At this year's Fud 200 in Plaster City on Saturday, even a buggy without brakes was no match for Scott McMillin's Chevy V8 600-horsepower red, white and blue Class 1 unlimited winner.
McMillin, of Poway, completed the 10-lap, 200-mile Fud 200 course in 3:01:37.
He turned in a first lap of 18 minutes 25 seconds, averaging better than 60 mph on a course he called "rough but fast."
Since 1994 Fudpucker's FRT MotorSports Promotions has put on the Fud 200 in the staging area near Plaster City.
This year 33 drivers — 27 pro buggies, cars and trucks and six sportsman class drivers — started the race.
After five hours of racing through the twists and turns of Coyote Wash and down the flat-out high-speed burn of Gypsum Road, the field was winnowed to 15 finishers and one overall champion.
"McMillin was pushing it today," said Doug Hovey of Escondido.
Hovey's Class 1 buggy started behind McMillin and last year's overall champion, Larry McCallum of Brawley, in the 7 a.m. staggered and timed start.
For the first five laps Hovey hung close to McMillin, trailing him by a little more than a minute.
On the fifth lap Hovey gained 50 seconds when McMillin pitted for gas.
"I came out of the pits and my spotters told me he was only 20 seconds behind," McMillin said Sunday night.
"I turned to my son, Andrew, and asked him ‘You want to win?'" McMillin said.
Andrew said "yes."
McMillin's buggy, fitted with a 21-inch A-arm suspension system, tore around corners, carrying McMillin and his son smoothly over rough patches as they lengthened their lead.
Hovey kept after him.
"We were pushing each other," McMillin said.
On lap 7 the cage that holds the ball bearings in the left CV joint of Hovey's buggy cracked in two. It happened right after passing the pit area. His crew hustled out and replaced the part.
A lap later the cage in the right CV joint busted. Hovey's day was done.
McMillin had no other close competition and cruised to the checkered flag. He won $550.
The second-place finisher in the division, Archibald, had as many problems as Hovey but finished the race, taking $150. He took seventh overall.In addition to losing his brakes on lap 8, Archibald "got nerfed by a truggie," blew out a tire and was still on the track 40 minutes after McMillin started packing.
A truggie is a hybrid combination of a buggy and truck. It has a buggy frame with a motor in front, like a truck.
"Nerfed" is getting pinned underneath the rear of another vehicle in a front to rear-end collision.
Taking third place was the brand new Hovey-made buggy that had chased McMillin for eight laps.
Hovey came in third even though he didn't finish because he had gone farther than any other Class 1. Hovey, a former FUD 200 champ, took home $100.
When Hovey started Saturday's race he had only run 40 miles in his personally built ride.
"Two laps of pre-running," he said.
Hovey was disappointed with the CV problems.
"We're going to use a different brand next time," he said, but he was happy with the buggy's overall performance.
McMillin said it was great to beat Hovey, a driver he respects.
"Chuck Hovey is a good competitor. To be the man you have to beat the man. Today, I did."
Both said they are looking forward to rejoining the battle in the upcoming Baja 500.
In the competitive 1-2 1600 Class, Eric Allen of San Marcos beat defending champion Steve Laputz of Solana Beach and Brian Ickler of Poway.
Allen, 16, was visibly shaking from excitement and left-over adrenaline after finishing second overall behind McMillin and upsetting Ickler and Laputz in his class.
"Did you hear? We finished second overall!" he said,
Allen won $450, Laputz $150 and Ickler $50.
Finishing in seventh overall and first in Class 5 was Todd "Stumpy" Stemmerman of San Diego. He won $300.
Stemmerman races a 2280 cc Class 5 VW buggy with a classic Beetle frame. He was defending champ in Class 5.
FRT MotorSports Productions sponsors races throughout the year in the Imperial Valley, Mexico, Arizona and Nevada.
Entry fees for the Fud 200 were $260 for pro and $135 for sportsman.
Saturday's race was sanctioned by the San Diego County Sports Committee Inc.
Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419.