Class 1 Baja 1000 preview

Record field nearly at 400 entries Class 1 Herbst/Roeseler team striving for record 3-peat Overall win in November's 39th Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 26 entries in unlimited Class 1, including 11 drivers with 27 class wins, 7 with 12 overall race...

Record field nearly at 400 entries
Class 1 Herbst/Roeseler team striving for record 3-peat Overall win in November's 39th Tecate SCORE Baja 1000

26 entries in unlimited Class 1, including 11 drivers with 27 class wins, 7 with 12 overall race wins in granddaddy of all desert races; Nationally-televised peninsula run Nov. 14-18 in Mexico from Ensenada, Baja California to La Paz, Baja California Sur

LOS ANGELES--Troy Herbst and Larry Roeseler were legendary desert racers long before they started racing together a few years ago and they have become nearly invincible. Now, they will be the team to beat in next month's 39th Annual Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 desert race as they attempt to go where no driver in the history of the fabled event has been before--capturing the Overall and unlimited Class 1 victory for three consecutive years.

This year's odyssey of over 1,000 miles will be a grueling adventure down Mexico's mysterious Baja California peninsula starting in Ensenada, Baja California and finishing in La Paz, Baja California, Sur. It will be held Nov. 14-18.

Herbst 40, of Las Vegas, and Roeseler, 49, of Hesperia, Calif., will split time in the heralded No. 121 Terrible Herbst Motorsports Ford-powered Smithbuilt open-wheel desert race car, commonly referred to as the 'Landshark' for how it ferociously gobbles up both the desert and the competition. With a SCORE record 20 Class 1 race wins and six straight Class 1 season point titles (1997 through 2002) the 'Landshark' will again challenge the legendary granddaddy of all desert races.

They will be attempting to beat the Class 1 mark set by Mark McMillin, who earned Overall and Class 1 back to back wins in 1983 and1984. Still a powerful force to be reckoned with, McMillin, who is the reigning Class 1 season point champion, has eight class wins in the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000, including five overall wins (1981, 1983, 1984, 1986 and 1988).

Besides McMillin, among the leading challengers to overcome Herbst/Roeseler tandem in Class 1 are brothers Gary and Mark Weyhrich, Richard Boyle/Ron Brant, Martin Christensen/Boris Said/Dave Mason, Cam Theriot/Malcolm Smith/Glenn Harris, and the son/father team of doctors-Bud and Buddy Feldkamp.

An amazing race-record total of 395 vehicles have officially entered to date and over 400 are expected by the time late registration closes on race morning.

This year's memorable adventure will cover 1,047.83 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.

For over 20 years the kings of desert racing, the unlimited Class 1 for open-wheel desert race cars has been seriously challenged since 1994 by the SCORE Trophy-Trucks, the high-tech, 800-horsepower unlimited production trucks.

A SCORE Trophy-Truck has been the overall four-wheel vehicle winner in eight of the last 12 years in the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000, but the good news for Class 1 fans is that Class 1 has won the overall four of the last five years. Since 1975, Class 1 has won the overall 4-wheel vehicle title in this race 19 times.

A comparison of the top 10 overall finishers in the last five years of this desert classic shows nine Class 1s and just 1 SCORE Trophy-Truck in 2001, five Class 1s and 4 SCORE Trophy-Trucks in 2002, four Class 1s and five SCORE Trophy-Trucks in 2003, four Class 1s and six SCORE Trophy-Trucks in 2004, and three Class 1s and seven SCORE Trophy-Trucks last year. Grand total for the last five years, 25 Class 1 cars to 23 of the 'Monsters of the Desert' in the top 10 overall four-wheel vehicle finishers list.

Over 400 entries from 35 U.S. States and 11 countries, competing in 26 Pro and 6 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.

"In the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000, it's all about the Overall victory, but obviously if you do take the top spot, you'll win your class was well," said Troy Herbst. "Normally, we all would try and win our class and the overall would be a bonus, but for Terrible Herbst Motorsports, the Overall victory is our goal and we will settle for nothing less. Larry Roeseler has brought a very special element to Terrible Herbst Motorsports and he continues to validate our decision to bring him into Terrible Herbst Motorsports. Larry spent a career as a motorcycle racer in Baja and he really does know where every single rock is on the Baja peninsula."

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 16 hours.

The all-time race-record for starters, 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.

Roeseler is a true legend of the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000. Since his first overall motorcycle victory in 1976 on a Husqvarna, the popular racer has been a major part of 14 class-winning teams, 12 of whom won the overall motorcycle or 4-wheel vehicle title as well. On motorcycles, Roeseler has 10 overall wins, the first three on Husqvarna motorcycles, one on a Yamaha and his last six on Kawasaki motorcycles, including his final one on two wheels in 1994.

After class 4-wheel class wins in 1996 and 1998, Roeseler was eventually asked to become part of Terrible Herbst Motorsports, where he started as a co-driver with Troy Herbst in Class 1 and this year became a full-time employee at the team's race shop in Huntington Beach, Calif.

The last two years in this race, the Herbst/Roeseler team has been unbeatable either by growing race fields or by the devastatingly rugged Baja desert courses.

"No one does desert racing any better than the Herbst family and to be able to be part of this unbelievable team is truly a dream come true for me in a career where I have seen many dreams realized," said Roeseler, who will once again have the entire race course memorized so he is ready to drive wherever needed. "All three Herbst brothers are amazing drivers, especially when you consider how little time they have to prepare because of their extensive business and family obligations."

Roeseler went on to say, "The two main differences between winning this race on two wheels and four is that there are considerably more teams that have legitimate shots at winning in the 4-wheel divisions and you also have far more mechanical issues, or potential issues, on four wheels than you do on a motorcycle. I don't predict race results, but I can say without hesitation that no one will be better prepared to win than the Terrible Herbst Motorsports team."

Among the other crossover entries that could be considered a darkhorse in the Class 1 will be X-Games Freestyle legend Travis Pastrana, who won three gold Medals at this year's X-Games, who will be racing in Class 1 with SCORE veteran Damen Jefferies, Oak Hills, Calif., in a HMS-Chevy.

The Weyhrich brothers, Troutdale, Ore., winner's in Class 1 at this year's season-opener in Laughlin are seasoned competitors who are currently second by just five points in the Class 1 behind Herbst/Roeseler in a Jimco-Chevy.

Veteran Boyle, Ridgecrest, Calif. and Brant, Oak Hills, Calif., are third in Class 1 points this year with 273 in another Jimco-Chevy.

Another proven team, Christensen, Escondido, Calif. and Dave Mason, Valley Center, Calif., brought in a crossover driver from NASCAR--Boris Said, Carlsbad, Calif., to help them run even harder in their Jimco powered by the only BMW engine in the SCORE Desert Series.

Malcolm Smith, the legendary SCORE racer from Riverside, Calif., will be split driving this year in Class 1 with driver of record Cam Theriot, Santa Rose, Calif. and Glenn Harris, Camarillo, Calif. Smith has five class wins including three Overalls (1975 and 1977 with Bud Feldkamp and 1987 with Bob Gordon).

Bud Felkamp, Redlands, Calif., was the overall winner in this race twice (1975 and 1976 with Malcolm Smith) and returns this year as another sentimental favorite splitting driving time with his son, Buddy, Seal Beach, Calif., in a Penhall-Chevy.

In this year's SCORE Overall point standings, the top three overall points leaders and five of the top 10 are all from Class 1. Herbst/Roeseler are first, the Weyhrich brothers are second, Boyle/Brant are third, Christensen/Mason are second and Brian Parkhouse, Bell Gardens, Calif., is 10th in another Jimco-Chevy.

Germany's Armin Schwarz, who lives in Australia, drew the first start in Class 1 in a Jimco-Chevy. With an all-rookie driving team, this will be Schwarz's first attempt at a SCORE race, and the SCORE Las Vegas Primm 300 in September was the first time he had witnessed a SCORE race in person.

Besides NASCAR team owner/driver Robby Gordon, the other cross-over racers who are entered so far this year include NASCAR's Boris Said and World Rally champion Armin Schwarz, XGames legend Travis Pastrana, former IndyCar star Roberto Guerrero, CORR short-course champion Johnny Greaves, a team of UROC rock crawling champions led by Shannon Campbell, Jesse James, of TV's 'Monster Garage' fame, noted Hollywood stunt woman/rally racer Kathy Jarvis, actor/racer Patrick Dempsey, star of the ABC TV hit show 'Grey's Anatomy', Pike's Peak record-holder Rod Millen, Supercross legend Ricky Johnson and three-time U.S. Olympic downhill skier Daron Rahves.

The Pro 4-Wheel classes with the most entries to date are SCORE Trophy-Truck with a race-record 35, Class 1-2/1600 (28), Class 1 (26), SCORE Lite (19), Micron Technology Baja Challenge and Protruck (19 each), Class 5/1600 (17), Class 10 (12).

In the Pro Motorcycle classes, the unlimited Class 22 has 23 entries so far while Class 30 (riders over 30 years old) has 16 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 42 entries to date.

It's 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 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 noon on Saturday, Nov. 18.

The 2006 SCORE Desert Series includes chase for the $50,000 Kartek Off-Road contingency bonus to be awarded to several qualified 2006 SCORE Class point champions.

The 2006 SCORE Desert Series also involves the hunt for the annual Toyota Milestone and $12,000 Toyota True Grit Awards. The prestigious Toyota Milestone Awards are presented to every racer who completes every required mile of every race in the 2006 SCORE Desert Series. The $12,000 Toyota True Grit purse is split among the SCORE season point champions who are also Toyota Milestone award winners in several non-factory-backed classes.

-credit: www.score-international.com.

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Series Score
Drivers Boris Said , Robby Gordon , Roberto Guerrero , Damen Jefferies , Travis Pastrana , Armin Schwarz , Larry Roeseler , Rod Millen , Patrick Dempsey , Ricky Johnson , Jesse James , Troy Herbst , Shannon Campbell