The 2016 desert racing season is approaching its halfway point with the upcoming SCORE-International Baja 500 this weekend in Ensenada, Baja California. With only one SCORE-International race in the books, the overall points championship is up for grabs and this mid-season race is a pivotal point in the season.
Earlier this year, the San Felipe 250 fielded eleven Trophy Trucks and Dougans Racers Apdaly Lopez and Gary Magness finished third and fifth, respectively. This year, Baja 500 entries look to be as strong as ever and include the most seasoned off-road racers in the sport.
Dougans Racing Engines is coming off a SCORE-International Engine Builder of the Year award winning 2015 season. The award is determined by points accumulated by finishes of their racers. With Tavo Vildosola’s win at the 2015 Imperial Valley 250, Lalo Laguna’s win at the 2015 Baja Sur 500 and Apdaly Lopez’ win at the 2015 Baja 500, Dougans Racers took four of five 2015 SCORE-International races and earned the coveted award for engine supplier, Dougans Racing Engines.
“This SCORE Award was something that we as a company had our goals set on long ago,” said Fields in issue 1. of the SCORE Journal. “So once we knew it was final, my reaction personally, was a feeling that is hard to describe. All my life, I had been working to be just considered in this conversation. Now for it to come true was very satisfying. After all of these years to be recognized at this level, may very well be the highlight of my career.”
As this weekend could be the deciding factor in the four race SCORE series, Dougans racers have already established themselves in a tight Best in the Desert points race. With RPM Off-Road’s Eduardo Laguna in 2nd, Tracy Graf in 3rd and Justin Lofton in 4th, Dougans racers currently sit in three of the five positions in the overall standings, highlighted by two monumental wins.
RPM Off-Road’s #4 Justin Matney kicked off the season with a win at Best in the Desert’s Parker 425 in his Geiser-built Rigid Industries RPM Off-Road 4WD Trick Truck. The historic win marked the first overall win for a four wheel drive truck in the modern era. The #4 Trick Truck is powered by a Dougans 8 stack engine package and earned the overall two-plus minutes over Dougans’ #58 Tracy Graf. Andy McMillin finished 3rd in the #31 TSCO Racing built Trick Truck outfitted with a Dougans engine. Matney’s 4WD Trick Truck became proof of concept at the Parker 425 and may have secured the future of desert off-road racing vehicles.
#41 Justin Lofton piloted his Jimco built unlimited Trick Truck nicknamed “Bad Co.” to the overall win at the The 2016 Mint 400 with an official time of 05:36:10.647. With his second consecutive Mint 400 win, Lofton made history being the first competitor to win on 4 wheels back-to-back in The Mint 400’s 49 year history. Two time Mint 400 Champion, Andy McMillin, ran with Lofton the entire race and after over 360 miles of intense off-road warfare, the two Dougans racers finished 42 seconds apart. The 2016 Mint 400 had 50 Unlimited Trick Trucks and 27 Class 1 cars, making the largest and most competitive race of the year.