SCORE Journal

SCORE Journal - April 2019

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

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Page 9 of 113

The Long And Winding Road At 349.91 Miles, this year’s SCORE San Felipe 250 was a game changer for the SCORE World Desert Championship By Dan Sanchez Photos By Get Some Photo The start of the 2019 SCORE World Desert Championship proved to be one of the most exciting in all of SCORE International’s race history. As people gathered in San Felipe for the start of the 33rd annual SCORE San Felipe 250, no one would have imagined that veteran SCORE Trophy Truck racers who started at the rear of a record 44 competitors in the class, would push through flat tires, roll-overs, broken parts and more to lead the pack and challenge each other for a win. That’s what summed up the race for Andy McMillin, who expressed how this was one of his most difficult. Despite a roll-over and some admitted mistakes, McMillin waited anxiously after crossing the finish line to see if his time was good enough to win. It was, and McMillin attributes it to the family motto. “My dad would always say to not give up and keep pushing hard,” he said. “He knew that no matter how bad your mistakes are, you should put your head down and keep going because, in the end, you never know what will happen.” While Andy McMillin has an impressive record of winning five SCORE Baja 1000’s, three SCORE Baja 500’s (two of them overall), and is one of the few drivers to earn SCORE’s Triple Crown, this first SCORE San Felipe 250 race overall in a SCORE Trophy Truck was something that eluded him for many years. McMillin had not won this race overall since 2005 with his dad Scott McMillin, in a Class 1 buggy. In 2011, and 2012, McMillin came close to winning the SCORE San Felipe 250 but had problems that kept him from the finish line in both races. For he and the 238 others who competed in the 33rd SCORE San Felipe 250, the race was truly a game changer. Normally considered an all-out sprint race, this year’s course was a record-setting 349.91 miles long, one that had racers altering their plans on how to approach it. In addition to the longer course, racers knew that finishing positions also dictate where they can start in SCORE’s legendary race, the SCORE Baja 500. As a result, this race brought out more veteran racers who decided to compete in all four SCORE World Desert Championship races this year. For fans, it makes the 2019 season one of the most exciting in recent history, with the ability to see more of the world’s best desert racers compete together for every mile, taking the competition for an Overall and Class Championship title to a whole new level. The result culminated in one of the toughest SCORE San Felipe 250 races to date, one that left racers with a sense of major accomplishment at the start of the 2019 season. Pre-Race Events Start The Excitement Before Andy McMillin celebrated his race win, record crowds had gathered in San Felipe for the pre-race festivities that included a new two-day Contingency held at the Malecon in the center of San Felipe. This pre-race event allowed greater access for fans in attendance to meet and talk to teams before the start, as well as allowing teams to get valuable parts and sponsorship information from manufacturers displaying in the Manufacturer’s Midway. Among the crowd was the SCORE San Felipe 250 Grand Marshal Johnny Johnson, who is an Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame Inductee with a total of 15 class wins in seven different classes in the SCORE Baja 1000, all spanning a career from 1968 through 1992. Johnson’s decades of involvement in SCORE Baja racing has spawned many championship racers and he is also well known for his role in helping to promote off-road racing with his participation in a 1971 television special that featured Johnson and George Plimpton racing in Baja. The first day of Contingency was scheduled for Motorcycle, UTV, and Quad racers, which gave SCORE fans their first opportunity to see the 1x Pro Moto team of Justin Morgan, who again teamed up with Mark Samuels and Justin Jones. Together these three won last year’s SCORE Pro Moto Unlimited Class Championship and Overall Pro Moto Championship. Along with them, the new 4x team of Ray Dal Saglio and Troy Vanscourt appeared during Contingency to show fans they were there to challenge the 1x team, along with the 66x team headed again by Santiago Creel. Creel is once again heading several teams this year, including the Pro Moto Limited 100x team made up of talented Mexican riders, as well as the 360x Pro Moto 30 team that includes multiple SCORE San Felipe class winner Jim O’Neal (18 class wins), and Italian rider Massimo Mangini. Locals were also cheering for the SCORE 2017 and 2018 Pro Quad Champion Said Sanchez from Tijuana, who will attempt to gain a third class championship this season. Crowds also cheered for their favorite Pro UTV racers, including Wayne and Kristen Matlock who began the 2018 season dominating their classes, but had Kristen DNF the last two races with vehicle problems. Fans are hoping this “dynamic duo” will each take home a class and an Overall Championship this year. The following day of Contingency, fans got their first season glimpse of top SCORE Trophy Truck contenders, including Ryan Arciero’s Levis Trophy Truck, Rob MacCachren and team Rockstar Energy, Bryce Menzies and his new all-wheel-drive Trophy Truck, Zack Langley and the Cops racing team, the Class 1 racing teams of The Green Army, Wilson Motorsports and Reid Motorsports, and hundreds of other four-wheel racers. Andy McMillin also showed off his Mason Motorsports SCORE Trophy Truck during Contingency, as well as the rest of the McMillin family that included his cousins, Dan, and Luke McMillin and their crew. The sight of three McMillin members together again in Baja had fans happy to see the family in force, competing once again for a full season in SCORE. The Course That Changed Everything With a course just shy of 100 extra miles, it was enough that had teams rethink their strategy for the race. According to SCORE President and Race Director Jose A. Grijalva, the course ran in a clockwise direction and had three physical, and 96 virtual checkpoints. Aside from the longer mileage the course also included passing across three of Baja’s famous washes, the Matomi, Azufre, and Coabuso. But for racers, the most challenging section was getting through the narrow Matomi Wash, and the subsequent climb and descent of the summit section, which was much more technical than what many of the racers had expected. "Pistol" Pete Honored During the SCORE San Felipe 250, racers and fans honored the life and legacy of “Pistol” Pete Sohren, who passed away in January. The family had T-shirts available for those who wanted to honor Pete during this race, and SCORE had commemorative vehicle stickers available for racers to place on their vehicles in his honor. Cameron Steele and the Desert Assassins team took on an even greater role by wrapping his SCORE Trophy Truck in bright yellow, Sohren’s truck color, and with Sohren’s number 2 on the truck. In addition, Steele had the remains of Sohren ride along with him and his team to make the race a special one for those who cared about Sohren most. “It was really special,” said Steele. “We want to thank the off-road community for embracing and putting their arms around the Sohren family. SCORE went above and beyond to jump right in to support the Sohren girls and the family and I want to say ‘thank you’ to them.” SJ

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