LOS ANGELES—Following the first three of five races in the 2012 SCORE Desert Series, 30 of SCORE’s toughest drivers remain in the hunt to earn 2011 SCORE Toyota Milestone Awards.

Leading the way are six racers in the featured SCORE Trophy Truck division, three in Class 1 for unlimited open-wheelers and and five in Class 1/2-1600 for single or two-seat open wheelers powered by 1600cc VW engines.

The six SCORE Trophy Truck drivers who have completed every race mile so far this season are: Rob MacCachren, Las Vegas (No. 20 Ford F-150), Juan C. Lopez, Tecate, Mexico (No. 18 Chevy Silverado), Steven Strobel, Clarks, Neb. (No. 94 Ford F-150), Scott Whipple, Norco, Calif. (No. 95 Ford F-150), Tim Herbst, Las Vegas (No. 19 Ford F-150) and Ryan Arciero, Foothill Ranch, Calif. (No. 49 Ford F-150). Tim Herbst and Arciero, who races with Tim Herbst’s younger brother Troy, are part of the Las Vegas-based Terrible Herbst Motorsports team.

Nearly 280 entries are expected to compete in 36 Pro and 7 Sportsman classes for cars and trucks in the upcoming 44th Annual Tecate SCORE Baja 500. Round four of the five-race 2012 SCORE Desert Series will be held June 1-3 in Ensenada, Mexico. With late entries accepted up until race morning, entries from 30 US States and 10 countries are expected to take the green flag in the popular early-summer race.

LOS ANGELES—Moving out from the shadow of his father and his uncle’s experienced tracks, Southern California desert racer Cody Parkhouse has assumed the SCORE overall and unlimited Class 1 point lead after the first two rounds of the five-race 2012 SCORE Desert Series.  With the season’s last three races all to be run in Baja, Mexico, Cody Parkhouse, 24 of Long Beach, Calif., opened the season at the SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge in mid-January by finishing second in the first round and winning the second in a Chevy-powered Jimco open-wheeled desert race car the following day.

A second-generation desert racer and the youngest of the three Parkhouse racers, Cody Parkhouse has 103 season points to help launch the 39th season of Sal Fish’s SCORE Desert Series, the world’s foremost desert racing series.

With Mexico’s Juan C. Lopez finishing second in both Laughlin races in the No. 18 RPM Off-Road Chevy Silverado to lead the featuring SCORE Trophy Truck division points, RPM leads the point standings in seven classes after the first two races of the five-race 2012 SCORE Desert Series. Lopez, of Tecate, Mexico, is also second overall in points with 101 heading into the upcoming 26th Annual MasterCraft Safety Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250, to be held in San Felipe, Mexico, March 9-11.

The SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge wrapped up its two-race event on Sunday. Instead of being a two-day event that combined both day’s results into one race, this year SCORE created two separate races each day, making the weekend important to the top classes in terms of the overall points championship.

BJ Baldwin led from wire to wire on Saturday in the Trophy Truck class after qualifying first, while Rob MacCachren recovered from a ninth-place finish on Saturday to finish first on Sunday. Juan Carlos Lopez took home two second-place finishes both days of racing.

In Class 1, Adam Pfankuch earned the win on Saturday while Cody Parkhouse followed up his second-place finish on Saturday with the win on Sunday.

Check out this highlight video of action from the weekend. Below are SCORE’s official results from Sunday’s race.

Irvine, Calif. – Monster Energy Kawasaki’s off road team headed south of the border to Tecate, Mexico, for the 2011 Tecate Hare Scrambles, and dominated the event. Racers battled through two loops, a total of 52 miles, winding through the Mexican desert and over a myriad of challenging obstacles on a tight, single-track course. Despite freezing temperatures and a brief snow flurry, Taylor Robert charged to the front of the field to take the overall win. Bobby Garrison fought hard looking for opportunities to make passes around racers on the tight course and finished in the runner-up spot.

After finishing runner-up in last year’s Tecate Enduro, Robert decided a Kawasaki KX™250F would better suit the technical Mexican trails for this year’s hare scramble format. He got a mid-pack start and immediately began reeling in the leader. Before the end of the first loop, Robert charged to the front of the pack and gapped the field by two minutes. He maintained his lead throughout the second loop and took the checkered flag uncontested.

“It was a really technical race,” said Robert. “I decided to go with a KX250F because I remembered how tight this course was last year. There were lots of rocky sections and tight canyons with sand washes that you really had to slow down to get through. I was in first gear a lot, which is unusual for the kind of racing I usually do. Off the start I ended up around fifth after the first couple turns and just started picking off riders. I got behind the leader and followed him for several miles looking for a place to pass. We got into some virgin trail and I found a spot to make a sketchy pass. I made it stick and started charging until the finish. It was a lot of fun.”

Battling For the Box

Reigning 2010 Tecate Enduro champion Garrison came to Mexico looking to take his second-consecutive title. Aboard his new 2012 KX™450F, he battled hard every turn of the race pushing toward the front. By the end of the first loop he was in fourth, only a few feet behind third and second. Refusing to be held up on the tight course any longer, Garrison forced a couple passes in the bushes and made them stick. He moved into second and began charging toward the leader. Garrison crossed the finish in second, less than a minute behind teammate Robert.

“Overall it went pretty good,” said Garrison. “I didn’t get the best start, but just kept working my way up. I tried to make a few moves, had a couple bobbles, but eventually moved into fourth. I got close to Robert until he moved up two positions to take over the lead. I battled through the entire first loop with (Ivan) Ramiriz and (Ian) Blythe, looking for a place to get around them, and finally got past them early in the second loop. I just kept charging from there and was looking to reel in the leader, but ended up finishing in second. My 2012 KX™450F rode awesome. It had more than enough power for the course, and the suspension was really absorbing everything. I’m pretty happy with the bike and looking forward to taking it to WORCS next season.”

Mexican Snowstorm

Typically when you head south to Mexico, you expect warm weather and lots of sunshine. However, the weather in Tecate didn’t seem to follow the rules. The night before the race, temperatures dropped below freezing and the hacienda where the teams slept didn’t seem to provide any relief from the cold. Although the race began under clear skies, by the second loop snow flurries inundated the racers.

“The weather was crazy out here,” said Robert. “Last night was freezing cold. Even though we had a fire in our room it barely made a difference. In the morning when the race started the weather was perfect, it was sunny and cool. On the second lap the clouds moved in and it suddenly got really cold. When it started snowing I decided to pin it until the finish line. My hands started feeling numb and I just wanted to get across the finish so I could get into some warm clothes and get indoors as fast as possible.”

Cactus Attack

Since a majority of the course was tight, single-track surrounded by dense manzanita and cactus, racers had to work to find places to pass. Since the one-lined course provided almost no room to pass, Garrison found himself blasting through the bushes several times in an attempt to get around slower racers. Although his hard work and determination eventually paid off, Garrison’s jersey showed the abuse he withstood to earn a place on the podium.

“There wasn’t a whole lot of room to pass out there,” said Garrison. “The trail was really tight and packed with brush on all sides. It was really hard to get around slower racers. I kept charging through the bushes trying to make something happen. I went through a bunch of cactus and manzanita several times trying to make passes. There were so many areas where you had to lean your bike around corners and it looked like your radiator was going to get impaled by branches at any moment. Even though the dirt was perfect, making passes on that tight trail was the most challenging element of the race.”

Family Tree

Usually the apple doesn’t fall very far from the tree. In the morning race, Robert switched roles with his father, who lined up to compete against the veteran riders aboard his son’s 2011 KX450F practice bike. As his father raced around the course, Robert took on a support role helping his dad in the pit. Although he hadn’t raced in years, by the end of the race Shaun Robert took the win in the Sportsman 40+ class, only hours before his son won the event.

Results

2011 Tecate Hare Scrambles
Tecate, Mexico
December 3, 2011

Pro Class Results
1. TAYLOR ROBERT, MONSTER ENERGY KAWASAKI
2. BOBBY GARRISON, MONSTER ENERGY KAWASAKI
3. Ian Blythe, KTM
4. Ivan Ramiriz, KTM
5. Colton Haaker, KTM

Irvine, Calif.  – Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Casey Currie saddled up his KX™450F this morning and ventured across the U.S. border into Tecate, Mexico to begin the 1,400-mile, eight-day adventure to the tip of the Baja peninsula. The Desert Assassin’s Rip to the Tip, which debuted in 2006, was created by Cameron Steele and Larry Badgwell who were originally looking to share their love of Baja with their closest riding buddies. They recruited 12 of their friends, known as the Dirty Dozen, and embarked on the challenging adventure from the U.S. border-town of Tecate, Calif., through the length of the Baja peninsula, finishing in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.  Since its inception, the event has proven a success and has grown in notoriety over the past five years. This year’s event will host more than 40 riders, including Currie, who will spend over a week riding through blazing-hot desert, treacherous single-track mountain trails, sand washes, dunes, beaches, boulders, canyons, and steep grades in hopes to make the full-pull, all the way to Cabo San Lucas.

Corona, CA - Valentine’s weekend was a sweetheart for Cory Graffunder, but a mixed bag for David Kamo and Jamie Lanza and no love at all for Nick Burson as the Zip-Ty Husqvarna team did battle on both sides of the border. Lanza and Kamo contested the Adelanto GP on Saturday, Kamo and Burson raced the National Hare & Hound on Sunday and Graffunder won the Tractor Hare Scrambles in Tecate, Mexico.

Canadian rider Cory Graffunder made it a truly international race weekend for Zip-Ty Husqvarna as he returned to Mexico for “The Race” as the 2011 Tractor Racing Hare Scrambles was billed. “It was a really fun race,” claims Cory. “After racing the Tecate Enduro a couple months ago, I was all over the opportunity to come back to race in the same area!” Back in December, Team Husqvarna made a clean sweep of the infamous Tecate Enduro… Must be something about Mexico, since Husky has done well down there ever since Malcolm Smith first won the Baja 1000!