Crash in Blinding Silt Dashes Bebo’s Effort Late at
Terrible’s Race Ending Win Streak at Three
The age-old saying, “they come in threes,” spelled out the end of McMillin Racing’s three-race win streak. It was a disappointing outcome for McMillin Racing at the Best in the Desert’s Terrible’s Town 250 desert race after an unfortunate crash in the blinding silt ended the hopes for the team’s fourth consecutive victory.
Poised for the opportunity to make history in one of the most competitive classes in off road racing, the unlimited truck class, McMillin Racing strategically had planned for Andy “Bebo” McMillin to race the 207-mile sprint race alone, without changing drivers.
Scott McMillin explained, “We felt Andy could easily run the entire race on his own and we could save seconds from completing a driver’s change. The southern Nevada desert offers very challenging terrain, however we knew that we needed to run a fast pace to stay up front.”
Spring boarding off of three consecutive wins, the young McMillin racer was poised to make history by claiming his fourth consecutive victory in the unlimited truck class. The #31 McMillin Homes truck was second on the starting grid after a stellar qualifying effort. The strategy was to run fast and wait for the leader to make a mistake.
After two 69-mile laps, the unofficial timing in the McMillin Racing pit showed the #31 truck ahead on time by a mere 30 plus or minus seconds. The main pit was abuzz with anticipation as “Bebo” began his final lap.
Only minutes later, as the crew began to gather up the fueling equipment, the race frequency came alive as Andy reported they were involved in a crash with the physical race leader, Jerry Whelchel. In fact, Whelchel, who was only seconds in front of the McMillin race truck, had crashed into a limited class truck that was stopped and buried in the deep Nevada silt. While Whelchel attempted to get his truck out of the cloud of silt, the #31 unknowingly drove at speed directly into the path of the trapped race vehicles.
“We’re relieved that no one was injured. Unfortunately, racing incidents of this nature do occur from time to time. Andy and his co-driver, Brady Thompson, did a great job at getting out of the accident and back in the race as fast as they could. Once they were out of the jam and back in clean air, they raced hard for the final 62.5 miles of the race,” explained team manager Greg Williams.
Bebo drove across the finish line in third place among the Trick Truck class and finished fifth overall with a time of 3 hours, 48 minutes and 3 seconds. The #31 McMillin Homes truck was less than 5 minutes off the winning time of 3:43:18. This important podium finish earned Andy McMillin the point lead for the 2009 Best in the Desert Series championship in the elite Trick Truck class.
Seated in his truck Andy said, “Wow! That was crazy! We never saw the stopped trucks in the blinding silt. All of a sudden, they just appeared and by that time it was too late. I’m really glad that no one was hurt. I’m surprised that the front of our truck was not more damaged. After finishing the second lap, we felt we were in the right spot for this 3-lap race. The truck was running perfect and we had no flats all day long. Then out of nowhere appeared the #40 truck and well the rest is history. That mishap cost both of our teams the chance to race to the finish.”
Off road racing is the ultimate modern adventure that pits man and machine against the rigors of the barren deserts. When you sign up for a desert race, you can’t imagine what obstacles and challenges you may have to overcome. Champions are sculpted from the experiences they endure while racing towards the checkered flag. Andy McMillin, from the legendary bloodlines of American desert racing icons, will return to the desert for America’s longest off road desert race, the Best in the Desert’s Vegas to Reno 3-day rally style race on August 19-23, 2009.