Baja 1000 Motorcycle pre-race notes

Riding separately this year - Campbell and Hengeveld both hoping to lead Honda to 10th straight overall M/C win in 39th SCORE Baja 1000 Ron Bishop returning for his 39th consecutive motorcycle start; race-record of nearly 440 entries set for...

Riding separately this year - Campbell and Hengeveld both hoping to lead Honda to 10th straight overall M/C win in 39th SCORE Baja 1000

Ron Bishop returning for his 39th consecutive motorcycle start; race-record of nearly 440 entries set for next week's classic in Mexico

LOS ANGELES--Motorcycles started the legend of desert racing in Mexico's Baja California pensinsula and their presence is still felt as Baja legends Steve Hengeveld and Johnny Campbell are hoping to lead Honda to it's 17th overall motorcycle victory in next week's 39th Tecate SCORE Baja 1000

This year's odyssey of 1,050.83 miles will be a grueling adventure down Mexico's mysterious and majestic Baja California peninsula starting in Ensenada, Baja California and finishing in La Paz, Baja California, Sur. It will be held Nov. 14-18. The event will be the season-finale of the six-race 2006 SCORE Desert Series, the world's foremost desert racing series.

An amazing race-record total of 438 vehicles have officially entered to date and nearly 450 are expected by the time late registration closes on race morning.

The colorful history of motorcycles in the granddaddy of all desert races includes the vintage exploits of motorcycle legends Malcolm Smith, J.N. Roberts, Larry Roeseler, Jack Johnson, Ted Hunnicutt Jr., Paul Krause and the late Danny Hamel. For 32 of the first 38 years, motorcycles have recorded the fastest overall times in the event. The last 4-wheel vehicle winner to beat the time of the motorcycles was Ivan Stewart, who did it in 1993 while winning the unlimited Class 1 in Toyota SR5 truck.

For motorcycles, Honda has won 16 overalls, followed by Husqvarna with 11, Kawasaki 9, and Yamaha 2.

Ron Bishop, 63, of Escondido, Calif., will return to increase his start streak to 39 years, Bishop is the only individual to start every year on a motorcycle. With four class wins, he will be a co-rider this year in Class 22on the No. 22x BMW HP2 motorcycle led by rider of record Beau Hayden, 28, Shadow Hills, Calif.

This year's memorable adventure will cover 1,050.83 miles of the rugged and tortuous Baja California peninsula, starting on the Pacific Ocean side and stretching across and down the majestic peninsula to the Sea of Cortez side, back to the Pacific before winding back again to the Sea of Cortez and the finish line.

Nearly 440 entries from 38 U.S. States and 11 countries, competing in 28 Pro and 7 Sportsman classes for cars, trucks, motorcycles and ATVs will be part of this year's tribute to the sport of desert racing. The race is the season-finale of the six-race 2006 SCORE Desert Series, the world's foremost desert racing series.

The motorcycle and ATV classes will start their journey at 6:30 a.m. (Thursday, Nov. 16) with the car and truck classes starting at approximately 10:30 a.m., or three hours after the last ATV leaves the line. Vehicles will leave in 30-second intervals in the elapsed-time race and while the fastest finishers are expected to complete the course in approximately 17 hours, the time limit in the elapsed-time race is 43 hours.

Since 1997, the motorcycle battle in the most storied desert race of all time has been all about Honda's Johnny Campbell. Five of this year's riders have combined for 13 overall motorcycle victories in this race.

Leading the motorcycle field again this year are the legendary American Honda riders Hengeveld, 31, Oak Hills, Calif., and Campbell, 35, San Clemente, Calif., although for the first time since 2001, they won't be on the same motorcycle. Campbell has nine consecutive overall motorcycle victories in this race, including the last five with the Hengeveld, who has earned his Baja legend status as well.

As the rider of record on the No. 1x Honda CRF450X, Hengeveld also has one other motorcycle class win in this race. In 2002, Hengeveld and Campbell set an average speed record in this race for a motorcycle, averaging an incredible 62.45mph.

Campbell, who has been elevated to team manager this year, has not raced since last year and has decided to continue competing in this event until his incredible record-setting winning streak is broken. He will be the third rider on the No. 6X Honda CRF450X behind rider of record Robby Bell, 21, Murrieta, Calif., and second rider Kendall Norman, 22, Santa Barbara, Calif. Campbell hascontinued to train with both Honda factory teams and has always been ready to pinch hit, if needed.

Splitting the riding time with Hengeveld this year will be Mike Childress, 21, Wrightwood, Calif. and Quinn Cody, 28, who like Norman, lives in Santa Barbara. Childress is in his second season riding with Hengeveld and the pair along with Johnny Campbell, won last year's Tecate SCORE Baja 1000. Cody is a veteran rider who has been added to the team for this long-distance endurance race down the Baja peninsula. Each rider is expected to ride about one-third of the race with Hengeveld, known as a great night rider, taking the final stretch of about 362 miles from La Purisma to La Paz.

Norman was part of the overall champion team in 2004 as the third rider with Hengeveld and Campbell. Bell and Norman are leading this year's Class 22 point standings heading into the season finale in Baja.

"After looking up to him as my mentor for so many years, then being fortunate enough to race on the same team with him for five straight years, it will definitely feel strange to be riding against Johnny (Campbell) instead of with him," said Hengeveld, who will be riding the lighter Honda CRF450X in this race for this first time this year. "Johnny is a legend, but we would also like to be the team that kept our streak alive and ended his. The Honda CRF450X is a great motorcycle. It is lighter than the Honda XR650R that we raced so successfully for so many years and we're looking forward to giving it a good workout next week in Baja. The 450 weighs about 70 pounds less than the 650, is faster out of the corners and gets up to speed quicker."

The all-time race-record for starters in the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000, 346, was set 29 years ago in 1977 (Ensenada to Ensenada), and the race-record for starters when the race runs the length of the peninsula to La Paz, 307, was set in 1992.

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.

While there are a total of 125 Pro and Sportsman motorcycles entered to date, the clear favorites are the factory Honda teams of Hengeveld and Bell.

Leading the group of hopeful overall winners is the team led rider of record Brian Pinard, 32, Wildomar, Calif. Riding the No. 301x Honda XR650R in Class 30 (for riders over 30 years old), Pinard and teammate Taber Murphy, 32, Wenatchee, Wash., lead the SCORE overall motorcycle point standings with 143 points compared to 141 for the Bell/Norman duo.

Anna Cody, 38, Camarillo, Calif., is the older sister of Hengeveld's teammate Quinn Cody. A veteran desert racer, she is returning to the starting grid this year with a serious goal in mind. Racing on the No. 18x Honda XR650R, she will attempt to become the first female rider to ever solo on a motorcycle in the 39-year history of this legendary race.

Anna Cody is also running the event as a fund-raiser for the American Cancer Society, in memory of her long-time racing teammate Lillie Sweetland, who lost her battle with breast cancer in 2001.

Attempting to pull off triple class wins, Jim O'Neal, 60, of Chatsworth, Calif., is racing in three different Honda XR650R age-group motorcycle classes--Class 40, Class 50 and Class 60. In Class 40 and Class 50, O'Neal, owner of the noted apparel manufacturing company that bears his name, is rider of record for a pair of talented teams while in Class 60 he will be a co-rider for the team led by Donald Lewis, 62, of Marlborough, Ct.

Another super-talented age-group entry is the Class 50 team led by Chris Haines, 55, Dana Point, Calif. Riding a Honda XR650R, Haines and co-riders Jack Johnson, 54, Boulder City, Nev., and Richard Jackson, 60, Acton, Calif., have a combined total of 28 class wins in this race. Haines leads with 12 (including seven straight), followed by Johnson with 11 (including four Overall motorcycle wins) and Jackson with five.

Noted TV action sports and Champ Car sportscaster Cameron Steele, 38, San Clemente, Calif., will also be attempting for the trifecta, racing in Class 22 as well as SCORE Trophy-Truck and Class 1.

In Class 22, Steele will lead a team on the No. 19x Honda XR650R. His co-riders will be his younger brother Grant Steele, 31, Hemet, Calif., and record-setting motorcycle long-distance jumping champion Trigger Gumm, 33, Mission Viejo, Calif.

There are 126 total motorcycle entries to date and 30 of them, including Anna Cody, will be attempting to cover the entire course by riding solo. Of the group, 11 are entered in Pro classes, while 19 of them will be riding in a Sportsman class.

There are also 26 total ATV entries to date and four of them (1 Pro and 3 Sportsman) will be attempting to cover the entire course by riding solo.

Leading contenders for the ATV overall victory are defending SCORE Desert Series point Champion Josh Frederick, Moapa, Nev., along with the top three current point leaders in 2006, Wayne Matlock, El Cajon, Calif. (146 points), Danny Prather, Ramona, Calif. (132) and Alex Camanini, El Cajon, Calif. (130). Frederick and his team will ride a Can-Am Renegade while the other three teams will all be on Honda TRX450R ATVs.

The Pro 4-Wheel classes with the most entries to date are SCORE Trophy-Truck with a race-record tying 34, Class 1-2/1600 (30), Class 1 (29), SCORE Lite (21), Micron Technology Baja Challenge and Class 5/1600 (20 each), Protruck (19), Class 10 (12).

In the Pro Motorcycle classes, the unlimited Class 22 has 24 entries so far while Class 30 (riders over 30 years old) has 15 and Class 40 (riders over 40), has 11.

Leading the six Sportsman classes in the race is Sportsman Motorcycle over 250cc which has a race-record 53 entries to date.

The Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 is the oldest and most well known of all desert races, and it remains as the single most appealing accomplishment to a driver. Since 1967, the mother of all desert races has been run over the mysterious Baja California peninsula.

With massive crowds reaching over 300,000 anticipated to again be spread out along the point-to-point race course, the race will start for the 32nd time in Ensenada and will finish for the 17th time in La Paz.

Pre-race festivities on Wednesday, Nov. 15, for the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000, including tech and contingency and the SCORE Manufacturer's Midway will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. across from the San Nicolas Hotel. The pre-race mandatory driver/rider briefing will be held Nov. 15 at 7 p.m. at the Riviera del Pacifico Cultural Center. Racer registration will be held at the San Nicolas from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 14 and from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 15.

The team support 'Get your Wings' parties will be held Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, from noon to 5 p.m., poolside, at the San Nicolas Hotel. On Wednesday (Nov. 15) from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., the Red Bull Happy Hour will be held in the Red Room at the Riviera del Pacifico Cultural Center in Ensenada.

The post-race Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 Survivor's Celebration will be held during the SCORE Fiesta on the Malecon beachwalk in La Paz, which starts at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 18.

-credit: score

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Series Score
Drivers Steve Hengeveld , Larry Roeseler , Paul Krause , Johnny Campbell , Quinn Cody