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.The battle for the overall motorcycle victory marked the SCORE Baja racing rekindling of one of its greatest rivalries as Kawasaki returned with a factory-supported team for the first time since 1995 to battle against the Honda factory-supported racers. In the end, Honda defeated Kawasaki by just one minute, 57 seconds, although the No. 1X Kawasaki KX450 team led by former two-time Honda race winner Robby Bell, Sun City, Calif., finished first physically in the demanding race but lost on corrected time.
"I rode from the start to Borrego, mile 200 and Robby (Bell) was up about 10 minutes," said Norman at the finish line. "I started way back and there was a ton of dust. I just couldn't get through it. By the time I finally cleared the dust, he was gone. When I got the bike back from Timmy Weigand at the Meadows (Mile 504), I was only a minute and half down. Quinn Cody and Timmy did some great work out there. I figured it was going be close to impossible to pass Steve (Hengeveld) on the final run because of the dust and being at night. But I know if I was in his dust that is all I needed to do (to win). It feels great to win the SCORE Baja 1000 three years in a row and fourth total. I am really stoked."
"It was definitely a good battle at night. There was a lot of dust out here. Steve is a great night racer and was going. I'd get in his dust and slow down, get in his dust and slow down. He rode a great race and it was war out there today. We had all of our guys positioned and they put in a lot of hard work. I couldn't be happier right now."
A field of 27 SCORE Trophy-Trucks, the high-tech, 850hp unlimited production trucks, dominated the overall 4-wheel results, claiming seven of the top 10 finishing spots, including the first six.
Finishing second was last year's overall winning 4-wheel team of Roger Norman, Reno, Nev./Larry Roeseler, Boulevard, Calif., who finished 32 minutes, 37 seconds behind the McMillins in a time of 14:52:27 in the No. 8 Norman Motorsports Ford F-150.
Third overall was this year's Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 winner Rick D. Johnson, Barstow, Calif., with a time of 15:02:36 in the No. 71 Ford F-150 while driving the No. 4 Vildosola Racing Ford F-150 of Mexico's Gustavo Vildsola Jr., and his father Gus Vildosola.
NASCAR team owner/driver Robby Gordon, who left immediately after securing the 2009 SCORE Trophy-Truck and SCORE Overall points championship in the No. 77 Team Gordon Chevy CK1500 to race in NASCAR's Homestead finale, drove consistently to finish fifth in a penalty-free time of 15:14:31 while the team of Robby Pierce/Mike Julston, Santee, Calif., finished sixth overall and in SCORE Trophy-Truck, finishing in 15:29:42 in the No. 30 MasterCraft Chevy Silverado.
The top three finishers in the unlimited Class 1 for open-wheel desert racecars finished seventh through nine, respectively, among 4-wheel finishers.
First in Class 1 was the veteran team of Jerry Penhall, Costa Mesa, Calif./Dan Martin, Monrovia, Calif., with a time of 15:38:19 in a Chevy-powered Penhall while second was the team of Germany's Armin Schwarz/Martin Christensen, Escondido, Calif. (Denmark) in 15:52:02 in the All-German Motorsports Jimco-BMW.
Finishing ninth overall and third in Class 1 was the team of Randy Wilson, Lakewood, Calif., his brother Ronny Wilson of Long Beach, Calif., and Jeff Quinn, Irvine, Calif., who also clinched a close Class 1 point champion race with the Schwarz/Christensen team in the Wilson Motorsports Jimco-Chevy. They finished the course in 16:14:05.
Completing the top 10 overall 4-wheel finishers list was eight-time SCORE Baja 1000 class winner Mark McMillin, El Cajon, Calif./Brian Ewalt, Bonita, Calif., with a time of 16:15:25 in the No. 23 McMillin Racing Ford F-150. Mark is the brother of Scott McMillin and uncle of overall winner Andy McMillin.
In the manufacturer's battle of "beat the Baja" research and development, a Chevy-powered vehicle won for the 11th time and BFGoodrich Tires won for the 23rd time in the last 24 years.
Eric Duran, Tecate, Calif., is driver of record for his family team and close win by just 23 seconds in Class 1-2/1600 in a Neth-VW, they secured the season points championship in the class. Entering the race in a close third place, the Duran brothers defeated the Wilson Motorsports team of Brian Wilson, Long Beach, Calif./Sammy Ehrenberg, Las Vegas, Nev./LJ Kennedy, Orange, Calif./Brad Wilson, Long Beach, Calif., in the race, moving them past the Wilson team to earn the season points title. There were 17 starters in the class and Justin Smith, Capistrano Beach, Calif., who was tied with the Wilsons in the season class points, was leading early, had mechanical problems and struggled to a sixth-place finish in class.
SCORE points are based on starting and finishing as well as the number of starters in each class and placement position in every race. All class titles will go down to the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000.
In one of the class races, Darren Skilton, Long Beach, Calif., won Class 3 in a Jeep Wrangler for his sixth class win in this race. For the second straight year, he defeated rivals Donald and Kenneth Moss of Sacramento, who finished second in class, 37 minutes, 14 seconds behind Skilton.
In Class 40 for motorcycle riders over 40 years old, the team led by Scott Myers, Menifee, Calif., was victorious on a Honda CRF450X and team rider Craig Adams, San Clemente, Calif., earned his 14th and 15th class wins in this race. Adams also was a rider on the Class 50-winning team on another Honda CRF450X. Jim O'Neal, Simi Valley, Calif., was the rider of record on the Class 50 team where he earned his ninth career class win in this race.
Richard Jackson, Acton, Calif., led his team to his seventh class win in this race, this year in Class 60, riders over 60, on a Honda CRF450X.
In Class 5/1600, Mexico's Marcos Nunez/Norberto Rivera, drove their VW Baja Bug to victory. Nunez now has six class wins in this race.
Another father/son team Pancho and Cisco Bio, won Class 9 giving Pancho his fourth class win in SCORE Baja 1000 history.
Running against a formidable field of 14 starters in SCORE Lite, with vehicles all having VW engines, Brent Parkhouse and his son Cody, Long Beach, Calif., were winners in a Molton racecar while Mike Lawrence, Banning, Calif., captured Class 10 in his Lothringer-VW for the fourth time in five races this season. It was Parkhouse's second class win of the season.
In Class 5 for unlimited VW Baja Bugs, Kevin Carr, San Diego, won his class for the fourth time this season and in Class 7, Dan Chamlee, Carpenteria, Calif., driving a Ford Ranger, also won for the fourth time this season.
John Holmes, Olivenhain, Calif., in another Ford Ranger in Class 7SX won for the third time in this race and the fourth time in this race.
Pulling off her second Class 6 win of the season was Heidi Steele, San Clemente, Calif., in a Ford Ranger.
Other Class winners in this year's Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 included: Juan Lopez, Tecate, Mexico (Class 8, Ford F-150), Rob Reinertson, Woodside, Calif. (Protruck, Ford F-150), Nick Baldwin, Mission Viejo, Calif. (Baja Challenge, BTC-Subaru), Ronnie Wilson, Canyon Country, Calif. (Class 21, Honda CRF450X), Jesus Rios, Calexico, Calif., (Class 20, Honda CRF250X), Mike Johnson, El Paso, Texas (Class 30, Honda CRF450X) and Tom Wright, Tabernacle, N.J. (Class 24, Honda TRX450R).
This race also featured the Sal Fish SCORE IronRider awards presented to each motorcycle or ATV rider who completes the course within the time limit while riding solo. Thirty-four individuals officially declared that they were attempting to complete the course riding solo and 10 of them finished within the time limit to earn the special award. The fastest solo rider was Ron Wilson, who rode in Class 30 for riders over 30 years old, finishing second in class in a penalty-free time of 18:29:19 on a Honda CRF450X.
The fastest Sportsman 4-wheel vehicle was led by driver of record Rory Ward, Mohave Valley, Calif., (SPT Car, Chenowth-Chevy) while the fastest Sportsman Motorcycle team was led by Brian Garrahan, Boulder Creek, Calif. (SPT M/C>250cc).
In addition to season point class points championships, drivers in the Pro car and truck classes were also racing to earn SCORE Toyota Milestone Awards given to all drivers who complete every required mile of the five-race season. Being presented by Toyota Motorsports for the 24th consecutive year, a total of 14 drivers have won the prestigious awards for 2009.
This year's Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 desert race will be televised on a delayed basis as a one-hour NBC Sports special, in association with SCORE and Aura360, for the sixth consecutive year. It is scheduled to air on NBC at 2 p.m. (EST) on Saturday, Dec. 19.