Motorcycles at heart of Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 desert race
As Honda, Kawasaki, KTM set for overall battle among 90 bikes
1,121.55-mile 45th anniversary of Granddaddy of all desert races has at least one member of last
15 straight overall motorcycle champs entered in race down Mexico’s Baja California peninsula
LOS ANGELES—Ever since the first known record run occurred in 1962, by Dave Ekins and Bill Robertson Jr., motorcycles have been at the foundation and the very heart of SCORE Baja racing. Next week’s 45th Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 will showcase over 90 motorcycle teams along with the factory team showdown for the overall victory for teams from American Honda, Kawasaki and KTM.
Most with an average of three riders each, from all over the world, the field includes nearly 30 racers who will attempt the arduous journey riding solo the entire 1,121.55 miles to earn the glory of the Sal Fish SCORE IronRider award. The granddaddy of all desert races, which is the season-finale of the five-race 2012 SCORE Desert Series will be held on Mexico’s magnificently mysterious Baja California peninsula next week.
With the bone-jarring course traveling on both sides of the peninsula, the world’s most famous desert race will start in Ensenada, Baja California and finish all the way down the peninsula in La Paz, Baja California Sur. Pre-race activities begin officially with racer registration starting next Sunday (Nov. 11).
For motorcycles, SCORE offers seven Pro and two Sportsman classes of competition, five based on engine size and four on age groups, but clearly at the forefront of every SCORE Baja race is the Class 22 open motorcycle division. And at the epicenter of this year’s race will be three factory-supported teams led historically by 22-time overall winner American Honda who will be challenged by talented teams from Kawasaki, who has won this race nine times and returns for the first time since 1996, and KTM who has never won this race.
HOW MANY FLAGS?
With over 300 expected entries for cars, trucks, motorcycles and ATVs competing in 35 Pro and 7 Sportsman classes in the internationally-showcased race, entries have come from 34 U.S. states and 23 countries. In addition to the 34 U.S. States, racers have entered from Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bolivia, Canada, China, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Guatemala, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, South Korea, Spain and the US Territory of Guam. With 10 days before the green flag drops on Thursday, Nov. 15, additional late entries are expected up to race morning.
BAJA TIMING PERSPECTIVE
As a point of reference regarding the significance of the two-wheel racing machines in this legendary event, motorcycles have had the overall fastest time among all cars, trucks, motorcycles and ATVs in the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000, an astonishing 36 times in the first 44 years of this race.
SCORE recognizes the difference in divisions so it presents three overall winner’s trophies, one each for the fastest motorcycle, car/truck and ATV. But when identifying the fastest vehicle to cover the total distance it has almost always been motorcycles.
Entering this year’s race, KTM and Kawasaki have won the first two races while the powerful Honda team is winless. A total of just six points separates the three factory teams.
In the Orange corner is Kurt Caselli, Murrieta, Calif., leading the KTM team which has 146 points after two of three races. In the Red corner is Colton Udall, San Clemente, Calif., rider of record for the Honda team with 144 points while in the Green corner is Robby Bell, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., who leads the Kawasaki team which is third in points with 140.
Teams on Honda motorcycles have won the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 for the last 15 years while prior to that Kawasaki had a nine-year winning streak (from 1988 through 1996).
This year, Caselli and Ivan Ramirez, Ensenada, Mexico, brought their KTM team to the winner’s circle in March at the 26th annual MasterCraft Safety Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250 and Bell, with help from David Pearson, Panaca, Nev., and Steve Hengeveld, Oak Hills, Calif., brought their Kawasaki team to the top of the podium in June at the 44th Tecate SCORE Baja 500.
Meanwhile, Udall, with co-riders Timmy Weigand, Valencia, Calif. and David Kamo, Caldwell, Idaho, finished a close second in both of this year’s previous SCORE Baja races on their Honda.
As challenging as the three teams are themselves, in addition to battling each other, they must also contend with the infamous, ever-changing, oft-treacherous course that stretches out down the rugged Baja California peninsula and all of the added obstacles it brings to the battle. In order to win the race, racers must first beat the Baja.
In this year’s elapsed-time race with vehicles starting one every 30 seconds, starting fourth in Class 22 which has 11 entries to date will be the FMF/Bonanza Plumbing/KTM Factory Off-Road Team No. 5x KTM 450SX-F of Caselli who will be the rider of record for a four-person team that includes Ramirez, Mike Brown, Murrieta, Calif. and Quinn Cody, Los Olivos, Calif. Cody has added incentive as he was a rider on the winning Honda team each of the last four years. Brown won an XGames gold medal in Enduro X this past summer.
Seventh off the starting line on the THR Motorsports No. 8x Kawasaki KX450F will be Bell, who won this race in 2007 and 2008 on a Honda, with a four-person team that includes Pearson, Hengeveld and Destry Abbott, Peoria, Ariz. Hengeveld won seven overall titles in this race riding for Honda and Abbott and Pearson are both champions from the AMA Hare and Hound Series in the USA. The veteran desert racer Abbott, 40, has five AMA Hare and Hound national titles as well as six gold medals at the international ISDE competition.
Wearing the crown that his challengers are seeking, Udall, the defending series point champion who is still looking for his first overall win in this race, will be the rider of record on JCR Honda’s No. 1x Honda CRF450X that will start 10th with his co-riders being Weigand and Kamo joined by 11-time Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 overall champion and JCR Honda team owner Johnny Campbell, San Clemente, Calif. Weigand was one of three riders on the overall winning Honda team in this race in 2009. The 11-time SCORE season point champion, Campbell, 41, who hasn’t raced in a SCORE race for the past few years but seldom goes a day without riding somewhere, has been in race-mode training as he prepares to race with an international Honda team in the upcoming Dakar Rally.
SCORE BAJA LEGEND SPEAKS
JCR Honda’s Johnny Campbell, proclaimed ‘king of SCORE Baja racing’ for all of his racing accomplishments south of the border, is a bit anxious entering this year’s race, “We have another great Honda team, but both Kurt (Caselli) and Robby (Bell) have proven they can beat us. I’m really not sure if I really be needed to ride this year, but just like Colton, Timmy and David, we all will be as prepared as humanly possible and you can be sure that Honda will be swinging for the fences against some superb competition.
“These teams are so equally matched, I really think the difference this year will be preparation and unless something unforeseen happens, which it can and does in Baja, whoever is ready and has the best-prepared support crews down the peninsula will win the 45th anniversary of the unbelievable SCORE Baja 1000. I was part of the winning team in the new millennium race in 2000, the 35th (2002) and the 40th (2007) and it would be humbling and very special for all of us to add this title to our JCR Honda collection.”
MORE BIG M/C NUMBERS
Leading the motorcycle racers entered this year with at least one class win and who are still competing on two wheels with at least three wins in this event are Richard Jackson, Acton, Calif. (12, racing this year in the age group Class 60), Campbell (11, Class 22), Hengeveld (10, Class 22), Jeff Kaplan, Thousand Oaks, Calif. (10, Class 40), Jim O’Neal, Simi Valley, Calif. (10, Class 50 and Class 21), Francisco Septien, Ensenada, Mexico (6, Class 21), Cody (5, Class 22), Scott Myers, Menifee, Calif. (5, Class 21), Brian Pinard, Temecula, Calif. (5, Class 40), Gerardo Rojas, San Vicente, Mexico (4, Class 21), and Mike Johnson, El Paso, Texas (3, Class 30).
The motorcycle and ATV classes will start their journey at 6:30 a.m. next Thursday (Nov. 15) with the car and truck classes starting at approximately 11:30 a.m., or four hours after the last ATV leaves the line. The fastest finishers are expected to complete the course in approximately 20 hours.
Completing its 39th year as the world’s foremost desert racing sanctioning body, the event is the finale of the five-race 2012 SCORE Desert Series. The race will start on Boulevard Costero adjacent to the picturesque Bahia de Todos Santos in front of the iconic Riviera del Pacifico Cultural Center in the heart of Ensenada. The adventure will finish on the outskirts of La Paz on Highway 1 near the Grand Plaza Hotel, race headquarters for the southern half of the event.
This year will be the 38th time in the first 44 years of the storied race that it has started in Ensenada and it will be the 19th time in has finished in La Paz.
It’s the oldest and most well known of all desert races, and it remains as the single most appealing accomplishment to a racer. Since 1967, the legendary race has been run over the mysterious and majestic Baja California peninsula.
Pre-race festivities next Wednesday (Nov. 14), for the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000, including the vastly popular tech and contingency of all vehicles and the SCORE Manufacturer’s Midway will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Boulevard Costero in front of the Riviera del Pacifico Cultural Center. The pre-race mandatory driver/rider briefing will also be held next Wednesday (Nov. 14) at 7 p.m. in the Cathedral Room at the Riviera del Pacifico Cultural Center.
Racer registration will be held at the San Nicolas Resort Hotel from starting this Sunday (Nov. 11) through next Wednesday (Nov. 14). Media registration will be held at the San Nicolas Resort Hotel from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. next Tuesday (Nov. 13) and from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. next Wednesday (Nov. 14).
As the celebration continues throughout all day next Friday (Nov. 16) and next Saturday morning (Nov. 17) while official finishers cross the line and tales are added to the legacy of the event, the post-race awards fiesta will be held on the Malecon in downtown La Paz, starting at 5 p.m. next Saturday, (Nov. 17). The entire race will be conducted on Pacific Standard Time.
BY THE NUMBERS
While entries will be accepted up to race morning, late entries will be assigned the next available number and starting position within each class.
The car and truck classes with the most entries to date are SCORE Trophy Truck (39), Class 1 (23), Class 1/2-1600 (13), Class 10 (12) and Class 5 (10).
Among the motorcycle and ATV classes, Class 22 for open motorcycles has the most entries to date with 11 and Class 40 (riders 40 years old and over) with 10.
Leading the entries in the seven Sportsman classes in the race is Sportsman Motorcycle over 450cc which has 36 entries and Sportsman ATV which has 11 entries so far.
Pre-running on the majority of the race course from Ojos Negros to La Paz began Friday (Oct. 26) and pre-running from the start line in Ensenada to Ojos Negros will be allowed only next Tuesday and Wednesday during race week (Nov. 13 and 14).
This year’s historic 45th anniversary race will run down the length of Mexico’s majestic Baja California peninsula. The challenging race course for this year is somewhat similar to 2010, but longer than the last time the race finished in La Paz, although the terrain has obviously changed significantly because of weather conditions and natural use. This year even more changes are occurring because of Hurricane Paul that came through the southern portion of the course several weeks ago.
With eight mandatory checkpoints and 70 virtual checkpoints and 12 short pavement speed zones with speed limits of 60 miles per hour spread down the peninsula plus the finish line, the course starts on the Pacific Ocean-side of Baja California in Ensenada and heads southeast to San Felipe on the Sea of Cortez before heading south through Coco’s Corner, Bahia de Los Angeles, San Ignacio, back to the Pacific at San Juanico, then back to the Sea of Cortez just above Loreto, back to the Pacific near Ciudad Insurgentes heading down along the Pacific through Santa Rita before turning back east and down into La Paz for the finish.
All entries are provided with GPS programs defining the course and all are required to utilize special data recording devices that plot the actual route and speeds each vehicle takes during the mammoth race.
BFGOODRICH TIRES UNMATCHED
In 2012, BFGoodrich Tires is celebrating its 37th year as a major player in SCORE Baja racing. In addition to being the official tire of SCORE International for nearly four decades, BFGoodrich Tires has produced the tire of choice for 25 of the overall 4-wheel vehicle winners in the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000, including 25 of the last 26 years along with a record-run of 20 straight from 1986 through 2005.
BFGoodrich Tires also provides unmatched pit support for racers using their tires with eight full pit areas along the race course to La Paz and complete radio relay the entire 1,121.55 miles.
SAL FISH IronRider AWARDS
This race also features the prestigious Sal Fish SCORE IronRider awards presented to each motorcycle and ATV rider who completes the entire course within the time limit while riding solo. To date, a total of 30 racers, all but two are on motorcycles, have declared the intent to ride the entire race solo in their quests for the Sal Fish SCORE IronRider Award.
AWARDS LIKE NO OTHER
Iconic GRAHAM-Watchmaker, headquartered in Switzerland, the Official Timekeeper of SCORE International, has designed and produced a limited-edition, high-end Chronofighter Oversize SCORE Baja 1000 collector’s timepiece that will also be one of two unique and special awards to be presented to the overall winners of the race. One of the unique, individually numbered collectible timepieces will be awarded to each of the three overall race division winners—the overall 4-wheel vehicle, motorcycle and ATV champions at this year’s granddaddy of all desert races. The three overall category champions will be awarded a category customized/personalized Chronofighter Oversize SCORE Baja 1000 limited-edition timepiece.
In addition to the once-in-a-lifetime GRAHAM Chronofighter Oversize SCORE Baja 1000 timepieces, the overall champions in the race will also each receive a special commemorative trophy Tecate, the title sponsor of the race.