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Monday, April 21, 2008

Number of racers way down for Baja 500 2008

Only 227 entrants for the 2008 Baja 500. Less than half of the number entered last year. The reasons? The economy, the Baja crime wave and the SCORE racing fees, have all been vented by Baja racers.

Prominent Southern California performance racing seat manufacturer Robbie Pierce, and fellow veteran desert racers Josh Rigsby, Anthony Pico and Jason Greenhaw all drew pole positions in their respective classes during Saturday’s computerized drawing for starting positions in the upcoming 40th Annual Tecate SCORE Baja 500.

Round 3 of the five-race 2008 SCORE Desert Series, the World’s Foremost Desert Racing Series, will feature over 300 entries, competing in 28 Pro and 6 Sportsman classes for cars, trucks, motorcycles and ATVs, will be held May 29-June 1 in Ensenada, Mexico. Traditionally one of the most popular events on the SCORE schedule, over 150,000 spectators are expected to enjoy the world’s best desert racers in action at this year’s 40th anniversary of the Tecate SCORE Baja 500.

With late entries excepted up to race morning, entries are expected from 24 U.S. States, Mexico, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan. The green flag will drop for the race at 6 a.m. on Saturday (May 31) for the motorcycle and ATV classes in the Tecate SCORE Baja 500, followed by the car and truck classes three hours after the last ATV at approximately 10 a.m. The final entry field is expected to be among the top 10 largest number of racers in event history.

Between them, the veteran racers who will start first in their respective divisions have an average age of 39.75 years.

Pierce, 48, of Santee, Calif., will drive the No. 35 MasterCraft Motorsports Chevy Silverado SCORE Trophy-Truck as he continues to compete in his first full season in the marquee SCORE racing division for 800-horsepower, high-tech, unlimited production trucks.

Owner of the popular MasterCraft Company of Santee, Calif. Pierce summed up the feeling off all four racers, who will each be starting first in their different classes for the first time in their careers.

“You’ve got to be kidding, I think I’ll retire a half-mile off the start line and go out on top” said Pierce, currently third in SCORE Trophy-Truck season points, after he heard the news. “It is honestly an unbelievable dream come true. First off the line for the 40th anniversary of the SCORE Baja 500 in a field that includes Robby Gordon, Rob MacCachren, Scott Steinberger and the rest of the best SCORE Trophy-Truck drivers in the universe. I think I’ll leave tomorrow and start pre-running.”

Rigsby, 37, Santa Fe, New Mexico, will start first in the unlimited Class 1 in the elapsed-time race. He is currently tied for eighth in Class 1 in a Chevy-powered Penhall open-wheel desert race car.

Pico, 38, Whittier, Calif., will lead the motorcycles into the Baja desert on a Honda CRF450X in Class 22 for open bikes. Currently listed as the only rider on his team, Pico has not yet declared if he is riding solo or not and can pick up additional riders between now and race morning.

Greenhaw, 36, Bakersfield, Calif., is leading a three-rider Class 25 ATV team on a Honda TRX450R. Splitting the riding with the eight-year veteran SCORE racer will be teammates Nick Nelson, 28, Tehachapi, Calif., and Nick Destout, 19, Oceanside, Calif.

All three overall winners from last year’s race are all entered and all three have won two consecutive years. Las Vegas’ Brian Collins, Las Vegas, returns seeking a third straight overall 4-Wheel vehicle victory with new teammate Chuck Hovey, Escondido, Calif. Collins, who drives the No. 12 Mopar Collins Motorsports Dodge Ram 1500, won the last two year with Larry Ragland as his teammate.

Returning as the two-time overall motorcycle and Class 22 champs is the team of Robby Bell, Murrieta, Calif./Kendall Norman, Santa Barbara, Calif., on the No. 1x Honda CRF450X. Back to defend their overall ATV and Class 25 victory is the team of Danny Prather, Ramona, Calif./Mike Cafro, Carlsbad, Calif., on the new No. 1a Honda TRXX700. Splitting the seat time with Prather and Cafro this year will be Chad Prull, Laveen, Ariz., and Levi Marana, Hemet, Calif.

Collins/Hovey drew the eighth starting spot in SCORE Trophy-Truck while Bell/Norman will be fourth off the line in Class 22 while Prather/Cafro/Prull/Marana will start seventh in Class 25.

As of the Start draw, the Pro 4-Wheel vehicles classes with the most entries are: Class 1 (23), SCORE Trophy-Truck (22), SCORE Lite (15), Class 1-2/1600 (12) and Class 5/1600 (11).

Leading the Motorcycle classes in entries so far are Class 22 (15) and Class 30 (11).

Class 24 leads the ATV classes with nine entries to date.

Among the Sportsman classes, SPT Motorcycles over 250cc has 25 entries and SPT Motorcycles under 250cc has 10.

Drawing the first start in SCORE Lite was Brian Burgess, Riverside, Calif., in a Moulton-VW, while on the pole in Class 1-2/1600 will be twin brothers Arturo and Abel Velazco, Banning, Calif., in a Porter-VW. First off in Class 5/1600 will be the team lead by Gustavo Avina, Ensenada, Mexico, in a 1600cc VW Baja Bug.

Leading Class 30 (motorcycle riders over 30 years old) to the starting line will be the team led by Chad Erl, Huntington Beach, Calif.

First off in Class 24 will be Kyle Needham, Truckee, Calif., on a Yamaha.

Among the other early entries is venerable veteran Rod Hall, Reno, Nev., who has entered the Stock Mini class in a Hummer H3. Hall, 70, is tied for first with 17 class wins in the Tecate SCORE Baja 500. Hall’s son Josh and Chad will driver separate Hummers in the Stock Full class. Josh will drive a Hummer H2SUT and Chad will drive a Hummer H3Alpha.

Several crossover/celebrity racers are already entered in this year’s race, led by NASCAR’s Robby Gordon. A second generation desert racer, Gordon, who has won this race three times, is a NASCAR Team Owner/Driver and is entered in SCORE Trophy-Truck in the No. 77 Chevy CK1500.

Germany’s Armin Schwarz, whose World Rally Championship career saw 119 starts, won Class 1 in this year’s Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250 with Martin Christensen, Escondido, Calif. and are currently fourth in Class 1 points in a Jimco-BMW. Making his SCORE race debut in Jimco-Chevy in this race will be German Rally ace Armin Kremer.

Two celebrity drivers who are all SCORE regulars are SCORE Trophy-Truck drivers Cameron Steele and Jesse James.

James, whose wife is legendary motion picture star Sandra Bullock, lives in Sunset Beach, Calif., owns the world-famous West Cost Choppers company and was the star of the old Monster Garage television series. He will drive the No. 54 Chevy Silverado.

Debuting her new race team in SCORE Lite will be prominent Automotive journalist Barbara Terry, Clover, South Carolina, who will be the driver of record in a Bunderson-VW for this race and the season-ending Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 in November.

The 2008 SCORE Desert Series also includes the chase for the $20,000 Volkswagen Point Leader Bonus and the run for the Toyota Milestone Awards.

Current SCORE official annual sponsors are: BFGoodrich Tires-official tire, Sunoco Race Fuels/Bryant Petroleum-official fuel supplier, Bilstein-official shock, Volkswagen of America-official vehicle, Instant Mexico Auto Insurance-official Mexican auto insurance, Slime-official tire sealant, Red Bull--official energy drink and Bosch Power Tools-official power tool. Associate sponsors are: Tecate Beer, Coca-Cola of Mexico, Las Vegas Events, Terrible Herbst Inc., Blue C Enthusiast Advertising, Kartek Off-Road, American Suzuki, SignPros, P.C.I. Race Radios, McKenzie’s Performance Products and Advanced Color Graphics.

RESULTS FOR THE STARTING GRID

40th Annual Tecate SCORE Baja 500

May 29-June 1, 2008--Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico

Total Entries: 227 (as of 4/19/07)

(24 States; Mexico, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan)

Pro Cars & Trucks

SCORE TROPHY-TRUCK (22) 35 Robbie Pierce 16 Cameron Steele 1 Mark Post 39 Ron Whitton 4 Gus Vildosola 97 B.J. Baldwin 2 Pete Sohren 12 Brian Collins 33 Chad Ragland 8 Roger Norman 28 Alan Pflueger 96 Bobby Baldwin 22 Damen Jefferies 54 Jesse James 38 Garron Cadiente 84 Nick Vanderwey 7 Scott Steinberger 34 Danny Sullivan 77 Robby Gordon 71 Rick D. Johnson 60 Mike Voudouris 50 Jason McNeil

CLASS 1 (23) 101 Josh Rigsby 100 Bill Gasper 103 Enrique Bujanda 104 Paul Keller 105 Jeff Farris 106 Chuck Dempsey 107 Pat Dean 108 Armin Schwarz 109 Luis Ramirez Jr. 110 B.J. Richardson 111 Dale Lenk 112 Ryan Sharman 113 Eric Chase 114 Mike Voyles 115 Robert Ross 116 Rob Bruce 117 Will Higman 118 Lobsam Yee 119 Ron Brant 120 Brian Parkhouse 121 Armin Kremer 122 Rick Ellison 123 Dale Ebberts

CLASS 1-2/1600 (12) 1601 Arturo Velazco 1602 Adam Pfankuch 1600 David Caspino 1604 Roman Pereyra 1605 Edgar Alvarez Jr. 1606 Cory Boyer 1607 Viry Felix 1608 Max Hanberg 1609 Arnoldo Ramirez 1647 Eliseo Garcia 1648 Josue Delgado 1649 Juan Gallo

CLASS 3 (1) 301 Donald Moss

CLASS 5 (3) 501 Kevin Carr 502 George Seeley 519 Carlos Albanez

CLASS 5/1600 (11) 551 Gustavo Avina 552 Ernie Negrete 550 Mario Reynoso 554 Rubern Gutierrez Jr. 555 Tommy Craft 556 Alonso Angulo 575 Javier Morales 576 Saul Garcia 577 Marcos Nunez 578 Omar Nunez 579 Jose Montoya

CLASS 7 (3) 701 Brandon Walsh 700 Dan Chamlee 719 Rick Battey

CLASS 7S (0)

CLASS 7SX (4) 740 Rich Severson 741 Heidi Steele 758 John Holmes 759 Jeff Fuller

CLASS 8 (1) 801 Noah Ostanik

CLASS 9 (0)

CLASS 10 (6) 1001 Mark Hutchins 1002 Mike Lawrence 1003 Brendan Fikes 1004 Alex Crostwaithe 1005 Tito Robles 1006 Will Higman

SCORE LITE (15) 1201 Brian Burgess 1202 Tim Pangborn 1203 Jake Jones 1204 Gary Johnson 1205 Luis Barragan 1206 Perry McNeil 1207 John Padgett 1208 Bill Hernquist 1209 Barbara Terry 1210 Steve Mamer 1211 Aaron Payne 1212 Rick St. John 1213 David Callaway 1214 Ricardo Malo 1215 Lee Banning

CLASS 11 (5) 1101 Eric Solorzano 1102 Ernesto Martinez Jr. 1103 Neri Sanchez 1148 Carlos Villa 1149 John Ledyard

STOCK FULL (5) 861 Josh Hall 862 Chad Hall 863 Pedro Vargas 864 Kent Kroeker 879 Clyde Stacy

STOCK MINI (2) 760 Rod Hall 779 Gavin Skilton

PROTRUCK (4) 250 Gary Magness 203 Dave Creagan 234 Rob Reinertson 240 Rob Kittleson

PRO MOTORCYCLES

CLASS 22 (15) 2x Anthony Pico 3x Grant Steele 4x Jimmy Roberts 1x Robby Bell 6x Cory Brewer 7x Jesse Sharpe 8x Ryan Penhall 9x Cory Evenson 10x Michael Gordon 11x Nick Blais 12x Nick Saia 13x Caleb Goselear 14x Keith Webster 15x Terence Montelongo 49x Daniel Allford

CLASS 20 (3) 151x Chad Black 152x Larry Perkins 179x Anna Cody

CLASS 21 (4) 101x Robert Gustine 102x Jonah Street 103x Edy Garcia 104x Bernard Bohner

CLASS 30 (11) 301x Chad Erl 302x Chris Parker 303x Scott Myers 304x Dennis Green 305x Ricardo De La Pena 300x Jim O’Neal 307x Matt Reynolds 308x Joey Mayortena 309x Javier Hernandez 310x Mike Johnson 311x Jamey Kabish

CLASS 40 (4) 400x Brett Helm 401x Stuart Goggins 402x Kevin Newton 449x Todd Winslow

CLASS 50 (6) 501x Jaime De La Torre 502x Eizaburo Karasawa 500x Jim O’Neal 504x Charles Marshall 505x Kenny Hayden 506x Lyman Scherer

CLASS 60 (1) 600x Don Lewis

PRO ATVs

CLASS 25 (8) 2a Jason Greenhaw 3a Wayne Matlock 4a Javier Robles 5a Reid Rutherford 6a Max Hernandez 7a Stefano Caputo 1a Danny Prather 9a Travis Dillon

CLASS 24 (9) 101a Kyle Needham 102a Craig Christy 103a Benjamin Lopez Jr. 104a Ray Fay III 105a Javier Beltran 106a Francisco Servin 107a Carl Penny 108a Rodrigo Gonzalez Jr. 149a Luis Berumen

SPORTSMAN

SPT CAR (2) 1401 Wendell Mortensen 1400 Peter Lang

SPT TRUCK (1) 1501 Bob Land

SPT UTV (3) 1800 Thomas Graves 1801 Mark Page 1819 Mark Lindsay

SPT M/C< (10) 201x Tony Gurule 202x Glen McGuire 203x Anthony Arballo 204x Nemrod Bracamontes 205x Todd Goetze 206x Fred Sobke 207x Matt Ladendorf 208x Trisha West 209x Marco Bernaldez 210x Scott Anderson

SPT M/C> (25) 251x Hiroshi Hirakawa 252x Chad Thornton 253x Thomas Cushman 254x Andy Padulo 255x Adam Neuwirth 256x Carlos Becerril 257x Masaaki Senoo 258x Andrew Hursh 259x John Crowley 260x David Rentfro 261x Pat Moore 262x Gary Sparks 263x Thierry Mas 264x Bryce Wright 265x Craig Anstine 266x Kazuhiro Nakamur 267x Jason Scherer 268x Jorge Rivas 269x Brent Deaton 270x Jeb Avery 271x Bill Gilbert 272x Andrew Gutierrez 273x Randy Roy 274x Bryan Slaughter 299x Jeff Leonard

SPT ATV (8) 51a Luciano Felix 52a Daniel Montana 53a Julio Gomez 54a Flavio Perez Jr. 55a Charles Barfield 56a Ken Lehmann 57a Derek Christina 58a Alan Wahlstrom

Baja Racing News.com