Whitton Leads G&R Racing -- Captures Third at the SCORE Tecate Baja 1000
La Paz, Baja California -- (November 19, 2006) Amid the banter between some of the world's top off road racers was the eldest of them all, G&R Racing's Ron Whitton.
He's the quiet, easy going, good natured gentleman who in his first full season of off road racing has been dubbed, "The Fast Grandpa." Hustling beneath the radar in his first complete season, Ron has not only captivated his grandchildren, but many desert racing aficionados have raised their eyebrows with keen interest as Whitton continues his march towards the end of the 2006 off road desert racing season.
Settled into the 27th starting position at the famed SCORE Tecate Baja 1000, Whitton was among the giants of professional off road desert racing as he positioned his #39 race truck in downtown Ensenada.
Starting behind him was NASCAR veteran and two-time SCORE Baja 1000 Trophy Truck winner Robby Gordon. In front of him was Monster Energy's super star, Alan Pflueger. Not far removed from the bumper of the #39 G&R Racing Trophy Truck was multiple Baja 1000 winner, Tim Herbst, driving the #19 Terrible Herbst Trophy Truck.
The eldest rookie in the field was surrounded by the sport's elite drivers. And to top it off, this was only Whitton's third SCORE Baja race and his fourth ever off road race in the country of Mexico.
Capping what seemed to be insurmountable odds against Whitton was that, only five months prior, as he charged from the start line in the same place at the 2006 SCORE Baja 500, Whitton suffered near disaster when he rolled his Trophy Truck within the first mile and a half of the race. Although, he masterfully managed to land his rolling truck on all four wheels, Whitton composed himself with the help of his astute co-driver/navigator, Gerald King, also know as "Smitty," and drove his battered and bruised truck to an impressive 11th place finish.
Only weeks prior to this year's granddaddy of off road races, Whitton took delivery of his brand new Geiser-built Ford F150 Prerunner. "My new prerunner truck is a beauty. It's a combination of sleek lines and big performance. I've prerun this course many times in my new truck and this is going to be a great race," commented Whitton several days prior to the race.
The buzz at the start line quickly faded as SCORE President, Sal Fish, shook each driver's hand and sent them into the wilds of the Baja Peninsula with haste. Whitton smiled as he listened to his navigator, Smitty, jokingly remark as they approached the start line behind the lions of the desert.
Whitton employed his race strategy early and after reaching race mile 122 he was a mere two minutes off the pace of multiple SCORE Baja 1000 winner and NASCAR veteran, Robby Gordon. As the race continued, so did the solid performance of The Fastest Grandpa.
Whitton's run down the peninsula could be considered by many as the top performance of the year by a SCORE Trophy Truck rookie driver, or perhaps only second to his son-in-law and teammate, Garron Cadiente's, victorious run at this year's SCORE San Felipe 250 race.
Nonetheless, the two rookies have shined big throughout the season.
While Whitton raged his #39 Trophy Truck towards La Paz, SCORE rookie phenom, Garron Cadiente, suffered his own adventure early in the race. Cadiente was staged to run wild from Ensenada to La Paz in this year's 39th SCORE Baja 1000. However, motor issues plagued the young driver and by race mile 215, just south of San Felipe, Garron's #38 truck suffered terminal failure, putting him on the sidelines for the remainder of the race.
Utilizing their many resources in this year's SCORE Baja 1000, G&R Racing teamed with yet another young gun professional off road racer, Todd LeDuc, in joining Ron Whitton in this year's race. LeDuc's professional career has blossomed in the past three years as he raced in three different off road racing series, CORR, BITD and SCORE. Todd LeDuc is the eldest son of championship off road racer, Curt LeDuc, who raced with Mark Post in the #3 Riviera Trophy Truck at this year's event.
Todd joined the fray midway down the peninsula near race mile 530 at San Ignacio and pushed the #39 G&R Racing Trophy Truck to the limits in his quest for the checkered flag.
The young Leduc explained at the finish line, "I had a good battle with my dad up by Loreto. He had to fuel. That's when I passed him and never saw him again. I'd rather have a flat than get stuck for two hours. I was just being careful and straddled the cactuses and drove through them...and here I am! I'm just glad to get a good finish."
Enduring the ultimate adventure in off road desert racing, SCORE rookie driver, Ron Whitton, secured a third place finish after 20 hours, 39 minutes and 51 seconds of pure bedlam.
"I'm not sure I can wait until next year, tomorrow I'll be ready to do it all over again!" said a smiling Ron Whitton.
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 third consecutive year, airing at 2:30 p.m. (EST) on Sunday, Dec. 10 on the NBC Television Network. It will also air on a delayed basis outside of the U.S. on ESPN International.
-credit: G&R Racing