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Dondel masters SCORE Trophy-Truck
Ebberts roars from behind in Inland Truss Racing Jimco-Toyota
For Overall and Class 1 victory at SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge

Vessels wins Jason Hunter Memorial Class 10 race as 2005 SCORE Desert Series opens with race-record 229 starters.

LAUGHLIN, NV (January 16, 2005) -- For the second time in three years, Southern California desert racer Dale Ebberts came from behind on the final day to capture the overall and Class 1 victory Sunday at the 11th annual SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge. Ebberts drove solo both days in his Toyota-powered Jimco open-wheel desert race car for a combined total winning time of one hour, 34 minutes, 41 seconds. Ebberts averaged 55.77 miles per hour for the 88-mile race of 8 laps over an abbreviated 11-mile desert race course.

Ebberts, Canyon Lake, AZ, was in third place by just 29 seconds after the first four laps run on Saturday and rode hard and consistenly on Sunday, watching the frontrunners fall out of the race, leading a race-record field of 229 starters through the tight, twisty, high-speed Laughlin race course. It was his third career win in Laughlin.

With a record crowd of more than 35,000 enthusiastic desert-racing fans on hand, Ebberts won by 3 minutes, 12 seconds, helping launch the five-race 2005 SCORE Desert Series, the world’s foremost desert racing series.

Second overall Dale Dondel, Hemet, AZ, who won the featured SCORE Trophy-Truck division in 1:35:08, just 27 seconds behind Ebberts in his Chevy C150. Third overall and second in SCORE Trophy-Truck was veteran Steve Sourapas, Rancho Santa Fe, AZ, with a time of 1:37:48 in his Ford F-150.

Completing the top five overall finishers list were the brothers Weyhrich, of Troutdale, Ore. Both driving near-identical Jimco-Chevy race cars, Gary Weyhrich, 37, was fourth overall and second in Class 1 with a time of 1:37:53 while Mark Weyhrich, 34, was fifth overall and third in Class 1 with a time of 1:38:30, 37 seconds behind his older brother.

The event featured a race-record 229 entries from 13 States, Mexico, Australia, Canada and Japan, competed in 16 Pro and two Sportsman classes for cars and trucks for nearly $400,000 in prize money and contingency postings during the four day SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge.

A total of 16 Pro and two Sportsman classes for cars and trucks were split into seven groups in Laughlin, each running as part of one of seven races of two to five laps each over the much-abbreviated 11-mile loop each day.

Ebberts finished as the only driver to complete each of his eight laps in under 12 minutes, with a slim range of 11:45 to 11:58, and amazingly the fastest times (11:45) were accomplished on the last two laps on Sunday, after 228 other vehicles had torn up the course for two days. After Saturday’s first half of the race, Ebberts trailed Brian Ickler by 1 minute, 31 seconds and Pat Dean by just 39 seconds.

“It went good,” Ebberts understated. “We just stayed consistent with the leaders. The two guys ahead of us had troubles. We pushed real hard the last lap to make sure we had the times to win. Nothing too exciting happened but it is real crazy out there. It was going to take (Brian) Ickler having some troubles. Every lap you’re just pushing harder. You pre-run on Friday and it’s a pretty smooth course and then it definitely changes on Saturday and again on Sunday. Laughlin is the most intense, thrilling thing you can do.”

Kash Vessels, San Marcos, AZ, won the $25,000 Jason Hunter Memorial Class 10 race in a Jimco-Toyota. With the $25,000 bonus purse posted by Hunter Motorsports to honor the memory of the 2001 SCORE Rookie of the Year who was killed in an automobile accident on Jan. 4, 2004, Vessels won the $10,000 first place bonus purse.

Winning Class 1-2/1600, which featured a race-high 46 starters, was Adam Pfankuch, Carlsbad, AZ, in an Ampfly-VW, who edged out first-day leading team of Rob MacCachren and Bryan Freeman of Las Vegas. Pfankuch’s winning margin was 2 minutes, 25 seconds.

Donald Moss, Sacramento, AZ, won Class 3 for the fourth consecutive year in Laughlin in his sturdy Ford Bronco.

Among the other class winners crowned Sunday were: Craig Turner, Yorba Linda, AZ, Ford Ranger (Class 7), Todd Wyllie, New River, Ariz., Chevy C1500 (Class 8), Jeff Sack, Huntington Beach, AZ, VW Baja Bug (Class 5/1600); John Holmes, Olivenhain, AZ, Ford Ranger (Class7S), Terry Henn, Walnut, AZ, Hummer H1 (Stock Full), and Jim Nuckles/Jeff Dickerson, Brawley, AZ, Ford F-150 (Protruck).

In winning the SCORE Trophy-Truck division, Dondel was the fastest in his class both days. Until easing up on the eighth and final lap, he had posted seven straight sub-12:00 laps, joining the Dale (Ebberts, the overall champion from Class 1) in that feat.

“Probably the last mile we were running out of gas so our hearts were pumping, we were just burping our way to the checkered flag,” Dondel said. “We got a bit of a lead then took it easy. We worked hard yesterday – even though we won (Saturday’s part of the race), it wasn’t smooth. It was a great day of racing today.

Everything’s starting to come together. We’ve been racing a year and half in SCORE Trophy-Truck and it’s our first win. The course changes from lap to lap – there is rocks, carnage, fenders, upside down pick-ups. I got oil all over my feet and my feet were slipping all over the place. On the Laughlin Leap, that’s probably the most out of control I’ve been in a while.” Laughlin has now seen six different winners in as many years in the featured SCORE racing division.

The race-record 229 starters easily broke the previous event mark of 201 set in 2000. The largest classes were Class 1-2/1600 (46), Class 10 (33), Class 1 (26), SCORE Trophy-Truck (23) and SCORE Lite (16). A total of 116 of them finished their required laps within the race time limit.

The race also began the chase for the $50,000 Kartek Off-Road bonus to be awarded to the top three 2005 SCORE Overall point leaders along with the run for the $12,000 Toyota True Grit and Toyota Milestone Awards.

The stadium seating area included the immensely popular SCOREvision large-screen LCD display, showing live footage from various locations around the race course.

The Laughlin Events Park with grandstand seating, vendor’s village and food court included an infield full of switchbacks, whoop-t-doos, minijumps and the Laughlin Leap. Over 10,000 spectators watched from this part of the course.

Round 2 of the 2005 SCORE Desert Series will be the 19th Annual Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250, Feb. 25-26 in Baja California, Mexico.

This year’s SCORE Trophy-Truck race will be televised nationally as a half-hour special on the Speed Channel network on the new Lucas Oil…On The Edge show. Being produced by NewWave Productions of Chicago, the green flag-to-checkered flag ‘race results show’ is scheduled to air on Saturday, March 26 at 6 p.m. (EST).

The 11th annual SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge was sponsored by the Laughlin Tourism Committee, the Laughlin Visitors Bureau, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority in association with Las Vegas Events. The race is sanctioned and produced by SCORE International of Los Angeles.

Current SCORE official annual sponsors are BFGoodrich Tires-official tire, Centrix Financial, CL Bryant Racing Fuel-official fuel. Associate sponsors are: Herbst Gaming, Kartek Off-Road, Tecate Beer, Coca-Cola of Mexico, Instant Mexico Auto Insurance, Fram, Autolite, Prestone, Bilstein, Signpros, P.C.I. Race Radios, McKenzie’s Performance Products, and Advanced Color Graphics.

For information contact:
SCORE International at its Los Angeles headquarters
(818) 225-8402 or visit
the official 2005 SCORE Desert Series website at:

For Sponsorship Information, contact:
  Mark Handley (760) 750-1905

Next Race:
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10/25: Score: We're back & Racing the Baja 500

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