Author: Scott Neth Photo: Get Some Photo
As anyone who follows off-road will likely tell you, Roger Norman’s acquisition of the legendary SCORE International is, by far, the biggest news in our sport right now. Moreover, Norman’s taking the reins from long-time leader Sal Fish is only the tip of the iceberg here. Via his all-new Dirt Live weekly internet show, Norman has unveiled a plethora of new plans and ideas for the future of his two race series, SCORE and HDRA, and while some are speculating as to how many of these ideas he can actually turn into reality, the off-road community at large seems to be reveling at the chance for what could be very big changes. To find out more about the man and his vision, we sat down with Norman to pick his brain, and to try to gain a greater grasp of what the future of desert racing could hold.
Dirt Sports (DS): Why did you personally want to take over SCORE?
Roger Norman (RN): It was getting to that time when somebody needed to do it. I don’t want to say anything negative about Sal, because he had one of the toughest jobs there is, and now that I’ve been doing this for a little while, I see how tough it is. But it just needed a breath of fresh air, and that’s what I’m gonna bring. I’ve been very successful in a lot of businesses, but I’ve never really worked at something that’s my passion.
DS: OK, but why would you choose to become a promoter when you’ve already got so many other successful things going on in your life?
RN: That’s the answer right there. I’m not afraid to try different things. It’s a challenge. I have a lot of different businesses, but this is the one I’m most passionate about, and it was a natural to jump into it. I hope to make it a success, business-wise, and who knows, maybe I can benefit from that as a competitor someday, too.
DS: How much of what you’re doing is motivated by your wants and wishes during your time as a competitor?
RN: 100 percent of what I’m doing is what I wished for when I was a competitor. I would never want to be negative about any other promoters, because they’ve all been doing a great job. I just felt that I could do a better job, but it’s left to be seen whether I really can do a better job.
DS: What are your biggest changes for SCORE this season?
RN: There’s a million changes that are in-process. All the changes are to make things easier, and to bring more publicity to our sport. For example, online registration, that went up recently. By the Baja 500, we hope to have contingency, membership and liability forms online as well, so that everything will be paid and finalized before you ever show up at the race. Only late entries will have to fill out any paperwork at the events.
DS: Which of your events are you most looking to for big things this season?
RN: Well, the Baja 500 and Baja 1000, and the Reno 500; those are the events that are going to see the most changes. We’re going to have VIP and hospitality areas at all these races, and an interview stage for drivers to bring their vehicles up on at the finish line. We’re also going to have parties before the races, and at the Reno race, we’re going to have seven or eight days of prerunning, where we’ll make the course open to HDRA members. We’ll have on-site camping there, and an off-road expo during tech, with tech crews coming to each vehicle, so that people don’t have to push their cars through tech.
DS: After visiting the Dakar Rally, do you hope to attract more of its competitors to your events?
RN: Absolutely. I talked with quite a few of the competitors who want to come and try one of our races. I’m also working with Javier and Etienne, who run the ASO, to try and create two Dakar Challenge events, one in Baja and one in the U.S. We should be able to release more details shortly, but I can tell you that what we’re looking at doing will be very exciting!
DS: What sort of prizes can winners of your World Off-Road Championship hope to receive?
RN: It’s a trophy, a plaque for their vehicle that they can run the following year. But no money will come from racers. All the money will come from sponsors, just like we did at our Reno event last year, which had a $35,000 purse, all from sponsor dollars. DS: Do you think there’s any chance of including motorcycle and quad classes in more HDRA races in the future?
RN: Yes I do. Right now, our Reno race will have two separate courses, with the bikes running one and the four-wheel vehicles on the other, and both races will be run simultaneously. And next year, we’re looking to try and open up a few more U.S. races to the bikes.
DS: What would you say to competitors who may have stopped racing SCORE due to previous bad experiences?
RN: It’s gonna be a lot different, and they should come out and try it. Like we did in HDRA last year, we’ll have a lot of events to bring people together before the races, whether it’s catered dinners or group pub crawls, things like that. It’s gonna be a whole new experience.
DS: What is your vision for SCORE and HDRA?
RN: I hope to look back on this two years from now and have it be a completely different landscape. I’d like to see it where a lot more sponsors are trying to get their names out there on cars, because the television and publicity is already in place for them. I know how hard it is to put together sponsorship proposals, and to meet with sponsors, so if I can make that easier, that’s what we want to do. If we could be there in two years, that would be unbelievable.