Corky McMillin

The off-road community knows Macey L. Corky McMillin simply as Corky. Corky moved from Missouri to Chula Vista when he was 14. He started a small construction company in Bonita, California in 1960, with his wife, Vonnie looking after the accounting duties. In the mid-1960s, Corky McMillin, father of two young boys, enjoyed outdoor activities, including trips to the River and weekends at the dunes. He took his ten-year-old son, Mark, with him to the dunes, where he taught him to drive.

In the early ‘70s, Corky and Mark built a Baja Bug in their backyard so they could go to Baja to watch a friend, whom he sponsored, compete in the famed Baja 1000. In 1975 they went to serve as pit support for another friend. The friend’s effort wasn’t successful, and he parked the car under a tarp. The following year Corky borrowed the car so he and Mark could go race the Baja 1000 one time. They wanted to be able to say they’d done it.

Now they’ve done it, and done it and done it. Not only that, they’ve won it. Corky and Mark so loved the sport that they never quit going. They convinced Mark’s younger brother, Scott, to join in the fun, which he did a few years later, and he, too, became thoroughly involved. Corky’s record includes season class championships in 1981, 1985 and 1987. Corky’s enthusiasm worked like a pebble in a pond. The ripples kept spreading. His sons have become thoroughly enmeshed in the sport, so much so that Scott is involved in the sponsorship of the grass roots MDR/FUD series in the Superstition Mountains area, and Mark has recently been named to the California Off Highway Commission. Mark said, “My dad believed in giving back to everything that’s been good to us. Our families are functional, and we all believe that it’s because we did the sand dunes and the river and the off road activities as a family. Why not give back to that?” In addition, Corky so loved the sport that he imbued his grandchildren with his enthusiasm, and now there are two, Andy and Daniel, who are actively racing, and two, Macy and Luke, who ride whenever possible. Luke,13, already has a car, and impatiently awaits the time he’ll be old enough to race.

Corky’s reason for going on with the racing was in part because he “just loved it” and also because he loved the fact that the family was together. He also introduced many of his employees at the McMillin Companies to the sport, and his sons continue the tradition. If an employee expresses an interest in going to a race, he generally gets to go. The race team gets the employee a room or an experienced person to camp with. They show him a good time “feed him hotdogs” and by the end of the weekend, according to Mark, “he’s hooked.” A lot of ex-employees still go racing with them.

Corky was a part of many of the developments that have brought the sport of off-road racing to its current level. His teams were the first to invest time and money in the use of the heavier and more powerful Porsche 911 motors for off-road. Once they had ironed out the bugs, and proved it by winning the SCORE San Felipe race in 1983, other teams jumped on the bandwagon. From Porsches they moved on to Fords and then Chevies, always looking for ways to improve. For the last five years of his life Corky had been working hard to develop a new, beefier, off-road transmission. Only a couple of months before he passed away he’d finally decided it was good enough to use in competition. The team is now running one of Corky’s transmissions at selected events.

But perhaps it was the way he felt about the sport that endeared him to his off-road friends. He loved it. “And”, said Mark, “He loved what it taught you. To be successful, you’ve got to plan, got to practice (as in prerunning), then do it, and follow through.” Mark explained that the team would get back from a race and do a post mortem. They’d discuss how things could have been done better. Mark said, “He applied the same philosophies and lessons learned from racing back to the family business.” “Dad always told us, “Never, ever quit whatever you’re doin’ in life.” says Mark. Corky lived up to that maxim – racing and working at improving the racing, until he was 76 years old. He went from his race car to the hospital where he passed away in September of 2005.

He leaves a void that will never be filled.

Biography By Judy J. Smith