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

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2023 SCORE Season Preview SCORE President/Race Director Jose GriJalva Gives Some Updates For The 2023 Season By Dan Sanchez Photos by Jack Wright NMedia3 With a new 2023 SCORE World Desert Championship Season upon us, SCORE President/Race Director Jose Grijalva offers some insight into what we may expect. SCORE Journal: With 2023 Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of SCORE International, what can racers and fans expect to see and experience at the upcoming four SCORE World Desert Championship Races this season? Jose Grijalva: It will be exciting with many different activities throughout all four races. Each race we will celebrate SCORE’s history with special guests and parties that will be a great addition for fans and racers. We are still currently planning who our special guests are and what will take place, but we will let everyone know before each race. SJ: New safety rules and protocols were made during the 2022 season, are there any new rules that racers should know about for 2023? JG: At this point, there are no other new rules planned for the 2023 season. What we instituted last year and carried over from previous years have worked great to improve the safety of racers and fans. Some of these improvements included bringing in more safety and emergency vehicles on the course that include paramedics. We also have a 4x4 Wide-Open car to bring emergency personnel to remote areas. Right now we have three UTVs with paramedics following the course and more volunteers helping. We also have two helicopters, one that stays as a lead for the moto racers and the other for quickly gaining access to emergency situations. The lead helicopter for the moto racers has been a great success as it is able to warn people on the course that racers are coming. Fortunately, we have not had any fatalities. SJ: Much attention was placed on moto racers last season towards their safety and course revisions, such as specific routes for them. What changes will remain, or be the same, for the 2023 season? JG: Splitting the end of the course for moto racers has definitely worked well. We started this at the SCORE San Felipe 250 race last year and it was the first time we did this. It was something we wanted to try and although it took a lot more effort to add this to the course, the difficulties in doing this were well worth the effort. So we did something right and now we need to keep doing it. In San Felipe, it’s a little easier as the course is shorter and we can find routes for the moto racers to cover the same distance as the four-wheel racers. The idea came about when we saw that the SCORE Trophy Trucks were passing nearly 90 percent of the moto racers on the course. So we decided to split the last 70 miles to separate these racers. The moto racers still have to cover the same mileage, but they feel safe heading back to the finish without worrying about the trucks behind them. It typically gives them at the least, a seven-minute window to reach the finish before the trucks. For courses like the SCORE Baja 500, Baja 400, and the Baja 1000, it’s difficult to find the right routes. There is also traffic to think about as people are wandering around and other obstacles can appear. While we try to do things right, we can’t take out the human factor. So if we feel we can make a safer route for the moto racers, we will do it. If it doesn’t look like it would be any safer, we won’t. SJ: With the increasing amount of protected areas in Baja, what does this do to impact the 2023 Season and future races? How is SCORE working with environmental agencies and land owners? JG: There has to be an increase in protected areas in Mexico. So we’ve kept races out of one last season so we didn’t have to go through a Federal Impact Study. We’ve been working closely with the country’s environmental departments and complying with all of their requests. For the interest of the sport, we will keep doing this, and the communication between us and them is very good. We take them out on a course we marked and show it to them before and after a race. We have had no issues and we are already working on our Federal permits for the SCORE Baja 1000 in November, as this will take some time to get it through. In the meantime, we continue to organize some ecological trips with friends and locals to go out and clean up some areas. In addition, we often pay locals to help clean up some of these areas as well. In working together with the Mexican government, SCORE and other race promoters such as NORRA, help repair some of the roads. We all pitch in and do this twice a year. This created a great bond with the landowners, and we are keeping our word about helping them and keeping their main roads in good condition. SJ: Before and during a SCORE race, there are many racing teams and people pre-running and driving on the highways. What is the best advice you can give teams during these times that will help ensure SCORE Baja racing continues into the future? JG: First we want teams to use the printable map and not drive at race speeds during pre-running. Teams need to know that SCORE is not out in the desert with you during these times. They must be aware of on-coming traffic, people, animals, and more to avoid accidents. We do not have aerial support for pre-running and teams need to know this in advance. We have always said to teams not to pre-run alone or especially at night. Drive at a safe speed and the fewer risks you take the better. Expect the unexpected. SJ: During the past few seasons, there have been increases and decreases in certain classes. How does SCORE react to this and what are the overall effects on the future of Baja racing? JG: Racing and the changes in vehicles and classes are complex. There are many factors involved but the one that worries me the most is that I don’t see much involvement from the younger generation. All of us were young once and after seeing races, we dreamed about racing in Baja too. I think that’s been decreasing as many young people are not into this type of activity as before. The good thing is that technology has made it easier for people to come into off-road racing than ever before. Just about anyone can afford a UTV and that is why we see more of them competing now than ever. On the contrary, when the AWD SCORE Trophy Trucks came out and are now winning, some of the other racers believed they can’t compete without one, and moved into the SCORE TT Spec class. That class has also steadily been growing. The roads are another factor. Those that we can race on are more limited than in the past. They have also come to be rougher too. We’re not racing on the same roads as 40 years ago, so the terrain is also much tougher for some classes, making it more challenging for vehicles. But that’s one of the costs of racing and we’ve been doing the right things to keep SCORE steadily growing. We still want to make it easy for anyone to start racing in SCORE. That’s what’s been done traditionally and we want to keep it that way. SJ: Can you give some additional insight into the 56th SCORE Baja 1000 that runs from LaPaz to Ensenada this season? JG: We have several options on course and don’t have a complete idea as of yet. We are also waiting on confirmation in some areas too. Overall the idea is to make it easier for chase teams to head across the Peninsula. For now, I would like to try and keep the course, or at least most of it, on the Pacific side. That allows for easier access and it’s less expensive. We haven’t finalized anything as of yet but that’s our goal. Hopefully, if this works, we’d like to switch back and forth between doing a Peninsula race normally and backward. For now, the response from the southern Mexico teams has been great and we hope to have more competitors this year because of it. SJ

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