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NO STOPPING ROLF HELLAND Sand Traps And Oil Issues Couldn’t Stop This SCORE TT Legend Team’s March To Victory Story by Stuart Bourdon Photography by Get Some Photo Rolf Helland and his SCORE Trophy Truck Legend team included navigator Mike Valentine, experienced off-road race driver Rick D. Johnson, and Rick’s son and navigator Ricky Johnson. The plan was to charge hard during the BFGoodrich Tires 34th SCORE San Felipe 250 Presented by Ford. “We started the day out well,” said Helland. “We were moving fast, running strong, and gaining ground.” Helland was the first of the SCORE TT Legend class off the starting line and was working his way through traffic quickly. “We passed the first SCORE Trophy Truck ahead of us right off the start and kept on hunting for more in the dust,” he said. “All was going fine until somewhere around race mile 40 when our engine hood started coming loose.” Sand Trap Trouble The racecourse laid out for the SCORE San Felipe 250 was as rough as could be expected for the typically bumpy and fast route. This year, however, the sand was unusually deep. Churned up by a substantial amount of pre-running and the high number of SCORE Trophy Trucks that were first on the course for race day, it was in Helland’s words, “pulverized.” They met their chase crew along the course to deal with the floppy hood, but as luck would have it, their impromptu meeting point was smack dab in the middle of a stretch of soft, deep sand. “The race truck got stuck and then the chase truck buried itself trying to pull the race truck out,” said Helland. “We were stranded there with race and chase stuck.” Racing in Baja is known for being unpredictable, but it’s also legendary for numerous and helpful spectators along the course. “Some locals ran over and pushed both trucks out the sand. Thanks to them, we were off and running again.” Soon they were moving fast, but deep into the first of the big washes, they caught a rock and blew the right rear tire. The deep sand would hex Helland’s efforts once again. “The tire change took much longer than it should have because the pneumatic jacks went right down into the sand, instead of lifting the truck,” he said. “It took a long time for us to get the truck high enough to make the tire change, and we lost more time.” An All Out Effort Helland knew Nick Vanderway was ahead of him now. Vanderway’s Mason AWD truck was an advantage in the deep sand. Helland just kept plowing ahead, however, and at around race mile 105 heard they were about seven minutes behind Vanderway. Helland’s planned driver swap was at race mile 160, and that’s where Rick D. and Ricky took over. Baja was not done with them yet, though. “Rick was driving hard trying to make up time,” Helland said. “But the truck began having some low oil issues, and he had to meet the chase truck to take on more oil. We lost about 30 minutes overall with all our troubles. The deep sand slowed us down and made the truck work harder, but we just kept after it.” That determination paid off, as later in the race Vanderway had some trouble of his own. “This is only my fourth year driving a SCORE Trophy Truck,” said Helland. “We have Andy McMillin’s old Mason 2WD Trophy Truck. We’ve done well, won some races, and been class champ before, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that every race is a lesson. I have a great team and am proud of our effort in the San Felipe 250. We’re going full speed ahead after the 2021 SCORE TT Legend Class Championship.” SJ

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