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SCORE Baja 1000: Roeseler hoping to add to legacy

Like Kobe is to the NBA, JJ is to NASCAR, RC is to Supercross, LR is to desert racing in Baja California, Mexico - the one individual everyone wants to beat - if they can. LR, of course, is Larry Roeseler, the most renown of all the great desert racers from around the world who have competed in the legendary Tecate SCORE Baja 1000, which will be held for the 41st time Nov. 19-23 in Ensenada (Mexico).

A Southern California native, Roeseler, 51, has been racing in the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 since 1972 and he has compiled an amazing total of 16 class wins, both on two wheels and four wheels, including a race-record 12 overall victories, 10 of which came on a motorcycle. In any discussion on the legends of Baja, ‘LR’ is at the top of the short list of all-time greats who have earned their places in the history of this most storied of all desert races.

After starting this year without a ride or a team, the man who has tamed the mysterious and majestic Baja peninsula more than any other racer in history, Roeseler will drive in this year’s Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 for just the fourth time ever in SCORE Trophy-Truck when he makes his first start in this event for Roger Norman in the No. 8 Norman Motorsports Ford F-150.

With nearly 375 entries expected to compete in 28 Pro and 7 Sportsman classes for cars, trucks, motorcycles and ATVs, the granddaddy of all desert races. Completing its 35th year as the World’s foremost desert racing sanctioning body, the event is the finale of the five-race 2008 SCORE Desert Series. To date entries have come from 38 U.S. States and 19 countries.

"No doubt about it, we want to win the SCORE Baja 1000, and then let the cards fall where they may relative to the season points," said Roeseler, who rode motorcycles in this race from 1972 through 1994, earning 10 class wins, all of which also brought the overall crown as well. In his first season racing in the marquee SCORE Trophy-Truck division for high-tech, 800 horsepower unlimited production trucks, Norman decided in May that Larry Roeseler would be the man to help him build his fledgling motorsports team to the elite level it has quickly risen.

Starting the year as a solo driver, Norman, the 45-year-old Reno, Nev., developer who owns the Crystal Bay Casino on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe, did not finish the SCORE Laughlin Challenge in January and then had a very respectable fifth place finish in March’s Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250.

But Norman knew he needed a second driver to help him continue his quest, especially considering the last three races of the season would also be much longer and much tougher than Laughlin and San Felipe. Recommended by others who knew him much better, Norman secured the services of Roeseler both as a driver in the desert and a team consultant in the race shop in Irvine, Calif.

In their first race together, Norman/Roeseler finished fourth in May’s Tecate SCORE Baja 500 and backed that up with an impressive overall and SCORE Trophy-Truck victory in September’s SCORE Terrible’s Primm 300. "I have been extremely fortunate in my desert racing career to have incredible equipment, great co-riders and drivers and superb crews," said Roeseler, who still does public relations works for Kawasaki as well as race in up to 10 Gran Prix-style motorcycle races each year in age group classes. "I am a product of all the great people I have been associated with for over 35 years in the desert. Even after things changed this year with Terrible Herbst Motorsports, I was able to land another position with another extremely good team that has the commitment, goals, equipment and resources to know we could win races."

While Roeseler’s race-record of 10 overall motorcycle wins in the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 seemed unbeatable when he set it in 1994, it did last 13 years before Honda’s Johnny Campbell, 37, San Clemente, Calif., tied it last year. "All records are made to be broken and when mine does get surpassed, it couldn’t be done by a better racer and a nicer guy than Johnny Campbell," said Roeseler, who won his first three overall wins on Husqvarna motorcycles, one on a Yamaha and six on Kawasaki motorcycles.

"Johnny is a great racer with an amazing team and his consistency is very similar to what mine has been which has helped him achieve as much as he has. I do have 12 total overalls with the two Class 1 wins, so I am still ahead of Johnny and the rest of the field in combined overall victories in this great race."

While Roeseler was the constant on his 10 motorcycle championship teams in this race, he had eight different riding partners over the years. He won his first on a Husky with Mitch Mayes (1976) and his next three with Jack Johnson (1978 and 1979 on a Husky and 1980 on a Yamaha).

His six wins on Kawasaki motorcycles were achieved with Paul Krause and Danny LaPorte (1988), LaPorte and Ted Hunnicutt (1989 and 1990), Hunnicutt and Marty Smith (1991) and his final two with the late Danny Hamel and Ty Davis (1993 and 1994).

The results are clearly evident in the season point standings where they have climbed into contention for the season point championship. They are currently in sixth place with 245, just 26 points out of first place and nine out of second.

Ahead of Norman/Roeseler in SCORE Trophy-Truck points are B.J. Baldwin (271), Brian Collins (254), Mark Post/Rob MacCachren (253), Robbie Pierce (247), and Damen Jefferies (246).

After winning the unlimited Class 1 in the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 for a race-record four consecutive years (including two overalls) (2004-2007) while driving with Troy Herbst, Roeseler found himself unemployed in January when Terrible Herbst Motorsports decided to take an indefinite leave from desert racing.

In seven years with Terrible Herbst Motorsports, Roeseler drove in 11 Class 1 victories. In addition to the four SCORE Baja 1000 wins with Troy Herbst, he won the Tecate SCORE Baja 500 four times with Troy, including three consecutive years (2002, 2003, 2004 and 2006).

With Terrible Herbst Motorsports, Roeseler also won the Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250 with Troy in 2006 and drove solo to win the Tecate SCORE Baja 250 in 2007. He also won the SCORE Terrible’s Primm 300 with Troy in 2007.

This year’s Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 will mark the just the fourth time in his legendary desert racing career that Roeseler will drive a SCORE Trophy-Truck in this race. After leaving his brilliant desert motorcycle career behind him after winning the 1994 Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 on a Kawasaki, Roeseler made his debut in the marquee SCORE desert racing class in the world’s premier desert race, finishing sixth in class in a Walker Evans’ Dodge. Driving for the popular Team MacPherson from 1996-1999, he drove in SCORE Trophy-Truck just one year, finishing second overall and in SCORE Trophy-Truck in the 1999 race in a Chevy CK1500.

His third attempt in SCORE Trophy-Truck in the once-in-a-lifetime Tecate SCORE Baja 2000 ended up as an early DNF after less than 100 miles when mechanical problems sidelined the Cal Well’s Toyota SR5 that he was to turn over to Ivan Stewart midway through the race.

Norman/Roeseler will start fifth in SCORE Trophy-Truck, NASCAR Sprint Cup team owner/driver Robby Gordon, Charlotte, N.C., whose roots are in SCORE desert racing, drew the 28th starting position in SCORE Trophy-Truck in the Team Gordon No. 77 Chevy CK1500. Gordon will be heading to the the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 right after driving in the NASCAR Sprint Cup season finale in Florida on Nov. 16. Gordon has three class wins in this race, all overall titles (1989, 1990 and 2006). Running two or three SCORE races a year Gordon has seven career SCORE Trophy-Truck race wins, tying him for fifth on the all-time win list in the class with teammates Mark Post and Rob MacCachren.

Mark Post, Laguna Beach, Calif./Rob MacCachren, Las Vegas, are the defending Overall and SCORE Trophy-Truck champions in this race in the No. 1 Riviera Racing Ford F-150. Larry Ragland, Cave Creek, Ariz., will be the second driver for his son Chad Ragland, in the No. 33 TForce Motorsports Toyota Tundra. Larry Ragland’s 10 career SCORE Trophy-Truck race wins are the second most out of the 85 races held in the 15 years since the featured racing class started in 1994.

Starting first in the SCORE Trophy-Truck class will be the team of Brian Collins, Las Vegas/Chuck Hovey, Escondido, Calif., in the No. 12 Collins Motorsports Mopar Dodge Ram 1500. Collins has five career SCORE Trophy-Truck race wins, including driving solo to victory in March’s Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250.

Leading the SCORE Trophy-Truck point standings is 2006 class point champion B.J. Baldwin, Las Vegas, in the No. 97 Baldwin Motorsports Chevy Silverado. He won this year’s Tecate SCORE Baja 500 by just seven seconds over Post/MacCachren. Baldwin, whose father Bobby Baldwin drives the No. 96 Baldwin Motorsports Chevy Silverado, has three career SCORE Trophy-Truck race wins.

Making its debut in the race in the marquee SCORE Trophy-Truck division will be the new No. 81 Red Bull Volkswagen Baja Race Touareg TDI, the first clean Turbo-diesel vehicle ever raced in SCORE Trophy-Truck. The new vehicle will be driven by the veteran team of Mark Miller/Ryan Arciero. With seven career SCORE Trophy-Truck race wins between them, including three together, Miller/Arciero drew the 14th starting position for the race in the first Turbo-diesel to run in the featured SCORE racing division.

Four other SCORE Trophy-Truck race winners are entered this year, led by two-time winners Garron Cadiente, Mesa, Ariz. (No. 38 GNR Racing Ford F-150), Hawaii’s Alan Pflueger (No. 28 Pflueger Racing Chevy Silverado) and Bob Shepard, Phoenix, the 2005 season point champion, who will be the third driver this year for Greg Nunley, Tulare, Calif. in the No. 11 Chevy Silverado. The other driver with one career race win in SCORE Trophy-Truck entered is Mexico’s Gus Vildosola, who will be the second driver for his son Gus Vildosola Jr. in the No. 4 Vildosola Racing Ford F-150.

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 Granddaddy of all desert races has been run over the mysterious Baja California peninsula. Because of the economics and logistics involved, some years it is a peninsula run while most years it is a loop race, starting and finishing in Ensenada.

The 631.35-mile race will start for the 34th time and finish for the 19th time in Ensenada. The motorcycle and ATV classes will start their journey at 6:30 a.m. (Friday, Nov. 21) 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 14 hours. All vehicles will have a 31-hour time limit to become official finishers in the legendary adventure.

The race will start and finish on Boulevard Costero along the picturesque Bahia de Todos Santos in front of the historical Riviera del Pacifico Cultural Center in the heart of Ensenada. Pre-running on the 631.35-mile loop course officially started on Nov. 1. Pre-running will be allowed only from Ojos Negros and back. One way pre-running from the start to Ojos Negros will be allowed only on Wednesday and Thursday of race week (Nov. 19 and 20).

While late entries are accepted up to race day, a total of 359 entries have officially been accepted for the race as of today which will put the starting field in the top five in the 41-year history of the storied event.

With massive crowds reaching nearly 300,000 anticipated to again be spread out along the rugged course that travels through the Pine Forest up over the infamous La Rumorosa grade to near Tecate and Mexicali, down Laguna Salada to San Felipe and back to the Pacific Coast and up through Santo Tomas and back to Ojos Negros on the way back to Ensenada, covering much of the northern half of the majestic Baja California peninsula.

Pre-race festivities on Thursday, Nov. 20, 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 Thursday, Nov. 20 at 7 p.m. in the Cathedral Room at the Riviera del Pacifico Cultural Center. Racer and media registration will be held at the San Nicolas Resort Hotel from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 19 and from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 20.

The post-race Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 Survivor’s Celebration will be held poolside at the San Nicolas Resort Hotel at 10 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 23. The car and truck classes with the most entries to date are the unlimited Class 1 (30), SCORE Trophy-Truck (29), Class 5/1600 and Class 1-2/1600 (15 each), SCORE Lite (14) and Class 10 and Baja Challenge Class (13 each).

Among the motorcycle and ATV classes, Class 22 for open motorcycles has the most entries to date with 16, followed by age group classes Class 30 with 11 and Class 40 with 10. Leading the seven Sportsman classes in the race to date is Sportsman Motorcycle over 250cc (41), Sportsman ATV (17) and Sportsman Motorcycle under 250cc (16).

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 fifth consecutive year, scheduled to air at 1 p.m. (EST) on Sunday, Dec. 14 on the NBC Television Network. It will also air on a delayed basis outside of the U.S. on ESPN International.

The 2008 SCORE Desert Series also includes the chase for the $20,000 Volkswagen of America Point Leader Bonus and the run for the Toyota Milestone Awards for car and truck racers who complete every required mile of the season.

The Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 also features the $5,000 Volkswagen bonus to the highest finishing Volkwagen-powered vehicle in the race. Among the other special awards at the event will be the Sal Fish SCORE IronRider award presented to all declared motorcycle and ATV riders who are official finishers of the race while riding solo.

2008/11/10 | 19:04 CET | Editor: MR/HS/FRancisco Aguiar Gonzalez

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