Israel's Team Etgarim, with Four Paraplegic Drivers, Anxious to Challenge the 34th Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 First physically challenged team set for Final Round of 2001 Duralast SCORE Desert Series LOS ANGELES--While race teams from around the world ...
Israel's Team Etgarim, with Four Paraplegic Drivers, Anxious to Challenge the 34th Tecate SCORE Baja 1000
First physically challenged team set for Final Round of 2001 Duralast SCORE Desert Series
LOS ANGELES--While race teams from around the world annually race in the granddaddy of all desert races, Israel's Team Etgarim, with four paraplegic drivers, will be the first physically challenged team to compete in the legendary Tecate SCORE Baja 1000. The 34th yearly renewal of the historic motorsports tradition will be held Nov. 8-10 in Ensenada, Mexico.
Nearly 220 vehicles from 30 States, Canada, France, Israel, Japan and Mexico, are expected to take the green flag in the historic race that features 25 different classes. Motorcycles and ATVs will begin the race at 6:30 a.m. (PDT) on Friday, Nov. 9, with the cars and trucks starting their trek at 8 a.m. (PDT). Vehicles will start one every 30 seconds in the elapsed-time race and will have a 30-hour time limit.
Team Etgarim, which means Challenge is Hebrew, will be led by driver of record Eyal Yerushalmi, 40, an industrial and management engineer from Kibuttz Beit-Nir. Yerushalmi, who raced on a motorcycle in the 1992 SCORE Baja 1000, was permanently crippled in both legs while racing on a motorcycle in the 1994 Pharos Rally in Egypt. Since then, Yerushalmi has moved to race cars equipped with hand controls and continued to compete in area races along with the Paris to Dakar race and the Atlas Rally.
Yerushalmi is also a member of Etgarim, a group founded in 1995 by several individuals, including Israeli Defense Forces disabled veterans along with rehabilitation specialists. With outdoor sports at the heart of their agenda, Etgarim is the only organization dedicated to serving all people with disabilities in Israel - whether victims of birth defects or disease, accidents, or injured in war.
"The focus on sports addresses the unique needs of this special population, while providing a profound physical and recreational experience, with vast therapeutic benefits," said Yerushalmi as his group prepares to depart for the U.S. "Experience is proving that Etgarim programs have far-reaching effects on the physical and mental well being, personal growth, self-confidence and self-realization of people with disabilities."
"Team Etgarim is grateful for the opportunity Sal Fish and SCORE International is providing with a special competition class for us at the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000. We are hopeful that this gesture and our participation will help stimulate and motivate others with disabilities to continue to pursue their dreams in ways like this."
Team Etgarim, entered in a race-ready Tomcar Sport prepped by Dave Vieira's Redballs Racing of Bell Canyon, Calif. in the Sportsman Buggy International Class, will be accompanied to Mexico by numerous Israeli media, including the Israeli Sports Channel and Teva Hadvarim magazine (The Nature of Things).
The three other drivers for Team Etgarim, all with previous racing experience both before and after their respective accidents, are Yossi Barda, 38, Ilan Jakobi, 33, and Alon Maori, 31.
"SCORE International is honored to have Team Etgarim as part of this year's Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 and while we wish them well in the race itself, we even more so hope that this event will be a springboard for the future objectives of Etgarim," commented Fish.
Vieira, who previously entered his own team in Class 9, is equally excited regarding the future represented in this opportunity.
"Last year, we had the pleasure of having the Israeli Baja 2000 team help us at that once-in-a-lifetime race and the word spread in Israel about all the fun we had and that's where Team Etgarim heard about us," said Vieira, whose Class 9 car was the last official finisher in the race from Ensenada to Cabo San Lucas. "Tomcar donated the car for this race and we will be selling and renting them in the future to other local disabled racers at our showroom in Sherman Oaks (Calif.). Being that Sal (Fish) has created a new class, I am sure that we will see many more Tomcars racing in the near future."
Mark Post, of San Juan Capistrano, Calif., will drive the first four-wheel vehicle to leave the starting line--the No. 3 Riviera Racing Ford F-150 in the featured SCORE Trophy-Truck division in the final round of the five-race 2001 Duralast SCORE Desert Series. Johnny Campbell, of San Clemente, Calif., will ride the No. 1x factory-sponsored Honda XR650R motorcycle in the open Class 22 that will start first among two-wheel vehicles.
Pre-race festivities will center around the San Nicolas Hotel in Ensenada on Thursday (Nov. 8) and the race will start adjacent to the Riviera Convention Center in downtown Ensenada and finish on the outskirts of town at the end of Avenida Ruiz. Traditionally drawing large crowds, the pre-race Manufacturer's Midway will be held adjacent to the San Nicolas, near downtown Ensenada. The colorful pre-race manufacturer's midway and display of all the race vehicles will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. the day before the race.
The race will be televised as a one-hour special on the Speedvision Network. Shoemaker Productions of San Clemente, Calif., is producing the show which will first air at 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. (PST) on Saturday, Dec. 22 and 10 a.m. (PST) on Sunday, Dec. 23.
Visit the official Duralast SCORE Desert Series website at www.score-international.com.
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