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BORN FOR BAJA RACING Growing Up In BaJa Gave Samantha Contreras The Confidence To Race By Larry Saavedra Photography courtesy of Samantha Contreras Growing up in Baja California, with its wide-open landscapes, has had its advantages for 25-year-old Samantha Contreras. She is the young woman on the 295X motorcycle, who rode the first leg in SCORE’s Sportsman Moto Class, at the 34th BFGoodrich San Felipe 250, Presented by Ford. While it was Contreras’ first official SCORE race, she feels comfortable racing in the Baja desert. “I’ve done a lot of regional racing here, and that helped,” said Contreras. “As a child, I grew up watching SCORE racing every season with my father. I have spent a lot of time in the deserts preparing for the day when I would race a SCORE event.” That experience also included knowledge of the ever-changing weather conditions in Baja, and how rain, wind, and heat affect the racers and bikes. “I started riding motorcycles seriously, as a teenager,” she said. “I knew nothing about the kind of gear I needed when I started. I depended on others and rode my boyfriend, Brandon Dudlley’s KTM because I didn’t have a bike.” Eventually, Contreras caught the racing bug, and she spent the next several years ripping across the Mexican desert at every opportunity. She eventually bought a KTM motorcycle, and was quickly gathering the experience she needed to compete at a higher level. “I gained a lot of confidence racing at local events held in Ensenada and other parts of Baja,” said Contreras. “I loved it, and couldn’t wait to get good enough to race in SCORE.” That time eventually came after SCORE International announced the dates for the 34th SCORE San Felipe 250. As the day approached, Contreras grew more nervous, still unsure about the outcome and how she would start the race. Yet she knew of Pro Moto Unlimited racer, Ana Rivas, who was also racing at the event, and who inspired her to pursue the dream. “I wanted to race SCORE, but I was apprehensive,” she said. “My teammates assured me I could do it, and so I went for it.” Contreras spent a lot of time pre-running the course, but things didn’t go as well as she had liked. “I fell and hit hard on the stabilizer of the bike,” she said. “I also wasn’t pre-running with the Honda CRF450X I would be racing, and I would change that next time. I probably needed to be more patient on the bike, and I got stressed after a SCORE Trophy Truck got too close during the pre-run. I will be more careful in the future.” Protective of their daughter, Contreras’ parents didn’t approve of her racing venture, and didn’t like that a young woman would be out alone in the Baja desert. “They thought I was nuts, but when it was over they were proud of me,” she said. Like many racers, finding sponsors continues to be one of the challenges, as she juggles between college courses and a full-time job for her parent’s business in Baja. “I’m studying to become a police officer,” said Contreras. “I guess I like the adrenaline. I don’t know why more women don’t race in Baja,” said Contreras. “It would be amazing if more of us got involved.” SJ

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