The Mini Summit was a highly anticipated feature of the 2023 San Felipe 250 route, but it might have been a bit too daunting for competitors. SCORE International announced Friday that Four-Wheelers are required to take an alternate route, which is much longer as it goes around the area, and Bikes and Quads are permitted to go through the summit. SCORE had initially planned the bypass as an optional path before mandating it for trucks, cars, and UTVs.
Situated between Miles 138 through 153.79 (15.79 miles total), the Mini Summit is a rock-filled path between mountains that many have compared to rockcrawling events like King of the Hammers. While traversable, it is an obvious test of tyre and vehicle durability as competitors on both two and four wheels have to navigate slowly to ensure they get through without a hitch. The summit’s tight confines also increase the risk of a bottleneck should a driver leading a caravan of others gets stuck or crashes while inside.
The summit was last used for the San Felipe 250 in the 1990s, while later action has been with domestic championships.
The bypass is nicknamed the “Long Way” as it is 34.80 miles long and requires competitors to go around the mountain range in which the summit is located. This extends the race’s overall route by 19.01 miles for a total of 281.81 miles should one decide to use it.
Prior to making it a mandatory route, drivers debated practicing the bypass on Friday to gauge whether it would be the ideal path on race day. Its longer length but likely safer and faster terrain versus the Mini Summit would have added a layer of strategy as teams must decide between going the long way around or going through the summit and hoping a snag would not occur.
While Bikes and Quads will not use the “Long Way”, they have two deviations of their own. Another bypass is granted for the Sportsman classes.
The change comes after an inauspicious day of pre-running in which multiple drivers were involved in head-on collisions and massive crashes, most notably Trophy Truck star Bryce Menzies getting stuck in a ditch before hitting a rut that launched his vehicle into a violent roll. The Trophy Truck Spec of EJ Herbst was among the victims of the Mini Summit when he rolled over onto his side while passing through. Part of the summit had also been blocked by a boulder that teams were unable to get around; while it was eventually removed last week, crews will also be on site for Saturday’s race with winches and ropes to help out when needed.
The San Felipe 250 will take place on Saturday, 1 April. The first bike heads out at 6 AM local time while Toby Price and Paul Weel start the Four-Wheelers three hours later. It is the first race of the 2023 SCORE season.
UPDATE: SCORE is now requiring the Four-Wheelers to take the bypass rather than simply providing it as an option. This article has been updated accordingly.