SCORE CEO Roger Norman (right) listens to 2013 Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 Grand Marshal and off-road racing legend Ivan "Ironman" Stewart during today's Baja 1000 press conference in Ensenada. The race will complete Norman's first full year as SCORE's owner.

SCORE CEO Roger Norman (right) listens to 2013 Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 Grand Marshal and off-road racing legend Ivan “Ironman” Stewart during today’s Baja 1000 press conference in Ensenada. The race will complete Norman’s first full year as SCORE’s owner.

For SCORE CEO Roger Norman, most of the hard work done for the 2013 Tecate SCORE Baja 1000. The 883.1-mile race, which promises to be a thrilling event, kicks off this evening when the motorcycle and ATV classes leave the starting line at 11 p.m. Talk has centered around the sheer brutality of this year’s course, we took the opportunity to chat with Norman about the race and the state of SCORE as its first season under his guidance enters the final countdown.

A lot of racers have chimed in on how difficult this year’s Baja 1000 course is going to be.

Well, as you know for the first two races of the year, we made the San Felipe 250 a true 250-mile race, and we made the Baja 500 over 500 miles. All the races that we’ve done were different, and we’ve had some new course, which keeps it exciting. It’s just a lot of things that I’ve wanted to do. It’s a lot of work, and it is more than what anyone could imagine. And it’s not just me. It is a lot of other people. There is no way that I could do it without the help of a lot of great people that love this sport as much as I do.

Did you intend to make this the most brutal Baja 1000 ever?

No, we didn’t. What we were working on was running on some course that we haven’t run in a long time just to make it different and to make it exciting. It is more difficult for us to run on something that hasn’t been used for a long time. It is easier just to do the same thing, but that is not really that interesting. You know, I have every rock memorized on all the usual roads, but for a racer it makes it 10 times more exciting if you’re on something that you have to learn and have to focus on. Even if you’re just running an old section backwards, it is totally different, so it keeps it exciting and keeps it fun, and it gives you a reason to have to come down and practice and spend some time down here in Baja.

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This is the big race of the year for SCORE, and it also the last race. How would you assess your progress in your first year of ownership?

Well, I think it has been fantastic, very well received. All of the things that we’re doing just makes it more exciting and makes it better for the communities where we are having the races. The parties and things leading up to the event, we help our sponsors to facilitate those, and we are very involved in helping them in any way we can. There are also a lot of new things, like the start for the motorcycles. Before, I had been to the start (of the motorcycles), and it was not as big of a deal as I felt it should be, but the main reason for doing the night start wasn’t about trying to do something new. It was about trying to create more safety with the sportsman motorcycle racers and trying to make it so that the Trophy Truck drivers don’t catch those guys in the dark. That makes it a lot safer.

You also ran qualifying for the motorcycles for this year’s 1000, which is another first. Of the teams we spoke to, all of them said they like the qualifying but some wish that you would have qualified the motorcycles before the Trophy Trucks because the Trophy Trucks really ripped up the qualifying course. Is that something you would be open to changing for the next race?

Absolutely. In fact if someone had brought up that they would be interested in doing it earlier, we could have. We were actually out there really early in the morning, and it would have been better for us to get that done at daybreak. Those guys are used to getting up early, so it wouldn’t be a problem. The only thing is that being is that it is so far to the qualifying area, and the roads are windy, we were a little worried about people having accidents on the way there. That is why we timed it the way we did.

Qualifying for the trucks, buggies and bikes appeared to go more smoothly than at the Baja 500.

I thought they all did fantastic. It could not have been better. There was one rollover (Cameron Steele in Trophy Truck) but no injuries, and it was extremely exciting. Eventually, one of these days, that could be a spectator situation with absolutely the best that someone could see because they would get to see all of the drivers and incredible jumps, things that it is really difficult to see during a race.

Obviously, if you don’t need an ambulance or a medevac helicopter this weekend, that will be a major victory, but how excited are you for this race? An 883.1-mile loop race course is pretty epic. Are you excited to see who is going to bring home the win?

You know, it isn’t about the mileage. It is just going to be a super tough race. It is about where you’re going and what you’re doing. The winner could be a lot of different teams, maybe someone you might not think of. It depends on who takes care of their vehicle. There are so many places where you could have problems and a million ways to end your day—and some of them are worse than others. We just want everyone to get home safely, absolutely.

Be sure to check out our full 2013 Baja 1000 coverage here.

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