Baja 1000: Series round five preview

Race starts Friday in Ensenada, Mexico 2009 SCORE Desert Series point titles on line in 30 Pro, Six Sportsman classes at 42nd Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 Pre-race festivities start Wednesday for over 350 entries From 39 States, 14, countries in ...

Race starts Friday in Ensenada, Mexico

2009 SCORE Desert Series point titles on line in 30 Pro, Six Sportsman classes at 42nd Tecate SCORE Baja 1000

Pre-race festivities start Wednesday for over 350 entries From 39 States, 14, countries in internationally-televised desert race; Live internet coverage available on www.BFGoodrichTires.com and www.DirtNewz.com

ENSENADA, Mexico--Colorful pre-race festivities begin Wednesday for the 42nd Anniversary celebration of the legendary Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 race, but when the green flag drops on Friday morning in Ensenada, Baja California, the racing will be as intense as it gets with 2009 SCORE Desert Series season point championships on the line.

With racers competing in 30 Pro and 6 Sportsman classes for cars, trucks, motorcycles and ATVs, the legendary race will be held Wednesday through Sunday in Ensenada, Mexico. Sal Fish's SCORE International is completing its 36th year as the World's foremost desert racing sanctioning body and 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. Among the entries are 24 class winners from last year's race. Late entries will be accepted up until race morning.

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 next Friday, 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 adjacent to the picturesque Bahia de Todos Santos in front of the historical Riviera del Pacifico Cultural Center in the heart of Ensenada.

It's the oldest and most well known of all desert races, and it remains as the single most appealing accomplishment to a racer. Since 1967, the Granddaddy of all desert races has been run over the mysterious Baja California peninsula. This year's course will be run totally in the Northern part of the peninsula.

While all the rugged regulars in the world's foremost desert racing series are headed to Mexico, the lure of this amazing race also attracts crossover racers as well as adventurers from all walks of life.

The talented field of desert-racing veterans includes 92 racers who have combined for 295 class wins in this race. In that group are 10 racers who have combined for a total of 31 overall 4-wheel vehicle wins and eight more riders who have combined for a total of 28 overall motorcycle victories. Included in the past overall winner's group are the last five 4-Wheel winners and the last seven motorcycle winners.

Pre-race festivities on Thursday, 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 4 p.m. on Boulevard Costero in front of the Riviera del Pacifico Cultural Center with more than 50,000 spectators anticipated to be on hand. The pre-race mandatory driver/rider briefing will be held Thursday, 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, and from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Thursday.

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

One of the special entries this year is three-time SCORE Baja 1000 overall champion Ivan Stewart who will drive the final 175 miles to the finish line to help debut the fifth generation Toyota 4Runner in the Stock Mini class. Stewart has a total of 22 career class wins in the three SCORE Baja races.

Among the other entries venerable Hall, Reno, Nev., the only individual who has raced in all 41 previous Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 races.

The legendary Hall has a race-record 19 career class wins in this event and is the only driver to have competed every year (all in a car or truck class). Hall, who will turn 72 on Nov. 22, will be looking for two class wins this year as he is entered as the second driver for his sons Josh and Chad Hall in Hummer H3 vehicles in both the Stock Mini and Stock Full classes. As a family, the Halls of 30 class wins in this race as Chad has seven and Josh has won his class four times.

Enjoying his full-time return to desert racing in between his 'day job' as a NASCAR Cup team owner/driver, Robby Gordon has increased his point lead in the 2009 SCORE Desert Series point standings following his second win of the year at September's 14th SCORE Terrible's Primm 300.

With 292 points, Gordon, 40, who returns to his desert racing roots as often as his NASCAR schedule allows which is every race this year, is the SCORE Overall point leader and he additionally leads the marquee SCORE Trophy-Truck class for high-tech, 800-horsepower, unlimited production trucks in his No. 77 Team Gordon Chevy CK1500. Gordon is pulling double duty this week driving also driving in the NASCAR Cup season finale in Homestead, Florida on Sunday.

While assuming a big lead in the 2009 SCORE Desert Series point standings, Gordon, who lives in Charlotte, N.C., has earned his eighth and ninth career SCORE Trophy-Truck race wins this year along with one second and one seventh in the four races held so far this season.

After Gordon's big lead of 24 points over second place in the SCORE Overall point standings (he also has an even larger 48-point lead in SCORE Trophy-Truck), only 16 points separate the rest of the top 10 in the 2009 SCORE Overall point standings.

After winning Class 10 in San Felipe, Ensenada and Primm in his Lothringer-VW, Mike Lawrence, Banning Calif., is leading the class he won the season championship in last year and stands second in SCORE overall points with 268.

Wilson Motorsports of Long Beach, Calif., currently leads two classes as well as being tied for third and 11th in SCORE overall points after four races.

With two Class 1 open-wheel desert race cars and two Class 1-2/1600 open-wheel cars with 1600cc VW engines, Randy Wilson, 50, the middle of three racing Wilson brothers, leads Class 1 and is 11th in overall points with 241. Ronny Wilson, 47, the youngest of the brothers, is fifth in Class 1 with 175 points while tied for the lead Class 1-2/1600 and tied for third in overall points with 265 is Brian Wilson, 24, Randy and Ronny's nephew and son of Rick Wilson, 53, the oldest of the three Wilson brothers.

Tied with Brian Wilson for the lead in Class 1-2/1600 and tied for third with him in SCORE Overall points is Justin Smith, Capistrano Beach, Calif., who has two class wins this year in his Fraley-VW.

Eric Duran, Tecate, Calif., is driver of record for his family team and is fifth overall and third in Class 1-2/1600 in with 260 points in a Neth-VW.

SCORE points are based on starting and finishing as well as the number of starters in each class and placement position in every race. All class titles will go down to the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000.

The car and truck classes with the most entries to date in the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 are SCORE Trophy-Truck (32), Class 1 (23), Class 1-2/1600 (16), SCORE Lite (15) 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 16 entries to date.

Arizona's journeyman driver Pete Sohren received the first starting position during the Oct. 10 computerized drawing for the race. While the grizzled veteran Sohren will pilot his No. 2 Ford F-150 SCORE Trophy-Truck, starting first among the motorcycle and ATV classes will be the team led by promising newcomer Adam Thissen of Reno, Nev. on a KTM 550XC-W motorcycle.

Starting first in the ATV classes is the team led by Patrick Christensen, Pleasant Prairie, Wisc., who will ride a Yamaha Raptor in Class 25.

Sohren finished fourth in June's race, tying his best career SCORE Trophy-Truck race finish.

Drawing the second start in SCORE Trophy-Truck was Rick D. Johnson, Barstow, Calif., this year's Tecate SCORE Baja 500 winner, who drives the No. 71 Ford F-150. Last year's overall and SCORE Trophy-Truck winners in the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000, Roger Norman, Reno, Nev./Larry Roeseler, El Cajon, Calif., drew the 10th starting spot in the No. 8 Norman Motorsports Ford F-150.

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, 33 individuals have officially declared that they will be attempting to complete the course riding solo.

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.

Under the sponsorship of BFGoodrich Tires, live tracking will be available through www.BFGoodrichTires.com and BFG Relay and live audio and video steaming updates starting out on course on Monday, contingency, from the start/finish line and other locations around the course will be available at www.DirtNewz.com. The tracking of all vehicles in the race is provided by International Racing Consultants, the official provider of tracking devices for all participants in SCORE International races.

Many teams use this event as a fund-raiser for various charities.JAmong the groups and racers this year are:

-Locos Mocos Pit Team: Taco Stand at race mile 205/395 to benefit Mexican children with cancer through the Castro-Limon Cancer Foundation. www.fundacioncastrolimon.org

-Anna Cody Racing, No. 150x (Class 20): for team racer Roger Hurd who is living with Young Onset Parkinson's Disease. www.150xrockenracers.com/donatenow.htm

-Joe Bacal, No. 878 (Stock Full): Bacal, a cancer survivor, is driving to benefit the Cancer Treatment Centers of America.

-Robby Bell, No. 1x (Class 22): Blue C Wahoo's Penhall Racing team is donating 1000 cans of food and supplies to people of Baja through the Acts of Kindness organization. www.AOKnick.org

-Jim Graham, No. 1104 (Class 11): racing for the International Diabetes Foundation. www.idf.org

This year's Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 desert race will be televised on a delayed basis as a one-hour NBC Sports special, in association with SCORE and Aura360, for the sixth consecutive year. It is scheduled to air on NBC at 2 p.m. (EST) on Sunday, Dec. 19 on the NBC Television Network. It will also air on a delayed basis outside of the U.S. on ESPN International.

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.

-credit: www.score-international.com.

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