Combining the enthusiasm and rare talent of youth with the experience and wisdom of a Hall of Famer, Luke McMillin joined forces with Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Famer Larry Roeseler to etch their names afresh in the lasting legacy of the BFGoodrich Tires 53rd SCORE Baja 1000, presented by 4 Wheel Parts Sunday, capturing the overall and SCORE Trophy Truck victory in the iconic Granddaddy of All Desert Races. The pair defeated a field of 185 starters as well as outlasting the viciously rugged 898.40-mile race course that was the longest in the history of SCORE long loop races.
A third-generation desert racer from San Diego, Luke McMillin, 27, and veteran ‘Mr. Baja’ Roeseler, 63, of Boulevard, California worked through the pack of lead SCORE Trophy Trucks that included his brother Daniel McMillin, brothers Alan and Aaron Ampudia of Mexico and all-time winningest SCORE Trophy Truck driver Rob MacCachren to earn the victory. McMillin/Roeseler drove their No. 83 Mark Racing Racer-built Ford F-150 SCORE Trophy Truck to a penalty-free winning time of 19 hours, 10 minutes and 25 seconds with an average speed of 46.86 miles per hour on the bone-bruising course.
Luke’s brother Daniel, who won this year’s SCORE Baja 500 fell out of the race over halfway because of mechanical issues. Mexico’s Ampudia brothers, who won last year’s SCORE Baja 1000, slowed enough by a flat tire midway through the grueling race and MacCachren, endured to the end with MacCachren finishing second and the Ampudia brothers sixth in class. The Luke McMillin/Larry Roeseler tandem also finished third overall and in SCORE Trophy Truck in last year’s SCORE Baja 1000.
“It was a great day,” McMillin said. “Larry did an amazing job, he just kept it in line and had no downtime, which is exactly what you need to do in the first half of the SCORE Baja 1000. No one knows it more than Larry, he’s won this thing 13 times.”
“He brought me a clean truck, we were third and were right up there with the top leaders when I got in. We were just waiting for them to make a mistake. Ampudia (No. 10) got a flat tire and I was just trailing my brother (Dan McMillin, No 23). I made a run for it and he let me go as the great teammate he is.”
“We didn’t have a single flat BFGoodrich tire all day and that’s unbelievable. The race was tight all day between Dan, Ampudia and Rob Maccachren (No. 11). We got some gnarly silt and some tough bumps out there. Part of the portion I drove was also part of the course of the SCORE Baja 500, so it was just rough.”
“It’s hard to pick up your pace in a 1,000-mile race and don’t beat up the truck too much, so we tried to be strategic on that. It was a tough course, but a great course. Jose Grijalva (SCORE’s president and race director) does an amazing job for SCORE and we have to thank him.”
With an enduring legacy started by the late family patriarch Corky McMillin, Luke McMillin added to the Big Blue M rich history with his first career victory in the marquee SCORE Trophy Truck division for hi-tech, 950-horsepower unlimited custom trucks.
The Luke McMillin/Larry Roeseler broke up the midway cluster of trucks and gradually got the breathing room needed to earn the hard-earned victory on the brutally rough Baja race course. After penalties were assessed by SCORE adjusting the finishing times of the majority all finishers, McMillin/Roeseler earned a victory margin of 11 minutes, five seconds over the second-place truck. Roeseler, who earned his race-record 14th career SCORE Baja 1000 Overall race victory, started the race and drove to race-mile 430 where Luke McMillin got behind the wheel and powered to the finish line on the Eastern outskirts of Ensenada.
With his victory, McMillin also earned at US$25,000 contingency bonus from long-time SCORE sponsor and race title sponsor BFGoodrich Tires offered to the winner of this year’s race. The victory also marked the 31st overall victory in this race for vehicles equipped with BFGoodrich Tires.
Besides his late grandfather Corky, Luke McMillin’s champion family members include his brother Daniel McMillin, his dad Mark McMillin, his uncle Scott McMillin, and his cousins Andy McMillin and Jessica McMillin. As a family, the McMillins now have earned a race-record 13 overall victories in the SCORE Baja 1000. While Luke McMillin earned his first SCORE Baja 1000 overall, his father Mark has five as does his cousin Andy and his uncle Scott has two overalls in this storied race.
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