ENSENADA, Mexico — For the second time in three years, the Southern California son and father race team of Andy and Scott McMillin have etched their names again on the granite history of the world’s most legendary desert race and along with the team of Kendall Norman/Quinn Cody/Logan Holladay advanced their part in motorsports history by capturing the overall 4-wheel and 2-wheel victories in the 44th annual Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 desert race. The season finale of the five-race 2011 SCORE Desert Series ended late Saturday in Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico.
Andy McMillin, 24, and his father Scott McMillin, 51, of San Diego, teamed as they did in this race in 2009 to capture the overall 4wheel title in the granddaddy of all desert racing in their No. 31 McMillin Realty Ford F-150 SCORE Trophy Truck. The featured SCORE racing division has a race-high 29 starters.
Norman, Santa Barbara, Calif., Cody, Los Olivos, Calif. and Holladay, Buellton, Calif., team on the No. 1x JCR Honda Racing Honda CRF450X withstood the challenge to cover the 705-mile course in the fastest time of all 278 starters in the race. In the unlimited Class 1 that had 25 starters, 18-year old Justin Davis, Chino Hills, Calif., powered his Chevy-powered ESM open-wheel desert race car to his third class win of the year in his first year in the ultra-competitive class.
After complete review of the data tracking devices used by each vehicle in the race and with time penalties assessed accordingly for course deviations and/or speeding on the brief pavement seconds used as part of the race course, the results were declared official by SCORE International officials on Sunday morning.
As the finish line in the heart of Ensenada closed Saturday night at 10:18 p.m. PST for 155 official finishers in the 44th annual Tecate SCORE Baja 1000, it was obvious that another memorable and colorful chapter had been added to the legacy of this popular desert race in the northern part of the magnificent Baja California peninsula.
With 278 starters leaving the Ensenada starting line on Friday morning, competitors from 34 U.S. States and 16 countries battled the rugged terrain in 36 Pro and seven Sportsman classes for cars, trucks, motorcycles and ATVs. Except for SCORE Trophy Truck, vehicles left the start line in front of the iconic Riviera del Pacifico Cultural Center in 30-second intervals and all vehicles had 32 hours to becom official finishers in the race.
The 278 official starters represent the 16th highest number of starters in the 44-year history of the legendary race. The 155 official finishers represent the 15th-highest total in the entire 44-year history of the event.
The finishing percentage this year was a strong 55.76 percent considering the intense degree of difficulty of the bone-crushingly rocky and the unique ruggedness of the course.
The motorcycle and ATV classes began their odyssey at 6:30 a.m. (PST) Friday with the car and truck classes scheduled to start four hours after the last Sportsman ATV left the starting line.
For the first time in race history, SCORE Trophy Trucks were required to re-start at race mile five after a local construction big rig truck jack-knived, rolled and block the course. With the course mileage adjusted to 700 miles for the marquee SCORE racing division for high-tech, 850 horsepower unlimited production trucks, 13 SCORE Trophy Trucks began starting at 11:17 a.m. (PST) but were forced to stop as the construction truck blocked the race course. SCORE officials decided to move the other 16 vehicles in the class in caravan-style to race mile five where they officially began to leave the start line at 12:23 p.m.
This incident forced the balance of the classes to be pushed back one and a half hours to begin starting at 1:03 p.m.
This year’s race started for the 37th time and finished for the 21st time in Ensenada. The race started and finished on Boulevard Costero adjacent to the picturesque Bahia de Todos Santos in front of the historic Riviera del Pacifico Cultural Center in the heart of Ensenada.
The granddaddy of all desert races, which was the season-finale of the world’s foremost desert racing series which completed its 38th year in 2011, was a loop race held on the northern part of Mexico’s magnificently mysterious Baja California peninsula starting and finishing 65 miles South of the U.S. border at San Diego adjacent to the Pacific Ocean.
With their SCORE Trophy Truck and overall 4wheel victory, Scott McMillin won his fourth class win in this race and second overall title while Andy McMillin captured his third overall and third class win here.
In this year’s race, Andy McMillin started and finished the grueling route while Scott McMillin drove the extremely rugged San Felipe loop. They covered the 700 required miles in their No. 31 Ford F-150 in 14 hours, 51 minutes and 36 seconds, averaging 47.12 miles per hour. Because they ran five miles less than the other car and truck classes, the McMillins won the overall 4wheel title based on having the highest average speed among all of the car and truck finishers.
Running the fastest time of all vehicles on the course, JCR Honda’s Norman/Cody/Holladay covered the course in 14:14.25 at an average speed of 49.51mph on a Honda CRF450X. Norman/Cody/Holladay gave Honda its 22 overall motorcycle victory including its 15th consecutive triumph, after Norman drove the first and final sections and Cody and Holladay the middle sections.
It was the sixth overall career win for Norman and fifth straight in this race while Cody picked up his fourth career Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 overall motorcycle victory and third straight and for Holladay, a Hollywood stunt rider, it was his first SCORE Baja race win.
The youthful Davis, who drove the entire race solo, won Class 1, finishing sixth overall among 4wheel vehicles, in a time of 16:17:55 with an average speed over the brutally-tough course of 43.26mph.
Finishing as the first overall ATV and Class 25 winner with his second win of the season and fourth class win in this event was the team led by veteran Wayne Matlock, El Cajon, Calif., on a Honda TRX700XX with a time of 18:43:21 (37.66mph).
In the battle of car and truck manufacturers, Ford increased its lead among four-wheel vehicles with its 15th overall engine win and as a chassis with its 13th overall winner.
In 2011, BFGoodrich Tires is celebrating its 36th year in SCORE Baja racing. In addition to being the official tire of SCORE International for over three and a half decades, BFG has been the tire of choice for 25 of the overall 4-wheel vehicle winners in the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000, including 25 of the last 26 years and a record run of 20 straight from 1986 through 2005. In this year’s race, BFG actually was the chosen tire by each of the top five overall 4wheel vehicle finishers, including a sweep of the dusty podium.
The rugged course traveled from Ensenada east through Ojos Negros, down Laguna Salada to San Felipe, down through the three legendary Baja canyon washes of Matomi, Huatomote and Chanate, joining familiar routes to the six-mile turnoff before Mike’s Sky Rancho, heading over to the Pacific Coast crossing Highway 1 near San Vicente and to Erendira, then through Santo Tomas, Uruapan and back to Ojos Negros, covering much of the northern half of the majestic Baja California peninsula to and from Ensenada. Except for the San Felipe loop, the course travels in a clockwise direction. The San Felipe loop will be run counter clockwise.
The race course featured six physical checkpoints along with 64 virtual checkpoints.
With SCORE Trophy Trucks claiming eight of the top 10 overall 4wheel vehicle positions based on average speed over the near-identical race course as the rest of the classes in the race, second overall was the team of Nick Vanderwey, Phoenix/Curt LeDuc, Cherry Valley, Calif./Larry Vanderwey, Litchfield Park, Ariz., in the No. 84 Flying Dutchmen Chevy Silverado while third was the team of Bryce Menzies, Las Vegas/Ricky Johnson, Encinitas, Calif., in the No. 70 Menzies Motorsports Ford F-150.
As all three top finishers crossed the line physically within one total minute of each other, the Vanderwey team earned their best finish in SCORE’s marquee racing division in this class in this race with a time of 14:54:11 (46.97mph) while Menzies, who secured the 2011 SCORE Trophy Truck and SCORE Overall point championship with his third place finish as a SCORE rookie racer, completed the course in 14:55:40 (46.90mph).
Fourth overall and in SCORE Trophy Truck was Andy’s uncle and Scott McMillin’s brother, Mark McMillin, El Cajon, Calif. who with his son Daniel McMillin, La Mesa, Calif. and Chuck Hovey, Escondido, Calif., ran a time of 15:19:53 (45.66mph) in their No. 23 McMillin Racing Ford F-150.
Adding to the McMillin family legacy in SCORE Baja racing, Mark’s youngest son Luke McMillin, 18, El Cajon, Calif., with driving assistance from Justin Smith, Capistrano Beach, Calif. won Class 1/2-1600 for the second time this season and the first time in this race to secure the season point championship his class for the second straight year in an AlumiCraft-VW.
Capping off the most spectacular SCORE race in the McMillin family’s 36-year history of SCORE desert racing, Scott McMillin’s daughter, Jessica McMillin, 26, overcame an early rollover near Ojos Negros to finish the season undefeated with five wins with her victory Saturday in the Protruck class in the No. 1331 McMillin Realty Ford F-150. She was the only SCORE racer this season to win her class in all five SCORE Desert Series races. Jessica, Andy, Daniel and Luke McMillin are all third-generation SCORE desert racers, continuing the lasting legacy left by family patriarch Corky McMillin, who passed away in 2006. Jessica McMillin also earned the SCORE Protruck class championship for the season.
Finishing a career-best fifth overall and in SCORE Trophy Truck was Clyde Stacy, 66, of Bristol, Tenn., who with Juan Carlos Lopez, Tecate, Mexico, finished in 15:40:38 (44.65mph) in the No. 18 RPM Off-Road Chevy Silverado.
Finishing seventh overall after starting first in SCORE Trophy Truck in the No. 54 Chevy Silverado was reality TV personality Jesse James, Austin, Texas who covered the course splitting the driving with Jeff Geiser, Phoenix, in 16:24:02 (42.68mph). Enjoying his best season in 10 years of SCORE desert racing, James finished in the top 10 in his class in all three races he ran in 2011.
Andy McMillin said at the post-race finish line celebration, “We started 10th. At the SCORE Baja 500 Bryce (Menzies) started in front of me and put a spanking on me so I didn’t want to let that happen this race. I got a pretty quick pace off the starts and splashed fuel at mile 77 and by the time we got to the summit I nerfed Larry Roeseler, got around Rob MacCachren, passed Curt LeDuc, Jesse Ashcraft. MacCachren got me back later in the summit and we were battling back and forth off his bumper until he pitted for fuel. Menzies was out front and I got by Kory Scheeler on the silt bed and I just started putting my pedal forward. I knew we were going to change drivers at Borrego and put my dad in so I wanted to get a couple of minutes on everyone just in case. Unfortunately we had a three and a half minute pit stop and we took off out of there in third and my dad had a flat tire.
“My dad did a great job on the San Felipe loop. We kept our pace and kept our position and Bryce was doing work out front and was running away with it. Luckily he had a little issue and we were able to make up time. I got back in the truck and Bryce pulled over for fuel and we got around them. That was the most intense race I’ve ever been a part of. I was 30 seconds to them and Bryce was 30 seconds to me on the beach. It was a freight train free for all. It was such a blast. It was so much fun. I’m glad to win my second SCORE Baja 1000 with my dad. It means a lot.”
Following a heated battle with the runner-up team led by Shane Esposito, Lake Elsinore, Calif., on a Kawasaki KX450F and third place JCR Honda teammates Colton Udall, San Clemente, Calif./David Kamo, Caldwell, Idaho/Timmy Weigand, Valencia, Calif., Norman was as excited as he was in each of his previous overall motorcycle victgories.
Winning the ATV Class 24 and finishing second overall among ATVs was the team led by Brandon Brown, Umatilla, Ore. on a Honda TRX450R. Brown won his class in all three SCORE Baja races this season and won this race for the second straight year.
Among the other 4-wheel vehicle class winners in this year’s Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 were: Lee Banning, Laveen, Ariz. (SCORE Lite, Foddrill-VW), Christian Hall, Bakersfield, Calif. (Class 10, Penhall-Chevy), Josh Quintero, El Centro, Calif. (Class 6, Ford Raptor), Donald Moss, Sacramento, Calif. (Class 3, Ford Bronco), Dan Chamlee, Carpenteria, Calif. (Class 7, Ford Ranger), Wes Bevly III, Corpus Christi, Texas (Stock Full, Ford F-150), Jim Anderson, Reno, Nev. (Class 5, unlimited VW Baja Bug), Kent Kroeker, Valley Center, Calif. (Class 8, Dodge Ram1500), Reid Rutherford, Montrose, Colo. (Class 7-2, Mason-Chevy), Tony Miglini, Dallas (Class 4, Predator X18S-Chevy) and Jeffrey Smith, Oceanside, Calif. (Class 5-1600, VW Baja Bug).
For the Moss Class 3 team, it was their 36th SCORE race win, third race win this season and eighth Class 3 win in this race. It was Chamlee’s fifth Class 7 victory in this race and third race win in his class this season.
Winning the motorcycle Class 21 for the second time this season was the team led by former NFL player and University of Nevada football star Trevor Insley, San Clemente, Calif., on a Honda CRF450X.
Other age group motorcycle winners were teams led by Mike Johnson, El Paso, Texas (Class 30, Honda CRF450X), Jeff Kaplan, Thousand Oaks, Calif. (Class 40, Honda CRF450X), Jim O’Neal, Simi Valley, Calif. (Class 50, Honda XR650R) and Richard Jackson, Acton, Calif. (Class 60, Honda CRF450X). Kaplan and O’Neal earned their 10th class wins in this race, while Jackson captured his ninth class victory and Johnson, who earned this year’s SCORE overall motorcycle point title with three wins in three races this year, picked up his second Class 30 win in the last three years in this event.