Baja 1000: Series event final report

347 Official Starters Bell/Norman/Campbell claim Overall motorcycle and Class 22 crown; Norman/Roeseler get Overall 2-Wheel at 41st Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 Dempsey/Herder win Class 1, Matlock/Goodman/Spaeth/Miller capture Overall ATV And Class...

347 Official Starters
Bell/Norman/Campbell claim Overall motorcycle and Class 22 crown; Norman/Roeseler get Overall 2-Wheel at 41st Tecate SCORE Baja 1000

Dempsey/Herder win Class 1, Matlock/Goodman/Spaeth/Miller capture Overall ATV And Class 25 title in front of nearly 300,000 fans in Mexico

ENSENADA, Mexico--Relishing in the euphoria of yet another record-setting performance, the team of Robby Bell/Kendall Norman/Johnny Campbell along with the team of Roger Norman and Larry Roeseler enjoyed the well-earned fruits of their laborious journey by capturing the overall 2-wheel and 4-wheel victories late Friday in the 41st Annual Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 desert race.

Beating a deep and talented field of 347 starters that came from 29 U.S. States and 34 countries, the Bell/Norman/Campbell trio won Class 22 on the No. 1x Johnny Campbell Racing Honda CRF450X motorcycle while Norman/Roeseler powered their way to the top of the marquee SCORE Trophy-Truck division in the No. 8 Norman Motorsports Ford F-150.

The world's best known and most prestigious desert race started for the 34th time and finished for the 19th time in Ensenada, 65 miles south of the U.S border at San Diego.

As the final checkered flag dropped Saturday evening for the last of 227 official finishers in the 41st annual Tecate SCORE Baja 1000, it was obvious that another incredible and colorful chapter had been added to the legacy of this popular desert race in the magnificent Baja California, Mexico, peninsula.

The 347 starters are the most ever in race history for a 'loop' race and the third most of any race in the 41-year history of the event. The 227 finishers are also the third-most in event history. The finishing percentage this year was an impressive 65.4 percent.

With Bell, Sun City, Calif., starting the race and riding a second time as well and Norman, Santa Barbara, Calif. and Campbell, San Clemente, Calif., each riding on leg, the talented trio helped Honda to increase its record overall victory total in this race to 19 total, covering the tight, technical and rugged northern Baja California race course in 12 hours, 29 minutes, 10 seconds, averaging 50.56 miles per hour.

Roeseler, Irvine, Calif., drove the first 400 miles and Norman, Reno, Nev., the final 231.35 as the daring duo mastered the Mexico's magnificently mysterious northern part of the Baja peninsula to finish in a jubilant time of 12:40:33 at an average speed of 49.81mph in the No. 8 Norman Motorsports Ford F-150.

For Campbell his victory earned him a race-record 11 overall motorcycle wins, breaking the tie he had with Larry Roeseler at 10-10.

Roeseler's overall win gave him a race-record 13 overall race wins, including three in the 4-wheel division to go along with his 10 on a motorcycle. It was also Roeseler's 17 career class win in this race.

It was Kendall Norman's third overall race win, Bell's second and Roger Norman's first overall in this race. It was also the second straight win of the year for Roeseler/Norman, who first won the SCORE Terrible's Primm 300 in September.

Roeseler now has three career SCORE Trophy-Truck race wins while Norman has earned two. It was also Roeseler's fifth straight class win in this race, having won the last for years driving with Troy Herbst in Class 1.

Winning the overall ATV and Class 25 victory was the team of Wayne Matlock, El Cajon, Calif./Harold Goodman, Brownstown, Mich./Marc Spaeth, Ramona, Calif./West Miller, Fallbrook, Calif., with a championship time of 14:47:25, averaging 42.69mph in a Honda TRX700XX. The talented team swept all three SCORE Baja races this season to earn the season point title in their class.

"I got in the driver's seat in the lead thanks to Larry and I just had to bring it home, but that is easier said than done," said Norman, the Northern Nevada developer who owns the Crystal Bay Casino in North Lake Tahoe. b^0x001cI took it easy and kept gaining a little ground on B.J. (Baldwin)."

"This is the toughest and greatest race in the world and we were racing against the greatest desert racers in the world. I knew we had to have a flawless day to win and we did. We had no flats; our BFG Tires were tougher than the Baja rocks. The only little thing is we went too strong off of a jump around Valle de Trinidad and our top lights came off so we stopped for about a minute and a half to put them back on and they were fine. We're here and we have a team that won't quit and we made it to the finish line with all the body parts."

Said Roeseler regarding his continuing winning streak in this cherished race, "It was a fantastic day. I followed B.J. off the start. He started 30 seconds in front of us and Brian Collins was doing a heck of a job. It was exciting all the way down until we finally got by the field. We were first on the road and we kept that spot ever since. B.J. was keeping us honest. If he got back in front of us, then we would have had to have finished within 30 seconds of him."

"Roger (Norman)did a heck of a job. He kept that five, six-minute lead all the way from when I gave him the five or six minutes. What a wonderful, wonderful race. I went all day today to the 400-mile marker with no flats and I'm pretty sure Roger went all the way to the finish with no flats, so we won the SCORE Baja 1000 with no flat tires. Winning Primm was a great race for us and great momentum for the team so coming to the 1000 with that momentum, for sure, got us going and with our pre-running and preparation, it all paid off."

Starting his 71st birthday Saturday, venerable veteran desert racer Rod Hall lit the candles on his celebration during the final hours of the legendary race by finishing second in Stock Mini in a Hummer H3. With a race-record 19 class wins in this race, Hall, who is scheduled to reduce his racing schedule to include only the SCORE Baja 1000 next year, is the only person in the storied history of this event who has raced in all 41 events since it began in 1967.

Hall's son Chad was a class winner, coming in shortly before his famous father to win the Stock Full class in a Hummer H3 Alpha, earning his seventh career class win in the race. Between them, Rod and his sons Josh and Chad Hall are the all-time winningest family in the history of the race, now with 30 career class wins. Josh finished third in Stock Full in the third Rod Hall Racing Hummer competing in the event.

Reflecting on his team's overall motorcycle win, Bell commented, "It's great to see Johnny (Campbell) get some of the glory and finish it, and get his 11th down here. It was such a gnarly race. It was tough with the dust; there wasn't much wind early. Between pit 1 and 2, around mile 80, I finally got into second place. The 2x bike was gone -- whoever was on the bike was riding like a hero. I actually ended up hitting a rock and tweaking my wrist a little bit, so I gave the bike to Kendall in third place. But he was my hero today he got us back in the lead and gave me a good lead when I got back on. Definitely stoked he picked it up when I let it down a little."

Campbell responded in his typical, workman-like low-key way saying, "We actually got the lead about mile 158, we just got it going away from there. 6x never pressured us, they held us up quite a bit in the first part of the race, about 80 miles, 1x and 10x were just dogging it in the dust, took forever to get around them. 2x had a big lead, a couple minutes, about mile 120. In the bottom of the La Rumorosa grade, Robby hit a rock really bad and sprained his wrist and actually dropped back behind 10x when he came into Honda pit 3 (mile 147). Kendall got on and passed 10x, 10x actually tipped over, then he passed 2x. When I got the bike I had a 10-minute lead so I just had to maintain and bring it in. Baja is a special place and I've been fortunate to live a lot of my life down here. I think I'll just take a day off after this and relax. It's a lot of work, a lot of head work. I'm the decision maker so you've got more responsibility. It was a pretty rough course; it gets pre-ran to death. I've ran rougher than this, 1999 was so tough. This one wasn't so bad for me. When you get handed the bike with a 10-minute lead, it makes it a little easier. I am a blessed man and fortunate to have the opportunies I have had and now to be team owner as well and go undefeated in SCORE this year and have our three JCR team riders finish one, two and four in the greatest desert race in the world almost leaves you speechless."

A field of 26 SCORE Trophy-Trucks, the high-tech, 800 horsepower unlimited production trucks, dominated the overall 4-wheel results, claiming seven of the top 10 finishing spots, including the first six.

Finishing second was Las Vegas' B.J. Baldwin, who finished in 12:45:26 in the No. 97 Baldwin Motorsports Chevy Silverado, just over four minutes behind the winning Norman/Roeseler. The finish earned Baldwin his second SCORE Trophy-Truck season point championship in the last three years.

Third overall was Chad Ragland and his father Larry Ragland, who finished in 13:26:19 in the No. 33 TForce Motorsports Toyota Tundra while fourth was last year's race and season point champions Mark Post, Laguna Beach, Calif./Rob MacCachren, Las Vegas, with a time of 13:31:11 in the No. 1 Riviera Racing Ford F-150.

TForce Motorsports team owner Dan Friedkin, Houston, and his prominent teammates Danny Sullivan, Carmel, Calif., and Steve Hengeveld, Oak Hills, Calif., finished fifth overall in the No. 34 'twin' Toyota Tundra in 14:34:55. Sullivan won the 1985 Indy 500 and Hengeveld is in his first season in a truck after winning 10 class titles and seven overall motorcycle crowns in this race. The two-truck effort placed two trucks in the top five for the first time.

Justin Lofton, a second generation desert racer making his SCORE Trophy-Truck racing debut, raced with his father Bob Lofton, Westmorland, Calif., earning a sixth-place finish in the No. 20 Lofton Motorsports Chevy Silverado in 14:51:08. Lofton is pursuing a pavement-racing career and was a regular on the ARCA/Remax stock car series this year.

Winning a race-high field of 28 starters in the unlimited Class 1 for the first time, Chuck Dempsey, Oak Hills, Calif./John Herder, Tucson, Ariz., finished seventh overall in a Chevy-powered Jefferies open-wheel desert race car in 14:59:57 while second in Class 1 and eighth overall was the team of Harley Letner/Kory Halopoff, Orange, Calif., in a Alpha Performance-Chevy with a time of 15:16:53.

Third in Class 1 and ninth overall was the veteran team of Ron Brant, Oak Hills, Calif./Richard Boyle, Ridgecrest, Calif./Tom Kirkmeyer, Apple Valley, Calif., driving a Jimco-Chevy to a finish time of 15:28:15.

Completing the top 10 and finishing seventh in SCORE Trophy-Truck was Robbie Pierce/Mike Julson, Santee, Calif., finishing in a time of 15:30:45 in the No. 35 MasterCraft Chevy Silverado.

In the manufacturer's battle of 'beat the Baja' research and development, a Ford-powered vehicle won for the 13th time, and BFGoodrich Tires won for the 22nd time in the last 23 years.

Mexico's Arnoldo Ramirez/Misael Arambula/Daniel Lopez defeated a field of 17 starters to win Class 1-2/1600 for the second straight year in a Curry-VW. They also finished a solid 16th overall among 4-wheel vehicles and as the highest finishing VW-powered vehicle in the race, earned the $5,000 Contingency bonus from Volkswagen of America for being the highest finishing VW-powered vehicle in the race.

In possibly the biggest surprise class win of the race, Darren Skilton, Long Beach, Calif., won Class 3 in a Jeep Wrangler by defeating the Ford Bronco of Northern California's prolific Moss Brothers, Donald and Kenneth who had dominated Class 3, winning six straight in this race and a class record 29 straight SCORE race wins before Saturday. It was Skilton's fifth class win in the race and first since 2000.

Gavin Skilton, Darren's brother, gave the Skilton family another class win in the race by winning Stock Mini, marking the first time a Honda Ridgeline has won this race.

Running against a formidable field of 17 starters in Class 5/1600, Mexico's Marcos Nunez/Norberto Rivera, drove their VW Baja Bug to victory in Class 5/1600. It was their third Class win of the season.

A field of 13 SCORE Lite vehicles, all with VW engines, was won for the first time in this race by Rick St. John, Encinitas, Calif./Dean Bayerle, Poway, Calif./Ramsay El Wardani, San Diego in a Duvel-VW.

In Class 7SX, John Holmes, Olivenhain, Calif./Mark Landersman, Temecula, Calif., won for the third time this season as well as his fourth class win in this race.

Mexico's Ramon and Tomas Fernandez won Class 11 for the fourth time in five races this year.

In another class win by a Mexican driver, Juan Lopez split driving with Beny Canela, Indio, Calif. in a Ford F-150 to beat a field of nine starters.

Mexico's Lobasm Yee, Tijuana, Mexico won Class 10 for the second time in a Jimco-Chevy, while the family team of Cisco Bio and Pancho Bio won Class 9 in a Tubular Design-VW.

Several age group motorcycle stars increased their class win totals this year.

In Class 50 (racers 50 years and older), riders Jim O'Neal, Simi Valley, Calif., and his teammates Doug Heil, Monrovia, Calif./Mike Sixbery, Bullhead City, Ariz./andy Kirker, Santa Ana, Calif./Paul Needles, Westlake Village, Calif./Robert Hansen, Carson City, Nev., won on a Honda CRF450X.

For O'Neal, the class victory was his eighth career class win in the race, including his seventh in the last four years.

Veteran motorcycle racer Scott Myers became the rider of record, switched teammates and won Class 30 for the third time in four years. Riding a Kawasaki KLX450, Myers' co-riders this year were Shane Esposity, Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif. and Francisco Septien, Ensenada.

In Class 40, Brett Helm, Poway, led a talented team to victory for the second straight year on a Honda CRF450X. Besides Helm, also riding were Jeff Kaplan, Thousand Oaks, Calif., Craig Adams, San Clemente, Calif., Lou Franco, Sherman Oaks, Calif., Jon Ortner, Santa Barbara, Calif. and Bob Johnson, San Diego. Adams has now been part of 12 motorcycle class wins in this event.

In the super veterans Class 60 (riders over 60 years old), Donald Lewis, Marlborough, Conn., led a grizzled team to victory for the second-time in the three-year history of the class on a Honda CRF450X. His riding partners this year were Sam Dempsey, Lake Balboa, Calif./Bob Gates, Hesperia, Calif./Mike Harper, Landers, Calif./Charles Koistra, Menifee, Calif./Will rogers, Escondido, Calif./Dan Doerksen, Oak Hills, Calif.

Other Pro class winners included Marc Burnett, Chula Vista, Calif., (Class 6, Ford Ranger), Guillermo Galvan, Bahia de Los Angeles, Mexico (Class 7, Ford Ranger), Mike Shaffer, Dayton, Nev. (Class 17, Jeep Cherokee), Jason Voss, Cupertino, Calif. (ProTruck, Ford F-150) Chad Black, Laguna Hills, Calif. (Class 20, Honda CRF250X) and Francisco Arredondo, Guatemala (Class 21, Honda XR250R). Shaffer and Arredondo both won their classes for the second-straight year.

The special Baja Challenge class for identically-equipped Subaru-powered Baja touring cars that helps introduce crossover racers and celebrities to SCORE desert racing saw all 13 starters finish and was won for the first time by the team led by Chris Kemp, San Clemente, Calif.

The unique Sal Fish SCORE IronRider Award offered to any motorcycle and ATV racer who finished the race while riding entirely solo drew 31 total riders and 18 of them made it to the finish line within the 31-hour time limit.

Sal Fish SCORE IronRider award winners were: Class 22--Jack McCormick, Tempe, Ariz. (19:30:58, Honda XR650R), Gabriel Williams, Provo, Utah (18:30:00, Honda CRF450X); Class 40--Michael Korenwinder, Tulare, Calif. (18:13:11, Yamaha WR450F) (FASTEST SOLO RIDER), Darren Griffiths, Australia (21:34:46, KTM 530EXC), Robert Barnum, Phelan, Calif. (21:40:05, Husqvarna TC510), Steve Corrie, Brush Prairie, Wash. (25:24:42, Honda XR400); Sports Motorcycle Under 250cc--Yoram Lavee, Toluca, Mexico (Israel) (23:19:41, KTM XCFW250), Sportsman Motorcycle Over 250cc--Jeff Martin, Bakersfield, Calif. (19:59:29, KTM 525XC), Brady Van Matre, Lafayette, Colo. (23:28:24, KTM 300EXC), John Crowley, Flagstaff, Ariz. (25:15:03, Honda CRF450X), Davy Patterson, Ireland (25:29:13, Honda CRF450X), Vernon Smith, Lakewood, Wash. (27:12:30, KTM 450EXC), Laurent Lazard, Uruguay (28:30:28, KTM XC525), Ken Kosiorek, San Diego (28:34:18, Honda XR650R), Robbie McAlerney, Ireland (30:24:59, Honda CRF450X), Graham Wilson, Ireland (30:25:25, Honda CRF450X); Sportsman ATV--Yoav Regev, Phoenix (Israel) (25:23:25, Honda TRX450X), Josh Hogan, Livermore, Calif. (28:02:50, Suzuki LTR450)

The fastest Sportsman 4-wheel vehicle was led by driver of record Bob Land, Lake Forest, Calif., (SPT Truck, Jeep Cherokee) while the fast Sportsman motorcycle team was led by Bill Gilbert, Ladera Ranch, Calif. (SPT M/C>250cc.

Sal Fish, SCORE CEO/President, saluted all of the adventurous participants in the memorable race during a crowded post-race awards celebration on Sunday morning. He said, among other things, "This year's race was unbelievable and memorable for so many reasons, but what it all boils down to is all of the racers, crews, families, friends and news media who live this amazing dream we call the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000. Every single person, from the drivers and riders to the spouses is a winner for making this valiant effort to conquer the Baja through a desert race. The race is over, but the stories and the memories truly live forever."

Fish, who has also pioneered innovation and research and development, pointed out that two special small-engine utility vehicles actually finished this race for the first time and that two manufacturers successfully launched two race vehicles in this year's race.

Volkswagen of America, the official vehicle of SCORE International, saw its new No. 81 Red Bull Volkswagen Baja Race Touareg TDI, the first clean Turbo-diesel vehicle ever raced in the SCORE Trophy-Truck division finish 13th out of 26 starters. The new vehicle is driven by veterans Mark Miller, Cave Creek, Ariz. and Ryan Arciero, Foothill Ranch, Calif.

Ford also saw its newest production truck, a special Ford F-150 SVT Raptor, finished third in Class 8 for full-sized two-wheel drive trucks. It was driven by Steve Olliges, Las Vegas, Greg Foutz, Gilbert, Ariz., and Randy Merritt, Parker, Ariz.

Both new vehicles will be the subject of special documentaries being developed around their participation in this year's Tecate SCORE Baja 1000.

The Sportsman UTV class for 600cc, 4-2h33I Utility Vehicles had finishers for the first time ever in this race. Winning was the team led by Jim Creagan, Yacott, Wash., in an Arctic Cat Prowler while the other finisher was Shane Morgan, Yacott, Wash., in another Arctic Cat Prowler.

Fish saluted all of the participants and among them were the two motorcycle sidecars that ran the race, one from Switzerland and one from the United States. Fish said that the Harley-Davidson V-Rod piloted by Scott Whitney, Palos Verde Estates, Calif., and Joe Desrosiers, San Marcos, Calif., actually rode the first side car in race history to complete the entire course.

In addition to the U.S. and host Mexico, the 24 total countries with entries in this year's race were:

Argentina, Australia, Austria, Britain, Canada, Columbia, Denmark, El Salvador, France, Germany, Guatemala, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Panama, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Uruguay.

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, airing on Sunday, Dec. 14 at 1 p.m. (EST) 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. A total of 15 drivers are still eligible for the Toyota Milestone Awards.

Current SCORE official annual sponsors are: BFGoodrich Tires-official tire, Volkswagen of America-official vehicle, Sunoco Race Fuels -official fuel supplier, Bilstein-official shock, Instant Mexico Auto Insurance-official Mexican auto insurance, Slime-official tire sealant and Red Bull--official energy drink. Associate sponsors are: Tecate Beer, Coca-Cola of Mexico, Las Vegas Events, Terrible Herbst Inc., Blue C Enthusiast Advertising, Kartek Off-Road, American Suzuki, SignPros, P.C.I. Race Radios, McKenzie's Performance Products and Advanced Color Graphics.

Additional associate sponsor for the 2008 Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 was the Fideicomiso Publio para la Promocion Turistica de Ensenada.

-credit: www.score-international.com.

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