SCORE Journal


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

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 71 of 99

MOTO SAFETY PLANNING SCORE’s Moto Liaison Andy Kirker, Lays Out Safety Measures For The 2023 Season BY SCORE JOURNAL STAFF Photo by Get Some Photo Over several seasons, SCORE has made extensive efforts to improve safety for its moto racers of all classes. According to SCORE President and Race Director Jose A. Grijalva, these types of changes are always in a fluid state, but with help from SCORE Moto Liaison Andy Kirker, these changes have succeeded in making improvements. We spoke with Kirker about what some of these changes are and if there are any for the 2023 Season. Kirker has more than 50 years of Baja racing experience with multiple class championship teams, as well as competing in AMA Outdoor Motocross and Supercross. SCORE JOURNAL: What are some of the recent safety changes that have proven to be effective for moto racers over the past seasons? ANDY KIRKER: In just the past year or so, SCORE has added an additional helicopter dedicated to looking after the moto classes as an Emergency first responder and to patrol the course for potential hazards. It can warn spectators that the race is approaching or scare stray cattle off the course. Besides the pilot, It carries an EMT and a seasoned SCORE moto racer to guide the operation. We also added a fleet of volunteer UTVs that carry EMTs for ground support for moto classes. We have one takeoff ahead of the start for the moto classes, to make sure the course is clear. Then it is strategically positioned on the course during the race. We have another one follow the moto and quad racers about 15 minutes after the last competitor has left the starting line for a good distance, to attend to any downed riders. We have several more positioned around the course. They all have communication with SCORE OPs and can be directed towards any incident on the course. This is all in an effort to have the most comprehensive rapid emergency response that the offroad moto community has ever seen. Besides the obvious improvements, SCORE is constantly making slight adjustments to the rules to improve safety while still trying not to compromise the racing experience. Some are just little things like adjusting speed limits in certain speed zone areas, or placing VCPs in in a way that will steer the competitors away from a potential hazard. A lot of scrutiny goes into the planning in regards to safety before the race that most people aren’t aware of. SJ: One of the most controversial changes was creating a different route for some riders. What were the actual type of course changes and for which classes in particular? AK: In short, the actual course change is to add space between the Sportsman Classes and four-wheel competitors. SCORE Baja racing has always been, and always will be, about offroad racing with a huge variety of classes. These range from the massively powerful SCORE Trophy Trucks, to the Class 11 VW bugs, quads and motos. All these classes run the same race and pretty much at the same time, with staggered offset starting times. The motos start quite a bit ahead of the first four-wheeled classes but over the course of the race, it is inevitable that faster vehicles will overtake slower ones regardless of their class or starting order. We have riders of all abilities which means some are quite slower than the top pros. We do the best we can to start the motos as far in advance of the other vehicles as is practical. Sometimes we start them up to 7 hours ahead of the four-wheel vehicles. But because vehicles like SCORE Trophy Trucks are getting faster, and the rougher courses are slowing the motos down, we are seeing more four-wheel vehicles catching up to the motos than in the past. In an effort to reduce the co-mingling of the four-wheel vehicles and motos, we began diverting the slower Sportsman Classes to cut-offs that would advance them further up the course before the trucks can catch them. There is a fine line between this being useful or a possible detriment. For instance, if the slower classes are about to get caught and they leapfrog up the course a hundred miles or so, this can put them in front of the Pro Moto classes. That has an ill effect for the Pro competitors. So all this has to be carefully weighed before each race. SJ: For the 2023 Season, will moto racers see any additional changes in courses and rules, and where can riders learn about these rules to become familiar with them? AK: There are some minor changes regarding the numbering of motos and class champions. These changes are intended to help the media further be able to identify the racers quickly for the live broadcasts. This attention to media coverage is good for both the teams and their sponsors. All of the rules and information can be found on the online competition rulebook on the SCORE website, at I also post a lot of information on our group page called Pro Moto Baja Racing on Facebook. SJ: When preparing to race in any of the four SCORE World Desert Championship series races, what are some of the most important factors they need to consider for their safety? AK: Most importantly, read all the documentation that SCORE puts out for each race, which includes the schedule, the racer’s brief, the penalty brief, and all the rules in the rulebook etc. The information is out there, so there is no excuse for not knowing the rules. Have a well thought out plan and support system. There are plenty of veteran racers who are totally willing to give advice or lend a hand. Baja racing is unlike any other form of racing and if things go wrong, they can go very wrong. Lives depend on what your plan is and how well prepared you are. Baja takes some getting used to in order to get it right. Learn how the mandatory safety gear works and what to do in case of an emergency. SCORE has a published document especially written for first timers racing in Baja, also found on the website. SJ: In the various SCORE Moto classes, there are numerous riders ranging from veterans with multi-time championships, to novice riders attempting to succeed in Baja. How does this play out in the course of a normal race and what can some of the more novice racers learn from the veterans to be fast but also safe? AK: Unless you are racing to win the overall, then you need to understand what the right pace is to race in Baja. By pace I mean going as fast as you can to be competitive without crashing. It sounds simple but that really is the key to racing in Baja. If you crash hard during the race, you risk injury, or seriously ruining the bike for the whole team. So you have to figure out how fast you can ride without blowing corners or crashing. As a top Pro, you might ride at 95% of your ability. If you’re in one of the age group classes, that might be 80% of your ability. 80% will keep you at a good competitive pace but still within control. This is different for each racer, especially novices so it’s something you will have to learn, but always run at a safe pace that’s best for you. SJ: Other than a helmet, what type of riding gear is specified as necessary to race in Baja, and are there other types of protective gear that racers should invest in? AK: The typical gear like a helmet, riding gear kit, gloves, goggles, knee braces or pads, are just the minimum. It then comes down to rider preference. You need to strategize and use the right hydration pack for you, according to how much gear to carry. Extra items should be things like a minimal first aid kit, including a tourniquet. You should also carry a set of lightweight tools to get you moving in case of a mechanical failure or damage from a crash. Also consider what type of communication systems you bring. At the very least, have a cell phone and a satellite texting device on your person. SJ

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of SCORE Journal - SCORE-Journal-FEB-2023