Baja 1000: M/C and ATV preview

Race starts next Tuesday Campbell, Hengeveld, Adams looking for 10th M/C class wins, Johnson 12th, Haines 13th at 40th Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 1967 M/C winners Malcolm Smith & J.N. Roberts return for epic 1,296.39-mile race down Mexico's Baja ...

Race starts next Tuesday
Campbell, Hengeveld, Adams looking for 10th M/C class wins, Johnson 12th, Haines 13th at 40th Tecate SCORE Baja 1000

1967 M/C winners Malcolm Smith & J.N. Roberts return for epic 1,296.39-mile race down Mexico's Baja California peninsula

LOS ANGELES--Motorcycles have been a major part of the legendary Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 since it started in 1967, and next week's 40th anniversary of the granddaddy of all desert races includes many of the all-time top two-wheel racers, including the first overall motorcycle champions--Malcolm Smith and J.N. Roberts.

With pre-race activities starting Sunday, this year's historic 40th anniversary odyssey of the world's longest non-stop and most famous desert race will be a grueling and memorable 1,296-39 mile adventure down Mexico's mysterious Baja California peninsula starting in Ensenada, Baja California and finishing in Cabo San Lucas, Baja California, Sur.

The season-finale of the six-race 2007 SCORE Desert Series will feature nearly 450 entries from 43 U.S. States and 16 countries competing in 28 Pro and 6 Sportsman classes for cars, trucks, motorcycles and ATVs.

And while Smith, Riverside, Calif., and Roberts, who now lives in Helena, Mont., are part of the No. 303x RacingForLife.org team in Class 30 for motorcycle riders over 30 (though they are both over 60), motorcycle stars like Johnny Campbell, Steve Hengeveld, Craig Adams, Jack Johnson and Chris Haines are racing to add more class wins to their grown SCORE Baja legacy.

Smith, 67, and Roberts 66, are celebrating the 40th anniversary of their first win by racing in two classes. Smith will also be a driver in the Stock Full truck class (No. 867) and Roberts will stay with motorcycles by riding a leg for the No. 601x team in Class 60 (riders over 60).

The talented field of desert-racing veterans includes 138 racers who have combined for 358 class wins in this race. In that group are 12 racers who have combined for a total of 21 overall 4-wheel vehicle wins and 12 more riders have combined for 26 overall motorcycle victories.

Campbell, San Clemente, Calif., and Hengeveld, Oak Hills, Calif., are both part of the powerful American Honda factory team riding on the No. 1x Honda CRF450X. Campbell, won nine straight Class 22 and Overall titles from 1997-2006, and Hengeveld, who has nine class wins, six overalls including five straight, will share riding time with teammates Robby Bell, Murrieta, Calif. and Kendall Norman, Santa Barbara, Calif. Bell and Norman have won the two SCORE races so far this year.

Between them the formidable team has 19 class wins and 16 overalls in this race as Norman was part of the 2004 overall winning team with Campbell and Hengeveld.

Team Honda has 17 overall motorcycle wins in this race, including 10 straight.

A veteran co-rider who has helped nine teams to two-wheel class wins, Adams, 50, San Clemente, Calif., will be part of two teams this year. One is the talented six-rider No. 405x team in Class 40, for riders over 40 years old, on a Honda CRF450X.

The other is the No. 549x Honda XR650R Class 50 team (riders over 50 years old), a team whose riders have a total of 32 class wins in this event.

Team leader and rider of record Chris Haines, 56, Dana Point, Calif., has 12 class wins, co-riders Jack Johnson has 11 and Scott Pfeiffer, 50, Costa Mesa, Calif., has four. The team's fourth rider, James Sones, Banning, Calif., was the fastest solo-riding finisher in last year's race.

Another of the true SCORE Baja motorcycle icons, Johnson, 54, Boulder City, Nev., has four overall motorcycle wins, including three straight (1980, 1981, 1982) with the legendary Larry Roeseler, Hesperia, Calif., who has 15 class wins and 12 overalls, including a record 10 on motorcycles.

The team that appears to have the best shot to knock of Team Honda is the factory KTM team.

Riding the purpose-built KTM 690Baja, rider of record is Quinn Cody, Buellton, Calif. and his co-riders are Las Vegas' David Pearson and Cyril Despres of France.

Cody was part of the overall winning Honda team last year of Steve Hengeveld and Mike Childress and Despres won the overall winner in this year's Dakar Rally.

Team manager is former rider of record Chris Blais, who was seriously injured in a pre-running accident in August for a U.S. desert race.

Among the other very notable motorcycle entries is Ron Bishop, Escondido, the only individuals who has raced in all 39 previous Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 races on a motorcycle.

Bishop, 64, who will lead a five-rider team as rider of record this year in Class 22 on a KTM 525XC motorcycle.

Also of note is age-group rider Jim O'Neal, Simi Valley, Calif., who has once again put together talented multiple-rider teams. With five career class wins, including a record three last year, O'Neal will be leading age-group teams in Class 30 (No. 302x, Honda CRF450X) and in Class 50 (No. 502x, Honda CRF450X).

Richard Lancaster in Class 22 for open motorcycles drew the pole positions for the 40th anniversary of the desert racing classic at a 'live' drawing for starting positions at the Lake Elsinore (Calif.) Casino on Sept. 22.

Lancaster, 29, Santa Margarita, Calif., will lead 24 entries (to date) in Class 22 for open motorcycles on the No. 2x Honda XR650R. His additional riders are Peter Hardy, Pozo, Calif., John Kaisersatt, Los Osos, Calif., Fred Jowett, Atascadero, Calif., and Chris Whalley, Topanga, Calif.

Drawing the first start in the ATV classes is the championship team led by Danny Prather, 27, Ramona, Calif., who will ride the No. 1a Honda TRX450R in Class 25. His teammates are Mike Cafro, Bonsall, Calif., Levi Marana, Ramona, Calif., and Marc Speath, Warner Springs, Calif.

Winners of four straight SCORE races, Prather and his team are the defending SCORE Baja 1000 Overall ATV winners and the reigning Class 25 and SCORE Overall ATV point champions.

Leading the challengers is the No. 51 Honda factory team led by Wayne Matlock, El Cajon, Calif. and Chad Prull, Laveen, Ariz., who ride a Honda TRX450R and were the last team to beat Prather and company in a SCORE race. Riding with Matlock and Prull for this race will be Wes Miller, Keith Little and Harrold Goodman.

Mike Cafro's brother Carmen Cafro, Vista, Calif., has another talented ATV team riding the No. 7a Honda TRX650R. With Carmen Cafro, who has three class wins in this race, will be Lance Schoomaker, Alpine, Calif./Earl Thigpen, Murrieta, Calif./Allen Fox, Alpine, Calif./Scott Callen, El Cajon, Calif./Mike Findlay, Temecula, Calif.

Also entered in Class 25 on the No. 2a Bombardier DS650 is Josh Row and his father Greg Row, both of El Cajon, Calif. Greg Row, who was the overall ATV winner in 1991, has four class wins in this race. They will be joined by Josh's uncle Chris Row, Ruldoso, N.M./Travis Dillon, Spring Valley, Calif./Alfonso Cota, Alpine, Calif.

The motorcycle and ATV classes will start their journey at 6:30 a.m. (PST) (Tuesday, Nov. 13) with the car and truck classes starting at approximately 11 a.m. (PST), or three hours after the last ATV leaves the line. The starting line will be on Blvd. Costero in front of the Riviera del Pacifico Cultural Center in Ensenada. Vehicles will leave in 30-second intervals in the elapsed-time race and while the fastest finishers are expected to complete the course in approximately 23 hours.

The finish line area in Cabo San Lucas will be inside the Campos de Futbol "Yenecamu" soccer fields next to the Villa del Palmar Resort, the official SCORE race headquarters. The SCORE Media Center and SCORE Race Operations will both be located at the adjacent Villa del Palmar. Passing times from all BFGoodrich Tires pit locations, of all vehicles, will be posted there as well to assist in monitoring the race progress.

Pre-race festivities on Monday, for the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000, including tech and contingency and the SCORE Manufacturer's Midway will be held from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (PST) adjacent to Nico Saad's San Nicolas Hotel, the official SCORE race headquarters in Ensenada. The pre-race mandatory driver/rider briefing will be held Nov. 12 at 7 p.m. (PST) at the Riviera del Pacifico Cultural Center. Racer registration will be held at the San Nicolas from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. (PST) on Sunday, Nov. 11 and from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. (PST) on Monday, Nov. 12.

The post-race Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 Award's Celebration will be held during the SCORE Fiesta at the Playa Cascadas (adjacent to the Villa del Palmar) at noon (PST) on Friday, Nov. 16.

The four-wheel vehicle classes with the most entries to date are Class 1 (33), SCORE Trophy-Truck (32), Class 1-2/1600 (25), Class 5/1600 (22), SCORE Lite (19), Baja Challenge (18), Class 8 (14), Protruck (13), Stock Full (12) and Class 5 (11).

The motorcycle classes with the most entries so far are: Class 22 (24), Class 40 (16) and Class 30 (11).

Leading the six Sportsman classes in the race is Sportsman Motorcycle over 250cc which has 54 and Sportsman ATV with 17 entries to date.

This year's Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 desert race will be televised on a delayed basis as a one-hour NBC Sports special for the fourth consecutive year, airing on Dec. 30 on the NBC Television Network. It will also air on a delayed basis outside of the U.S. on ESPN International.

The 2007 SCORE Desert Series also includes the chase for the $75,000 Kartek Off-Road contingency bonus to be awarded to several 2007 SCORE Class point champions along with the run for the $12,000 Toyota True Grit and Toyota Milestone Awards.

The race will also include the special $40,000 cash contingency purse provided by Volkswagen of America. Top finishers in all classes where VW engines are required or allowed will be eligible.

-credit: score

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