Motorcyles at heart of Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 as Honda versus KTM set for B1k overall battle

Ever since the first known record run occurred in 1962, by Dave Ekins and Bill Robertson Jr., motorcycles have been at the foundation and the heart of SCORE Baja racing. Next week’s 43rd Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 will showcase over 90 motorcycle teams. Most with an average of three riders each, from all over the world, the field includes nearly 20 racers who will attempt the journey riding solo to earn the glory of the Sal Fish SCORE IronRider Award. The granddaddy of all desert races, which is the season-finale of the five-race 2010 SCORE Desert Series will be held on Mexico’s magnificently mysterious Baja California peninsula next Tuesday through Saturday.

Massive crowds reaching nearly 250,000 are anticipated to again be spread out along the rugged course that travels on both sides of the peninsula as the world’s most famous desert race will start in Ensenada, Baja California and finish all the way down the peninsula in La Paz in Baja California Sur.

This year will be the 36th time in the first 43 years of the storied race that it has started in Ensenada and it will be the 18th time in has finished in La Paz.

With over 300 expected entries for cars, trucks, motorcycles and ATVs competing in 33 Pro and 7 Sportsman classes for cars, trucks, motorcycles and ATVs in the internationally televised race, entries have already come from 37 U.S. states and 19 countries.

The race will start on Boulevard Costero adjacent to the picturesque Bahia de Todos Santos in front of the historical Riviera del Pacifico Cultural Center in the heart of Ensenada at 6:30 a.m. (PST) next Thursday (Nov. 18) with the motorcycle and ATV classes, followed at approximately 11:45 a.m. with the start of the car and truck classes. It will finish on the outskirts of La Paz near the Grand Plaza Hotel, race headquarters for the southern half of the event. Vehicles will start in 30-second intervals in the elapsed-time race and all vehicles will have a 45-hour time limit to become official finishers. The fastest vehicles are expected to complete the course between 18 and 19 hours.

SCORE Baja racing, with three events held annually In Mexico, offers several motorcycle classes, read more here...

While many superb riders will be competing in the age-group categories, like Jim O’Neal who has nine career SCORE Baja 1000 class wins and leads a Class 50 team that includes 15-time class winning co-rider Craig Adams, along with a Class 30 team that includes Francisco Septien, Brian Pinard, Noe Ibarra and Mike Johnson, a Class 40 team that includes Louie Franco, Jeff Kaplan and Scott Myers and even a Class 60 team that includes seven-time class winner Richard Jackson and six-time winner Bill Nichols, the main spotlight will be on Class 22 for open motorcycles.

In the battle of desert-racing heavyweights, the JCR/Honda team which includes two Honda CRF450X motorcycles filled with champion riders going against the factory-supported Bonanza Plumbing/KTM Off-Road KTM 530XCW. It will be a re-match of June’s Tecate SCORE Baja 500 that saw the Hondas finish one-two, followed closely by the KTM.

While KTM has never won this race, Honda has 20 overall two-wheel wins including the last 13 consecutive years, records that will be hard to stop.

The Johnny Campbell Racing/Honda team is led by legendary SCORE Baja racer Johnny Campbell, although he is no longer a regular rider and is listed as a co-rider, if needed, for this year, Campbell, 39, of San Clemente, Calif., has been a part of 11 overall winning teams for Honda including the last two since he took over operations of the factory-supported team directly from American Honda.

Rider of record for the No. 1x JCR/Honda is Kendall Norman, 26, of Santa Barbara, Calif., while currently leading the SCORE Class 22 season point standings is the No. 8x JCR/Honda team led by rider of record Colton Udall, 24, of San Clemente, Calif. Udall leads Norman by just seven points heading into the 2010 season finale.

In addition to the availability of Campbell in the red corner for this battle of champions, the scheduled co-rider for Norman is regular co-rider Quinn Cody, 34, of Buellton, Calif. Timmy Weigand, Santa Clarita, Calif., is coming back from personnel health issues and is expected to rider for one of the two JCR/Honda teams. The Norman/Cody/Weigand trio won last year’s Tecate SCORE Baja 1000, giving Norman his fourth career overall win in this race, Cody his second and Weigand his first.

Riding with Udall on the 8x will be Jeff Kargola, 27, San Clemente, Calif., and newcomer Justin Imhoff, 17, of Alta Loma, Calif. Udall and Kargola teamed to win this year’s Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250 in March.

In the orange corner for this heavyweight championship battle will be the talent-rich No. 7x Bonanza Plumbing/KTM Off-Road KTM 530XCW, led by David Pearson, 27, of Panaca, Nev. Joining him in this quest to unseat JCR/Honda will be former Honda factory riders Steve Hengeveld, 34, of Oak Hills, Calif. and Mike Childress, 27, of Wrightwood, Calif., along with age-group winning rider Shane Esposito, 36, of Lake Elsinore, Calif. Hengeveld, is a seven-time overall winner in this race while Childress has won it twice. Joining this quartet as the team’s fifth rider will be budding Mexican star rider Ivan Ramirez, 17, of Ensenada.

As an individual rider, Pearson, part of the KTM Off-Road team, finished third in the final points in this year’s AMA Hare & Hound Championship Series with two race wins. Norman won the title in that series with five race wins riding for the JCR/Honda team.

Besides running the JCR/Honda racing program, Johnny Campbell also oversees the JCR/Honda Pits program that offers first-class racing support to Honda mounted riders at every SCORE Baja race in a program first started by American Honda in the 1980s. The program has become an essential component of Honda mounted competitors because the speed and efficiency of a pit stop can make or break your race. The SCORE Baja 1000 requires nearly 20 pits this year, roughly 60 miles apart.

Johnny Campbell, the iconic desert motorcycle racer is profiled in a new feature documentary by Seven Films. Directed by Ryan Ray and narrated by Troy Adamitis, ‘True Champion’ is the story of how Johnny Campbell evolved from the typical southern California adolescent roosting around on a dirt bike to a multi-time desert racing champion with world-wide respect. What isn’t typical is the path Campbell faced in becoming a champion: A tragic turning point effectively ending his youth and presented him with a choice to go “All-In” and chase his dreams to become the winningest rider in the 43-year history of the SCORE Baja 1000.

In addition to the 37 U.S. States, racers have entered from Australia, Austria, Canada, Chile, Columbia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Guatemala, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, South Africa and the US Territory of Guam. With just over one week before the green flag drops next Thursday (Nov. 18), entries will be accepted up to race morning.

Pre-race festivities next Wednesday (Nov. 17), for the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000, including the vastly popular tech and contingency of all vehicles and the SCORE Manufacturer’s Midway will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Boulevard Costero in front of the Riviera del Pacifico Cultural Center. The pre-race mandatory driver/rider briefing will be held next Wednesday (Nov. 17) at 7 p.m. in the Cathedral Room at the Riviera del Pacifico Cultural Center. Racer registration will be held at the San Nicolas Resort Hotel from Saturday (Nov. 13) through next Wednesday (Nov. 17). Media registration will be held at the San Nicolas Resort Hotel from Noon to 6 p.m. next Tuesday (Nov. 16) and from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. next Wednesday (Nov. 17).

The post-race awards celebration and fiesta will be held on the Malecon in downtown La Paz, starting at 4 p.m. next Saturday (Nov. 20). The entire event will be conducted on Pacific Standard Time.

While entries will be accepted up to race morning, late entries will be assigned the next available number and starting position within each class.

The car and truck classes with the most entries to date are SCORE Trophy-Truck (36), Class 1 (21) and SCORE Lite (15) and Class 1-2/1600 (14).

Among the motorcycle and ATV classes, Class 22 for open motorcycles has the most entries to date with 11.

Leading the seven Sportsman classes in the race is Sportsman Motorcycle over 250cc which has 38 entries so far.

In 2010, BFGoodrich Tires is celebrating its 35th year in SCORE Baja racing. In addition to being the official tire of SCORE International for three and a half decades, BFG has been the tire of choice for 23 of the overall 4-wheel vehicle winners in the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000, including 23 of the last 24 years and a record-run of 20 straight from 1986 through 2005.

43rd Tecate SCORE Baja 1000
(By Class Starting Order-as of 11/08/10)
CLASS 22 (Open, 250cc or more)--
2x Gabriel Williams, Provo, Utah, Honda CRF450X
3x A.J. Stewart, Jamul, Calif./Bryce Stavron, Palmdale, Calif./Kevin Johnson, Boulder City, Nev./Jesse Sharpe, Escondido, Calif./Craig Smith, Brawley, Calif., Honda CRF450X
4x Junpei Saito/Kyonari Ohtsukas/Shigeru Kurai, Japan, Honda CRF450X
5x Steve Corrie, Brush Prairie, Wash./Dan Boespflug, Battleground, Wash./Joey Lancaster, Troutdale, Ore./Craig Bowman, Kelso, Wash., Honda CRF450X
1x Kendall Norman, Santa Barbara, Calif./Quinn Cody, Buellton, Calif./Johnny Campbell, San Clemente, Calif., Honda CRF450X
7x David Pearson, Panaca, Nev./Mike Childress, Wrightwood, Calif./Ivan Ramirez, Ensenada, Mexico/Shane Esposito, Lake Elsinore, Calif./Steve Hengeveld, Oak Hills, Calif., KTM 530XCW
8x Colton Udall/Jeff Kargola, San Clemente, Calif./Justin Imhoff, Alta Loma, Calif., Honda CRF450X
9x Francisco Arredondo, Guatemala/James West, Great Britain/Mark Ackerman, South Africa/Sunny Irvine, Ensenada, Mexico, Honda CRF450X
10x Dennis Hannel, Shingle Springs, Calif./Jim Owens/Nick Owens, Scotts Valley, Calif., Brian Lerette, Arnold, Calif., Honda CRF450X
11x Mark Bradford/Stephen Bradford, City of Industry, Calif./Manny Ornellas, Redding, Calif./Kelly Malobovich, Phelan, Calif./Mark Fillerbrown, Allentown, Pa., Honda CRF450X
12x Aaron Lindsey, Macon, Ga., Yamaha YZ450F

Credits: SCORE Intl - press release

More pre-race Baja 1000 information leading up to the racing at SCORE Baja 1000 and live webcast of the race at Baja 1000 Live. Finish line coverage with the Puro Off-Road folks in La Paz at the scene.