2012 SCORE Baja 500 Preview – Video
At SCORE's final count (which does not include race-day entries), 266 race teams are registered to compete at the 44th Tecate SCORE Baja 500. The race start and ends in the coastal town of Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico, which was pulsing with activity today. Local vendors lined the streets, kids skipped school to collect stickers and race teams pushed their vehicles down through SCORE tech and contingency to get the final clearance before tomorrow morning’s race start.
This year’s course will cover 450 miles of desert across the Baja peninsula. The entries currently represent 34 different U.S. states and 15 countries. The race will begin tomorrow morning at 6 a.m., with dirt bikes being the first off the line followed by ATVs and UTVs. Four hours later, the Trophy Trucks will leave the start line in Ensenada at 10 a.m. All racers will have a 22-hour time limit to complete the race.
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Notably absent from today’s media conference was SCORE President and CEO Sal Fish, who typically does not miss these events. Apparently there was a small course land issue he was trying to get squared away, and any course issues the day before the race require his immediate attention for obvious reasons.
In the Trophy Truck class – which currently has 40 entries, just one short of the record – Bryce Menzies will look to defend his win at last year’s event. Along with Fish, Menzies, MacCachren and a few other noteworthy racers also missed the press event, but plenty of high-profile racers were able to attend, such as 2010 Baja 500 winner Andy McMillin.
“The plans is for me to go to about 266, the meadow over ther before the crossover road,” he said. “My dad and his secret weapon, my sister, are going to take it from there to the finish, similar to when we won here two years ago in 2010.”
Off-road legend and NASCAR racer Robby Gordon, who just this week announced his new Stadium Super Trucks series, also addressed the crowd about race and his plans to win.
“We brought the Dakar Hummer again,” he said. “We came close alst year. We got really close actually to winning the race. I got in trouble for doing donuts – I have a solution for it,” he said while looking at SCORE media director Dominic Clark.
“On the other side, you know, the Hummer is fast. It’s nimble and the best thing is that it hold 100 gallons of gas and get 5 miles a gallon, so basically when everybody stops hopefully we get to drive on by and I got a lot of cars to drive by – 28 of them in front of us.”
In the pro motorcycle class, the Honda team and its 15-straight win has some stiff competition this year. Johnny Campbell was responsible for many of those wins, and he still is now but as team owner of the JCR Honda team featuring Colton Udall, David Kamo and Timmy Weigand. But the rest of the field has stepped up, and there are two other factory-supported teams this year.
KTM is fielding two teams under the FMF/Bonanza Plumbing/KTM Factory effort, one of which earned the win at the San Felipe 250 earlier this year (although the star rider Kurt Caselli won’t do more than take the bike off the start line since he is still recovering from a broken collarbone suffered in the AMA Hare & Hound series). However, the team still has a wealth of great riders including Mike Brown, Ivan Rameriez, and they did bring in three-time Dakar winner Mark Coma.
“You can see this is a strong team. This is my first experience here in the Baja 500 so I hope to be in the right rhythm,” Coma said.
The THR Motorsports Monster Energy Kawasaki team also looks finish atop the podium at this year’s Baja 500. Featuring Robby Bell, Steve Hengeveld and David Pearson, the team looks to be in the hunt tomorrow.
“I think it’s going to be a good race,” Bell said. “Obviously the JCR guys are solid and fast. It’s unfortunate that Kurt’s hurt for the KTM guys but they have some world-class riders as well so it’s going to be a battle. You know Honda had deep history with this event but Kawasaki does as well. We’re looking to rekindle that, and the word on the street is that Kawasaki is due so we’re hoping to fulfill that potential this weekend.”
Check back with Off-Road.com tomorrow for more on the 2012 Tecate SCORE Baja 500.
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