Team 20
Team 1635
Team 42
Team 35

Cheat! All the Cool Kids Are Doing It!

As the most penalized Trophy Truck team for "course deviation," Robbie Pierce, in the No. 35 MasterCraft Trophy Truck, shares his thoughts on SCORE International's official results ruling for the 2009 Baja 500 race.

Interview of Robbie Pierce

What went through your mind as you were awaiting the official Baja 500 results?

"I have to admit, as I went about my day waiting for SCORE to release the final results from the previous Saturday's race, I secretly hoped for a move up from third to fourth position. While I was not excited about getting a podium finish in this way, the thought crossed my mind. After 'Black Thursday' I have had some time reflect on those thoughts. I understand now what a hollow victory that would have been.

I was extremely proud of our 'unofficial' fourth place finish. The truck was prepped well, the team practiced fuel stops and tire changes, logistical plans were made and yes, I was in Mexico pre-running for at least two weeks. I was not pre-running to find 'cheater lines,' but rather to know the course well enough to pass safely or when not to lift when everyone else would be. Someone asked me, 'why so much pre-running?' My answer - These guys are good and the ones winning are down here doing their homework too."

2009 SCORE San Felipe 250
Photography by Trackside Photo

What did you think upon hearing SCORE International's results ruling for the Baja 500?

"I was extremely disappointed for my team as they worked so hard to get us in the top five, but unapologetic for racing the lines my co-driver, Mike Julson, and I chose. I am proud as Hell to have handed off my truck to Mike at race mile 225 and watched as he closed the gap on the No. 19 Trophy Truck of Herbst. Someone asked me how I felt about Mike taking the lines that resulted in our penalty and I said, 'it looked like he did his homework!' Jokingly, I called Mike after learning of the results and politely asked 'Did you even go to the (expletive) beach or did you just drive up the highway to the finish line?! In all fairness, I would have taken the same lines as well."

IRC mentioned to several of the racers that data would be pulled from the trackers after the race. Sal Fish also referred to the "yellow sheet" in the Baja 500 driver's info packet in regards to course deviation and speeding. Why do you think the penalties and results shake-up was still a surprise to the off-road race community?

"The problem we face as drivers is that we know the team ahead of us is using the same line or 'cut,' so in our mind we have no choice. More so, our experience tells us and trains us that no one gets penalized in anyway, its just a part of racing in Baja. The teams that are now sitting in the top spots, claiming they do not deviate from marked course are lying. The reality is the entire race was not analyzed; only select locations and teams that were clean through those areas were because they either didn't do their homework or were running so far behind it didn't matter."

What are your thoughts on IRC's technology and its impact on off-road racing?

"I have serious doubts about the tracker's ability to detect minor course deviations. I know I ran 200 yards off course for a half mile or so to avoid the silt at race mile 162 - just south of Laguna Salada. I would really like to see that overlay IRC data from that section of the race. I question whether the evidence used in determining the penalties is truly based off data gathered from the IRC tracker. My guess is SCORE International is partially using photographs and video - which would explain the limited scope of course review."

How do you think the penalties will affect the teams for the Primm 300?

"I applaud SCORE for tidying up their house, I hope they continue, but I fear down the road it'll still be just as messy.

On a personal level, what means most to me is earning the respect of my peers. We know who won, who took second and yes who took 4th. The No. 35 Trophy Truck was schooled by Robby, beat by BJ and Norman/Roeseler, but no one else. The Primm 300 is next and all will be righted in the world of SCORE desert racing. Everyone's rightful position will once again be assumed and I say this because I know how hard those guys work to be where they're at."

Anything else you would like to add or comment on?

"Well, we all know who really won....Congratulations Robby on a great race!"

"Once again I am completely humbled by the tireless efforts and dedication shown by the team and the pit crew before, during and after the race. I would like to extend my appreciation and gratitude to everyone involved with the No. 35 MasterCraft Racing Trophy Truck. Each individual plays an important and integral role on the team and their hard work does not go unnoticed." Robbie Pierce

MasterCraft Team 35 is Sponsored by: BF Goodrich, Jimco, Mirage, Fox Shox, Walker Evans, Mogi, MSD Ignition, Palomar Communications, Hyperco, IonEarth

For Press Information on MasterCraft Racing No. 35 Contact:
Kelli Willmore