LUKE WINS - GOES Back-to-Back SCORE Baja 500's
Luke McMillin |
My race day started off rough! The crew uncovers car and goes to start it and "click," we have a dead battery! Awesome, this is just how I wanted the day to start out ... NOT!! Get her started, get to the starting line, inching up to the start line which seems to take about 10 hours. If you've ever driven an H-pattern Fortin with a converter class 1 car, inching forward at the start line just absolutely sucks! Impossible to get into nuetral, can't leave it in gear for very long otherwise you're catching on fire, so my only option is to shut off the car a couple times to avoid killing my converter and transmission! WELL, keep in mind i've got a dead battery, thought it already charged back up but turns out one of the batterys just won't hold a charge! My buddy Tyler Hall runs to the chase truck, takes the battery out of his chase truck and walked up to the start with me ready to jump start the car just in case! STRESSFULL! Not how you want to start your baja 500!
Anyway, off the line we go! Goal is to stick to the game plan which was to charge hard off the start and get the guy in front of us to allow for some clean air and no mistakes, then back it off. Goal acheived, we make turn 3 into the wash and behold a bright orange truggy is about 100 yards in front of us! PERFECT, pick him off early! We start to close in on him as we hit the spectator jump! Under the bridge and slight left you hit the jump...normally! NOT US! The slight left is a bit muddy! I slide AROUND the outside of the jump as the truggy takes the jump and by him we go, sideways for the fans, bitchen pass!
Next guy in front of us, 102 Rigsby, he is a munute ahead of us, so we took it easy and utilized the clean air we have, Rigsby can hold his own, wasn't planning on reeling him in fast... The day before the race, as (SOME) of the racers pre ran and heard there was a course change before the white arches at K19. We come into the trees where the new course goes right, and apparently #102 didn't get the memo of a course change or just spun out or something! We come into the trees and there's a a haze of dust, finally I see and figure it out! Rigsby is in the trees doing donut's aimed backwards unsure of where to go it appears! Well, we pass him, honk the horn, and show him the way! This leaves only 1 more class 1 car infront of us, Parkhouse!
We keep crusing along, Parkhouse is one of the top class 1 contenders... So I figure I would pace off him for a while since this is my first time starting the unlimited car out of Enesenada and 2nd time ever racing it! This race takes a totally different style of driving than SF! Hit mile 20 where I have a jeep there giving me split times. I go by, they give me the word that that I am 2nd on the road and closing in on Parkhouse! I get super excited thinking "Wow I am doing good!" WELLLL Not even 30 seconds later they get back on the radio and give me the word that JOHN HERDER, one of my child hood hero's is 20 seconds off my bumper! ALL EXCITEMENT DOWN THE DRAIN!!!! He started a full minute and half behind me and already switched and got in the car for Ronny Wilson! I've got to get my act together, I'VE GOT SOME DRIVING TO DO!!!
Hit Ojos and I am 100 yards behind Parkhouse and Herder is 100 yards behind me!!! We chase each togther out to K76, making our way through slow trophy trucks! Parkhouse pits, I take the lead but I've still got Herder on my butt! We hit the dirt a K77 and it's time to MAKE SOME DUST!!!! Make it to mile 90 holding 1st place, where my first pit is, we take a 20 SECOND PIT and Herder AND Parkhouse go by!!! I get worked up and I'm freaking out and my co dawg is trying to calm me down! We keep going and I get word from the pit that the 3 of us are running away from the class 1 field. That doesn't sink in enough and my racing brain is telling me I need to run theses 2 guys back down... We catch Parkhouse, hit him, and pass him! I hit him a little harder than intended, no harm, that's racing. "UH OH, I neeed to RUN!!!" BAD MISTAKE, I know better than to let someone push me! Well, I am heading towards Nuevo Junction, my co dog is calling the turns PERFECTLY! We are doing about 90 MPH and he calls out a "soft right". No problem I thought, I get crossed up, uh oh, jumped out of the ruts, off the track and OFF A 5 FOOT LEDGE/CLIFF I go!!!!!!!!!!! We land in this little wash with "walls" on each side of us, we continue about a 1/8th of a mile up this and finally get the chance to jump out of it and back onto the course... At this point, me and my long time co dog Chris Olimon, are DEAD SILENT! I just about killed us!!! We are alive, the car is in one piece,,, it's time to move on! Back to the race we go, like nothing happened! IT WAS INSANE!!!! Hahahaa!!!
Next up is John Herder, we chase him up the summit, he get's a flat, we are back in the lead!!!! We race along and by Cahabuzo Junction we are chasing Pistola Pete, he pits, we pass MULTIPLE Trophy Trucks at Tres Hermanos! Perfect! We hit our perfect line through the silt beds and on we go through Arroya Grande Wash! Everythings working out beautifully!
Make our way towards borrego and in attempt to save the car, I back it off and Herder closes in on me, I pull over and let him go! Not happy about it, but he caught me, it was time to let him go and race smart... Well only part of me can settle with that, I make my way through the BRUTALLY ROUGH part of Borego and i'm back on the gas! We cross the road crossing and I take a sweeeet line! 115MPH and i'm off to the side of Herder by about 200 Yards, I'm doing 115MPh and he is proabably doing about 90MPH! Close in on him cut him off just before the Borrego pits and BACK IN THE PHYSICAL LEAD! Pass the borrego pits halling the mail! We make our sweeping right to head back up to San Matias , I miss my line and Herder comes sweeping in on my inside and takes the lead back! It's a gnalry BATTLE!!!! We both go up the San Matias whoops and I decide to back it down to save the transmision, axels, and Cv's! We get up to Mike's Road, Mile 230, where we will be doing our driver's change! I know what our game plan was and I knew Wilson's general driving plan, and so I knew we were in a great position!
My day is over, Justin Smith and Josh get in the car and take off after Wilson's. 15 minutes at the pit and no one comes through! Awesome, it's down to us and Wilson's... It's going to be a battle! Somewhere along the coast or up in Uerapan, Wilson's break a tirod and end up in a bush! Justin comes in Ojos, and with Wilson's recent problem there is no one in site behind us!!! We are running 1st class one and about 6th Overall Vehicle on the road! Cruise it in, and we get the WIN by a hour and sixteen minutes!
So stoked! Awesome day of racing. Me and Chris Olimon had a flawless day in our section! Justin and Josh did a great job bringing in the car for the win! Couldn't have been a better day! Well, besides merely escaping death at mile 95ish!.... Big thanks to the support crew and the sponsors! BFGoodrich Tires, Fox Racing Shocks, Baja Designs, and K&N Airfilters!!