in This Weekend’s 44th Annual Tecate SCORE Baja 1000
Clemson University Freshman Leads Lites Class by 11 Points; New Sponsor DTA Clothing Adds “R4” To DTA Posse
Ready to cap an already successful racing season with a class championship in the competitive SCORE Lites division, California teenager and Clemson University Freshman Rafael Navarro IV is heading to the legendary 44th Annual Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 this weekend as the Lites class points leader in the No. 1205 Jimco-VW buggy he co-drives with his father Rafael Navarro III and Vic Bruckmann.
The same trio of drivers scored a Lites Class victory in this past June’s Tecate SCORE Baja 500 and return to Mexico looking for a repeat win and the championship. Bruckmann will start the race, the elder Navarro will drive the middle stint and 18-year-old Navarro IV will take the Jimco-VW to the finish line.
“I am very excited for the Baja 1000 this year with a championship on the line,” said Navarro IV, who is known in racing circles as ‘R4’ or ‘Cuatro.’ “I had to take some time off from school to get prepared for this race. At the Baja 500, we came into the race very prepared and pre-running as much as possible, and it ended up giving us a hand over our competition. With that in mind, we are coming into this race weekend trying to recreate everything we had done for the 500, and hopefully come out with the race win and the championship.”
While clinching a championship in the Baja 1000 would be a dream come true for any driver, the grueling nature of the legendary event makes just going the distance a feat in itself.
“My main concern is finishing the race,” Navarro IV said. “If we don't finish the race, it will break our chances at winning the championship. However, I am not going in with the mindset of being conservative and trying to finish, but instead going into it wanting to win the race and go for the top of the podium. The 1000 is the pinnacle of off-road racing, and I want to win it and be able to say I've won the most world-renowned off-road race. We are currently leading the championship with 11 points in hand over the second place team.”
The title bid and return to Baja have been aided by new team sponsor DTA Clothing. Cuatro is the newest member of the DTA Posse, and unveiled his DTA-liveried Jimco in a special appearance at the company’s newest store in Los Angeles Tuesday night.
“We have brought on in conjunction to Pete's Camp Racing a new partner in DTA, an up-and-coming lifestyle clothing brand,” Navarro IV said. “We are very excited to bring them on, and to bring them into the world of off-road. With the 1000 just around the corner, DTA decided that they wanted to play a huge part in the race team and decided to rewrap the car, giving it a new clean look that we unveiled at DTA's brand new store in Venice in Los Angeles on Tuesday. Off-road is pretty new to them, but after a few pre-running trips for the 1000, they have already caught the bug!”
Mother Nature will likely present a few challenges in this weekend’s Baja 1000.
“It is supposed to rain during the race, causing a wet race and throwing a wrench in everything,” Navarro said. “With rain, comes water, with water comes issues. The race car is basically open cockpit, leaving the driver and co-driver open to the elements. It does eliminate the dust that is usually crippling to racers when trying to pass, but that comes at a price.”
Despite R4’s relatively young age, the Clemson University Freshman and 2011 graduate of Great Oak High School in Temecula is an emerging off-road and paved-circuit road racing talent in sports car competition. A third-generation Mexican-American born and raised in Southern California, R4 is inspired by and follows in the footsteps of fellow Southern Californians Jimmie Johnson and Robby Gordon who began their NASCAR careers in off-road racing competition. Navarro IV is now looking at locking up his own championship this weekend, co-driving with his father for just the second time after June’s victory. Bruckmann both drives and prepares the team’s Jimco-VW.
First run in 1967, the Baja 1000 is the oldest and best known of all desert races and this year’s edition will start for the 37th time and finish for the 21st time in Ensenada. The motorcycle and ATV classes will start their race at 6:30 a.m. on Friday with the car and truck classes starting at approximately 11:30 a.m., or four hours after the last Sportsman ATV leaves the line. Vehicles will start in 30-second intervals in the elapsed-time race and all vehicles will have a 32-hour time limit to become official finishers. The fastest vehicles are expected to complete the course in approximately 14 hours.