Final Round of Five-Race 2008 SCORE Desert Series
Nov. 20-23 -- v31.35 miles
Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico

5:30 p.m. BULLETIN: Early Leaders Update: Bell/Norman/Campbell & Norman/Roeseler leading the way...

ENSENADA, Mexico--With enthusiastic crowds estimated at nearly 300,000 stretched out along the race route, Larry Roeseler, the winning overall racer in SCORE Baja 1000 history, led all four-wheel vehicles early Friday evening at the mid-point of the 41st annual Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 desert classic on the Baja California peninsula of Mexico.

Roeseler, the 51-year-old veteran from Irvine, Calif., has captured the famed SCORE Baja 1000 twelve times overall -- ten in motorcycles and two in cars -- and drove the Norman Motorsports Ford F-150 SCORE Trophy-Truck to the overall lead at mile 217 over early leader Brian Collins of Las Vegas in the 631.35-mile contest.

Roeseler, who splits driving time with team owner Roger Norman, charged through the rough northern Baja California terrain after his truck broke a power steering belt in the first 100 miles. Roeseler has captured the last four Class 1 title in the SCORE Baja 1000 in addition to his overall Baja titles.

NASCAR Sprint Cup team owner/driver and three-time SCORE Baja 1000 winner Robby Gordon had a tough start to his 2008 SCORE Baja 1000 run when his Chevy Silverado flipped at mile eight, just outside Ensenada. Gordon's crew was able to repair the truck, but the Charlotte, N.C. driver was well off Roeseler's leading pace.

In the motorcycle divisions, the Honda 1x team of Robby Bell, Kendall Norman and 10-time SCORE Baja 1000 champion Johnny Campbell held the overall lead at race-mile 400. Campbell, the 37-year-old from San Clemente, Calif., is attempting to become the winningest SCORE Baja 1000 motorcycle racer, as he and Roeseler are tied with ten overall wins on two-wheel machines.

Trailing Roeseler in the SCORE Trophy-Truck category at race-mile 279.1 was five-time SCORE Baja 1000 overall race winner Larry Ragland of Cave Creek, Ariz., in a Toyota Tundra. Ragland, 65, is teaming with his son, Chad, in his quest for another Baja title.

Third overall was B.J. Baldwin of Las Vegas, who is driving the event solo in his Chevy Silverado.

With 347 starters competing to compete in 28 Pro and 7 Sportsman classes for cars, trucks, motorcycles and ATVs, the granddaddy of all desert races, the event is the finale of the five-race 2008 SCORE Desert Series. The starting field, coming from 39 U.S. States and 24 countries, was a record for a "loop" race in the SCORE Baja 1000, bettering the 1977 mark of 346.

With the overall motorcycle winner expected during mid-evening on Friday and the fastest four-wheel vehicle in the elapsed-time race expected about midnight, the course will remain open until 7:21 p.m. on Saturday. The finish line is located on Boulevard Costero in front of the Riviera del Pacifico Cultural Center in the heart of Ensenada.

Since 1967, the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 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.

-credit: score