Jesse Ashcraft Truck Rolls Late in the Race
Sizzling across the parched, sandy, silty, rocky and dusty 252.09-mile desert race course that covered much of the northern part of the Baja California peninsula in the No. 20 MasterCraft Racing Ford F-150 SCORE Trophy-Truck, ‘Rockstar Rob’ completed the course in a speedy four hours, 12 minutes, 21 seconds, averaging a spectacular 59.94 miles per hour.
Round 4 of the five-race 2011 SCORE Desert Series was held Saturday in San Felipe, Baja, California, Mexico. This race was a replacement for the Primm 300 race that was cancelled this year because of insurmountable insurance issues.
The race started and finished adjacent to the iconic San Felipe arches entering town. A total of 52 of 77 official starters (67.53 percent) finished in 19 Pro and 2 Sportsman classes for cars and trucks within the 11-hour time limit in the elapsed-time race. The dramatic 252.09-mile course covered three of the legendary, picturesque and treacherous Baja washes and canyons: Matomi, Huatomote and Chanate before heading back to the finish line at the landmark San Felipe Arches.
For MacCachren, 46, his ninth career SCORE Trophy-Truck race win yielded a winning time that was actually 5:24 faster than when he captured March’s 25th MasterCraft Safety Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250 in March on the same desert race course used Saturday. The veteran MacCachren, a six-time all-America motorsports driver including three first team awards, has earned eight SCORE class season point championships in his sterling career. MacCachren is also currently in rehabilitation for a broken left collarbone he sustained will racing in a short course race in Southern California a few weeks ago.
Second overall and in SCORE Trophy-Truck was Gary Weyhrich, Troutdale, Ore., who finished in 4:21:41, a split of 9:20 behind the winning MacCachren in the No. 98 TSCO Motorsports Ford F-150. Finishing third overall and in SCORE Trophy-Truck was series overall and SCORE Trophy-Truck point leader Bryce Menzies, also of Las Vegas, with a time of 4:24:23, a total of 2:42 behind Weyhrich and 12:02 behind MacCachren in the No. 70 Menzies Motorsports Ford F-150.
Earning his first SCORE unlimited Class 1 victory and finishing four overall was third generation desert racer Daniel McMillin, National City, Calif., and Chuck Hovey, Escondido, Calif. who teamed to finish in 4:29:23 in a Chevy-powered Jimco open-wheel desert race car.
Completing the top five overall finishers in the race was Clyde Stacy, Bristol, Tenn., who was fourth in SCORE Trophy-Truck in 4:32:24 in the No. 18 RPM Offroad Chevy Silverado. The RPM Offroad team had a SCORE-record seven entries in the race.
MacCachren, who started the race from the pole after drawing the first start, battled closely with Mexico’s Gus Vildosola Jr. from right after the start all the way up to race mile 199 before getting back by the No. 21 Vildosola Motorsports Ford F-150 when it was down with a mechanical issue.
“The pace this morning was really quick and the truck was working great at the start,” reflected MacCachren at the finish line. “It just felt so good – we were just really going. When we got up to San Matias, Gus Jr. was getting close and when we pulled in and got gas, he went by us. At about mile 198, we were probably about a minute or so behind him and his left rear wheel came off and once that happened, we got to the other side and started getting reports of where we were and then we just backed down and made sure that we got it in here to the finish line.”
“The biggest difference between this race and the one that we won here in March is that the shocks are the biggest thing. We just keep working on the shocks and making them better and better. The track here in San Felipe gets rougher the more we go over it so it’s all about shocks. These SCORE Trophy-Trucks, you’ve really got to do a good job of prepping them and dot all your i’s and cross your t’s and we’re getting that figured out, I guess. Jimco preps this truck for Robbie Pierce and MasterCraft Racing, and the whole time I’ve been driving it, there really have not been any major failures with the assembly of the truck. The point’s race is not over until it’s over and I’ve learned that many times before. It’s going to be close going into the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 and that’s great.”
Menzies, 23, and MacCachren both have two overall and SCORE race wins in SCORE Trophy-Truck this season and Menzies holds a slim six-point advantage over MacCachren going into November’s season-ending 44th Annual Tecate SCORE Baja 1000. MacCachren will make a special live guest appearance Sunday at 6 p.m. (PDT) on the Wind Tunnel motorsports talk show with Dave Despain on the Speed Channel nationwide.
Heidi Steele, San Clemente, Calif. and third generation desert racer Jessica McMillin, National City, Calif., both won their classes as the only two female drivers of record in the race. Steele won Class 6 for the second time this season in a Ford Ranger with help from Rene Brugger, San Diego and McMillin remained unbeaten in the Protruck class in a Ford F-150. McMillin received a huge assist in this race from her father Scott and brother Andy who each drove roughly one-third of the race. Class 1 winner Daniel McMillin is Jessica McMillin’s cousin.
Also winning for the fourth consecutive race was Clyde Stacy, Bristol, Tenn. (Class 4, PSD-Chevy). The racers who won this race to give them three wins in four races in this year’s SCORE Desert Series were: Kevin Carr, San Diego (Class 5, VW Baja Bug) and Justin Matney, Bristol, Tenn. (Class 8, Chevy Silverado).
In addition to MacCachren and Steele, also pulling off their second class wins of the season were Matt Cullen, Long Beach, Calif. (Class 10, AlumiCraft-VW), Arturo Alvarez, Mexicali, Mexico (Class 7, Ford Ranger), Wes Bevly III, Corpus Christi, Texas (Stock Full, Stock Full, Ford F-150) and Emilio Salcido, Mexicali, Mexico (Class 5/1600, VW Baja Bug).
Among the other class winners who won their respective classes for the first time this season were twin brothers Arturo and Abel Velazco (Class 1-2/1600) Zak Langley, Santa Monica, Calif. (SCORE Lite, Smithbuilt-VW) and Reid Rutherford, Montrose, Colo. (Class 7-2, Mason-Chevy).
The Sportsman Car class winner was Peter Lang, Santa Rosa, Calif. in a Homebuilt-Buick, who won his class for the third time this season.
The RPM Offroad team of Bristol, Tenn., had a SCORE-record seven entries in this race. RPM Offroad had its five regular entries in the new Tecate SCORE San Felipe Challenge of Champions--SCORE Trophy-Truck-fourth place (Clyde Stacy), Class 4-first place (Clyde Stacy), Class 8-first place (Justin Matney), Class 11-did not finish (Justin Matney) and Stock Full-dnf (John Matney). They added two additional entries for this race in Stock Mini (dnf) with Justin Matney as driver of record and Class 17 (dnf) with Stacy as the driver of record. The team obviously has several co-drivers to assist the drivers of record but SCORE rules do require that in order to receive points for the race, the driver of record must either start or finish the race which was a unique challenge in itself for the formidable RPM Offroad team.
In four races this season, RPM Offroad has now recorded 10 eight class wins in four different classes and continues to lead the class point standings in three classes--Class 8, Class 11 and Class 4. Additionally, the team is second in Stock Full.
In addition to season class point championships, the racers are also competing for part of the nearly $300,000 in cash purse and contingency postings each race. Drivers in the Pro car and truck classes are attempting to earn prestigious SCORE Toyota Milestone Awards given to all car and truck class drivers who complete every required mile of the five-race season. Being presented by Toyota Motorsports for the 26th consecutive year, a total of 27 drivers remain eligible after Round 3 of the 2011 SCORE Desert Series. Racers are also competing for the annual SCORE Off-Roadsman of the Year awards, including the MasterCraft Safety SCORE Rookie of the Year award.
The season finale of the 2011 Desert Series will be the 44th annual Tecate SCORE Baja 1000, to be held Nov. 16-20 in Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico.