As part of one of the most storied and successful teams in off-road racing history, Mark’s passion for supporting the industry, for victory, and for setting the highest bar possible — while still making sure he and all around him are having the time of their lives doing it — is a Hall of Fame worthy achievement. This five-time Baja 1000 overall champion enjoyed considerable success behind the wheel, but his real story extends far beyond being a great race car driver.
Mark started his race career more than 40 years ago, driving a borrowed Class 9 car at the 1976 SCORE Baja 1000, a race he would dominate in the 1980s, with a remarkable five overall victories, in 1981, 1983, 1984, 1986 and 1988. Baja was, and continues to be, Mark’s favorite place to race. He also has wins to his credit south of the border at the SCORE Baja 500, SCORE San Felipe 250, and the NORRA Mexican 1000, where he brought his famous “Macadu” Chenowth-Porsche out of retirement for the inaugural event in 2010. That commitment helped influence a great number of other racers to join the vintage off-road movement and create what today is known as “The Happiest Race on Earth.”
Mark also had success as a racer in the United States, with many overall and class victories, including an overall win at The Great American Off-Road Race, The Mint 400, in 1988.
At the 2017 NORRA Mexican 1000, Mark received his third prestigious BILSTEIN Madonna Award. The Madonna award is given to “an individual who wins a championship in a major American racing series, displays sportsmanship and positive character traits on and off the track, and possesses an intense desire to win while overcoming adversities.”
The Big Blue M of McMillin Racing has been synonymous with off-road racing for five decades. Three generations of McMillins, including Mark’s late father Corky (also a Hall of Fame Inductee), Mark’s brother Scott, Mark’s niece Jessica, nephew Andy, and sons Dan and Luke, have campaigned more than 40 race vehicles and competed in over 300 races, with more than 700 race entries, resulting in more than 250 class podium victories. The McMillins have combined for more than 100 race victories and 50 overall titles. The McMillin Racing history is meticulously documented and cataloged in one of the largest private collections of off-road racing memorabilia, publications, maps, and history in the sport. Much of this historic collection is documented in the book, “Big Blue M: The McMillin Racing Story” published in 2015, co-authored by Mark and fellow Hall of Fame inductee Marty Fiolka.
Mark’s success in off-road is balanced by a highly successful business career. A graduate of San Diego State University (SDSU), Mark is president of The McMillin Companies, his family’s San Diego based real estate firm. Mark was just 14 when he started working for his father, sweeping up construction debris at a job site. He worked his way through almost every job in the company. When Mark entered college, he wanted to enroll in a construction program, but SDSU didn’t have one. In fact, such a program didn’t exist in the whole state of California. In true Mark McMillin fashion, he worked to provide a solution, and today is the driving force behind the Construction Engineering and Management Program at SDSU’s College of Engineering.
Mark has been married to his wife C’Ann for 31 years. They have three children, Dan, Macy, and Luke. Inspired by his daughter Macy, Mark is also a long-time member of the board of directors of the United Cerebral Palsy Association of San Diego. Another one of Mark’s many philanthropic pursuits is his support of the SDSU Baja Engineering Team, a program that encourages college level students to pursue engineering excellence through building and racing off-road vehicles for collegiate competitions hosted by the Society of Automotive Engineers.
Mark is a past president of the Building Industry Association (BIA) of San Diego County—a position also held by his late father Corky–and has served on the association’s board of directors. He also served on the California Major Builders Council for the California Building Industry Association and on the board of directors for the National Association of Homebuilders. In 1996, the BIA named Mark McMillin as their Industry Professional of the Year. Mark was inducted into the California Home Building Hall of Fame in 2008. Also in 2008, then-California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed Mark to a four-year term on the California Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Commission. Mark is proud to have been able to represent the off-road community at the state level.
What Mark has accomplished behind the wheel is impressive, but what he does behind the scenes is perhaps even more telling of the character of this Hall of Fame inductee. Mark’s generosity toward his fellow racers, crew members, and the off-road community in general, is well known. Always willing to lend a hand, loan a part, or offer a ride, it would be hard to find a team in off-road that doesn’t have stories to tell about Mark’s willingness to help his fellow racers and his fun-spirited sense of humor.
In 2015, legendary racer and Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame chairman, Rod Hall, approached Mark, asking him to become ORMHOF’s next chairman. Mark happily accepted the job leading ORMHOF’s all-volunteer board. Over the past three years, Mark has worked to fulfill the organization’s mission to recognize and honor those individuals and organizations whose lifelong contributions to off-road motorsports have set a standard for others to follow.