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

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40-YEARS IN THE PITS BFGoodrich Tires Pits Have History With SCORE By Dan Sanchez Photos by Get Some Photo and Courtesy BFGoodrich Tires BFGoodrich Tire’s relationship and history with SCORE International involves more than tire development and becoming the winningest tire in Baja racing. In 1982, the company’s Pit Program was developed to keep track of teams utilizing their tires. In doing so, it became an integral part of the race for many SCORE racers, who couldn’t afford to run their own pit crew. “It was a way for BFG to support its racers and differentiate themselves from other tire brands,” says Nate Hunt, Off-Road Racing Program Manager at Jackson Marketing Group (JMG). “It also allowed us to talk directly to racers and get their feedback.” BFG’s Bob Bower originally started BFGoodrich’s off-road pit program in 1982 and soon recruited one of the company’s truck drivers, Frank DeAngelo, for assistance. The two began to make the program work, establishing a network of pit support using anything and anyone they could get. Eventually, their long-lasting contributions to the sport led Bower and DeAngelo to be inducted into the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame. “In those days, we found that we could help a lot of people for the same amount of budget, so it grew and helped BFG not just market tires, but also support off-road racing and to continue our history,” said Hunt. “Today, the evolution of the BFG Pit Program continues to provide high-quality service, but some things have evolved along with the various classes of vehicles.” PIT SERVICES The BFGoodrich Tires Pits offer some of the same services they have done throughout their history in off-road racing, including fueling, tire changes, repairs, and many full mechanical needs. “We have everything from fabricators to mechanics on duty and most of them are extremely experienced in making repairs in the desert,” says Hunt. “One of the major changes in the BFG Pits, however, has to do with refueling. While we still refuel many vehicles from motorcycles to UTVs, we cannot support the professional classes that have specific pressurized fuel systems. It’s a cost-prohibitive system to provide that level of service to SCORE Trophy Truck teams.” While pressurized systems are not available in the BFG Pits, they do work with most fuel providers such as VP Racing Fuels (official fuel of SCORE International), F&L, Torco, Sonoco, and other companies. “Many UTVs use pump gas, and as a whole in Mexico, no pit team can haul fuel, so most of the companies drop off fuel to the designated pit area for us to fill racers via gravity feed.” The BFG Pits are working on ways to provide more services for motorcycle racers too. “Our Michelin brand has motorcycle tires,” says Hunt. “But the biggest issue with helping motorcycle racers is how far they can go on fuel. We’re set up every 130 to 160 miles and motorcycle racers need more pits to refuel. We can’t provide that many and it’s one of our biggest hurdles right now that we are working on resolving.” Other changes to the BFG pits include incorporating environmentally friendly fuel mats and increased safety protection for the crew who are refueling. “We want to make sure everyone is safe and our fuelers wear full fire protection,” says Hunt. While top-level pro teams may not use BFG’s full pit services, many privateers, and teams on a budget still sign-up and take full advantage of what they have to offer. Two of the most important services are the BFG Map Book and BFG Relay. The map book is a fully-bound notebook that features all GPS files for any SCORE racecourse and includes access roads, highway sections to the course, race notes, and mileage. “The BFG Map Book gives racers and especially chase teams all the info they would want to know in one bound book. We create our maps showing the racecourse, adjacent highways, and access roads, along with our BFG Relay sites,” says Hunt. The BFG Relay is another advantage of using the BFG Pits. “We set up multiple sites that cover the racecourse, and we do our separate relay,” says Hunt. “This is our effort to provide another layer of safety for racers, no matter what tires they are running. Teams can find out where their drivers are or contact our relay team if they want to get a message to them. We call out every passing time and when racers pass through our pits. We keep the data, split times and it helps along with the live tracking systems to provide a physical view of what’s happening on the course, so they are not reliant on automation.” MASS OF VOLUNTEERS To make a pit program like this one so successful for more than 40-years, Hunt says that it takes a large group of talented volunteers. “These are hardcore enthusiasts who love the BFG brand and support off-road racing,” he says. “Races like the SCORE Baja 500 and SCORE Baja 1000 are the most recognized in motorsports. It drives people to want to be a part of it. Some have been on our crews for 20 years to be a part of the reputation of BFG pits has and being a part of the race.” The BFG Pits have also given people an opportunity to experience SCORE races for the first time, and it often leads people back. “In one instance, BFG brought some tire dealers from Ireland. They were a part of the pits and experienced a SCORE race. Ever since then, these tire dealers fly themselves from Ireland to Baja and come every year to be a part of the BFG Pits.” For a race like the upcoming 54th BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 500 Presented by 4 Wheel Parts, the BFG Pits has dozens of volunteers. “For a race like this, we usually have about three pits,” says Hunt. “For the San Felipe 250 we have one or two, for the SCORE Baja 400 about two pits, and for the SCORE Baja 1000, it’s about six pits on a loop race, and eight or nine for a point-to-point race.” In addition to mechanics and fabricators, the BFG Pits also have EMTs and other medical professionals. “Many of them are firemen from San Diego,” adds Hunt. “All our pits have these people and services.” THE GOOD AND BAD With more than 40-years of pit services, Hunt says countless stories happen at every race. “It’s always a good feeling to help racers in need and every one of them is memorable,” he says. “One instance that stands out is when a racer pulled into our pits with his vehicle broken and needing help. He was on a competitor’s tire, but we helped him out because they were in dire need. He finished the race and now he is racing on BFG tires. One act made them a life-long customer!” Along with good Baja stories, there are also problems and issues that go along with every race. “It’s difficult to manage 200 people at a time,” says Hunt. “But it’s worth it, as so many people work so hard, and BFG invests so much money for this invaluable work that goes wrong. But it only takes one person to do something wrong that gets a lot of publicity. We’re all about safety and we often see teams pre-running at full-race speeds. This is unsafe and disrespectful to landowners. The race is for race speeds and people expect it at that time only. Chase teams also make unsafe passes on the highway and drive at unsafe speeds. This disrespects the country, the laws, and the local people. We ask all of our racers to drive safely, obey the local laws and be constantly aware that safety is the priority.” While the BFG Pit crew encourages racers to be professional and safe, all the volunteers and team captains are continually committed to providing the highest level of support. This extends to having a greater concern for the environment. After any race, crews conduct post-race clean-up, to leave the desert in a better condition than when they found it. According to Hunt, crews scour the areas around the pits to pick up trash and properly discard fluids so they maintain a sustainable landscape and encourage locals to allow us to use their backyard and continue racing in Mexico. As SCORE continues through its next decade of Baja racing, BFG Pits are committed to partnering with SCORE and supporting racers and the off-road motorsports community to keep improving and continue racing into the future. SJ right: Baja Pits sees on average 40 to 50 motorcycles come through their pits. bottom RIght: Crews are made up of experienced welders and automotive repair shop owners. below: Pit crews get very little sleep at multiple-day events. The pit captains create the schedule. Suspension issues are common in technical courses like San Felipe. The best way to secure pit service is to pre-register with Baja Pits online. Every Baja Pits station is typically manned by 5 to 7 people.

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