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DEFYING ALL STEREOTYPES After Michelle Barazza’s First SCORE Race, This Pro UTV Open Competitor Is More Motivated Than Ever Story By Stuart Bourdon Photos courtesy Michelle Barazza Michelle Barazza is not your typical mom. Although she describes herself as a stay-at-home mom, and will joyfully tell you all about her six children, Barazza will switch to discuss her love of off-road racing. When suited up and ready to drive her Pro UTV Open Class Polaris RZR at full speed over a rough and bumpy desert racecourse, she is laser-focused on being the first in her class to cross the finish line. Although Barazza is relatively new to driving an off-road race car, living in Mexicali meant she was around off-road racing most of her life. In fact, her dad was one of the early Mexican SCORE Trophy Truck competitors, having bought and raced in one of Walker Evans’ trucks in the 1990s. Barazza grew up in the sport, and those early years had a big influence on her, but she didn’t begin competing in off-road racing until a few years ago. Early Days “CODE started doing this race called Racing for Boobs about eight years ago,” Barazza said. “It’s a fundraiser for breast cancer awareness and support together with a foundation called Mujeres Que Viven (Women Who Live).” Only women can race in the event. All proceeds go to the foundation, and the 2020 race brought in about 900,000 pesos (almost $40,000 US). “It was the thing that got me started racing,” Barazza said. “I bought my Polaris RZR and loved it. My grandma passed away a few months before the race, so I thought I would race in honor of my grandma who died of cancer. I modified my RZR for racing, won that first race, and from then on, I couldn’t stop. It lit a fire in me, and I’ve been racing off-road ever since.” Barazza kept a busy racing schedule through various local Mexicali events but eventually decided to run in the SCORE Baja races. Her husband Humberto has always been a big supporter and co-driver, and it wasn’t too long before she and her “team” (family and friends) found themselves pre-running for their first SCORE race, the 2021 BFGoodrich Tires 34th SCORE San Felipe 250 presented by Ford, last April. “It was my first really big race.” Barazza said , “We pre-ran for four days, which I think was too much. It wore me out before the race.” Barazza and her longtime navigator Victor Castillo had a clean race, but the course was torn up from pre-running, and she was surprised how rough it was by race day. “I think we could have done a little bit better, but we finished with no problems and ended sixth in our class behind some very experienced drivers, so I feel good about that. I met a lot of other great women drivers and learned a lot. It gave me the experience and confidence I needed to move to the next level.” Barazza was already in Tijuana checking out a prerunner for the next race. “We’re getting ready for the SCORE Baja 500,” she added, “And are planning to run the entire 2021 SCORE World Desert Championship.” SJ

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