SCORE Journal


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

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 13 of 77

RACE FOR HOPE SCORE Racer Dennis Hollenbeck Organizes This Annual Event For Kids In BaJa By Mike Vieira Photos by Dennis Hollenbeck & Tracy Glasson Much like every SCORE racer, Dennis Hollenbeck loves racing his Class 11 Bug. But there is something he loves even more, which is helping those in need. Hollenbeck succeeded in putting his two passions together by creating the annual Race for Hope in Estero Beach. The race began as an extension of his involvement as the Ensenada Director for the Real Life Ministry, and their work with Mi Casa Esperanza, volunteer efforts to build homes for mothers who have suffered abuse of various kinds. The group has also done the important work of building a school for the children, as well as other structures necessary for the services that Casa Esperanza provides. Hollenbeck would sometimes bring his race car, dubbed “Bochito,” or “Little Bug,” to Casa Esperanza to provide some fun for the children by giving them rides and having them put their handprints on it before each race he runs. “I take the car out there and park it, and they’re all over it,” he said. “To them, it’s their superhero; it’s their big toy– it’s their big brother. Some of these kids have some serious issues and problems, and I often think that for us going out to the desert and battling the Baja for them, also gives these kids the feeling that someone is finally standing up for them. We’ve been in some tight situations in the races, and there have been days that I wanted to give up, but when you sit there and look at those names and handprints on the car, it keeps you going. Whether we finish or not, we love to go to Casa Esperanza to let the kids see the reality of racing and the reality of life. The reality is, you don’t always win, and you’ve got to be able to face your defeat with your head lifted up high. Seeing the car all beaten up and destroyed, then seeing it again all nice and new and ready to go is a good life lesson.” When discussing this work with Jon Kilbourne of Dirt Days, they came up with the idea of providing SCORE finish medals to the kids who participated in the rides in the race car, in order to make it a little more special. Very quickly, one thing led to another. “The next thing I know, Jon calls me, and he’s got Estero Beach opening up their closed course for us and that there are several SCORE racers coming in to provide more rides for the kids. It started out [as] just a small, intimate idea including a barbeque for the kids, and it just went crazy. It became a fun day for the kids, and it’s an opportunity to raise some funds for Casa Esperanza and accumulate different types of donated items.” In just three years, the event has grown exponentially, with children from local orphanages, as well as those from Casa Esperanza, joining in on the fun to take some laps around the course at Estero Beach in numerous race cars or prerunners. Among the racers who have become supporters and participants in the events are SCORE racers including Kristen and Wayne Matlock, Apdaly Lopez, Curt LeDuc, Geraldo Novelo, and a number of local drivers. The event’s growth has also brought in a long list of sponsors providing everything from food and communications, to donations for raffles. The children each receive backpacks with gifts inside, as well as a SCORE medal for their participation in the ride-along. This year’s Race for Hope featured Roger Norman, as well as Curt LeDuc as medal presenters. Hollenbeck credited SCORE President and Race Director Jose Grijalva for providing a tremendous amount of assistance with the preparations and arrangements necessary to make the event the success that it’s become. The Race For Hope raises money for Casa Esperanza through a minimum twenty-dollar donation fee to spectate at the event and to enjoy the barbeque lunch provided. Those who are unable to donate are instead asked to volunteer to help out with the event. In the evening, after the race, a benefit dinner and raffle also help to bring in more funds. “The goal is to provide the kids with a fun and safe day, as well as helping Casa Esperanza with its fundraising for some of the financial needs that they have throughout the year,” said Hollenbeck. “They depend 100 percent on donations for their funding, as they have a very small budget with a large weight on their shoulders for what they are trying to provide.” Rounding up donations for specific items is also a big part of the event. “We post a list of items needed on our Facebook page, such as diapers, wipes, cleaning materials, school supplies, and even weed-eaters and shovels. The list is twenty to thirty items long, so there’s a lot there,” he said. Hollenbeck has been racing in Baja since 2012, but he’s been living there for nearly thirty years doing charitable work with the Real Life Ministries, who provide medical and construction outreach services to people in need. He’s also a Chaplain with Racers for Christ, offering prayers and guidance to race participants at other events. When we spoke, Hollenbeck was preparing for the tenth anniversary of his first SCORE Baja 1000 race, and his fourth Peninsula run. This also marked the tenth anniversary for “Bochito,” as well. He says he was a race fan but not a racer until he decided that racing for Casa Esperanza would be a worthy venture. He and his wife, Debbie, are partners in the racing efforts and Ministry work, as they left their earlier lives behind nearly thirty years ago to become Christian missionaries to change the lives of others for the better. “We’re hoping that off-road racing and community businesses, whether here in Mexico, or in the United States, will look at this and see that it’s a good thing to get involved with and jump on board,” said Hollenbeck. Thanks to the efforts of the Hollenbecks, Estero Beach Resort, the local “Estero Beach Army” of volunteers, SCORE, and the long list of other sponsors and individuals already helping out, the Race for Hope and Mi Casa Esperanza should continue to grow to provide the needed help and enjoyment for the children and families they serve, and “Bochito” will continue to win the hearts and handprints of the kids. For more information on Real Life Ministries and the work they do for Mi Casa Esperanza, visit

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of SCORE Journal - SCORE-Journal-November-2023