pits and about 80 crew members for this year’s race for teams that sign up through firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Both riding on identical Honda CRF450X motorcycles, the two JCR/Honda teams are led by riders of record Kendall Norman, Santa Barbara, Calif. and Colton Udall, San Clemente, Calif..
Hall, of Reno, Nev., is truly a pioneer in the sport and while he may be ‘mostly retired’ from racing as a septuagenarian, the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 remains on his annual racing calendar. Like he did last year, he will be teamed with his sons Josh and Chad in the featured SCORE Trophy-Truck in a Chevy Silverado rally race truck. The elder statesman of Rod Hall racing will also race in the Stock Full class in a Hummer H1, trying to earn double class wins like he did in 2009. Between them, the Halls of a SCORE-record 33 class wins in the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 with Chad having eight and Josh four in addition to Rod Hall’s record 21 class wins.
“Some people like to say that ‘Rod is older than dirt,’ but I just like to say that I am comfortable in my own skin,” says the affable Rod Hall. “I have learned many life lessons and seen many changes in desert racing through four decades but probably the most import one is that ‘in order to finish first, you must first finish’ and I think I have learned that lesson pretty well. I keep very busy with instructional schools and training seminars along with my other business ventures, but what keeps my blood pumping so hard is just thinking about the SCORE Baja 1000. This race is the most unique, most challenging and most memorable of any desert race in the world and I challenge anyone to go and try it for themselves and see if they don’t end up feeling the same way that I do about this monumental event.”
Both with class wins in the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000, TV sports commentator Cameron Steele expresses his thoughts regarding this amazing race, saying, “Our family races and there is nothing more special than our family heading across the border to participate in a SCORE Baja race. Heidi is working on winning her 4th SCORE championship and I am looking for my second class victory at the SCORE Baja 1000. This race is the most important event on the desert racing calendar and has no equal, in fact if you added all the other desert races together they would fail to amount to a mile of the ‘Mil’ in my opinion. To just race the SCORE Baja 1000 is a honor and it requires much luck to not have Baja get the better of you or your vehicle, if you can race clean then you can be concerned with all the other competitors and try and secure the top spot on the podium.
“Baja is a magical place filled for us with epic challenges, devastating heartbreak, life changing triumph and the most spectacular miles of land anywhere on the planet. After traveling to places like Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Austria, Spain, the UK, Hawaii and others we have seen a bit of the world and know that no where has the convergence of life and challenge that this sliver of land offers to anyone willing to pull up to the start line at the SCORE Baja 1000.
“When we heard of the general description of this year’s SCORE Baja 1000 course lay out we were excited to know that the battle would take place on the world’s toughest desert racing sections. There is no rougher and tougher challenge than that of the northern Baja but at the same time it allows for easy course recon and cost effective planning. What other course lay out would let you book nights on the Sea of Cortez in San Felipe and on the Pacific Ocean in Ensenada and also mix in stays at the legendary Mikes Sky Rancho.”
Among the many other committed teams to this year’s race is the RPM Offroad Team of Bristol, Tenn. RPM continues to record impressive results with four entries in Laughlin with three class wins, five entries in San Felipe in March with two more class wins, five entries in Ensenada with three additional class wins and seven entries in San Felipe in September with two more class wins.
With two lead drivers, Justin Matney, of Bristol, Tenn., leads the 2011 SCORE point standings in both Class 8 in a Chevy Silverado and Class 11 in a Stock VW Sedan while teammate Clyde Stacy, of Bristol, Va., leads Class 4 in a PSD-Chevy and he also is a rookie in SCORE Trophy-Truck. Matney’s father John Matney won the Stock Full class in San Felipe in March to go with Stacy’s Class 4 win. In Ensenada, Matney won both Class 8 and Class 11 while Stacy won again in Class 4. In the recent San Felipe race, Matney won Class 8 and Stacy won Class 4.
“SCORE Baja racing is our test proving grounds for the numerous aftermarket products we carry in our superstore in Bristol,” said Justin Matney, just 25. “There is nothing like the SCORE Baja 1000 anywhere in the world and we look forward to November when we will have five entries for sure and maybe seven like in San Felipe earlier this month. It’s all that much more research and development.”
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 for the race. Drivers in the Pro car and truck classes are also attempting to earn prestigious SCORE Toyota Milestone Awards given to all Pro car and truck class drivers who complete every required mile of the five-race season. Being presented by Toyota Motorsports for the 26th consecutive year, a total of 27 drivers remain eligible after Round 4 of the 2011 SCORE Desert 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.
Tecate Beer is the title sponsor of the 44th annual Tecate SCORE Baja 1000.
Current SCORE official sponsors are:
–BFGoodrich Tires-official tire
–Volkswagen of America-official vehicle
–Sunoco Race Fuels-official fuel supplier
–Slime-official tire sealant
–Symons Ambulance Company-official ambulance
–Instant Mexico Auto Insurance-official Mexican auto insurance
–Lightforce Performance Lighting-official driving light of the SCORE Baja 1000
Additional SCORE sponsors are: Coca-Cola of Mexico, Proturismo Ensenada, Baja California Secretary of Tourism, COTUCO, Las Vegas Events, Blue C Advertising, SignPros, P.C.I. Race Radios, McKenzie’s Performance Products and Advanced Color Graphics.
For more information, contact SCORE at its Los Angeles headquarters 818.225.8402 or visit the official website of the 2011 SCORE Desert Series at www.score-international.com.