1000 Miles of Bad Trail on Two Wheels
2006 SCORE Baja 1000
Nov. 09, 2006
SCORE racing in Baja Mexico has experienced huge growth in recent years and it doesn't seem this trend is slowing down one bit. At the time of this writing a record 405 starters are poised to do battle in the 2006 Baja 1000 that starts in Ensenada and finishes in La Paz . Out of the 405 entries, 71 of them are entered in various pro motorcycle classes. I ran out of fingers, toes and finger nail clippings to add in the sportsman motorcycle classes.
Veteran Baja motorcycle racers are an entirely different breed from what most folks consider normal. These riders are tough as nails with perhaps a screw loose and quite possibly other abnormalities science has yet to discover. Hopefully this article sheds some light on just what these brave soles go though in their pursuit of victory. Of course this does not include the watched Dust to Glory crowd that think it'll be fun. The Johnny come lately is in for a huge surprise. Racing in Mexico might seem like a lot of fun, it’s not. It’s downright brutal. Let me put this race into a tangible prospective for those without a clue. If you trail ride a lot you might cover 1000 miles in a year. Now, think of the worst ride you've had all year, over the nastiest terrain imaginable. Relive that ride over and over until you are ready to puke. This is just a start of what participants will experience if indeed they make it to the checkered flag in La Paz. My guess is that less then half of the motorcycles will finish.If the physical and mental abuse one must endure is not enough... Add into the mix of fun that by nightfall 700+ horsepower Trophy Trucks with candle watt power lights akin to the sun will be roaring past most of the bikes. One might think heaven has called and you might be right if not careful and don't get out of the way. These 4 wheel teams won't intentionally run a motorcyclist over but riders have been hit in the past. Sad but true, that’s racing in Mexico.
Something else that needs to be considered is the racecourse itself. Racecourse is a relative term here. Mexican locals use a majority of the course as everyday roads. If dodging an old pickup truck were not enough it’s not uncommon to be racing around a corner only to find a bull locking eyes with you. Johnny Campbell hit one of these future dinners a few years back. Campbell continued the race after some trailside repairs. Now that’s tough!
Even chase teams have an adventure ahead of them. Recent Hurricane ‘John’ has left destruction in its wake. Pre run reports suggest it will take chase vehicles longer to get to La Paz then the race itself. It’s also noted that more than 70 stream crossings littered with stuck cars and big rigs face the support teams on the journey down the peninsula.
Understanding what a feat it is to just race the Baja 1000 on a motorcycle let’s take a look at some of the folks that think 1000 miles of bad road is fun:
Early reports were that Travis Pastrana would be racing a factory backed Suzuki with Dust to Glory star Mouse McCoy. It looks like that deal fell threw. Our sources say McCoy was unhappy with part of the deal and went elsewhere. Pastrana is still racing but in a class 1 car and McCoy will be in a class 7 truck.
Team Honda is hard to beat in Baja and this year is no exception. Honda races two teams referred to as the “A” and “B” teams. At the San Felipe 250 earlier this year the “A” team of Steve Hengeveld and Mike Childress were disqualified. Apparently for shortcutting a turn that was deemed by SCORE to be too far off course. That gave the Honda “B” team of Robby Bell and Kendall Norman the win at the 250. This put Steve Hengeveld and Mike Childress in a curious position heading into the Baja 500. Then disaster struck the duo one more time. Childress had a hard get-off and reports are he rode with broken bones before handing the bike over to Hengeveld. This misfortune once again gave Robby Bell and Kendall Norman the win. Look for Steve Hengeveld and Mike Childress to ride the tires off of the CRFX450. Yep, that’s right, our inside info has the XR650R being retired as the “Baja King”. Hengeveld and Childress are both fierce competitors, look for them to try and get the lead quickly and not look back. How’s this for a wrench in the sprocket? The legend himself Johnny Campbell is supposed to ride with Bell and Norman ! This Honda battle alone will be very interesting to watch!
I've never understood multiple class entries where a rider gets off the bike a few yards after the start or on right before the finish. In my humble opinion the rider of record should be required to at least ride 50 miles on each entry.
Open Pro- Open displacement motorcycle
5x Robert Laughlin- Racing solo
6x Robby Bell- Look for Bell to ring it and get ahead of less qualified starters quickly. We don’t know when Johnny Campbell is going to get on the Honda 450X but the ‘B’ team just might become the ‘A’ team.
10x James Sones- Racing solo and a Baja guide for Malcolm Smith
1x Steve Hengeveld- Steve will be on a mission, by the first pit stop look for ‘Henge’ to have gobbled up most of the field that started ahead of him. An unknown value at this point is if the 450 can handle 1000 miles with Henge and Mikey Childress beating the crap out of it. Honda must think so...
18x Anna Cody- Anna is fast. Reports were that she was going to race solo against the boys then joined a team. Now we are hearing she’s racing Ironwoman again. Anna is racing for a noble cause- Breast cancer.
19x Cameron Steele- Frequently know as “PAB” on the message boards as well as a Dessert Assassin member. Steele is none other then one of the motorcycle race commentators you see on T.V. We are not sure just how far Cameron Steele will actually ride since he’s racing in a car as well. Steele is 4th in overall points going into the 1000.
CLASS 21:Any two-stroke engine displacing 250cc or less or any four-stroke displacing 450cc or less
110x Kevin Johnson- Odds favorite to win the class
Open displacement motorcycle- Rider must be at least 30 years old
301x Brian Pinard- tied with Wilson at the Baja 500, is a contender for the class 30 title
Open displacement motorcycle- Rider must be at least 40 years old
407x Brett Helm- Trying to beat O’Neal in this years 1000 seems to be costing this team some big bucks! Reports out of Baja are that each rider is being paid $5000.00 as well as a free plane ride home!
Open displacement motorcycle- Rider must be at least 50 years old
506x Stephen Stenberg- Says he’s racing solo but has limited experience.
549x Chris Haines- Late reports are that Haines has pulled out of this class and will be racing with his wife in another class.
That’s it for now; see you at the Baja 1000!