Starting first as the fast qualifier for the race, Las Vegas’ champion desert racer Bryce Menzies never looked back as he roared through the Baja California desert to defeat 193 starters in Saturday’s 2nd SCORE Baja 400, presented by VP Racing Fuels. The race launched the second half of the four-race 2021 SCORE World Desert Championship.
Menzies, 34, who races around the world in various rally races, powered his No. 7 Mason-built all-wheel drive Ford Raptor to lead the field with an awesome error-free, penalty-free winning time of eight hours, 26 minutes and 59 seconds over the sun-drenched, rock-filled, silt-strewn, dust-coated 400.00 miles for a winning average speed of 47.34 miles per hour.
Under sunny skies and warm temperatures in the low 80s Fahrenheit, Menzies, 34, had plenty of competition behind him in a field of 33 of the marquee SCORE Trophy Trucks. The youngest race in the long and storied nearly 50-year history of the World’s Foremost Desert Racing Organization was held in Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico. The TV show for the race, produced by BCII TV in association with SCORE International, will air as a one-hour special on the World of X Games show on Sunday, Oct. 31 on the ESPN2 Network.
Chasing Menzies’ dust closely to the finish line for San Diego’s Luke McMillin, the same racers who finished first and second in the season-opening SCORE San Felipe 250 in April after qualifying second to Menzies in that race.
After roaring and rocking around the desert for eight hours, Luke McMillin, 28, finished second, three minutes, 22 seconds behind the winning Menzies in 8:30:22 seconds, averaging an impressive 62.67 miles per hour in his new AWD No. 1 Big Blue M McMillin Racing Racer-built Chevy Silverado built by Mason Motorsports. Luke McMillin is the defending SCORE Trophy Truck season point champion.
Finishing third overall and in SCORE Trophy Truck was Las Vegas’ Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Famer Rob MacCachren, by just 39 seconds. The SCORE rookie’s finishing time was 8:39:37 while averaging 46.18mph.
MacCachren, 56, the winningest driver in off-road racing history with over 300 career race victories, crossed the line physically third and on corrected time. MacCachren completed the grueling challenge 8:40:16 with an average speed of 46.13mph in his sturdy No. 11 BFGoodrich Tires Ford F-150 built several years ago by Geiser Brothers.
The 2011 SCORE overall point champion and the 2011 SCORE Rookie of the Year, Menzies has returned to Baja to earn his first race win in the SCORE Baja 400 and his seventh career SCORE Trophy Truck race win. He was the leader from start to finish with clean air favoring his push to the finish. He started the season with his overall win in the SCORE San Felipe 250.
Enjoying the fruit of his labor, Menzies reflected on his relatively smooth trip around the course, saying, “We came away from San Felipe with a win and then we had some issues while we were leading the SCORE Baja 500. We have qualified both times this year and our game plan was to play it smart. We put a little gap on Luke (McMillin) and I just wanted to keep it there all day, but then towards the finish I started making small mistakes.”
“I don’t know what was going on; I just wasn’t in it, and he started catching me,” Menzies continued. “I actually got stuck in a really tight section and had to back up. When you back up a four-wheel drive vehicle, it only goes into two-wheel drive, so I almost got stuck and I started to panic. But my main man over here (navigator Willie Valdez Jr) called every single corner, every single note, really coaching me and helped me get to the finish line. This one was technical. A lot of turns, a lot of technical sections, I really had to pay attention to every single corner. My hats off to my team—AmSoil, KMC Wheels, RedBull, Fox Shox, Toyo Tires. We never got one flat. Epic day.”
Besides Menzies, Luke McMillin and MacCachren, nine of the top 10 finishers were all in SCORE Trophy Truck. Fourth place finishers Mexico brothers Alan and Aaron Ampudia who had a time of 8:41:54 in their No. 10 Papas Y Beer Racing Ford Raptor. The Ampudia brothers won the 2019 SCORE Baja 1000.
Fifth overall and in SCORE Trophy Truck Daniel McMillin, Luke McMillin’s older brother in 8:48:54 in his No. 23 Big Blue M Racing Chevy 1500. Finishing sixth and in SCORE Trophy Truck was Cameron Steele, San Clemente, Calif. who split the driving with 2019 SCORE Baja 400 winner Ryan Arciero, Foothill Ranch, Calif. The pair drove Steele’s No. 16 Monster Energy Desert Assassins Ford Raptor to a finishing time of 8:51:32.
Mexico’s first family of desert racing, Vildosola, saw the father and his both finish in the top 10 overall and seventh and ninth in SCORE Trophy Truck. From Mexicali, Gustavo Vildosola Sr finished seventh overall with a time of 9:00:54 in his new AWD No. 12 Mexicana Logistics Ford Raptor. Vildosola Sr.’s additional driver was veteran Ricky Johnson, Trabuco Canyon, Calif.
Gustavo ‘Tavo’ Vildosola Jr, finished ninth in class and overall with a time of 9:03:30 in his No. 21 Mexicana Logistics Ford Raptor. Sandwiched between the Vildosolas in seventh overall and SCORE Trophy Truck was legendary ‘Mr Baja’ Larry Roeseler, Boulevard, Calif. in a time 9:03:31 in Cantina Racing’s No. 43 Baja Jerky Toyota Tundra. The iconic aging warrior, 64, Roeseler won this year’s SCORE Baja 500 in June. Completing the top 10 overall finishers list was Jason McNeil, El Cajon, Calif., who won the Trophy Truck Spec class for the second straight race.
Up next for the SCORE season is the granddaddy of desert races the Baja 1000. For more information on the upcoming races, be sure to visit the SCORE website.