Next week in Ensenada, Mexico
R. Gordon facing rugged race course, stiffer competition in quest to win 42nd Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 desert race
338 Racers entered to date, from 39 States and 14 countries in internationally-televised Granddaddy of all desert races; Class 1 stars Ra. Wilson, Letner, Schwarz, Kremer, Herbst, Dempsey hoping to hunt down 35 SCORE Trophy-Trucks
LOS ANGELES--NASCAR Cup team owner/driver Robby Gordon faces tough competition every Sunday during his 'normal' pavement job, but in his desert racing career he will have to overcome a rugged course and the toughest competition he has ever faced next weekend in his quest to not only win the overall title at the 42nd Tecate SCORE Baja 1000, but also the 2009 SCORE Desert Series Overall point championship.
With racers competing in 32 Pro and 6 Sportsman classes for cars, trucks, motorcycles and ATVs, the legendary race will be held Nov. 19-22 in Ensenada, Mexico. Completing its 36th year as the World's foremost desert racing sanctioning body, the event is the finale of the five-race 2009 SCORE Desert Series. To date, 338 adventurers and the world's best desert racers have come from 39 U.S. States and 14 countries to gather on the majestic Baja California peninsula.
This year's 672.85-mile race will start for the 35th time and finish for the 20th time in Ensenada. The motorcycle and ATV classes will start their journey at 6:30 a.m. PST (Friday, Nov. 20) 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.
In his first season running the entire five-race series since he won the SCORE Trophy-Truck season championship in 1996, Gordon enters this year's granddaddy of all desert races with a comfortable lead in both the featured SCORE Trophy-Truck division and the SCORE Overall point race in his No. 77 Team Gordon Chevy CK1500.
While racing part-time in the SCORE desert series, Gordon still has managed nine race wins in the marquee SCORE racing division for 850-horsepower, high-tech, unlimited production trucks.
This year's 672.85-mile loop race will start for the 35th time and finish for the 20th time in Ensenada and Gordon will not only have to contend with the twists and turns, bumps and grinds of the body-pounding course, he will be racing against over 350 cars, trucks, motorcycles and ATVs, including 35 vehicles in SCORE Trophy-Truck.
Not to mention he is also working the logistics for the final NASCAR Cup race of the year next weekend in Homestead, Fla., Gordon will be challenged by a SCORE Trophy-Truck field that, including himself, has 13 racers that have combined to win 57 of 92 races held since the super class was created by SCORE in 1994. The field also includes 11 of the 15 all-time SCORE Trophy-Truck season point champions.
Gordon is certainly no stranger to this race, as he has tried to run it every year while pursuing his pavement racing career, even if he can't run the full SCORE schedule. In fact, in 2006 he had to get back to a NASCAR race and split the driving with budding star Andy McMillin as the pair captured the peninsula run from Ensenada to La Paz.
McMillin, National City, Calif., will be the driver of record this year, with his father Scott McMillin as the other driver, in the No. 31 McMillin Racing Chevy Silverado.
Gordon also won this race in 1989 driving solo to La Paz in Class 8 and teamed for his other overall win in 1990 when he was the third driver in the family team led by his father "Baja" Bob Gordon and second driver Robyn Gordon, one of his sisters.
Having a stellar season this year in the desert, Gordon won both the SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge and the SCORE Terrible's Primm 300 while finishing second at the Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250 and seventh at the Tecate SCORE Baja 500.
While the only thing that will keep him from winning the coveted SCORE Trophy-Truck and SCORE Overall point championship this year is if he has a did-not-finish in this race, to know Robby Gordon is to know that this pedal to the metal racer wants to win the race equally as much as he does the season crown.
While certainly keeping his eyes on the road, blocking the course ahead of him in the search for the SCORE Trophy-Truck race win is a list of who's who in desert racing, including one racer who has moved up from the unlimited Class 1 to the super truck class and should be a factor in the outcome as well.
While the unlimited Class 1 is only a 'boulders through' away from capturing the overall in this race, somewhat handicapped by starting behind the behemoth SCORE Trophy-Trucks in the elapsed-time race, SCORE Trophy-Trucks are the clear favorite to win the overall title.
Leading the field of contenders are SCORE Trophy-Truck race winners Tim Herbst, Rob MacCachren, Mark Post, Brian Collins, Curt Le Duc, B.J. Baldwin, Larry Roeseler, Roger Norman, Alan Pflueger, Rick D. Johnson, Andy McMillin and Gus Vildosola.
Terrible Herbst Motorsports, the winningest team in the history of SCORE Trophy-Truck with 11 race wins and four season point titles, returns with Las Vegas brothers Tim and Troy Herbst ready to pilot the new No. 19 Ford F-150. Running just the SCORE Baja races this season, Troy drove the new Smithbuilt race truck to a seventh in class in its first race in San Felipe and a fifth in the Tecate SCORE Baja 500.
Post, Laguna Beach, Calif., and Las Vegas' MacCachren, with seven career SCORE Trophy-Truck race wins each, split the driving in Posts' No. 3 Riviera Racing Ford F-150, and together won the historic 40th annual race from Ensenada to Cabo San Lucas in 2007.
Roger Norman, Reno, Nev., and Larry Roeseler, Boulevard, Calif., are the defending race champions in the No. 8 Norman Motorsports Ford F-150. Last year was the first win for both Norman and Roeseler in SCORE Trophy-Truck in this race. In race history, Norman has three class wins while Roeseler has 17, including 13 overall wins (10 of which were on motorcycles).
Las Vegas' Brian Collins, who will split driving with veteran Chuck Hovey, Escondido, Calif., has six career SCORE Trophy-Trucks wins including winning this year's Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250 for the second straight year in the No. 12 Collins Motorsports Dodge Ram1500.
The 1997 SCORE Trophy-Truck season point champ, Curt LeDuc, Cherry Valley, Calif., has four career race wins in this class and will split driving this year with driver of record Nick Vanderwey, Phoenix, in the No. 84 Chevy Sivlerado.
Winning both the 2006 and the 2008 SCORE Trophy-Truck season point crowns, Las Vegas' B.J. Baldwin has three career SCORE Trophy-Truck race wins and was second in this race a year ago in the No. 1 Baldwin Motorsports Chevy Silverado.
With two career race wins in the class, Hawaii's Alan Pflueger will be another contender in the No. 28 Pflueger Motorsports Chevy Silverado.
Rick D. Johnson, Barstow, Calif., won this class in this year's Tecate SCORE Baja 500 as he consistently runs among the leaders in the No. 71 Ford F-150. He also drew the second starting position in this year's race.
With a huge fan base and consummate knowledge of the course, the other driver with one career race win in SCORE Trophy-Truck entered is Mexico's Gus Vildosola, who will be the second driver for his son Gus Vildosola Jr. in the No. 4 Vildosola Racing Ford F-150. Together, they finished second to Post/MacCachren in the epic 2007 race to Cabo.
Because it is a race of the mind as well as the competition, there can always be surprise winners in SCORE Baja races.
Just patiently plugging along in desert racing's marquee division, Arizona's journeyman driver Pete Sohren received the first starting position during the Oct. 10 computerized drawing for the race. The grizzled veteran Sohren will pilot his No. 2 Ford F-150 SCORE Trophy-Truck.
Sohren finished fourth in June's race, tying his best career SCORE Trophy-Truck race finish.
Other entries among the veterans in the talented 35-truck field in the marquee SCORE Trophy-Truck division include Robbie Pierce/Mike Julson, Santee, Calif. (30-Chevy Silverado), Cameron Steele, San Clemente, Calif./Rick Geiser, Phoenix (GMC Sierra), Mark McMillin, El Cajon, Calif. (23-Ford F-150), Ron Whitton, Mesa, Ariz. (39-Ford F-150), Mark Weyhrich/Gary Weyhrich, Troutdale, Ore. (9-Ford F-150), Jason Voss/Richard Voss, Cupertino, Calif. (35-Ford F-150), Scott Steinberger, Cypress, Calif./Dave Sykes, San Diego (7-Ford F-150), Ed Stout, Irvine, Calif. (13-Ford F-150) and Bobby Baldwin/Danny Anderson, Las Vegas (96-Chevy Silverado).
Mark McMillin, the older brother of Scott and uncle of Andy, is making his debut in this race in SCORE Trophy-Truck in the No. 23 McMillin Racing Ford F-150, but he is no stranger to the checkered flag in SCORE Baja races. Mark McMillin has eight career class wins in the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000, including five overall victories.
Drawing first start in the unlimited Class 1 is former German World Rally Championship driver Armin Schwarz and his second driver, Martin Christensen, Escondido, Calif., in the All-German Motorsports Jimco-BMW
Chuck Dempsey, Oak Hills, Calif., is the defending Class 1 race winner and Randy Wilson, Long Beach, Calif., is currently leading the points in the class for unlimited open-wheel desert race cars.
Harley Letner, a third-generation desert racer, and his cousin Kory Halopoff, were second in Class 1 in this race last year and the pair were the overall winners of this year's Tecate SCORE Baja 500.
The unique Terrible Herbst Motorsports Class 1 'Landshark' has six class wins and two overall titles in this race with Troy Herbst as the primary driver. In this year's first two SCORE Baja races, Tim Herbst has driven the Smithbuilt legend solo to a second place and an 11th in Class 1.
While late entries are accepted up to race day, a total of 338 entries have officially been accepted for the race as of today which will put the starting field in the top 10 in the 42-year history of the storied event.
The car and truck classes with the most entries to date are SCORE Trophy-Truck (35), Class 1 (24), Class 1-2/1600 and SCORE Lite (15 each) and Class 10 (10).
Among the motorcycle and ATV classes, the open motorcycle Class 22 has the most entries to date with 19 followed by Class 30, riders 30 years old and over, which has 14.
Leading the six Sportsman classes in the race is Sportsman Motorcycle over 250cc which has 36 entries and Sportsman Motorcycle under 250cc which has 15 entries to date.
With massive crowds reaching nearly 250,000 anticipated to again be spread out along the rugged course that travels from Ensenada to Ojos Negros, east down Laguna Salada to San Felipe, down through the legendary Matomi Wash, around Mike's Sky Ranch, through both Rancho Las Truchas and Rancho El Coyote, down the infamous Simpson's Hill and back to the Pacific Coast below San Vicente and up through Santo Tomas, Uruapan and back to Ojos Negros, covering much of the northern half of the majestic Baja California peninsula to and from Ensenada.
In addition to season point class point championships, drivers in the Pro car and truck classes are also racing to earn prestigious SCORE Toyota Milestone Awards given to all drivers who complete every required mile of the five-race season. Being presented by Toyota Motorsports for the 24th consecutive year, a total of 16 drivers remain eligible after Round 4 of the 2009 SCORE Desert Series.
This race also features the prestigious Sal Fish SCORE IronRider awards presented to each motorcycle or ATV rider who completes the course within the time limit while riding solo. To date, 30 individuals have officially declared that they will be attempting to complete the course riding solo.
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, SignPros, P.C.I. Race Radios, McKenzie's Performance Products and Advanced Color Graphics.
Additional associate sponsors for the 2009 Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 are Proturismo de Ensenada and the State Tourism Department of Baja California.