COME AND TAKE IT: COMBINED FORCE WINS BAJA 1000, SECURES CHAMPIONSHIP
Defying the odds, rookie desert racers, Nick, Taylor and Tony, the 3 brothers of TNT RACING, join forces with Baja veteran Kent Kroeker of KORE OFF-ROAD to dominate the 2012 Baja 1000 in the Super 8 class.
“Few things in life can compare with the sense of accomplishment this team shares,” said by Gary Mills, Nick and Taylor’s Dad. “Nobody thought it was possible, but one thing I’ve learned is that the greatest things in life were meant to be from the beginning.”
VIOLENCE AND MAYHEM
In August, during the Nevada desert race, “Vegas to Reno,” General Tire’s Kent Kroeker destroyed the back of the Mills race truck while attempting to pass. The event was caught on video, creating international controversy while demonizing Kroeker for his aggressiveness.
Meanwhile, away from the public eye, a lifelong friendship was being cultivated between Kroeker and the Mills family.
“Shortly after Vegas to Reno I called Nick to apologize for the damage I did to his truck and explain that obliterating a fellow competitors vehicle is not standard procedure in desert racing,” said Kroeker.
Nick responded by saying, “We don’t take **** off of nobody – had my race truck been running properly, you would have never caught me!”
Kroeker answered, “You are the kind of people we want to be associated with!”
The two laughed and pledged to support each other any way they could at future races.
UNDERTAKING THE IMPOSSIBLE
Two months later, after the final heat race of the “Bluewater 250,” the Mills family joined Kroeker in KORE’s pit compound. The Mills race truck had overheated, destroying a main crank seal, spewing oil on the exhaust and engulfing the truck in flames. Driver Taylor Mills and co-driver Josh Huff narrowly escaped with minor burns, but were able to extinguish the fire in time to preserve the vehicle.
“As we stood around the smoldering carcass of our truck, Nick and his brothers explained they were planning on racing this year’s Baja 1000.”
“Since Nick was talking about undertaking the peninsula run with a dead truck, no prerunning, no prep plan and only a few weeks to arrange logistics, I thought he was joking,” said Kroeker, “ I explained to Nick that most professional teams had their entire Baja 1000 program suitcased a month ago.”
“What the brother’s wanted to do was essentially impossible, and the time compression made it dangerous.”
Nevertheless, Nick asked Kroeker to provide logistics and driving support, his goal being to bring the first “Super 8” class truck across the finish line of the Baja 1000 for the win. And since it was the only race for “Super 8” in the season, it would also mean the team would garner a championship.
Mike Kerr, Kroeker’s Crew Chief said, “The only thing I like more than an impossible mission with an uncertain outcome is a dangerous impossible mission with an uncertain outcome.”
Kroeker and his team agreed to support.
Leaving Bluewater, the race truck went to Kacy Clark at American Motorsports in Phoenix, AZ. Kacy and his crew worked around the clock installing a new motor, radiator, transmission, cooling system, fuel system, bearings, brakes, body, fire suppression system, General Grabber Competition Tires, and the latest Baja Designs Onyx LED lights.
Meanwhile Kroeker and his team cashed in every favor they had acquired during 20 years of Baja racing, arranging pit support and full logistics in record time.
ENSENADA TO LA PAZ
Recent hurricanes had destroyed much of the Baja peninsula, leaving the course riddled with standing water, exposed rocks and surprise washouts. With no previous experience on the course and no time to prerun, the rule of the game would be to drive conservatively and consistently to each driver change.
At noon on Thursday, Nick Mills and Tony Macneil took the truck off the starting line in Ensenada.
Driving through massive amounts of dust while passing slower race traffic, Nick and Tony had finally broken into clean air.
As they settled into a consistent pace, without warning, the left rear wheel of the race truck departed from the axle. Nick and Tony immediately went into problem-solving mode, repairing the damaged hub, caliper and wheel studs, then installing the spare wheel in record time.
“When I felt the wheel come off, I thought our race was over,” said Tony Macneil. “But our goal was to get the truck to Taylor – and nothing was going to stop us.”
After a smooth pit at El Crucero, Race Mile 350, Taylor Mills and Josh Huff took over the truck. The duo drove over 500 miles at night, through some of the worst conditions ever seen in Baja.
“At one point we came to a silt bed with at least 15 buggies and Trophy Trucks stuck in it,” said Taylor. “It was like a graveyard with drivers standing on top of their vehicles. I did the only thing I could do – pick a line, put the pedal to the floor and hope for the best.”
“The General Grabbers lifted the front of the truck and we roosted right past everyone.”
“Stuck drivers were cringing from our Baja Designs lights and the rooster tail of silt coming off our Grabbers.”
“It was awesome!” Said Josh Huff, Taylor’s navigator.
At Race Mile 835, in Loreto, Taylor and Josh handed a perfect truck to Kent Kroeker and Mike Kerr. After a quick tire change and steering adjustment, Kroeker and Kerr drove a solid pace and handed the truck back to Taylor and Josh who then drove the final leg, bringing the truck to La Paz, Friday Evening for the win.
“This was a tremendous experience. There is no greater test for man and machine than the Baja 1000 Peninsula Run. The Team was on their A-Game, we had zero flats from our General Tires, and our Baja Designs Onyx lights were incredible,” said Kroeker after the race.
“I didn’t think we were going to be able to pull it off, but somehow we did.”
“We are from Texas,” said Nick Mills at the finish.
“And what we stand for is probably different than most. The Voice of Reason said we had no chance of finishing, let alone winning this race.”
“But I’ll tell you what, if you say to a Texan, he can’t have his dream, he’ll tell you one thing – COME AND TAKE IT!”
KORE Off-Road would like to thank their sponsors:
About KORE Off-Road:
KORE Off-Road, Inc. (www.koreperformance.com) manufactures and distributes the finest suspension components in the world. Forged in the ultra brutal proving ground of professional off-road racing, KORE Off-Road specializes in lift kits, leveling kits and long-travel suspension systems.
About Mad Media:
Mad Media (www.madmedia.com) is a San Diego based marketing and creative agency offering professional print, web, and film production. They specialize in producing culturally relevant brand messaging using professional athletes, musicians, and artists. Mad Media focuses on sports and cultures that they are passionate about, including skateboarding, surfing, snowboarding, motocross, FMX, BMX, off-road racing, rally racing, Hip-Hop, Punk Rock and Mixed Martial Arts. Mad Media has produced over twenty major commercial and viral film projects this year for clients such as Subaru of America, DC Shoes, Monster Energy Drink, and Harley-Davidson. Mad Media has been executing immersive marketing campaigns since 1996.