No place like Baja for Boulevard's Roeseler

Published 08 June 09 10:29 AM

By Bill Center, Union-Tribune Staff Writer

2:00 a.m. June 4, 2009 

Larry Roeseler has raced in Baja California for 37 years.

He holds the record for overall wins in both the Baja 1000 and Baja 500. He has triumphed on two wheels as well as four.

Few racers know the Baja better than the 52-year-old Roeseler.

And he can't think of off-road racing without Baja California.

“It would be a sad day if there were no Baja 500 or Baja 1000,” Roeseler said this week while preparing for Saturday's 41st running of the SCORE Tecate 500.

“There is no experience quite like Baja races. It can been 110 degrees in the desert and five hours later you're racing in a fog bank along the Pacific Ocean. You've got pine forests and rocks, ruts and silt.

“There are great races and courses in Nevada, but nothing throws as much at you as Baja California.”

Roeseler will be looking for his 25th overall win in the Baja 500/1000 tandem Saturday while teaming with Roger Norman in a TrophyTruck. Truck owner Norman, who is the stepson of Unlimited Hydroplane legend Bill Muncey, and Roeseler won the overall four-wheel title in the Baja 1000 last November.

Nineteen of Roeseler's overall wins came on motorcycles with five coming in buggies and TrophyTrucks.

“Naturally, I have a love for the place,” Roeseler said of Baja California. “I have always enjoyed going to Baja California. I don't feel threatened at all coming down here.

“Yes, there are places you don't want to go. But there are places you don't want to go wherever you are. There are a lot of good people in Mexico. I think that fact gets lost in a lot of the news we've seen recently.”

Roeseler, who lives in Boulevard and runs Norman's race shop in El Cajon, acknowledged that Baja California has undergone considerable change since he first raced there in 1972 on a Harley Davidson motorcycle powered by a two-stroke Italian engine.

“It is still changing,” he said. “When I started racing, Baja California was wide open. You could go for almost a hundred miles and not see a soul. There are now many more people along our course.

“But there is still a lot of nowhere out there. And it's always a good time, whether it be the racing or the pre-running before the race.”

Like Malcolm Vinje once said of racing in Baja California: “Don't let the race get in the way of pre-running.”

The Norman-Roeseler team is off to a slow start this season, but Roeseler believes the Baja 500 will bring “redemption.”

“I think we're getting back to where we were before the Baja 1000,” said Roeseler, who also holds the record with 16 class wins in the Baja 500.

The Baja 500 will start and finish in Ensenada with the 432.51-mile loop course nearly duplicating last year's track.

“We might be following the same path, but it's never the same terrain conditions from one day to the next, much less one year to the next,” said Roeseler.

SCORE officials are expecting more than 275 starters in the four-wheel, motorcycle and ATV divisions. The first motorcycles start at 6 a.m. with the fastest four-wheel vehicles starting two hours later.


NASCAR has levied its largest penalty ever, a $200,000 fine for Carl Long's crew chief, Charles Swing, for using an oversized engine for the Coca-Cola 600. Long was also suspended for 12 races.


Checkered Flag: Jimmie Johnson – Riding on four fresh tires, Johnson blows past Tony Stewart four laps from the finish to cap his domination of the NASCAR Sprint Cup race on the one-mile cement oval at Dover, Del. It is Johnson's second win of the season and fourth on the Monster Mile.

Red Flag: Danica Patrick – She's a competent driver, but Danica just doesn't get some things. You don't joke about cheating and steroids when you're a professional athlete and a role model.

Bill Center: (619) 293-1851;


No Comments
Anonymous comments are disabled

This Blog