San Felipe: Series round two preview

Saturday in Mexico Herbst Bros., Post, Vildosola, Collins, LeDuc, R. Gordon-- 10 of last 13 winners--in 23rd Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250 M/C champs Bell, Norman, Cody, Campbell part of over 225 entries, from 20 States, 10 countries in popular ...

Saturday in Mexico
Herbst Bros., Post, Vildosola, Collins, LeDuc, R. Gordon-- 10 of last 13 winners--in 23rd Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250

M/C champs Bell, Norman, Cody, Campbell part of over 225 entries, from 20 States, 10 countries in popular 'Spring Break' desert race; Motorcycle and ATV classes to be featured on NBC Sports show

SAN FELIPE, Mexico--Looking for his own version of 'Spring Break', NASCAR Cup team owner/driver Robby Gordon will spend his week off from pavement racing by returning to his desert racing roots as one of 10 overall winners from the last 13 years entered in this week's 23rd Annual Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250.

Round 2 of the 2009 SCORE Desert Series will be held Friday through Sunday in Mexico's quaint and picturesque fishing village of San Felipe, located on the East side of the Baja California peninsula along the azure waters of the tranquil Sea of Cortez.

Gordon, who won this race in 1996 and whose only attempthere since then was a did-not-finish in 2004, will drive the No. 77 Team Gordon Chevy CK1500 SCORE Trophy-Truck that won January's 2009 SCORE season-opener in Laughlin, Nev.

Besides Gordon, the other former overall race winners returning this year are brothers Tim Herbst/Ed Herbst (1999, 2000, 2001), Mark Post (1998, 2004, 2007), Brian Collins (1990, 2008), Rob MacCachren (2003, 2007), Curt LeDuc (1997), Gus Vildosola (2003) and Jerry Whelchel (1998, 2004).

Also part of the field for the popular desert race are four gifted riders who have combined to win the overall Motorcycle title in 10 of the last 11 years--Johnny Campbell (7 times), Robby Bell (3), Kendall Norman (2) and Quinn Cody (1). The competitive field also includes 15 defending class winners and 36 racers who have combined for 115 class wins in the first 22 years of this race.

With over 225 entries from 20 U.S. States and 10 countries competing in 28 Pro and 6 Sportsman classes in the 232.4-mile race, the green flag will drop at 6 a.m. local time on Saturday, for the motorcycle and ATV classes, followed three hours later by the car and truck classes at approximately 10 a.m. local time. The start line for the race will once again be the landmark San Felipe Arches on Highway 5 on the outskirts of San Felipe. The race will finish just south of the Arches, directly behind the Cerveza Tecate building. One vehicle will start every 30 seconds in the elapsed-time race, with a 10-hour time limit to become an official finisher. The fastest finishers are expected in just under four hours.

Through the efforts of SCORE's electronic media partner, Aura360 Ventures of Maine, the motorcycle and ATV portion of the race will be featured in the April 26 NBC Sports telecast of the Jeep World of Adventure Sport. This will mark the third time these classes have been featured on that NBC show and Aura360 will also produce a complete-race DVD on the Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250 for the first time.

"Usually when I run a SCORE Baja race I have to commute and pull double-duty so this week will be a real treat for me as I can focus on just the desert and not the desert and all the things connected to NASCAR racing as well," said Gordon, who has two career class wins in his limited time in San Felipe.

"We came out in Laughlin in January planning to run the entire 2009 SCORE season and after winning that race we are even more enthusiastic about running the entire five-race series this year. With all of our other racing commitments, this will be the first time we have run the entire SCORE series since we won the SCORE Trophy-Truck season point championship in 1996."

This year's race will use the same 232.4-mile race course as 2008, running in a counter clockwise direction out of San Felipe up to and then back West along Highway 3 and back South and down through three of the most picturesque and challenging washes in all of Baja.

Collins, of Las Vegas, is the defending overall race winner having won last year in his No. 12 Collins Motorsports Dodge Ram1500.He also captured the overall victory in this race in 1990 to give him two career San Felipe overalls.

Leading the way among returning overall winners with three victories are Las Vegas' Herbst brothers (Tim and Ed) who after taking last year off of desert racing will debut their new No. 19 Terrible Herbst Motorsports Ford F-150 SCORE Trophy-Truck.

Also back after a year away from the sport will be Troy Herbst, 42, the youngest of the three Herbst brothers, who has two Class 1 wins in San Felipe in his legendary Terrible Herbst Motorsports Ford-powered Smithbuilt open-wheel desert race car.

Post, Laguna Beach, Calif. also has three San Felipe overall wins, one in Class 1 (1998) and two in SCORE Trophy-Truck. Post won with Whelchel in 1998 and 2004 and in 2007, his second driver was current teammate MacCachren, Las Vegas, in the No. 3 Riviera Racing Ford F-150.

MacCachren, who has six class wins in this race, also has two San Felipe overall wins, having also won in 2003 as the second driver for Mexico's Gus Vildosola. Vildosola will be the second driver this year for his son Gus Vildosola Jr., in the popular No. 4 Red Bull Vildosola Racing Ford F-150 SCORE Trophy-Truck.

Curt LeDuc, Cherry Valley, Calif., won the San Felipe overall in 1997 and will be second driver this year for Nick Vanderwey, Phoenix, in the No. 84 Flying Dutchmen Chevy Silverado.

SCORE Trophy-Trucks have won 13 overalls in San Felipe in their 15-year history. Post/Whelchel in 1997 and San Diego's son/father team of Andy and Scott McMillin (2005) have the only two Class 1 wins since SCORE debuted the featured SCORE Trophy-Truck division in 1994.

Besides the SCORE Trophy-Truck's stars and Campbell (who has eight class wins and seven orverall motorcycle crowns, among the other racers entered this year who have been very successful in this race are Jim O'Neal, Eric Solorzano, Larry Roeseler, Donald Moss and Adam Pfankuch.

O'Neal, 62, of Simi Valley, Calif., is an age-group motorcycle rider who has put together nine winning teams in the last eight years in San Felipe. O'Neal is the all-time leader for class wins in this race and will be going for double class wins again (he won two in 2005). He will lead teams in both Class 30 and Class 50 this year on a pair of Kal Gard-sponsored Hondas.

Roeseler, Alpine, Calif., has six class wins in San Felipe and will be the second driver for Roger Norman, Reno, Nev., in the No. 8 Norman Motorsports Ford F-150 SCORE Trophy-Trucks. The Norman/Roeseler team won the last two races of last season and Roeseler drove solo in this race in 2007 to win the unlimited Class 1 in the Terrible Herbst Motorsports Smithbuilt-Ford when Troy Herbst was recovering from ankle surgery.

Solorzano, Tijuana, Mexico, has eight wins in Class 11 for stock VW Sedans while Moss, Sacramento, Calif., has six wins in the last seven years in Class 3 in his sturdy Ford Bronco.

Pfankuch, Carlsbad, Calif., has five class wins in San Felipe including four of the last six years in Class 1-2/1600. Pfankuch drove for two class-winning teams in this year's SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge and will also be racing in San Felipe in SCORE Lite, splitting the seat time with driver of record Rick St. John, Encinitas, Calif. The second driver for Pfankuch in Class 1-2/1600 will be Steven Eugenio, Lakeside, Calif., who also drove half of the Laughlin race for Pfankuch this year as well.

The World's Foremost Desert Racing Series is visiting Mexico for the first of three races in 2009.

Champion Southern California racers Damen Jefferies and Robby Bell received the pole positions for four-wheel and two-wheel vehicles in the computeriezed drawing for starting positions, by class, for the race, held on Feb. 21at the SCORE headquarters in Los Angeles. Jefferies races in the featured SCORE Trophy-Truck division while Bell competes in Class 22 for open motorcycles.

Jefferies, 36, of Apple Valley, Calif., is a veteran SCORE desert racer who has three career SCORE Class season point titles in three different classes, including the 1997 SCORE Overall point championships. Also a successful desert chassis builder, Jefferies is racing the No. 22 Jefferies Racing Chevy Silverado this year with Luis Ramirez Jr. of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Jefferies is eighth in his class point standings this year after finishing fifth last season.

Bell, 23, of Sun City, Calif., has left the factory Honda team after winning the two-wheel overall title in this race the last three years and will be teamed with another former Honda rider Mike Childress on the No. 1x Kawasaki KX450F. Bell drew the first start last year as well for the JCR team owned by SCORE Baja racing legend Johnny Campbell.

For this year's race, Campbell, 38, San Clemente, Calif., is listed as a possible third driver for his two factory-supported Honda CRF450X motorcycles. Racing for JCR will be Kendall Norman, Santa Barbara, Calif./Tim Weigand, Santa Clarita, Calif. on one Honda while the other one will be ridden by the team of Colton Udall, San Clemente, Calif./Quinn Cody, Los Olivos, Calif.

With late entries accepted until race morning, Class 1-2/1600 has the most entries to date with 21, followed by SCORE Trophy-Truck with 19 and the unlimited Class 1 with 15.

Besides Collins and Bell the other defending class winners entered this year are: Germany's Armin Schwarz (Class 1), Adam Pfankuch, Carlsbad, Calif. (Class 1-2/1600), Donald Moss, Sacramento (Class 3), Marcos Nunez, Ensenada, Mexico (Class 5/1600), John Holmes, Olivenhain, Calif. (Class 7SX), Rodrigo Ampudia Jr., Ensenada, Mexico (Class 8), Eric Solorzano, Tijuana, Mexico (Class 11), Carlos Casas, Chula Vista, Calif. (Class 21), Anna Cody, Simi Valley, Calif. (Class 20), Jim O'Neal, Simi Valley, Calif. (Class 30), Bret Helm, Poway, Calif. (Class 40-Scott Myers is rider of record this year), Charles Marshall, Carmichael, Calif. (Class 50) and Wayne Matlock, El Cajon, Calif. (Class 25).

Also back to defend his Sportsman class win among those entered to date is Sportsman Car winner Peter Lang.

Obviously with a lot of help from their Desert Assassins teammates, husband and wife racers Cameron Steele and Heidi Steele, of San Clemente, Calif., will be racing in a total of five classes this weekend.

Cameron Steele, 41, a prominent motorsports and Xgames TV sports announcer, is driver of record in the No. 16 GMC Sierra in SCORE Trophy-Truck and the No. 7x Honda CRF450X in the open motorcycle Class 22, and co-driver for Justin Smith in Class 1-2/1600 in the No. 1643 1600cc VW-powered Fraley open-wheel desert race car.

Heidi Steele, 38, Vice-President of Human Resources for a national home health-care group, is driver of record in both Class 6 in the No. 602 Ford Ranger and Class 7 in the No. 714 Ford Ranger.

"I guess you could say we really love SCORE Baja racing," quipped, Steele, who has twice been voted the SCORE Person of the Year by the SCORE membership. "Or that we really like 'Spring Break', so Heidi and I get an opportunity to spend time with each other because our travel schedules are so crazy. Actually, it's both and while we would like five class wins in San Felipe and maybe even the overall, our main goal is to finish in all five classes. Now, that would be something to write home about."

The pre-race Manufacturer's Midway and tech inspection of the vehicles in the race will be held on Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the picturesque Malecon, flanked by the Sea of Cortez on one side and the popular restaurants and night clubs of San Felipe on the other.

At 10 a.m. local time on Sunday, the awards celebration will be held at the plaza in front of The Beachcomber Night Club on the Malecon.

For the past five years, Aura360 has produced special DVDs of both the Tecate SCORE Baja 500 and the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 races. The special DVD from the 2008 Tecate SCORE Baja 1000, featuring the 43-minute NBC broadcast of the race along with special never-before-seen bonus coverage is on sale now through www.thebajaunlimited.com.

In addition to season point class point championships, drivers in the Pro car and truck classes are also racing to earn prestigious SCORE Toyota Milestone Awards given to all car and truck class drivers who complete every required mile of the five-race season. Being presented by Toyota Motorsports for the 24th consecutive year, a total of 52 drivers remain eligible after Round 1 of the 2009 SCORE Desert Series.

-credit: www.score-international.com.

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Series Score
Drivers Justin Smith , Robby Gordon , Curt LeDuc , Rob MacCachren , Damen Jefferies , Armin Schwarz , Larry Roeseler , Mark Post , Tim Herbst , Scott McMillin , Troy Herbst , Heidi Steele , Johnny Campbell , Quinn Cody , Luis Ramirez Jr.