Pierce Drives to 2nd place Finish at 38th Tecate SCORE Baja 500 ...
Pierce Drives to 2nd place Finish at 38th Tecate SCORE Baja 500
#230 MasterCraft "Rolling Thunder" Pro-Truck performs under rigorous conditions in the race that featured a race-record 438 starters, braving the rugged 424.29 mile race course in front of a crowd of 200,000 people lining the course. Less than half the vehicles entered finished the race.
Santee, California (June 5, 2006) Standing atop the battered roof of the # 230 MasterCraft "Rolling Thunder" SCORE Pro-Truck, MasterCraft CEO Robbie Pierce faced his co-driver, the young top gun veteran, Joey Westhoff, and slapped both hands to each other signaling a tremendous team victory at the finish line of the 38th Tecate SCORE Baja 500, beating 14 other Protruck spec trucks to the finish line.
The MasterCraft "Rolling Thunder" # 230 Pro Truck completed the 2006 SCORE Tecate Baja 500 in 13 hours, 12 minutes and 43 seconds to finish in second place after the day long battle with five-time winner, Rick D. Johnson, by a mere 25 minutes after 424 tough Baja racing miles. The next Protruck finisher, Joe Bednar, was over an hour behind Pierce and Varnes.
This fantastic finish puts Robbie Pierce in second place in the Ivan Stewart Pro Truck Series Points Race, only 10 points out of first place heading to the next event at Pike's Peak,Colorado.
"This is a dream come true! In my first SCORE Baja race we finished second and had a near flawless run. Many thanks to everyone who made this happen," commented Robbie Pierce.
It was only mid-year in 2005 that Pierce purchased his Pro-Truck. In fact, until Saturday's incredible effort on the Baja Peninsula, Pierce had never raced in Baja as a driver.
In 2004, Pierce had the chance to co-drive with Tom Ridings in a Class 10 buggy at the Tecate SCORE Baja 500 and ever since he's been on a tear to pilot his own truck.
Prior to this epic race, Pierce led a devoted group of race team members that instituted a strategic plan towards a run at this year's race. That effort began with the invitation to one of the nation's top young gun off road desert racers, Joey Westhoff. Westhoff has an accomplished career that began 10 years ago as a teenager racing motorcycles.
Pierce chose Westhoff to co-drive with him during the first and third sections and then reached out to the cagey Baja racing veteran, Bill Varnes, owner of Mirage Prep. Varnes selected the infamous Greg Shapiro to ride with him in the middle, or second section, and the team was set.
The rugged 424.29 mile course featured a rarely used section that ran through the Pine Forest northeast of Ojos Negros and then south towards Valle Trinidad and onto sections veteran Baja off road racers are familiar with. This year's course was so rugged, just 222 vehicles finished the race out of 465 entries.
Around dawn, the quiet movement of chase team members throughout the two rented San Miguel beachside villas was evident. The smell of roasting coffee and the murmurs of race day assignments grew to a bustle in the next hour as the team hustled to gather last minute supplies for the day, as well as possibly into the night.
The assembled team left the beach and blended into the early morning traffic in Ensenada. Strategically, the chase teams had practiced running a back route out of town, rolling quietly by the majority of downtown race traffic. However, as expected, the traffic on Hwy 3 heading south was stalled at KM 12 near the Pepsi Stand where the race course exited onto the ancient asphalt, causing precious hours of delay for chase teams heading for their assigned positions.
At 10:22 a.m. PST, the MasterCraft Protruck # 230 Rolling Thunder MasterCraft Pro Truck left the crowded start line to wage war on the elements of the Baja Peninsula at this edition of the SCORE Tecate Baja 500.
Dust, fog, mud, flooded fields, steep terrain, endless silt, big boulders, sharp piercing rocks and a pack of fearless off road racers all vying for a podium finish were ahead.
Victory in Baja.
By race mile 50, Pierce and Westhoff gained momentum and charged through the Pine Forest, until sidelined with an admittedly errant move that flattened a tire. Short work of that tire change saw them pull into Pit 2 at race mile 99 in great position.
The Pit 2 - Frijolero Pit Crew completed a full pit stop in record time and sent the red MasterCraft Rolling Thunder # 230 truck into the barren Baja desert, descending from the Pine Forest to the Jamua Wash and down the legendary Goat Trail into the village of Valle Trinidad.
Overcoming an unfortunate accident that sidelined Chase 1 with a bent Dana 60 axle and three collapsed trailing arms early in the day, MasterCraft's chase crews adapted and overcame the challenge as another chase truck was summoned to transfer the fuel, tires and spare parts off of Chase 1 and continue to chase the race truck.
Mirage Prep owner - Bill Varnes and his co-driver, Greg Shapiro readied for entry into the race truck. Once in the car, they fought a pesky carburetor bobble through some of the most difficult terrain Baja has to offer. But the dynamic duo drove hard to El Coyote and took on additional fuel from Chase 6 & 7 -- plus additional gas scrounged from the Nick Vanderway Class 8 Pit.
Varnes fired up "Rolling Thunder" and forged through hundreds of yards of deep silt and exited the challenging middle section, handing the truck back to Pierce and Westhoff in excellent position.
Rested and raring to go, they headed across the Peninsula towards Erindera on the Pacific Ocean.
"As soon as we got to the beach, the sun was about down and the fog was rolling in, making it very hard to see anything. We continued to fight the carburetor problems by continually hitting the rev limiter until we rolled into the finish line," said the smiling top young gun co-driver-Westhoff.
You could feel the anticipation of the crowd as they rose to their feet in the stands of the Ensenada softball stadium. The roar of the motor and the illumination of the Hella Lights could be seen into the distance as the # 230 red MasterCraft truck crisscrossed through downtown Ensenada before entering the stadium from the south to the wavering black and white checkered flag.
SCORE CEO - Sal Fish congratulated driver, Robbie Pierce, with a commemorative finish line greeting.
Pierce and Westhoff climbed out of the truck, standing on the window ledge "high-fiving" over the top of the hood, signaling a celebration for the crew of 20 standing by at the finish line.