Saturday, November 3, 2012

Day of the Dead on the Border at Tecate

Here's a photo montage of the Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) during a quick trip across the border to the small town of Tecate, Baja California. The photos were taken at the Tecate Municipal Cemetery (panteon). You can read more about Day of the Dead at

Sempasuchil (marigolds) are official flower of Dias de los Muertos

Dirt grave decorated with Marigolds

Graves are cleaned and decorated throughout the cemetery

Playing the deceased favorite songs
Musicians for hire

Father and son decorating a grave
Locals dressed in tradition calaveras costumes

Freshly painted gravesite
Vendors selling food and flowers at cemetery entrance

Friday, October 26, 2012

An Interview with Sal Fish of Baja 1000 Fame

SCORE’s Sal Fish—legend that ignites the glorious
legacy of the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 desert race

Sal Fish, the man with the driving passion, the effervescent optimism and the voracious vision to oversee the illustrious evolution of the legendary Tecate SCORE Baja 1000, sees desert racing as more than a sport. Ever the visionary, the most recognized person of all in the sport, views it as a way of life and has always applied the “greater good” philosophy to every aspect of SCORE International’s role in desert racing.

     Fish, SCORE’s CEO/President since soon after the organization was founded in 1973, has lent a helping hand to environmental projects like the Greening of Baja and Tread Lightly. He has expedited and secured donation of ATV’s, full-size off-road vehicles and ambulances to various Mexican agencies, distributed Christmas toys, computers and school equipment from generous racers to the ejidos, even helped a Mexican teenager realize his dream of owning a dirt bike, helmet and leathers. In one well publicized project, he arranged for a donated ambulance to be brought from Baltimore to a village in Baja California Sur--San Juanico, so small it doesn’t appear on many maps.

     Now on the eve of next month’s 45th anniversary of the granddaddy of all desert races, Sal Fish is as anxious and as intuitive as he was when he oversaw the first SCORE-sanctioned and SCORE-organized SCORE Baja 1000 in 1975. Now grayer at 73 with the years of wisdom baked onto his Italian skin like a fine artisan, Fish knows that he is the overseer of one of the world’s greatest motorsports treasures. This amazing adventure is much, much more than a race and it wouldn’t have achieved the status that it has in the world of sports without Sal Fish leading the way.

SAL SAYS…     “Without the SCORE Baja 1000, there just wouldn’t be any desert racing,” said Sal Fish, SCORE International’s President and CEO, which has sanctioned and produced the event since 1975. “The SCORE Baja 1000 continues to draw interest from all over the world and we now find second and even third generation racers appearing at the starting line with their family patriarchs cheering for their off-spring. This event continues to be the focal point of the SCORE Desert Series each year and to celebrate our 45th anniversary with a peninsula run will surely add another colorful chapter to the legacy of the SCORE Baja 1000. It has been and continues to be our privilege and honor to preserve this international motorsports treasure.”

ON THE HORIZON…     This year’s legendary desert classic, the final event of the five-race 2012 SCORE Desert Series, will be held Nov. 14-17 in Mexico on a brutally-rugged 1121.55-mile Sal Fish signature desert race course.

     With the rugged course traveling on both sides of the peninsula, the world’s most famous desert race will start in Ensenada, Baja California and finish all the way down the peninsula in La Paz in Baja California Sur.

     This year will be the 38th time in the first 44 years of the storied race that it has started in Ensenada and it will be the 19th time in has finished in La Paz. 

     It’s the oldest and most well known of all desert races, and it remains as the single most appealing accomplishment to a driver. Since 1967, the mother of all desert races has been run over the mysterious and majestic Baja California peninsula.

THE WORLD IS COMING     With over 300 expected entries for cars, trucks, motorcycles and ATVs competing in 35 Pro and 7 Sportsman classes in the internationally televised race, entries have already come from 32 U.S. states and 18 countries.  In addition to the 32 U.S. States, racers have entered from Argentina, Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Guatemala, Hungary, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway and the US Territory of Guam. With just over three weeks before the green flag drops at 6:30 a.m. (Pacific Time) on Thursday, Nov. 15, late entries will be accepted up to race morning.

LIKE NO OTHER….     As the World Series is to baseball and the Super Bowl to football, the legendary Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 stands as tall at the pinnacle of the motorsports world today as it did when it began 44 years ago.

     This year’s historic 45th anniversary race will be held Nov. 14-17. It will start and finish in the heart of Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico and finish on the outskirts of LaPaz, Baja California Sur, Mexico. It will be the 45th anniversary of the race shrouded in mystery that continues to lure adventurers and manufacturers from across the globe who all share the dream to conquer the Baja.

LASTING LEGACY     However, the bottom line in evaluating Fish’s role in desert racing is the strategy he pursued to insure survival of SCORE International during 1981-82, termed by economists as the worst recession since World War II and now again since 2007 as the world faces yet another challenging economic time. Choosing between the needs of high-profile factory racing teams and grass roots competitors, Fish chose the latter as having the most trouble coping with the economy while still racing. The policies Fish developed turned out well. Entries increased; the sport weathered the first recession and is still growing as it battles through the current one.

     SCORE International continues to be the standard by which the sport is measured and to which numerous fledgling desert racing organizations strive to reach. SCORE International class and racing rules are the foundation upon which the sport started and upon which others continue to use for their organizations.

FISH REPORT     Fish, 73 (on May 2, 2012), who had been an executive at Petersen Publishing Company, was recruited by the late Mickey Thompson, founder of SCORE International, soon after Mickey started it in 1973, and in late 1986 the team of Fish, president and then-chief financial officer Ted Johnson, acquired full ownership of the company long associated with Thompson. In reality, SCORE had been managed solely by Fish for many years before that.

     The long path that took Fish to the top of the desert sport began on May 2, 1939, when he was born in Los Angeles. He was educated in parochial schools -- Transfiguration Grammar School and Loyola High, where he was class president three years -- and earned an industrial relations degree at the University of San Francisco.
     After graduation, waiting for an army induction that didn’t happen and not ready to start a career, he began working in his father’s auto repair business. Fish attended Rochester carburetor school, General Motors transmission school and Bendix brake school and was managing the family business.

     In 1966, he decided to take a job selling advertising for Petersen Publishing Co. That job led him up the ladder to the publisher’s office. In 1970, Fish was traveling the country attending races for Hot Rod when he met VW aftermarket parts manufacturer Joe Vittone, who eventually talked him into driving in a desert race in Baja California, Mexico. Fish and fellow Petersen employee Bob Weggeland started the race with no experience and no pre-run -- in fact, Fish had never even been to Mexico.

FLYING FISH     “I didn’t know what to expect,” Fish said. “I thought there would be a white line down the middle of the course. We had massacred our vehicle to put in creature comforts; we stockpiled food, spare tires and tools to work on the car. It was more an odyssey than a race, as far as we were concerned.”

     He recalled that most of the serious racers reached Lake Chapala in eight hours. Fish and Weggeland had driven 16 hours before they broke their transmission and they still hadn’t reached the Chapala checkpoint. Fortunately, one of Jim Garner’s mechanics stopped to help and towed them to Chapala.

     “We went faster on a tow rope behind the mechanic than we had been going in the race,” Fish remembers, “and when we got there I wondered why we bothered. I had pictured this hacienda with senoritas serving cold drinks, but all we found were some families living in shacks and two cars to lean on. The checkpoint was closed.”

     His humbling Baja experience behind him, Fish took the reins of SCORE four years later in 1974 and immediately began to make the organization and the sport more visible.
FISH TIME     Fish broadened exposure of the legendary Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 until it became the premiere desert race in the world, now covered by national and international television as well as journalists from a dozen countries.

     Fish developed TV coverage of the SCORE Off-Road World Championships at the old Riverside International Speedway and created a number of highlights that made it a unique spectator event, created the concept of “heavy metal” and “mini metal” divisions, pioneered a system of emergency medical response in the desert and created an independent review board to hear appeals by racers who have been penalized for rule infractions during the heat of competition. The SCORE Trophy Truck division, for high-tech, unlimited production trucks with upwards of 850 horsepower, was another innovation when he created the division in 1994.

     While experimenting to improve medical response times in the more remote areas of Baja, Fish enlisted the help of a Mexican organization known as the Rescue Hawks (Grupo de Rescate Halcones) at the 1989 SCORE Baja 1000. They covered race emergencies with every conceivable technology, including the transport of doctors by ultralites (motorized hang gliders) at night, when aircraft are grounded in Mexico.

     Another early decision that helped raise the stature of the sport came when SCORE joined with the late Walt Lott and Lott’s High Desert Racing Association (HDRA) to produce a combined championship series of races unparalleled in the world. Together, Fish and Lott organized the major manufacturers into an advisory committee, which served to recommend technical and safety rules to the organizers, assist with public relations and communicate to participants. The combined HDRA/SCORE series ran from 1985-1991.
     SCORE purchased HDRA outright, forming one organization in 1993.

     Fish also produced the monumental once-in-lifetime Tecate SCORE Baja 2000 to help commemorate the advent of the new millennium in the year 2000, running the legendary race down the length of the Baja California peninsula in Mexico--from Ensenada to Cabo San Lucas.

     In 2007, Fish produced the monumental 40th anniversary of the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000. Festivities began in Tijuana, the actual start was in Ensenada, Baja California, and it finished in Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur. 

THANK YOU, SAL     The rewards of the SCORE position are varied. Hanging in his Los Angeles office is the copy of a resolution introduced in the California State Assembly by Assemblyman Richard Katz of the 39th District. The assembly honored Fish for “contribution to.the sport of international off-road racing” and commended him for “his exemplary record of public service.”

     Fish was also honored in December 2003, receiving the inaugural BFGoodrich Tires Motorsports Person of the Year award for his many contributions to the world of motorsports. 

     Fish also brought SCORE to the Defense Advance Research Projects Agency (DARPA) of the U.S. Government in 2004 and 2005. SCORE provided significant logistical support for the ongoing DARPA Grand Challenge for autonomous robotic ground vehicles, a massive DARPA research project designed to assist the U.S. Military.

     In 2005, Fish was the first recipient of a new Off-Road Lifetime Achievement award presented by Advanstar Communications/Dirt Sports Magazine at the Off-Road Impact Show.

     In 2006, Fish was voted into the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame, headquartered in Reno, Nev., and in 2003 he was enshrined into the Baja Legacy Hall of Fame, located at Horsepower Ranch near Ensenada, Mexico. 

     In February of 2010, Fish was honored for the third consecutive year by the Mexican Federation of Motorsports. During an elaborate formal awards presentation in Mexico City, Fish received the prized Silver Helmet Award for the third time.

     In 2005, Fish was also honored with a special Community Achievement Award and Charter Life Membership by the Laughlin, Nev., Chamber of Commerce.

     Governments, Governors and Mayors from every area where SCORE has produced events have honored Fish with special commendations and keys to the city.

     A feature-length documentary, directed by Dana Brown, called ‘Dust To Glory’, was produced in association with SCORE International. Released in April, 2005, it is a tribute to the legendary Tecate SCORE Baja 1000. The DVD sales of the unique movie continue today and have reached record levels.

AMAZING FISH STORY     Sal Fish is one of four successful brothers. The others became an attorney, an executive with a large industrial firm and a sales representative for a large manufacturing company.

     Sal Fish has combined some of each of those family talents to build an unprecedented legacy as the premier race producer and owner of the world’s foremost sanctioning body in the history of desert racing.

     The world has seen and honored many icons over the years and Sal Fish is certainly part of that elite group of unique difference makers. Sal Fish has truly taken desert racing from……….dust to glory.

For More Information
Media Contact: Dominic Clark, 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

World Tourism Day Awards to 15 American ExPatriates in Baja

We received the press release below from the Baja California Secretary of Tourism office (see Thought we should spread the word!

Baja California Governor Jose Guadalupe Osuna Millán honored 15 American expatriates as part of a Foreign Resident Appreciation event on Sept. 27 (World Tourism Day) at the Autonomous University of Baja California. Governor Osuna awarded a select group of foreign residents for their exceptional contributions to the Baja California region at 10 a.m. in the Ruben Vizcaíno Valencia theatre, at the University Campus.

The award recipients are a group of expatriates who for the past year have become positive ambassadors for the region, as members of the "Baja California Image Committee". Hugo Torres, who along with Juan Tintos Funcke, Baja California's Secretary of Tourism, heads the committee, said the group has joined state tourism authorities in promoting Baja California to Americans.

Governor Osuna Millán chose "World Tourism Day" for the celebration to symbolize the effect that tourism has on social, cultural, political and economic values in Baja California as well as worldwide.

"Visiting other countries and regions like Baja California helps to preserve cultural heritage and enhance peace and mutual understanding," said Baja California State Tourism Secretary Juan Tintos Funcke.

"We are honored that so many Americans make Baja California their adopted home and encourage anyone thinking of a trip or second home to consider our wonderfully rich region of Baja California", added Jose Guadalupe Osuna Millán, Governor of the State of Baja California.

Award recipients are:

• Anne Hines, Tijuana
• Tillie Foster, Ensenada
• Margit Gantt, Ensenada
• Connie Ellig, Ensenada
• Gil Sperry, Rosarito
• Dr. Gregory Payne, Rosarito
• Susanne Stehr, Rosarito
• Ron Raposa, Rosarito
• Ken Bell, Rosarito
• Judy Westphal, Rosarito
• Tom Reeve, Rosarito
• Elma Sotomayor, Rosarito
• Vivian Scott, San Felipe
• John and Rachel Pack, San Felipe

"I've wanted to live in Baja California since I first visited in 1976, and my wife and I feel fortunate to call Baja California home since 2005," said Rosarito resident and honoree Ron Raposa. "It's a privilege to enjoy this beautiful region and its people, but to also make contributions, like many of my fellow foreign residents have done. This recognition means a great deal to us."

"For decades, foreign residents have been an important part of Baja California, often coming first as visitors and then choosing to live here," Torres said. "Over the years, they have helped to improve life south of the border through charitable contributions, education and social life. The entire State of Baja would like to thank them for their efforts."

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Over 200,000 acres of coastal land protected in San Ignacio Lagoon

According to The International Community Foundation, who do wonderful work helping the people ad environment of Baja and Mexico, land around San Ignacio Lagoon will now be protected. Please read below.

ICF Grantee, Pronatura Noroeste, Secures Long-Term Protection for Over 200,000 Acres of Coastal Lands in San Ignacio Lagoon

Mexico's Commission for Natural & Protected Areas (CONANP) has recently announced the designation of an environmentally-focused, non-extractive concession - otherwise known as an UMA "Units for the Conservation, Management and Utilization of Wildlife" (Unidades de Conservación, Manejo y Aprovechamiento de Vida Silvestre or UMAs) - to Ensenada-based Pronatura Noroeste, for the long-term protection and conservation of 184,000 acres of federally-owned coastal lands in Laguna San Ignacio, located in the El Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve in Baja California Sur. The announcement was made in a press conference in Mexico City on August 23rd, 2012.

 El Vizcaíno Biosphere Reserve is the largest protected area in Mexico and contains the most pristine whale birthing lagoon in the nation. The Whale Sanctuary of El Vizcaino, which includes the lagoons of San Ignacio and Ojo de Liebre, was established as a UNESCO world heritage site in 1993 and is on the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance. The lagoon complex provides vital habitats for migratory birds, whales and local fisheries, and serves as a major economic source for the region's inhabitants (see attached map). The recently established UMA, which will now be managed through the stewardship of Prontaura, with funding support from the International Community Foundation, seeks to protect the unique biodiversity of these lands and adjoining coastal waters, while helping to promote limited eco-tourism. 

The historic UMA agreement between CONANP and Pronatura Noroeste was made possible thanks to the steady support and commitment of the Laguna San Ignacio Conservation Alliance, of which the International Community Foundation is a founding member. 

While the International Community Foundation has proven successful in securing close to $500,000 in funding to promote the stewardship of Laguna San Ignacio through the Baja Stewardship Fund, an additional $600,000 is needed to ensure that these lands are protected in perpetuity. The current stewardship costs for the UMA in Laguna San Ignacio are $48,000 annually. According to Richard Kiy, President & CEO of the International Community Foundation, "Pronatura's long-term concession in Laguna San Ignacio presents a unique opportunity for donors interested in leaving a lasting legacy to make an endowment gift to the Baja Stewardship Fund protecting the breeding grounds of the California Grey Whale."

For additional information on the Baja Stewardship Fund, Pronatura or the Laguna San Ignacio Conservation Alliance, click here

Monday, August 13, 2012

Tijuana - A Sunday Afternoon on Avenida Revolucion

We decided to take a quick trip across the border to check out how world-famous Avenida Revolucion is doing with the decrease in tourism to Tijuana. I figured walking over late on a Sunday afternoon for dinner and shopping might afford us the shortest pedestrian line when we returned back across the border.

I was surprised to see hundreds and hundreds of people attending not only a music/car show but also walking the famous street. Nothing like "pre-9/11" and "pre-drug cartel violence" Tijuana when thousands of tourists from the U.S. and the world would fill the street, clubs, and restaurants. But a vast improvement on my visit last summer when I felt like I walked into a post-apocalyptic war zone with grafitti, closed businesses a block long and fewer pedestrians. Very happy to see signs of life in the few shops, bars and restaurants that were open.

Please enjoy some photos from the trip. If you need more information about Tijuana please see

Flood control channel on the Tijuana River
Crossing the Tijuana River
Viagra Soup Anyone? Great sign at Tijuana restaurant
Viagra Soup Anyone?

Tijuana's Arch at beginning of Ave. Revolucion
The Arch - beginning of Ave. Revolucion

Tijuana classic at car show
Tijuana classic at car show
Sunset on Avenida Revolucion - Tijuana
Sunset on Avenida Revolucion

Photo on Tijuana's Donkey (Zonkey)?
Photo on a Tijuana's Donkey (Zonkey)?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Don't miss Golf4Niños July 15th in Ensenada

OK, all you Baja aficionados and golfers out there, it's time to do a good deed for the children of Ensenada!  July 15th will be the 5th annual Golf4Ninos Charity Golf Tournament to benefit the children at the Agua Viva nursery.

Agua Viva is a nonprofit organization offering free child care to preschool and kindergarten classes, public transport, and a nutritional program for children of parents with limited resources. The tournament and fiesta supports at least 35 children in this important program.

The 5th annual Golf4Ninos Charity Golf Tournament will be held at the Baja Country Club. Your entry fee donation for the tournament includes golf, a fiesta, raffle tickets for great prizes, and even a chance at a $40,000 hole-in-one. But most importantly, the proceeds go to helping the children in this great program. Hopefully, you'll come down to Ensenada, have some fun, and make a difference.

Children of Agua Viva

Interested in playing, being a sponsor or simply attending? Click on the links below to find more information about the tourney/charity, how to donate, the event schedule, find contacts, and even register online.
Email tournament organizer Doc Dougherty at

Baja Country Club Golf Course

Monday, May 21, 2012

Walking Baja in 100 Days for a Cause

Walking the coastline of the Baja California peninsula in 100 days during the Spring/Summer might seem impossible, but that is exactly what John and Rachel Pack of the Baja Good Life Club are attempting to do. Leaving San Felipe, their quest began May 12 with the hope of reaching Cabo San Lucas and returning to Rosarito Beach by August 20th.

The charities in Baja California inspired the Pack's to train for and complete this amazing feat. In an effort to help charities supporting children, animals and the environment through donations and awareness, they have made it easy to assist the charity of your choice through a direct donation or even participating by walking a mile alongside the Pack's in your Baja community. Simply go to their website ( to see how you can help and also to follow along virtually through their video and blog updates plus a daily tracker on a map to see how far they have progressed.

We wish them luck and hope you can help this great cause.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Toy Drive in Tijuana - Needs Donations

Each year, my good friend Fernando puts together a toy drive for one of the poorer neighborhoods in Tijuana in honor of El Dia de los Reyes (Three Kings Day). I am including both a video (click on image) shot by Geoff Hill of Insurance and the information Fernando sent out. It's not too late to help this worthy cause.

6th Annual Dia de Reyes Toy Drive, January 15th 2012
Yes, for 6 consecutive years now, thanks to all of you we will be delivering individualy wrapped gifts for over 350 children. This will happen on January 15 and of course you are all invited to join us for this unique experience of giving.
As in years past, the children will have transportation provided to them courtesy of Mexicoach, they will have piñatas, tamales, frijoles, arroz, hot chocolate and Rosca de Reyes and a brand new toy.

Once again the good people of BajaBound Insurance Services, Inc. have kindly offered to be a drop off location for gifts either hand delivered or shipped.

The information is:
Toy Drive c/o Baja Bound Insurance Services, Inc.
750 11th Avenue #101
San Diego, CA 92101
Phone (619) 702-4292

Last year we didn't ask for wrapping paper since we had left over from past events but this year we need wrapping paper and tape so we can give each toy gift wrapped. We request new toys, bikes (bikes can be used but in good working conditions), dolls and such. If you'd like you can send gift cards for ToysRUs or other stores like Walmart that have toy departments and you can even do electronic gift certificates for Toys R Us and email them to We request no money, but donations are greatly appreciated because they do help pay for the food and transportation provided that day.

I will have a list of the kids gender and age shortly but all gifts like basketballs, soccer balls, bikes, Tonkas and all others are welcome. As you know from past years, we have to smuggle the gifts across in small ammounts and that takes a long time and several people helping make many trips across so the sooner we can get the gifts in the faster we can start the smuggling operations.

Thank you so much in advance for making this Toy Drive once again possible,
Fernando Garcia y familia