Baja 500: Round three preview

This weekend in Mexico Collins Motorsports in 4-wheel, Honda in M/C and ATV all seeking 3-peat Overalls at 40th Tecate SCORE Baja 500 Ensenada to host over 300 entries from 24 States, 9 countries; 'live' vehicle tracking online at ...

This weekend in Mexico
Collins Motorsports in 4-wheel, Honda in M/C and ATV all seeking 3-peat Overalls at 40th Tecate SCORE Baja 500

Ensenada to host over 300 entries from 24 States, 9 countries; 'live' vehicle tracking online at www.racetheworld.net

ENSENADA, Mexico--Las Vegas' Collins Motorsports in SCORE Trophy-Truck and American Honda in Class 22 and Class 25 are hoping to capture their third straight overall 4-wheel, motorcycle and ATV victories in this weekend's t0th Annual Tecate SCORE Baja 500, the second-oldest desert race in the world.

Round 3 of the five-race 2008 SCORE Desert Series, the World's Foremost Desert Racing Series, featuring over 300 entries, competing in 27 Pro and 6 Sportsman classes for cars, trucks, motorcycles and ATVs, will be held in Ensenada, Mexico, with pre-race activities starting Thursday and racing starting on Saturday and lasting until early Sunday morning. Traditionally one of the most popular events on the SCORE schedule, over 100,000 spectators are expected to enjoy the world's best desert racers in action at this year's 40th anniversary of the Tecate SCORE Baja 500.

With late entries accepted up to race morning, entries are expected for the 441.15-mile race from 24 U.S. States from Hawaii to Connecticut, Mexico, Canada, France, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Italy and Japan.

The green flag will drop for the elapsed-time race at 6 a.m. on Saturday for the motorcycle and ATV classes in the Tecate SCORE Baja 500, followed by the car and truck classes three hours after the last ATV at approximately 9:30 a.m. In the elapsed-time race, motorcycles and ATVs will start one every 15 seconds, while the faster car/truck classes will start one every 30 seconds and the slower ones will start in 15-second intervals. All starters will have a 20-hour time limit to become official finishers.

This race began in 1969 under the auspices of the old NORRA organization and SCORE began its enduring run on July 26, 1974. This year is the 35th anniversary of the first SCORE race in Baja.

"SCORE desert racing and Baja have almost become synonymous over all these decades and we look forward to a great celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Tecate SCORE Baja 500 this week in Ensenada," said Sal Fish, SCORE CEO/President since soon after SCORE was founded in 1973 by the late Mickey Thompson. "The people of Baja have embraced SCORE and desert racing to the point where an entire off-road industry is blossoming in Baja California because of the legacy that SCORE has built for all these glorious years. We sincerely appreciate the dedicated and tireless work by government officials in Baja and in Ensenada to help us continue the rich tradition of SCORE desert racing in Baja."

For the first time in the 40-year history of the Tecate SCORE Baja 500 desert race, the colorful pre- race Manufacturer's Midway and Contingency, the start and the finish line will all be located in the heart of Ensenada, Mexico on Boulevard Costero adjacent to the historic Riviera del Pacifico Cultural Center. It will be first time in race history that the pre-race activities and the finish will be held on this historic boulevard. The SCORE Manufacturer's Midway will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday.

Pre-race festivities will launch on Thursday, when Mexico's El Vigia newspaper hosts its annual SCORE Meet the Racers Fiesta from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Ventana al Mar Plaza.

Racer registration will again be held in the Grand Ballroom of the San Nicolas Hotel. Registration hours will be from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday, May 29 and from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Friday.

The awards celebration will be held poolside at the San Nicolas Hotel on Sunday at 10 a.m.

Volkswagen has been selected as the Grand Marshall for this year's race and will be represented at the event by Clark Campbell, Volkswagen of America Motorsports Manager.

The talented field of veteran desert racers includes 21 defending class champions out of the 25 Pro classes that had finishers in last year's race that had an all-time SCORE record of 492 starters.

All three overall winners from last year's race are entered and all three have won their respective categories two consecutive years.

Las Vegas' Brian Collins, Las Vegas, returns seeking a third straight overall 4-Wheel vehicle victory with new teammate Chuck Hovey, Escondido, Calif. Collins, who drives the No. 12 Collins Motorsports Mopar Dodge Ram 1500, won the last two years in a Chevy Silverado with Larry Ragland as his second driver.

Returning as the two-time overall motorcycle and Class 22 champs is the team of Robby Bell, Murrieta, Calif./Kendall Norman, Santa Barbara, Calif., on the No. 1x Honda CRF450X.

Back to defend their overall ATV and Class 25 victory is the team of Danny Prather, Ramona, Calif./Mike Cafro, Carlsbad, Calif., on the new No. 1a Honda TRXX700. Splitting the seat time with Prather and Cafro this year will be Chad Prull, Laveen, Ariz., and Levi Marana, Hemet, Calif.

Collins/Hovey drew the eighth starting spot in SCORE Trophy-Truck while Bell/Norman will be fourth off the line in Class 22 and Prather/Cafro/Prull/Marana will start seventh in Class 25.

To date, the Pro 4-Wheel vehicles classes with the most entries are: Class 1 (23), SCORE Trophy-Truck (21), Class 1-2/1600 (20), Class 5/1600 (16) and SCORE Lite (13).

Leading the Motorcycle classes in entries so far are Class 22 (18) and Class 30 (11).

Class 24 leads the ATV classes with 15 entries while Class 25 has 11.

Among the Sportsman classes, SPT Motorcycles over 250cc has 39 entries.

Among the entries is venerable veteran Rod Hall, Reno, Nev., who has entered the Stock Mini class in a Hummer H3. Hall, 70, is tied for first with 17 class wins in the Tecate SCORE Baja 500. Hall's son Josh and Chad will driver separate Hummers in the Stock Full class. Josh will drive a Hummer H2SUT and Chad will drive a Hummer H3Alpha.

Larry Roeseler, who has 16 class wins, including a race-record 11 overall victories (a race-record nine on motorcycles), will return as the second driver for Roger Norman in the No. 8 Roger Norman Racing Ford F-150 SCORE Trophy-Truck. Roeseler had been the second driver the last several years for Troy Herbst in Class 1 where the pair teamed up to win Class 1 in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2006. They were also the overall 4-wheel winners in 2002 and 2003.

Besides Hall and Roeseler, the other top multiple class winners in this race who are entered this year are led by Jim O'Neal, Simi Valley, Calif., leading teams in both Class 30 and Class 50 motorcycle age group divisions, has 11 career class race wins, Mexico's team of Marcos Nunez/Norberto Rivera, racing in Class 5/1600, who have eight class wins and motorcycle legend Steve Hengeveld, Oak Hills, Calif., who will be making his SCORE Trophy-Truck debut as the second driver for Chad Ragland in the No. 33 TForce Motorsports Toyota Tundra, with seven class wins, including six overall motorcycle titles.

Other multiple class winners entered this year include: Mexico's Eric Solorzano, six wins in Class 8, Nick Vanderwey, Phoenix, making his SCORE Trophy-Truck debut in this race in the No. 84. gotmilkracing Chevy Silverado after six Class 8 wins as well as Mike Cafro (Class 25), Johnny Campbell (Class 22), Rob MacCachren (SCORE Trophy-Truck), Donald Moss (Class 3) and George Seeley (Class 5), who each have five career class wins in this challenging race.

Several crossover/celebrity racers are already entered in this year's race, led by NASCAR's Robby Gordon. A second generation desert racer, Gordon, who has four class wins and three overalls in this race, is a NASCAR team owner/driver and is entered in SCORE Trophy-Truck in the No. 77 Chevy Silverado.

Rick D. Johnson, Barstow, Calif., also has four class wins in this race and will be making his SCORE Trophy-Truck debut as the driver of record in the No. 71 Place Racing Ford F-150.

Germany's Armin Schwarz, whose World Rally Championship career saw 119 starts, won Class 1 in this year's Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250 with Martin Christensen, Escondido, Calif. and are currently fourth in Class 1 points in a Jimco-BMW. Making his SCORE race debut in Jimco-Chevy in this race will be German Rally ace Armin Kremer. Kremer will team with SCORE regular Adam Pfankuch, Carlsbad, Calif., who is also racing in Class 1-2/1600 where he is the class and series co-leader in points.

Arizona real estate mogul Ken Losch, a team owner/driver in the Indy Lights series, will be driving a Ford F-150 in the Protruck class.

Two celebrity drivers who are all SCORE regulars are SCORE Trophy-Truck drivers Cameron Steele and Jesse James.

Steele, San Clemente, Calif., is a TV sports announcer for Supercross and X Games and until the IndyCar merger this year was a Champ Car pit reporter. The Steele family and Desert Assassins race team drew three of a kind for this race as three family members each received the second starting position in their respective classes. Cameron will drive the No. 36 GMC Sierra in SCORE Trophy-Truck, while his wife Heidi will drive a Ford Ranger in Class 7SX (the class she leads in points) and his younger brother Grant will ride a Honda CRF450X in Class 22.

James, whose wife is legendary motion picture star Sandra Bullock, lives in Sunset Beach, Calif., owns the world-famous West Cost Choppers company and was the star of the old Monster Garage television series. He will drive the No. 54 Chevy Silverado in SCORE Trophy-Truck.

Debuting her new race team in SCORE Lite will be prominent Automotive electronic and print journalist Barbara Terry, Clover, South Carolina, who will be the driver of record in a Bunderson-VW for this race and the season-ending Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 in November.

With mandatory tracking equipment, supplied and overseen by International Racing Consultants of Southern California, near real-time tracking of the race will be available online at racetheworld.net.

Aura360, SCORE's electronic media partner, will be filming this year's race to be televised in 22 countries on ESPN International while the domestic telecast is being finalized and will be announced shortly. Aura360 is also producing the exclusive Tecate SCORE Baja 500 40th anniversary DVD which will be available online at thebajaunlimited.com.

The 2008 SCORE Desert Series also includes the chase for the $20,000 Volkswagen Point Leader Bonus and the run for the Toyota Milestone Awards. Volkswagen has also posted a special $5,000 cash contingency bonus for the highest-finishing VW-powered race vehicle in this race.

-credit: www.score-international.com.

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Series Score
Drivers Robby Gordon , Rob MacCachren , Rod Hall , Steve Hengeveld , Armin Schwarz , Armin Kremer , Larry Roeseler , Ken Losch , Larry Ragland , Jesse James , Troy Herbst