Thursday, April 03, 2008

This Is Baja Racing, "The Most Notorious and Dangerous Racing In The World"

Over the past few days since the San Felipe 250 a bunch of moto guys have been complaining about the proceedings in San Felipe having to do with the moto results of that race. Of particular interest of those racers has been a singular line (an alternate routing of the race course) that Honda 1x used. They just so happened to win the race.
Baja Racing has an opinion about such things in general, notice the story title, we pay attention to what's being said, but, for the most part we believe desert racers, baja racers should blow off steam. If they vent their opinions in public, for industry and fan consumption, we will report on it, if it's entertaining or safety related. Tonights festivities and comments were rare enough to document and relate to the larger racing story. About off-road, desert racing in Baja, Mexico.

If the reader remembers one thing about this article let it be this: Cameron Steele said tonight just after one of SCOREs drivers meetings in Ensenada awhile ago, Cam Steele, the late Jason Baldwin and Sal Fish had a private meeting about the race. Cam Steele quoted Sal Fish as saying, "it's OK to cut the course in open desert, washes, etc. It's not OK to cut the race course through fences". The plain meaning being, don't trample ranchers land, because that will cause the Baja races to go away, no passage rights from racers causing problems for SCORE.

"Baja Racing, the most notorious and dangerous racing in the world".

Mike Childress was quoted as saying tonight, "Sal Fish's actions say, 'it's OK to cheat as long as you don't win doing it." "I got DQ'ed in 2006 for cutting a corner at RM 12 at a past race. When Honda 1x was shown to Sal as cutting the course at this race (San Felipe 250 2008) after he said he was going to DQ them, he backpeddled after IRC showed him the evidence, Sal said, 'uh-uh-uh', then he allowed them to win after he was shown the goods."

Pete Sohren confirms:
"trophy truck's could fit through the fence but when sal said it was a DQ to do so we went the longer/rougher way...we had some team honda/jonny cambell racing riders on a radio show on the night before the race and they told us how bad the feelings were over the DQ problem at the 2006 san felipe 250 with the 1x taking the cut at mile 12 that they werent going to have that problem again...apparently they forgot on race day during this years race...".

Cam Steele chimed in, "the rule is NOT to get caught".

Childress continued, "just after CP 3 (CheckPoint 3) a truck knocked down fence, that led to a line that cut out alot of bad course (whoops and crap) and at the drivers meeting the night before, Sal said you would be automatically disqualified (DQ'ed) if you went through the fence and that particular section".

Cam Steele responded, "On race day, Team 1x, 'the lead team', did not accidentally go through that section", Sal doesn't know what he's talking about". SCOREs Person of the Year two years running, strikes again! Thanks for the confirmation!

SCOREs final response to the challenges that Honda 1x, cut that section, in direct opposition to Sals directive at the drivers meeting, "they (Honda 1x) did not win the race by taking that line".

Childress replied:
"I had a bad race crash and dislocated my wrist. Rode the next 20 miles like that so that steve could solo the rest of the way..All I can say about the line thru the fence...we didnt do it 1x did. Sal made it clear if you did you would be dq'd at the riders meeting..Sal didnt have the balls to stand by his word..Told me he shouldn't have said that at the riders meeting."

Jamie Campbell, Johny Campbells brother chimes in:
"Jealousy is a B---h Mikey or are you just bummed the old man schooled you guys, my big bro will always be "The King of Baja" let it go dude ! I recall 2 years or so ago you got caught cheating in SF riding for "American Honda" and got penalized for it. I guess Sal had bigger balls then."

Mike Childress responded:
"Jamie Jamie Jamie, I was just setting the facts straight...People asked about it. They didn't win the race because of that line we had a bad weekend and Robby rode great. Yeah I was dq'd 2 years ago for the same action. I'm not even going to argue the IRC showed the cut Sal said yes he cut. Paul said yes he cut..But because that it didn't change the outcome of the race that is was ok..So everyone great news....if you cut its ok...just dont win doing it! Baja 500 will be a different story, cant wait".

Steve Bourgeois, frenchey 'seve' whined endlessly:
"After Checkpoint 3 and entering Huatamote Wash, there is a private property fenceline where someone removed a section, resulting in a little shortcut. It probably cut 30 seconds off.What I don't understand is if 1x's E-Track stopped working at RM 100, how do people know that 1x took the line? Was there a witness? Or just another case of selective enforcement?

Sal Fish announces at Rider's Meeting that fenceline opening at RM 194+, entrance to Huatamote Wash, would be considered an automatic DQ if anyone took it.-1x IRC public tracker stops at RM 100, yet Mike Childress (5x, eventual 2nd place) "knows" 1x took this shortcut at RM 194. Childress demands an IRC track from Fish at finish line. IRC box recording indeeds shows 1x illegal cut, but Fish tells Childress "it doesn't affect win, what does it matter." No action taken against 1x. No action taken against 1x.Sal Fish/Score International sets precedent that you can violate Score rules, but the difference "didn't affect the win." No penalty issued or assigned.Is everyone happy with that? Hunky dory? Peace on earth?-8x crashes on RM 12-23 stretch, rider becomes disoriented. Rider leaves course, ends up on Hwy 5. Claims he rode Hwy 5 shoulder north until he rejoined race course. Score claims "no foul" because long diversion "made up no time." If 8x had turned around when he discovered his lost situation, rejoined race course, he would have added substantially to his overall time. He in fact avoided several miles of whoops.Score did nothing, allowed 8x a podium (3rd place) finish, with no penalties or sanctions whatsoever. No action taken against 8x. No action taken against 8x. WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?-Lack of enforcement - no, ignoring - by Score's own rules.-Selective enforcement by Score of a certain brand/team? Kinda suspicious, huh?Forget the names and brands. Hold Score International responsible for this JOKE of rules enforcement.Sorry folks, this is not whining. This is years' of the same observations that when technology now proves otherwise, Score flips their noses at you and and ignores their own gospel.

Current Score racing problems are highlighted in the San Felipe 250 Forum. I am starting a new thread because of a problem I see only getting worse.Score has always bent the rules for bikes, especially if it favors a certain "NAME BRAND" bike manufacturer. And why not? HONDA provides all kinds of advertising venue and opportunity to Score that Score "owes" it to them to reciprocate. Nothing wrong with that except Score has abused that client-patient privilege and allowed Honda to do anything they want.One exception: 2006 San Felipe 250, where Paul Fish, riding in a helicopter and seeing first hand, a very serious shortcut by the Honda bike, DQ'd team Honda, an incident that could not be hidden. Amazingly, Sal Fish called Bruce O at Honda and told him the bike was being DQ'd before the official announcement.The San Felipe debacle of no action taken against 1x or 8x is a joke. The shortcourse "wouldn't have allowed the win" or "added nothing to their overall time" is an absolute travesty. Score is saying: People, it's OK to bend the rules as long as it doesn't affect the win... or... add to the time you finished (1x and 8x, respectively).This is NOT a Class 22-only issue, which many of you think it is. It is an ALL SCORE issue. You guys racing Sportsman or doing your own thing as an Ironman may not care because it only affects the "big guys." It affects you as well. You cannot sit back and adopt a laissez-faire attitude because it doesn't affect your outcome.Now. Let's talk about IRC's E-Track. The "public" webcasts have shown their failure. Remember, what you're "seeing" on the public internet is a racer-paid selection by the racer: every 2, 5, or 15 minute update. Any guess to what frequency rate the factory teams are selecting?What is Score doing about the "recorded" tracks on the IRC units themselves? Or is this just another Rally Logger brushover?

As long as were talking about SCORE's is the one were talking about:RULE GL15A marked course is that official route designated by and marked with SCORE markings. The marked course must be followed by all vehicle entries during the event. No vehicle entry may deviate from the marked course on either side more than fifty feet (50’) from the centerline of the course to pass. The 50’ limit may change from event to event or from one area to the next in the same event as stated by SCORE. Passing on a marked course is permitted when the deviation is made safely and within the set limit. No short coursing is allowed. (Short coursing is defined as deviating from the marked course for other than passing.Sensitive areas are those that are designated by SCORE or government regulatory agencies. No deviation off the course whatsoever is permitted in designated sensitive areas. Special markings may be used by SCORE in sensitive areas.Open running areas are those designated by SCORE where one or more routes may be used during the event. Open running will be permitted only within the parameters of the area designated by SCORE. One or more course routes may or may not be marked by SCORE. SOCRE will preannounce any controls which may be located within an open running area.SCORE is not responsible for markings which are damaged or moved. No persons other than SCORE officials are permitted to place, remove or relocate course markings.All vehicles must drive only in the correct direction of the course route or trail.Failure to abide by these regulations is grounds for disqualification, fine, suspension, and/or penalty determined at the discretion of the Race Director."

Paul Fish responded:
"Regarding the Race Map Image/tracking, provided below, The green line with the mile markers is the race course. The red line on the right is the 8x course. The black line on the far right is the highway. The straight red line on the bottom left does not represent anything so please ignore that line.I don't believe that Rule GL15 is relevant in this case. For whatever reason, 8x was lost and made three significant attempts to locate the race course. 8x turned a 10 minute section into a 23 minute section, so no advantage was obtained. If the data had indicated a straight and direct run down the access road and up the highway, our decision might very well have been different. However, since the data indicated three meaningful attempts to find the course, this is clear evidence of the rider's state of mind at the time."

Scotty Breauxman responds:
"It was not explained in SCORE's response whether 8x was traveling at any particular speed on the HWY...Irregardless of the rider's intent, it was not explained why 8x was not required to re-enter the race course at the point from he exited. While SCORE contends that "no advantage was obtained", here is proof that 8x skipped a section of race course and basically pulled a Trigger Gumm".

Another response:
"GL15 IS revelant. And what about the terrain from RM 12 to RM 23 that 8x avoided? All straight and narrow, right? Score plays by their rules."

VTR Racing responded:
"I think you hit the nail right on the head. Now, take it one step further, try being in the quad class! We are the circus sideshow. The only question to be asked from Score, Was there a Rule infringement? Look what happened at last years Baja 250 in Ensenada with Riviera racing!"

mjlang responded:
"Gents, we can all grumble as much as we want but there are a few undeniable facts that SCORE (yes it is a business) lives by:
BFG, Honda, etc. are a significant source of income to SCORE
Honda (Johnny and crew, Herbst, etc.) are significant draws for fans and publicity
SCORE lays out large amounts of dollars to buy access to routes (CODE and RECORD don't not race on the streets, SCORE does)
D2G Wannabe racers make up a large block of dollars and don't care about purses or winning. Easy money for SCORE. Competitive teams (DP and others) are caught in this crowd also. They have the potential to win but represent a small revenue numbers to SCORE. In any business you have a group of customers who are not happy with your product or service and you spend a certain amount of time trying to make them happy so they will continue to buy products from you. This effort is directly related to the past, present, and future revenue generated by the account and sometimes you allow things to go sideways because the same effort elsewhere yields more revenue (business 101).I'm not defending SCORE. All rules should be enforced equally across all classes. I'm sure Sal considered what a second DQ of 1x would do to his revenue stream going forward. I had a boss one time tell me, "If something stinks, follow the money and you'll find out who was behind it."Voting with your feet is the most effective way to show your displeasure with the current situation but you gotta admit the SCORE races with their fame, hype and droves of fans is a tough thing to turn away from. It strokes the ego pretty hard when you finish the Baja 1000 and go to work on Monday and tell everyone what you did with your day off or tell someone, "I'm a SCORE Baja racer."

Ramsey "Smarter than dirt"(Bwaaa!) El Wardani (Dipshit Extraordinaire) puked this up:
"Course cutting is wrong, period! The question is; what is course cutting, or short coursing? Racing in Baja started as “Point to Point” racing from one checkpoint to the next. That tradition remained strong for 30 plus years, before GPS was able to prescribe an exact course for anyone that had a GPS to follow it. When I started racing, a vague map, course markers and tulip notes were all we had to follow. Often you would drive 10 to 20 miles without seeing a marker and the map and tulip notes were not detailed enough to keep you on an exact course. In fact there really wasn’t an exact course until recent years when SCORE with BFG started releasing the GPS maps that we now use.We used to prerun just to figure out how to get from one known point to another and of course look for the fastest or shortest route. Short coursing was when you cut off sections of the course or bypassed them altogether, not when you took a better line down the beach or clear across a valley on the other side.I think that spirit needs to be maintained in Baja racing to a large degree. When Honda, in 2003, jumped down off the hard dirt onto the beach that for the most part paralled the course just above it, that was smart Baja racing. When the same team cutoff a section of the course by San Felipe in 2006, that to me was short coursing. When SCORE announced in the Driver’s Meeting that going through a specific fence was a DQ, doing so was short coursing – and should have been enforced.This year when marking this Baja 500 course from RM 230 to Uruapan, we marked many of the old traditional “Shortcuts” as either/or so as to remove any question as to if they would be considered short coursing and the IRC folks were notified so that they will not flag them as off course. I had mixed feelings about doing so as it removed one element of Baja racing that I think still belongs in the sport. Also this practice was not followed everywhere on the course as other teams marked different sections. As an example, just after the left turn coming out of Tres Hermanos the GPS course goes up the left side of a very large valley and wash. I doubt that any either/or arrow was put up in that area, but to me, and this is just my opinion, any line on any side of the valley through the wash is legitimate. Prerunning in that area and finding the best way through can be a real advantage – that is Baja racing to me. How the IRC folks will handle that area or others like it, I don’t know. If they flag them as being off course then it will be up to SCORE to evaluate the section and decide how to handle it. My guess is that it would not be considered short coursing, but again it is only my guess, and I am willing to take what I think is the best line.Racing in Baja isn’t the same as racing in Barstow, Nevada or Plaster City and shouldn’t be viewed the same."

Ramsey, you win the confused loser of the decade award.

Time to man-up on this one. Sal Fish and SCORE are the only reason racers can race in Mexico. Without Grandpa Sals protections, Americans would be eaten alive in Mexican off-road races. In Mexico, an American can win, if the Mexicans let you win.

Racers are blessed to have Sal and SCORE in Mexico taking all the crap from the Americans, us included and all the stuff from the locals. Soon, Baja Racing will be telling some insider stories about Americans providing races in Mexico and the unreal Mexican Mierda that transpires at EVERY RACE.

Hey, Steve Bourgeois, keep it up, keep stirring the pot.
Because this is not a safety issue, whatever Sal decides, we are good with.
SCORE is Sals game, we are lucky to have it, support it, to compete in, and enjoy.

Desert racing started with racers respecting and taking care of each other. Isn't it up to the RACERS to police each other?

Gary Newsome, Editor
Baja Racing