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10/16 2018

INDY 500 WINNER ALEXANDER ROSSI TO TAKE SHOT AT SCORE BAJA 1000

 

Alexander Rossi plans to take his off-road skills to a new level at the Baja 1000.
PHOTO BY MOTORSPORT IMAGES-LAT

Rossi to join short list of IndyCar drivers to take on the desert

BY:  BRUCE MARTIN

Verizon IndyCar Series driver Alexander Rossi, the winner of the 100th Indianapolis 500 in 2016, will compete in November at the 51st SCORE Baja 1000 off-road race in Ensenada, Baja California in Mexico.

Rossi becomes the fifth different Indy 500 winner to compete in the famed off-road contest.

The other Indy 500 winners who have raced in the SCORE Baja 1000 and the year they won the Indy 500 are Parnelli Jones (1963), Rick Mears (1979, 1987, 1988, 1991), Danny Sullivan (1987) and Buddy Rice (2004).

IndyCar season champions who have raced in the SCORE Baja 1000 are Mears, Sebastien Bourdais, Jimmy Vasser, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Paul Tracy.

Of the former IndyCar racers who have competed in the SCORE Baja 1000, only Parnelli Jones has wins in this race, having won in both 1971 and 1972.

The 27-year-old Rossi will share driving duties with Jeff Proctor in the No. 709 Honda Ridgeline. Rossi won three races, had eight podiums, earned three poles and had a series-high 321 passes while finishing second in the 2018 IndyCar Series point championship.

The 29-year-old Proctoris from Glendora, California and won his class in the SCORE Baja 1000 in both 2015 and 2016 in his No. 709 Honda Ridgeline factory-supported race truck.

SCORE races have classes for cars, trucks, UTVs, motorcycles and quads. Class 7 is the division for Unlimited, six-cylinder production appearing trucks or SUVs.

Over 300 entries, from 35 U.S. States and 20 countries are expected to compete in this year’s 51st anniversary celebration of the SCORE Baja 1000 which is revered worldwide as the granddaddy of all desert races.

The world’s most iconic, oldest, prestigious and longest continuously held desert race, this year’s SCORE Baja 1000 will be a loop race of 806.76 miles in the northern state of Mexico’s majestic Baja California peninsula. It will start for the 44th time and finish for the 25th time in Ensenada and dates for the race and race week festivities are Nov. 12 through Nov. 18. The race is annually the finale of the four-race SCORE World Desert Championship, which has been held exclusively for the past three years in Baja California. The start/finish line compound will once again be adjacent to the historic Riviera del Pacifico Cultural Center.

With a total time limit of 36 hours in the elapsed-time race, the motorcycle and quad classes will start at 4 a.m. (PT) on Friday, Nov. 16 and the car, truck and UTV classes will follow with their start on at 10:30 a.m. (PT) on Friday, Nov. 16. The fastest finishers are expected to complete the race in approximately 13 hours.

Nearly 30 Indy 500 racers have competed in the legendary SCORE Baja 1000.Among the other former IndyCar racers who have competed in the SCORE Baja 1000 over its first 50 years are Roger Mears (Rick Mears’ older brother), Mike Groff, Robbie Groff, Wally Dallenbach Jr, Dominic Dobson, Josele Garza, Robby Gordon, Roberto Guerrero, Pete Halsmer, Stefan Johansson, P.J. Jones, Michel Jourdain Jr, Bernardo Jourdain, Danny Ongais, Ted Pappas, Oriol Servia, Johnny Unser, Bill Whittington and his brother Don Whittington.

“Desert racing is far more demanding than people realize,” said four-time Indy 500 winner Rick Mears. “It taught me so much. You can’t memorize a 100-mile lap or a 1,000-mile course down the Baja peninsula, and you have to adapt to surfaces in the desert that vary from asphalt to sand to dirt to mud, rocks and even snow.

“After that, Indy racing seemed so easy: nice smooth surface, no ruts or holes, and just four hours, when I’d been used to 10 or 12 without a break in the desert.”