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Page 45 of 129

MENZIES WINS THE 2023 SCORE BAJA 1000 Three Young Lions Team Up To Conquer Baja Story by Stuart Bourdon Photos by Get Some Photo Although Bryce Menzies had won almost every other significant off-road race during his illustrious and quite successful racing career, he had never won a SCORE Baja 1000. With the help of teammates Andy McMillin and “Tavo” Vildosola, who by coincidence have won this race before, this was Menzies’ year. Topping the SCORE Trophy Truck class and every other race vehicle (two- or four-wheel) with an elapsed time of 22 hours, 35 minutes, 33 seconds, Menzies stood on top of the 2023 SCORE Baja 1000 podium for the very first time. “Weeks later it still doesn’t seem real,” he told us. “It’s pretty hard to process that we succeeded at something we’ve been working on for almost 11 years. And having my wife and daughter at the finish line in Ensenada for this win was very emotional. My dad was there too and that was special. He has been there since day one of my racing career. He really helps to keep pushing us and further develop our team.” “It’s incredible to think about how much hard work and time we’ve put in over the years and how well it did work out this time. I had been awake for more than 30 hours by the time Tavo brought the truck across the finish line, and it was one of those things that even then didn’t seem real. It felt like it might have been a dream because we wanted this win so bad for so long.” Dream Team Menzies had always planned on teaming up with Andy for the race this year. When they heard about the length of the race, however, how bad the course was getting, and that running the race from south to north this time meant the toughest part of the course was at the end, they decided a three-driver team might be a good idea. Andy suggested they bring on Tavo. Of course, Tavo said he was “in” and up for the challenge. “The level of competition now and the need to stay alert and on top of things for such a long race meant it might be too much for just two drivers,” said Menzies. “And especially for whoever would be doing the night driving. Tavo had been successful at the SCORE Baja 1000 before, and he knew the last 300 miles of the course (and Baja in general) as good as or better than anyone.” Three’s The Charm The team had a great plan and stuck to it to reach their goal. “I started the truck and knew I had to keep it up front and running clean,” said Menzies. “We felt we needed to hand Andy a “new” truck. At that point, we would hand the truck off to him and we would only be halfway through the race. We didn’t want the truck to be torn up or tired. I kept asking my co-driver if we were going too fast, or too slow. I don’t think I ever had the truck over 115 mph during my drive because I didn’t want to stress the motor or the transmission too much.” McMillin experienced a moment of trouble with a flat tire early in his shift, but that wasn’t the team’s biggest concern. They were still running first on the road. About halfway into his drive, the truck’s charging system began to have problems. The top light bar (the one they rely on for long-distance sight during night driving) was pulling too much power. Eventually, the system would have drained the battery. So the last half of McMillin’s run, and all of Vildosola’s run into the finish line in the dark, was done without the truck’s strongest light source. Getting The Win Despite minor problems, McMillin and Vildosola kept the truck in the lead. The Menzies Motorsports team took the checkered flag for the overall victory, and the SCORE Trophy Truck Class won at the 2023 SCORE Baja 1000. The incredibly high level of competition the Menzies team was up against, was made keenly evident when the second-place SCORE Trophy Truck driven by Luke McMillin and Rob MacCachren finished less than two minutes behind them. Of his very first SCORE Baja 1000 win, Menzies said, “So many people have asked me, ‘Was the 1000 your ultimate dream? Are you done racing?’ I doubt I’ll ever be done racing. The passion for off-road racing that my entire family shares, and the beauty and hospitality Baja offers, has made it feel like my second home.” “We won the SCORE Baja 1000 and the SCORE Trophy Truck Championship this year. That was my main goal. As far as next year is concerned, the plan is to do the same and to enjoy every minute of it. My son will be old enough to join my wife and daughter for the races in Baja next year. I hope to pass the family’s love for off-road racing and Baja to a new generation.” SJ

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