McMillins Win 2011 Baja 1000, Menzies Earns Championship [Video]
Every Baja 1000 produces thousands of stories. With all the storylines that develop during just one Baja 1000, it’s hard to imagine something new can still surprise racers and SCORE officials. But even after the event’s 44-year history, somehow Baja managed to produce yet another first.
As if the 705-mile course wouldn’t be tough enough, the start of 2011 Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 for the four-wheel trucks and buggies was delayed by a car accident – and not a race vehicle. Only 13 Trophy Trucks were able to leave the line, and they soon found themselves stuck only a few miles into the race after a semi-truck jackknifed and blocked the course. SCORE officials stopped the rest of the field from starting while they scrambled to come up with a fair way to make the situation work.
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After weighing the options, SCORE’s Sal Fish hopped in his VW Touareg and taxied the remaining Trophy Truck drivers from the starting line out to where the other trucks were stopped and restarted the field from there. When the racing finally got going again the action was intense. For nearly the whole race the lead changed over and over, as pit strategies and truck wear and tear took its toll. When the dust settled, the father-son team of Scott and Andy McMillin earned another victory for the McMillin racing heritage with the overall four-wheel win at the 2011 SCORE Baja 1000. But with three Trophy Trucks within a few minutes of each other, the McMillins had their work cut out for them.
“I was just feeling it this morning off the start line and even on the restart,” Andy said at the finish line. “There was a semi-truck that jack-knifed the middle of the course, so you leave the start line and get to mile six, get all of the butterflies out and then there was a restart out there. Everyone was 30 seconds apart again. It was really intense; the dust was heavy off the start.
“It was just an amazing day and an amazing run. It’s Baja. It’s so magical and so mysterious; you have no idea what’s going to happen. To be able to win this race three times now is just a dream come true.”
The win for McMillin also marks BFGoodrich Tire’s 25th Baja 1000 victory. It’s also the 35th year the McMillin family has competed in the Baja 1000.
“It was just so exciting, so intense,” Andy said. “I’ve never had a race that intense, let alone the Baja 1000. I mean, maybe a shorter race you’ll be that close to people. But to finish the Baja 1000 and be within three or four minutes of the top trucks is unbelievable.”
Finishing physically in first but second on corrected time was the team of Nick Vanderwey, Larry Vanderwey and Curt LeDuc. The team is the first Trophy Truck to run BFGoodrich’s new 42-inch Baja T/A tire, hoping the added rubber would help soak up the rocks and ruts of the rough Baja course.
“We’re doing BFGs on 20-inch trail-rated wheels,” Nick explained of the setup. “It was intense racing. We just hit so many rocks it was unbelievable what these tires will take."
In the end, Nick credited the victory to his brother – and not his brother Larry who shared driving duties, or his brother Mike that does most of the co-driving for the team.
“This win I think goes to my brother John, the crew chief, the only brother that doesn’t get in the truck … I think he put a great pitting plan together and I think that’s what got us in front.”
Bryce Menzies (above with team) was vying for a Baja 1000 win but he was also looking for a championship in his first full SCORE season. His biggest threat to the SCORE Trophy Truck Championship probably came from Rob MacCachren, one of the young racer’s key mentors. MacCachren was in contention for much of the race, but Menzies was able to pull away and run in the top three (and even hold the lead at one point).
“Our gameplan going into the race was, we always want to go win the race,” Menzies said. “The Baja 1000, my first Baja 1000, and going out starting fourth ... Rob was starting ninth, and we knew we needed to stay out in front of him. My gameplan was to make it halfway through San Felipe and push it from there. We got halfway through San Felipe and we had a 7-minute lead all the way up to mile 390 or something, and we had a wheel come loose because the jack broke and they couldn’t get the wheel on all the way.
“We saw Andy [McMillin] and [Nick] Vanderwey go by and we heard on the radio that Rob was 37 minutes down, so we knew we just had to take it in from there, so I drove it all the way to 450 and put Ricky Johnson in the truck and he took it from there. Awesome year, we want to win, but we’re going to come back next year with that number one plate and try to win the Baja 1000 next year.”
With racers still pouring in, there will be plenty more stories to report. For a list of unofficial results, click here. Be sure to check back with Off-Road.com for more on the 2011 SCORE Baja 1000.
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