Hoping to cap an already successful racing season with a class championship in the competitive SCORE Lites division, Californian 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 #1205 Jimco-VW buggy, he co-drives with father Rafael Navarro III and Vic Bruckmann.
The same trio of drivers scored a Lites Class victory in June’s Tecate SCORE Baja 500, and return to Mexico looking for a repeat win that will give them 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’m 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 the race. At the Baja 500, we were very prepared after pre-running as much as possible, which gave us an advantage over our competition. With that in mind, we’re coming into this race weekend trying to recreate everything we did for the 500, and hopefully come out with the race win and 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 said. “If we don't finish, it’ll upset our chances at winning the championship. However, I’m not going in with the mindset of being conservative and trying to finish, but will be going into it wanting to win. 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 renowned off-road race in the world. We’re currently leading the championship with 11 points over the second-place team.”
The title bid is 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 new Los Angeles store recently. “We’ve brought on a new partner in DTA, an up-and-coming lifestyle clothing brand. They wanted to play a huge part in the team and decided to wrap the car, giving it a new look. DTA has involvement in drifting, skating and road rallies, and are now headed to the world of off-road racing,” explained Navarro IV.
Despite his young age, the Clemson University Freshman and June graduate of Great Oak High School in Temecula is an emerging off-road and paved-circuit road racing talent in sports car competition.
His father will co-drive with his son for just the second time, after also being part of this past June’s Baja victory. Bruckmann both drives and prepares the team’s Jimco-VW.
The Baja 1000 is the oldest and best known of all desert races and, since 1967, the race has been run over the Baja California peninsula. The motorcycle and ATV classes will start their race at 6:30am on Friday, with the car and truck classes starting at approximately 11:30am. Vehicles will start in 30sec 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.
Learn more about Rafael Navarro IV and R4 Motorsports at www.r4motorsports.com.