SCORE Journal

SCORE Journal Issue - DECEMBER 2017

SCORE Journal - The Official Publication of SCORE Off-Road Racing

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Page 42 of 132

THE COURSE TAKES ITS VICTIMS The Desert Packs A Punch For The Trophy Truck Classes By Dan Sanchez Photos by Get Some Photo There were several teams that were favored to win at this year’s 50th BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 1000. Many of the top teams, however, had a great plan but the challenges of Baja proved to be too much for some. One of the most disappointing of the race was Rob MacCachren, who again teamed up with Jason Voss and Justin Smith. While the odds were with MacCachren and the Rockstar Energy Ford team, who were ready to win four-in-a-row SCORE Baja 1000 races, the team ran hard and had at a great pace. Around the half-way point, the Trophy Truck had problems that the team could not fix, which took them out, leaving the door open for Cameron Steel, Apdaly Lopez and Bryce Menzies, all who ended up fighting for the lead at various points during the race. Starting first off the line was Robby Gordon, who was the fastest qualifier, but couldn’t maintain his lead and ultimately finished in 16th place. Menzies, who was out in front during several points of the race, stuck their number 7 Trophy Truck into a ditch which cost them two hours. Then a collision with the number 6 truck of Larry Conner, with Rickey Johnson driving at the time, also cost them some time. “That was probably one of the most aggressive BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 1000s I’ve ever been a part of and I’ve done 10 now,” said Menzies. “I’m just happy to be here. We lost the hood at about race mile 180 chasing down Ricky Johnson in Larry Connor’s vehicle on Puertocitos Road. He just stopped while we were doing 120 mph so it was just an instant collision. It took the lights and the hood out right away. We had to fix all the lights at the next pit stop.” Bad luck also struck Luke McMillin, who co-drove with Larry Roeseler. The two were also favored to win the race with both of them having been on the podium many times. The number 83 Trophy Truck ran strong most of the day, actually leading the race and maintaining a fast pace. “We ended up getting the truck first on the road and gave it to Larry,” said McMillin. “He increased the lead, doing what Larry does best, by staying steady and smooth. We got up to an 11-minute lead and somehow a shock came apart.” The two managed to fix the broken shock but ultimately ended up in seventh place, behind Team Herbst who finished in sixth place with a great run. “We came here to win this race,” said Roeseler. “I wanted to make it number 14 for the 50th year so we are a little disappointed. It is a passion and it has been my life and without the BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 1000, my career wouldn’t be where it is today. It’s emotional and we were close.”  McMillin’s cousin Andy McMillin, who teamed up with Gus Vildosola Jr. (Tavo), and Brandon Arthur, also experienced some bad luck which took them out of the race. McMillin had passed Rob MacCachren for the lead around the first 300 miles on the course, but the lead wouldn’t last. “I was excited to be first on the road,” said McMillin. “Our motor was running so bad, however, that we couldn’t get it over 100 mph. I knew it was just a matter of time before it would blow and around RM500, it did just that. Baja won the battle this time. I really thought we had a good chance at this one but it wasn’t meant to be.” Despite the many challenges by other racers, Cameron Steele in the number 16 Trophy Truck, had a clean race and shared driving duties with Pat Dean. Steele led the race at various points and looked to be a sure winner, but ultimately finished the race in second place, finishing with a great sense of pride and accomplishment. “We are really proud of the effort that the whole team put in. It’s a family affair and we are 100 percent sponsored and friend funded and it is important to do a good job,” said Steele. “Missing it by one or two tells us that we have the program to do it but we just have to get to that next step. Everybody just crushed it on the peninsula today. The longest non-stop desert race in the world is the real deal.” Another SCORE Trophy Truck team that had also had an excellent race, was Dan McMillin, who teamed up with co-drivers Gary Weyhrich to finish in third place. The two in the number 23 Ford F-150 only had to deal with a flat tire. Although they only lost a few minutes of time, it was enough to keep them behind Steele. Billy Wilson followed McMillin into a fourth-place finish with Chad Bunch as co-driver. “This race was so competitive, everybody did their homework so we were racing each other more than the terrain,” said Wilson. “I had a little incident in the dust when I drove into a ditch and got pulled out with about 12 miles to go.” Vildosola Sr. Wins The Trophy Truck Legend Class With the various lead changes happening along the 1,131-mile course, it didn’t seem that there was any distinction between the Trophy Truck and Trophy Truck Legend classes. The class consisted of Gus Vildosola Sr. in the number 21 Ford Raptor, who had Rodrigo Ampudia Sr. and Scott Bailey as co-drivers. Clyde Stacey in the number 5 RPM Off-Road truck was also competing in the class, along with Russell Buehler in the number 32 Ford Raptor. Stacey had problems that kicked him out of the competition, leaving Vildosola and Buehler to battle it out in the desert. Vildosola ended up with the faster time to ultimately win the class. “The 50th anniversary was a big deal for us,” said Vildosola Sr. His co-driver Ampudia also mentioned he was honored to be a part of a Mexican national team that made up of two great racing families. Langley Battled For Trophy Truck Spec Win One of the most unique teams in the Trophy Truck Spec class during the 50th BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 1000, was the Cops number 250 truck with John Langley, Steve Hengeveld, and Kash Vessels as co-drivers. Hengeveld has won the SCORE Baja 1000 eight times on a motorcycle and Vessels is son of off-road racing legend Frank “Scoop” Vessels. The team fought through the Class 10 vehicles who started in front of the Trophy Truck Spec class during the race and experienced a roll-over towards the last few hundred miles near the finish line. “I’ve got to thank all the local fans who helped us get on our feet,” said Langley. “The biggest battle was the course. I got into the car in a great position with guys seven or eight minutes behind us and then we gained on them.” “Winning the 50th BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 1000 feels great to me because I have four second-place Baja 1000 point-to-point finishes and haven’t gotten the win quite yet so to get it finally is huge to me,” said Vessels. For John Langley, this makes his first SCORE Baja 1000 win and makes it a ninth for Hengeveld, who has never on the race in a four-wheel vehicle. “We set our goals and came out and accomplished them and that’s what makes a good team,” said Hengeveld. The day wasn’t so good for Elias Hanna, however, who throughout the season had won every SCORE race in the Trophy Truck Spec class. Hanna teamed up with Omar Hanna, Pablo Avila and Julio Urias for the 50th BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 1000 but despite their undefeated season, they ended up finishing 10th place. For the rest of the Trophy Truck Spec class, Bryce Swaim in the number 242 Ford Raptor, finished in second place with co-drivers Garret Stone, Jeremy Spirkoff, Joe Interrante and Gary Arnold. Finishing third in class was Alex Gonzales and his co-drivers Mario Gonzales, David Jameson and Garrett McCourt, in the number 296 Kinetic Chevy. SJ

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