Andy McMillin Wins the 2014 General Tire Mint 400, Presented by Polaris
In spite of taking some time off from racing, one of the best young American off-road racers made a giant statement in beating a stacked field to win the 2014 General Tire Mint 400, Presented by Polaris, also known as “The Great American Off-Road Race.” McMillin filled in for Steve Sourapas in the #6 Corona Extra truck, and though he didn’t do any pre-running of the course, his conservative approach for the first of the four 100-mile laps proved exactly why he’s such an accomplished young racer—he’s wise beyond his years.
“That was a grueling race, really rough, technical and rocky,” McMillin said. “The track just deteriorated lap after lap. In the end it was just survival mode—you know, making sure you have no problems. But with all of the hype and media going into this race, me and my friends were talking about it, and we said ‘If you were ever going to win a race, this is the one that you would want to win.’”
And win he did. McMillin’s lack of pre-running just meant he needed to pace himself and not worry about posting the fastest laps early in the race. With so many trucks going down with mechanical issues, it’s clear that McMillin’s pace was the happy medium of pushing hard, but not too hard.
“With no pre-running it just becomes part of the strategy of keeping calm and running a conservative pace that first lap, learning the course, learning where all the bad holes are, where the rocky sections are, and where you can pick it up and go fast,” he said. “But it’s funny though because it seriously started changing every single lap, which is kind of like pre-running every single lap, which might have paid off because a lot of guys may have been pushing it harder than I was and they ended up having problems, so I think running conservative, running a steady pace I think it really paid off.”
For McMillin, who’s family has a rich history in the sport that spans multiple generations, the time away from racing recently was partially to focus on starting a family of his own. Fortunately for McMillin, his recent opportunities to drive without having to field his own race program has made it possible for him to race part-time.
“It really gets the itch going, and it really gets the fire going to go racing, racing in my own truck on my own team,” he said. “But showing up and racing in someone else’s truck and not having to come out of pocket for all of that cash is really nice. But I don’t know, we’ll just have to see where it takes us. I have a baby on the way coming in July, so that’s going to be a big step in my and my wife’s lives, so I don’t know. We’re just going to see how it goes, see what opportunities open up to us and just take it from there.”
Crossing the finish line in second physically was Gustavo Vildosola Jr., who managed to beat the odds and finish ear the front in spite of a number of issues during the race.
“We had a tough day today,” Vildosola said. “Every single lap, we had issues, and we’re just surprised to be here in second place. Obviously, it speaks to today’s attrition rate.”
The brutal 100-mile course offered up a great challenge for racers, with silt, jagged rocks, brutal whoops and a constantly changing list of hazards that challenged racers just as much as the competition. Fortunately for Vildosola, he was able to battle past the challengers to finish near the top. (We did receive word that Vildosola could be penalized for leaving a spare tire on the course, but BITD officials have yet to release official results.)
“We did some paint scrubbing with other cars, we went over some bushes… There was just a lot of things that went on today… some flat tires, and we had to take the hood off,” Vildosola said. “Midway through the second lap, the truck wouldn’t go. We were just starting to have issues. We couldn’t make it go over 45 mph. It just kept slowing down and down and down. We had an issue with one of the sensors in the engine. We pulled that, and we were good after that. No cataclysmic issues today, just little issues that kept us from pushing hard. Congratulations to Andy McMillin. He’s been hibernating, and he comes back and kicks all our asses. That’s a champion right there.”
More 2014 Mint 400
Pre-Race at the Mint 400
The third truck across the line was none other than action sports superstar Travis Pastrana, who tackled his first full unlimited truck race while still healing up from an ankle/foot injury.
“I’ve just got to thank Bryce Menzies and the guys,” he said. “These guys put together such an awesome car, and we didn’t get one flat all day long, so that’s a testament to the BFGs. I raced against all my heroes. We saw Robby Gordon out there. Unfortunately, he had some trouble. Rick Johnson, a guy that I have idolized my whole life, a moto guy, was out there. And obviously, Bryce Menzies. He passed me, like, four times today, after every time he got a flat tire. I’m so pumped for the McMillins. They kind of took me under their wing and kept people from trying to kill me most of the time when we were pre-running down in Baja. But this was my first [Trick] Truck race and a top-five [finish].”