RDC got a call late last week that some big changes were coming for Andy McMillin, changes that include him being back behind the wheel of a new truck with new sponsors added to his program. We had the opportunity to talk to Bebo and he shared more about his upcoming 2016 season.
RDC: So tell us what prompted you to want to get back into racing?
Bebo: In 2013 I took some time off from racing my own vehicle in my own program. I needed some time away to reset and concentrate on what was important at that time which was starting a new family and the family business. After having won the last two Baja 1000s, I figured the time was right to go racing with my own program again. I have had a long lasting relationship with John Vance ever since he built my class 1 car at Jimco. We’ve stayed in touch and an opportunity came up with them so I jumped on it and here we are. I’m excited and anxious to see what this season has in store and one thing is for sure; we both want to win and that is our main objective for the 2016 season.
RDC: And how did the partnership with TSCO come about?
Bebo: John Vance called me a while back to go out and test their new truck before a race as Mark couldn’t so I went out and drove it and really liked it. It was definitely one of the best trucks I’ve ever driven and I’ve driven most of them. We stayed in touch after that test and then a mutual friend put the bug in each of our ears that maybe teaming up might be a possibility. I have a lot of respect for John; his knowledge of the sport and vehicle design and always appreciated how he ran the TSCO program. Mark, Gary and John have done a remarkable job of building their program into one of the best in our industry and so I was really intrigued about the possibility of teaming up with such a strong group of people. They were looking to showcase the capability of their new Trophy Truck as they are trying to market and sell that truck to other racers. TSCO wants to transform their shop into one that builds and sells Trophy Trucks so they were looking for someone else with a strong resume to drive it and assist them in proving the truck has what it takes to win.
RDC: So they chose you!
Bebo: (laughing) Yeah! I was quite flattered but Gary and Mark both bought Geiser Trucks after they saw the success I had racing and winning in that chassis. I was one of the first to take that truck, get it dialed in and start consistently winning in it and Geiser’s business really took off from there. There were a couple other Geiser trucks that had done well but I feel that our team really upped the game for Trophy Truck racing. So we are hoping to replicate that same success and win over some converts by showing them what this truck can do!
RDC: So are you racing under the TSCO banner or will this be your program?
Bebo: No this is my own program, I’m the driver of record and will not be splitting any driving duties with Gary or Mark. I can bring in my own sponsors and will be debuting my own livery prior to the Mint 400 in March. John and TSCO will do all the prep work and provide pit support at all the races but aside from that its all me!
RDC: And I’m told you’ve already brought in some new sponsors?
Bebo: Yes I’ve been fortunate enough to land two new sponsors in the two weeks from when we agreed to this partnership with TSCO up to today. First to come on board was Method Wheels – they have been a long time partner of TSCO’s and a brand I’ve really admired as I’ve loved the look of their wheels. When we reached out they immediately wanted to be a part of the program so that was a relief as I haven’t had my own sponsors in a long time and wasn’t sure what to expect.
RDC: Your other sponsor is a pretty big change for you?
Bebo: Yeah, it’s a pretty big move. My family has been with BFGoodrich Tires for 30 years and I’ve always raced on them when I had my own program. I have alot of respect for that brand and what it has done for the sport of off-road racing. But I felt in making my comeback it was time for a change and I kept hearing nothing but positive things about Toyo Tires and how good they were. Ever since I gave Toyo their first Baja 1000 overall victory in 2006 while driving with Robby Gordon we have discussed on and off the possibility of working together but it never seemed to be the right time. However, when this opportunity arose it was the perfect fit and I’m really excited to be joining the Toyo Team!
RDC: Any other new partnerships?
Bebo: Not that I can talk about yet but we have some offers from other brands we are evaluating and are looking for a couple other key partnerships. I am very much trying to turn this into a sustainable business and so all partnerships have to contribute more than just product and a sticker. I’m starting with a clean slate and looking for new opportunities!
RDC: So what races will you be competing in this year?
Bebo: I’m going after all the big ones this year: Parker 425, Mint 400, Baja 500 and Vegas to Reno.
RDC: No Baja 1000?
Bebo: Yes I plan on racing but want to team up with someone, especially since I’m hearing the 50th Anniversary will be something truly special and very long. So I want to start working on winning that race by teaming up with the right partner now and using this Baja 1000 as the first test towards achieving that.
RDC: You have won just about every race in off-road racing. You are one of only a few multi-time Mint 400 Champion, tied for most Baja 1000 Overall Wins in a 4-wheel vehicle with 5, and you’re only 28 years old. What is left for you and what keeps you motivated to win?
Bebo: I want to be the winningest Baja 1000 driver of all time and pick up a couple other big wins along the way. I just absolutely love off-road racing and couldn’t imagine doing anything else. It’s in my blood and I feed off adrenaline like an engine needs fuel. I’m just so happy to finally be back competing full time with my own program and can’t wait for the green flag to drop on Saturday. #BebosBack
Photography – Ron James