SCORE Desert Diaries–
BIDING TIME, Parte Siete
SCORE champ Dan McMillin, builder Rick Geiser
staying focused while waiting for end of COVID-19
ENSENADA, Baja California, Mexico – (While the world continues its ferocious fight against the vicious virus called COVID-19, SCORE is 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 a special series called SCORE Desert Diaries—Biding Time.)
Two significant individuals in the SCORE World Desert Championship SoCal’s SCORE Trophy Truck driver Dan McMillin and Arizona’s vehicle builder Rick Geiser are both tactfully waiting to be able to get the 2020 SCORE Baja racing season started.
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.
THIRD GEN McMILLIN
A third gen desert racer from one of the first families of desert racing, Dan McMillin, 32, San Diego, is preparing to debut his new No. 17 Chevy 1500 SCORE Trophy Truck all-wheel drive 1000-horsepower race truck built by Mason Motorsports.
Part of the legendary ‘Big Blue M’ McMillin family racing team, Dan McMillin is following in the dynamic dusty tracks of his late Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame grandfather Corky McMillin (Class of 2006) and his Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame father Mark McMillin (Class of 2018).
If he needs added incentive and guidance, he can keep it all in the prestigious McMillin family of SCORE champion racers in his brother Luke McMillin, his uncle Scott McMillin along his cousins Andy McMillin and Jessica McMillin.
He might have started his desert racing career a bit later than the rest of the McMillins but Dan McMillin has developed into one of the star SCORE Trophy Truck racers in the SCORE World Desert Championship.
He won his first SCORE race in Class 1/2-1600 (2007 SCORE San Felipe 250) when he was just 19 years old, and in 2011 he won two races (Class 1-SCORE San Felipe Challenge of Champions) and (Class 1/2-1600 SCORE Desert Challenge).
Dan McMillin has had several podium finishes in SCORE Trophy Truck and his most recent was last year’s SCORE San Felipe 250 where he finished third overall out of a race-record 44 starters. In the 50th anniversary race for the SCORE Baja 500 in 2018, Dan McMillin finished fourth in SCORE Trophy Truck while his brother Luke came in second place and his cousin Andy finished fifth out of 33 starters in the marquee class to give the McMillin family three of the top five finishers in the iconic event.
Rick Geiser, 56, Desert Hills, Ariz., and his brother Jeff Geiser are the driving forces behind the success of Geiser Brothers Design and Development, the family built, iconic off-road racing business located in Phoenix, Ariz. Geiser Bros has been building championship short-course and desert-racing vehicles for almost 25 years. During that time they have built nearly 75 SCORE Trophy Trucks, the marquee racing division in desert racing for high-tech, 950-horsepower unlimited custom trucks.
A total of 14 SCORE Off-Roadsman of the Year Awards have been won between the two brothers and all have been shared by both. They have won SCORE Mechanic of the Year six times (Rick-2006, 2010; Jeff-2011, 2015-17) by voting, SCORE Team Manager of the Year three times as determined by voting (Rick-2015-17). Determined by points, Geiser Brothers has won the SCORE Original Truck Chassis Manufacturer of the Year award five consecutive years (20015-19). Truck Chassis is a relatively new award for SCORE and Geiser Brothers has won the point title each of the five years.
Rick Geiser has been an additional driver numerous times over the years and in 2005 he helped the eventual SCORE Trophy Truck season point champion Bob Shepard win that year’s SCORE San Felipe 250.
Dan McMillin shares some responses for Mark Racing while Rick Geiser comments for Geiser Brothers Design and Development 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?
DM: We’re doing good, doing our part to stay socially safe from people we don’t know but enjoying good friends and family during this time. I’ve personally been spending a lot of time at our home in Arizona on the Colorado River, enjoying the open air and sunshine…and cold beers.
RG: At this time our families are home and safe.
SCORE: Is everybody healthy at home?
DM: Everyone is healthy! My parents are good! They are happy and healthy.
RG: All are healthy.
SCORE: How is your business handling this situation?
DM: Business has been a little different with working remotely but things are moving forward. We’ve been working on acquiring some new deals and managing more tightly what we have already. Working with people comes first and we’re doing our best as owners to accompany their needs as well as ours.
RG: Definitely a slow down, but working 50-70 hours a week for the last 20 years it feels good to slow down a bit. We have good customers and employees that understand.
SCORE: What are you doing with your race team during this time?
DM: Before the shutdown, we brought in a new team member and it’s worked out great so far. Our team is working well together, and by the end of this year I will have no doubt in my mind we will have the best off-road race shop and TEAM out there, period. We’re in a good place.
SCORE: What are some things you and your shop team are working on to keep ready to race?
DM: Organizing parts and chase equipment to make it more fluid and simple. We have a firm hold on the race trucks but the little things like chase and pit equipment, and inventories get missed. Those little things are what make or break a race, both on the race truck and the chase/pit side.
RG: Still prepping trucks and building new ones.
SCORE: Is your race shop still working?
DM: Yes they are, keeping their distance.
RG: Yes, but cut down on hours and split up the work week with employees.
SCORE: How are you keeping in touch with your race team?
DM: Just how I always have. Email, phone, and now DropBox. I visit the shop a few times a week but mostly I’m at my business office.
RG: We are having meetings every day.
SCORE: Have you done or are planning to do any form of vehicle testing in the near future?
DM: Just working on our AWD Trophy Truck “stuff.” It’s Top Secret!!!
RG: When we are able to do this, yes
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?
DM: No I haven’t but I will soon. I do play video games though; Call of Duty: WarZone with Class 1 Champion Brad Wilson, and my navigator Josh Burrows.
RG: No, but I will be looking into it.
SCORE: Will you be submitting the application with the SBA for the stimulus payroll subsidy?
RG: Not at this time.
SCORE: How hard has the adjustment been for you to just sit and wait while the virus is eradicated?
DM: It’s been difficult, especially with a new Mason AWD SCORE Trophy Truck but I understand why we’re on hold. I do a lot of other things outside of racing and have A LOT of amazing friends so I’ve been staying entertained to say the least!
RG: We can’t wait. we are moving forward just a bit slower and more careful with whom we come in contact with during this time.
SCORE: What are you doing to get some physical and mental exercise and stay physically sharp during this challenging time?
DM: With no gyms open I’ve been running more, and I bought a rowing machine for home workouts. I love that thing. As for mental, not a whole lot.
RG: Everyday something for both areas.
SCORE: What is your best race memory of the 2019 SCORE World Desert Championship?
DM: My best memory from the 2019 SCORE season was probably passing Robby Gordon at the SCORE San Felipe 250, and being right there on time to take the win. As a kid I loved watching the show Robby would put on, and still do. He’s a legend and showman. So that was pretty cool. I don’t think I took a breath the last 30 miles, Josh (Burrows-navigator) and I were pushing so hard. We ended up second overall after starting like 39th or something, but a time penalty (25 in a 20 mph zone…) bumped us into third place. Still an incredible run and we still finished on the podium.
RG: Winning races and taking season championships in the SCORE World Desert Championship.
SCORE: Which SCORE Baja race is your most favorite and why?
DM: Easy, the SCORE Baja 1000 peninsula run. Nothing like that race. The distance, the patience, the planning, the strategy, the pre running and the thousands of fans all the way down the peninsula. I’m conservatively-fast so the SCORE Baja 1000 is my kind of race. I’m winning it this year, even if it is a loop race.
RG: It would be the SCORE Baja 500. That race is just the right length and size for me.
The SCORE Baja 500 is one of the top motorsports events in the world. It was started originally in 1969 by the NORRA organization. In 1973 it was run by the Baja Sports Committee. 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 3, 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. The shows are co-produced by SCORE International and SoCal’s award-winning BCII TV.
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.