2013 SCORE Baja 500 Prerace Report

May. 31, 2013 By Josh Burns

The 45th annual Tecate SCORE Baja 500 gets ready to kick off tomorrow morning, but today the city of Ensenada is full of excitement, partying and preparation in anticipation for the race, which really engulfs Baja California Norte.

With 271 teams entered (and potentially more to come), the race teams are putting the final touches on their machines and gameplans. While some teams finished pre-running the course, coordinating pit locations and running their vehicles through tech and contingency, SCORE officials held the annual press conference for the 500 to put some of the racers in front of the media to introduce the race. It was also the first time both new President and CEO Roger Norman and Sal Fish shared the stage after Fish sold the series to Norman late last year. Fish is in attendance as he will be the Grand Marshall of the event.

Id like to thank my friend Sal Fish for handing me over the torch and giving me such a gigantic responsibility it really has been amazing, Norman said. Its been as difficult as anything Ive ever been involved in, and my heart is in it 100 percent, so everything is working out absolutely perfect. My goal is just to do everything I can to bring this sport to the world and have it be recognized worldwide.

MORE SCORE BAJA 500
2013 SCORE Baja 500 Qualifying Results

Photo Highlights from the 500

2013 Baja 500 Motorcycle Preview

Fish later took the mic and was greeted with loud applause celebrating what he had created in the past 40 years with SCORE International.

Its obvious its a great pleasure to be here today with such distinguished racers, and Id like to thank Juan Tintos again for everything that hes done over the past 40 years for our sport; hes been a real incredible individual in the Mexican government making sure to help make these races possible, Fish said.

And naturally to Roger Norman for giving me a new lease on life. He has a great heart and a lot of ambition in wanting to do a lot of great things I think will be super for the entire sport. I know its kind of overwhelming, Im sure, right now, but in about 39 years youll probably figure out how to get this thing moving.

With the Trophy Trucks and Class 1 buggies qualifying for the first time south of the border at a SCORE race, a new dimension was added to the premiere four-wheeled classes heading into the weekend. Although Robby Gordon posted the fastest lap, Tavo Vildosola was on pace to one of the faster Trophy Trucks until a spinout close to the end of the lap dropped him back in the 17th spot. In spite of the poor qualifying result, the father-and-son Vildosola team spoke confidently of their abilities at todays press conference.

I didnt do myself any favors by doing victory donuts before finishing the qualifying lap, so that puts us a little bit further back than we expected, Tavo said. But last years winner came out of the 20-something spot, and last years Baja 1000 winner came out of the 20-something spot, so I have no problem, I think, in trying to move my way back up. So well see. Its going to be a challenge tomorrow. I love the new course, and I love that its actually 500 miles for the Baja 500.

There were three freestyle motocross demonstrations today in Ensenada.

Bryce Menzies has won the race the past two years and will enter the weekend looking for a three-peat at the 500, as hes staring in third only a few spots behind fastest qualifier Robby Gordon. BJ Baldwin is another racer looking for a solid finish, as the defending 2012 SCORE Champion looks to regain last years glory with a solid 500. He will be the fifth truck off the line tomorrow.

 

Its a great racecourse, Roger, I think you did a fantastic job with some of the stuff that weve run back in the old dayslots of fun stuff, Baldwin said. The start at Borrego is going to be tough, hopefully there will be, you know, a few of us at Mikes [Sky Ranch] on time getting ready to race each other. Hopefully one of them is Tavo Vildosola, they have a fantastic team; hopefully Bryce [Menzies] is there, I know hes trying to three-peat it; and Robby and some of the best guys out in the desert. Im looking forward to racing with them.

This years race will cover just over 500 miles (500.99 miles actually), but one of the biggest changes to the race will be the adjustments to the sportsman motorcycle and ATV classes, which will be running a shortened course of 397.6 miles that was laid out by new SCORE Race Director Jose Grijalva and Norman. The logic behind the change is to increase safety and reduce the chance of trucks and large vehicles catching the Sportsman racers.

For the pro classes, however, the full racecourse is expected to take approximately 10 hours to complete, according to SCORE officials. Johnny Campbell, Baja racing legend and owner/team manager of JCR Honda, said at todays press conference he suspected the bikes would reach the finish line after about 9 hours and 30 minutes.

The race begins tomorrow at 6 a.m. with the Class 22 bikes being the first off the line. The cars and trucks will start 3.5 hours after the final after the last ATV, which should be around 10:30 a.m.

Check back with Off-Road.com for more coverage of the 2013 SCORE Baja 500 throughout the weekend.

MORE SCORE BAJA 500
2013 SCORE Baja 500 Qualifying Results

Photo Highlights from the 500

2013 Baja 500 Motorcycle Preview

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