SCORE Journal

SCORE Journal - September 2018

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

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Page 22 of 90

Serious Monkey Business Mark Winkelman Is The Backbone For Some Of The Top Motorcycle Riders In SCORE By Dan Sanchez Photos by Get Some Photo A preview of the Baja 500 on television captured the imagination of a young road racer, Mark Winkelman, who proved that even “Good Ole Boys” from Louisiana, can’t escape the allure and challenge of Baja. Back in the late 60’s Winkelman was enjoying a racing career driving on famous racecourses like California’s Laguna Seca and Florida’s Daytona Raceway, but the seed was planted and it was the first Dust To Glory movie that germinated the desire to race in Baja. “In 2006, my brother and I saw the Dust To Glory movie and although we raced cars, we rode motorcycles most all of our lives. We thought it would be great to race in Baja and we put an ad on Craigslist looking for a sponsor,” said Winkelman. “The tourism director in San Felipe, Ricky DeLa Pena contacted me and helped me put together a team. The experience also taught me how to ride better off-road.” One of Winkelman’s mentors along the way was motorcycle racer and champion Jim O’Neal, who he met early and taught him a great deal about off-road racing. “During a charity ride for the City Of Hope, I met Jim O’Neal,” said Winkelman. “Jim taught me a bunch, along with veteran SCORE Baja racers Sam and Gene Dempsey who won class championships in a variety of age groups. We would go out to Baja once a month to ride. I quickly learned that you can't’ be good at everything, but you can be good at one thing. Over several months, I got the most dangerous parts of the run!” In 2007 Winkelman raced the SCORE Baja 500 in a Sportsman Class. “Our goal was just to finish the race,” said Winkelman. “Later, we entered the Pro Moto 50, and Pro Moto 30 classes. Over other Baja races, we ended up winning in the Pro Moto 50 class and we would eventually win both championships. Then we got into Pro Moto Limited and it took off from there.” Winkelman has always been appreciative of the fact that many people have helped him along the way. “Riders like Jim O’Neal, Ricky DeLa Pena, and Steve Hengeveld were guys that picked me off the ground and helped me,” said Winkelman. “To me, Baja racing is a lot like life. We fall, people help us get back up, and we learn from our mistakes. In Baja, we’re all struggling to make it and it’s important for us to stop to help the other guy.” Weather its good karma or simply good racing Winkelman’s approach has landed him numerous SCORE class wins and championships over the years. The success, however, hasn’t changed his outlook on off-road racing. Many racers can attest to Winkelman’s willingness to help others and succeed in winning in Baja. “To me, the number one thing is family and friends,” says Winkelman. “If we try as hard as we can and do it right…respectfully, that’s winning for me. When I first started going out, I would help anybody, including simply helping to fix motorcycles if necessary. When I’m on the course in Baja, I’m not racing against everyone else. It’s just myself and the elements. That’s why it's so much like life. Baja racing is tough and life is so much like that.” Winkelman’s racing philosophy has spread to many motorcycle racers looking to succeed in Baja. Most recently this includes helping guys like Santiago Creel and other riders who are competing within SCORE. “There are so many young riders out there and the Mexican riders are coming up of age,” says Winkelman. “I see that as a big future. I love Baja and respect the Mexican culture. It’s so family oriented. I would like to see and maintain that in Baja racing, throughout the next generation. My goal now is to keep on building a number one team and keep supporting young riders, both Mexican and American. One of the latest riders to enter into Winkelman’s flock is Liz Karcz, one of the first woman Pro Moto Ironman riders in recent history. Winkelman saw potential in her, as well as other riders, and helped Santiago Creel put together a winning team that competes in a variety of Pro Moto classes. “Santiago is taking this to such a great level,” says Winkelman. “We have a bunch of great riders with a variety of expertise in different areas. Santiago has helped out so much for making our team Monkey Business, a world-class organization.” The name was derived from Winkelman’s natural cleaner which he called Monkey Business. The team took to it, as well as the winning format of racing in various classes. “Each rider has his or her specialty and they excel at it,” says Winkelman. “Once we get one thing working right, we can effectively add another team on. It’s just as easy for us to bring three or more motorcycles to a SCORE race, than it is for us to bring one. In addition, the rides learn from each other and improve overall.” For the 2018 SCORE season, Winkelman and team Monkey Business has already won first place in Pro Moto Limited and Pro Moto 30 classes at the SCORE San Felipe 250, and the 50th BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 500. In total the team participated in seven classes this season, and during the Lucerna Hotels & Resorts Tijuana SCORE Desert Challenge, the team will be competing in eight classes and drive a new Trophy Truck Spec race truck. “Being a race car guy for years and years, I do like the sound and feel of brute horsepower,” said Winkelman. “Some people say that with age comes a cage. I want to race motorcycles for the rest of my life but I wanted to run a Trophy Truck too. We bought a used Trophy Truck Spec and Santiago and I are going to race it in Tijuana.” SJ

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