Baldwin heads field in Laughlin

Laughlin is a short drive from B.J. Baldwin's home in Las Vegas, but the 29-year-old has traveled many miles of dusty, rock-strewn roads to reach the pinnacle of off-road racing.

Baldwin has been the dominant driver in the premier SCORE Desert Series the past three years, after failing to finish about half his races in 2003 and 2004.

The Durango High School graduate will begin qualifying today for this weekend's SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge as the reigning champion in the Trophy-Truck division. He finished second in the event last year and won the year before.

"I've learned how to drive faster and smarter, and intelligence behind the wheel can make you lethal," said Baldwin, who won SCORE's Baja 500 and Baja 1000 last year.

Winners of the Challenge will be determined by combined times from races Saturday and Sunday for up to eight laps over a 6.25-mile course.

Racing will begin at 7 a.m. each day, with Trophy-Truck scheduled to start at 1 p.m. and Class 1 at 3. For more information, go to

• DRAG RACING -- Las Vegas Motor Speedway's Midnight Mayhem drag racing program, which was created as a safe alternative to illegal street racing, opens its eighth season at 6 tonight and runs until midnight.

It is open to licensed drivers with proof of insurance. Drivers under 18 must present a signed parental consent form that can be obtained by calling 632-8213. Cars and motorcycles must have current license plates and pass technical inspection.

Admission is $10 for racers and $6 for spectators. ...

The speedway will conduct testing for all race cars Saturday and Sunday.

• SPORTS CARS -- Las Vegas resident Jimmy Vasser has retired from driving IndyCars but continues to race.

He will team with NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty to drive for Bob Stallings Racing in this weekend's 24 Hours of Daytona.