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BAJA’S RECORD BREAKER Larry Roeseler Earns His 12th BaJa 500 Overall Race Win By Dan Sanchez Photos by Get Some Photo When Larry Roeseler won his first Baja 500 race back in 1972, it was the moment that started his amazing racing career that would ultimately total 12 race wins over the history of this race. ‘”I still can’t believe that after winning that race with Bruce Ogilvie on a Harley Davidson motorcycle, that I’d still be racing and winning the Baja 500,” said Roeseler. “I still keep shaking my head that I’ve been so blessed throughout my racing career.” At age 64, Roeseler is a “man's man” of which many racers want to emulate. But the man people call “Mr. Baja'' simply loves competition, and is willing to help anyone who asks him for it. “It really means a lot to me to go somewhere and be recognized for winning the Baja 500 and Baja 1000 races,” says Roeseler. “I love the competition, and at this race, I was ecstatic about finishing third. It was great for Luke and I to win the SCORE Baja 1000 last year, and I teamed up with Andy in 2016. So to finish with these guys at this SCORE Baja 500 showed I was at the level I wanted to be.” After SCORE imposed penalties on Andy McMillin and a DQ for Luke, Roeseler didn’t realize he had ultimately won the race until a few days afterward. “I was happy with third place, and I didn’t do any of the math until I heard about the 30-minute penalty on Andy. Then I got the call and I was happy for our team but sad for Luke and Andy, racers whom I respect. When I pre-run, I pride myself on being respectful to Baja and being one of the people who obeys the speeds and helps pull people out of the silt. I do my homework and stay clean while making all the right decisions.” Roeseler knows that taking even the slightest shortcut can give you a penalty if your vehicle doesn’t register with one of the Virtual Checkpoints (VCPs). “Back in the day, everyone was looking for shortcuts while pre-running,” says Roeseler. “Personally, I love the VCPs. They are the best thing to keep tabs on vehicles. I try to memorize where they are or where they would be best placed. You can come into a corner and think this would be a great place for one and you have to make sure you hit it. In the low desert areas, there are more places to pass. The hardest thing is the fences and private property that we’re not allowed to drive on anymore. This forces us to miss those sections and jump on the highway. We’re being put into situations where there are speed zones on the highway, as well as when passing through little villages.” Despite the way he won the race, Roeseler was happy with his performance and understands the pressures facing racers who are behind the wheel of faster, and more capable race vehicles. “There’s a lot of mental and physical pressures to racing. Many drivers are putting themselves under the kind of pressure I’ve been dealing with my whole career, but I thrive on it and know how to handle it. During this race, we had to be very careful pre-running and that’s what it takes to learn the course– know where you can pass or not, and prepare.” This year’s course was exceptionally brutal on both racers and their machines, but Roeseler was as prepared as he could be driving his Baja Jerky SCORE Trophy Truck solo this time. “It was a tough race and very technical,” he said. “We had good battles with a bunch of guys and lucky for us, Tavo and McMillin both had flats, and we kept pushing. We also had a good battle with JT Lennon. With that, it was an epic race” Roeseler and the Baja Jerky team will be at the SCORE Baja 400 Presented by VP Racing Fuels in September, and Roeseler will again be driving solo. “During my motorcycle racing days, it was hard to hand over the bike to someone and increase the chances of mistakes, or doesn’t have the same talent,” said Roeseler. “I also plan on driving solo at the SCORE Baja 1000. It’s a longer race, but during the night you get a second wind, and driving straight down it goes by faster and your overall speeds increase. Races like this SCORE Baja 500 were tedious and most of the terrain in Northern Baja makes your average speeds slower. Our highest average speed at this race was 40-mph. In a race to LaPaz, we can average 60-mph.” As Roeseler prepares for the SCORE Baja 400 and SCORE Baja 1000 this season, he is far from being ready to retire, and with his performance in this last race, he’s still a threat to anyone who isn’t paying attention. “If I can get back on the podium at the SCORE Baja 400, that alone would put me on cloud-9.” SJ

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