Etching their names on the history of the world's most renowned desert race, Kendall Norman/Tim Weigand/Quinn Cody along with the team of Andy McMillin and his father Scott became part of motorsports history by capturing the overall 2-wheel and 4-wheel victories late Friday and early Saturday in the 42nd Annual Tecate SCORE Baja 1000.
Defeating a field of 328 sturdy starters that came from 39 U.S. States and 14 countries, the Norman/Weigan/Cody trio won Class 22 on the Johnny Campbell Racing Honda CRF450X motorcycle while the McMillins powered their way to the top of the marquee SCORE Trophy-Truck division in the No. 31 McMillin Racing Chevy Silverado.
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 sections used as part of the race course, the results were declared official by SCORE International officials at 6 a.m. on Sunday morning.
The world's best known and most prestigious desert race, held on a grueling 672.85-mile course of natural terrain, started for the 35th time and finished for the 20th time in Ensenada, Mexico, 65 miles south of the U.S. border at San Diego.
With massive crowds reportedly reaching over 250,000 spread out along the rugged course that traveled from Ensenada to Ojos Negros, east down Laguna Salada to San Felipe, down through the legendary Matomi Wash, around Mike's Sky Ranch, through both Rancho Las Truchas and Rancho El Coyote, down the infamous Simpson's Hill and back to the Pacific Coast below San Vicente and up 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.
There were 185 finishers from the 328 starters. The finishing percentage of 56.4 percent was solid considering the extreme dusty conditions and the unique ruggedness of the course.
With Norman, Santa Barbara, Calif., starting the race and racing to mile 200 as well as the final 169 miles to the finish line, Cody, Los Olivos, Calif., rode from rm200 to rm350 and Weigand rode the Johnny Campbell Racing Honda CRF450X from rm350 to rm504 to help Honda increase its record overall victory total in this race to 20 wins. In also giving Honda a record 14th consecutive overall win in this epic race, the JCR team finessed its way around the challenging course in 13 hours, 27 minutes and 50 seconds, averaging 49.97mph in the elapsed-time race.
Part of the prominent third-generation racing family, Andy McMillin and his father Scott McMillin, National City, Calif., powered their Chevy Silverado to a 4-wheel-vehicle winning time of 14:19:50, averaging 45.29mph.
For Norman, it was his third straight overall motorcycle win and fourth total in this race, the second for Cody and first for Weigand.
Andy McMillin also won the overall 4-wheel-vehicle title in this race in 2006 as the second driver for NASCAR's Robby Gordon while Scott McMillin earned his third class win in race history and first overall crown.
Driving two segments of the race, Andy McMillin started the race and drove the first 206 miles of the race. Scott McMillin drove the middle section from rm206 to rm500 where he handed back the driving to his son to drive the final 173 miles to the finish line in front of the Riviera del Pacifico Cultural Center in the heart of Ensenada.
Winning the overall ATV and Class 25 victory for the second straight year was the team led by Wayne Matlock, El Cajon, Calif. Matlock's teammates this year were returning riders Harold Goodman, Brownstown, Mich., and Wes Miller, Fallbrook, Calif., along with Josh Caster, also of El Cajon. The team covered the course in a championship time of 16:54:52, averaging 39.78mph on the No. 1a Honda TRX700XX. The talented team won two of the three SCORE Baja races this season to earn their second straight season points title in their class.
There were no penalties assessed to any of the three overall winners in the race. "I started the race and I think we started 17th on the road," said Andy McMillin, who now has two career SCORE Trophy-Truck wins. "The plan was just to kind of take it easy and kind of let the race come to us. Sal (Fish) laid out a really rough, tough course this year. We knew that it was going to take one trip that didn't have any problems to get the win. That was our plan all day – stay smooth and not have any downtime, no flat tires. I gave my dad the truck at mile 206 and I think we were seventh on the road and pretty close on the overall lead."
"My dad drove the San Felipe loop and the Mike's loop. By the time he got to San Felipe, he was the first truck on the road. My dad handed me a great lead (just over 30 minutes), so it was pretty easy from that point. It was kind of just, stay on the race course and you won't get in trouble, so that was our plan and we followed it and let the race come to us, really."
Expanding further on their race, Scott McMillin commented on his first overall win in this race, "The Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 – you just don't come down here and decide to race this a month in advance; this takes a whole year of planning. We have a dedicated team back at our shop, about five core guys who work full time on this. Plus, there are another 20 volunteers who are with us at all the races, all the pre-running, all the planning. We just couldn't have done it without all of them. They are as much a part of this win as those of us riding in the truck. Plus we have access to the five BFG Tires pits along the way."
"It's really great that they posted (the virtual checkpoints) in advance...so when we were pre-running and practicing, we knew exactly where to be and what we were supposed to do. They are all the same lines we've all been racing all these years. Always – all the 30 years that I've been racing – the fastest way is the racecourse. I can't tell you how many times I just take the racecourse and stay on it and stay focused and you go by all the guys who are trying to find the smooth route. Before this race, we decided that we're going to race all the SCORE races next year."
Turning 72 years old on Sunday, venerable veteran desert racer Rod Hall, Reno, Nev., lit the candles on his celebration during the final hours of the legendary race, adding to his race-record total of class wins with a pair of wins in a pair of Rod Hall Racing Hummer H3 vehicles in both the Stock Full and the Stock Mini class to give him 21 in his amazing career. Originally entered as a second driver in both classes in vehicles where his sons Chad and Josh Hall were the drivers of record, Rod ended up as the primary driver in Stock Mini when Josh was unable to attend the race because of a family emergency. With the help of his sons and friends, Hall also continued his streak as the only person in the history of the event to have raced all 42 years since it began in 1967.
Chad Hall earned his eighth career class win in this race and the Hall family continues to be the winningest family in the history of this race with 33 total class wins.