McMillin Wins SCORE Imperial Valley 250
Not since the famed Fireworks 250 has SCORE put on an event in California, and now almost 20 years later SCORE returns with the Imperial Valley 250.
For the second time this year, race morning was met with extreme weather conditions. This time, gale-force winds would tear its way across the California desert to almost whiteout conditions at some points throughout the day. Visibility was very limited, but this is off-road racing and there is nearly never a weather delay, so it was time to race!
It wouldn't be a California race without a California boy taking home the overall win. Andy McMillin literally grew up in the area and actually won his first pro race in Imperial Valley at the ripe old age of 15. McMillin didn't disappoint and would battle it out to take home the overall win for the inaugural race in his backyard.
“It was a lot of fun out there today and SCORE put on a great Inaugural SCORE Imperial Valley 250,” he said. “I was pumped to get on top of the podium and I've got thank Rob MacCachren for giving me the keys to his truck for the weekend. It means a lot to have a guy who is so good at desert racing and such a legend to have the trust and faith in me to race his truck for him.
McMillin is referring to the fact that MacCachren had a scheduling conflict and was racing at the Lucas Oil Off-Road races at Lake Elsinore, so McMillin was entrusted with truck for the SCORE race, and he clearly put it to good use.
“Rob’s truck ran flawlessly all day and never had any issues really,” McMillin said. “This truck is similar to mine and it is set up really good for this race. Normally when I test my truck out here it runs well and then I take it down to Mexico and it runs like shit. This one worked well in qualifying and it worked well in the race. It means a lot to win this race in my own backyard. Being familiar with the terrain and the course really helped. I had a really great battle with the #7 Steven Eugenio going on until he had fuel issues. It was fun and very challenging course. It was really fast and it had some silt and really deep holes. A great time.”
The overall bike winner for the day would be the team of team of Ian Young and Mark Samuels on the 1x Honda, who were in a heated battle with the 4x Kawasaki of Ricky Brabec and Max Eddy Jr. Young was filling in for his brother Colton Udall, who broke his leg in another event just the weekend before.
"The wind was really gnarly,” Young said. “At times I couldn't even keep my head up and had to put my visor all the way down just so I could get a break. There were crosswinds, side winds, headwinds and tailwinds. It was gale-force coming from behind. It was fun times, though.
Young was happy with his team’s finish, but he also credited the Kawi team of Brabec and Eddy Jr. for giving them a tough battle.
“The Kawasaki team and I had a really cool battle through the infield and then Ricky Brabec and I were probably going 50 through the whoops near Evan Hewes Highway,” Young said.” We were fifth-gear pinned going back and forth. I was a really fun 250-mile race, and I have a lot of respect for what Roger (Norman) is doing."
The combined effort between SCORE and local businesses and community leaders came together to bring top-level racing to over 30,000 spectators in a safe manner that many naysayers said couldn't be done in the area.
"At long last, we brought big-time off-road racing to the Imperial Valley, and the Valley responded by proving to the off-road [industry] that we truly are a major-league off-road venue,” said Bob Ham, who is on the Imperial Valley Off-Road committee who helped coordinate and plan the event. “This entire community got behind this from the Chambers of Commerce to the businesses and the government entities. We have always known that Imperial Valley is the off-road capital of the world, and now the rest of the world knows it too!”
SCORE President and CEO Roger Norman was very pleased with the event, but he notes that SCORE did not do it alone.
“SCORE had a superb first race in the Imperial Valley area, but we could not have done it without the major assistance of the Imperial Valley area, from government and policy agencies to hundreds of volunteers who embraced this major event in a huge way,” Norman said. “The sandstorm literally contributed to some timing challenges and technical difficulties, but fortunately we have the data loggers in each race vehicle that will assist us in producing complete and final race results.”
Norman said the race presented challenges due to the weather, but the race was a great success thanks to locals.
“All of us with SCORE are extremely grateful and thankful for all of the assistance that the dedicated people of Imperial Valley gave to us not just for race day but for the last two years in putting this race all together,” Norman said. “We look forward to returning here in future years to help create a lasting legacy for SCORE desert racing in the Imperial Valley.”
Despite the harsh weather once again, SCORE deemed the event a success and now shifts it focus to the 46th running of the Baja 500 and has promised once again to outdo the last. We will see what SCORE has in store this time around.
Due to SCORE officials still sifting through the official finishing spots, complete results were a bit delayed, but the information on full results can be found here.