ENSENADA, Baja California, Mexico— Following Thursday’s draw for starting positions, SoCal’s Garrett Poucher will be the first motorcycle off the starting line in the upcoming 49th annual SCORE Baja 500 desert race. Entries from around the world continue to arrive for Round 2 of the 2017 SCORE World Desert Championship, to be held May 31-June 4 in Mexico’s Baja California Norte, starting and finishing in Ensenada, the seaside port on the Pacific Ocean, 80 miles south of San Diego.
With classes for cars, trucks, UTVs, motorcycles and quads, there were 191 official entries in the start draw. With as many as 100 late entries still expected to enter the popular race, entries in the draw came from 28 U.S. States and 13 countries for the upcoming internationally-televised 49th annual SCORE Baja 500.
With SCORE Trophy Trucks, the marquee SCORE racing division for high-tech, 850-horsepower unlimited production trucks, the new SCORE TT Legend, unlimited Class 1 open-wheel desert race cars and Trophy Truck Spec qualifying for starting positions on Thursday of race week (June 1), Poucher is certain of the starting position for his multi-rider team on race day.
Most the world’s best desert racers will be in action at this year’s 49th anniversary of the SCORE Baja 500, the original desert race produced by SCORE on July 26, 1974.
THE FIELD & START
In addition to 28 U.S. States, racers from Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Great Britain, Guatemala, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands and Spain are already part of the field that is expected to grow to nearly 300 vehicles at the start line.
It is an elapsed-time race with staggered starts as the green flag will drop first on Saturday (June 3) for the motorcycles and quads at 5:30 a.m. (PDT) and approximately 10 a.m. (PDT) for the cars, trucks and UTVs. The race has a 20-hour time limit from the time each vehicle starts to become an official finisher.
GOLDEN SCORE 2017
The 2017 season also marks the golden 50th anniversary celebration of the legendary season-ending SCORE Baja 1000, the iconic Granddaddy of all Desert Races to be held November 14-18. The SCORE Baja 1000 is the oldest, longest and most prestigious continuously held desert race in the world.
ONLINE RACER REGISTRATION
Online registration, by class, for Pro and Sportsman cars, trucks, UTVs, motorcycles and quads, is ongoing through the SCORE website. For more info, visit
Online entries will be accepted until 10 p.m. (PDT) on Thursday, May 25. Late entries after that date and all on-site late entries will be assessed a $100 late fee to enter the race.
Official practice, or pre-running, on the official 515.77-mile race course for this year’s SCORE Baja 500 will begin on Saturday, May 20. Pre-running will start at race-mile 38 outbound only and will end at rm476.
Of the 191 total vehicles that officially entered in Thursday’s start draw for the 49th SCORE Baja 500, 151 in car/truck/utv classes and 40 in motorcycle/quad classes.
While SCORE Trophy Truck with 34 (including four in the new SCORE TT Legend division for drivers over 50 years old) has the most entries of any class in the race, other car/truck/UTV classes with double figure entries so far are Pro UTV FI with 26, Trophy Truck Spec and Class 10 with 16 each, Class 1 with 12 and Pro UTV with 11 entries in the start draw.
Leading the Pro motorcycle classes are the Pro Moto Unlimited, Pro Moto 30 and Pro Moto 50 classes seven entries each in the start drawing. Leading the Sportsman classes is SPT M/C with five entries so far.
Splitting up the riding time with the veteran Poucher, 34 of Valencia, Calif. on the No. 33x Honda CRF450x in Ensenada will be expert riders Michel Valenzuela, Tijuana, Jeremy Newton, Parker, Ariz., Troy Vanscourt, Norco, Calif. and Braxton Gallian, Cave Creek, Ariz. The Garrett Off-Road Racing team finished a solid fifth place in the Pro Moto Unlimited class in the 2017 season-opening SCORE San Felipe 250.
On Thursday, June 1 qualifying for starting positions will be held for the marquee SCORE Trophy Truck division, SCORE TT Legend, the unlimited Class 1 and Trophy Truck Spec. Qualifying will be held over a special course near Ensenada and is not open to the public. The start drawing for these classes will determine their respective qualifying order.
While the majority of the entries in these top classes are expected to qualify, those who elect not to will be given the remaining start positions in the elapsed-time race based on the original drawing or entry into the race within their respective classes.
Qualifying is closed to the public because of safety concerns, but taped highlights of qualifying will be shown starting Thursday evening (June 1) on the SCORE website.
Drawing the first for the qualifying runs in their respective classes were Casey Currie in SCORE Trophy Truck, Matt Cullen in Class 1 and Lee Banning in Trophy Truck Spec.
SCORE TT Legend for drivers over 50 years old will qualifying race with SCORE Trophy Truck but will be timed in their own class. Drawing the sixth spot for qualifying in the new class was Mexico’s veteran racer Gustavo Vildosola, 63, who won his class in the SCORE San Felipe 250.
MORE FIRST STARTS
Among the other racers drawing first starting positions in their respective classes for the race were Cody Reid in Class 10, Bill Whittington in Pro UTV FI and Paul Champion in Pro UTV.
The race will feature a course, being finalized by SCORE CEO/President Roger Norman along with Race Director Jose A. Grijalva, of approximately 515.77 miles. It will run in a counter clockwise direction. The first and last 19.5 miles will be shared course outbound and inbound.
Starting and finishing once again in the heart of Ensenada in front of the Riviera del Pacifico Cultural Center, it will quickly leave the pavement and head up the spectator-friendly Ensenada Arroyo for two miles as it heads out of town.
The historic race course is another memorable example of all that Mexico’s Baja California has to offer, including high-speed dirt trails, sandy, rocky and silty natural terrain, majestic Baja washes and canyons, stretches along the seashore with elevations from sea level to over 3,000 feet. The course will be another jewel reflecting the stark beauty of Baja California.
This year’s course will have five physical checkpoints—North of Johnson’s Ranch, Morellia Junction, North of San Felipe on Highway 5, Nuevo Junction and El Mezcal before Ojos Negros.
This course is different than last year’s course. Last year it had much more desert, it went up the Summit and this year it goes to the coast. There are also sections that haven’t been raced on for a number of years and a few sections that SCORE has never race on before.
Other towns and landmarks the course goes through or near are Ensenada Arroyo, Piedras Gordas, Ojos Negros, Uruapan, Santo Tomás, Erendira, Johnson’s Ranch, Colonet, Jaramillo, Hacienda Sinaloa on San Telmo Rd., Rancho El Coyote, Mike’s Sky Rancho, San Matias, the Diablo Dry Lake bed, San Felipe, Valle de Trinidad, The Goat Trail, Nuevo Junction and Santa Catarina.
Colorful race week festivities will start Thursday (June 1) with qualifying for SCORE Trophy Truck, SCORE TT Legend, Class 1 and Trophy Truck Spec. SCORE sponsor partner Monster Energy will present the Monster Energy SCORE Kick-off Party from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. in the VIP area at the start/finish line in front of the Riviera del Pacifico Cultural Center.
Friday, June 2 will see the day-long, pre-race Manufacturer’s Midway and contingency festival in the start finish line area in Ensenada.
During the race on Saturday, June 3 the start/finish line compound will include the massive double-sided SCOREvision LED screen broadcasting race festivities and start and finish line interviews.
All of the week’s festivities will be aired both live and same-day including the race, airing via the internet on the SCORE website.
AT THE RIVIERA…
The Riviera del Pacifico Cultural Center, in the heart of Ensenada, will again be the site of many of the activities surrounding the SCORE Baja 500. Racer registration will be held in the Red Room on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday (May 31, June 1-2). Media registration will be also held in the Red Room at the Riviera on Thursday and Friday (June 1-2) and the SCORE Media Center will be in the Red Room during the race (June 3-4) with internet access and live race updates, vehicle tracking displays including unofficial elapsed times.
In the Cathedral Room at the Riviera will be pre-race media conference as well as the mandatory pre-race racer’s meeting on Friday (June 2). The post-race awards celebration will also be in the Cathedral Room at noon on Sunday (June 4).
The start/finish line for the race will once again be adjacent to the Riviera del Pacifico Cultural Center on Blvd. Costero.
The SCORE Baja 500 is one of the top motorsports events in the world. It was started originally in 1969 by the NORRA organization. Mickey Thompson and his SCORE International organization were asked by Mexican government to take over the event in 1974. Sal Fish ran and later owned and produced the SCORE Baja 500 for 39 years until he sold SCORE to Roger and Elise Norman in December of 2012.
Ensenada is the heart and soul of the SCORE Baja 500 as the popular summertime race will start for the 44th time and finish for the 40th time in Ensenada.
In addition to starting 43 times in Ensenada, this popular early summer race has also started three times in Ojos Negros (1991, 1992, 1993), once in San Felipe (1989) and in 1984 it was moved for one year to Barstow, Calif. in the United States.
In addition to finishing 39 times previously in Ensenada, the SCORE Baja 500 has also finished five times in Santo Tomas, twice in Ojos Negros (1991, 1992), once in Barstow, Calif. and once in San Felipe.
The four-race 2017 SCORE World Desert Championship and for the second time all four are being held in Baja California, Mexico. Here is the 2017 SCORE World Desert Championship schedule:
31st SCORE San Felipe 250, March 29-April 2, San Felipe, Mexico
50th SCORE Baja 1000, Nov.14-18, Ensenada, Mexico to La Paz, Mexico
EL REY NETWORK
The four-race 2017 SCORE World Desert Championship in Baja California, Mexico along with the SEMA SCORE Baja 1000 Experience/SCORE Baja 1000 Qualifying in Las Vegas will all air on El Rey Network in the United States. International distribution is by way of syndication. The season-ending 50th SCORE Baja 1000 will have a two-hour show produced while the other race shows will each be one-hour telecasts.
El Rey Network is a 24-hour, English-language lifestyle network targeting “Strivers,” viewers who hold strong core beliefs about the importance of family, independence, hard work, craftsmanship, and legacy.
Founded by maverick filmmaker Robert Rodriguez, and curated by Rodriguez and his artistic collective, the network features action-packed programming, relatable heroes and aspirational stories that embrace today’s America. El Rey’s slate is anchored by signature series including the original drama “From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series,” the one-on-one interview program “El Rey Network Presents: The Director’s Chair,” and “Lucha Underground,” a lucha libre wrestling series produced by Mark Burnett.
El Rey Network’s lineup also showcases a wide range of iconic feature films and television series including genre, action, and sci-fi/ horror. El Rey Network LLC is jointly owned by Robert Rodriguez and FactoryMade Ventures, with a minority stake held by Univision Networks & Studios, Inc.
El Rey Network is available in 45 million homes across the country through cable and OTT providers and via satellite on DirecTV Channel 341 and Dish Network Channel 253. For more information on how to watch El Rey visit http://elreynetwork.com.
Official SCORE Sponsors: BFGoodrich Tires-Official Tire, Monster Energy-Official Energy Drink, King Shocks-Official Shock Absorber, Raceline Wheels-Official Wheel, Axial R/C-Official R/C Vehicle, El Rey Network-Official Television Partner, Wide Open Excursions-Official Arrive and Drive Company, Crystal Bay Casino-Official Casino.
SCORE Official Partners: PCI Race Radios, 4 Wheel Parts, Coca Cola, The Satellite Phone Store, Satellite Del Norte, Instant Mexico Auto Insurance, CETTO Vineyards.
Additional SCORE Associate Partners: Proturismo Ensenada, Baja California Secretary of Tourism, Baja California Sur State Government, Baja California Sur Secretary of Tourism, Mexicali Ayuntamiento, COTUCO Mexicali/San Felipe, Cruz Roja Mexicana, Corporate Helicopters, McKenzie’s Performance Products, Advanced Color Graphics.
Rosarito Beach SCORE Desert Challenge Special Partners: Ayuntamiento de Playas de Rosarito, Cotuco de Playas de Rosarito, Comite de Mercadatecnia Playas de Rosarito.
For more information regarding SCORE, visit the official website of the SCORE World Desert Championship atwww.SCOREInternational.com.
49th SCORE Baja 500
Round 2 of four-race 2017 SCORE World Desert Championship
May 31-June 4, 2017—515.77 miles; Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico
Total Entries 191 (as of 5/18/17) (Entered in time for start draw):
(from 28 U.S. States, Austria, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Germany,
Great Britain, Guatemala, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Spain)