Mills Motorsports, made up of members from Corpus Christi, took second place in their class at the 45th Annual SCORE Baja 500 off-road race last month. The annual race takes place in Baja California and is one of a series of races including the San Felipe 250, Primm 300, and Baja 1,000. Mills won the Baja 1,000 last November.
Those participating in the Baja 500 include Nick Mills, Tony MacNeil, Taylor Mills, Josh Huff, Mike Kerr, Kent Kroecker, and Allan Roach. Team Owner Gary Mills is also the owner of Rathole Drilling in Alice.
“We got into Baja racing a couple years ago,” Taylor said. “We went out and just paid to rent a spot to drive in a truck, and we did that at the Baja 500. We did it again at the Baja 1,000. Then in January 2011, we rented a spot in a trophy truck at the Laughlin race…We were just hooked.
“We got back from that race and we ordered our first truck. We started racing from there.”
Racing and speed have always peaked Taylor’s interest.
“I’ve always been interested in motors, whether it be fast cars or fast boats,” Taylor said. “Now, the off-road, high horsepower, adrenaline rush (trucks). It kind of goes right into that adrenaline junkie-type mentality. We definitely love it – It’s a rush.”
But the Mills team does not just do it for the thrill. The members challenge themselves with the grueling races that can more than 1,000 miles.
“It’s also endurance,” Taylor said. “It’s kind of like a narrative. You’ve got man versus machine, man versus man, man versus nature, and that man versus nature almost wins every time. You can only just get beat so much for so many hours.”
The trucks in the races are manned by two people at a time, the driver and the navigator. The navigator has a GPS and is responsible for telling the driver when and how sharp of a turn to make.
“That person is just as important, or more important, than the actual driver,” Taylor said of the navigator. “They have to sit there all day and all night for hours and look at a screen. They’re crucial.”
The off-road courses for these types of races are certainly a far cry from driving down the highway. The extreme range of temperatures the drivers must endure is only part of the test. Participants must also deal with the climate while being covered head-to-toe in safety gear from helmets, neck restraints, and flame-resistant suits.
“That’s one of the things that makes it the harshest,” Taylor said. “Not only are you in a truck for 10, 12, 15 hours, not only is it 110 or 115 degrees out, or in some cases during the night it gets down into the 30s, with no windshield, no windows. You’re in the dust, the dirt, the water if it’s raining. On top of that, you’re in full race gear from head-to-toe with all the safety equipment. Man, it’s grueling. It takes a toll on you for sure.”