Baja 1000: Series spotlight - Trophy-Truck

Over 300 entries expected Nov. 16-20 McMillins' vs. Jones point's showdown at forefront in field of 35 SCORE Trophy-Trucks for 43rd annual Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 1061.69-mile internationally-televised Granddaddy of all desert races also has...

Over 300 entries expected Nov. 16-20

McMillins' vs. Jones point's showdown at forefront in field of 35 SCORE Trophy-Trucks for 43rd annual Tecate SCORE Baja 1000

1061.69-mile internationally-televised Granddaddy of all desert races also has 11 of 16 former SCORE Trophy-Truck race champs entered in race down Mexico's Baja California peninsula

LOS ANGELES--With 35 of the world's best desert racers in the marquee SCORE Trophy-Truck starting grid, dust will fly next month but none higher than the point championship duel between third-generation desert racer Andy McMillin and cagy veteran Jesse Jones at the 43rd Annual Tecate SCORE Baja 1000. This year's legendary desert classic, the final event of the five-race 2010 SCORE Desert Series, will be held Nov. 16-20 in Mexico on a brutally-rugged 1061.69-mile Sal Fish signature desert race course.

With over 300 expected entries for cars, trucks, motorcycles and ATVs competing in 33 Pro and 7 Sportsman classes for cars, trucks, motorcycles and ATVs in the internationally televised race, entries have already come from 35 U.S. states and 16 countries.

Leading the car and truck classes into the Baja desert will be the featured SCORE Trophy-Trucks, the high-tech, 850-horsepower, unlimited production trucks that have been the stars of the sport since SCORE created the class in 1994.

Massive crowds reaching nearly 250,000 are anticipated to again be spread out along the rugged course that travels on both sides of the peninsula, the world's most famous desert race will start in Ensenada, Baja California and finish all the way down the peninsula in La Paz in Baja California Sur.

This year will be the 36th time in the first 43 years of the storied race that it has started in Ensenada and it will be the 18th time in has finished in La Paz.

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 mother of all desert races has been run over the mysterious and majestic Baja California peninsula.

With just six points separating San Diego's McMillin, who splits driving with his father Scott McMillin, National City, Calif., in the No. 31 McMillin Realty Ford F-150, and Jones, Litchfield Park, Ariz., who has lured five-time Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 class champion Larry Ragland, Cave Creek, Ariz., this battle promises to be a desert duel for the ages as both battle for the 2010 SCORE Trophy-Truck and 2010 SCORE Overall point championships. Andy McMillin has 321 championship points and Jones has 315.

While Andy McMillin has four career SCORE Trophy-Truck race wins, including two with his father, Jones has two and Ragland has an amazing 10, second-most in SCORE Trophy-Truck history.

Pre-race strategies have a way of disappearing like a mirage in the mysterious Baja desert, and while the McMillins and Jones/Ragland are punching it out in the badlands south of the border, a host of other great racers may claim the crown jewel of desert racing by winning the legendary Tecate SCORE Baja 1000.

On the silt-laden, rock-strewn trails of Baja, it's hard to imagine a more formidable field of contenders in SCORE Trophy-Truck than this year's magnificent field of hopeful Baja champions. Statistically, 14 drivers in this year's field have combined to win 81 of the 97 total races in the 16-plus-year history of the class, including 12 of the 16 former season point championships and 11 of the 16 race winners in the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 in SCORE Trophy-Truck. Icing on the desert cake is that drivers for the last seven consecutive SCORE Trophy-Truck winners in this race are entered again this year.

After an eighth-place finish in the season-opening SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge (in a used SCORE Trophy-Truck he purchased from McMillin Racing) Jones, won the ensuing MasterCraft Safety Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250 -- but not before he had already sold the truck to fellow SCORE racer Bryce Menzies. Jones followed that winning effort with a solid race in the Tecate SCORE Baja 500 -- in which he led nearly 300 of the 432.5 miles before suffering a transmission failure -- only to sell that new truck.

Jones, 44, is coming off a victory in the SCORE Terrible's Las Vegas Primm 300 -- a win that allowed Jones to pull within six points of McMillin, 24, and turn this year's Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 into a showdown for the Overall and SCORE Trophy-Truck championships. That Jones has been able to put together a championship-contending season in a year in which he has raced three different trucks in the first four races makes his run nothing short of remarkable.

And Jones wouldn't have it any other way.

"This is the best scenario; if I was sitting down and writing it out on paper, this would be exactly what I want to have," he said of his duel with Andy and Scott McMillin. "The McMillins are so tough and they're such a good team and we've really tried to model our team after them because they're a good group of people. They're well-organized, they come very, very prepared and they are definitely the guys to beat.

"You always want to be the leader but, at the same time, it's kind of fun to be the guy chasing someone else because he has a little more pressure on him than we do because this is his championship to lose."

McMillin has had an amazing season of his own, driving solo to victory at the season-opening SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge and with his father Scott to victory in the Tecate SCORE Baja 500. His other finishes this year were sixth in San Felipe and eighth in SCORE's premier racing class in Primm.

Meanwhile back at the 'stats' ranch, this year's SCORE Trophy-Truck field includes the top three winningest teams in class history led by Las Vegas brothers Tim and Ed Herbst with a record 11 career SCORE Trophy-Truck race wins in their No. 19 Terrible Herbst Motorsports Ford F-150. As if they needed more help, the hired gun they retained for this shootout is Baja legend Larry Roeseler, Huntington Beach, Calif., who has three career SCORE Trophy-Truck race wins on his resume and also has 17 class wins in this race.

Following Ragland's 10 wins, this year's SCORE Trophy-Truck lineup includes NASCAR team owner/driver Robby Gordon, Charlotte, N.C., (No. 1 Team Gordon Chevy CK1500), who has nine wins as well as Las Vegas' Rob MacCachren (No 20 MasterCraft Racing Ford F-150) and Mark Post, Laguna Beach, Calif. (No. 3 Riviera Racing Ford F-150), who each have a total of seven career race wins in the high-profile class including three while racing together. Post is teaming this year with Ryan Arciero, Foothill Ranch, Calif., who has three career SCORE Trophy-Truck race wins.

Las Vegas' Brian Collins, who has six career SCORE Trophy-Truck race wins, is teamed this year with driver of record Troy Herbst, also of Las Vegas, the youngest of the three Herbst brothers, in the No. 49 Terrible Herbst Motorsports Dodge Ram1500. While Troy Herbst has no SCORE Trophy-Truck race wins, he does have six career unlimited Class 1 victories in this race.

The other drivers entered this year with multiple career SCORE Trophy-Truck race wins include four-time winners Curt Leduc, Cherry Valley, Calif., who is set to be a driver for the team led by Nick Vanderwey, Phoenix, in the No. 84 Chevy Silverado and Jerry Whelchel, Portola Hills, Calif., who is teaming with San Diego's Brian Hess this year in the No. 88 Chevy C1500.

Las Vegas' B.J. Baldwin has three career SCORE Trophy-Truck race wins in the No. 97 Baldwin Motorsports Chevy Silverado and he will split driving this year with Chad Ragland, Vista, Calif., and his father Bobby Baldwin, also of Las Vegas.

Roger Norman, Reno, Nev., is a two-time SCORE Trophy-Truck race winner and won the 2008 Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 with Larry Roeseler. Norman is driving solo this year and has drawn the first starting slot in the No. 8 Norman Motorsports Ford F-150.

Bob Shepard, of Phoenix who was the 2005 SCORE Trophy-Truck season point champion, has two career SCORE Trophy-Truck race wins and will be the second driver for Rick D. Johnson, Barstow, Calif., who has one career race win in the class in Johnson's No. 71 Ford F-150.

Mexico's Gus Vildosola Jr./Gus Vildosola Sr., are the top Mexican national team in the race in the No. 21 Vildosola Racing Ford F-150. Gus Sr. has one career SCORE Trophy-Truck race win.

The most notable new team in SCORE Trophy-Truck for this race is Rod Hall Racing, the winningest family in the history of this race with 33 class wins between father Rod Hall (race-record 21 class wins) and sons Chad Hall (8) and Josh Hall (4). With Josh Hall as driver of record, the father and son team will split the driving in the No. 61 Rod Hall Racing Chevy Silverado, marking the Halls first race in SCORE Trophy-Truck. Rod Hall, who will be 73 on Nov. 22, is the only person who has raced in all 42 previous Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 races.

While many of the teams have no SCORE Trophy-Truck race wins, most have moved up from other classes where they have had much success.

Other entries among the stars in the talented 35-truck field in the marquee SCORE Trophy-Truck division are: Robbie Pierce/Mike Julson, Santee, Calif. (30-Chevy Silverado), Gary Weyhrich/Mark Weyhrich, Troutdale, Ore. (No. 9 Ford F-150), Mark McMillin, El Cajon, Calif./Chuck Hovey, Escondido, Calif. (No. 23 Ford F-150), Cameron Steele, San Clemente, Calif./Cody Stuart/Justin Smith, Capo Beach, Calif./Pat Dean, Las Vegas (No. 16 GMC Sierra), Damen Jefferies, Apple Valley, Calif./Mike Voyles, Murrieta, Calif. (No. 22 Chevy Silverado), Ed Stout, Irvine, Calif./Jay Manning, San Jose del Cabo, Mexico/Jason Batulis, Tustin, Calif. (13-Ford F-150), Jesse James, Austin, Texas (No. 54 Chevy Silverado), Mike Jenkins, Trego, Wisc./Josh Baldwin, Newport Beach, Calif. (No. 86 Ford F-150), Steve Strobel, Clarks, Neb./Dale Ebberts, Wilton, Calif. (No. 94 Chevy Silverado), Pete Sohren, Glendale, Ariz./Bill Hernquist, La Mesa, Calif. (No. 2 Ford F-150), Jimmy Nuckles, Brawley, Calif. (No. 48 Ford F-150) and Jason Voss/Rich Voss, Cupertino, Calif./John Swift, Santa Ynez, Calif. (No. 35 Chevy Silverado).

Mark McMillin, the older brother of Scott and uncle of Andy, is in his first full season 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 in the Class 1.

In addition to the 35 U.S. States, racers have entered from Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Guatemala, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, South Africa and the US Territory of Guam. With just over three weeks before the green flag drops on Thursday, Nov. 18, entries will be accepted up to race morning.

It will be the 43rd anniversary of the race shrouded in mystery that continues to lure adventurers and manufacturers from across the globe who all share the dream to conquer the Baja.

The race will start 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 at 6:30 a.m. (PST) with the motorcycle and ATV classes, followed at approximately 11:45 a.m. with the start of the car and truck classes. It will finish on the outskirts of La Paz near the Grand Plaza Hotel, race headquarters for the southern half of the event.

Pre-race festivities on Wednesday, Nov. 17, 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 Wednesday, Nov. 17 at 7 p.m. in the Cathedral Room at the Riviera del Pacifico Cultural Center. Racer registration will be held at the San Nicolas Resort Hotel from Saturday, Nov. 13 through Wednesday, Nov. 17. Media registration will be held at the San Nicolas Resort Hotel from Noon to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 16 and from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 17.

The post-race awards celebration and fiesta will be held on the Malecon in downtown La Paz, starting at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 20. The entire race will be conducted on Pacific Standard Time.

While entries will be accepted up to race morning, late entries will be assigned the next available number and starting position within each class.

The car and truck classes with the most entries to date are SCORE Trophy-Truck (35), Class 1 (18), SCORE Lite (11) and Class 1-2/1600 (10).

Among the motorcycle and ATV classes, Class 22 for open motorcycles has the most entries to date with nine.

Leading the six Sportsman classes in the race is Sportsman Motorcycle over 250cc which had 36 entries so far.

Pre-running on the majority of the race course from Ojos Negros to La Paz begins Wednesday and pre-running from the start line in Ensenada to Ojos Negros will be allowed only on Tuesday and Wednesday, Nov. 16 and 17. Pre-running from San Felipe to La Paz open on Oct. 8.

The challenging race course for this year is very similar to 2006, the last time the race finished in La Paz, although the terrain has obviously changed significantly because of weather conditions and natural use.

With 10 mandatory checkpoints spread down the peninsula, the course starts on the Pacific Ocean-side of Baja California in Ensenada and heads southeast to San Felipe on the Sea of Cortez before heading south through Coco's Corner, Bahia de Los Angeles, San Ignacio, back to the Pacific at San Juanico, then back to the Sea of Cortez at Loreto, back to the Pacific at Ciudad Insurgentes heading down along the Pacific through Santa Rita before turning back east and down into La Paz for the finish.

All entries are provided with GPS programs defining the course and all are required to utilize special data recording devices that plot the actual route and speeds each vehicle takes during the mammoth race.

In 2010, BFGoodrich Tires is celebrating the 35th year in SCORE Baja racing. In addition to being the official tire of SCORE International for three and a half decades, BFG has been the has produced the tire of choice for 23 of the overall 4-wheel vehicle winners in the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000, including 23 of the last 24 years and a record-run of 20 straight from 1986 through 2005.

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 seventh consecutive year, airing on Dec. 19 on the NBC Television Network. It will also air on a delayed basis outside of the U.S. on ESPN International. It is being produced again by Aura360, SCORE's electronic media partner, in association with SCORE.

As a special incentive to help bolster entries for the relatively new Class 4, Langley Productions owner and SCORE racer John Langley has posted a Special winner-take-all $10,000 SCORE/COPS Racing/BFG Tires bonus for the first-place finisher in the class for unlimited open-wheel, single or two-seat desert race cars with either a limited 2.2 or 2.4-liter GMC Ecotec sealed engine. COPS Racing, named for the popular television series produced by Langley Productions, has three vehicles entered in this year's race in three different classes.

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

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 car and truck class drivers who complete every required mile of the five-race season. Being presented by Toyota Motorsports for the 25th consecutive year, a total of 17 drivers remain eligible after Round 4 of the 2010 SCORE Desert Series. The total mileage for the 2010 season will be 2,133.88 miles. Racers are also competing for the annual SCORE Off-Roadsman of the Year awards, including the MasterCraft Safety SCORE Rookie of the Year award.

-source: www.score-international.com.

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Series Score
Drivers Justin Smith , Robby Gordon , Rob MacCachren , Damen Jefferies , Rod Hall , Larry Roeseler , B.J. Baldwin , Larry Ragland , Andy McMillin , Mark McMillin , Jesse James , Scott McMillin , Troy Herbst , Bryce Menzies