Sal Fish signature race course
Pre-running starts Saturday on rugged 629.74-mile course for November's 41st Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 desert race

Racers from 38 States, 19 countries entered to date in internationally-televised

Granddaddy of all desert races; Race to be held in Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico, Nov. 19-23

LOS ANGELES--Adventurers and the world's best desert racers will begin practicing Saturday as official pre-running starts for November's 41st Annual Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 desert race.

With over 350 entries expected to compete in 28 Pro and 7 Sportsman classes for cars, trucks, motorcycles and ATVs, the granddaddy of all desert races will be held Nov. 19-23 in Ensenada, Mexico. Completing its 35th year as the World's foremost desert racing sanctioning body, the event is the finale of the five-race 2008 SCORE Desert Series. To date entries have come from 38 U.S. States and 19 countries.

It's 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 Granddaddy of all desert races has been run over the mysterious Baja California peninsula. Because of the economics and logistics involved, some years it is a peninsula run while most years it is a loop race, starting and finishing in Ensenada.

The race will start for the 34th time and finish for the 19th time in Ensenada. The motorcycle and ATV classes will start their journey at 6:30 a.m. (Friday, Nov. 21) with the car and truck classes starting at approximately 10:30 a.m., or three hours after the last 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 course in approximately 14 hours. All vehicles will have a 31-hour time limit to become official finishers in the legendary adventure.

The race will start and finish on Boulevard Costero along the picturesque Bahia de Todos Santos in front of the historical Riviera del Pacifico Cultural Center in the heart of Ensenada.

Pre-running on the 629.74-mile loop course will officially begin on Saturday. Pre-running will be allowed only from Ojos Negros and back. One way pre-running from the start to Ojos Negros will be allowed only on Wednesday and Thursday of race week (Nov. 19 and 20).

While late entries are accepted up to race day, a total of 342 entries have officially been accepted for the race as of today which will put the starting field in the top five in the 41-year history of the storied event.

"We have been able, with the dedication and cooperation of many of our friends in Baja California, a race course for the 41st Annual Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 that will seriously challenge the most seasoned of our great SCORE desert racers," commented Sal Fish, SCORE President/CEO since soon after it was founded in 1973. "This course present the competitors with all of the variety of terrain and elevation changes you could possibly have along with the dramatic beauty of Baja. The La Rumorosa grade runs from about race-mile 111 to 127 and the infamous climb and descending grade, filled with switchbacks and large dropoffs, has only been used in the 1995 Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 and the 1996 Tecate SCORE Baja 500. SCORE actually paid to have the dirt trail graded through the mountains."

From the start in Ensenada the course will go east to Ojos Negros for almost 35 miles which will be used in both directions in the race. From Ojos Negros, the course will travel in a clockwise direction covering much of the incredibly beautiful northern section of Baja California. From Ojos Negros, the course turns Northeast through the Pine Forest nearly up to the U.S. border and up and down the treacherous La Rumorosa grade, west of Mexicali. The course turns south at the top of the infamous Laguna Salada, paralleling Mexican Highway 5. Next will be the San Felipe loop where the course will cover some of the rugged Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250 course including Chanate Wash.

After the San Felipe loop, the course will head north and northwest, joining Highway 3 for a short distance to the Mike's Sky Ranch turnoff. Then the course heads to the Lllano Colorado section and Highway 1. From this point the course is very similar to this year's Tecate SCORE Baja 500 heading north along the Pacific Ocean below San Vicente and past Erendira, back inland up through Santo Tomas then turning northeast just past Uruapan winding its way back to Ojos Negros for the final charge back to Ensenada.

The course will feature six checkpoints, where vehicle numbers and passing times are recorded to help verify the information gathered on the electronic recording devices that are mounted on all vehicles in the race.

The location of the six checkpoints are: Checkpoint 1 (race-mile 141.06, North of Laguna Salada), CP2 (rm286.19-Borrego), CP3 (rm351.09-San Felipe), CP4 (rm407.08-Borrego), CP5 (rm 496.18-San Vicente Vineyards) and CP6 (rm587.77-Ojos Negros).

With massive crowds reaching nearly 300,000 anticipated to again be spread out along the rugged course that travels through the Pine Forest to near Tecate and Mexicali, down Laguna Salada to San Felipe and back to the Pacific Coast through Santo Tomas covering much of the northern half of the majestic Baja California peninsula.

Pre-race festivities on Thursday, Nov. 20, for the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000, including the vastly popular tech and contingency of all vehicles and the SCORE Manufacturer's Midway will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Boulevard Costero in front of the Riviera del Pacifico Cultural Center. The pre-race mandatory driver/rider briefing will be held Thursday, Nov. 20 at 7 p.m. in the Cathedral Room at the Riviera del Pacifico Cultural Center. Racer and media registration will be held at the San Nicolas Resort Hotel from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 19 and from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 20.

The post-race Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 Survivor's Celebration will be held poolside at the San Nicolas Resort Hotel at 10 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 23.

The car and truck classes with the most entries to date are the unlimited Class 1 (30), SCORE Trophy-Truck (29), Class 5/1600 and SCORE Lite (15 each) along with Class 1-2/1600 and Class 10 (14 each) and Baja Challenge Class (13).

Among the motorcycle and ATV classes, Class 22 has the most entries to date with 15, followed by Class 30 with 11.

Leading the seven Sportsman classes in the race to date is Sportsman Motorcycle over 250cc with 40 entries and Sportsman Motorcycle under 250cc with 14 entries.

Brian Collins in SCORE Trophy-Truck and Grant Steele in Class 22 (open motorcycles) have drawn the first starting positions for the race.

Collins, 46, of Las Vegas, is currently second in SCORE Trophy-Truck points and won this year's Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250 in March in his No. 12 Dodge Ram1500. Splitting the driving with Collins will be veteran racer Chuck Hovey, Escondido, Calif. There are a season-high 29 entries in the SCORE Trophy-Truck, the marquee SCORE racing division for high-tech, 800-horsepower, unlimited production trucks.

Grant Steele, 38, Temecula, Calif., and his team, will lead 14 entries to date in Class 22 for open motorcycles on a Honda CRF450X. Grant's older brother Cameron Steele, San Clemente, Calif., drives the No. 16 SCORE Trophy-Truck and will be a third driver in Class 7SX on the team led by his wife Heidi Steele. Heidi Steele is leading her class point standings entering the race and is attempting to become the first female driver of record in history to capture a SCORE season truck class point title.

Drawing the first start in the ATV classes was the veteran team led by Greg Row, Alpine, Calif., who will ride a Bombardier DS650 in Class 25.

NASCAR Sprint Cup team owner/driver Robby Gordon, Charlotte, N.C., whose roots are in SCORE desert racing, drew the 28th starting position in SCORE Trophy-Truck in the Team Gordon No. 77 Chevy CK1500. Gordon will be heading to the the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 right after driving in the NASCAR Sprint Cup season finale in Florida on Nov. 16.

Making its debut in the race in the marquee SCORE Trophy-Truck division will be the new No. 81 Red Bull Volkswagen Baja Race Touareg TDI, the first clean Turbo-diesel vehicle ever raced in SCORE Trophy-Truck. The new vehicle will be driven by the veteran team of Mark Miller, Cave Creek, Ariz./Ryan Arciero, Foothill Ranch, Calif. With seven career SCORE Trophy-Truck race wins between them, including three together, Miller/Arciero drew the 14th starting position for the race in the first Turbo-diesel to run in the featured SCORE racing division.

Three entries with second-generation SCORE desert racers feature drivers who are running pavement series. Las Vegas' Brendan Gaughan is a NASCAR Truck Series regular who will race in the unlimited Class 1 in Baja, while Justin Loftin, Westmorland, Calif., who drives in the ARCA/Re-Max Series and Brian Ickler, Poway, Calif., who has won four races this year in the NASCAR East Series will both drive in the featured SCORE Trophy-Truck division.

Among the other entries is the venerable Rod Hall, Reno, Nev., who is one of the only two individuals who has raced in all 40 previous Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 races.

The legendary Hall, 69, of Reno, Nev., has a race-record 19 career class wins in this race and is the only driver to have competed every year in a car or truck class. Hall returns this year as the defending class champion in a Hummer H3 in the Stock Mini class.

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 fifth consecutive year, scheduled to air at 1 p.m. (EST) on Sunday, Dec. 14 on the NBC Television Network. It will also air on a delayed basis outside of the U.S. on ESPN International.

The 2008 SCORE Desert Series also includes the chase for the $20,000 Volkswagen of America Point Leader Bonus and the run for the Toyota Milestone Awards for car and truck racers who complete every required mile of the season.

The Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 also features the $5,000 Volkswagen bonus to the highest finishing Volkwagen-powered vehicle in the race. Among the other special awards at the event will be the Sal Fish SCORE IronRider award presented to all declared motorcycle and ATV riders who are official finishers of the race while riding solo.

-credit: score