San Felipe: Round two preview

Nearly 225 Entries Ready Lineup for 16th Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250 Has 64 Racers with a Combined 114 Class Wins Round 2, 2002 Duralast SCORE Desert Series Saturday in Baja California, Mexico SAN FELIPE, Mexico--Long known for its popularity...

Nearly 225 Entries Ready
Lineup for 16th Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250 Has 64 Racers with a Combined 114 Class Wins

Round 2, 2002 Duralast SCORE Desert Series Saturday in Baja California, Mexico

SAN FELIPE, Mexico--Long known for its popularity among participants, the growing entry list for Saturday's 16th Annual Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250 desert race, will include at least 64 racers who have a combined 114 class wins. With 218 official entries to date, Round 2 of the six-race 2002 Duralast SCORE Desert Series will be held this weekend on the eastern side of Mexico's foreboding Baja California peninsula.

While many know of the quaint fishing village of San Felipe on the Sea of Cortez side of the Baja California peninsula only as a favorite party place for college students, it will be anything but a 'spring break' this weekend as racers compete in 24 classes for cars, trucks, motorcycles and ATVs in Round 2 of the 2002 Duralast SCORE Desert Series, America's Foremost Desert Racing Series.

With motorcycles and ATVs on the course first at 6 a.m. Saturday, the car and truck classes will begin racing at 7:30 a.m. All vehicles will leave the starting line under the landmark San Felipe Arches, by class, 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 227.79-mile desert odyssey.

The challenging course runs north, west and south of town and includes three major washes in the area: Huatomote, Chanate and the legendary Matomi Wash. Matomi, with its rugged rocks and narrow passes between sheer walls of granite, is considered to be 28 miles of 'Baja at its best'.

Entries have come from 11 U.S. States, Japan and Mexico to race in a counter-clockwise direction over the what is considered to be the quickest desert course in the six-race 2002 Duralast SCORE Desert Series.

The race has a split history, running for three years starting in 1982 and then resuming after a five-year layoff to run annually since 1990.

With 11 San Felipe class wins between them, Enduro Racing teammates Dan Smith and David Ashley, both of Riverside, Calif., will lead a field filled with former class and overall champions. The reigning SCORE Trophy-Truck point champion in their Ford F-150 have yet to win in SCORE Trophy-Truck in this race, Smith has an event-high seven class wins in San Felipe while 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 list with 10 SCORE season class crowns.

Among the other top 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.

While a dozen 750-horsepower high-tech SCORE Trophy-Trucks are entered, the largest classes so far are the unlimited Class 1 with 31 vehicles and Class 10 with 28. 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 among the race favorites.

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. Fifteen Southern Nevada racers are entered.

Racing for the first time in over a year will be Bekki Freeman, Henderson, Nev., the first lady of SCORE racing. Freeman, 31, will make her debut in SCORE Class 1 in her new Chevy-powered Jimco. She won the Class 1-2/1600 SCORE season championships in both 1998 and 2000 and finished second in 1999.

With four overall motorcycle wins in San Felipe, American Honda factory racer Johnny Campbell, San Clemente, Calif., will co-ride 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 class win 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.

First motorcycle off 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.

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.

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.

For more information, contact SCORE International's Los Angeles headquarters at (818) 225-8402 or visit the official website of the Duralast SCORE Desert Series at www.score-international.com.

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Series Score
Drivers Steve Smith , Steve Hengeveld , Andy Grider , Darren Skilton , Johnny Campbell