BJ-Baldwin-Preview-Baja-500-5-31-13Baja California, Mexico – The Tecate SCORE Baja 500 has been a good race for BJ Baldwin. Not only does he love racing in Mexico but he has always done well at the annual 500 mile race. He has been a frequent sight on the podium and came very close to an overall win last year. After a long day nursing his wounded transmission, he finished 11 seconds behind the winner in 2012.

BJ was the first truck to qualify. “The first guy to qualify will hit every rock and bump on the course,” said BJ, “In rally racing they call it “sweeping the road.” BJ ended up qualifying in 5th place (see more on Off-Road.com’s coverage here). “It’s harder to keep track of the competition when you are out front,” says BJ, “When you are out front it’s tough to get good split times on the competition. After you go through, the crew moves to the next spot. They don’t always hang around to see how far back the others are. Sometimes it’s a radio issue. You get out of range by the time they come through. It’s better to stalk your prey than to try and outrun it.”

Cordoba, Argentina – Following a much needed rest day for teams, today’s stage from Tucumán to Córdoba was one of the toughest and longest of this year’s Dakar Rally. Drivers faced a course similar to what would be seen during a WRC race, an advantage that the 4WD race cars had over the SPEED Energy / Toyo Tires / MAPEI HUMMER.

When the reviewed results came in for Stage 8, Gordon was scored third. Thus, he started third in today’s stage, which was helpful to keep pace with the leaders during the 593KM Special. Gordon lost a few minutes by KM100 and was down nearly 8 minutes to the leader near by the second half of the stage. Not letting the leaders stray too far, Gordon stayed in the top-5 for much of the Special bringing the HUMMER home with a solid fourth place finish, 8 minutes and 37 seconds behind.

CYPRESS, CALIFORNIA – Team Toyo’s “Ballistic” BJ Baldwin clenched the 2012 SCORE Overall Point Championship and the checkered flag at the 45th annual Baja 1000 on November 16.  Baldwin and his #97 Monster Energy / Toyo Tires Chevy Silverado trophy truck conquered the 1,121.55-mile course in just over 20 hours.  His tire choice for his assault on the legendary Baja… Toyo Open Country M/T-R tires.

This is Baldwin’s first year as a member of Team Toyo and his first season competing with Toyo Open Country M/T-R tires.  His impressive season started in January when he won Round 1 of the Laughlin Desert Challenge.  He then finished second in the San Felipe 250, following that up with a second place finish in the Tecate SCORE Baja 500.  Baldwin clenched the overall title when he won the Baja 1000.

Under the sunshine of a brilliant northern Nevada afternoon, the drivers of the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, presented by GEICO, took to the track for Round 11 of the 2012 championship. In this all-new venue, the Wild West Motorsports Park, some drivers have found success quite quickly, while others have been, shall we say, less fortunate.

The high speeds and large amounts of elevation change have been presenting a unique set of challenges for the drivers, but everyone has risen to the occasion to the best of their ability, and the local Reno-area fans, many of whom are seeing short course off-road racing for the first time, have been cheering loudly and smiling widely all afternoon long. To find out what went on here this afternoon, read on and see what all our new off-road fans will be talking about.

CRYSTAL SPRINGS, NEVADA – Team Toyo Off-Road’s “Ballistic” BJ Baldwin won overall in the Canidae Tap It Silver State 300 held this past weekend near Crystal Springs, Nevada with a time of 5:25:56.  Winning Class 1500 (buggy) and finishing in third overall with a time of 5:26:22 was Team Toyo’s Robby Gordon.  Both drivers relied on Toyo® Open Country M/T-R tires for their overall podium finishes.

The Silver State 300 had 131 entrants and is the third stop of the six race Best In The Desert race series in 2012.  Situated more than 80-miles north of Las Vegas, the race course had a challenging mix of high speed desert, and mountain terrain.  After leaving the starting line area near Crystal Springs and the entrance to Nevada’s Extraterrestrial Highway, the course crossed the Delamar Valley and then traversed the mountains near the Delamar Ghost Town.  The north end of the course passed the historic mining towns of Panaca and Pioche while reaching more than 7,000 feet in elevation at its highest points.  The finish for the race was located at the remote Caliente Air Strip off of Highway 93.

The Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series (LOORRS) season came to a close last weekend at Firebird International Raceway in Chandler, Arizona.  The grandstands were packed as fans watched Kyle LeDuc dominate the Pro4 Unlimited field in his No. 99 Rockstar Energy Drink / Makita Tools F-150.  Kyle had qualified first and ran away from the competition early and never looked back, setting the fast lap in the process.  Meanwhile, Kyle’s brother Todd was battling with rally driver Liam Doran for fourth place for much of the race, with both trucks shedding their body panels in the process.  Todd won the battle with Doran and finished just off the podium.  Todd finished third in season points in the No. 4 Rockstar Energy Drink / Makita Tools Ford and took home Rookie of the Year honors for the class in the pr ocess.  Kyle LeDuc finished just in front of his brother for second place this season, while his six Pro4 Unlimited victories were more than any other driver in 2011.  Father Curt LeDuc battled the flu in addition to his competitors, finishing seventh on Saturday in his No. 43 Makita Tools / TRUXXX Lift and Level Ford and eighth for the season out of 18 drivers in Pro4 Unlimited.

Last year Kyle LeDuc cleaned up at the end of the 2010 LOORRS season, winning both the Super Lite and Pro2 Unlimited versus Pro4 Unlimited cup races to take home over $40,000.  This year Kyle was hoping to take home the $15,000 prize in the Pro Lite Unlimited versus Pro Buggy cup race.  Kyle qualified second in Pro Lite Unlimited on Friday and set the fast lap on Saturday on his way to a second place finish for the final round of regular season racing, so it was clear that he had the speed necessary to win to the cup.  Kyle passed all of the competition in his No. 99 ROCKSTAR Energy Drink / Toyo Tires Pro Lite and had gapped the field by the mandatory caution, but after 28 vehicles were bunched up, hard contact from behind damaged Kyle’s suspension, causing him to roll on Lap 18 and ending his day in Pro Lite Unlimited.

In the Pro2 Unlimited versus Pro4 Unlimited main event, Kyle was once again to repeat his win from last year and bring home another $30,000, but 24 other racers had plans of their own- including Kyle’s own brother and father.  Curt LeDuc started on the first row of the Pro4 Unlimited class, but the entire Pro4 field still had to make up half a lap on the Pro2 competitors in front of them.  Kyle LeDuc started all the way at the back but was passing competitors at will, seemingly picking off another truck as he accelerated out of each corner.  By Lap 8 Kyle had passed all of the competition and was on his way to yet another victory, but fate had other plans and the right rear tire came flying off of Kyle’s truck, taking his chances for victory with it.  Meanwhile Todd LeDuc worked his way up to second place and dove under Robby Woods in Turn 3, but when Woods rolled Todd received a  black flag penalty and was forced to move to the back of the pack.  In an effort to make up ground with time running out, Todd rolled in Turn 4, putting him on the infield as a spectator next to his brother.  Curt LeDuc stayed out of the carnage and managed to finish the race in eighth place overall and second amongst the Pro4 Unlimiteds.

Check your check your local listings for insane LOORRS and Lucas Oil Challenge Cup action on CBS, the Speed Channel , Versus, and MavTV.  Next season brings changes for the LeDuc clan, but regardless of what happens in the off season all three ‘Duc boys will be back on the track for more LOORRS racing in 2012.  You can get the latest information on Team LeDuc on their Facebook page at:
http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002206672633

Photo: Getsome Photos