For the second time in three years, the Southern California son and father race team of Andy and Scott McMillin scored the overall four-wheel and two-wheel victories in the 44th 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, 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.
Andy McMillin started and finished the grueling route while his father 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 47.12mph. Because they ran five miles less than the other car and truck classes, the McMillins won the overall four-wheel title based on having the highest average speed among all of the car and truck finishers.
“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," related Andy McMillin. "Bryce 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.
“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 – so much fun.”
In the unlimited Class 1 that had 25 starters, 18-year-old Justin Davis powered his Chevy-powered ESM open-wheel desert racecar to his third class win of the year in his first year in the ultra-competitive class.
By virtue of her fifth-place finish over the treacherous 692.82-mile Baja course, San Clemente, California-based Heidi Steele and her co-drivers Rene Brugger and Pat Dailey captured the 2011 Class 6 SCORE title in a Ford Ranger (RIGHT) riding on off-the-shelf Yokohama Geolandar M/T+ tires. Due to her pregnancy, Heidi only competed in part of the race.
“What an awesome year,” said Steele, who won two races this season on route to her championship. “I can't thank Rene and Pat enough, and Yokohama for their ongoing support and great tires. It takes a fantastic team to win a championship, and I have the best with the Desert Assassins.”
The 155 official finishers from the 278 starters was considered surprisingly good, considering the intense degree of difficulty of the bone-crushingly rocky and the unique ruggedness of this year's course.