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BRYCE MENZIES CUTS IT CLOSE The Menzies Motorsports Team Gambled And Won By A Few Seconds Story by Stuart Bourdon Photography by Get Some Photo Bryce Menzies led the entire way to the finish line in the 2021 BFGoodrich Tires 34th SCORE Felipe 250 Presented by Ford. But that doesn’t tell the full story of what became a fast and furious day of off-road racing through one of Baja’s roughest patches of terrain. But what really happened that day is a tale of teamwork, preparation, solid driving, precise navigation, and luck. There is always luck in Baja, one way or the other, riding with you. “We qualified first – and that was good, but starting out the race in front always puts a lot of pressure on you.” said Menzies. “That meant Andy McMillin was right behind us, so I set a decent pace to gain some ground. Around race mile 60, we heard he was only about 30 seconds behind us. Later we heard Andy clipped a rock and that slowed him down a bit.” But the challengers were still adding some pressure. Luke McMillin and Tavo Vildosola were hanging off Bryce’s tail and going strong somewhere back in the dust. “That pressure was honestly one of the toughest parts of the day,” said Menzies. “We were getting reports of Luke being about 35 seconds behind us on corrected time. I had to keep up the pace, but not make any mistakes or get a flat. If we did get in trouble, the race was as good as over right there.” For the first 100 miles Bryce was pushing hard and driving smart. “My co-driver and navigator Oren Anderson zoomed in on the GPS and called out every single rock and turn in the course.” A Very Competitive Class There are two things going on in the SCORE Trophy Truck class, and this race revealed it entirely. The biggest is that the class is filled with some of the most talented drivers and some high-powered miraculous machines that are faster and more capable than ever. But a driver and truck must run perfectly or near-perfect to win. Bryce commented on the level of competitors he was up against, “There were at least 10 top drivers and SCORE Trophy Trucks capable at any given time of winning that San Felipe race,” he said. “If you had one flat tire it could have taken you out of the race. It used to be that if you were down for a while, you could still be in it to win it. Not anymore.” Highly competitive drivers weren’t the only factor in this first race of the 2021 SCORE World Desert Championship. “The technology in the SCORE Trophy Trucks has jumped light-years ahead,” said Menzies. “The new AWD trucks are allowing us to drive so much faster and so much harder. We set an average overall speed of 62 mph and ran the course in four and half hours. That’s really fast considering how rough this year’s San Felipe 250’s course was.” BaJa Luck Bryce continued leading physically on the course, but with the competition close behind. “We got to our first pit at race mile 102 and changed two tires in the front,” he said. “We got back out, still in front, with Luke about a minute-and-a-half behind. This meant we had about 30 seconds corrected time on him. From there to about 20 miles from the finish, we kept up our pace and Luke was right there nipping at our heels the whole way.” According to Menzies, that’s when Baja luck stepped in. “We only fueled once because we didn’t want to lose that much time,” he said. “We went around a corner and the low fuel light warning began flashing. The rear end had become lighter, the nose was getting a little bit heavier, and the truck was diving into the bumps all the way into the finish. It was tough going, and we had a chase crew with fuel pacing us on the highway as we came in. It followed us to the finish line podium because I wasn’t sure we had enough fuel to get up on it. There were eight gallons of fuel left. We cut it pretty close.” A Nail-Biting Finish At the finish line, Menzies was still hoping he’d have enough of a lead in time to squeeze out the win. “Luke and Tavo were driving super hard, so we knew we couldn’t get a flat or have any slip-ups. Our fuel strategy didn’t backfire on us, and the only time we stopped was to put new tires on the front. So overall, we had a flawless day.” The 15-second split time between Bryce and Luke at the finish line was shorter than any in SCORE’s recent history. It was also Bryce’s first-ever San Felipe 250 win. The split between the top five finishers was less than 10 minutes, but a split time between the two leaders of 15 seconds is almost unheard of in desert racing. “It’s just one of those days when everything came together and worked out,” said Menzies. “We ran at a steady pace and had no problems. It was a fast and exciting race, and in the end, it all came down to a few seconds.” SJ

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