Bronson Motorsports to race in their backyard
Bronson Motorsports driver/owner Mike Johnson has spent plenty of time off-road racing in the Southern California dirt. This weekend he’s racing in his backyard. The long-course off-road racer and his California-based team are headquartered just three hours northwest of Imperial Valley, Calif., the site of this weekend’s 19th Annual Rigid Industries SCORE Desert Challenge.
The fourth of the five-race SCORE International series takes place on the Coyne Powersports Motorplex. Johnson is driving solo in the Class 10 No. 1031 Radar Tires Alumni Craft Buggy. The last time he raced the distance in SCORE competition was during the 2013 Baja 500, where he was the Class 10 race winner.
Looking to repeat that feat, Johnson is zoned in on another win. Starting positions were determined by a random draw held on Sept. 9. Johnson will start sixth of six entrants in the Class 10 field, his favorite spot.
“I like starting at the back of the field,” said Johnson. “There might be a little more dust at the start and you are behind the field, but it is more challenging. We’re racing the clock, but we’re also racing the competition. If I can start from the back and reach the front, I know I’m in good shape.”
Johnson will race in two heats. He will compete in Group 2 – Heat 1, scheduled for approximately 7:15 p.m. PT on Saturday. Two vehicles are released from the starting point every 30 seconds. The Class 10 competitors have a time limit of one hour and 30 minutes to complete the run. Then on Sunday, Johnson will compete in Group 2 – Heat 2, scheduled for approximately 9 a.m. PT with the same time limit of one hour and 30 minutes. The Class 10 race winner is determined by the quickest cumulative time in both heats.
“This is a completely different race format to the other SCORE events,” continued Johnson. “We’ll run as hard as we can on Saturday with the plan of having a cushion of time heading into Sunday’s race. Anything can happen in SCORE and we’ve had luck on our side this year so far. With a podium at the Imperial Valley 250 and the Baja 500 win, we’re confident that we can outrun the competition.”
The 7.85-mile, eight-lap heat races will be help on private property near Plaster City, California. This won’t be the first time Johnson has raced on this section of California’s desert. The SCORE International Imperial Valley used eight miles of the 82-mile loop back in April. Johnson and co-driver Mike Majesky finished second, so the team is very familiar with the land.
“Compared to the other SCORE races, this is really short,” said Johnson. “We have a time limit of an hour and a half per heat. That’s a three-hour race and for off-road racing, that’s a sprint, not an endurance race. We’ve gone over the buggy with a fine-tooth comb and she’s in perfect condition. We know our Radar Renegade tires can handle the desert too. We have the gear and a hardworking crew to get us through the race.”
After four rounds of SCORE competition this year, Johnson is third in Class 10 points. With a championship within his grasp, Johnson is determined to win this weekend’s event and head into the season finale Baja 1000 with the points lead.
This weekend’s race marks the first time the SCORE Desert Challenge has raced in Imperial Valley. For 17 years, the race was held in Laughlin, Nevada.
Fans looking to meet Johnson and get a closer look at the No. 1031 Radar Tires Class 10 buggy can attend the pre-race festivities – the Imperial Off-Road Showcase and Street Fair from noon to 7 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 25, in downtown Imperial. Then at 7 p.m., there will be an escorted race vehicle parade beginning at downtown Imperial and concluding at the California Midwinter Fairgrounds.
Johnson and the Bronson Motorsports team will bring the No. 1031 Radar Tires Class 10 Buggy SCORE Contingency Row and Manufacturer’s Midway from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Friday, Sept. 26. The buggy will be inspected by SCORE officials as part of the technical portion of the day.
For live timing and webcast of the 19th Annual Rigid Industries SCORE Desert Challenge, visit www.score-international.com and www.dirtlive.com.
The 19th Annual Rigid Industries SCORE Desert Challenge, presented by the city of Imperial, will air at 9 p.m. ET, Sunday, Nov. 2 on the CBS Sports Network.