SCORE Tecate Baja 1000 Preview

| November 10, 2005

The following information has been released by Southern California Off-Road Enterprises, the promoter of the SCORE Tecate Baja 1000:

Motorcycles started the legend of desert racing in Mexico’s Baja California peninsula and their presence is still felt as Baja legends Steve Hengeveld and Johnny Campbell are hoping to lead Honda to its 16th overall motorcycle victory in next week’s 38th Tecate SCORE Baja 1000.

The granddaddy of all desert races, the Baja 1000 will be held for the 38th time next week (November 17-20), starting and finishing in Ensenada and running 709 miles a round Mexico’s ruggedly majestic Baja California peninsula. A race-record field of nearly 360 entries from 31 U.S. States and 12 countries, competing in 27 Pro and 5 Sportsman classes for cars, trucks, motorcycles and ATVs, will be part of this year’s tribute to the sport of desert racing.

The colorful history of motorcycles in the granddaddy of all desert races includes the vintage exploits of motorcycle legends Malcolm Smith, J.N. Roberts, Larry Roeseler, Jack Johnson, Ted Hunnicutt Jr., Paul Krause and the late Danny Hamel. For 31 of the first 37 years, motorcycles have recorded the fastest overall times in the event. The last four-wheeled vehicle winner to beat the time of the motorcycles was Ivan Stewart, who did it in 1993 while winning the unlimited Class 1 in Toyota SR5 pickup truck.

For motorcycles, Honda has won 15 overalls, followed by Husqvarna with 11, Kawasaki 9, and Yamaha 2.

With massive crowds reaching nearly 300,000 anticipated to again be spread out along the single loop course, the race will start in front of the Riviera del Pacific Convention Center in Ensenada and will finish for just the second time inside the Deportivo Antonio Palacio baseball stadium in Ensenada.

The motorcycle and ATV classes will start their journey at 6:30 a.m. (Friday, November 18), with the car and truck classes starting at approximately 9:30 a.m., or two hours after the last ATV leaves the line. Faster four-wheel vehicles will leave in 60-second intervals while all other classes will leave in 30-second intervals in the elapsed-time race, and while the fastest finishers are expected to complete the 709-mile course in around 14 hours, all vehicles will have a 30-hour time limit to become official finishers.

Since 1997, the motorcycle battle in the most storied desert race of all time has been all about Honda’s Johnny Campbell. Five of this year’s riders have combined for 12 overall motorcycle victories in this race. Leading the motorcycle field again this year is the legendary American Honda racing team of Hengeveld, 30. Oak Hills, California, and Campbell, 34, San Clemente, California. Campbell has eight consecutive overall motorcycle victories in this race, including four with the Hengeveld, who has earned his Baja legend status as well. Sharing seat time on the No. 1x Honda XR650R, Hengeveld also has one other motorcycle class win in this race. In 2002, Hengeveld/Campbell set an average speed record in this race for a motorcycle, averaging an incredible 62.45 mph.

The third team member this year will be talented newcomer Mike Childress, 20, of Wrightwood, Calif. Childress joins Honda’s ‘A’ team after teaming with Hollywood stuntman Mouse McCoy to win the overall title in this year’s Tecate SCORE Baja 500 in June. Each rider is expected to ride about one-third of the race.

Fielding a second factory team for the first time in three years, Honda’s so-called ‘B’ team will consist of talented young riders Robby Bell, 20, Murrieta, California, and Kendall Norman, 21, Santa Barbara, California, on the No. 4x Honda XR650R. Norman was part of the overall champion team last year as the third rider with Hengeveld and Campbell.

Hoping to unseat the Baja legends will be two factory teams from KTM, one from BMW, freestyle star Travis Pastrana and a host of privateer teams.

Part of the KTM effort will be Chris Blais, 24, Apple Valley, California, on the No. 2x, who will be soloing the event on his KTM 620 LC4. Blais, with help from former Honda factory rider Andy Grider, broke the 10-race SCORE win streak of Hengeveld/Campbell earlier this year by winning the overall title at the Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250 in February.

Rider of record for the second KTM entry is Las Vegas’ Kellon Waltch, 22, on the No. 3x KTM 660 Rally motorcycle.

Veteran rally racer Jimmy Lewis, Costa Mesa, California, who was the overall motorcycle winner in the 1998 Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 while teaming with Johnny Campbell, is leading the special BMW factory effort on the No. 12x BMW HP2 bike. Lewis, who is the editor of Dirt Rider magazine when he isn’t racing or running riding schools, has put together a veteran team with significant Baja experience.

Making his SCORE racing debut, Pastrana, 22, of Davidsonville, Maryland, will lead a formidable multi-rider team into the Baja desert on the No. 6x Suzuki 450. Former Team Honda and Team KTM rider Grider, 31, of Los Olivos, California, is scheduled to be the team’s primary co-rider, and the pair will be joined by Supercross legend Ricky Johnson, Encinitas, California, and Nitro Circus Producer Greg Godfrey, Draper, Utah.

Pastrana, a former AMA 125cc National MX Champion, X Games Freestyle Moto X gold medalist and Supercross star, had originally entered three classes, but after pre-running the difficult race course, decided to concentrate on the Class 22 open motorcycle division.

This year’s memorable adventure will cover 709 miles of the rugged and torturous Baja California peninsula, starting on the Pacific Ocean side and stretching across and down the Sea of Cortez side of the majestic peninsula past San Felipe before winding its way back up to the Pacific Ocean and back to Ensenada.

Pre-race festivities on Thursday, November 17, 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 November 17 at 7 p.m. at the Riviera del Pacifico Convention Center. Racer registration will be held at the Riviera CC from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesday, November 16 and from 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, November 17. The post-race Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 Survivor’s Celebration will be held on Sunday, Nov. 20, at 10 a.m. in the Grand Ballroom at the San Nicolas Hotel.

While entries will be accepted up to race morning (November 18), late entries will be assigned the next available number and starting position within each class. The classes with the most entries to date are SCORE Trophy-Truck with a SCORE and race-record 33, Class 1 and Class 1-2/1600 (31 each), SCORE Lite (21), Class 5/1600 (18), Baja Challenge, Class 30, Class 25 (16 each) Class 10 (14) and Protruck and Class 22 (11 each).

Leading the six Sportsman classes in the race is Sportsman Motorcycle over 250cc which has 31 entries to date.

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 second consecutive year on December 10 on the NBC Network. A different one-hour special will premier on the Outdoor Life Network on Sunday, December 18 and another different special will air in January on the Discovery HD Network. In association with SCORE International, Aura360 of Maine is co-producing all three shows.

By Scott Rousseau