Trophy-Truck Baja 1000 preview

Race-record 36 SCORE Trophy-Trucks set to make history At next month's 39th Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 in Mexico 7 of 12 SCORE Trophy-Truck season champs and 17 drivers with 61 of 77 class race wins entered in granddaddy of all desert ...

Trophy-Truck Baja 1000 preview

Race-record 36 SCORE Trophy-Trucks set to make history At next month's 39th Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 in Mexico

7 of 12 SCORE Trophy-Truck season champs and 17 drivers with 61 of 77 class race wins entered in granddaddy of all desert races; Nationally-televised peninsula run Nov. 15-18 in Mexico from Ensenada, Baja California to La Paz, Baja California Sur

LOS ANGELES--When it comes to the SCORE Trophy-Truck division in next month's 39th Annual Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 desert race, the favorites list continues to be led by defending race and season point champion Bob Shepard, along with the veteran teams of Brian Collins/Larry Ragland, Ryan Arciero/Mark Miller/Rick Johnson, brothers Ed and Tim Herbst and current class point leader B.J. Baldwin. The growing list of serious contenders also includes Alan Pflueger, Andy McMillin/Robby Gordon, Mark Post/Curt LeDuc, Carl Renezeder, Gus Vildosola/Rob MacCachren, Cameron Steele, and rookie Garron Cadiente.

Now, SCORE Trophy-Truck, the high-tech, 800-horsepower unlimited production trucks that are finishing their 13th season as the premier SCORE racing division, will have a record field of nearly 40 of these monsters of the desert attempting to permanently etch their own names in the granite records of the legendary granddaddy of all desert races. This year's odyssey of over 1,000 miles will be a grueling adventure down Mexico's mysterious Baja California peninsula starting in Ensenada, Baja California and finishing in La Paz, Baja California, Sur. It will be held Nov. 15-18.

An amazing race-record total of 393 vehicles have officially entered to date and over 400 are expected by the time late registration closes on race morning.

This year's memorable adventure will cover 1,047.83 miles of the rugged and tortuous Baja California peninsula, starting on the Pacific Ocean side and stretching across and down the majestic peninsula to the Sea of Cortez side, back to the Pacific before winding back again to the Sea of Cortez and the finish line.

Over 400 entries from 35 U.S. States and 11 countries, competing in 26 Pro and 6 Sportsman classes for cars, trucks, motorcycles and ATVs will be part of this year's tribute to the sport of desert racing. The race is the season-finale of the six-race 2006 SCORE Desert Series, the world's foremost desert racing series.

"The concept of the SCORE Trophy-Truck division that we launched in 1994 was extremely innovating for our sport, but I am literally awestruck to observe the development of it over these past 12-plus years," said Sal Fish, CEO and President of Los Angeles-based SCORE International. "They come from all walks of life and their investment in their teams and their unbelievable race trucks rivals any other form of motorsports. Staging and the start line in Ensenada will be one of the most memorable times in my 34-year tenure in the sport."

The motorcycle and ATV classes will start their journey at 6:30 a.m. (Thursday, Nov. 16) with the car and truck classes starting at approximately 10:30 a.m., or three hours after the last ATV leaves the line. Vehicles will leave in 30-second intervals in the elapsed-time race and while the fastest finishers are expected to complete the course in approximately 16 hours. The all-time race-record for starters, 346, was set 29 years ago in 1977 (Ensenada to Ensenada), and the race-record for starters when the race runs the length of the peninsula to La Paz, 307, was set in 1992.

This year's Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 desert race will be televised on a delayed basis as a one-hour NBC Sports special for the third consecutive year, airing at 2:30 p.m. (EST) on Sunday, Dec. 10 on the NBC Television Network. It will also air on a delayed basis outside of the U.S. on ESPN International.

The competition is so fierce this year that there have been five different winners in as many races and only 29 points separate the top four point leaders in the hunt for the 2006 SCORE Trophy-Truck season title.

In all, this year's SCORE Trophy-Truck entry list features 7 of the 12 SCORE Baja 1000 winners in this marquee division, 17 racers who have combined for 39 various class victories in this fabled race, 17 drivers who have combined to win 61 of the 77 SCORE Trophy-Truck races ever held, and 8 of the 12 All-Time SCORE Trophy-Truck season point champions. A race-record 36 SCORE Trophy-Trucks have entered so far.

With massive crowds reaching over 300,000 anticipated to again be spread out along the point-to-point race course, the race will start for the 32nd time in Ensenada and will finish for the 17th time in La Paz.

Shepard, 49, of Phoenix, who is coming off his second career SCORE Trophy-Truck class win in September at the SCORE Las Vegas Primm 300, is the defending SCORE Trophy-Truck season point champion and 2005 Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 winner in his class. He is also currently in second place in this year's class point standings, by just six points, in the No. 1 Shepard Racing Chevy CK1500.

Brian Collins, 44, of Las Vegas with three and Larry Ragland, 62, of Phoenix with nine have a combined 12 career SCORE Trophy-Truck race wins and will split driving in the No. 12 Collins Motorsports Chevy Silverado. The legendary Ragland has a record four SCORE Trophy-Truck wins in the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 (1995, 1996, 1997 and 1999). Ragland also won Class 8 in this race in 1991.

The inventive team of Ryan Arciero, 33, Foothill Ranch, Calif./Mark Miller, 44, Carefree, Ariz., class winners in this race both in 2003 and 2004, added a third key driver this year in Supercross legend Rick Johnson, 42, Trabucco Canyon, Calif., in their No. 81 Arciero/Miller Racing Chevy Silverado.

Las Vegas brothers Ed Herbst, 45, and Tim Herbst, 43, are the all-time winningest SCORE Trophy-Truck drivers with 11 career race wins and the season point titles in 1999, 2000, 2002 and 2003, but are still looking for their first win in this marquee racing division in the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 in their Terrible Herbst Motorsports No. 19 Ford F-150. With a third and two fifths this year, the brothers are in third place in the current SCORE Trophy-Truck point standings, 28 behind B.J. Baldwin. The brothers finished third in this race last year, fourth in 2004 and second in both 2003 and 2002.

B.J. Baldwin, 27, of Las Vegas, is the current SCORE Trophy-Truck point leader and won this year's season-opening SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge in January in his No. 97 Chevy Silverado. He also has a second, two fourths and a sixth this year in the featured SCORE racing division. He also drew the coveted first starting position for this year's race.

Hawaii's Alan Pflueger, 39, has two career SCORE Trophy-Truck race wins in his Pflueger Racing No. 28 Monster Energy Chevy Silverado and in the SCORE Baja 1000 he won the Protruck class in 2002. He was second in last year's race to Bob Shepard. This year he is fourth in class points, one behind the Herbsts.

NASCAR Nextel Cup team owner/driver Robby Gordon, 37, Charlotte, N.C., whose roots are in SCORE desert racing and is a two-time overall winner in this race, drew the 31st starting position in SCORE Trophy-Truck in the Team Gordon No. 83 Red Bull Chevy CK1500. Gordon, will again pull double-duty, driving the the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 before flying to Homestead, Fla., to race in the NASCAR Nextel Cup season finale. Driver of record for the team this season is Andy McMillin, 19, Poway, Calif.

With four career SCORE Trophy-Truck race wins each, the team of Mark Post, 49, San Juan Capistrano, Calif. and Curt LeDuc, 51, Cherry Valley, Calif., are always in the hunt in the No. 3 Riviera Racing Ford F-150. With Post recovering from extensive knee surgery, the team did not race in September's SCORE Las Vegas Primm 300, but the pair finished fourth in this race last year and third two years ago. Their best finish so far this season was a fifth in SCORE Trophy-Truck in March's Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250.

Carl Renezeder, 42, Laguna Beach, Calif., who keeps in shape for racing as a successful triathelete, is seventh in class points this year, won Class 1 in this race in 1994, and has a second and a third this season in his No. 17 Chevy Silverado. He is also a champion short-course racer in the CORR series.

Always a local favorite, Vildosola Racing with team owner Gus Vildosola, 53, Mexicali, Mexico and three-time AARWBA All-America Rob MacCachren, 41, Las Vegas, has struggled this year with three straight did not finishes after opening the season with a fourth place in Laughlin. MacCachren has four career SCORE Trophy-Truck race wins, including one in 2003 with Vildosola, and was the 1994 SCORE Trophy-Truck season point champion.

Known world-wide as an action sports and Champ Car racing television sports commentator, Cameron Steele, 38, San Clemente, Calif., is a proven desert racer with a 2003 Class 1-2/1600 win in this race, but hasn't cracked the podium yet in SCORE Trophy-Truck. With Steele's race savvy and team owner Ed Stout's driving patience, the No. 16 Desert Assassins Ford F-150 is always colorful as it continues to climb the podium ladder. The high-adrenaline Steele will once again attempt a triple, racing not only in SCORE Trophy-Truck, but the unlimited Class 22 on the No. 19x Honda XR650R motorcycle and on the No. 1147 charity team in Class 11 in a stock VW Sedan. Needless to say, he has a lot of good driving partners who help him in his unique quest for the desert trifecta.

The SCORE Trophy-Truck surprise driver of the season has been rookie Garron Cadiente, 31, Mesa, Ariz., who won this year's Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250, finished fifth in the No. 38 G&R Racing Ford F-150 in June's Tecate SCORE Baja 500 and is sixth in season points. Cadiente's father-in-law, Ron Whitton, 62, Mesa, Ariz., is the R in G&R Racing. Whitton, the oldest SCORE rookie, was fourth in San Felipe, 11th at the Tecate SCORE Baja 500 and is currently 11th in SCORE Trophy-Truck points in the No. 39 G&R Racing Ford F-150.

Besides Gordon, the other cross-over racers who are entered so far include NASCAR's Boris Said and World Rally champion Armin Schwarz, 2004 Indy 500 champion Buddy Rice, XGames legend Travis Pastrana, former IndyCar star Roberto Guerrero, CORR short-course champion Johnny Greaves and actor/racer Patrick Dempsey, star of the ABC TV hit show 'Grey's Anatomy.'

Besides the lengthy favorites list, other entries in the marquee SCORE Trophy-Truck division include Pete Sohren, Glendale, Ariz. (No. 2-Ford F-150), Josh Baldwin, Newport Beach, Calif. (86-Ford F-150), Chad Ragland, Cave Creek, Ariz./Danny Anderson, Las Vegas (80-Chevy Silverado), Jesse Jones, Phoenix (76-Ford F-150), Japan's Ikuo Hanawa (14-Toyota FJ Land Cruiser), Marty Coyne, El Centro, Calif. (5-Ford F-150), Bobby Baldwin, Las Vegas (96-Chevy Silverado), Mike Julson, Descanso, Calif./Bob Lofton, Westmorland, Calif. (20-Chevy Silverado), Todd Wyllie, New River, Ariz. (85-Chevy Silverado), Juan C. Ibarra, Ensenada, Mexico (32-Ford F-150) and Kory Sheeler, Las Vegas (51-Chevy Silverado).

In just his fourth SCORE race, TV personality Jesse James, of Monster Garage fame, will debut his new No. 54 Chevy Silverado SCORE Trophy-Truck. As compared to the truck he raced in his SCORE debut last, this year's truck the popular James will drive will not be last year's made-for-TV overnight special.

The Pro 4-Wheel classes with the most entries to date are SCORE Trophy-Truck (36), Class 1 (26), Class 1-2/1600 (28), SCORE Lite (20), Micron Technology Baja Challenge and Protruck (19 each), Class 5/1600 (16), Class 10 (12).

In the Pro Motorcycle classes, the unlimited Class 22 has 23 entries so far while Class 30 (riders over 30 years old) has 16 and Class 40 (riders over 40), has 11.

Leading the six Sportsman classes in the race is Sportsman Motorcycle over 250cc which has a race-record 41 entries to date. It's the oldest and most well known of all desert races, and it remains as the single most appealing accomplishment to a driver. Since 1967, the mother of all desert races has been run over the mysterious Baja California peninsula. Pre-race festivities on Wednesday, Nov. 15, for the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000, including tech and contingency and the SCORE Manufacturer's Midway will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. across from the San Nicolas Hotel. The pre-race mandatory driver/rider briefing will be held Nov. 15 at 7 p.m. at the Riviera del Pacifico Cultural Center. Racer registration will be held at the San Nicolas from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 14 and from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 15.

While entries will be accepted up to race morning (Nov. 16), late entries will be assigned the next available number and starting position within each class.

The post-race Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 Survivor's Celebration will be held during the SCORE Fiesta on the Malecon beachwalk in La Paz, which starts at noon on Saturday, Nov. 18.

-credit: score

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