Bryce Menzies Wins the 2011 Tecate SCORE Baja 500
Bryce Menzies is proving he’s a force to be reckoned with in desert racing. After kickstarting the year with a win at the SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge, he finished a respectable sixth place to stay in the hunt for the overall championship at the San Felipe 250. He further put an exclamation point on the season by earning his second win of the season with his victory at the 43rd Tecate SCORE Baja 500.
Menzies’ win, in some ways, is a coming out party of sorts. It proves he’s not just a good driver in short-course racing, and it proves his performances in other 2011 SCORE races were no fluke. Bryce Menzies has arrived, and he credits it to plenty of practice and a smart, patient approach.
“We just took it easy to mile 120 and then we got split times,” Menzies said. “The crew did an awesome job. Every time I was in the pit it was less than 30, 40 seconds. When I got up to Borrego I made a mistake and hit a huge rock, and we thought we broke a caliper off the truck and we stopped and checked it out, and it was good so we just kept going.
Menzies was able avoid one issue, but he started to have another problem near the finish line while leading the race.
“The rear end started feeling like it was going so we just slowed it down,” he said. “They said we had 8 to 10 minutes on Andy and Tim, and we just wanted to make it here to the finish and we just limped in. Our goal is to win the championship this year. So, if we won this one that’s a huge jump in the points.”
With the release of SCORE’s official results for the 2011 Baja 500, a few drivers switched places from what we first reported from Ensenada.
Moving into second place is Rob MacCachren, who started the race as the ninth Trophy Truck off the line but was able move up and stay in the hunt despite having some mechanical issues during the race.
“Something was going on with the transmission, locking up it was real tight – transmission or torque converter, I’m not sure which one,” he said.
The tight course also made it tough to pass during the race, and MacCachren echoed the sentiments of other racers that getting past vehicles was one of the biggest challenges of the race.
“But just really the traffic again,” MacCachren said of issues during the race. “We got stuck behind Weyrich and Householder and Vanderwey, and I got by them all on the dry lake when they pitted, and then going up heading up through San Matias I got a flat, and three of them got back by me, and it took me all the way until Ojos to get the last one back and it was killing me.”
Also moving up in the final results is last year’s SCORE Baja 500 winner Andy McMillin, who raced this year solo after winning the event with his father, Scott, last year. McMillin crossed the line ahead of MacCachren, but on corrected time MacCachren finished 2 seconds faster than McMillin. McMillin was in the hunt for most of the race, but a flat tire cost him a few minutes that he was unable to make up.
“It happens, it’s racing, I had a flat tire and that’s what cost us today,” he said. “But I don’t think I would’ve caught Bryce anyway; he was running a really really awesome race today.”
Finishing in sixth place overall among four-wheel vehicles was the team of Nick Vanderwey, Curt LeDuc and Larry Vanderwey, who split up driving time equally among the three.
“These days everyone has great equipment, everyone drives well, and nobody breaks,” Nick Vanderwey said after the race. “It was a freight train out there.”
Moving into fifth place overall and in Trophy Truck is was Gary Weyrich and Mark Weyrich.
“We were catching Rob and Nick and then our motor started cutting gout on the coast,” Gary said. “We barely got it in here. It could’ve died on us a couple of times.”
The team of Tim Herbst and Larry Roeseler was third off the line this morning and was the second truck across the line. It appeared they earned a second-place podium finish, but SCORE officials levied penalties that pushed them back to sixth overall. Roeseler took the truck off the line until about race mile 270. He gave the truck to Herbst ahead of the second truck off the line driven by Andy McMillin, and Herbst was able to maintain that lead all the way to the finish.
“Really didn’t have too many problems; we ran pretty solid today,” Herbst said. “It’s always good to be back here. Larry did a great job this morning. He was sitting in dust for a while, but he gave us the truck [with the lead] and we stayed right there. We knew Andy was there. This young guy was right behind us.”
Rick D. Johnson moved up in the final results in Trophy Truck as well after official review, finishing in seventh in the Trophy Truck class.
Robby Gordon came from 27th place and appeared to finish fifth overall in Ensenada, but after SCORE tracking data was reviewed he moved back to eighth in Trophy Truck, 10th overall among trucks and buggies. Gordon felt there was no way he could make up the ground in a Trophy Truck – so he brought out his Dakar Hummer (with its massive fuel tank) with the idea of avoiding having to refuel, but he still felt that drawing so far in the back is just too big a disadvantage.
“That’s the reality of the Trophy Trucks today, you don’t pass anybody,” Gordon said. “Even a small car causes so much dust that you can’t pass. I don’t mean to complain. I’m not complaining, it’s just the system has to be fixed.”
So the question was asked: How do you fix it?
“Qualify on Friday,” Gordon said. “Real simple. Let the fastest guys start up front. Or race to Ojos Negros and reline them up there.”
In class 1, it was Justin Davis that was the first car in class across the finish line, but Adam Pfankuch and Steven Eugenio earned the win on corrected time, besting Davis by 3 minutes and 28 seconds.
“Getting a win always makes everything better,” Eugenio said. “I ran from the start until about [mile] 300, and I had a corrected time lead at about 100, just a little one, and I got to the bottom of the desert and the overheat override kicked in and it slowed us down. We probably lost about 20 minutes from there to Borrego, and I made half of it back up, and then Adam got in at 300 – what can I say, my partner is awesome.”
Davis, who won the first two races of the seasons in Class 1, was just looking to finish today. A racer is a racer, and it’s never easy to swallow second place in class, but the team’s focus was on having a solid finish to maintain a strong lead on the championship point race.
“We just cruised around and made it to the finish – it’s all we wanted to do today,” Davis said. “The only problem was that our spare tire fell out the back – that’s about it.”
Jesse James has two back-to-back top 10 finishes in Trophy Truck after the SCORE Baja 500, as he finished ninth in class, edging out Jesse Ashcraft who finished 10th. James was greeted by a crowd of cheers (and a hug and kiss from girlfriend Kat Von D).
“Yeah, my co-driver is awesome, and the truck, my Geiser truck is just so fun to drive,” James said. “The last, like, 50 or 100 miles is like I was riding my bicycle when I was 8. It was awesome.
After finishing in eighth place at the SCORE San Felipe 250, James is starting to string together some solid performances in Trophy Truck, something he owes to his equipment and his new mental approach.
“I just try not to overdrive and be stupid, and I try to do breathing exercises whenever I can,” he said. “I just try to stay calm because I’ve already proven that I can drive until I wreck, so I’m trying to do it a different way.”
Other 2011 Baja 500 Coverage:
Bike Change: Kendall Norman, Quinn Cody Win Motorcycle Overall
2011 Tecate SCORE Baja 500 Photo Gallery
First 3 Trophy Truck Teams Off Line Talk Strategy
SCORE released the official finishers of the Tecate SCORE Baja 500 (see more here).
Here's he top 20 overall finishers in trucks and buggies:
1. Bryce Menzies, Las Vegas, Ford F-150, 9:04:52 (49.87 mph average)
2. Rob MacCachren, Las Vegas, Ford F-150, 9:17:25 (48.74 mph)
3. Andy McMillin/Scott McMillin, National City, Calif., Ford F-150, 9:18:01 (48.69 mph)
4. Nick Vanderwey, Phoenix/Curt LeDuc, Cherry Valley, Calif./Larry Vanderwey, Litchfield Park, Ariz., Chevy Silverado, 9:25:09 (48.08 mph)
5. Gary Weyhrich/Mark Weyhrich, Troutdale, Ore., Ford F-150, 9:26:59 (47.92 mph)
6. Tim Herbst, Las Vegas/Larry Roeseler, Boulevard, Calif., Ford F-150, 9:27:23 (47.89 mph)
7. Steven Eugenio, Alpine, Calif./Adam Pfankuch, Oceanside, Calif., Jimco-Chevy, 9:48:33 (46.17 mph)
8. Justin Davis, Chino Hills, Calif., ESM-Chevy, 9:51:31 (45.93 mph)
9. Rick D. Johnson/Brian Sallee, Barstow, Calif., Ford F-150, 10:16:24 (44.08 mph)
10. Robby Gordon, Charlotte, N.C., Hummer H3, 10:19:45 (43.84 mph)
11. Damen Jefferies, Apple Valley, Calif., Jefferies-Chevy, 10:23:49 (43.56 mph)
12. Brent Lenk, Newport Beach, Calif./Dale Lenk, Costa Mesa, Calif./Grant Lenk, Newport Beach, Calif., Penhall-Chevy, 10:27:41 (43.29 mph)
13. Jesse James, Austin, Texas, Chevy Silverado, 10:28:41 (43.22 mph)
14. Mike Childress, Wrightwood, Calif., Porter-Chevy, 10:33:56 (42.86 mph)
15. Jesse Ashcraft, San Marcos, Calif./Adam Ashcraft, Oceanside, Calif., Ford F-150, 10:36:27 (42.69 mph)
16. Randy Wilson, Lakewood, Calif./Jeff Quinn, Anaheim, Calif., Jimco-Chevy, 10:40:03 (42.45 mph)
17. Daniel McMillin, El Cajon, Calif./Chuck Hovey, Escondido, Calif., Jimco-Chevy, 10:57:39 (41.31 mph)
18. Robbie Pierce, Santee, Calif., Ford F-150, 11:04:47 (40.87 mph)
19. Gus Vildosola Jr. /Gus Vildosola Sr., Mexicali, Mexico, Ford F-150, 11:09:08 (40.61 mph)
20. Dan Myers, Costa Mesa, Calif., Porter-Chevy, 11:15:35 (40.22 mph)