A firefighter from Snowmass Village was part of a team that finished third on Saturday in the Trophy Truck Spec division of the SCORE San Felipe 250, a race in the rugged Baja, Mexico, desert.
Jason Hutter, a battalion chief with Roaring Fork Fire and Rescue, and Brad Lovell, the vehicle’s owner who lives in Colorado Springs, drove through 4- and 5-foot bumps at up to 90 miles an hour, that Hutter said “felt like someone was hitting my head with a baseball bat.”
The overall winner of the race, Andy McMillin, hung tough despite two flat tires and rolling his truck, it was reported by autoweek.com. McMillin finished with a winning time of 6:04.26. This year’s course ran 350 rather than 250 miles.
According to race operations director Dominic Clark, Hutter and Lovell raced to 7:18.09, slowed in part by a flat tire just 13 miles from the finish at mile marker 335. Hutter raced in a different division from McMillan’s.
Two-person teams started the day 30 seconds apart and there was “a lot of dust” at the start and along the way, Hutter said Monday while driving back from the Baja.
He recalled a section of the race where they were heading into the Matomi Wash south of San Felipe. Memorable for its picturesque walls, the section’s boulder and sand made for tight navigation. Hutter said the team was stuck in a bottleneck behind a truck at mile marker 56 and “we were there for eight-and-a-half minutes,” which set them behind the early race leaders.
At race mile 137, Hutter and Lovell were in seventh place and heading to the Valle de Trinidad. Up and over the summit at the 195-mile mark, the team felt solid up and over the summit. On the way down they were met with more of the San Felipe “whoops,” giant speed bumps, spaced between four and five feet apart. Just 13 miles from the finish, they got a flat tire.
At 100 pounds each including rims, the tires are not easy to change but Hutter said “we probably changed it in five to six minutes out in the middle of nowhere. From there it was a clean run.”
Three races are left in the SCORE International 2019 season, including the Baja 1000, which starts Nov. 19.
With a different partner, fellow Snowmass firefighter Paul Blangsted, Hutter won the 50th anniversary running of the Baja 1000 off-road race down the length of the Mexican peninsula, Nov 16-18, 2017 in a vehicle he and Blangsted co-owned under the team name Fire Guys Racing.
Their truck is currently out of commission after they slammed a rock in December, Hutter said.
At last weekend’s San Felipe race, some of the guys who work as support for Fire Guys Racing, including Mark Murrell, a retired firefighter from Grand Junction, traveled to Mexico to help with Hutter and Lovell’s effort, he said. Hutter and Murrell originally met on the fire lines during a wildfire deployment.