One year ago, Radar Tires racer Mike Johnson battled the rough terrain of the SCORE International Baja 500 en route to Radar Tires’ inaugural victory in long-course off-road racing. Johnson looks to repeat that win but has a rival Radar Tires racer – the SCORE International San Felipe 250 race winner and current Class 10 points leader Cody Robinson.
Radar Tires will be represented by four drivers in two Class 10 buggies for the 46th Annual Tecate SCORE International Baja 500 this weekend. The race takes place on Mexico’s Baja California Norte with the start/finish line in Ensenada, Mexico, a seaside port on the Pacific Ocean that is approximately 80 miles south of San Diego.
The annual 500-mile event traverses through high-speed dirt trails, sand, rocks, silt, natural terrain, washes and canyons, and includes elevation changes from sea level to more than 4,000 feet above. This year’s course takes in some new terrain and is run in a counter-clockwise direction.
“I’m extra excited about this year’s Baja 500 as this is my favorite desert race of the year - long enough to be challenging, but not an all day and night event,” said Gary Blalock, Radar Tires Motorsports Manager. “I missed Mike Johnson’s solo victory last year so I am anxious to see a Radar driver stand on the top step of the podium in Ensenada.
“We have two top Class 10 teams. Each is very capable of winning this race, so I am cautiously optimistic,” continued Blalock. “We know that anything can happen in the Baja 500, so we just have to roll with whatever the desert serves us and do the best we can. Both the Bronson Motorsports and Robinson/Romo teams are ready and have demonstrated that they are capable of winning in SCORE competition. We hope that both Radar Tires teams have safe and uneventful podium runs.”
Fresh of a runner-up finish at the Imperial Valley 250 in April, Bronson Motorsports owner/driver Johnson and co-driver Mike Majesky are targeting that top podium spot for the second consecutive year. Last year lead driver Johnson, aboard the No. 1031
Radar Tires Buggy, ran the 2013 Baja 500 solo, and is looking forward to sharing the driving duties in this year’s grueling desert race with Majesky.
Per the SCORE International draw in May, Johnson/Majesky will start from the second position in Class 10. Although they prefer starting in the back of the class, Johnson and Majesky eagerly accept that second starting position knowing how rough, tumble and dusty the course gets in this event.
“Following our second-place finish at the Imperial Valley 250 earlier this year, we’ve been ready to roll into the Baja 500 and defend last year’s win,” said Johnson. “This year will be a bit easier, as easy as the Baja 500 can be, because Mike Majesky is doing half the driving. I loved racing the event solo last year, but that’s tough duty for 500 miles. We know the course even though we are running much of it backwards from the normal orientation. We have spent the last week pre-running and planning our strategies, so we’re confident that our driving abilities, the sturdiness of the buggy and the Radar tires will get us through the event in good order.”
Robinson and Roberto Romo, co-drivers of the No. 1016 Robinson Farms/Romo Race Prep Buggy are making their Baja 500 debut with Radar Tires. Robinson and Romo are no strangers to victory this season. The duo opened the 2014 SCORE International season with a win at the San Felipe 250 and are the current Class 10 point leaders. Since the last round of competition, the Imperial Valley 250, the Robinson Romo Racing team has made one major adjustment – they recently purchased an Alumni Craft chassis, painted her red and christened her Isabella.
Robinson and Romo will start 11th in class, as determined by the random draw conducted by SCORE International officials in May.
“This is Isabella’s first Baja 500 event and we’re looking forward to hitting that desert,” said Robinson. “Roberto and I have competed in the 500 in Class 1600 and it always troubled us. We’ve been on our way to podium finishes multiple times and then have mechanical failures. Now that we have a new and sturdier chassis, I think we’re a bit more confident that we’ll be able to withstand some of the difficult terrain of the Baja events; it drives similar to the old car, but does have a few differences. We've done some testing and we think that with this buggy, along with our Radar Renegade tires, we can make a strong run for the podium.
“We’re heading into this event with the Class 10 points lead and that’s great,” continued Robinson. “We will definitely be racing our own race, it's a long race and a lot can happen in 500 miles. It’s a stacked 27-car field, so a podium finish would be a great accomplishment.”
Bronson Motorsports and Robinson/Romo Racing will use special non-DOT size 33X10.50R15 Radar Renegade R5 race tires for this weekend’s Imperial Valley 250.
The Class 10 elapsed-time race (18 hour maximum) starts at approximate 10:30 a.m. (PT) on Saturday, June 7. For live timing and webcast of the 46th Annual Tecate SCORE Baja 500, visit www.score-international.com and www.dirtlive.com.