Baja 500: Pre-race notes 2008-04-29

First Time in Race History Pre-race Contingency, Start & Finish all to be held adjacent to Riviera Cultural Center for 40th Tecate SCORE Baja 500 Over 300 entries from 24 States, seven countries expected for May 29-June 1 race in Ensenada, ...

First Time in Race History Pre-race Contingency, Start & Finish all to be held adjacent to Riviera Cultural Center for 40th Tecate SCORE Baja 500

Over 300 entries from 24 States, seven countries expected for May 29-June 1 race in Ensenada, Mexico

LOS ANGELES--For the first time in the 40-year history of the Tecate SCORE Baja 500 desert race, the colorful pre-race Manufacturer's Midway and Contingency, the start and finish line will all be located in the heart of Ensenada, Mexico on Boulevard Costero adjacent to the historic Riviera Cultural Center, SCORE International race official announced Tuesday. It will be first time in race history that the pre-race activities and the finish will be held on this historic boulevard.

Round 3 of the five-race 2008 SCORE Desert Series, the World's Foremost Desert Racing Series, featuring over 300 entries, competing in 28 Pro and 6 Sportsman classes for cars, trucks, motorcycles and ATVs, will be held May 29-June 1 in Ensenada, Mexico. Traditionally one of the most popular events on the SCORE schedule, over 100,000 spectators are expected to enjoy the world's best desert racers in action at this year's 40th anniversary of the Tecate SCORE Baja 500.

With late entries excepted up to race morning, entries are expected for the approximately 440-mile race from over 25 U.S. States, Mexico, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan. The green flag will drop for the elapsed-time race at 6 a.m. on Saturday (May 31) for the motorcycle and ATV classes in the Tecate SCORE Baja 500, followed by the car and truck classes three hours after the last ATV at approximately 10 a.m. The final entry field is expected to be among the top 10 largest number of racers in event history.

"To have the pre-race festivities along with both the start and the finish of the 40th anniversary of the Tecate SCORE Baja 500 on Boulevard Costero will add another colorful dimension to this great race," said Sal Fish, SCORE CEO/President since soon after it was founded in 1973. "We will now be able to finish as well as start the race through the wash which will be great for the thousands of spectators that line both sides of the course and stand on the bridges to see the action."

"Additionally, the cooperation from the Mexican authorities has been phenomenal, especially when you consider all of the government leaders are new this year. It is also very encouraging to see first hand all of the increased safety and security measures that the Mexican government has implemented and will even expand further during race week. In particular the involvement from Baja California State Secretary of Tourism Oscar J. Escobedo and Ensenada Mayor Pablo Lopez has been remarkable."

The SCORE Manufacturer's Midway will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday, May 30. Racer and media registration will again be held in the Grand Ballroom of the San Nicolas Hotel. Registration hours will be from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday, May 29 and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday May 30.

The post-race awards celebration will be held poolside at the San Nicolas on Sunday, June 1 starting at 10 a.m.

The race began in 1969 under the auspices of the old NORRA organization and SCORE began its enduring run on July 26, 1974. This year will be the 35th anniversary of the first SCORE race in Mexico.

All three overall winners from last year's race are entered and all three have won two consecutive years. Las Vegas' Brian Collins, Las Vegas, returns seeking a third straight overall 4-Wheel vehicle victory with new teammate Chuck Hovey, Escondido, Calif. Collins, who drives the No. 12 Mopar Collins Motorsports Dodge Ram 1500, won the last two year with Larry Ragland as his teammate.

Returning as the two-time overall motorcycle and Class 22 champs is the team of Robby Bell, Murrieta, Calif./Kendall Norman, Santa Barbara, Calif., on the No. 1x Honda CRF450X. Back to defend their overall ATV and Class 25 victory is the team of Danny Prather, Ramona, Calif./Mike Cafro, Carlsbad, Calif., on the new No. 1a Honda TRXX700. Splitting the seat time with Prather and Cafro this year will be Chad Prull, Laveen, Ariz., and Levi Marana, Hemet, Calif.

Collins/Hovey drew the eighth starting spot in SCORE Trophy-Truck while Bell/Norman will be fourth off the line in Class 22 and Prather/Cafro/Prull/Marana will start seventh in Class 25.

To date, the Pro 4-Wheel vehicles classes with the most entries are: Class 1 (23), SCORE Trophy-Truck (22), Class 1-2/1600 (16), SCORE Lite (15) and Class 5/1600 (12).

Leading the Motorcycle classes in entries so far are Class 22 (15) and Class 30 (11).

Class 25 and Class 24 lead the ATV classes with nine entries each.

Among the Sportsman classes, SPT Motorcycles over 250cc has 29 entries.

Among the other early entries is venerable veteran Rod Hall, Reno, Nev., who has entered the Stock Mini class in a Hummer H3. Hall, 70, is tied for first with 17 class wins in the Tecate SCORE Baja 500. Hall's son Josh and Chad will driver separate Hummers in the Stock Full class. Josh will drive a Hummer H2SUT and Chad will drive a Hummer H3Alpha.

Several crossover/celebrity racers are already entered in this year's race, led by NASCAR's Robby Gordon. A second generation desert racer, Gordon, who has won this race three times, is a NASCAR Team Owner/Driver and is entered in SCORE Trophy-Truck in the No. 77 Chevy CK1500.

Germany's Armin Schwarz, whose World Rally Championship career saw 119 starts, won Class 1 in this year's Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250 with Martin Christensen, Escondido, Calif. and are currently fourth in Class 1 points in a Jimco-BMW. Making his SCORE race debut in Jimco-Chevy in this race will be German Rally ace Armin Kremer.

Two celebrity drivers who are all SCORE regulars are SCORE Trophy-Truck drivers Cameron Steele and Jesse James.

Steele, San Clemente, Calif., is a TV sports announcer for Supercross and X Games and until the IndyCar merger this year was a Champ Car pit reporter. The Steele family and Desert Assassins race team drew three of a kind for this race as three family members each received the second starting position in their respective classes. Cameron will drive the No. 16 GMC Sierra in SCORE Trophy-Truck, while his wife Heidi will drive a Ford Ranger in Class 7SX and his younger brother Grant will ride a Honda CRF450X in Class 22.

James, whose wife is legendary motion picture star Sandra Bullock, lives in Sunset Beach, Calif., owns the world-famous West Cost Choppers company and was the star of the old Monster Garage television series. He will drive the No. 54 Chevy Silverado.

Debuting her new race team in SCORE Lite will be prominent Automotive electronic and print journalist Barbara Terry, Clover, South Carolina, who will be the driver of record in a Bunderson-VW for this race and the season-ending Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 in November.

The 2008 SCORE Desert Series also includes the chase for the $20,000 Volkswagen Point Leader Bonus and the run for the Toyota Milestone Awards.

-credit: score

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Series Score
Drivers Robby Gordon , Rod Hall , Armin Schwarz , Armin Kremer , Larry Ragland , Jesse James