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EXPERIENCE MATTERS Class Champions Speak Out About Racing The SCORE San Felipe 250 By Larry Saavedra and Stuart Bourdon Photos by Jack Wright Nmedia3 The tough terrain in and around Baja’s San Felipe makes it one of the most brutal courses in SCORE’s four races. Racers agree that the most challenging part of this race is that you are driving/riding at nearly ninety percent of your vehicle’s capabilities. For the entire time, you are on the course without any reprieve. So when racers can claim they’ve conquered this race, it’s another jewel in their crown, especially for those that have won it several times. Some of the best racers in SCORE share their thoughts and experiences with the SCORE San Felipe 250 to give an idea of what is in store for racers this year. Larry Roeseler The SCORE San Felipe 250 off-road race is thought of as ‘the rough one’ for good reasons. Larry Roeseler, who has won the race twice Overall and has six class wins relies on his pre-running to make it to the finish. "It takes a lot of concentration, and that's why I do a lot of pre-running for the San Felipe 250. It’s a racecourse that typically has a lot of different paths through a section that are parallel and lead to the same place. If one path is too rocky, sandy, or whooped-out, you often have the option of a better track. I love the low desert race in the San Felipe area for that reason.” On the other hand, the San Felipe race has not been very kind to Larry over the years. “It’s sort of a love/hate relationship. I love the challenge of it, but I haven’t had a lot of success in that race. I think even back in my bike days, I only won San Felipe once. In the Class 7 days (with Joe MacPherson) I won it once or twice. Even driving the Herbst ‘Truggy’ we had problems at that San Felipe race.” Although Larry hasn’t had the opportunity to stand on the podium at that race very often, he said, “I am still looking forward to racing it because of the challenge. I need to get that monkey off my back and get another win there. The pace at the San Felipe 250 is so fast that if you have any problems, even down for a couple of minutes to change a tire, you can lose position. And with the dust, it can be hard to regain it. It’s a recipe for great racing and another reason I love this race.” Eric Solorzano Eric Solorzano has been racing VW Bugs for thirty years and was honored as the “winningest Mexican desert racer of all time” by the Mexican government. Within SCORE, he holds the record of eleven class wins in the SCORE San Felipe 250. “I have raced San Felipe since the early ‘90s,” he said. “It’s a difficult race, and the course changes depending on the weather. But getting badly stuck is typical for these bugs with limited suspension travel.” Solorzono says he’s running a whole lot more torque this year in his Class 11 car because of courses like San Felipe. He’s also racing a newer, completely rebuilt from the ground-up car. “We were leading by an hour last year before our transmission gave out,” he said. “I have my sights set on first place this year.” Don Moss Don Moss and his brother Ken are no strangers to San Felipe with their Class 3 Ford Bronco. Together, they have captured nine class wins in the SCORE San Felipe 250. “I’ve been competing in Class 3 for twenty-three years,” said Moss. “It’s always been very tough for short-wheelbase trucks because of the whoops on the course that go on for miles.” Although Moss is not competing this year, he shared his thoughts about the race and admits the difficulty is that it’s not a historically long Baja race. He says his Bronco performs better on longer endurance races like the SCORE Baja 1000, where he can go flat out. In a race like San Felipe, Moss said he likes to set up the Bronco as light as possible. “I would carry fewer spares and remove anything that we didn’t require. It’s definitely the whoops that punish short-wheelbase vehicles.” Mike Cafro Mike Cafro raced a Polaris UTV in the SCORE Pro Open class in 2022 and is a four-time SCORE San Felipe 250 winner. “By far, this is the toughest race on cars and drivers– especially on the race car suspensions.” To ensure they’re ready for the challenge this year, Cafro and his team have extensively tested their brand-new Polaris RZR Pro R in preparation. “We are racing a new car this year and really wanted to make sure we worked out all the bugs and got the car dialed in. That’s been our main focus leading up to the King Shocks 36th San Felipe 250 Presented by Baja Vida Snacks. After thirty years of racing the San Felipe 250, the thing Cafro likes most is its fast-paced and intense nature. “But I like that,” he said. “My co-driver and I are in the car the entire time during a race. The SCORE San Felipe 250 is less mentally fatiguing than a longer race like the SCORE Baja 500 or Baja 1000.” Giovanni Spinali The 2022 Pro Moto 50 Class Champion, Giovanni Spinali, is a five-time class winner in the SCORE San Felipe 250. “It’s 250 miles of just non-stop whoops and rocks,” said Spinali. “I think it may be the most dangerous of all four races and one we don’t really look forward to, but it’s part of the points schedule, so in the past, we’ve run it every year. If you want to win the championship, you have to run it.” For Spinali, it’s not so much the high speeds, but the rocky whoops and sand washes filled with buried rocks that can surprise you and ruin your day. “That’s what the SCORE San Felipe 250 means to me,” he said. “Especially last year’s 250. It is such an unpredictable race. Although we’ve had a lot of success at this race in the past, this year unfortunately, because of my injuries at the SCORE Baja 1000, I won’t be racing it. We will go and watch friends race and help them out, though.” Rob MacCachren Rob MacCachren has an undeniably successful record at the SCORE San Felipe 250 in buggies and SCORE Trophy Trucks. A six-time overall and ten-time class winner at the San Felipe race, Rob said, “I love going to San Felipe. Waking up to the sunrise over the water– the mornings there are second to none. And the food is amazing. It’s great to walk the Malecon at night– have fresh seafood, and see friends. It’s something I always look forward to.” Some of his favorite memories of the SCORE San Felipe 250 are the times he’s stopped in Matomi Wash for lunch during a day of pre-running. The first time was in the early days of his racing career when he was racing for Walker Evans. “We stopped for lunch and soaked in the incredible landscape and beauty of the Baja desert.” He also took his wife Amber through Matomi to let her experience it. “That was probably 2007. Amber stacked some rocks into a sculpture where we stopped for lunch. Those rocks are still there. Every time I go through Matomi now, I look over at them as I’m going past. The first time I took Caden through the washes, he had his drone with him and got some video of us going through the narrows in Matomi. I recently took my future son-in-law through the washes, and when we stopped to see Amber’s rocks, he asked if he could add some. Although that race is so rough and hard on equipment and people, it may be my favorite Baja race because of all the good memories and the incredible beauty of the area during that time of year.” SJ

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