NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. — BFGoodrich Tires, KTM, tire rep Jeff Cummings, racer Steven Strobel, and mechanic Mike Stapleton were among the big winners Saturday night as SCORE Int’l officially concluded the five-race 2012 SCORE Desert Series with the annual SCORE Awards Night in SoCal at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Newport Beach.
SCORE Off-Roadsman of the Year awards were presented in 11 categories along with the 16 winners of the SCORE Toyota Milestone Awards and the class and overall point champions of Sal Fish’s five-race 2012 SCORE Desert Series.
In front of an enthusiastic crowd of nearly 400 and a worldwide audience via the live webcast of the festivities, the evening was also a celebration of 39 years of SCORE championship desert racing.
Following the lengthy salute to the stars of the 2012 SCORE Desert Series, SCORE President/CEO Sal Fish officially ended the historic evening by formally turning over the original SCORE International, founded in 1973, to new SCORE owner Roger Norman.
BFGoodrich Tires, the official tire of SCORE for 37 years was honored as the 2012 SCORE Contingency Company of the Year and the 2012 SCORE Pit Support Team of the Year. It was the 22nd time BFGoodrich Tires has been voted the SCORE Contingency Company of the Year and it was the 24th time that BFGoodrich Tires has been voted the SCORE Pit Support Team of the Year.
The SCORE Off-Roadsman awards were determined for the second straight year by a public, online vote. Among the other honorees were the top point leaders from the 2012 SCORE Desert Series, the World’s Foremost Desert Racing Series. Several thousand votes were cast in the month-long voting window in November and December following the season-ending 45th Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 race down Mexico’s Baja California peninsula from Ensenada to La Paz.
KTM Motorcycles, which fielded a factory team in the 2012 SCORE Desert Series led by rider of record Kurt Caselli that finished second in Class 22 points and won the overall at the MasterCraft Safety Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250, was honored for the first time as the SCORE Motorcycle Manufacturer of the Year.
Cummings, based out of Las Vegas, is a long-time BFGoodrich Tires desert racing support coordinator, was voted as the 2012 Sal Fish SCORE Person of the Year. It was his first selection to this honor. Previous BFGoodrich Tires personnel who have been voted winner of this award are Athene Karis (1982), Frank DeAngelo (1985), Dan Newsome (1992, 1996, 1998) and Debbie Dickerhoof (2001).
“Like a vintage wine with great flavor that is enhanced with time, this year’s SCORE Off-Roadsman Awards have been earned by very special companies and people, who are all part of the foundation of this great racing organization,” commented SCORE’s Sal Fish. “This evening with all its memories and accolades will be cherished forever by myself and my wife Barbara, who has seen me through every bit of my long and dusty journey to this touching farewell evening.”
With very tight voting in most categories, Strobel, of Clark’s Neb., was selected as the 2012 SCORE Rookie of the Year after his sterling season in the featured SCORE Trophy Truck division for high-tech, 850-horsepower unlimited production trucks. Driving the No. 94 Strobel Motorsports Ford F-150, Strobel finished fourth in SCORE Trophy Truck season points while finishing in the top seven in four of the five races, including a season high of third place in Round 2 at the SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge.
Stapleton, the crew chief of the prominent Wilson Motorsports team of Long Beach, Calif., was voted the SCORE Mechanic of the Year for the third time. He previously won the award both in 2001 and 2009.
“BFGoodrich Tires has been supporting all of desert racing, especially SCORE, for 37 years,” said Fish, during his final official appearance as the SCORE owner. “To win the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 once is a major feat, but to capture the world’s most prestigious desert race 20 straight years (1986-2005) and 25 times all together is unbelievable. BFGoodrich Tires are the most dominant desert racing tires in the world and we are privileged to be able honor them. BFGoodrich Tire’s grassroots support of desert racers is unparalleled. I am personally deeply humbled to have had the relationship with BFGoodrich Tires that I have had for nearly four decades. No motorsport has a more involved nor a more committed sponsor, contingency donor and pit support group than SCORE has in BFGoodrich Tires.”
Mike Julson, of Santee, Calif., who is a SCORE regular co-driver in both SCORE Trophy Truck and the unlimited Class 1, saw his Jimco open-wheel desert race cars win the 2012 SCORE Original Buggy Chassis Manufacturer point championship for the 19th time and 18th straight.
Kroyer Racing Engines of Las Vegas captured the 2012 Engine Builder point championship for the third straight year.
A rugged group of 16 SCORE racers from 10 Pro classes for cars and trucks were also honored as 2012 SCORE Toyota Milestone Award winners after finishing all 1,920.19 race miles during the season. Joining Fish in presenting the prestigious awards were Les Unger, Toyota’s National Motorsports manager along with former champion Toyota desert racer Ivan Stewart. This was the 27th consecutive year that Toyota has presented these unique awards.
Veteran journalist Jim Ryan, publisher of Dirt Sports Magazine, was honored for the first time as the Judy Smith SCORE Journalist of the Year, while My Baja Photo (Alexander Ponce) earned the Jim Ober SCORE Photographer of the Year honors for the second straight year while winning the Blue C SCORE Videographer of the Year award for the second straight year was Mexico’s Cactus Films (Esteban Flores).
Leading the parade of 2012 SCORE Desert Series point champions were the three overall titlists—Las Vegas’ B.J. Baldwin. (Overall and SCORE Trophy Truck in the No. 97 Monster Energy Baldwin Motorsports Chevy Silverado), Jeff Kaplan, Thousand Oaks, Calif. (Overall motorcycle and Class 40 on a Honda CRF450X) and Rafael Torres, San Felipe, Mexico (Overall ATV and Class 24 on a Honda TRX450R).
For Baldwin, who had two race wins and two seconds in 2012 along with one unusual ‘did not finish’, it was his first SCORE Overall and third SCORE Trophy Truck season point championship. As for his ‘dnf’, Baldwin was battling for the lead on the second lap of Round 2 of the SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge when he pulled off the course to assist his father (Bobby Baldwin) who suffered a medical issue while racing and had pulled off the course.
For Kaplan, who won Class 40 in all three SCORE Baja races, it was his first SCORE Overall Motorcycle and 12th class point title and first SCORE Overall ATV and first class season win for Torres, who had two victories and one fourth place finish in 2012 in Class 24.
Emcees for the evening were prominent racer/action sports TV announcer Cameron Steele and Jim Riley, CEO of Intersect Beverage and Azunia Tequila.
Special presenters for the transition segment for Fish and Norman, were public relations executive Marty Fiolka and former champion desert racer Ivan Stewart.