SCORE Journal

SCORE Journal-December 2019

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

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A SOGGY START Teams Start Race Week In Unexpected Conditions By Dan Sanchez Photos by Jack Wright Three days of heavy rain in Baja brought uncertainty and safety concerns to the 52nd BFGoodrich SCORE Baja 1000 Presented by 4 Wheel Parts. Racers who pre-ran the course the entire week found themselves with little time to change their race plans for a course that was damaged from the reported four-inches of rainfall at the beginning of race-week. SCORE President and Race Director Jose A. Grijalva ultimately decided to postpone the start for 24-hours, allowing sections of the 800.5-mile course to be repaired, dry-out, or rerouted. Highways with standing water were also another reason for the delay, as it was unsafe for chase teams to get to areas of the course. “The course is rugged enough without all of the rain making several parts impassable because of flooding and standing water,” said Grijalva. We had numerous crews out on the course identifying the worst sections that we bypassed or repaired as best we could. This was one of the most challenging races in the history of the world’s greatest desert race.” While rain on the SCORE Baja 1000 is a very rare event, former SCORE owner Sal Fish, recalled the 1976 SCORE Baja 1000 race, often referred to as the “Wet and Wild Baja 1000,” which was another time severe storms caused a race delay. “I was staying at the El Cid and woke up at 2 a.m. from the heavy rainfall,” said Fish. “I looked out the window that overlooked an area of the Rivera Convention Center where many of the vehicles were parked. Most were Baja Bugs and I could see them floating! We postponed the race 8 to 10 hours and racers found a way through the mud.” Pre-Race Events Finally Get Some Sun The added time for the race start, allowed racers to pre-run the course after repairs to it were made, offering an added level of safety which was the primary intent by SCORE officials. Despite a changing course and the difficulties it brought to SCORE officials and race teams, most all of the racers thought the decision was a wise one. Nevertheless, the rest of the race week’s schedule went on as planned, including a two-day Contingency which was also dampened by the rain. Despite the on and off showers, all of the racers came out to speak with SCORE announcers Rat Sult and Karlina Hirales. Racers and teams were elated that they would not have to endure extremely hot temperatures and dust as in other Baja races but stated their concern over how the mud would affect their vehicles and plan of attack. While the added sunshine that appeared during the second day of Contingency dried up the local highways, some portions of the course were still muddy and would add another unexpected level of difficulty to what was already one of the most difficult courses of the SCORE Baja 1000. Ford Makes Their Bronco R Debut One of the highlights of the pre-race events included the launch of the Ford Bronco R. The prototype vehicle was built by Ford Performance in collaboration with Geiser Bros Design and SCORE Trophy Truck champion Cameron Steele, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Rod Hall and Larry Minor’s win of the 1969 Baja 1000 race in a 1969 Bronco. Ford Motor Company drove the Bronco R up the ramp during the second day of Contingency to explain why the Ford Bronco R was brought to the race so they can learn how the drivetrain and chassis would hold up to the rigors of the world’s toughest off-road race. With SCORE Trophy Truck veteran Cameron Steele as driver of record, the Bronco R was driven by several Ford engineers, as well as several racing personalities including Shelby Hall, granddaughter of the late Rod Hall, as well as SCORE Champions Johnny Campbell, Curt LeDuc, and Steve Olliges, Ultra 4 Champions Brad Lovell and Jason Scherer to name a few of the 16 drivers of the vehicle during the race. It was also during this time that Ford announced it would be the Official Truck and SUV of the 52nd BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 1000 Presented by 4 Wheel Parts and will continue the sponsorship through the 2022 season. “Working with SCORE just makes great sense, especially with some of the Ford trucks and SUVs coming down the pike, starting with the reveal of the new Bronco next Spring,” said Mark Rushbrook, global director of Ford Performance Motorsports. “Vehicles like Raptor and the all-new Bronco were built to live in the sand of Baja.” Cameron Steele and Pat Dean honored by BFGoodrich Tires Each year, racers who have won the SCORE Baja 1000 Overall running on BFGoodrich Tires are honored by the company during SCORE’s press conference. At this year’s pre-race event, Motorsports Director for Michelin North America and BFGoodrich Tires, Chris Baker, presented Cameron Steele and former co-driver Pat Dean with their custom 51st BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 1000 rings. Baker was quick to point out that BFGoodrich Tires’ 40-plus years of association with the SCORE Baja 1000 has resulted in 95 SCORE race wins, of which 30 have been in the SCORE Baja 1000. Baker also announced that he will be retiring in March of 2020 after joining BFGoodrich Tires in March of 1982. Baker introduced Tony Menard as his successor as the Motorsports Director and thanked SCORE International’s leadership for the success in off-road racing and making it safer and more competitive for racers and fans. SCORE Marketing Director Jim Ryan, recognized BFGoodrich Tires and Motorsports Director Chris Baker for their longtime support for the past 43 years, and announced that the company continues its support with a $40,000 Contingency Award payout for the SCORE Baja 1000 Overall winner running on BFGoodrich Tires. SCORE Press Conference Highlights Crossover Racers This year’s SCORE Baja 1000 also had many racers from NASCAR, IndyCar, Formula 1, Dakar, Rally and other professional sanctioning bodies who came to compete in various classes. Some of these included the SCORE Trophy Truck team of Jesse Jones (number 76), who had Dakar Champion Nassar Al-Attiyah and motorcycle endurance champion Toby Price as co-drivers. NASCAR driver Casey Mears, son of Off-Road Racing Champion Roger Mears was the driver of record for the number 42 Axalta SCORE Trophy Truck. NASCAR racer Brendan Gaughan was competing in Class 1 with Short Course Champion R.J. Anderson and Buddy Feldkamp, son of SCORE Champion and Off-Road Hall of Famer Bud Feldkamp. IndyCar racers included Alex Rossi who co-drove with the Honda Racing Team of Jeff Proctor, and former Formula 1 racer Jensen Button who was in the number 203 SCORE Trophy Truck Spec. International rally racer Christine Giampaoli Zonca was driving in the Pro UTV FI class, while the hall of fame rock crawling champion Shannon Campbell competed in the Hammer Truck Unlimited Class. While there were many other crossover racers, SCORE’s Marketing Director Jim Ryan, applauded these racers for bringing additional race fans to view and experience the SCORE Baja 1000 and for making the race more competitive. SCORE’s Pre-Race Driver’s Meeting On Course Changes The rain damage and 24 hour delay caused some changes to the course, which was explained to all of the drivers during the pre-race Driver’s Meeting. SCORE’s President and Race Director Jose A. Grijalva went over the changes to short sections of the course that were washed out and rerouted. Other sections were repaired and tested, but Grijalva warned that although some areas had dried out, others would be very muddy and with standing water. Grijalva urged racers to be careful and to note the areas on their GPS systems where these changes were made. SJ

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