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Page 27 of 117

SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST SCORE Trophy Truck Teams Set Themselves Up For Success By Dan Sanchez, Paul Hanson, Guilherme Torres, and Jose Vazquez A peninsula run from Ensenada to La Paz, Mexico only happens every few years, and for many of the SCORE Trophy Truck racers, they had been waiting since 2017 for another. This year, teams took no chances and many partnered with some of the best racers in both 2WD and AWD vehicles, trying to stack the odds in their favor. With each new “super team” appearing in the race entries, such as Rob MacCachren with Luke McMillin, Bryce Menzies teaming up with Andy McMillin, Alan Ampudia teaming up with Jax Redline and Ken Block, it made the challenge even harder for those racers wanting to compete in this class. The Vildosola’s, Senior (Gus), and Jr (Tavo), teamed up with veteran Ricky Johnson, adding to their experience and chances for a win, as did Cameron Steele and Ryan Arciero teaming together for a greater chance at victory. It had also been a while since SCORE fans saw Tim and Troy Herbst race together, this time with Pat Dean, and Robby Gordon teamed up with Indy Car champion Casey Mears. Larry Roeseler decided to take on the race “Ironman” and Dallas Luttrell had former SCORE champion and legend Larry Ragland as his co-driver in the No. 87 Ram. The SCORE Trophy Trucks started the race at 10 am on Thursday, November, 18th with Menzies first off the line. He would be very difficult to beat, especially as he gained some time against Rob MacCachren starting in second place in the No. 11 badged McMillin Ford. McMillin had wanted MacCachren to be the DOR as a season SCORE Trophy Truck Championship was within his grasp. While the other racers took off from the starting line, everyone watched the SCORE Live Tracking to see the gap between the MacCachren and Menzies teams. These two teams gapped the rest of the field at a blistering pace that left the Vildosola team trying to catch the lead trucks. Around race mile 650, after Andy McMillin had switched into the driver’s seat, the Menzies truck had engine problems which put them out of the race. This left the MacCachren team upfront with Vildosola in second on the course. MacCachren gave the truck over to McMillin around race mile 700 and McMillin drove it to the finish line for the win. “Rob brought me a great truck in second place,” said McMillin. “He got on the radio and told me it was a perfect truck so that put the pressure on me that it’s go time. We did our homework, we did our pre-running. We hit our marks. Zero flat tires, zero close calls. We just stayed on the course and did our thing. That made it fun. Especially when you hear you are picking up time and closing the time gap. We knew if we could just keep it up we would be in pretty good shape. And that is what happened today. We just kept going and going and got our lead up to 41 minutes, but we weren’t doing anything crazy.” The Vildosola team was too far back to catch up to the leaders but maintained their position to finish the race in second place. It had been a long year for Tavo Vildosola, and although it wasn’t the finish he would have liked, it was proof that even after some time away from the driver’s seat, he still was a serious contender. “The course was great. We had no issues. No flats,” said Tavo Vildosola, who brought the truck to the finish. “Luke (McMillin) just had a phenomenal day, unfortunately for us. It was tough to catch him. He put a lot of time on us, and it took a bit to get used to our new AWD but we started second, stayed second, and finished second.” “Tavo did an unbelievable job,” said Ricky Johnson. “I am proud to be part of this team. My section was really fast. You have to be careful passing the bikes; your approach speed is so much faster than theirs. Safety first. Everything was flawless. With the Mason AWD, the silt was almost non-existent, we just blast right through it.” Finishing in third place was the No.16 Desert Assassins truck with Cameron Steele and Ryan Arciero. “Ryan (Arciero) started and kicked butt for us,” said Steele. “He brought us within good striking distance. But then the gap increased from there on out from Luke. We had a good race with Tavo (Vildosola) at the end. For the Steele family, it is great to be up here with the McMillin’s and the Vildosola’s.” “I tell you what, the SCORE Baja 1000, especially to La Paz, never disappoints,” added Arciero. “This is one of the toughest races in the world. To finish it is a feat. To win it is a feat. The truck ran perfectly. We had a small issue but didn’t lose any time. We were hoping the guys in front of us would have more trouble. There was no wind, so the dust just sat there. So where we were hoping to go 130 mph, we could only go 70-80 mph. We saw the moon last night and the eclipse. That was very, very cool.” SCORE TT LEGENDS TEAMS BATTLE FOR A WIN In the SCORE TT Legends class, Rolf Helland in the No. 37L truck has been undefeated all season. But that didn’t necessarily mean he was assured a win at the 54th BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 1000 Presented by 4 Wheel Parts. In fact, Helland had some tough competition from racers such as the 3L team, made up of legendary racers that included Mark Post, Ed Herbst, and Curt LeDuc. Helland also had to contend with Jimco owner Robbie Pierce driving the No. 30L truck with Dodger baseball team owner Bobby Patton, and ORW owner Greg Adler, and Barry Karakas as co-drivers. Helland started the race first and held on to keep that position all day long, making great use of time and the course. Helland had Jon Walker and Rick D. Johnson as co-drivers and pulled another victory to end a perfect season. “I feel great about this. It was a great event,” said Helland. “This is one of the greatest spectacles in motorsports. We are really fortunate to be able to come down here and run this race. I couldn’t have had a better partner than Rick D. Johnson, and my navigator, Mike Valentine. We had a top ten in 2019. I thought it was a fluke, but maybe it wasn’t. No words can explain what this race is; I think you have to live it. There is nothing like it. It is just amazing.” Finishing second was the 53L truck of Wade Porter with co-drivers Todd Romano, and Alan Levinston. Post and his team finished in third place and were happy to be back in Baja. “We were down three hours to the leader and we had some problems in the first third of the course,” said Post. “I had a broken spring and shock for the last 30 miles that cost at least 20 minutes, or they would not have gotten by me. This is my 32nd SCORE Baja 1000. My first one was in 1972. We were fortunate in this truck to win the 40th Anniversary SCORE Baja 1000 overall, a total of 1450 miles. Between myself, Curt LeDuc, and Ed Herbst, we have 185 years of racing. I don’t know if that is experience or stupid. I’m just glad to get here.” SJ

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