The SCORE Baja 500 This Weekend
SCORE CEO and President Sal Fish noted that the rains and storms early in the year really beat up the track, saying this is one of the toughest Baja 500 courses he's ever seen. The massive7.2 earthquake that rocked Baja California in April also took its toll on the course, as SCORE officials, with the help of the city of Ensenada and other Mexican officials, actually had to do quite a bit of work to make the course race worthy.
"It's pretty crazy what Mother Nature did to the course out there," JCR Honda's Kendall Norman said at the press conference on the Friday before the race, adding that it will take a trouble-free run for someone to win the race on motorcycles.
"The course has really changed from since last year," Gus Vildosola Jr. said, who hopes to be the first Mexican to earn the overall win. "Mother Nature has given us some obstacles."
Although the rough course has been a big topic in the pre-race discussions, for many teams it's business as usual trying to prepare for the 500.
"We've been doing this for 30 years, and every year it doesn't get easier," Scott McMillin said. "Coming down to prepare for this race is just as tough as our first one."
Scott and son Andy McMillin will share driving duties in the #31 Trophy Truck, as the team is currently first in overall points and is the eighth truck off the line. Last year's winner Rick D. Johnson didn't get a great draw for the starting position, but he knows anything can happen during a race in Baja.
"We didn't get a great draw we're 36th off the line," he said. "I'm very excited about tomorrow, and it's Baja, so anything can happen."
Others, such as the first racer off the line Ed Stout, have a simple goal to stay on all four wheels.
"Our goal is to not get upside-down in this race," Stout said.
Other notable storylines are the team of Troy Herbst and Brian Collins, whose fathers raced together 40 years ago and won their class. NASCAR racer Boris Said will co-drive with All German Motorsports Armin Kremer. Although Said has raced in a number of different on- and off-road races in his career, this is his first time tackling the Baja 500. Larry Roeseler, who will share driving duties with teammate Roger Norman in the Norman Motorsports #8 Trophy Truck, raced in his first Baja 500 race 38 years ago on a 125cc dirt bike and won his class.