Laughlin: Pre-race notes

Jan. 18-21 in Laughlin, Nev. B.J. Baldwin, G. Weyhrich to defend SCORE Trophy-Truck, Class 1 wins among 217 early entries in 13th SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge Final field of nearly 250 expected; Four-day event starts with $16,000 SCORE ...

Jan. 18-21 in Laughlin, Nev.
B.J. Baldwin, G. Weyhrich to defend SCORE Trophy-Truck, Class 1 wins among 217 early entries in 13th SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge

Final field of nearly 250 expected; Four-day event starts with $16,000 SCORE Laughlin Leap on Jan. 18

LOS ANGELES--Hoping to start the New Year just like they did last year, Las Vegas' B.J. Baldwin in the featured SCORE Trophy-Truck division and Oregon's Gary Weyhrich in the unlimited Class 1 are both returning to defend their titles in the top two classes in next week's SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge.

Baldwin, 27, is the returning Overall and SCORE Trophy-Truck winner in his No. 1 Chevy Silverado while Weyhrich, Troutdale, Ore., is the defending champ in the unlimited Class 1 in his Chevy-powered Jimco open-wheel desert race car.

For the 13th straight year, motorsports fans and racers from 12 States, Mexico, Canada and Japan will flock to Laughlin, Nev., the desert resort town along the shores of the Colorado River for the vastly popular SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge. The first major U.S. motorsports event of the year will be held next week, launching the six-race 2007 SCORE Desert Series, the world's foremost desert racing series.

When late registration is complete, 250 expected entries will compete for nearly $400,000 in prize money and contingency postings during the four day SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge.J A total of 17 different Pro and two Sportsman classes for cars and trucks will be split into seven groups in Laughlin, each running as part of one of separate multiple-lap races over the much-abbreviated 6-mile loop each day. Racing action runs from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. next Saturday and Sunday (Jan. 20-21). The marquee racing division is SCORE Trophy-Truck, featuring high-tech, 800-horsepower, unlimited production trucks along with the unlimited Class 1 for open-wheel desert race cars. Those two classes will run the final two races each day, six laps each, with SCORE Trophy-Truck at 2:30 p.m., followed by Class 1 at 3:45 p.m.

With one class win (Laughlin) and five top six finishes, B.J. Baldwin, 27, who has been desert racing since he graduated from Durango High School in Las Vegas in 1997, captured the 2006 season point championship in the featured SCORE Trophy-Truck division in the Baldwin Motorsports No. 1 Chevy Silverado and finished third in the SCORE Overall standings. It was his first SCORE season point championship.

"I'd like to do the same thing as I did last year-win the SCORE Trophy-Truck season point championship," said Baldwin. "I would like to win a couple of races, but I really want to repeat as the season champion. Last year was the first year in our new Chevy Silverado and it did incredibly well. This year we are putting a new Kroyer Racing motor in the truck, giving us a little more horsepower, but a lot more torque overall, especially in third gear, for better traction and turning. Laughlin is more of a stadium-style race and whoever goes the fastest and doesn't crash wins. To win the SCORE Baja 1000 who also have to be very smart and my goal is to become both fast and smart as a racer. I got a lot respect last year for what we did and I am very, very passionate about defending our title in 2007."

A near race-record 31 vehicles have entered to date in the featured SCORE Trophy-Truck division, including a total of seven former race winners.

Besides B.J. Baldwin, the other returning SCORE Trophy-Truck Laughlin winners are Las Vegas brothers Ed and Tim Herbst, Rob MacCachren, Brian Collins and Mark Post.

Las Vegas brothers Ed and Tim Herbst are the winningest team in class history with 11 career race wins, including three in Laughlin (1997, 1999, 2000), in the No. 19 Terrible Herbst Motorsports Ford F-150.

Las Vegas' Rob MacCachren, a seven-time SCORE season point champion, is officially entered in multiple classes this year for the fourth straight year. MacCachren, who won two classes and finished second in another in the 2004 race, will drive one day in the No. 3 Riviera Racing Ford F-150 in SCORE Trophy-Truck for team owner Mark Post and will drive both days in Class 1-2/1600 in a Fraley-VW and in Class 10 in Will Higman's Kreger-Honda.

MacCachren, who won three races and finished second in Class 1-2/1600 in 2005, was voted for the second time in his storied career to the first team of the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association (AARWBA) All-American motorsports team in 2005 in the at-large category. He was previously selected to the First Team in 2001 and the second team in 2004. He is one of only three SCORE desert racers ever selected to the AARWBA All-America first team, joining Ivan Stewart (1990, 1993, 1995) and Roger Mears (1985, 1991).

Post, San Juan Capistrano, Calif., has two career class wins in Laughlin, one in Class 1 (1997) and the other in SCORE Trophy-Truck (2003).

Collins, a second-generation desert racer from Las Vegas, won the SCORE Trophy-Truck division in the 2001 SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge and will team again this year with veteran Larry Ragland, Cave Creek, Ariz., in the No. 12 Collins Motorsports Chevy Silverado.

Collins Motorsports, of Las Vegas, will be prepping and providing pit support for four entries in SCORE Trophy-Truck and one in Class 1-2/1600in Laughlin. Besides his own No. 12 SCORE Trophy-Truck, Collins Motorsports will be assisting the SCORE Trophy-Trucks B.J. Baldwin, MGM/Mirage Resorts key executives Bobby Baldwin, B.J.'s father, in the No. 96 Chevy Silverado and Bill McBeath, making his SCORE Trophy-Truck debut, in the No. 91 Chevy Silverado.

Andy McMillin, Poway, Calif., who finished third in Class 1 points in 2005 with his father Scott and fourth in SCORE Trophy-Truck points last year with NASCAR Team owner/driver Robby Gordon, will race this season again in SCORE Trophy-Truck, teaming once again with his father in the No. 31 McMillin Racing Chevy CK1500.

This year, Gordon has announced that Team Gordon's driver of record in the No. 77 Chevy CK1500 will be Travis Coyne, 27, El Centro, Calif. Gordon's NASCAR schedule provides him with the opportunity to race in the Tecate SCORE Baja 500, the SCORE Las Vegas Terrible's Cup III and the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000. Coyne's father Marty Coyne drives the No. 5 Coyne Motorsports Ford F-150.

Besides Gary Weyhrich, six other Laughlin Class 1 winners back this year are Las Vegas' Troy Herbst (1999 and 2004, Smithbuilt-Ford), Dale Ebberts, Canyon Lake, Calif. (2003, 2005, Jimco-Toyota), John Herder, Tucson (1998, Jimco-VW), brothers Gary and Mark Weyhrich, Troutdale, Ore. (2000, Chenowth-Chevy) and Steve Sourapas, Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. (2001, Jimco-Chevy). Former Class 1 Laughlin winners Ed Herbst (1995) and Mark Post (1997) are both now stars in the marquee SCORE Trophy-Truck division.

Ebberts, who has three career SCORE season class point titles as well as the 2003 SCORE Overall point crown and three class wins in Laughlin, is the only racer who has won the Overall title twice in Laughlin, winning in both 2003 and 2005. Both years, he came from behind on the second day of racing to cement his victories. While his two overalls both came in Class 1, his first Laughlin class win in 2000 was in Class 1-2/1600.

Gary Weyhrich drove solo to start the season last year, as did his younger brother Mark, but they pair joined forces for the rest of 2006, finishing a close second in Class 1 points to Troy Herbst, who won a SCORE-record seventh Class 1 and a SCORE-record fourth Overall point championship last season.

Southern California's Josh Baldwin and Arizona's Byron Ashley received the No. 1 starting positions in the top two classes in the computerized draw for starting positions held, by class, at the SCORE headquarters in Los Angeles on Dec. 28.

Josh Baldwin, 30, Newport Beach, Calif., a veteran SCORE desert racer whose older brother and 2004 SCORE Trophy-Truck season point champion Jason Baldwin died tragically in a 2005 airplane crash, will pilot the No. 86 Baldwin Motorsports Ford F-150. Josh Baldwin was eighth in SCORE Trophy-Truck points last year and third in 2005.

Bryon Ashley, 52, of Litchfield Park, Ariz., will drive a Chevy-powered Tatum open-wheel desert race car.

Class 1 leads the way with 44 entries to date, followed by SCORE Trophy-Truck with 31, Class 1-2/1600 with 30, SCORE Lite with 23, and Class 10 with 21. A total of 217 entries have been received to date.

Drawing the first starting positions in those high-entry classes were Ashley (Class 1), Josh Baldwin (SCORE Trophy-Truck), Aaron Hawley, Las Vegas (Class 1-2/1600), Randy Ross, Oak Hills, Calif. (SCORE LIte) and David Reyes, National City, Calif. (Class 10). It is the second straight year Reyes has drawn the first start in Class 10.

Because of the race format, several racers will compete in more than one class. Leading the way will be TV motorsports and action sports announcer Cameron Steele, San Clemente, Calif. Steele, who was voted by the SCORE membership as the 2006 SCORE Person of the Year, will be the driver of record in four classes, including the No. 16 Desert Assassins Ford F-150 in SCORE Trophy-Truck.

Steele, whose wife Heidi Steele drew the first start in a Ford Ranger in Class 7SX, will also be the primary driver in Class 1, Class 10 and SCORE Lite. Steele will split driving duties in Class 1, Class 10 and SCORE LIte with fellow second-generation desert racers Darren Hardesty in Class 1 and Kash Vessels in Class 10 and SCORE Lite.

Todd Wyllie, New River, Ariz., has also entered two classes, SCORE Trophy-Truck and Class 8. Wyllie won the SCORE Class 8 season point crown the last in 2004 and 2005.

Daily general admission tickets for the primary infield stadium grandstand seating, are $20 each for each day (Thursday, Saturday and Sunday), children five and under are free. Daily VIP tickets are $40 each for each of the three days, good for admission to the Laughlin Hospitality Chalet, including food beverage and special seating.

The stadium seating area will include the immensely popular SCOREvision large-screen LCD display, showing live footage from nearly 95 percent of the race course.

Advance tickets for the Laughlin Events Park are on sale at 800.308.2253.

Tickets will also be available at the gate for the only other spectator area for the event, the popular 'SCORE Hill', which overlooks the infield, start/finish area and the main pits. The SCORE Hill will have grandstands and standing room areas along with vendors, concessions and other public safety services available. General Admission tickets will be $5 per person.

One of the event's most popular features, the SCORE Laughlin Leap, revs up the fun and gets the weekend off to a roaring start at 6 p.m. next Thursday (Jan. 18). Drivers and pit crews will share the spotlight at the Laughlin Events Park, competing for a $16,000 purse and the honor of being the 2007 champions. The SCORE Laughlin Leap, a dirt ramp built into the middle of the stadium infield, challenges the most daring of drivers. This year's competitors will be looking to break the SCORE Laughlin Leap record set in 2004 by Mark Post in the No. 3 Riviera Racing Ford F-150 (160' 6").

The Events Park with grandstand seating, vendor's village and food court is just minutes from the destination's nine resorts and includes an infield packed with switchbacks, woop-t-doos, minijumps and the Laughlin Leap.

The 13th annual SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge is sponsored by the Laughlin Tourism Committee, the Laughlin Visitors Bureau, and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority in association with Las Vegas Events. The race is sanctioned and produced by SCORE International of Los Angeles.

-credit: score

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Series Score
Drivers Robby Gordon , Rob MacCachren , Jason Baldwin , Roger Mears , B.J. Baldwin , Mark Post , Larry Ragland , Tim Herbst , Andy McMillin , Troy Herbst , Heidi Steele