After a long offseason, the SCORE World Desert Championship finally kicks off its 2023 season this weekend with the 36th Annual King Shocks SCORE San Felipe 250. Although it’s the shortest race of the year for SCORE competitors, it’s still 263.5 grueling miles of terrain for this year’s title contenders, in a loop that starts and finishes at El Malecon in San Felipe. Moto racers will kick off the action at 6AM local time on Saturday, with car and truck classes set to roll at 9AM.
Last year’s San Felipe 250 saw Luke McMillin kick off a title-winning season after going back and forth with Bryce Menzies for the overall win all race long, topping the Trophy Truck battle by just over two minutes. Christopher Polvoorde headed up the Trophy Truck Spec class, while Wayne Matlock drew first blood among the UTV racers by taking the overall win in the Open-class Polaris RZR Pro R ahead of Pro UTV Forced Induction class winner Justin Lambert.
For this year, all those names will be back to defend their victories, although Lambert has joined Matlock in the booming Pro UTV Open class, which is up to 18 entries thanks in part to an all-new factory Polaris RZR effort for Austin Weiland, Brock Heger, and Cayden MacCachren. Both the Trophy Truck and Pro UTV FI classes will bring 26 entries to the start line (although six more Trophy Trucks are competing in the Legends division), while the Trophy Truck Spec entry list is the biggest of all with a massive 43-team field. All told, 259 entries are signed up for this year’s race.
But it won’t be McMillin or Menzies starting first when the cars and trucks hit the course on Saturday; instead, it was Toby Price who posted the top qualifying time on Wednesday, coming in more than two seconds ahead of Tavo Vildosola with a time of 5:39.616. Menzies, Luke McMillin, and Cole Potts completed the top five Trophy Truck qualifiers on Wednesday, while Gustavo Vildosola Sr. (Trophy Truck Legends) and Chris Miller (Trophy Truck Spec) also topped their respective classes in qualifying.
Price and driver of record Paul Weel will be looking for some serious redemption after a catastrophic fire in last year’s Baja 1000. Their AWD truck burned to the ground in that race, but the Australian duo will return undeterred after purchasing Andy McMillin’s former Trophy Truck after he retired following last season. Prior to the Baja 1000 fire, they had finished fourth in last year’s Baja 400 in a 2WD truck.
Following this weekend’s San Felipe 250, SCORE will have a two-month gap between races as it looks ahead to the 55th Annual BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 500. Rob MacCachren earned his record-extending 19th career SCORE Trophy Truck win in last year’s race, while Weiland won top overall UTV honors while running in the Forced Induction class.