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The SCORE SAN FELIPE 250 RACE’S GREATEST HEROES First And Multi-time Winners Share What They Think About The Race By Larry Saavedra and Dan Sanchez Photos by Jack Wright Nmedia3 Many racers have suggested that the SCORE San Felipe 250 is one of the toughest. To win it once is amazing and can be the pinnacle of any racer’s career. Imagine, however, winning it multiple times, and that’s when it’s wise to hear those racer’s thoughts about why it remains so formidable more than 30 years after it first debuted back in 1982. One person who was there from the start is Lynn Chenowth, who will be event Grand Marshall in 2022. Some of the race’s first winners won in a Chenowth vehicle and they too shared their experiences. Dan Cornwell - The first SCORE San Felipe 250 was won by Dan Cornwell in a Chenowth 1000 in 1982. It was Cornwell’s first Overall win in Baja after years of competing. Today, Cornwell is SCORE’s Safety Tech Inspector. “Everything back then was on a budget and it was exciting to win that race,” said Cornwell. “My son Eric, had just been born, so it was a happy time. Back then the course was much better. The Chenowths were tough vehicles back then. We could roll-over end-over-end in it, land on the wheels, and drive away.” Scott McMillin - The 1983 and ‘84 SCORE San Felipe 250 races were won by Corky McMillin and his son Scott. “When we won that race Overall in ‘83, it was the first time a car had beat a motorcycle in that event,” said Scott McMillin. “My dad drove the first half and I got in at Nuevo Junction. McMillin’s brother Mark also drove in that race, but in a Porsche powered car. “We had the VW powered Chenowth and because Mark had to stop and get gas, we ended up winning,” McMillin said. “San Felipe has always been rough. Preparation and planning were the most important things back then and now. When Scott McMillin won the race for the fourth time with his son Andy in 2005, it brought back lots of memories for him. “It was great winning the race again,” he said. “Then I remembered, this is how my dad must have felt.” Tavo Vildosola - The three-time Overall race winner (2013, ’14 and ’15) believes the SCORE San Felipe 250 is a fast-paced race. “It used to be considered a sprint race, while the SCORE Baja 500 and 1000 were more like marathons,” said Vildosola. He thinks it’s still that way, and acknowledged the AWD vehicles, which are now so much faster, requires an all-out approach, and can only be won if you don’t have any flats or make any mistakes. “The course is always grueling and because you’re driving aggressively the entire time, you have to be in better physical shape and be willing to push hard.” Johnny Campbell - Not many can shred on a bike in San Felipe like Johnny Campbell, a seven-time Overall winner of the race. “It is a difficult event for the bikes for many reasons,” said Campbell. “The washes, deep sand, and especially the rocks that are embedded in the course, can create a dangerous situation for riders. “In a four-wheel vehicle they have no regard for a bowling-ball sized rock over a whoop-de-do. But that same rock will send a bike rider flying over the bars.” According to Campbell you have to take care racing on a bike in San Felipe. “The exposure factor there is greater than all of the longer courses. You have to ride from a middle-to-back position, in order to rest your arms and to keep your bike’s front lighter. If you’re too far forward you can fly over the front of the bike after hitting an obstacle, so body position is critical.” Rob MacCachren- This six-time Overall winner is always tough to beat in San Felipe. “The SCORE San Felipe 250 has always been one of my favorite places to race,” he said. “I like rough courses and this one usually has sand washes with multiple lines that allow for good racing. The weather is usually very good and that brings out the spectators to root us on. We can’t wait to get back down there and start pre-running, enjoying the food, and going really fast over the bumps. Sounds like fun to me.” Jim O’Neal -This year’s SCORE San Felipe 250 will mark Jim O’Neal’s 35th consecutive appearance on a motorcycle. With 18 official Class wins in this race, he currently holds the record for top podium finishes. “I’m very much looking forward to it,” he said. This year, O’Neal is riding a 2021 Yamaha 450F. “Compared to my first SCORE San Felipe race, there is a world of difference in bike technology, especially suspension,” he says. “John Griffin, one of the team’s co-riders, does a fantastic job at preparing the bike. We never break and not breaking down is the key. ” he said. “At my age, I could use a few thousand less whoops, but it is all good and this year’s course will be extra challenging running some of the tight washes in the canyons.” Colton Udall - This five-time Overall winner of the SCORE San Felipe 250 described the race as one of the most demanding in his Baja racing career. “It is a wonderful place to visit, and it is a true test for the dirt bike racer. It is not physically enjoyable though as compared to racing it in a four-wheel vehicle.” Udall believes the old style whoops are gone now, which really slowed racers down on a bike. “The whoops are never enjoyable, but they are worse today in some regards. The good thing about past SCORE San Felipe events were the line choices bikes had, but those are also disappearing.” Robby Bell - Three-time SCORE San Felipe 250 Overall winner Robby Bell explained, “On the bike the risks are high in San Felipe, and it’s more physically demanding than any of the endurance races. “For a bike it’s almost like riding at night. It is mentally taxing. There is more of a chance of hitting something that you don’t see on a bike. Because of the deeper sand there, the approach to the SCORE San Felipe 250 race requires preparation,” he said. Like Johnny Campbell, Bell said that rider position should be where the body weight is set further back on the bike, so the rear wheel doesn’t kick up. “There’s a photo of me somewhere online when I hit a rock and did a handstand off the bike before crashing hard,” he said. It was at that race that Bell said he had to be airlifted out to a San Diego hospital. “The second you relax, things go wrong. It’s stressful because you are always looking for buried rocks and that adds to the mental and physical drain.” SJ

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