SAN DIEGO — Roger Norman is a quick learner, a much-needed quality if you are the new owner of SCORE International, the world’s foremost desert racing organization. A relative newcomer to the sport, Norman, 49, who was the overall winner of the legendary Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 in 2008, is no stranger to the business world as an experienced casino owner, business owner, developer and contractor as he quickly adapts his personal passion, professional skills and business resources to lead SCORE into a new era.
The first chapter in the book of SCORE according to Norman unfolds next week in San Felipe, Mexico as he launches his passionate vision to expand the new SCORE, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary season in 2013. Norman, has taken the reigns of SCORE from a true folk-legend in Sal Fish, the 73 year old icon who was the face of SCORE since soon after the organization was founded in 1973 by the late Mickey Thompson.
Norman lives in Reno, Nev. with his wife of 20-plus years, Elise. They both were born and raised in San Diego and grew up around motorsports. Both his father and later his step father where involved in various types of motorsports and Norman quickly developed a passion for adventure sports and while concentrating the first part of his career on developing his business acumen, he eventually found his way into the desert in the in the late 1990s.
NORMAN THE RACER
One of Norman’s early mentors in desert racing was the venerable Rod Hall, the only person who has raced in all 45 Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 races. Always a quick-learner with intense dedication for whatever activity in which he is engaged, Norman pursued the sport ferociously and Norman Motorsports quickly became a major player in the marquee SCORE Trophy Truck division for high-tech, 850-horsepower unlimited production trucks after it debuted in 2007.
In just a few short seasons in the premier racing division in the SCORE Desert Series, Norman earned two coveted SCORE Trophy Truck race wins, including the prestigious Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 in 2008 and finished a close second in season points in both 2008 and 2009 against the world’s best and more experienced desert racers. In 2010, his last full season of racing, Norman ended the season with an impressive third place ‘ironman’ finish while driving solo down the Baja California peninsula in the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 for more than 1000 miles.
Prior to racing in SCORE Trophy Truck and starting his own team, Norman raced for a few years with Rod Hall for Team Hummer and in 2004 he raced in the special Baja Challenge class in the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 where one of his teammates was the late great actor Paul Newman, who was also the grand marshal of the event that year.
RIGHT TIME, RIGHT PERSON
After quietly discussing the possibility for over a year, Sal Fish agreed to sell his prized SCORE International on Dec. 20, 2012 to Roger Norman, but Fish wasn’t about to sell SCORE to just anyone.
“I had many offers over the four decades I owned SCORE,” commented Fish, “But none really struck a cord in my heart until continuing to listen to the vision and see the passion and fire in the eyes of Roger Norman. As those who know me will confirm, I had no exit plan but everything just lined up and it was the right time and I am confident I made the right decision in allowing Roger to be the one to carry on the mission of SCORE.”
Speaking with the passion and focus of a SCORE Trophy Truck racer at the start line for the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000, Norman commented, “He may not have known it, but Sal tested me with the length of our discussions regarding SCORE. During that time I started HDRA and spent the year working outside the race truck as a race organizer and it was a great learning experience. We are on the threshold of a spectacular new era in SCORE history. It is daunting to follow in Sal’s tracks, but those tracks have helped lead the way to a great future for SCORE.”
“I have a vision and a passion for SCORE and working closely with our staff, our sponsors and our racers, I am confident that next week’s San Felipe race will herald the start of a dynamic new SCORE International”
STARTING IN SAN FELIPE
The season opener of the 2013 SCORE Desert Series will be held next Thursday to Sunday (March 7-10) in Mexico’s picturesque fishing village of San Felipe, located 120 miles south of the U.S. border on the East side of the Baja California peninsula along the azure waters of the tranquil Sea of Cortez. The race will herald the new chapter in SCORE history, starting the tenure of Roger Norman as the owner of the world’s foremost desert racing organization.
With entries accepted up to race morning, over 225 entries are expected to enter the 254.0-mile race. To date, entries have come from 21 US States and 10 countries as competition will be held in 40 Pro and 7 Sportsman classes for cars, trucks, motorcycles and ATVs in the popular race.
A graduate of Mission Bay High School in San Diego and attended Mesa Community College where he studied construction management.
Norman acquired ownership of the world-renown SCORE International on Dec. 20, 2012 from Sal Fish, 73, the iconic godfather of desert racing who ran SCORE for 39 years.
As a hotel/casino owner in northern Nevada, business developer and a champion racer, Norman re-started the High Desert Racing Association, (HDRA) in 2011. HDRA was highly regarded when it was active originally in the 1980s and early 1990s. HDRA was actually bought out by Sal Fish in the early 90’s, thus making SCORE the dominant racing organization. Things have come full circle as HDRA owner, Norman, now buys SCORE.
In addition to business interests in both San Diego and Reno, Norman owns the Crystal Bay Casino in North Lake Tahoe, Nev. as well as Wide Open Excursions desert ride-n-drive tour company with branches in Ensenada, Mexico, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, and Reno, Nev.
From parasailing to kite-surfing to mountain biking, to traditional surfing, to extreme skiing and even big game safaris in Africa, Norman exhibits a tremendous tenacity to live life to its fullest.
By his side throughout the adventures, both in sports and business, continues to be his equally-passionate wife Elise. The Normans continually support each other and devote all their time to endeavors they believe in.
Norman is a regular with his ‘Pit Stop with Roger’ segment on his new weekly webcast internet show on www.score-international.com-Dirt Live.
The pre-race Manufacturer’s Midway and tech inspection of the vehicles in the race will be held on Friday (March 8) from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the picturesque Malecon, flanked by the Sea of Cortez on one side and the popular restaurants and night clubs of San Felipe on the other. Racer registration will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday (March 8) at the Hacienda Don Jesus Hotel. Open to the public for the first time, the pre-race mandatory racer’s meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Friday (March 8) at the plaza in the heart of the Malecon.
THE MAIN COURSE
The spectacular 254.0-mile race course runs in a counter-clockwise direction and starts and finishes at the landmark San Felipe arches. The race course goes north of Highway 3 for one of the first times ever in this race, covering over 100 miles up to the south end of Laguna Salada and back. Another major change in this year’s course is that the Zoo Road crossing has been moved west to a safer area where the terrain is more technical than the traditional high-speed ‘whoops’ which will slow the race vehicles down in an area of high spectator concentration.
The race course also includes three of the infamous Baja washes—Huatamote, Chanate and Amarillas before heading to the finish line. The course includes nearly 50 virtual checkpoints to help insure the safety and the integrity of the challenging race course.
Festivities will start on Thursday night in the start line area at the San Felipe arches with a special SCORE launch party. Open to the public with a $2 donation to Mexico’s Cruz Roja (Red Cross), from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. there will be a racer autograph session followed by the celebratory party at 7 p.m., which will be fueled by Monster Energy Drink and Tecate.
Pre-running is allowed on the actual race course from last Friday (Feb. 22) through Friday, March 8.
The green flag will drop at 6 a.m. on Saturday, March 9, for the motorcycle and ATV classes, followed three and one-half hours later after the last Sportsman ATV by the car and truck classes at approximately 10:30 a.m. The start line and finish line for the race is scheduled to once again be the landmark San Felipe Arches on Highway 5 on the outskirts of San Felipe. One vehicle will start every 30 seconds in the elapsed-time race, with a 12-hour time limit to become an official finisher.
The season-opener of the 2013 SCORE Desert Series, the MasterCraft Safety Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250, annually provides a greater economic impact to San Felipe than the popular six-week-long ‘Spring Break’.
The race began in 1982 and was not held between 1985 and 1989, the first five years of the seven-year combined High Desert Racing Association-HDRA/SCORE Desert Series of US and Baja races. It has been held consecutively each year since 1990.
In its first 26 years, the race has been held in San Felipe all but 2007 when political issues forced a last minute move by SCORE, starting it in Ensenada and finishing it in Santo Tomas. Ironically, 2007 saw a race-record 394 starters and a race-record 288 finishers even though the race was moved and the course changed just 10 days before the event. The records when the race actually started and finished in San Felipe are 341 for starters in 2006 and 220 for finishers, also in 2006.
ON THE BAJAscope
In its 40th year as the world’s foremost desert racing organization in 2013, the three-race 2013 SCORE Desert Series, with all three massive special events held in Baja California, Mexico, starts with the 27th MasterCraft Safety Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250. Both starting and finishing in Ensenada, the other two events will be the 45th Tecate SCORE Baja 500 (May 31-June 2) and the 46th Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 (Nov. 14-17).
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP OF DESERT RACING
The 2013 SCORE Desert Series will also be part of the quickly-evolving World Championship of Desert Racing, which will combine points accumulated in the three SCORE Baja races along with points earned from three of the four-race 2013 HDRA Series, all held in the United States. Both the SCORE and HDRA series will crown their own individual class and overall point champions as well with a bonus purse for those racers who qualify for the World Championship of Desert Racing points bonus purse program to earn a desert racing World Champion title.
With a growing total, for the inaugural World Championship of Desert Racing bonus purse, an official total of $45,000 has been posted to date from new SCORE sponsors Amber Racing Services ($25,000), King Shocks ($10,000) and Rigid Industries ($10,000).
For car and truck classes with at least five starters in each qualifying race in 2013, the World Champion titles will be decided on combined points from the three SCORE races and three HDRA races with the bonus purse paid using the same formula based on total purse and number of starters in each class as is used currently for each SCORE race.
For the pro motorcycle and ATV classes, the World Championship of Desert Racing will include points earned in the three SCORE Baja races as well as the AMA National Hare and Hound race to be held during the HDRA Reno 500.
In addition to season class point championships and World Championship titles, the racers are also competing for part of the nearly $400,000 in cash purse and contingency postings each race. There are also annual SCORE Off-Roadsman of the Year Awards including the MasterCraft Safety SCORE Rookie of the Award that also receives a $2,000 cash bonus and custom-made driver’s race suit.
Official Sponsors of the SCORE Desert Series are fueled by Monster Energy-Official Energy Drink: Tecate Beer-Official Beer/Official Race Sponsor, BFGoodrich Tires-Official Tire, Amber Racing Services-Official Race Fuels (F&L, VP), Rigid Industries-Official Lights, King Shocks-Official Shock Absorber, Coca-Cola-Official Soft Drink, Wide Open Excursions-Official Tour Company, Crystal Bay Casino-Official Casino, Volaris Airlines-Official Airline, MasterCraft Safety-Official Safety Seats, Fox Car Rental-Official Rent-A-Car, Graham Watchmakers-Official Timekeeper, SatellitePhoneStore.com-Official Satellite Phone Rental Company, Slime-Official Tire Sealant, Symons Ambulance Company-Official Ambulance, Azunia Tequila-Official Tequila, Instant Mexico Auto Insurance-Official Mexican Auto Insurance.
Additional SCORE Sponsors are – Visit Baja California Sur, Proturismo Ensenada, Baja California Secretary of Tourism, COTUCO Mexicali/San Felipe, Blue C Advertising, PCI Race Radios, McKenzie’s Performance Products and Advanced Color Graphics.
For more information, visit the official website of the new SCORE Desert Series at www.score-international.com.