San Felipe: Race report

Hengeveld/Campbell Top Motorcycles Smith/Ashley Grab Overall, Trophy-Truck Victories at Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250 SAN FELIPE, Mexico--Southern California's Dan Smith and David Ashley won their fifth consecutive desert race Saturday, capturing...

Hengeveld/Campbell Top Motorcycles
Smith/Ashley Grab Overall, Trophy-Truck Victories at Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250

SAN FELIPE, Mexico--Southern California's Dan Smith and David Ashley won their fifth consecutive desert race Saturday, capturing the 16th Annual Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250. Smith and Ashley, from Riverside, patiently powered their Enduro Racing Ford F-150 to victory in the featured SCORE Trophy-Truck division in Round 2 of the 2002 Duralast SCORE Desert Series with a time of 3 hours, 45 minutes, seven seconds, averaging an impressive 60.71 miles per hour over the rugged, rocky and dusty 227.70-mile course.

Splitting the driving time in their 750-horsepower SCORE Trophy-Truck, the Ashley/Smith tandem battled from behind to overcome all challengers, including early-race leaders Ed and Tim Herbst of Las Vegas, who were attempting to win this race for the fourth consecutive year. Among the other challenges to their overall victory came from unlimited Class 1 racers Mike Julson, Gary Weyhrich and Troy Herbst as well as the SCORE Trophy-Trucks of Scott Steinberger and Mark Post.

Under picturesque sunny skies, gusting winds and mild temperatures, Ashley and Smith paced a large field of 244 entries from 12 U.S. States, Japan and Mexico, which competed in 24 classes for cars, trucks, motorcycles and ATVs. The race was run over one large loop over sun-baked desert terrain on the east side of the Baja California peninsula, starting and finishing under the landmark arches in the tiny fishing village of San Felipe.

Surviving intense wheel-to-wheel racing through three treacherous Baja washes to finish second overall and win Class 1 was the team of Julson, El Cajon, Calif., and Bob Lofton, Westmorland, in a Chevy-powered Jimco open wheel desert race car. The pair finished in 3:47:29, also averaging over 60mph, and two minutes, 22 seconds behind the Smith/Ashley team. Julson builds the popular Jimco chassis, used successfully by numerous desert racers.

"We have the patience down really good, but it still surprises you to think you can win five SCORE Trophy-Truck races in a row, especially considering the competition," said Smith. "We truly had a perfect day and still what gave us the victory was that we finished with the same BFGoodrich Tires we started the race with. It was that close out there and the course really chewed up tires, but fortunately not ours." Ashley now has a record eight class wins in this race while Smith now has five.

Ed and Tim Herbst led on adjusted time for more than half the race until electrical problems in their Terrible Herbst Motorsports Ford F-150 slowed them in Chanute Wash. The then fell even further behind when the hit a ditch and rolled their truck just five miles from the finish. The two-time SCORE Trophy-Truck season point champions still managed to limp their truck across the finish line, minus the front hood, with serious other body damage and two shredded tires in fifth place out of 11 starters in SCORE Trophy-Truck in 4:26:33

With a talented field of 28 starters, Class 1 racers claimed six of the top 10 overall finishing positions behind the Smith/Ashley Trophy-Truck. Julson also credited his BFG Tires with helping him negotiate the boulder-strewn course without a flat to earn the Class 1 title.

Third place overall, second in Class 1, was brothers Gary and Mark Weyhrich, Troutdale, Ore., with a time of 3:47:59 in a Chenowth, while fourth overall, third in Class 1 was Las Vegas' Troy Herbst, finishing in 3:51:13 in a Ford-powered Smithbuilt.

Fifth overall and second in SCORE Trophy-Truck was Scott Steinberger, Cypress, Calif., who was among the leaders throughout the race, ending up with a time of 3:55:10 in his PCI Racing Ford F-150.

Teaming up for the first time since winning the 2000 Tecate SCORE Baja 2000, Steve Hengeveld, Oak Hills, Calif., and Johnny Campbell, San Clemente, Calif., easily were the overall and Class 22 motorcycle winners on their factory-sponsored Honda XR650R, covering the course in 3:56:12, averaging 57.86 mph. It was the fifth victory in this race for Campbell and second consecutive triumph for Hengeveld.

Second overall among the motorcycles and in Class 22 was the independent team of Aaron Tuck and Craig Smith of Brawley, Calif., in 4:10:47 on another Honda XR650R while third went to the American Honda B team of Andy Grider, Los Olivos, Calif., and Las Vegas' Danny Cooper, with a time of 4:27:18 in the veteran pair's first-ever race on a Honda motorcycle.

Riding a Honda 250R to first overall ATV while winning Class 25 was the team of Las Vegas' Jimmy Stephensen and Mike Cafro, Carlsbad, Calif., in a time of 5:15:51 (43.27mph). It was Stephensen's second straight win in the Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250 and the first for the baja veteran Cafro.

Jim O'Neal's unprecedented attempt to win two motorcycle classes in the same SCORE race fell just short. O'Neal, 55, of Chatsworth, Calif., was the rider of record in both Class 40, where he is the defending series champion in the class for riders 40 years old and over, and in Class 30, for riders 30 years and older. After winning Class 40 by just over an hour, O'Neal finished second by just three minutes, one second in Class 30 to the team lead by Kevin Ward, also of Chatsworth. O'Neal rode Honda XR650R motorcycles in both classes.

Eli Yee of Tijuana, led a large contingent 39 Mexican entries, winning Class 10 and finishing ninth overall in his Honda-powred Jimco desert race car. Three other Mexican class winners were Arturo Honold, Mexicali, who drove a Jimco to victory in SCORE Lite, Tijuana's Eric Solorzano, who won Class 11 in a stock VW sedan and Ensenada's Eric Fisher, who finished in a tie for first place in Class 9 in his Garibay Challenger. Fisher, and his co-driver Javier Ayala were clocked in the exact same 6:00:01 time that the team of Darren McGuffin/Tommy Dittfield, Canyon Country, Calif., earned in a Mirage. It is the first tie for first place in a class in SCORE'S 29-year history.

Among the other class winners Saturday were: Perry McNeil, Lemon Grove, Calif.. (Class 7, Ford Ranger); Dan Fresh, San Juan Capistrano, Calif. (Class 7S, Jeep Comanche);; Clive Skilton, Orange, Calif./Curt LeDuc, Cherry Valley, Calif. (Class 8, Jeep Cherokee); Brian and Kurt Ickler, Poway, Calif. (Class 1-2/1600, Jimco); Dave Cua, Costa Mesa, Calif. (Class 5, VW Baja Bug); John Griffin, Mission Viejo, Calif. (Stock Full, AM General Hummer) and Steve Barlow, Temecula, Calif., Ford F-150 (Protruck).

It was the second win of the year in two races for both Griffin, the defending Stock Full champion in the Duralast SCORE Desert Series, and Barlow.

While a total of 244 vehicles entered the race, 235 officially started, and 148 made it back to the finish line within the 10-hour, elapsed-time, limit. The 235 racers represented the second-largest starting field in the 16-year history of the Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250.

Next up in the 2002 Duralast SCORE Desert Series will be the 34th Tecate SCORE Baja 500, May 31-June 2 in Ensenada, Mexico.

-score-

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Series Score
Drivers Curt LeDuc , Steve Hengeveld , Andy Grider , Mark Post , Tim Herbst , Troy Herbst , Johnny Campbell