The 2013 Baja 1000 will see some new rule changes that will make it an event unlike any other in the history of off-road racing.
According to Bill Center of U-T San Diego, new SCORE owner Roger Norman has made some key changes to the 2013 event that will help switch things up from recent years:
--The 883-mile course – with the start and finish line in Ensenada -- is the longest loop course in the history of SCORE and off-road racing.
--Instead of drawing for starting order, there will be qualifying runs for most pro classes.
--The motorcycles and ATVs will start late Thursday night with the four-wheel vehicles going off in 30-second intervals start at 9 the following morning.
Let's take a look at why these changes are a plus.
Breaking Down the Big Changes
A longer course means a tougher course in the Baja 1000. Certainly racers are not used to the rigors of such a difficult and lengthy course as this year's is historically long, not just in the history of this event, but in the history of off-road racing.
That makes 2013 a huge wild card, and there's no telling how things will shake out. There may be some favorites to win the big race, but you can throw that out the window as such a course makes the outcome totally unpredictable, and that guarantees a more exciting outcome.
Here is what veteran and off-road star Rob MacCachren had to say about the course change, per the same U-T San Diego report:
“Drivers wanted different courses, different routes,” said MacCachren. “Roger delivered. We’re seeing areas in this Baja 1000 that we’ve never seen before. This is the toughest loop race I’ve ever seen. Some drivers think it is too tough.
“But it is supposed to be hard. This is the Baja 1000.”
Normally the starting order is determined by drawing, but now racers will have to qualify for most of the pro classes.
This is important because the order won't be randomized and based on luck but rather who can earn it. That ensures that only the best racers leading up to the event will get the best spots, and it's an approach that organizers would be wise to keep moving forward.
A starting time on Saturday morning at 9 a.m. ET is a good idea for viewership reasons. More people tend to be home from work and school during the weekends, so this starting time will ensure the possibility that more people will have the opportunity to watch.
On the Rise?
As Center's piece points out, Norman is doing his best to bring off-road racing to a more prominent place in this country and on television as a whole:
“The only tough thing about taking SCORE to the next level is promoting it to the next level,” said Norman. “UFC had the same problem. The networks want a given. They want to know people will love the product in advance.
“We’re doing everything we can to get a licensing agreement with a major network. It just hasn’t happened yet.”
Granted, off-road racing isn't exactly in the collective conscious of the country right now, but that's because exposure is limited. It's abundantly clear that Norman's intentions are for that to change, and he appears motivated to do so.
Changes such as the ones in this year's big event are a step in the right direction. Not only will it make 2013 special and unprecedented, but it also shows off-road racing is evolving in ways never before seen.
It won't be an easy task for SCORE to bring this event to the forefront, but with the right man in charge of things, there's a good shot for some growth in the years to come.