San Felipe: Event preview

SCORE Has 15 Defending Series Point Champions Entered in 16th Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250 Round 2, 2002 Duralast SCORE Desert Series March 2 in Baja California, Mexico Entries Climbing towards 200-plus LOS ANGELES--Fifteen of last year's...

SCORE Has 15 Defending Series Point Champions Entered in 16th Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250

Round 2, 2002 Duralast SCORE Desert Series March 2 in Baja California, Mexico
Entries Climbing towards 200-plus

LOS ANGELES--Fifteen of last year's SCORE point champions are among the growing entry field for next Saturday's 16th Annual Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250 desert race, giving promise to another exciting chapter in the event's colorful history. With 11 San Felipe class wins between them, Enduro Racing teammates Dan Smith and David Ashley, both of Riverside, Calif., top the field of 189 racers entered to date for Round 2 of the six-race 2002 Duralast SCORE Desert Series, to be held March 2 on the eastern side of Mexico's mysterious Baja California peninsula.

When final pre-race registration is complete, nearly 220 entries, competing in 24 classes for cars, trucks, motorcycles and ATVs, are expected to take the green flag on March 2. So far, official entries have come from 11 U.S. States, Japan and Mexico.

With motorcycles and ATVs on the course first at 6 a.m., the car and truck classes will begin racing at 7:30 a.m. Motorcycles/ATVs will leave the starting line under the landmark San Felipe Arches every 60 seconds while the starting sequence for the car/truck classes will be one every 30 seconds. The fastest vehicles are expected to finish the course in about four hours and all vehicles will have 10 hours, from the time each starts, to be considered an official finisher in the 226.5-mile desert odyssey.

First motorcycle of the line will be the open Class 22 American Honda XR650R of new factory racers Andy Grider, 28, of Los Olivos, Calif., and Las Vegas' Danny Cooper, 26.

Arizona's Bruce Greer, 38, and his co-driver Steve Smith, 31, who are both from Tucson, have drawn the first start in the car and truck classes, driving a Dodge Ram originally built and driven by desert-racing legend Walker Evans, in the featured SCORE Trophy-Truck division.

Among the other early entries are Las Vegas brothers Ed, 40, and Tim Herbst, 38, who were the overall and SCORE Trophy-Truck winners the last three years at the Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250. The eldest Herbst brothers split the driving in their Ford F-150 and they both have four class wins in this popular spring race.

The third and youngest of the Herbst brothers, 35-year old Troy, has won a record five consecutive unlimited Class 1 SCORE season championships in his Terrible Herbst Motorsports' Ford-powered Smithbuilt open-wheel desert race car, yet his only victory in San Felipe was in 2000. A dozen Southern Nevada racers are entered.

While a dozen 750-horsepower high-tech SCORE Trophy-Trucks are entered, the largest classes so far are the unlimited Class 1 with 29 vehicles and Class 10 with 25. Josh Wadell, 24 of Holtville, Calif., will start first in Class 1. Wadell drives a Honda-powered Chenowth open-wheel desert race car. Class 1 starts second, behind SCORE Trophy-Truck, in the elapsed-time race. Second off the line in Class 1 will be the race's oldest driver, San Diego's Corky McMillin, 73. It will be McMillin's first race since last September when he had back surgery. McMillin's sons Mark, 45, and Scott, 41, are also entered in Class 1 and all three are always among the race favorites.

Yet to win in SCORE Trophy-Truck in this race, Dan Smith has an event-high seven class wins in San Felipe while David Ashley has recorded four. Currently, the team has four straight SCORE wins in their Ford F-150, including this year's season-opening SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge, Jan. 26-27, in Southern Nevada. Smith, 38, who started his SCORE racing career on a motorcycle, is the all-time winningest SCORE class champion with 14 career class season titles. His teammate Ashley, 44, who has always raced on four wheels, is third on the all-time list with 10 SCORE season class crowns.

Like the Herbst family, the Greer family also has three brothers entered. Bruce Greer is the oldest of three brothers who are entered in the race. Glen Greer, 37, of Green Valley, Ariz., who will split driving time with Larry Fodrill, 22 of Glendale, Ariz., will start 11th in SCORE Trophy-Truck in another Dodge Ram while Thomas Greer, 27, of Tucson, will start eighth in Class 8 in another Dodge Ram. The Greers are veteran desert racers, although this will be their first in SCORE Trophy-Truck. All three trucks were built and driven by Walker Evans.

With four overall motorcycle wins in San Felipe, American Honda factory racer Johnny Campbell, San Clemente, Calif., will co-ride this year with last year's SCORE Class 22 point champion Steve Hengeveld, Oak Hills, Calif.

Two other four-time San Felipe class winners entered again this year are Darren Skilton, Lakewood, Calif., and Marc Stein, San Diego. Skilton, 34, a four-time SCORE Class 3 season champion, has moved up to the featured SCORE Trophy-Truck division in a new Kia Sorento, while Stein, 39, will again race a Ford F-150 in Stock Full, where he has won three SCORE season crowns.

Attempting to pull off a unique motorcycle double, 55-year old Jim O'Neal, Chatsworth, Calif., has entered both Class 30 and Class 40 on separate Honda XR650 bikes. The two-time defending SCORE Class 40 point champion must, under SCORE rules, either start of finish the race in order to receive points as the rider of record. Class 30 is for riders 30 years old and over while Class 40 is for riders 40 years old and over. As with nearly all entries, he will split driving time with teammates, helping to afford him this special opportunity.

While a motorcycle double has never been achieved in this SCORE race, Dan Smith and David Ashley pulled off double-doubles when they co-drove for each other in Class 3 and Class 4 in the 1992 Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250.

Four of last year's Duralast SCORE Desert Series point champions have switched classes for this season--Scott Steinberger, Jesse Jones, Ron Dalke and J. David Ruvalcaba. Steinberger, 34, Cypress, Calif., has moved from Protruck to the marquee SCORE Trophy-Truck in a Ford F-150 originally built and raced by Ed and Tim Herbst.

Jones, 36, Phoenix, won Class 8 last season, is building a SCORE Trophy-Truck, but is racing this season in the unlimited Class 1 in a Porsche-powered Jimco. Dalke, 38, of Tucson, has moved from SCORE Lite to Class 10 in his VW-powered Tatum desert race car.

Mexico's Ruvalcaba, 30, of Ensenada, will race his Honda XR650 motorcycle in Class 30 after winning the SCORE Class 21 title the past two seasons.

Bringing a higher economic impact to San Felipe than 'spring beak', pre-race festivities will include the colorful SCORE Manufacturer's Midway and vehicle inspection, which will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, March 1. The Midway will be held for the fourth year on the Malecon--the boardwalk next to the tranquil Sea of Cortez. Driver registration will also be held March 1 at Hotel Las Misiones, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Following the race, the awards celebration will be held at 9 p.m. Saturday (March 2) downtown on the Malecon.

- www.score-international.com.

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