ENSENADA, Baja California, Mexico—Honorably humble, unusually unassuming, famously friendly by nature while constantly and consistently working diligently behind the scenes by choice on behalf of SCORE Baja racing for nearly 45 years, Mexico’s Nico Saad remains the very likeable owner of the San Nicolas Resort and extremely productive President of Proturismo de Ensenada.
Returning for the second time as the leader of the impactful local tourism group in his long and storied public service career and an integral part of the overall historical fabric of Ensenada, Saad is the individual who opened the door with the Baja California governor in 1973 for Mickey Thompson that started SCORE International Baja racing that has evolved into the World’s Foremost Desert Racing Organization for 44-plus years.
Now SCORE is celebrating the anniversary of its first race in Baja California and Saad, 79, has been cleverly and artistically orchestrating from behind the scenes every single year along the dusty trail from 1973 to 2018. Saad has purposefully shied away from the spotlight, but he will always stand tall as one of a handful of pillars in the dynamic history of SCORE Baja racing.
Entries from all across the United States and around the world are expected as online registration has opened for the upcoming internationally-televised 50th BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 500. Round 2 of the four-race 2018 SCORE World Desert Championship will be held May 29-June 3 in Mexico’s Baja California, starting and finishing in Ensenada, the seaside port on the Pacific Ocean, 80 miles south of San Diego.
Most the world’s best desert racers will be in action at this year’s celebration of the golden anniversary of one of the top 10 motorsports events in the entire world.
It is an elapsed-time race with staggered starts as the green flag on Saturday (June 3) will drop first for the motorcycles and quads at 5:30 a.m. (PDT)and approximately 10 a.m. (PDT) for the cars, trucks and UTVs.
Over 350 vehicles are expected at the start line with racers from as many as 30 U.S. States and 20 countries anticipated. Race title sponsor BFGoodrich Tires has posted a US$25,000 contingency bonus to help commemorate this year’s race.
EL GRAN JEFE – A HALL OF FAMER
If ever there has been an unsung hero behind the scenes of SCORE Baja racing it has been Nico Saad. A champion of all desert racing, Saad is a keen businessman who has helped SCORE dot all of the ‘I’s and cross all of the ‘T’s and pulled many necessary ‘strings’ over four decades to help ensure SCORE’s preeminent place in Baja California for all of these glorious years.
He has earned numerous honors in his exciting career as a public servant and tourism magnate, but among them all, Saad smiles excitedly when it is mentioned that he was inducted into the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2008 as an Industry Pioneer.
A consummate negotiator and liaison with government officials, military leaders, police agencies, landowners and government agencies, another honor that brings a twinkle to his eye and smile to his face came in 2007 when he was honored by Sal Fish to be named as Grand Marshal of the 40th annual SCORE Baja 1000 along with legendary racers Rod Hall and Ron Bishop, the only racers who competed in all 40 SCORE Baja 1000 races to that date. (While Bishop retired after 2007, Hall capped his amazing career last November by racing in his race-record 50th SCORE Baja 1000).
In 1925 Saad’s parents immigrated to North America from Lebanon. As soon as they were processed through Ellis Island his parents moved West to California and then to the state of Baja California in Mexico. They settled in the City of Ensenada where Saad was born in 1939.
As a young man in the late 1950s and early 1960s Saad gained recognition as a world-class barefoot water skier and participated in numerous shows and exhibitions.
At the age of 24, Saad became involved in the growing tourism industry in Baja California. It was around that time that he broke ground on the construction of the San Nicolas Resort. The San Nicolas is celebrating its 50th year as well in 2018.
During construction of his hotel, that has since added the only Caliente Casino and Caliente Race and Sports Book in a hotel in Mexico, local businessmen appointed him to the position of the President of the Ensenada Tourism Chamber.
By October of 1969 the then Governor of Baja appointed Saad Director of State Tourism for Baja California. Nico left the post in 1971 to turn his attentions to his growing hotel however he has obviously remained very active in helping sustain and grow desert racing in Baja.
Continuing to work for five decades behind the scenes, Saad agreed to return to his post as president of Proturismo de Ensenada in 2017.
A supporter, friend and admirer of Saad since they first met in the early 1970s, former SCORE owner Sal Fish was not at a loss for words, commenting, “Nico Saad is one of just a handful of men that you can truly say is part of that unique and exclusive league of extraordinary gentlemen. What he did for SCORE at the beginning to get started and has continued every year since cannot be measured any other way but to say honestly that SCORE’s history in Baja California would have been short-lived without his involvement.”
“Nico is a person who clearly understands what SCORE has been trying to do while appreciating the ever-changing position of the government leaders, environmental agencies and the landowners. Like a master tailor, he has been able to help weave a tapestry that is beyond belief—SCORE Baja racing. And he has had the enviable capacity to adjust to changing times to help SCORE races continue to provide the greatest economic impact of any special event ever held in Baja California.”
“This is really an amazing lasting legacy. Nico is a remarkable individual and it is an honor for me and my wife Barbara to call him our friend. Nico has been as close to me as my brothers for all of these years.”
ONLINE RACER REGISTRATION
Online registration, by class, for Pro and Sportsman cars, trucks, UTVs, motorcycles and quads, is ongoing through the SCORE website. Information on all SCORE races can be found on the home page under the Race Info tab.
Official entries received after the drawing will be given the next available starting position within their respective classes. Online entries will be accepted until 8 p.m. (PDT) on Wednesday, May 23.
GRANDEST CO-GRAND MARSHALS
Legendary Hall of Fame former SCORE owner Sal Fish will join Hall of Fame retired racer Ivan Stewart as co-Grand Marshals for the 50th BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 500.
Fish, the ‘godfather’ of desert racing who ran SCORE from its Baja start in 1974 for 38 years through the end of the 2012 season joins the iconic ‘Ironman’ Stewart to share duties for the special golden anniversary race that they both have been such a major part of over the years.
Fish, who will turn 79 on May 2 and Stewart who will turn 73 on June 4, will both be active parts of the celebration of the popular early summer race.
Gracious as always, Fish returns to SCORE for another celebration after being Grand Marshal of last November’s epic 50th BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 1000.
Stewart had 17 SCORE Baja 500 class wins (including 10 overall wins) in his illustrious career.
Below is the four-race 2018 SCORE World Desert Championship schedule. For the third consecutive year all four races are being held in Baja California, Mexico. Here is the complete 2018 SCORE World Desert Championship schedule:
32nd SCORE San Felipe 250, April 4-April 8, San Felipe, Mexico
Official SCORE Sponsors: BFGoodrich Tires-Official Tire and official race title sponsor, Monster Energy-Official Energy Drink, King Shocks-Official Shock Absorber, Polaris RZR-Official UTV, RACELINE Wheels-Official Wheel, VP Racing Fuels-Official Fuel, 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, 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.
Tijuana SCORE Desert Challenge Special Partners: XXII Ayuntamiento de Tijuana, Baja California State Secretary of Tourism, Comite de Turismo and Convenciones, Comite de Marcadotecnia Turistica, Asociacion de Hoteles del Noroeste.
For more information regarding SCORE, visit the official website of the SCORE World Desert Championship at www.SCOREInternational.com.