Sweat, Dust and Trust: The Baja 500

Posted on 02. Jun, 2011 by in Volkswagen Canada

What began as a plea among friends roving via Baja California has developed into an general off-road informative materialisation that has turn a vast partial of Volkswagens/ abounding motorsport history. Today a Baja 500 is one partial of a off-road Triple Crown, along with a Baja 1000 and a ultimate testThe Dakar Rally.

In further to toughness and motorsport gymnasium of celebrity credentials, off-road legends such as Ivan Stewart, Malcolm Smith, and Parnelli Jones all have one thing in commonoverall wins in Baja regulating VW power. Whether a a iconic Class 5 Unlimited Baja Bugs, a dear Class 11 Stock VW Beetles/Super Beetles or Class 12 open-wheel buggies, VW has and continues to be a abounding partial of Bajas story and growth.

As we conduct toward a 45th using of a Baja 500 this June, were propitious adequate to spend time with SCORE CEO Sal Fish to speak all Bajapast, present, and future.

Q1: Thanks for holding time to speak with us. Can we take us behind to how we became concerned in a competition of off-road racing?

It was around 1969 or 1970, when we was a publisher of Car Craft magazine, a repository focused on a drag racing scene. One of a categorical advertisers was Revell, a famous indication automobile pack manufacturer. They were creation a indication automobile pack for a Baja Bug, and had also built a reproduction of a full-size Baja Bug that they wanted to competition in a Baja 500 for PR. At a assembly in Marina Del Rey they asked me if Id like to competition in it, meaningful that it was expected to beget a ton of exposure. we jumped during a chance.

So VW entered a Revell Baja Bug that year. We had substantially a best engine builder on a West Coast for drag racing engines, Joe Vatone, who had a association that specialized in Volkswagen opening productsEmpi, and we strike it off. we finished adult in Ensenada, entered a race, and had a many implausible experience. we got hooked. we unequivocally only desired a sport, and it was something singular in that we didnt have to be Mario Andretti to race. You could go down there and find a category to contest in.

Q2: How did SCORE get a start?

The commencement of SCORE was a tiny some-more unusual. About 1972 or in a early partial of 1973, a crony of cave in Mexicali, who we had met while racing, called and invited me and Mickey Thompson for a assembly with a afterwards Governor of Baja, California.

The Governor indicated that it was critical to open adult a buliding of a Baja peninsula, and he suspicion that off-road racing was a approach to do that. At that time, there was only one tiny territory of a paved highway from Tijuana to Ensenada. Then it went another 10 miles, and after that, it was all mud road. The Governor wanted a assistance in compelling a racing events in Baja and asked for my help, given of my publishing/publicity experience, and Mickeys given he was already a luminary in off-road.

On a craft moody back, Mickey pitched me on a thought of starting a possess classification to permit and foster off-road racing in Baja, that we was lukewarm to during that time. we said, Yeah, youre crazy, what do we meant start an organization? Ive got a biggest pursuit in a world. Im a publisher of Hot Rod magazine, and we can go anywhere in a universe and write adult stories.

Mickey pulpy on with this thought and combined SCORE, handling to foster a competition in Mexico and one during Riverside Raceway. Eventually, he wore me down, and we became boss of SCORE during a finish of 73.

After about 6 months, it was transparent that a personalities were very, unequivocally different. we told him we couldnt continue in this way. And he says, Well, since dont we pierce out. Ill give we 6 months and afterwards there will be no some-more SCORE. Youll bury it though me. And we said, Ill take that chance.

Q3: While off-road racing doesnt have a same turn of widespread recognition, vast unite deals, and vast race-win paydays as other veteran racing series, a hugely reputable and draws a far-reaching accumulation of names, such as Travis Pastrana, Jimmie Johnson, his cousin Rick Johnson, Hershel McGriff, Ted Nugent, Mike Nesmith, and Patrick Dempsey, to name a few.

What do we consider draws them, and large others, to off-road racing in Baja?

You might naturally consider about people like Parnelli Jones, Robbie Gordon, Malcolm Smith, Danny Sullivan, Robert Guerreroor even celebrities like Paul Newman, James Garner, Ted Nugent, Jesse James, and Patrick Dempseywhen we consider of Baja racing. But a Baja also attracts mothers and wives, priests, attorneys, cancer survivors, welders, doctors. Its incredible.

I consider a reason people from all walks of life come here is given theres a enterprise to plea themselves and a elements out there. Its not about how most income youre going to win, a about bragging rights. Its that we did this and youre in this chosen organisation of people who have left down and taken a plea and kick a Baja.

To me, thats unequivocally what separates SCORE off-road racing from any other form of motorsports. Its about proof something to yourself in a truly extraordinary place.

Q4: VW and other manufacturers have played a vast partial in SCOREs story and continued popularity. Will SCORE shortly welcome rising technologies, such as turbocharged, direct-gasoline inject engines, diesel technology, hybrid technology, and all-wheel expostulate on a broader scale?

If we demeanour during a new rulebook we can see that we do have classes that are already including some newer technologies. Thats accurately what we had in mind a integrate years ago when we enclosed a turbo diesel for a Touareg in a SCORE prize lorry class. Turbocharged motors are now behind in a regulations. We were opposite that for a series of years, though now with some-more manufacturers entrance with OEM turbocharged engines, were permitting a record behind in for certain classes.

And if theres something out there that we should be looking at, something that is going to assistance a society, assistance a environment, or do something differentwe [SCORE] wish to demeanour during it.

Q5: Is this years 500 a some-more open march or a some-more technical march layout? Anything new in store for participants we wish to speak about?

There are going to be sections that are going to be very, very, unequivocally technicalmore so than final years given of this new territory we have over in a San Vicente area. We had to place a new route around a vineyard and a landowner was unequivocally kind to assistance us out. Actually, we were on horseback when we rode this section, and weve got that already completed.

Q6: Sal, we wish to extend a vast appreciate we on interest of VW enthusiasts for spending time with us today, though before we let we go, where should we go online or to balance in to see a 2011 SCORE Baja 500?

You can follow a competition live online during score-international.comlinks will be posted a few days before a Jun 3 race.

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