The battle for the overall motorcycle victory marked the SCORE Baja racing rekindling of one of its greatest rivalries as Kawasaki returned with a factory-supported team for the first time since 1995 to battle against the Honda factory-supported racers. In the end, Honda defeated Kawasaki by just one minute, 57 seconds, although the No. 1X Kawasaki KX450 team led by former two-time Honda race winner Robby Bell, Sun City, Calif., finished first physically in the demanding race but lost on corrected time."I rode from the start to Borrego, mile 200 and Robby (Bell) was up about 10 minutes," said Norman at the finish line. "I started way back and there was a ton of dust. I just couldn't get through it. By the time I finally cleared the dust, he was gone. When I got the bike back from Timmy Weigand at the Meadows (Mile 504), I was only a minute and half down. Quinn Cody and Timmy did some great work out there. I figured it was going be close to impossible to pass Steve (Hengeveld) on the final run because of the dust and being at night. But I know if I was in his dust that is all I needed to do (to win). It feels great to win the SCORE Baja 1000 three years in a row and fourth total. I am really stoked."
"It was definitely a good battle at night. There was a lot of dust out here. Steve is a great night racer and was going. I'd get in his dust and slow down, get in his dust and slow down. He rode a great race and it was war out there today. We had all of our guys positioned and they put in a lot of hard work. I couldn't be happier right now."
A field of 27 SCORE Trophy-Trucks, the high-tech, 850hp unlimited production trucks, dominated the overall 4-wheel results, claiming seven of the top 10 finishing spots, including the first six.
Finishing second was last year's overall winning 4-wheel team of Roger Norman, Reno, Nev./Larry Roeseler, Boulevard, Calif., who finished 32 minutes, 37 seconds behind the McMillins in a time of 14:52:27 in the No. 8 Norman Motorsports Ford F-150.
Third overall was this year's Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 winner Rick D. Johnson, Barstow, Calif., with a time of 15:02:36 in the No. 71 Ford F-150 while driving the No. 4 Vildosola Racing Ford F-150 of Mexico's Gustavo Vildsola Jr., and his father Gus Vildosola.
NASCAR team owner/driver Robby Gordon, who left immediately after securing the 2009 SCORE Trophy-Truck and SCORE Overall points championship in the No. 77 Team Gordon Chevy CK1500 to race in NASCAR's Homestead finale, drove consistently to finish fifth in a penalty-free time of 15:14:31 while the team of Robby Pierce/Mike Julston, Santee, Calif., finished sixth overall and in SCORE Trophy-Truck, finishing in 15:29:42 in the No. 30 MasterCraft Chevy Silverado.
The top three finishers in the unlimited Class 1 for open-wheel desert racecars finished seventh through nine, respectively, among 4-wheel finishers.
First in Class 1 was the veteran team of Jerry Penhall, Costa Mesa, Calif./Dan Martin, Monrovia, Calif., with a time of 15:38:19 in a Chevy-powered Penhall while second was the team of Germany's Armin Schwarz/Martin Christensen, Escondido, Calif. (Denmark) in 15:52:02 in the All-German Motorsports Jimco-BMW.
Finishing ninth overall and third in Class 1 was the team of Randy Wilson, Lakewood, Calif., his brother Ronny Wilson of Long Beach, Calif., and Jeff Quinn, Irvine, Calif., who also clinched a close Class 1 point champion race with the Schwarz/Christensen team in the Wilson Motorsports Jimco-Chevy. They finished the course in 16:14:05.
Completing the top 10 overall 4-wheel finishers list was eight-time SCORE Baja 1000 class winner Mark McMillin, El Cajon, Calif./Brian Ewalt, Bonita, Calif., with a time of 16:15:25 in the No. 23 McMillin Racing Ford F-150. Mark is the brother of Scott McMillin and uncle of overall winner Andy McMillin.
In the manufacturer's battle of "beat the Baja" research and development, a Chevy-powered vehicle won for the 11th time and BFGoodrich Tires won for the 23rd time in the last 24 years.
Eric Duran, Tecate, Calif., is driver of record for his family team and close win by just 23 seconds in Class 1-2/1600 in a Neth-VW, they secured the season points championship in the class. Entering the race in a close third place, the Duran brothers defeated the Wilson Motorsports team of Brian Wilson, Long Beach, Calif./Sammy Ehrenberg, Las Vegas, Nev./LJ Kennedy, Orange, Calif./Brad Wilson, Long Beach, Calif., in the race, moving them past the Wilson team to earn the season points title. There were 17 starters in the class and Justin Smith, Capistrano Beach, Calif., who was tied with the Wilsons in the season class points, was leading early, had mechanical problems and struggled to a sixth-place finish in class.
SCORE points are based on starting and finishing as well as the number of starters in each class and placement position in every race. All class titles will go down to the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000.
In one of the class races, Darren Skilton, Long Beach, Calif., won Class 3 in a Jeep Wrangler for his sixth class win in this race. For the second straight year, he defeated rivals Donald and Kenneth Moss of Sacramento, who finished second in class, 37 minutes, 14 seconds behind Skilton.
In Class 40 for motorcycle riders over 40 years old, the team led by Scott Myers, Menifee, Calif., was victorious on a Honda CRF450X and team rider Craig Adams, San Clemente, Calif., earned his 14th and 15th class wins in this race. Adams also was a rider on the Class 50-winning team on another Honda CRF450X. Jim O'Neal, Simi Valley, Calif., was the rider of record on the Class 50 team where he earned his ninth career class win in this race.
Richard Jackson, Acton, Calif., led his team to his seventh class win in this race, this year in Class 60, riders over 60, on a Honda CRF450X.
In Class 5/1600, Mexico's Marcos Nunez/Norberto Rivera, drove their VW Baja Bug to victory. Nunez now has six class wins in this race.
Another father/son team Pancho and Cisco Bio, won Class 9 giving Pancho his fourth class win in SCORE Baja 1000 history.
Running against a formidable field of 14 starters in SCORE Lite, with vehicles all having VW engines, Brent Parkhouse and his son Cody, Long Beach, Calif., were winners in a Molton racecar while Mike Lawrence, Banning, Calif., captured Class 10 in his Lothringer-VW for the fourth time in five races this season. It was Parkhouse's second class win of the season.
In Class 5 for unlimited VW Baja Bugs, Kevin Carr, San Diego, won his class for the fourth time this season and in Class 7, Dan Chamlee, Carpenteria, Calif., driving a Ford Ranger, also won for the fourth time this season.
John Holmes, Olivenhain, Calif., in another Ford Ranger in Class 7SX won for the third time in this race and the fourth time in this race.
Pulling off her second Class 6 win of the season was Heidi Steele, San Clemente, Calif., in a Ford Ranger.
Other Class winners in this year's Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 included: Juan Lopez, Tecate, Mexico (Class 8, Ford F-150), Rob Reinertson, Woodside, Calif. (Protruck, Ford F-150), Nick Baldwin, Mission Viejo, Calif. (Baja Challenge, BTC-Subaru), Ronnie Wilson, Canyon Country, Calif. (Class 21, Honda CRF450X), Jesus Rios, Calexico, Calif., (Class 20, Honda CRF250X), Mike Johnson, El Paso, Texas (Class 30, Honda CRF450X) and Tom Wright, Tabernacle, N.J. (Class 24, Honda TRX450R).
This race also featured the Sal Fish SCORE IronRider awards presented to each motorcycle or ATV rider who completes the course within the time limit while riding solo. Thirty-four individuals officially declared that they were attempting to complete the course riding solo and 10 of them finished within the time limit to earn the special award. The fastest solo rider was Ron Wilson, who rode in Class 30 for riders over 30 years old, finishing second in class in a penalty-free time of 18:29:19 on a Honda CRF450X.
The fastest Sportsman 4-wheel vehicle was led by driver of record Rory Ward, Mohave Valley, Calif., (SPT Car, Chenowth-Chevy) while the fastest Sportsman Motorcycle team was led by Brian Garrahan, Boulder Creek, Calif. (SPT M/C>250cc).
In addition to season point class points championships, drivers in the Pro car and truck classes were also racing to earn SCORE Toyota Milestone Awards given to all drivers who complete every required mile of the five-race season. Being presented by Toyota Motorsports for the 24th consecutive year, a total of 14 drivers have won the prestigious awards for 2009.
This year's Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 desert race will be televised on a delayed basis as a one-hour NBC Sports special, in association with SCORE and Aura360, for the sixth consecutive year. It is scheduled to air on NBC at 2 p.m. (EST) on Saturday, Dec. 19.