Starting first as the fast qualifier for the race, Las Vegas’ champion desert racer was never looked back as he roared through the Baja desert to defeat a voluminous 269 starters in Saturday’s BFGoodrich Tires 34th SCORE San Felipe 250.
Menzies, 33, races around the world in various rally races, powered his No. 7 Mason-built all-wheel drive Ford Raptor to lead the third-largest number of entries in race history to an awesome error-free, penalty-free winning time of four hours, 28 minutes and one second over the sun-drenched, rock-filled, silt-strewn 280.20 miles for an unbelievable 62.73 miles per hour.
Under sunny skies and warm temperatures in the low 80s Fahrenheit, Menzies, 33, had plenty of competition behind him in a field of 35 of the marquee SCORE Trophy Trucks and 269 total starters—tying 2005 as the third-highest overall total of starters in the 34-year history of this race. In front of him was what finishers call “the most brutal course ever” in this race.
The popular ‘Spring Break’ season-opener of the four-race 2021 SCORE World Desert Championship was held in San Felipe, the peaceful village on the Sea of Cortez in Baja California, Mexico, 125 miles south of the U.S. Border at Calexico, Calif.
Chasing Menzies’ dust closely to the finish line were San Diego’s Luke McMillin and his cousin Andy McMillin, also from San Diego.
After roaring and rocking around the desert for over four hours, Luke McMillin, 28, finished second, just 15.54 seconds behind the winning Menzies in 4:28:16, averaging an impressive 62.67 miles per hour in his sturdy No. 1 Big Blue M McMillin Racing Racer-built Ford F-150 that he has driven for just over seven years. Luke McMillin is the defending SCORE Trophy Truck season point champion.
Finishing third overall and in SCORE Trophy Truck was Andy McMillin, the 2019 SCORE Trophy Truck season champ who also won the SCORE San Felipe 250 that same year, in his No. 31 Big Blue M McMillin Racing Mason-built all-wheel drive Chevy 1500 in 4:35:17 with an average speed of 61.07mph.
This race had six SCORE Trophy Truck racers with average speeds of over 60mph, the most in race history.
The 2011 SCORE overall point champion and the 2011 SCORE Rookie of the Year, Menzies returned to Baja to earn his first race win in San Felipe and his sixth career SCORE Trophy Truck race win. He was the leader from start to finish with clean air favoring his push to the finish.
With the actual courses changing each year, Menzies’ phenomenal average speed (62.73mph) is second only to Mexico’s Tavo Vildosola’s 63.77mph in 2015 in the history of the SCORE San Felipe 250.
MORE DIRT TRAX
This spectacular event returned after a one-year absence because of the COVID-19 pandemic with a total of 269 starters raced in Pro and Sportsman classes for cars, trucks UTVs, motorcycles and quads in 51 classes. Entries came from 27 U.S. States, along with host Mexico, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Finland, Netherlands, New Zealand and Peru.
The rugged race route officially closed early Sunday morning on the grounds of the luxurious El Dorado Ranch with no spectators allowed because of the worldwide health pandemic. Large crowds of spectators were spread throughout the race course watching one of the most spectacular events held in all of Mexico.
Following complete data tracking review, results were made official early Sunday morning.
Besides the significant 269 starters, there were an amazing 194 official finishers for an astonishing all-time SCORE-record finishing rate of 72.12 percent.
Domestically, the race will be televised on a delayed basis on the World of X Games show on the ESPN2 as co-produced by SCORE International and award-winning BCII TV of Los Angeles. First air-date is scheduled for May 30. It will also be syndicated internationally in nearly 25 countries.
All four 2021 SCORE races will be held on Mexico’s magnificent Baja California peninsula for the sixth consecutive year.
Helping mark the launch of 48th year of SCORE International, the World’s Foremost Desert Racing Organization, was the featured SCORE Trophy Truck division with a total of 35 of these ‘Monsters of the Desert’ starting the race. Created by SCORE and started in 1994 by then SCORE-owner Sal Fish, SCORE Trophy Truck is the featured SCORE racing division for high-tech, 950-horsepower unlimited custom trucks.
MENZIES MIKE TIME
Enjoying the fruit of his labor, Menzies experienced comments at the finish line summed it all up. He said, “We qualified P1 and started out front. It’s tough leading the whole race with those guys chasing you down. About race mile sixty, Andy (McMillin) flatted which let Luke (McMillin) by, and he made up that minute gap in between so the whole race he was only thirty seconds back, so I was pushing as hard as I could towards the finish.”
“When I turned the corner on that last bit, it was really rough and I pushed as hard as I could, and turning that last corner they said I had twelve seconds on Luke. To think that 280 miles and we were only separated by 12 seconds. Unbelievable race. The truck ran flawless. This course was the funnest race course I have ever been on in San Felipe – all the washes were amazing, so many spectators out there, I’m just so glad to be back in a SCORE Baja race. We are running for a championship this year so it should be lots of fun.”
OVERALL MOTORCYCLE WINNER
Riding solo on the fastest motorcycle class in the race, Derek Ausserbauer, 27, of Santa Ynez, Calif. became just the fourth motorcycle rider in race history to win the top Pro Moto Unlimited class in race history. Ausserbauer, a veteran rider who has been on other prominent teams over the years as a co-rider, pulled off the victory in a SCORE race for the first time as a rider of record.
Ausserbauer blasted his way through the unforgiving desert in a time of 6:06.28 with an average speed of 45.89 miles per hour.
Ausserbauer joins the elite group of solo overall motorcycle winners in this race of Bob Balentine (1982), Jack Johnson (1983) and Tim Staab (1997).
M/C WINNER QUOTES
“The course was really fun,” shared Ausserbauer. “The layout was bitchin. It was traditional San Felipe of pounding huge whoops and taking a gnarly beating, there was a lot of sand washes. There were really gnarly rocks but the majority of it was fun and flowing. Then we crossed over the mountains and crossed the dry lakes. We Just kept it steady so we could get our first SCORE race win.”
SCORE Trophy Trucks have now won 24 overalls in San Felipe in the 27 years that this class has been part of this race. In this year’s race, SCORE Trophy Trucks captured the top 13 overall finishing positions.
In 34 years of this race, Honda has now earned 23 overall motorcycle victories (including 21 in the last 24 San Felipe races).
Among tire manufacturers, Toyo, courtesy of Menzies, won their second overall in race history. Leading these manufacturers is BFGoodrich Tires with 28 wins in 34 years.
In the overall pro 4wheel vehicles, Ford has now earned 18 wins and in overall engine winners, Ford also has 18 victories.
UTV OVERALL WINNERS
Combining a former champion with a SCORE rookie, Brandon Schueler and Caden MacCachren beat 63 UTVs in four different classes including a SCORE-record 33 in their Pro UTV FI (Forced Induction) class.
Schueler, 32, Phoenix and MacCachren, 19, of Las Vegas split the driving in their No. 2919 Polaris RZR XP4 Turbo in a winning time of 6:17:46.
Caden MacCachren, who was making his first start in a SCORE race is the son of legendary Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Famer Rob MacCachren who finished sixth in SCORE Trophy Truck in this race.
MORE UTV RESULTS
Winning the Pro UTV NA (Naturally Aspirated) class that had 12 starters for the third consecutive San Felipe race was the first lady of SCORE racers, Kristin Matlock, 40, of Alpine, Calif. Matlock, whose champion husband Wayne Matlock finished in fourth place out of seven starters in the Pro UTV Open class, won her class driving solo once again in her No. 1954 Polaris RZR XP4 1000.
Atop the Pro UTV Stock class was Mike Cafro, 51, of Fallbrook, Calif. in his No. 3955 Polaris Turbo S. Cafro, a veteran SCORE race champion in different classes, actually raced in two classes, finishing fifth out of 33 starters in the mammoth Pro UTV FI class in his No. 2975 Polaris Turbo S sharing driving duties with teammate Jamie Kirkpatrick, 39, Olympia, Wash.
Also driving with Cafro in this race in his winning effort in the Pro UTV Stock class was Adan Ibarra, 40, of Ensenada, Mexico.
Capturing the checkered flag over seven starters in Pro UTV Open was Justin Elenburg, 43, Mesa, Ariz. In his No. 1870 Can-Am X3.
TOP 11 SCORE TROPHY TRUCKS
Besides Menzies, Luke McMillin and Andy McMillin, the rest of the top 11 SCORE Trophy Truck finishers, who were also the top 11 overall finishers in the race, started with fourth place finishers Mexico brothers Alan and Aaron Ampudia who had a time of 4:36.56 in their No. 10 Papas Y Beer Racing Ford Raptor. The Ampudia brothers won the 2019 SCORE Baja 1000.
Fifth was 16-year-old rookie Jax Redline, Amarillo, Texas, who finished his first SCORE race in a time of 4:37.05 in his No. 22 Chevy R-2.
Finishing sixth overall and in SCORE Trophy Truck was six-time SCORE San Felipe 250 overall winner Rob MacCachren of Las Vegas in 4:39.00 in his No. 11 BFGoodrich Tires Ford F-150.
Another Las Vegan, Tim Herbst and his second driver also of Las Vegas Pat Dean, finished seventh overall in 4:41.09 in their No. 19 Monster Energy Ford F-150 while eighth was John T. Lennon, of Cleveland, with a time 4:43.39 in his No. 73 Ford Raptor.
Mexico’s three-time SCORE San Felipe 250 overall champion Tavo Vildosola ended up ninth in 4:46.06 in his No. 21 Mexicana Logistics Ford Raptor and 10th was Las Vegas’ Steve Olliges driving his No. 51 Ford Raptor in a time of 4:53.48.
Completing the top 11 overall and top 11 finishers in SCORE Trophy Truck was iconic Hall of Famer Larry Roeseler, Boulevard, Calif. with a finishing time of 5:03.45 in his No. 43 Baja Jerky Toyota Tundra.
MOTHER & SON REUNION
Racing in separate classes for a number of years, winning the unlimited Class 1 in their new No. 168 Alumi Craft Chevy was Shelby Reid, 53, and Cody Reid, 28, both of Apple Valley, Calif.
Both former SCORE season class point champions, Cody Reid started the race, driving to race mile 158 where Shelby took over and drove virtually half of the race to the finish.
Shelby Reid reflected at the finish line, “We had no problems. Brand new car, very first race, we had nothing go wrong. We did have some GPS problems, but nothing with the car. But my air conditioning froze up, which sucked. It was a perfect race. You couldn’t ask for anything better. We don’t have a lot of seat time in it, it is an all-wheel drive vehicle built by Alumi Craft and I’ve never driven an all-wheel drive before, so it took a little bit, but then we got in our groove.”
OTRO MAS, POR FAVOR….
Leading the gregarious group of 77 racers with at least one class win in this race entered this year was Jim O’Neal (Pro Moto 50) who extended his SCORE race-high class wins to 19 (age group motorcycle) wins–all in the last 23 years. O’Neal, who has raced in all 34 SCORE San Felipe 250 races also has 38 starts out of 52 years in the SCORE Baja 500 and 39 starts out of 53 years in the SCORE Baja 1000.
This year O’Neal was one of the riders on Giovanni Spinali’s winning team in Pro Moto 50. Spinali now has earned five class wins in this race as a rider of record.
MORE CLASS WINNERS
Among the other 4-wheel vehicle class winners were Rolf Helland, Morris, Ill./Rick D. Johnson, Barstow, Calif. (SCORE TT Legend-Drivers over 50, No. 37L Ford Raptor), Jason Coleman, Huntington Beach, Calif. (Trophy Truck Spec, No. 292 Herbst/Smith-Chevy) and Chase Warren, Phoenix (Class 10, No. 292 Alumi Craft-Chevy).
Other 4-Wheel victors included Jeff Proctor, Glendora, Calif. (Class 7, Honda Ridgeline), Scott Wisdom, Lake Forest, Calif. (SCORE Lites, No. 1221 Raceco-VW, Greg Sullivan, Helena, Mont. (Class 5, No. 508 Penhall-Chevy), Tim Spurgeon, Danville, Calif. (Baja Challenge, No. BC2 BTC-Subaru) and Luis Fernando Garcia, Mexicali, Mexico (Class 11, No. 1100 VW Sedan).
Among the other motorcycle winners besides Ausserbauer and Spinali was San Diego’s Edgar Cota, a motocross camp instructor, defeated nines starters in Pro Moto Ironman (solo riders) for his first SCORE victory. He rode the No. 723x Gas Gas EX450, a Spanish motorcycle making its SCORE Baja race debut.
Other moto class winners included, a pair of former SCORE Class point champions, Jano Montoya and Ryan Liebelt. Montoya, who lives in Winter Garden but is originally from Peru, led his Class 30 winners in his No. 325x KTM 450EXCF while Liebelt, Reedley, Calif., led his Class 40 team to victory on the No. 408x Yamaha WR450F.
In a touching tribute to their father and husband Pete Sohren, siblings Farrah Sohren/Van Sohren/Paige Sohren split the driving while sister Blair Sohren and mom Cami were navigators to the Class 3000 victory driving the No. 3022 Pistol Pete Baja Lite-Chevy.
The family represented the deceased Sohren as the Grand Marshal for the event. Sohren died tragically in San Felipe in January of 2019 in a non-race related accident while driving a UTV on the sand dunes south of downtown.
SCORE President/Race Director Jose A. Grijalva put together another memorable race course to challenge the world’s best desert racers
Starting and finishing without spectators in the s/f compound because of Health and Safety protocols on the grounds of the El Dorado Ranch the race was 280.2 miles, ran in a clockwise direction with two physical full stop checkpoints, 82 virtual checkpoints and just four speed zones for a total of 9.3 miles.
This course also ran through five of the glorious infamous Baja washes in this order: Azufre, Huatamote, Chanate, Amarillas and Las Cuevitas.
With several new sections, the entire race course ran south of Highway 3 for the first time in several years.
All Sportsman classes, Class 7SX, Baja Challenge, Class 11 and the Baja-e raced on a shortened course of 242.88 miles.
Round 2 of the four-race 2021 SCORE World Desert Championship will be the BFGoodrich Tires 53rd SCORE Baja 500, presented by 4Wheel Parts. It will be held in Ensenada, Mexico from June 9-13.
For more information regarding SCORE, visit the official website of the SCORE World Desert Championship at www.SCORE-International.com.