Mills Motorsports sought redemption at the 45th running of the SCORE Baja 500 in Ensenada, Baja California, after disappointing DNF in San Felipe. Spurred on by last year’s Baja 1000 win and class championship, the team would stop at nothing to get a victory. Nevertheless, the team’s journey from start to finish was full of enough mayhem to satisfy an entire season. Twenty one hours, twenty six minutes and three seconds later, the Mills Motorsports #842 SPEC Trophy Truck finished the 2013 SCORE Baja 500 in second place and saluted this race to the record books as one of the most brutal battles in Baja the team has ever fought.
Driver Nick Mills and navigator Tony MacNeil started the race for the Mills Motorsports/KORE Team. Grand Marshall and former SCORE-International President, Sal Fish, waved the green flag and Mills rocketed off the line, bombing through the streets of Ensenada and in and out of the infamous Ensenada wash. The first 70 miles of the race, Mills performed flawlessly, passing all five competitors in the SPEC Trophy Truck Class. Mills was running his LS3 motor hard and knew that if he could continue this pace, he could hand the truck off to Alan Roach in an ideal position to finish the race in front.
Just prior to the first pit, Mills charged a corner at speed and rolled the truck, breaking panels off and sending himself and navigator, Tony MacNeil, for a wild ride. The two came out of the wreck unscathed. Their truck, on the other hand, felt the majority of the wrath. Little did they know this would only be the beginning of the hammering their truck would collect in the race. After a quick band aide and some help from the locals, the #842 SPEC Trophy Truck was back on its General Tires and off in to the desert.
Having lost some critical time, Mills pushed hard until he found himself at full speed in some dust approaching a silt pocket. Mills took the line the spectators had suggested, still not lifting a bit. Next thing he knew, he came to an immediate halt after rear-ending a buggy and knocking the it out of the hole it was stuck in. In doing so, Nick and Tony traded places with the buggy and found themselves in a vulnerable point on the racecourse. It took a long time to dig the truck out, but once they extracted themselves, they limped to the first pit for some repairs.
“We had to weld the entire bumper back on, repair and realign the lights,” said Crew Chief, Mike Kerr. “It seemed to take forever. They were down for over an hour, while we welded together parts of the truck that were broken.”
When they finally got back on course, not only were they in last place and struggling with dust from slower vehicles but also the upper light rack was ruined, so all the night driving had to be accomplished on just two Baja Designs Onyx lights. By the time they made it to the notorious summit, they had passed many vehicles, only to be greeted by a “log-jam” of vehicles that cost them another hour before they could get to the other side.
By RM 203 in Borrego, the Mills Motorsports team implemented a long and careful assessment of the vehicle, changing the K&N air filter and checking everything. Alan Roach and Bart Parker relieved driving and navigating duties and the duo made time on the other trucks in their class, eventually working up to second place.