Race-record 269 Starters roar in Mexico
LOS ANGELES, CA (February 26, 2005) -- Southern California high school basketball star Andy McMilin traded uniforms Saturday, teamed up with his father Scott McMillin to conquer the elements and a race-record field of 269 starters in earning the overall victory at the 19th Annual Tecate SCORE desert race. Splitting the driving time in the McMillin Racing Chevy-powered Jimco, the father/son team won the unlimited Class 1 class for open-wheel desert race cars, covering the rugged 240.34-mile course in 3 hours, 48 minutes, six seconds with a race-record average speed of 63.06 miles per hour.
With a race-record 269 starters competing in 24 Pro and 5 Sportsman classes for cars, trucks, motorcycles and ATVs, the new KTM team of Chris Blais, Andy Grider and Quinn Cody stopped the 10-race win streak of American Honda factory team stalwarts Steve Hengeveld, Oak Hills, CA/Johnny Campbell, San Clemente, CA, to capture the overall motorcycle victory while the overall ATV winners were the team of Josh Frederick, Moapa, NV/Cyle Chislock, Murrieta, CA/Levi Marana, Hemet, CA, on a Honda TRX450R. Racers came from 15 U.S. States, Canada, Japan and Mexico.
Andy McMillin, 17, took over from his father Scott McMillin, 44, at race-mile 130, passing his last challengers in route to the finish line, becoming the first third generation desert racer to win an overall title in a SCORE race. The younger McMillin is one of the top basketball players on his Poway (Calif.) High School basketball team.
“We had no problems,” said Andy. “When I got the car we were the fifth car on the road and the leaders had three to five minutes on us physically, but we were a lot closer on corrected time. We passed Hovey, he was the last car, with about 60 miles left in the race. As soon as I got in, I just took it easy, I didn’t want to break. Las year, we lost by one second to my uncle, so it was nice to get than win this year.”
Round 2 of the six-race 2005 SCORE Desert Series was held Saturday in the tiny fishing village of San Felipe, Baja California, Mexico, 120 miles south of the U.S. Border on the Sea of Cortez.
The McMillins finished second last year in Class 1 last year, just one second behind Mark McMillin, Scott’s brother and Andy’s uncle. This year, Mark experience mechanical difficulties on the course and struggled to a 20th-place finish in Class 1. Family patriarch Corky McMillin, 76, finished eighth in Class 1 and 10th overall in a Chenowth-Chevy. The fourth member of McMillin Racing competing in San Felipe was Mark’s son Daniel, 17, who did not finish in Class 1-2/1600.
When the dust settled, defending SCORE season point champion Jason Baldwin, Laguna Beach, CA, was second overall and won the marquee SCORE Trophy-Truck division in a Ford F-150, finishing in a time of 3:51:22 while averaging 62.33 mph, 3 minutes, 16 seconds behind the overall winning McMillins. It was Baldwin’s first win in SCORE Trophy-Truck. He finished second overall and second in SCORE Trophy-Truck last year in San Felipe.
Baldwin, who won last year’s season championship in SCORE Trophy-Truck without winning a single race, led a talented group of 21 starters in San Felipe and credited his BFG tires for much of his win as he was able to run the course without a single flat.
Finishing third overall and second in SCORE Trophy-Truck was Las Vegas’ brothers Tim and Ed Herbst in their Terrible Herbst Motorsports Ford F-150, 7:55 back of the McMillins in the hunt for the overall win and 3:39 behind Baldwin in SCORE Trophy-Truck.
Fourth overall and second in Class 1 was Chuck Hovey, Escondido, CA, with a time of 4:01:55 in a Jimco-Chevy.
Twenty-one seconds behind Hovey to finish fifth overall and third in Class 1 was the third Herbst brother, Troy in a Smithbuilt-Ford. This year’s finishes were a redemption of sorts as last year both Herbst vehicles did not finish for the first time in their illustrious desert racing careers.
In just their second race for KTM, Southern California racers Blais, Apple Valley/Andy Grider, Los Olivos, and last-minute substitute rider Cody, Buellton, rode a flawless race on a picture-perfect day on a stock KTM MXC525 to upset the highly favored Honda team.
Grider was riding his final section continuing to close the gap by less than 15 seconds when he finally caught Campbell and passed him when Campbell was on the side of the road replacing the front wheel on his Honda XR650R less than 10 miles from the finish. Campbell eventually finished second among the motorcycles, 12:40 behind the winning KTM team in 4:34:21. Hengeveld/Campbell had won this race together three straight times while KTM won a SCORE motorcycle race for the first time.
“This is an unbelievable to think we could come down here and upset the great Honda team of Hengeveld and Campbell,” said Blais, 24, after crossing the finish line to earn his first SCORE victory. “My second section was the last few miles and I couldn’t believe it when I saw our big orange KTM coming out of the dust first. Andy rode another great race and pinch hitter Cody did a super job coming done here on two days notice after our regular third rider Kellon Walch broke his leg while pre-running here on Tuesday.”
The race for the overall ATV win was the tightest of the day as the top three teams finished with 16 seconds of each other. Frederick won in 5:53:49, with Mike Cafro just five seconds back on a Yamaha YFZ450 and Nick Nelson third just another 11 seconds back on a Honda TRX450R.
Bekki Wik, the first lady of SCORE desert racing and the only female race to win two SCORE season class point championships (Class 1-2/1600) teamed with her husband Adam Wik, a prominent engine builder, to pull off her first victory in Class 10. Driving a Jimco-Honda, the Wiks powered past a field of 26 starters in the class for single or two-seat open-wheelers with up to 1650cc engines.
In Class 1-2/1600 which had 27 starters Las Vegas racers Rob MacCachren, Danny Anderson and Bryan Freeman teamed up in a Fraley-VW to earn a hard-fought victory margin of 6:16 over Caleb Gaddis, El Centro, CA, who drove a Curry-VW. It was MacCachren’s fifth class win in this race.
Apparel manufacturer Jim O’Neal, 58, of Chatsworth, CA, pulled off double class wins, capturing two age group motorcycle classes. Moving his career win total in San Felipe to six in five years, O’Neal and his teammates won both Class 40 (riders over 40 years old) and Class 50 (riders over 50). He rode Honda XR650R motorcycles in both classes.
Mexico’s Eric Fisher won Class 9 for he fifth time in a Garibay-VW while Donald Moss, Sacramento, CA, won Class 3 for the fourth straight year in a Ford Bronco. Moss also extended his SCORE win streak to 10 consecutive races.
Also picking up his fourth race win in San Felipe was veteran motorcycle race Tim Morton, Escondido, Calif, who won Class 21 on a Honda CPFX.
Winning for the second straight year were: Craig Turner, Yorba Linda, CA, (Class 7-Ford Ranger), Tom Brown, Phoenix, (Class 5-VW Baja Bug) and Rich Severson, Mesa, Ariz. (Class 7SX-Ford Ranger).
Winning in SCORE Lite, which had 24 starters, was Stan Potter, San Marcos, CA, in a Jimco-VW.
Three drivers remained undefeated in the 2005 SCORE Desert Series with their class wins in San Felipe: Fisher, Turner and Todd Wyllie, New River, Ariz. (Class 8-Chevy C1500).
Among the other class winners were: Tom Brown, Phoenix (Class 5, open VW Baja Bug), Ernesto Arambula, Ensenada, Mexico (Class 5/1600, 1600cc VW Baja Bug) and Billy Bunch, LaQuinta, CA (Stock Full-Ford F-150) and Gus Vildosola Jr., Mexicali, Mexico (Protruck-Toyota Tundra).
Corky McMillin was one of two septuagenarian drivers in San Felipe and both of them finished. The oldest driver of record was Ed McLean, Severna Park, Md., who will turn 79 on March 8, who finished fourth in Class 9.
A total of 159 of the 269 official starters finished within the 10-hour time limit in the race.
The SCORE Desert Series will return to Mexico for Round 3—the 37th Annual Tecate SCORE Baja 500, June -5 in Ensenada.
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