SCORE MEDIA CONTACT: Dominic Clark, dominic@score-international.
May 8, 2020
BIDING TIME, Parte Nueve
‘Cool Hand’ Luke McMillin finding his place
in SCORE Trophy Truck in SCORE Baja racing
ENSENADA, Baja California, Mexico – (While the world continues its ferocious fight against the vicious virus called COVID-19, SCORE has been checking in on several of its racers during this shutdown to see how they are doing and how are they are preparing for when life returns to the new normal in this FINAL final chapter in a special series called SCORE Desert Diaries—Biding Time.)
Very easy going by nature and ultra competitive by family lineage, another third generation desert racer from one of the all-time great first families in the sport, USA’s champion driver ‘Cool Hand’ Luke McMillin has emerged from the shadow of his iconic late grandfather Corky McMillin, his champion father Mark McMillin and his champion uncle Scott McMillin to enter the 2020 SCORE World Desert Championship on the threshold of compiling an enviable record in the marquee SCORE Trophy Truck division.
With a family desert racing legacy like the ‘Big Blue M’ machine has built over the last 45 years in the desert, Luke McMillin is rapidly buiding his own fabled mark in SCORE racing along with his brother Dan McMillin and his cousins Andy McMillin and Jessica McMillin. Family patriarch Corky McMillin was inducted in the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2006 and Luke’s father Mark McMillin earned his lasting place in history by being inducted to ORMHOF in 2018.
With the 2020 season reduced to three races while the battle rages against Coronavirus (COVID-19), desert racers around the world are hoping to start the 2020 SCORE season at the 52nd annual BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 500, presented by 4Wheel Parts, in Baja California.
Launching its 47th season as the World’s Foremost Desert Racing Organization, the season-opening event of the three-race internationally-televised 2020 SCORE World Desert Championship has been moved to July 14-19 in Ensenada. Ensenada is a coastal city on the Bahia de Todos Santos area of the Pacific Ocean, 80 miles south of the U.S. border at San Diego.
Most the world’s best desert racers will be in action at this year’s celebration of one of the top 10 motorsports events in the entire world. All three 2020 SCORE races will be run on the northern part of Mexico’s magnificent Baja California peninsula for the fifth consecutive year.
‘COOL HAND LUKE’
San Diego’s ‘Cool Hand’ Luke McMillin, the youngest of the McMillin family racers at 27 years old, is consistently if not rapidly climbing the ladder to desert racing success in the premier SCORE Trophy Truck division.
Already a SCORE race winner in both the unlimited Class 1 and in Class 1/2-1600, Luke McMillin was the SCORE season point champion two consecutive years in Class 1/2-1600 (2010, 2011) as a 17 and 18-year old racer.
Slowly and determinedly rising to the pinnacle of the sport under the tutelage of his Hall of Fame father Mark, Luke McMillin had his best season in SCORE Trophy Truck in 2019 with a third-place finish in the final season point standings in the class, just one point behind second place. His cousin Andy McMillin was last year’s SCORE Trophy Truck and SCORE Overall season point champion.
In 2019, driving his No. 83 Mark Racing Ford F-150 built by Racer Engineering, Luke McMillin had two podium finishes out of four races. He placed fifth in class in the season-opening SCORE San Felipe 250, was second in the SCORE Baja 500, 12th in the SCORE Baja 400 and third in the season-ending SCORE Baja 1000.
Luke McMillin also earned his third career Rod Hall SCORE Milestone Award in 2019 given to all racers who complete every required race mile of the season. He won his first two SCORE Milestones in 2010 and 2011.
Winning two races in his Class 1/2-1600 championship season of 2011, Luke McMillin moved to the unlimited Class 1 in 2012 as just a 19-year old and after not racing in the first two races of that season in Laughlin, Nev., he blasted his way to three straight Class 1 victories in the SCORE San Felipe 250, SCORE Baja 500 and the SCORE Baja 1000. In Class 1 he drove a Chevy-powered Jimco open-wheel desert race car.
His first season racing in SCORE Trophy Truck (2014) saw Luke McMillin finish sixth in class in the SCORE Baja 500 and finish second in that year’s SCORE Baja 1000. In 2017 he finished fourth and seventh in the same two races and in 2018 he finished third and second in the first two races of the season before ending the year with a pair of did not finishes.
Luke McMillin grabbed some more recent headlines by winning the King of the Hammers Invitational in 2019 and capturing the overall victory in this year’s Mint 400 desert race.
A great example of the amazing impact of the ‘Big Blue M’ machine in SCORE racing is in the SCORE Baja 1000 where to date the McMillin family 20 class wins including 12 overall victories in the granddaddy of all desert races. Mark McMillin has eight class wins (including 5 overalls), Andy McMillin has five class wins (all five are overalls), Scott McMillin (Andy and Jessica’s father) has four class wins (including 2 overalls), Luke McMillin has two class wins and Corky McMillin had one.
In the SCORE Baja 500 the marvelous McMillins have 21 class wins including 11 overall victories. Scott McMillin has six class wins (including 3 overalls), Mark McMillin has five class wins (including 3 overalls), Andy McMillin has four class wins (including 3 overalls), Corky McMillin had three class wins (including 2 overalls), Luke McMillin has two class wins and Jessica McMillin has one class win in the SCORE Baja 500.
Luke McMillin shares responses for McMillin’s Mark Racing team responding to some questions from SCORE regarding this down time from life as we have known it.
SCORE: How are you and your family coping overall with this virus situation?
LM: We are doing very well. It’s been a nice break in the everyday run around for us and we’ve been able to spend a lot of time together.
SCORE: Is everybody healthy at home?
LM: Thankfully everyone in our family is healthy and safe!
SCORE: How is your business handling this situation?
LM: Business at DLM Properties is doing well! Thankfully with his down time in racing I have been able to take some time and get all caught up with DLM, which is Dan and I’s company. We have a broad portfolio of multifamily property that we manage, and thankfully while working with our tenants and property managers through these hard times, we are able to stay afloat. With any downturn, we always have our eyes and ears open to make the best of every situation for everyone.
SCORE: What are you doing with your race team during this time?
LM: Our entire race team took a few weeks off from working at the shop during the initial rise of the virus. But now we are focused on improving our race shop itself, our processes, organization and other things that are tough to keep up on with a busy race schedule. We’ve also been able to spend a lot of time working on our new No. 83 AWD truck which will be completed in July and raced in 2021.
SCORE: Is your race shop still working?
LM: About half of the shop is working. Not everyone is working, some people have elected to take some time off which is okay and others are able to work from home, however we do have a few guys in the shop physically working but staying safe as well.
SCORE: What are some things you and your shop team are working on to keep ready to race?
LM: Working on a lot of things that we don’t have time to do during normal race season. Upgrading some of our machines, tools and the entire shop, improving some organization along with a long list of small projects that never made it high on the priority list. Thankfully we have some time to catch up on those things.
SCORE: How are you keeping in touch with your race team?
LM: We keep in contact in many ways, mostly via email, phone and updating our shared/virtual folders, notes and lists via dropbox.
SCORE: Have you done or are planning to do any form of vehicle testing in the near future?
LM: We were able to test our vehicles in preparation for the SCORE San Felipe 250 (now the SCORE Baja 500), we are ready to go testing again, however since the race is still a couple of months away (July), we are going to wait a few more weeks before our next test session. It’s always nice to get a little seat time in the race truck before the race on top of our actual function tests.
SCORE: Have you had a chance to play the new SCORE Baja Big Air Game yet on Apple Apps or Google Play? If so, how did you do?
LM: I have not had a chance to play this game, I’ve personally never really been very into video games, it’s just not something that excites me and I’ve been really focused on spending my time wisely during this break, while continuing the enjoy my weekends with family and friends.
SCORE: How hard has the adjustment been for you to just sit and wait while the virus is eradicated?
LM: It’s been different, however luckily we are sitting on a big win at the 2020 Mint 400, so that makes it a little bit easier. I’m definitely anxious to get down to Baja!
SCORE: What are you doing to get some physical and mental exercise and stay physically sharp during this challenging time?
LM: With the extra time, I’ve definitely been able to spend a lot of time working out, road biking, mountain biking and working out in our home gym. I’m confident I will return to the 2020 season in the best shape I’ve been in a long time, which will be very beneficial since we have two very hot races coming up.
SCORE: What is your best race memory of the 2019 SCORE World Desert Championship?
LM: Leading the SCORE Baja 1000 for a few hundred miles is definitely at the top of the 2019 list for me. Even though we ended up third overall, we had a great race and it was a lot of fun. I really enjoy night driving and the mystique of the SCORE Baja 1000.
SCORE: Which SCORE Baja race is your most favorite and why?
LM: This is really, really tough. I can come up with reason why each one of the three traditional SCORE Baja races is my favorite between the SCORE San Felipe 250, SCORE Baja 500 and the SCORE Baja 1000… But at the end of the day, nothing beats the SCORE Baja 1000.
The SCORE Baja 500 is one of the top motorsports events in the world. It was started originally in 1969 by the NORRA organization. Mickey Thompson and his SCORE International organization were invited by the Mexican government to take over the event starting in 1974. Sal Fish ran and later owned and produced the SCORE Baja 500 for 39 years until he sold SCORE in December of 2012.
The first Baja 500 organized and produced by SCORE was held on July 26, 1974 as the first of over 150 SCORE Baja races.
Ensenada is the heart and soul of the SCORE Baja 500 as the popular summertime race will start for the 47th time there and finish for the 43rd time there.
BFGOODRICH TIRES UNMATCHED
As part of their massive SCORE Contingency program for 2020, long-time SCORE sponsor partner BFGoodrich Tires is offering a large contingency bonus for each overall winner in the 2020 SCORE World Desert Championship. For the 52nd annual SCORE Baja 500, the contingency bonus is US$25,000. BFGoodrich Tires is entering its 44th year as the Official Tire of SCORE and in 2020 the company will also be the title sponsor of both the 52nd SCORE Baja 500 and the 53rd SCORE Baja 1000.
Presenting sponsor of both of those iconic races will be 4 Wheel Parts.
BFGoodrich Tires is celebrating over four decades as a major player in SCORE Baja racing. In addition to being the official tire of SCORE International for over four decades, BFGoodrich Tires has now produced the tire of choice for 30 of the overall 4-wheel vehicle winners in the SCORE Baja 1000, including 30 of the last 34 years along with a record-run of 20 straight from 1986 through 2005. In total, BFGoodrich Tires has now be the tire of choice for the overall 4-wheel vehicle winner in 92 SCORE Baja races including 32 in the SCORE Baja 500.
Here is the REVISED three-race 2020 SCORE World Desert Championship (as of April 29, 2020) schedule of events, for the fifth consecutive year all races will be held in Baja California, Mexico:
- BFGoodrich Tires 52nd SCORE Baja 500, presented by 4 Wheel Parts—
July 14-19, Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico
- 34th SCORE San Felipe 250—
Sept. 22-27, San Felipe, Baja California, Mexico
- BFGoodrich Tires 53rd SCORE Baja 1000, presented by 4 Wheel Parts—
Nov.17-22, Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico
ABC TV AGAIN IN 2020
For the second straight year, the 2020 SCORE World Desert Championship will air on the ABC family of networks. The three-races air as one-hour specials on ABC TV’s World of X Games program with replays on ESPN2.
ABC first covered the 1967 and 1968 Baja 1000 races on the old ABC Wide World of Sports show with Jim McKay and again in the late 1980s with veteran motorsports journalist Sam Posey.
All of the SCORE race coverage shows also continue to air internationally in nearly 25 countries in Europe, Asia, Latin America and South America via syndication and ESPN International.
Official SCORE Sponsors: BFGoodrich Tires-Official Tire and Race Title Sponsor, Monster Energy-Official Energy Drink, 4 Wheel Parts-Official Off-Road Retailer and Race Presenting Partner, Ford-Official Truck and SUV, King Shocks-Official Shock Absorber, Polaris RZR-Official UTV, RACELINE Wheels-Official Wheel, VP Racing Fuels-Official Fuel, Wide Open Excursions-Official Arrive and Drive Company, Crystal Bay Casino-Official Casino.
SCORE Official Partners: PCI Race Radios, The Satellite Phone Store, Instant Mexico Auto Insurance, Lucerna Hotel.
Additional SCORE Associate Partners: Baja California Secretary of Sustainable Economy and Tourism, XXIII Ensenada Municipal Government, XXIII Mexicali Municipal Government, Mexicali and San Felipe COTUCO, Cruz Roja Mexicana.
For more information regarding SCORE, visit the official website of the SCORE World Desert Championship at www.SCOREInternational.com.