Bryce Menzies Wins the 2013 Mint 400
The glitz, the glamour, the dirt, the grime and silt mixed with oil and gasoline… it’s the 2013 Mint 400.
From the beginning, it would be a race for the record books, as top qualifier Rob MacCachren had trouble early on with a bent driveshaft giving way to BJ Baldwin who would lead most of lap one, followed by Bryce Menzies, Jesse Jones, Mark Weyhrich, Jason Voss and TJ Flores. But the lead would change several times before the day was done.
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Baldwin’s luck went south when he acquired a penalty for passing too close to a checkpoint, and then a short series problems put him further out of contention and beyond the reach of the win, so he decided to pull out of the race.
“I would’ve loved to have won this again,” Baldwin said. “I had a good first lap, I was running from Bryce and got past Rob to be first on the road. I was a little too aggressive and got two flats. When I pulled into the pit to change the front we had a wheel not fit right and lock up the tire and it took a while to get it fixed.
“Then we learned of the penalty, I just got super mad and started driving like an angry teenager with stellar car control,” Baldwin said jokingly. “I broke a rim slamming into a berm and had to get towed off course. We DNF'd but we still had fun. Not in the points hunt for BITD so we don't care much.”
With Baldwin out of the way Menzies still had a battle on his hands with Jones and Weyhrich hot on his tail. Pit strategy played a part in the race when Jones decided to skip a pit for a chance at some clean air to put some distance on Menzies on lap three, but the Nevada desert played its role serving up a flat on Jones that allowed Menzies to get back by him. From there on Menzies would hold the lead to the finish and win by nearly 10 minutes over second-place finisher Mark Weyhrich.
“Wow this feels amazing!” said Menzies at the finish. “Man, what a brutal course. This was by far the roughest race I’ve ever run in my life. We had problems all day long with a flat on lap one, the engine started to sputter a bit on lap three, and then on lap four with about 30 miles to go, but we’re here, we made it and we won! I can’t say enough about my crew and our partners. Thank you for everything.”
Weyrich also echoed the sentiment that it was a wild day on the course.
“It was really crazy out there,” Weyhrich said at the finish. “We were all nose to tail for most of the race battling back and forth. This is truly the greatest desert race in the United States. I’ve got to take my hat off to the Martelli brothers; they really brought it back to what it was back in the day when I was a kid and one of the reasons why I love off-road racing today.”
Top qualifier Rob MacCachren had a hell of a day starting first but finishing in the third spot on the podium.
“We had a rough day out there. We dented a driveshaft right near the start which put us down maybe 15 spots,” he said. “From there we just had to fight our way back through. We took a lot of chances, which caused a couple of flat tires. These guys we’re running against are fast and you really have to have a problem-free day to win. I have to say congrats to Bryce on a well-deserved win.”
Veteran off-road racer Chuck Hovey broke a long streak of bad luck by taking the Class 1500 win at this year’s Mint.
“Man, what a day out there. It was so rough I feel like I just raced the Baja 1000 solo,” Hovey said. “You really had to be in your toes just not to crash. The holes and silt just became huge, bigger and bigger after each lap – it was crazy. It was a great day though. It’s been so long since I won a race. I’m super happy!”
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The Mint has a long history of being one of the toughest races in the United States and this year wasn’t any different. Four laps around 100 miles of Nevada desert is no small feat, and any driver who raced this one will attest to that.
2013 Mint 400 Results
1. Bryce Menzies
2. Mark Weyhrich
3. Rob MacCachren
4. Jason Voss
5. Steve Oliges
1. Chuck Hovey
2. Harley Letner
3. Jon Walker
4. Justin Lofton
5. Damen Jefferies
1. Jason Ruane
2. Jerry Whelchel
3. Carlos Apdaly Lopez
1. Chip Prescott
2. Cody Reid
3. Greg Parker
4. Richard Kudrna Jr.
5. Karl Scanlan
1. Al Hogan
2. Steve LaRoza
3. Keith Basso
4. Sean Backus
1. Cole Fielding