PR-SCORE-Baja 1000 Race Report
November 22, 2003
Miller/Arciero win in SCORE Trophy-Truck
Honda’s Hengeveld/Campbell & Fortin/Townsley’s
Jimco capture overall wins As 153 adventurers official finishers
at 36th annual Tecate SCORE Baja 1000
BFGoodrich Tires win 18th straight overall 4-wheel
crown as over 200,000 watch 272 starters in season finale in Ensenada,
ENSENADA, Mexico-In what will be considered one
of the toughest races in the history of this legendary event, American
Honda motorcycle teammates Steve Hengeveld and Johnny Campbell along
with Jimco teammates Doug Fortin and Charlie Townsley posted the
overall motorcycle and 4-wheel victories late Saturday at the 36th
Annual Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 desert race.
A total of 272 of 283 adventuresome entries took
the green flag Friday in Ensenada, competing in 27 Pro and 5 sportsman
classes for cars, trucks, motorcycles and ATVs. The challenging
808-mile route down the Pacific Ocean side of the Baja California
peninsula, across and back up the eastern side of the peninsula
along the Sea of Cortez before ending back in Ensenada was the season-finale
of the six-race 2003 SCORE Desert Series. When the finish line closed
inside of the Antonio Palacios Devportivo baseball stadium in the
heart of Ensenada late Saturday, 153 vehicles survived, making it
to the finish line within the 32-hour time limit.
Mexico tourism officials estimated crowds around
the course in Ensenada and across Baja California at over 200,000,
a record for the event.
First to cross the finish line was the Honda
XR650R of Hengeveld and Campbell, who methodically marched across
the technical, tight, and twisting course to an overall winning
time of 15 hours, 39 minutes and 52 seconds. Campbell took the green
flag, riding for 381 miles and Hengeveld captured the checkered
flag, after riding for 427 miles. The pair average speed was 51.58
miles per hour, which clearly reflected the difficulty of the course.
While the American Honda teammates were the fastest
vehicle in the grueling race, Fortin and Townsley in their Chevy-powered
Jimco open-wheel desert racecar led all four-wheel vehicles to the
finish line, covering the challenging course in 16:24:28 while averaging
For Hengeveld, Oak Hills, Calif., the victory
was his fourth class win and his second straight while his teammate
Campbell, San Clemente, Calif., improved his record run in this
desert classic to seven straight.
"We had a very good race over a very, very
rugged course," said Hengeveld, 28, as he relaxed in the winner’s
circle. "Johnny’s a great rider and got us a big lead, although
he did hit a rock and broke the front wheel at about mile 70."
"I knew what I needed to do, but with the
darkness, the fog around Ojos Negros, and the toughness of the race
course, I had to pay attention and keep focused and under control.
My adrenaline is pumping now, but when it wears off, my body will
definitely tell me it took a beating. There is no greater thrill
or accomplishment in our sport than to be champions of the SCORE
Baja 1000. Don’t wake me up…it’s unbelievable."
With a starting grid jammed with former overall
and individual class champions, dramatic racing action covered the
northern part of the foreboding Baja California peninsula Friday
and Saturday during the 36th running of the legendary Tecate SCORE
Baja 1000, the granddaddy of all desert races.
Celebrating its 30th anniversary this year as
the world’s foremost desert racing series, the SCORE Desert Series
returned to Mexico for the last of its three annual races in Baja
California. Entries came from 28 U.S. States, Washington, D.C.,
Mexico, Brazil, Canada, France, Guatemala, Israel, Japan and Uruguay.
In the manufacturer’s battle of ‘beat the Baja’
research and development, Chevy won its sixth overall 4-wheel crown,
Honda earned it’s 14th overall motorcycle win and BFG Tires captured
its 18th consecutive overall 4-wheel vehicle triumph.
Fortin and Townsley also were the overall 4-wheel
vehicle winners in this race in 2001, making them the only non-SCORE
Trophy-Trucks to win this crown in the 10-year history of this legendary
"Our car ran great, we didn’t make any serious
mistakes and our BFG tires were once again tougher than Baja, we
had absolutely no flats on the toughest SCORE Baja 1000 course ever,"
said an elated Fortin as he greet Townsley at the finish line.
Second overall among 4-wheel vehicles and winners
of the marquee SCORE Trophy-Truck class was the Chevy Silverado
of Mark Miller, Carefree, Ariz.,/Ryan Arciero, Foothill Ranch, Calif.
With Miller starting the race and Arciero finishing, the pair held
off a record field of 24 in their class, finishing in 16:28:45,
four minutes and 43 seconds behind Fortin/Townsley. Miller/Arciero
also won the Tecate SCORE Baja 500 in June.
Second in SCORE Trophy-Truck and third overall
were Las Vegas brothers Tim and Ed Herbst, in a time of 17:17:04
in their Terrible Herbst Motorsports Ford F-150. The Herbst brothers,
who have won a record 11 times in this class, were second last year
as well in this race. With their finish, the talented brothers clinched
their record fourth SCORE Trophy-Truck season point championship.
Fourth overall and second in Class 1 was the
father/son team of Scott and Andy McMillin, Poway, Calif., at 17:23:28
in a Jimco-Chevy. Finishing fifth overall and in third in SCORE
Trophy-Truck was the team of Gus Vildosola, Mexicali, Mexico/Rob
MacCachren, Las Vegas, in the Vildosola Racing Ford F-150 with a
time of 17:46:38.
Finishing sixth overall and third in Class 1
was the team of brothers Dale and Darren Ebberts, Canyon Lake, Calif./Ernie
Castro Jr., Newport Beach, Calif., in 18:00:05 in a Jimco-Toyota.
The finish, combined with the DNFs of Mark and Gary Weyhrich, Troutdale,
Ore., and Troy Herbst, Las Vegas/Larry Roeseler, Hesperia, Calif.,
earned Ebberts his first SCORE Overall point championship and his
second in Class 1. The title snapped Herbst’s six-year class winning
streak. Herbst went out of the race with severe front-end damage
in his Smithbuilt-Ford.
Ron Brant, Torrance, Calif./Richard Boyle, Ridgecrest,
Calif., were seventh overall and fourth in Class 1 with a time of
18:03:30 in another Jimco-Chevy. Eighth overall and fourth in SCORE
Trophy-Truck was the team of Dan Smith/David Ashley, Riverside,
Calif., at 18:25:50 in a Ford F-150. Smith and Ashley had won this
race overall the last three years.
In just his second race in SCORE Trophy-Truck,
Las Vegas’ B.J. Baldwin teamed with fellow Las Vegas Larry Job to
finish an impressive ninth overall and fifth in their class at 18:31:48
in a Ford F-150.
Rounding out the top 10 overall four-wheel vehicle
finishers while winning Class 10 in a Henry Chassis-Honda was Orange,
California’s youthful duo of Kory Halopoff, 20, and third-generation
desert racer Harley Letner, 19, in 18:41:02. The pair also won Class
10 in this year’s Tecate SCORE Baja 500 in June.
Second overall in the motorcycle race and second
in Class 22 was the team of Chris Blais, Stanton, Calif./Chuck Dempsey,
Van Nuys, Calif./Andy Grider, Los Olivos, Calif., with a time of
16:32:44 on a Honda XR650.
A surpising third overall motorcycle was the
Class 40 (for riders over 40 years old) winning team of Chris Haines,
Dana Point, Calif./Craig Adams, San Clemente, Calif./Paul Ostbo,
Cle Elum, Wash./Jack Johnson, Las Vegas/Rich Binckley, Woddinville,
Wash., at 17:37:30 on a Honda XR650R. For Haines, it was his 10th
career class win in this race while Johnson earned his ninth in
the storied race.
The fourth overall motorcycle was the Class 30
(for riders over 30 years old) winning team of Sergio Vega, Ensenada,
Mexico/Gerardo Rojas, Vicente Guerrero, Mexico, at 17:43:18 on a
Honda XR650R. The team was the highest finishing Mexican team out
of the 54 entered in the race.
Second in Class 40 and the fifth overall motorcycle
finishers were the team of Jim O’Neal, Chatsworth, Calif./Tim Withers,
Pepeekeo, Hawaii/Jeff Kaplan, Thousand Oaks, Calif., just three
seconds behind the Vega team at 17:43:21 on a Honda XR650R.
Picking up their fourth straight class wins in
the race on Honda XR650R motorcycles were Richard Jackson and Jim
O’Neal. Jackson, 56 of Acton, Calif., won Class 50 for riders over
50 years old, tying Roeseler for the most class wins on a motorcycle
The Factory Honda ATV team of John Gregory, Chula
Vista, Calif./Doug Eichner, El Cajon, Calif./Tim Farr, Canton, Ohio/Marc
Spaeth, Ramona, Calif., won Class 25 and were the fastest overall
ATV team in a time of 18:27:24 on a new Honda TRX450R. It was the
team’s second win in three races this season and this race marked
the racing debut of the Honda TRX450R.
Completing a storybook racing season, high school
student Brian Ickler, 18, of Poway, Calif., earned a season-high
fifth SCORE Lite victory, teaming with Gus Vildosola Jr., Mexicali,
Mexico, in a time of 19:18:17 in a Jimco-VW.
Dave Sykes, Del Mar, Calif., won for the fourth
time this year in Class 8, teaming with Dave Westhem to finish in
22:45:05 in their Chevy Silverado. The other four-time winner this
season was in Class 3, where brothers Donald Moss, Sacramento, Calif.,
and Kenneth Moss, Marysville, Calif., claimed the victory in 23:18:04
in a Ford Bronco.
Class 7 was won for the third time this season
by Craig Turner, Yorba Linda, Calif., at 26:44:15 in a Ford Ranger.
Winning for the third time this season in Class
7S was the team of Bob Graham, Yorba Linda, Calif./Mike Horner,
Mission Viejo, Calif., with a time of 27:39:58 in a Toyota Tacoma.
Mexico’s Marco Nunez won for the third time this
season in Class 5/1600, teaming with Norberto Rivero, also of Ensenada,
finishing in 22:25:45 in their 1600cc VW Baja Bug.
Also picking up his third win of the season in
Class 9 was Eric Fisher, Ensenada, Mexico, at 24:27:22 in a Garibay-VW.
In Class 5 for unlimited VW Baja Bugs, the team
of Joe Heger/Shawn McCallum of Imperial, Calif., won for the third
time this year with a time of 21:00:46.
Earl Thigpen, Murrieta, Calif., picked up his
third straight win to go undefeated this season in ATV Class 24,
teaming with Brian Pinard, Wildomar, Calif., in 22:39:30 on a Honda
The Protruck class was won for the first time
this year by Matt Scaroni in 19:08:48 in a Ford F-150. He split
the driving with his father Steve Scaroni and Supercross racing
legend Ricky Johnson.
Richard Jackson, 57 of Acton, Calif., won Class
50 (motorcycle riders over 50) for the fifth time in this race and
second time this season. Riding a Honda XR650R, Jackson split the
riding time with Bob Wadlow, Arcadia, Calif., Mark Force and Guy
Wilson, Bakersfield, Calif., along with John Rogers, Palm Desert,
Calif., in 20:27:04
Capturing the win in Class 1-2/1600, which had
a race-high 27 starters, was ESPN sportscaster Cameron Steele, San
Clemente, Calif., at 21:00:10 in a Prep By Jake-VW.
The special Centrix Financial Baja Challenge
class was won for the second straight year by Bob Sutton, Englewood,
Colo., at 23:37:10 in one of 11 identically prepared Porsche-powered
Baja touring cars. Sharing driving duties this year were Rod Millen,
Huntington Beach, Calif., Stefan Johansson, Indianapolis, Jeff Zwart,
Woody Creek, Colo., and Andrew Thomason, Huntington Beach, Calif.
Winning Class 21 for the second time in three
races this year was Joe Desrosiers, San Marcos, Calif., who teamed
with Julian Guerra, Goleta, Calif., and Mark Daniels, Oxnard, Calif.,
at 19:25:22 on a Yamaha YZ250.
Daniel Fresh, San Juan Capistrano, Calif., teamed
with Vince DiMaio, San Clemente, Calif., to capture Class 7SX at
29:06:56 in a Jeep Comanche. Chad Hall and his brother Josh, Reno,
Nev., in a Stock Full, AM General Hummer H1.
Las Vegas’ Bekki Freeman, a three-time Tecate
SCORE Baja 1000 class champion, finished seventh out of eight finishers
in the special Centrix Financial Baja Challenge class with an all-female
Also being decided at the race were the winners
of the $12,000 Toyota True Grit and Milestone Awards. The purse
will be split among four non-factory class point champs who completed
every required mile of the season to join the Toyota Milestone Award
The race was also being filmed for a new sports
documentary film, ‘Dust to Glory,’ with a crew of over 80 by critically
acclaimed director Dana Brown. It was shot with Brown’s father Bruce
Brown as the creative consultant. Bruce Brown is responsible for
such notable specialty films as ‘On Any Sunday’, and ‘Endless Summer’.
This year, Dana Brown released the popular ‘Step Into Liquid’ surfing
documentary. ‘Dust to Glory’ is scheduled for release internationally
The essence of this year’s Tecate SCORE Baja
1000 was summed up best by Mouse McCoy, 34 of Santa Monica, Calif.,
who rode solo on a HondaXR650R. An accomplished stuntman in Hollywood
and one of the ‘Dust to Glory’ producers, McCoy, who wore a helmet
camera to provide footage for the film, finished second in his class
"Baja is really an amazing place,"
said McCoy as he exhaustedly spoke to over 100 reporters and photographers
gathered at the finish line. "The SCORE Baja 1000 is not about
winning or losing, it’s about being down here doing it with your
friends. I experienced this race with my best friends in the world
taking care of me and nothing could be better than being here. It’s
an experience I will have with me for the rest of my life. A lot
went on out there inside my brain. It’s you, your bike and the desert.
I was riding solo for 18 hours. The one thing that I will always
be able to have is the fact that I know I never gave up. The SCORE
Baja 1000 is a big, big deal, and I had it covered."
"I was coming in and my hands were numb;
I couldn’t use my hands. They shut off so I couldn’t use them. I
hit a rock and endoed big time. After I crashed, I was laying there
in the desert waiting for someone to run over me. I crawled back
up and kicked my bike over and knew nothing was going to keep me
from getting to the finish line. I just knew I had to make it. I
was really worn out but I kept pushing. Thanks for letting us race
in the incredible country."
The extremely popular Grand Marshal for this
year’s race was legendary motorsports figure Mario Andretti.
In addition to the sport’s biggest names, cross-over
drivers and riders including NASCAR’s Gordon and Brendan Gaughan,
CART’s Jimmy Vasser and Michel Jordain Jr., Supercross and motocross
legend Ricky Johnson, SCCA’s Jeff Zwart, Rally racer Rod Millen
along with former open wheel racers Mike and Robbie Groff, Roberto
Guerrero, Stefan Johansson and Johnny Unser competed in this year’s
version of the legendary granddaddy of all desert races. Also among
the other entries for this year’s classic were TV star Jesse James
(Monster Garage), snowboarding champion Tara Takides and TV sportscasters
Paul Page and Cameron Steele.
SCORE official sponsors for 2003 are: BFGoodrich
Tires-official tire, Southern California Ford Dealers-official vehicle,
76 Racing Fuel-official fuel and Rental Service Corporation-official
equipment supplier. Associate sponsors are: Tecate Beer, Coca-Cola
of Mexico, Instant Mexico Auto Insurance, Bilstein, Signpros, P.C.I.
Race Radios, McKenzie’s, Off Road Innovations and Advanced Color
Additional associate sponsors of this year’s
Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 were: Cotuco, Fideicomiso Publico para la
Promocion Turistica de Ensenada and Centrix Financial of Denver.
With the season complete, the SCORE Tribute Night
on Dec. 13 at the Gold Coast Hotel in Las Vegas will honor SCORE’s
30th anniversary along with this year’s season point champions and
the annual off-roadsman of the year awards will also be presented.
For more information, contact SCORE at
its Los Angeles headquarters 818.225.8402 or visit the official
website of the 2003 SCORE Desert Series at www.score-international.com.