Baja 500: Jones, Mayes draw class start positions

Nearly 240 racers expected May 31-June 2 Jones in SCORE Trophy-Truck, Mayes in Class 22 MX draw first 'starts' for 34th Tecate SCORE Baja 500. Round 3 of 2002 Duralast SCORE Desert Series in Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico LOS ...

Nearly 240 racers expected May 31-June 2

Jones in SCORE Trophy-Truck, Mayes in Class 22 MX draw first 'starts' for 34th Tecate SCORE Baja 500.

Round 3 of 2002 Duralast SCORE Desert Series in Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico

LOS ANGELES--Jesse Jones, a 36-year old Arizona aviation machine-shop owner, and Keith Mayes, a 29-year old Southern California geologist, have drawn the first starting positions for four-wheel and two-wheel vehicles respectively for next month's 34th Annual Tecate SCORE Baja 500 desert race, to be held May 31-June 2 in Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico.

In a motorsport where there are no qualifying sessions, SCORE held it's regular pre-race computerized drawing for starting positions, by class, last Friday (April 19) at SCORE's Los Angeles headquarters.

Jones, of Litchfield Park, Ariz., will drive the first four-wheel vehicle to leave the starting line--a new Ford F-150 in the featured SCORE Trophy-Truck division in Round 3 of the 2002 Duralast SCORE Desert Series. Mayes, of Fresno, will ride a Honda XR650R motorcycle in the open Class 22.

For Jones, last year's SCORE point champion in Class 8 for full-size production trucks, not only will the race be his first in the marquee SCORE racing division, it will also be the first SCORE race for the Jones Motorsports No. 76 Ford F-150. It was built by Rick Holmes of Banning, Calif.

Mayes, a former AMA amateur national motocross champion who rode solo to a fourth overall motorcycle finish in his first SCORE race at the 2000 Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250, has entered a SCORE race for the first time since the once-in-a-lifetime 2000 Tecate SCORE Baja 2000. Mayes, who "just loves racing in Mexico", works in the environmental division of The Twining Laboratories.

"I can't put into words how stoked we are to not only be racing in the world's top desert racing class in the world's premiere desert series, but to draw the first start in that powerful lineup is both intimidating and exhilarating at the same time," said Jones, who won two races last year enroute to his SCORE Class 8 season championship. "Our testing in the new truck has been awesome, but it's a bit scary to start first in this class, knowing the added horsepower and the faster pace we'll need to stay in contention."

While entries will be accepted up to race day, 172 of the anticipated field of nearly 240 vehicles competing in 24 Pro classes and 6 Sportsman classes for cars, trucks, motorcycles and ATVs have entered as of Monday. Late entries are assigned the next available starting position within each class.

While the final course is expected to be an almost exact duplicate of last year's 489.9-mile route, SCORE officials won't release this year's official map until early May.

A total of 13 vehicles are entered to date in the star-studded SCORE Trophy-Truck class while the unlimited Class 1 and Class 10 both have the most total entries so far with 24 each.

Topping the list of current SCORE point leaders entered are the team of Dan Smith and David Ashley in SCORE Trophy-Truck and Steve Hengeveld in Class 22 for open motorcycles.

The Smith/Ashley duo, both of Riverside, Calif., have won a record five consecutive races in the featured SCORE Trophy-Truck division in their No. 1 Enduro Racing Ford F-150. Between them, the pair has 11 class wins in the SCORE Baja 500. They will start third in the class.

Hengeveld, Oak Hills, Calif., has won the overall motorcycle and Class 22 titles the last two years on his American Honda factory-sponsored No. 1X Honda XR650R. His team drew the third motorcycle starting slot.

Other top racers in SCORE Trophy-Truck include Las Vegas brothers Ed and Tim Herbst, Mark Miller of Carefree, Calif., Scott Steinberger of Cypress, Calif., Darren Skilton, Lakeside, Calif., the team of Mark Post, San Juan Capistrano, Calif./Jerry Whelchel, Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif. along with the team of Las Vegas' Brian Collins and Larry Ragland of Phoenix. The Herbsts, Steinberger and Post/Whelchel all race Ford F-150 trucks while Skilton pilots a new Kia Sorento. Miller, and the Collins/Ragland teams drive Chevy Silverado race trucks.

Among the early entries in Class 1, for unlimited open-wheel desert race cars, are Las Vegas' Troy Herbst and San Diego County racers Mike Julson and the McMillin Racing entries of father Corky McMillin and along with his sons Mark McMillin and Scott McMillin. The McMillins have a total of 12 class wins in the SCORE Baja 500, including six overall titles. Mark is the defending overall and Class 1 winner in the race.

As with every SCORE race, numerous first-time racers are drawn to the sport. In just their second SCORE race, former Indy car drivers Mike and Robbie Groff have entered their BFGoodrich/Toyota-powered Jimco in Class 1 to lead this year's 'rookie' class to Mexico.

Pre-race festivities will center around the Riviera Convention Center in downtown Ensenada on Friday (May 31) and the race will start on the boulevard adjacent to the Riviera Convention Center and finish on the outskirts of town at the end of Avenida Ruiz. Traditionally drawing large crowds, the pre-race Manufacturer's Midway will be held adjacent to the San Nicolas, near downtown Ensenada. The colorful pre-race manufacturer's midway and display of all the race vehicles will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. the day before the race.

With nearly 240 vehicles expected to take the green flag, the legendary race will feature 24 different classes. Motorcycles and ATVs will begin the race at 6 a.m. (PDT) on Saturday, June 1, with the cars and trucks starting their trek at 7:30 a.m. (PDT). Vehicles will start one every 30 seconds in the elapsed-time race.

For more information, contact SCORE International at its Los Angeles headquarters 818.225.8402 or visit the official Duralast SCORE Desert Series website at www.score-international.com.

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Series Score
Drivers Mark Miller , Steve Hengeveld , Keith Mayes , Darren Skilton , Mark Post , Larry Ragland , Tim Herbst , Mark McMillin , Scott McMillin , Troy Herbst