Luke McMillin capped off another banner year for the McMillin family in desert racing on Saturday, taking his first victory in the 53rd SCORE Baja 1000 in the early hours of the morning. Paired with off-road racing Legend Larry Roesler Luke finished the viciously rugged 898.40-mile racecourse with a time of 19 hours, 10 minutes and 25 seconds with an average speed of 46.86 miles per hour. The victory marked a sweep of the 2020 SCORE World Desert Championship in the premier Trophy Truck class for the McMillin family, after Luke’s brother Dan won the 52nd SCORE Baja 500 earlier in the year.
Despite the recent influx of all-wheel-drive Trophy Trucks in recent years, RWD had its day once again in 2020, as nearly 200 entries across all classes took on the longest loop course in event history at 894 miles. Coming in second behind McMillin was four-time Baja 1000 winner Rob MacCachren, who fell just over 11 minutes short of his fifth career victory at the event. The superteam of Bryce Menzies and defending SCORE World Desert Champion Andy McMillin completed the overall podium with the first AWD truck across the line.
Defending race winners Alan and Aaron Ampudia were in the hunt for the overall victory, in hopes of becoming the first repeat winners of the event since MacCachren’s streak of three in a row ended in 2016, but a late incident took them out of the running. Nonetheless, the Ampudias were at least able to finish the event, coming home sixth in class and seventh overall—a significantly better fate than the 85 DNFs on the unofficial score sheet, including Dan McMillin. Despite starting first after his Baja 500 win, and leading for much of the event, McMillin bowed out after San Felipe when his truck quit running around RM 760.
Elsewhere in the overall top 10, Jeff Bader took top honors in Trophy Truck Spec after an intense battle through most of the race with Pierce Herbst, posting the eighth-best overall finishing time, while Cody Parkhouse was this year’s Class 1 winner at 10th overall. Jimco CEO Robbie Pierce piloted the #20L JIMCO Racing Fastball spec trophy truck to a first-place finish in the Trophy Truck Legends Classes. Sharing driving duties with 7x Motocross and off-road champion Ricky Johnson and Barry Karakas. The Monster Energy SLR Honda trio of Mark Samuels, Justin Morgan, and Justin Jones were the first racers to cross the finish line in the Pro Moto Unlimited class after midnight on Saturday, and their combined efforts were good enough for sixth overall.
The Pro UTV classes all featured strong entry lists, with Wes Miller taking home the Forced Induction and overall UTV victory by more than 40 minutes over Matt Burroughs, Francisco Arredondo and the Raceco USA Honda Talon topping the NA class with a time within a minute of Miller’s, and the factory Honda Talon team led by Eliott Watson conquering the Unlimited class. Between one of the most populous class entry lists and his Baja 500 victory earlier in the year, Burroughs also looks to be this year’s SCORE World Desert Champion—which would make him just the second UTV racer to accomplish that feat in series history.
Other major class wins included Jeremy Davis in Class 10, Rhys Millen in Class 7 in his converted 4WD Jackal, and Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus’ Baja Boot in Class 2. Both the Baja Boot and factory-backed Ford BroncoR, campaigned by an all-star cast of drivers that included Cameron Steele, Shelby Hall, Johnny Campbell, Curt LeDuc, and Jason Scherer, made it to the finish this year.
As always, the Baja 1000 wasn’t so kind to some of the biggest names in the field. Concrete Motorsports’ Kevin Thompson and Harley Letner weren’t able to build off of the momentum of their Best in the Desert championship win, while defending Class 10 champion Chase Warren also failed to finish. The Pro UTV Forced Induction race was also a battle of attrition, as defending race winner Justin Lambert, defending class champion Wayne Matlock, and former class champion Jason Murray all bowed out before making it back to Ensenada.
With the two-race 2020 SCORE World Desert Championship now complete, all sights turn to 2021 and the return of the San Felipe 250, this time set for February 9-14. Television coverage of this year’s SCORE Baja 1000 will return to ABC’s World of X Games in the coming months.