Mark Handley / Solar Racing return to winning ways against formidable competitor! One hundred twenty miles south of the Mexican border in the seaside town of San Felipe, the Solar Racing team came ready to race the 20th Tecate SCORE San Felipe...
Mark Handley / Solar Racing return to winning ways against formidable competitor!
One hundred twenty miles south of the Mexican border in the seaside town of San Felipe, the Solar Racing team came ready to race the 20th Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250, which was Round 2 of the five-race 2006 SCORE Desert Series.
Solar Racing was just one of a race-record of 362 entries from 20 States, Canada, Colombia, England and Mexico competing in 24 Pro and 5 Sportsman classes for cars, trucks, motorcycles and ATVs.
Solar Racing competes in the Stock-Full sized pick-up class. Competitors included a trio of 4WD H-1 Hummers, including the 4 time past winner of the race and last 5 years Class-champion. In addition was the new Titan of another former champion.
The most formidable competition for the Solar Racing 2WD Ford F-150 however was going to be the Baja race course itself, a challenging 240.34-mile rock- shrouded, silt-laden desert. The three previous years the team suffered disappointment with 3 straight DNFs (did not finish).
The mighty SR F-150 raced back and forth with the Titan after already passing one of the Hummers. This went on for the first 35 plus miles, passing each other 6 or 7 times. The huge rollers for the first 35 miles really tested the suspension. Since the truck is equipped with Bilstein Shock Absorbers and National Leaf Springs, it made the best of the roughest of sections.
As the other pair of Hummers was seen in the distance, the F-150 pulled away from the Titan not to be seen again. For the next 20 miles the lead was to whoever chose the best line in the expansive sandy wash.
The dust was kept to a minimum since rain was beginning to fall. Without windshields, it made visibility quite difficult at speeds exceeding 90 miles per hour. It also brought back memories of a previous race in Baja that encountered flash floods.
As the SR 150 passed race mile 55, the team was now in the lead both on course and corrected time. The rain continued to fall and the high speed sections became more and more slippery. This was not to be a problem though since the race truck was equipped with Goodyear Mud-Terrains which clawed through the Mexican desert. By race mile 135, just over half way, the lead was just 8 minutes over the 2nd place H-1. The SR F-150 kept going and made it to RM 161 with a 30 minute lead and entering the infamous Matomi Wash, considered 27 miles of the "Best of Baja". 80 miles to go with a 30 minute lead! The truck was performing great and ahead of pace.
The rain made it difficult to see variations in the terrain, and the incredible rainbows over the Sea of Cortez proved to be somewhat distracting. However, it seemed one end of the rainbow was the end of the infamous wash, and the other seemed to be back at the finish line.
Not wanting to repeat the Team's previous disappointment, the pace for the race truck would be kept well within its limitations trying to avoid any stupid mistakes. It turns out the only stops for the race truck the entire day was once for a co-rider change, and then a couple of quick refueling stops. The "DuraWall Puncture Resistance Technology" of the Goodyears ensured a flat-free day.
It turned out the "end of the rainbow" was the San Felipe Arches and the finish line. The Solar Racing F-150 earned 1st place with over an hour lead on 2nd! The total time on the course was just over 7 hours to complete the rugged 240 miles.
Although there was a total of 362 entries, there were only 340 starters. Of that, there were only 219 finishers, a 64% finishing rate, which was better than the Stock-Full class with only 40% finishing.
The win moves Mark just 3 points out of 1st place in season points, trailing behind the 5-time class champion. It also keeps him in contention for the Milestone Award, which is for those racers who complete every mile of every race in the five race series.