Entries for Saturday's 40th Tecate SCORE Baja 500 are off nearly 40 percent from last year's record 492 starters. OUCH!
Three elements seem to factor into the startling drop: problems in the housing industry, the price of gasoline and the threat of violence in Mexico.
But the 300 entries SCORE has received for the 441-mile race – which starts and finishes in Ensenada – still ranks among the Baja 500's 10 largest fields. “We've had a great run,” SCORE publicity director Dominic Clark said yesterday of a four-year period that saw entries soar from 260 in 2003 to last year's record field. “But we have been impacted by a lot of things.”
Notably, the economy – although many racers have also backed away from racing in Mexico after the incidents of robbery on the highways surrounding last year's Baja 1000. SCORE's fortunes have always risen and fallen with the Southern California housing industry – the racing end of the equation trailing the turns in the industry by about a year. Plus, the cost of gasoline and racing fuels has increased significantly since the end of the 2007 season.
The only increase SCORE is seeing in Baja 500 entries this year is the percentage of Mexican racers. One driver, however, is undaunted by the problems facing SCORE.
Robby Gordon, who ran second overall to Brian Collins in last year's Baja 500, will double again this weekend. He will fly to Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup race in Dover, Del., after finishing the Baja 500. Gordon is making one change. He has parked his TrophyTruck and will run the Hummer H3 that he prepared for January's canceled Dakar Rally.
Collins, who will be seeking a third straight Baja 500 overall victory, will team with Escondido's Chuck Hovey, who is parking his open-class buggy to share Collins' Dodge Ram TrophyTruck. [That's SCORE Trophy Truck pilgrim!]
Another entry returning to the Baja 500 will be the ATV team led by Danny Prather of Ramona and Mike Cafro of Carlsbad. Like Collins and the motorcycle tandem of Robby Bell and Kendall Norman, Prather and Cafro will be seeking a third straight overall title in their division.
With entries right at 300, SCORE expects a handful of additional entries just before the start, giving organizers a legitimate shot at 300 starters for only the 10th time. In 2004, the race drew 300 starters for the first time since 1977. The field jumped to 345 in 2005, 438 in '06 (eclipsing the mark of 384 for both the 1976 and '77 races) and 492 last year. “Over the last five years, we experienced the same type of expansion we had in the 1970s before the housing decline of the 1980s,” Clark said. [story end]
The race began in 1969 under the auspices of the NORRA organization.
THURSDAY, MAY 29
Express Racer Registration - 1:00PM to 2:00PM
Regular Racer Registration - 2:00PM to 6:00PM
Media Registration - 2:00PM to 6:00PM
FRIDAY, MAY 30
Express Racer Registration - 8:30AM to 10:30AM
Regular Racer Registration - 10:30AM to 4:30PM
Media Center - 9:00AM to 5:00PM
FRIDAY, MAY 30 / Costero Blvd Riviera Center
Contingency Row - 10:00AM to 5:00PM
Technical Inspection - 10:00AM to 6:00PM
FRIDAY, MAY 30 / Riviera Convention Center
Competitors Meeting - 7:00PM
Late Registration & Tech - 5:30AM
Media Center - 5:30AM
SATURDAY, MAY 31 / Costero Blvd Riviera Center
Motorcycle & ATV Start - 6:00AM
Four Wheel Start - 9:30AM (Approximately)
SUNDAY, JUNE 1 / San Nicolas Hotel
Posting of Unofficial Results - 8:00AM
Competition Review Board - 9:00AM
Awards Presentation (poolside) - 10:00AM
TIME LIMIT - All competitors will have 20 hours from
their designated start time to complete the race.
START/FINISH LINE - The race will start and finish on
Costero Blvd in front of the Riviera Convention Center.
MOTO & ATV START ORDER - One every 15 seconds in
the following order - 22, 30, 40, 21, 20, 50, 60, 25, 24,
SPTMOTO>, SPTMOTO<, SPTATV. MOTORCYCLE & ATV STARTING GAP - There will be a
full three (3) hour gap between the last ATV starter and
the first Trophy Truck starter.
FOUR WHEEL START #1 - One every 30 seconds in the
following order - TT, 1, 10, SL, 8, PT, 1/2-1600, 5.
FOUR WHEEL START #2 - Then one every 15 seconds
in the following order - 7, 5-1600, 7SX, SF, SM, 9, 3,
SPTK, SPBG, 11, SPUTV.
NO STUB CANS: Stub Cans will NOT be used.
LAST RACE BRIEFING (5/25/08)UPDATED!
The race course will open for prerunning on
Saturday, May 17. Begin prerun at race mile 44.0,
which is 3.6 miles south of the Ojos Negros HWY 3 / KM 39 junction.
End prerun at mile 403.4, which is just
west of HWY 3 @ KM 35.5. The start section will be open for prerunning
on Thursday, May 29 and Friday, May 30.
From the SCORE Press release, "With the release of the official course map and course notes Monday, pre-race activity steps up significantly starting Saturday when the world’s best desert racers officially begin their pre-running and course logistics activities for this month’s 40th Annual Tecate SCORE Baja 500, the second-oldest continuous desert race in the world." Baja Racing News.com reports, 'There have been teams pre-running the course for weeks'.
“the kids in Erendira are already busy. Digging some ditches and other "booby traps" in the sandwash. When you're smart and bypass their little ploy, they throw rocks at you. Where we preran RM 265 to RM 404. Lllano Colorado road is the same, coast is the same. Got nice and toasty warm as the day wore on - hope the Summit guys hydrated alot.The cruel joke is RM 365 to Hwy 3, RM 404. Score has taken a grader and created brand new fresh race course, interweaving with the 2007 Baja 500 course. LOTS of silt already, which means will be very similar to '07. Oh well, it is an off-road race. Lots of folks out. Lots of cops visible in Ensenada, Mexican Army out everywhere.” (As reported earlier by Baja Racing News.com)
“We did from Ojos to Valle de la Trinidad, only a flat tire, everything is ok. They spent the night at Mike´s.”
“Got to Coyote Cals(Exactly RM330) at 9:30 A.M. Talked to the two SCORE officials who were on there way to finish marking the course at 360. Sal Fish was their the night before talking to the ejidos. They bragged about making sure that me and my team follow the course route exactly. If we or anybody gets off the course over 15ft. your IRC GPS will sound an alarm at SCORE and IRC and that race vehicle will be automaticaly DQ'D?
They did however tell me about a boobie trap dropping down into the Salada. Make sure you tell your team and racer beware. Traps on the left side of the wash. Riders stay to the right you will hit the natives little boobie traps but it is much better than hitting that three foot ditch! Pre-runners take note: at about RM327 after the whooped out rocks you head into the back yard of a Ranch. Between the end of the rocks and the entrance of the property close the gate behind you if there are not any kids there.”
“Made it home after a two day trip. I left my home in Alpine at 5am Saturday morning on my XR. Rode through Tecate border, up Compadre Trail and met Ivan at Ojos as scheduled at 8AM. We rode up and over the summit. It was tough. It was HOT! We saw a guy riding double up and over the summit all the way to mile 162 with his five year old kid strapped to him. The kid was all geared up. Yes, you read this correct. They were riding double, over the summit, 110 degree weather, five year boy old. By far the dumbest thing I have ever seen. Oh ya, he also had his daughter riding her 250x with him too. When we passed her she was off her bike throwing up from the heat coming down the summit. At mile 162 we stopped at the Baja pits to rest, eat, and fuel up. The guy finally showed up with his five year old. The kid layed on the ground under the tarp the rest of the time we were there. Hopefully they put him in the chase truck that showed up. Next we rode to Borrego, up the hill to Valley T. I picked up a nail in the dump at San Matias, be careful through there. We made it to Mikes Sky Ranch by dark. Nice 14 hour day ride! There was a party at Mikes for a friends 50 year old birthday, band and everything.Next day, we took off with a couple extra guys. We made it to Erindera and decided to hit the highway to Santo Tomas. We were hurting. Once there, the riders was about to grenade due to lose spokes. We couldn’t really fix it so Ivan hit the highway back to Ensenada to get his truck and take the rider to the Tecate border.”
“saw some (military)guys on thursday they where 2 of them they stop us I ask one of them what they where doing in the middle of nowhere and he reply theres 10 of right here in different places then we notice 3 more behind a bush. I think it is going to be safer then any other race, we where stopped by ‘3 Hermanos’ and then by ‘Cerro Grande’, race mile 110.”
“We got stopped at mile markers 205 and 255. Same deal, there were more in the bushes kind of back behind us a little. We had sodas for them, too! I'm glad to hear you guys had good luck there, too.”
“Some prerunners were asked at these military checkpoints about their race radios and if they had permits for them, I also read (as of yet unsubstantiated) stories that radios were being confiscated because of no permit. Did they ask you about your radio when you were stopped? The Mexican Government requires US Licensed Amateur licensees to obtain a reciprocal permit. We were prerunning over the weekend we were asked about our radios. how many we had. Then had me turn it on and checked the frequency we were on then sent us on our way.”
Baja 500 2008 Details
In the elapsed-time race, motorcycles and ATVs will start one every 15 seconds, while the faster car/truck classes will start one every 30 seconds and the slower ones will start in 15-second intervals. All starters will have a 20-hour time limit to become official finishers.
The field of veteran desert racers includes 21 defending class champions out of the 25 Pro classes that had finishers in last year’s race.
All three overall winners from last year’s race are 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 Mopar 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 and Prather/Cafro/Prull/Marana will start seventh in Class 25.
“To win the SCORE Baja 500 overall once is a dream come true, to win it twice amazing and to win it three times would be unbelievable,” said Collinsll/Norman will be fourth off the line in Class 22 and Prather/Cafro/Prull/Marana will start seventh in Class 25.
“To win the SCORE Baja 500 overall once is a dream come true, to win it twice amazing and to win it three times would be unbelievable,” said Collins, a second-generation SCORE desert racer who has five career SCORE Trophy-Truck race wins including this year’s 22nd Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250 in March. “Our new Mopar Dodge Ram 1500 is an unbelievable race truck and we could make history.”
Besides Collins, Bell/Norman and Prather/M. Cafro, other racers who will be back to defend their class titles are B.J. Richardson, Las Vegas (Class 1, Bunderson-Chevy), Dave Caspino, Woodland Hills, Calif. (Class 1-2/1600, Lothringer-VW), Donald Moss, Sacramento, Calif. (Class 3, Ford Bronco), Carlos Albanez, Mexicali, Mexico (Class 5, VW Baja Bug), Jose Montoya, Ensenada, Mexico (Class 5/1600, 1600cc VW Baja Bug), Dan Chamlee, Summerland, Calif., (Class 7, Ford Ranger), John Griffin, Mission Viejo, Calif. (Stock Full, Ford F-150), Rod Hall, Reno, Nev. (Stock Mini, Hummer H3), Carlos Casas, Chula Vista, Calif. (Class 21, Honda CRF450X), Jim O’Neal, Simi Valley, Calif. (Class 30, Honda CRF450X), Brett Helm, Poway, Calif. (Class 40, Honda CRF450X), Jim O’Neal, Simi Valley, Calif. (Class 50, Honda XR650R).
The five class winners from last year who have switched classes are: Nick Vanderwey, Phoenix (from Class 8 to SCORE Trophy-Truck), Lobsam Yee, Tijuana, Mexico (Class 10 to Class 1), Gus Vildosola Jr., Mexicali, Mexico (Protruck to SCORE Trophy-Truck), Ryan Penhall, Corona, Calif. (from Class 20 to Class 22), and Adolfo Arellano, Chula Vista, Calif. (from Class 24 to Class 25).
To date, the Pro 4-Wheel vehicles classes with the most entries are: Class 1 (23), SCORE Trophy-Truck (22), Class 1-2/1600 (19), SCORE Lite (13) and Class 5/1600 (14).
Leading the Motorcycle classes in entries so far are Class 22 (17) and Class 30 (11).
Class 24 leads the ATV classes with 12 entries while Class 25 has 11.
Among the Sportsman classes, SPT Motorcycles over 250cc has 31 entries.
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 Silverado.
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.
Arizona real estate mogul Ken Losch, a team owner/driver in the Indy Lights series, will be driving a Ford F-150 in the Protruck class.
Debuting her new race team in SCORE Lite will be prominent Automotive electronic and print 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.
For the first time in the 40-year history of the Tecate SCORE Baja 500 desert race, the colorful pre-race Manufacturer’s Midway and Contingency, the start and finish line will all be located in the heart of Ensenada, Mexico on Boulevard Costero adjacent to the historic Riviera del Pacifico Cultural Center. It will be first time in race history that the pre-race activities and the finish will be held on this historic boulevard.
BEGIN PRERUNNING 3.6 MILES SOUTH OF OJOS NEGROS HIGHWAY JUNCTION. ( HIGHWAY 3 SOUTH @ KM 39 )
LINE RACE COURSE DESCRIPTION TRIP MILE
X Start Line at Riviera Cultural Center on Boulevard Costero 0.00 0.00
1 BEGIN PRERUN / Ojos Negros dump / End of chainlink fence 44.00 44.00
2 Go left at Y / Sign on right says "Rancho San Antonio" 0.62 44.62
3 Pass through gate 1.43 46.05
4 Go left and cross water 0.23 46.28
5 Pass through open fence 2.31 48.59
6 Stay straight - road comes in from left 7.97 56.56
7 Pass through gate, water tank on right / Tres Hermanos 0.84 57.40
8 Go left at Y / Straight goes to Uruapan 0.03 57.43
9 Several lines to follow in silt area 3.41 60.84
10 Top of hill - stay straight 4.01 64.85
11 Go left at Y 5.14 69.99
12 Left turn / El Alamo 0.53 70.52
13 Pass through cattle guard 4.24 74.76
14 Stay straight - road comes in from left 7.05 81.81
15 Right onto HWY 3 @ KM 77 (60 MPH ZONE FOR 1.2 MILES) 0.23 82.04
16 Left off HWY 3 @ KM 78 and pass through cattle guard 1.18 83.22
17 Go right at Y to avoid ranch 0.42 83.64
18 Merge right onto ranch road 0.80 84.44
19 Stay straight 0.14 84.58
20 Stay straight 0.47 85.05
21 Stay straight - road comes in from left 1.26 86.31
22 Pass through fence and turn right 1.24 87.55
23 Either Or 0.14 87.69
24 Stay straight 0.16 87.85
25 Stay straight 0.79 88.64
LINE RACE COURSE DESCRIPTION TRIP MILE
26 Stay straight 0.46 89.10
27 Right turn at four way intersection 0.49 89.59
28 Turn left at four way intersection 0.64 90.23
29 Right turn over cattle guard / CHECKPOINT 1 1.28 91.51
30 Go left at Y 0.22 91.73
31 Stay straight - road comes in from left 0.71 92.44
32 Cross Santa Catarina Graded Road 0.46 92.90
33 Either Or 1.18 94.08
34 Go right at Y 0.41 94.49
35 Go left at Y 1.30 95.79
36 Right at T intersection 4.39 100.18
37 Right turn at four way intersection, then pass over cattle guard 1.04 101.22
38 Left turn / Nuevo Junction 1.88 103.10
39 Left off ranch road 0.24 103.34
40 Go left in open area 0.22 103.56
41 Stay left to avoid ranch road 0.89 104.45
42 Pass through gate and climb hill 1.26 105.71
43 Go right - left goes to dam 1.62 107.33
44 Go right - stay on new road 1.16 108.49
45 Left at T intersection 1.19 109.68
46 Go left at Y 4.13 113.81
47 Top of Summit 0.24 114.05
48 Stay straight - road comes in from right 2.29 116.34
49 Either or - left is high road and right is wash 3.94 120.28
50 Go right at Y 3.91 124.19
51 Either or 7.72 131.91
52 Pass through cattle guard 0.86 132.77
53 Right turn / Cahabuzo Junction 8.55 141.32
54 Right at T intersection 20.86 162.18
55 Go left at Y 0.33 162.51
56 Merge right onto graded road 0.75 163.26
57 Stay straight - road comes in from right 1.68 164.94
58 Merge to right - road comes in from left 7.90 172.84
59 Stay straight - diesel generator on left 3.90 176.74
LINE RACE COURSE DESCRIPTION TRIP MILE
60 Left out of wash 5.77 182.51
61 Military Inspection Area 18.34 200.85
62 Cross HWY 3 @ KM 179 / CHECKPOINT 2 5.26 206.11
63 Either or at powerline junction 1.58 207.69
64 Borrego Pit Area 2.61 210.30
65 Go right at Y 0.31 210.61
66 Go left and parallel HWY 3 / STAY OFF HIGHWAY 2.59 213.20
67 Cross Villa del Sol graded road / STAY OFF HIGHWAY 3.72 216.92
68 Cross road - sign says "Col San Martir" / STAY OFF HIGHWAY 0.19 217.11
69 Stay straight at highway access road / STAY OFF HIGHWAY 3.71 220.82
70 Pass very close to HWY 3 / STAY OFF HIGHWAY 2.60 223.42
71 Go left away from highway and drop into San Matias wash 0.19 223.61
72 Cross HWY 3 @ KM 151, then continue in wash 1.09 224.70
73 Stay straight in dump area - Left is access to highway 4.12 228.82
74 Fenceline on right / STAY OFF HIGHWAY 0.31 229.13
75 Right on HWY 3 @ KM 142 / San Matias (60 MPH ZONE FOR 2.5 MILES) 1.65 230.78
76 Left off HWY 3 @ KM 137 / Mike's Sky Ranch turnoff 2.45 233.23
77 Go right - sign says "Rancho Mike" 3.02 236.25
78 Right turn onto crossover road / Course does NOT go to Mike's 10.66 246.91
79 Go right - road comes in from left 0.49 247.40
80 Go left at Y 1.45 248.85
81 Right at T intersection 1.31 250.16
82 Go left - ranch on right 1.17 251.33
83 Right at T intersection / Llandro Valle Village 6.15 257.48
84 Left off graded road before cattle guard 4.95 262.43
85 Pass house on left, then go across field and merge with graded road 7.92 270.35
86 Right onto HWY 1 @ KM 102 (60 MPH ZONE FOR 4.0 MILES) 28.90 299.25
87 Left off HWY 1 @ KM 96 4.06 303.31
88 Right off graded road then climb hill / CHECKPOINT 3 0.85 304.16
89 Go left around hill 2.29 306.45
90 Left onto graded road 0.60 307.05
91 Right off powerline road 0.72 307.77
92 Left around water - pond 6.58 314.35
93 Either or / Drop to Pacific Ocean 1.73 316.08
LINE RACE COURSE DESCRIPTION TRIP MILE
94 Go right up hill - white cement structure on left 5.60 321.68
95 Descend to Village of Erendira 3.07 324.75
96 Drop into wash, then turn left before pavement at Tecate Market 0.88 325.63
97 Cross road, then watch out for big ditch 0.97 326.60
98 Go right at beach 0.30 326.90
99 End of beach rock section 1.01 327.91
100 Left onto graded road after beachfront houses 0.30 328.21
101 Right at T intersection 15.86 344.07
102 Stay straight - small village on right 4.46 348.53
103 DETOUR - Hard left off graded road / Rock wall on right. 7.51 356.04
104 End of detour, left back onto graded road. 0.25 356.29
105 Left at four way intersection, then follow residential street to highway 1.50 357.79
106 Left onto HWY 1 @ Santo Tomas (60 MPH ZONE FOR 6.8 MILES) 0.13 357.92
107 Military Inspection Area on Highway before Uruapan 3.93 361.85
108 Right off HWY 1 @ KM 40.5 / Acambaro Restaurant Bar & Market 2.88 364.73
109 Top of hill, then go left and downhill, and then uphill 0.55 365.28
110 Cross Road / Sign says "Basurero" 0.48 365.76
111 Pass through open fence 0.38 366.14
112 Right at T intersection 0.20 366.34
113 Right through open fence, then go left to avoid steep hill climb 0.28 366.62
114 Left at T intersection 0.65 367.27
115 Right turn 0.14 367.41
116 Left at T intersection, then pass through gate 0.60 368.01
117 Stay straight, then cross road 0.28 368.29
118 Right turn 0.83 369.12
119 Go right at Y, then follow new road 0.13 369.25
120 Left at T intersection, then left again 1.56 370.81
121 Go left at top of hill 1.09 371.90
122 Caution!!! - Hard left 1.76 373.66
123 End of GPS for short distance / Follow course markings 0.79 374.45
124 End of new road, left onto last year's course / Begin hill climb 0.65 375.10
125 Stay straight 1.62 376.72
126 Pass through open fence with metal posts 1.76 378.48
127 Pass through long section of tall trees 3.79 382.27
LINE RACE COURSE DESCRIPTION TRIP MILE
128 Go left in open field 2.70 384.97
129 Pass through gate 0.84 385.81
130 Go left at Y 0.93 386.74
131 Top of hill / View of Ojos Valley 1.73 388.47
132 Metal post on right 0.94 389.41
133 Go right to avoid mud hole 0.53 389.94
134 Hard left / Outbound course is straight 0.83 390.77
135 Go through open fence 0.86 391.63
136 Pass through gate 0.51 392.14
137 Go left to avoid several washouts 0.66 392.80
138 Left in wash, then immediate right out of wash 1.20 394.00
139 Right onto ranch road 0.13 394.13
140 Left off ranch road / Begin technical section 0.11 394.24
141 Left onto graded road / End of technical section 1.90 396.14
142 Pass through white metal gate, then left off graded road 0.42 396.56
143 Go left at Y, then left again 1.01 397.57
144 Go left at Y, then pass fenceline on right 0.60 398.17
145 Climb hill / CHECKPOINT 4 0.36 398.53
146 Pass through gate, then stay straight at the next three junctions 3.16 401.69
147 Go left at Y, then pass through gate 0.91 402.60
148 Pass through gate 0.14 402.74
149 END OF PRERUNNING / HWY 3 @ KM 35.5 is straight ahead 0.69 403.43
X Exit course by going straight across large field to HWY 3 @ KM 35.5 X X
X Course turns left to Finish Line, but no pre-running in this direction X X
X Finish Line at Riviera Cultural Center on Boulevard Costero 37.72 441.15
WHO’S GONNA DIE?!
The ‘What About You’, Bob Bowers is too old to write
How many of you will not be coming home after the race? Dead and Gone.
Read on Brother. Don’t just expect the worst out of yourself. You're racing in Baja, “The Most Notorious and Dangerous Racing in the World”. Expect the worst from everyone else on the road!
It’s time to race and live. “No eternal reward will forgive us now for wasting the dawn”.
- Sleep until you can’t sleep any more. Sleep before you cross the border.
- Eat likes it’s your last meal. It might be!
- Know your driving limits. No booze or nothin’ else, unless you want to race death!
Baja Racing News.com