Baja 1000 pre-race news and notes

Nearly 450 Entries World's best desert racers at 39th Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 to decide Overall and Class Point Champs for 2006 SCORE Desert Series Adventurers from 38 U.S. States, 11 countries in Mexico For this week's granddaddy of all desert...

Nearly 450 Entries
World's best desert racers at 39th Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 to decide Overall and Class Point Champs for 2006 SCORE Desert Series

Adventurers from 38 U.S. States, 11 countries in Mexico For this week's granddaddy of all desert races

ENSENADA, MEXICO--After all the pre-race music, Mexican fiestas and autograph sessions are finished, reality will abruptly return Thursday morning when the green flag drops for the 39th Annual Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 desert race.

Emphasis will quickly shift from all the celebrity and cross-over drivers when the tire treads meet the rugged desert terrain of Mexico's Baja California peninsula as the world's best desert racers will earn and lose SCORE season point championships in the season-finale of the six-race 2006 SCORE Desert Series.

The granddaddy of all desert races will be held for the 39th time this week, starting in Ensenada, on the Pacific Ocean 65 miles South of San Diego and finishing in La Paz on the Sea of Cortez, covering 1,050.83 miles down Mexico's ruggedly majestic Baja California peninsula.

Among the cross-over and celebrity drivers who are entered this year include NASCAR team owner/driver Robby Gordon, NASCAR's Boris Said, World Rally Championship veteran Armin Schwarz, XGames legend Travis Pastrana, former IndyCar star Roberto Guerrero, CORR short-course champion Johnny Greaves, GT Prototype racer Darren Law, Mike Metzger, the 'godfather' of freestyle motocross, a team of UROC rock crawling champions led by Shannon Campbell, Jesse James, of TV's 'Monster Garage' fame, noted Hollywood stunt driver/rally racer Kathy Jarvis, actor/racer Patrick Dempsey, star of the ABC TV hit show 'Grey's Anatomy', Pike's Peak record-holder Rod Millen, Supercross legend Ricky Johnson and three-time U.S. Olympic downhill skier Daron Rahlves.

A humungous race-record field of nearly 450 entries from 38 U.S. States and 11 countries, competing in 28 Pro and 6 Sportsman classes for cars, trucks, motorcycles and ATVs, are part of this year's tribute to the sport of desert racing. The race is the crown jewel of the World's Foremost Desert Racing Series.

The all-time race-record for starters, 346, was set 29 years ago in 1977 (Ensenada to Ensenada), and the race-record for starters when the race runs the length of the peninsula to La Paz, 307, was set in 1992. The race record for finishers, 198, was set in 2004 when the race finished in La Paz.

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 third consecutive year, airing at 2:30 p.m. (EST) on Sunday, Dec. 10 on the NBC Television Network. It will also air on a delayed basis outside of the U.S. on ESPN International.

With massive crowds of over 300,000 anticipated to again be spread out down the Baja California Peninsula, the race will start in front of the Riviera del Pacific Cultural Center in Ensenada and will finish on the outskirts of La Paz in Baja California Sur.

The motorcycle and ATV classes will start their journey at 6:30 a.m. Friday with the car and truck classes starting at approximately 10:30 a.m., or three hours after the last Sportsman ATV leaves the line. Vehicles will leave in 30-second intervals in the elapsed-time race and while the fastest finishers are expected to complete the 1,050.83-mile course in around 17 hours, all vehicles will have a 43-hour time limit to become official finishers.

Truly the race of champions, this year's race will again determine the SCORE season class champs. The closest point races include the marquee SCORE Trophy-Truck division, where just 67 points separate the top five and the unlimited Class 1, where just 40 points separate the top five point leaders.

"There are no accurate adjectives to describe my feelings right now, this is all so unbelievable," said Sal Fish, SCORE President/CEO, on the eve of the world's most famous desert race. "To think that after 38 previous classics, this year's race has gone off the chart in terms of entries compared to other years is mind-boggling. The Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 is the Super Bowl of motorsports and I can't wait to watch the world's greatest desert racers and their amazing crews make some more SCORE Baja history this weekend. It's also a special treat for us to host a record number of our cross-over and celebrity racers who will experience something that they will remember forever."

BFGoodrich Tires, a SCORE desert racing staple, is completing its celebration of 31 years of SCORE Baja racing as well as pursuing its quest of 21 consecutive Overall 4-wheel victories in the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000.

Pre-race festivities on Wednesday, Nov. 15, for the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000, including tech and contingency and the SCORE Manufacturer's Midway will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. across from the San Nicolas Hotel. The pre-race mandatory driver/rider briefing will be held Nov. 15 at 7 p.m. at the Riviera del Pacifico Cultural Center. Racer registration will be held at the San Nicolas from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 14 and from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 15.

The team support 'Get your Wings' parties will be held Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, from noon to 5 p.m., poolside, at the San Nicolas Hotel. On Wednesday (Nov. 15) from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., the Red Bull Happy Hour will be held in the Red Room at the Riviera del Pacifico Cultural Center in Ensenada.

The post-race Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 Survivor's Celebration will be held during the SCORE Fiesta on the Malecon beachwalk in La Paz, which starts at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 18.

As if competing in one class in this race isn't enough fun, three racers and looking to triple pleasure and their pain--Cameron Steele, Jim O'Neal and Stephen Stenberg. Steele, the noted action sports and Champ Car racing sportscaster, is racing in SCORE Trophy-Truck, Class 22 (open motorcycles) and Class 11 (stock VW sedan). O'Neal is racing in three age-group motorcycle classes (Class 40, Class 50 and Class 60), while Stenberg is entered in three motorcycle classes as well--Class 21, Class 30 and Class 50.

This race always has a few other 'bravehearts' who enter in two classes, hoping for double wins and quadruple the fun. The most notable one's this year are: Steve Martz (Class 7S and Class 22) and Fred Brown (Class 30 and Class 50).

Besides Gordon, three other drivers returning to their desert racing roots are Brian Ickler (NASCAR Grand National, SCORE Class 1), Danny Ebberts (USAC Midgets, SCORE Class 1-2/1600) and Eric Hardin (NASCAR Grand National, SCORE Protruck).

A race-record of 36 SCORE Trophy-Trucks are entered. The marquee SCORE racing division featuring 800-horsepower unlimited production trucks includes cross-over drivers Gordon and James, in addition to the talented field of regulars and a very close point's race for the season championship. Eight of 12 previous season point champions are entered and 61 of 77 all-time SCORE Trophy-Truck race winners are represented as well along with seven of the previous 12 SCORE Trophy-Truck winners in the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000.

Las Vegas brothers Ed and Tim Herbst are the winningest team in the history of the class with 11 race wins and four season point titles in the No. 19 Terrible Herbst Motorsports Ford F-150, while tied for second is Larry Ragland, Cave Creek, Ariz., with nine. Ragland is again racing this year with veteran Brian Collins of Las Vegas, who has three wins in the No. 12 Collins Motorsports Chevy Silverado. Top challengers to become the new 'gran ganador de Mexico' in SCORE Trophy-Truck include the Herbst brothers, NASCAR's R. Gordon and his co-driver Andy McMillin, Ryan Arciero and Ricky Johnson (who won this class in 2003 and 2004, last year's season point champion and Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 race winner Bob Shepard, this year's point leader B.J. Baldwin, Hawaii's Alan Pflueger and rookie sensation Garron Cadiente.

Las Vegas' B.J. Baldwin won the season-opener in Laughlin in January and has finished high enough the rest of the way to maintain his point lead in the ultra-competitive SCORE Trophy-Truck division. He has 270 points to lead Shepard, who win the SCORE Las Vegas Primm 300 in September, by six points. Third are the Herbst brothers (Ed and Tim) with 242 points while Pflueger is fourth with 241. Fifth entering the season-finale is the team of Andy McMillin/Robby Gordon with 203 while Cadiente, who won the Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250 in March, is sixth with 199 points.

The Collins/Ragland team sat out the San Felipe race this year, but pulled off a stunning SCORE Trophy-Truck victory in June's Tecate SCORE Baja 500.

Since 1997, the motorcycle battle in the most storied desert race of all time has been all about Honda's Johnny Campbell. Five of this year's riders have combined for 13 overall motorcycle victories in this race.

Leading the motorcycle field again this year are the legendary American Honda riders Steve Hengeveld and Campbell, although for the first time since 2002, they won't be on the same motorcycle. Campbell has nine consecutive overall motorcycle victories in this race, including the last four with the Hengeveld, who has earned his Baja legend status as well.

As the rider of record on the No. 1x Honda CRF450X, Hengeveld also has one other motorcycle class win in this race. In 2002 and in 2000 was part of the overall-winning team in the Tecate SCORE Baja 2000.

Campbell, who has been elevated to team manager this year, has not raced since last year and has decided to continue competing in this event until his incredible record-setting winning streak is broken. He will be the third rider on the No. 6X Honda CRF450X behind rider of record Robby Bell, and second rider Kendall Norman. Campbell hascontinued to train with both Honda factory teams and has always been ready to pinch hit, if needed.

Splitting the riding time with Hengeveld this year will be Mike Childress, and Quinn Cody. Childress is in his second season riding with Hengeveld and the pair along with Johnny Campbell, won last year's Tecate SCORE Baja 1000. Cody is a veteran rider who has been added to the team for this long-distance endurance race down the Baja peninsula. Each rider is expected to ride about one-third of the race with Hengeveld, known as a great night rider, taking the final stretch of about 362 miles from La Purisma to La Paz.

Norman was part of the overall champion team in 2004 as the third rider with Hengeveld and Campbell. Bell and Norman are leading this year's Class 22 point standings heading into Baja.

In 2004, Hengeveld, Campbell and Norman set an average speed record in this race for a motorcycle, averaging an amazing 63.51mph.

Returning for his second appearance in this race, Pastrana, 23, of Davidsonville, Md., is driver of record in Class 1 with SCORE veteran champion Damen Jefferies, and the pair will be driving a new Red Bull HMS-Chevy.

The unlimited Class 1 for open-wheel desert race cars has one of its closest point races as well with just 40 points separating its top five leaders. The team of Troy Herbst/Larry Roeseler, who are seeking their third straight overall 4-wheel vehicle win in this race, have 296 points to lead the class and the SCORE Overall point standings in their Smithbuilt-Ford. Brothers Gary and Mark Weyhrich are second with 291, followed by Richard Boyle/Ron Brant with 273, Martin Christensen/Dave Mason with 260 and Brian Parkhouse with 256. Herbst has 20 Class 1 race wins since 1997 out of 54 races, a SCORE record for the class.

Entered in this year's event are 19 racers who have combined for 40 overall wins in either the 4-wheel or motorycle divisions. The leaders are: Larry Roeseler, 12, (10 on a motorcycle); Johnny Campbell has won nine straight (all on a motorcycle), Malcolm Smith has five overalls (two in m/c and three in 4-wheel) and with five overall wins each in the 4-wheel division are Mark McMillin and Larry Ragland.

Entered in this year's event are 93 racers who have combined for incredible 259 class wins. The leaders in multiple class wins entered this year are: Rod Hall with 18 (first overall), Larry Roeseler with 14 (third overall), Chris Haines with 12 (fourth overall), Jack Johnson with 11 (fifth overall), Johnny Campbell with 9 (tied for sixth overall) and Mark McMillin, Malcolm Smith, Eric Solorzano and Dean Sundahl with 8 each (tied for ninth overall).

The race also features 34 riders (30 motorcycle entries and four ATVs) who have declared their intention to race solo for the entire distance, hoping to claim a SCORE IronRider award.

This record-setting race also has a SCORE record number of female driver/riders. The SCORE regular primary drivers entered are Heidi Steele, Class 7SX and Sigal Greenberg, Class 9. In the Micron Technology Baja Challenge class, Robby Gordon's younger sister Robyn and Beccy are leading the All-American Girls racing team while San Diego County school principal Jessica McCreary is part of a Sportsman ATV team.

Two female racers, Kathy Jarvis and Anna Cody, will both be attempting to set very special records for the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000. Jarvis, a noted Hollywood stunt driver, is racing in the Protruck class and will attempt to becoming the first female rider to drive solo in a truck class. Cody, a veteran SCORE desert racer whose brother Quinn is part of one of the factory Honda teams in this race, will be racing in Class 22, attempting to become the first female rider to drive solo on a motorcycle.

Late entries will be accepted up to Thursday morning, and will be assigned the next available number and starting position within each class.

To date, the Pro 4-Wheel classes with the most entries to date are SCORE Trophy-Truck with a race-record 36, Class 1-2/1600 (30), Class 1 (29), SCORE Lite and Class 5/1600 (21 each), Micron Technology Baja Challenge (20), Protruck (19), Class 10 (12).

In the Pro Motorcycle classes, the unlimited Class 22 has 24 entries so far while Class 30 (riders over 30 years old) has 15 and Class 40 (riders over 40), has 10.

Leading the six Sportsman classes in the race is Sportsman Motorcycle over 250cc which has a race-record 53 entries to date.

Among the internet sites that will be providing on-site coverage of the event are: score-international.com, desertracingnews.com, digital1unlimited.com, dirtnewz.com, off-road.com, race-dezert.com and thebajaunlimited.com.

Passing times from the seven BFG Tires pits along the race course will be posted on www.rlhcomm.com.

Special Red Bull Energy Oasis stations will also be located at each of the BFG pits, providing refreshments for both racers and their chase crews.

The Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 is the oldest and most well known of all desert races, and it remains as the single most appealing accomplishment to a driver. Since 1967, the mother of all desert races has been run over the mysterious Baja California peninsula.

With massive crowds reaching over 300,000 anticipated to again be spread out along the point-to-point race course, the race will start for the 32nd time in Ensenada and will finish for the 17th time in La Paz.

The 2006 SCORE Desert Series includes chase for the $50,000 Kartek Off-Road contingency bonus to be awarded to several qualified 2006 SCORE Class point champions.

The 2006 SCORE Desert Series also involves the hunt for the annual Toyota Milestone and $12,000 Toyota True Grit Awards. The prestigious Toyota Milestone Awards are presented to every racer who completes every required mile of every race in the 2006 SCORE Desert Series. The $12,000 Toyota True Grit purse is split among the SCORE season point champions who are also Toyota Milestone award winners in several non-factory-backed classes.

-credit: score

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Series Score
Drivers Boris Said , Robby Gordon , Roberto Guerrero , Darren Law , Johnny Greaves , Damen Jefferies , Rod Hall , Steve Hengeveld , Armin Schwarz , Larry Roeseler , Mike Metzger , Rod Millen , Patrick Dempsey , B.J. Baldwin , Larry Ragland , Tim Herbst , Andy McMillin , Mark McMillin , Ricky Johnson , Brian Ickler , Jesse James , Troy Herbst , Johnny Campbell , Quinn Cody , Shannon Campbell