Mills Motorsports Bests Baja and Secures SCORE Points Championships in SPEC Trophy Truck and Class 8
“Whatever it Takes” has been the team motto of Mills Motorsports ever since its birth in 2012. When the Mills Family joined forces with Baja Champion Kent Kroeker of KORE Off-Road for the 2012 Baja 1000, they went on to win the race and overall points championship in Spec Trophy Truck. Fast-forward two years later and Mills Motorsports has now earned a SCORE-International points championship in Class 8 and a second championship in the SPEC Trophy Truck Class. In one of the most strenuous and demanding Baja 1000’s the team has ever faced, and most importantly the strongest test of will to honor the “Whatever It Takes” motto, Mills Motorsports put two race trucks on the finish podium in La Paz.
What happened in the ten days of pre-running leading up to the journey from Ensenada to La Paz foreshadowed the commotion that eventually ensued on race day. The 1,275 miles were split into two sections with a North and South team taking responsibility for their respective areas. Unlike many teams that field one hundred or more people to support a single truck, the Mills team only uses 30 crew members, each highly-seasoned “Baja Operators” including SCORE Mechanic of the Year Nominee, Mike Kerr.
The week and a half was spent getting accustomed to the unexpected course conditions due to the hurricane that plagued Baja Sur. While learning the terrain, the Mills team rolled two pre-runners, including the Geiser Trophy Truck that Taylor Mills will race next year.
Despite the setbacks during pre-running, the team felt confident heading in to race day. The primary effort was the #841 SPEC Trophy Truck that started as a Brenthel Trophy Truck but has been extensively modified by KORE Off-Road. The second truck was the venerable “Gustav.” This truck is Mills’ #824 SRT-10 Dodge Ram Class 8, powered by a 512 cubic inch, all aluminum Viper motor that cranks 900 horses.
Originally, each of the four drivers, Darren Skilton, Taylor Mills, Alan Roach and Mike Meeks, were to drive 600+ miles each. As in battle, where no plan survives the first contact with the enemy, things can change with a blink of an eye in Baja.
Mills called in Darren Skilton and co-driver Josh Nelson to pilot the #841 SPEC TT off the line in Ensenada. Undoubtedly, the objective was to win the race but in a horrifying event that no team ever wants to go through, the game plan went south after just 103 miles.
While trying to pass Billy Wilson at RM 103, Skilton got tangled with him and rolled the truck end over end at almost 100 mph. The crash tore off the right front corner, ripped apart the steering and exploded the fuel cell. Darren was taken to the hospital with a concussion and Josh suffered minor injuries.
Josh wandered around the crash site – a classic yardsale – for a moment, picking up miscellaneous parts, starter motor, steering pump and alternator to name a few, wondering how these parts could have been jettisoned from the truck.
The truck was declared irreparable and was “out of the race.”
Ben Myers ran point for the Northern logistics to Valley de Trinidad and as lead chase, made the decision to spur the team on. Myers himself had no spare arms or steering components, just a transmission and rear gears. The spare parts for the truck were at Mills’ first pit at RM 158.
Tim Gatto drove four hours to the crash site, bringing the spare components to fix the truck. The team righted the truck and drained the oil that had collected in the cylinders. Josh determined later that the parts he had been picking up were the spares from the rear of the truck. Once the motor proved able to fire, the welding and fabricating began and in roughly 8 hours, the truck was back up and running.
Kroeker, banded as an alternate driver, remained collected and hopped in the aching truck. By RM 472, Kroeker noticed that the transmission was failing. The Mills team rallied yet again and replaced the transmission and Kroeker pushed on, bringing a bent but functional truck to Taylor Mills and Josh Huff at RM 650.
At this point, the strategy shifted to hitting all the checkpoints and VCPs to get points for a finish. Taylor and Josh, with the exception of getting stuck in the silt one time, were able to keep a steady but quick pace and finish under the time limit, securing 4th place in Spec TT, a Milestone Award for Taylor and a 2014 SPEC TT Championship.
46:29:04 is what it took for the #841 to see the checkered flag but in doing so, Mills Motorsports, as a team, undoubtedly earned the points championship in SPEC Trophy Truck.
Nearly thirteen hours earlier, teammate Mike Meeks was the only Class 8 driver to cross the finish line. Alan Roach and James Jeleniowski had a flawless run from the start to El Arco, where they handed an unscathed Class 8 race truck to Driver of Record, Mike Meeks and co-driver Matt Nelson.
The highly experienced and vetted duo took the #824 to the finish for a dominating win. There were no other finishers in Class 8. This secured a Points Championship for Meeks as well. After winning the San Felipe 250, Imperial Valley Desert Challenge and the Baja 1000, nobody in Class 8 was even close.
What Mills Motorsports accomplished at the 2014 Baja 1000 would be deemed impossible by any other Baja race team. Mills Motorsports would like to thank all of their sponsors that support them throughout the year. Next year the Mills Motorsports Team will campaign one and sometimes two unlimited vehicles, one of which will be a Trophy Truck, with Taylor Mills and Kent Kroeker driving.
Baja Designs Lights – Incredible performance for a race that takes place mostly at night.
Arrow Racing Motors – 512 Gustav in the Class 8 now has 4,300 race miles and still puts out 940 HP.
Jamar Brakes – The best stopping power and the best personalized tuning and race support in the world.
BFG tires – Outstanding pit support. They fed the team and stayed open late so they could fuel and make the finish with only hours to spare. Zero flats over 1,275 brutal miles.
FST Fuel Filters – The best filters on the market. The Mills team runs them on all race trucks and prerunners. The most surface area and flow, least restriction and highest level of filtration.
Fox Racing Shocks – The best shocks and race support in the business – on all Mills racecars.
KORE – For its superb vehicle dynamics engineering, tuning and support personnel.