SCORE Journal

SCORE Journal-August 2019

SCORE Journal - The Official Publication of SCORE Off-Road Racing

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Page 15 of 109

A New Race & New Rules Talking One-On-One with SCORE President And Race Director Jose A. Grijalva By Dan Sanchez Within the world of off-road motorsports, the SCORE Baja 500 and SCORE Baja 1000 are the two most prestigious and oldest races that can be won. But the SCORE World Desert Challenge also includes the San Felipe 250 that has a 33-year history of its own and that takes place in another area of the Baja Peninsula. SCORE recently added a new race, the Lucerna SCORE Baja 400, which replaces the SCORE Desert Challenge. SCORE has confidence this new race will become another landmark that challenges racers and prepares them for the SCORE Baja 1000. To find out more about the Lucerna SCORE Baja 400, and its contribution to the SCORE World Desert Championship, the team challenge and race experience, we spoke with SCORE’s President and Race Director Jose A Grijalva. He, along with General Manager Juan Tintos, work diligently to ensure that SCORE races not only improve the challenge for off-road racers, but that they also have a positive effect on the local economy of Ensenada, as well as the people and establishments along the Baja Peninsula. SCORE Journal: Where did the idea of the Lucerna SCORE Baja 400 come from? Jose A. Grijalva: I have been wanting to do this race for years. We wanted to make our race series the best there is by having four main events. It came from the same reasoning as to why we made San Felipe 250 a 350-mile race. SJ: Why did SCORE decide to make it 400-miles rather than similar to the previous format of the Tijuana races? JG: The amount of time and effort preparing for, and actually racing in a SCORE-level race demanded more race time.Therefore we thought that making it 400 miles was just right. SJ: having had a different start-finish line for the past SCORE Baja 500, where will Contingency and the start-finish line be located for the SCORE Lucerna 400? JG: The Lucerna SCORE Baja 400 will be starting in town in front of the Riviera Center, as we return to the traditional SCORE start-finish and contingency area set-ups for all the pageantry and history that SCORE has developed and is known for. We have been working with the authorities to make our races safer and the results speak for themselves. It’s important to note that it is the first time that Ensenada will host three previously scheduled “SCORE International” Races. SJ: Since there will no longer be a qualifying event in Las Vegas for the SCORE Baja 1000, how important is it for racers to compete and attend the Lucerna SCORE Baja 400? JG: It’s very important to secure a good starting spot for the mother of all off-road races, the SCORE Baja 1000. Although there won’t be any qualifying the Lucerna SCORE Baja 400 will be a very fun and challenging race which we think racers and fans will be making this one of their favorite SCORE races. SJ: What will the race do to impact the area and city of Ensenada? JG: We worked with the city of Ensenada to come up with the best date possible, this will impact the city and all of the towns where the race passes through, Baja has great people, great food and beautiful places. Our SCORE General Manager Juan Tintos added that the race dates were determined in coordination with city and State Authorities to accommodate the facts that the first Monday of September is “Labor Day” in the U.S. making this an important tourist weekend. In addition, the last Saturday of September is the Rosarito-Ensenada Bike Ride. Therefore, pre-running and race week will generate an unprecedented amount of tourist benefits for Ensenada in September. SJ: Will the course be similar to previous SCORE Baja 500 races, or are there new areas that racers will experience in this 400-mile race? JG: Yes, we will include many trails that we normally use, but also ones that we haven’t raced in over 10 years. We always add a section that will challenge even the best and most experienced racers. This Lucerna SCORE Baja 400 course won’t let them down. I can tell racers and fans that 90 percent of the course will be fast and fun, but expect slow, tough, rough and technical areas near Mike’s Sky Ranch. For some new racers, this loop will be completely new for them. SJ: How do you expect racers will react to this race, and you think they will attack it like a sprint or be more cautious like an endurance race? JG: It’s always a sprint race with our faster classes. There’s so many fast vehicles and so much talent, that even a flat tire can make you drop down a spot. For most SCORE racers, once the green flag drops, they will be “pedal-to-the-metal until they see the checkered flag. It will be exciting to watch. SJ: The 2019 SCORE season has been one of the most exciting so far, what other changes can fans and teams expect later this year for the SCORE Baja 1000 and into the 2020 season? JG: The 2019 SCORE Baja 1000 will surprise everyone, even our racers that have been coming down to Baja for years. They will be surprised by a new section we have planned. In 2020 we will keep adding more challenges and some safety improvements, as the SCORE Baja 1000 will once again be our historical peninsula run from Ensenada to La Paz. SJ: How has SCORE’s relationships with government officials and the private sector evolved in recent years? JG: Because of the unmatched economic benefits and promotion that Ensenada and Baja California receive, the SCORE races have become the most important tourism events in the state. The present municipal and state governments are about to finish their terms and we want to thank them for their support in helping us organize the races. We have already met with representatives of the Federal Secretary of Tourism of Mexico as well as with the in-comming Mayor of Ensenada and State Governor, all who have expressed their support for SCORE races beginning with this year’s SCORE Baja 1000. SJ: Having been involved as a racer for so many years and more recently in the organization of SCORE races, what are some of the biggest changes you have seen? JG: There are so many we have introduced just in the last six years, but a very important one is that with four of our races being held in Baja California, it has consolidated SCORE International as the premier promotor of the state. Other changes we’ve made include the addition of new host cities, longer and more challenging race courses that include new sections, and the use of giant television screens, stages, ramps, and VIP platforms at all of our Contingency and start-finish locations. Most importantly, we have also made changes to instituting additional safety measures for racers as well as spectators, and our marketing and promotion efforts now include showcasing all four races on ABC Sports and ESPN networks. This along with our SCORE Journal digital magazine, LiveStream broadcast, and social media channels, gives our sport unprecedented exposure. SJ: SCORE has always been about improving safety. Are current races and the new Lucerna SCORE Baja 400 adopting more rules and safety aspects than in the past? If so, what are they? JG: Yes, we are adding more rules to increase safety, even to the point where I risk not being popular with some racers, but it is necessary. We will always apply our rules to everyone and try to keep our racers safe. This also includes our spectators, chase teams, and our SCORE team on the ground. Being strict with our helicopter pilots, drone operators, pitting, fueling protocols, etc. is all part of our efforts to increase safety in and around the course. We are starting something new during the Lucerna Baja 400 race, which will be a test for future races. On highway speed zones we will now make it easier and less stressful, by making our long speed zones a time zone as well. We will keep respecting the speed limit but we will give racers time to get from point A to point B without worrying about keeping the vehicle at a safe speed limit while worrying about other racers trying to pass them. Racers will even have time to pit and not lose their position while in the time/speed zone. We will have more details soon but this is very much needed to make the sport safer. The fact that the SCORE Baja 1000 has been voted as the best motorsports event in the world, and the SCORE is considered the world’s most foremost desert racing organization is truly and honor, but at the same time it is a huge challenge for us. That’s why at SCORE International, we are always striving to innovate and organize world-class events like the Lucerna SCORE Baja 400, that race teams, sponsors and fans will continue to want to be a part of. SJ

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