Saturday, before race weekend we got the tranny reinstalled after we lost 4thgear on the way home from Parker. We had other little things to finish up, new hood pins, door alignment, fuel cell mount modification, etc. We finished these things up in time to do a little testing, so I drove it to work on Thursday with plans to take it out and ring it out a bit. On the way in it seemed the tranny was shifting a little soft. I showed up at my co-driver’s place to prep for testing and adjust the TV cable. We took the hood off and cruised up and down the road a bit, and the problem seemed to be getting worse. We drove to the tranny guy’s shop and tried a few suggestions that included adding some lube guard. The end result was that at 3pm Thursday I had no 2nd or 4th gear (same clutch). We had planned to leave before lunch on Friday for a leisurely 2-hour stroll up to Gila Bend . Not! We limped home and were able to pull the tranny in 1hour and 15 minutes. We also finished up some minor prepping and turned out the shop lights at 11pm. 8am Friday I was sitting in the parking lot of the tranny guy’s shop waiting for him to show. He immediately went to work on the tranny, and all he found was the 2-4 clutch glazed. He asked a curious question when I turned the tranny into him. As he was pulling on the TV cable, "is this the original TV cable I installed", "yes". We got the tranny back at 3pm. He was delayed a bit waiting for parts. We got the tranny back to the shop and had it all hooked up by 8pm. We took it down the road to check it out. I was shifting very hard and couldn’t get 4th gear even after we adjusted the TV cable all the way out. We were rapidly running out of time. I made the call to get packed and go, if we only had 3 gears to race with, oh well. We left the shop at 12am. I ran 3rd gear down the road to make sure I wouldn’t burn up another clutch, although every 50 miles or so I would shift it into 4th and see what would happen. About 20 miles out of Gila Bend, 4th gear came back. We stopped at the Texaco to top off with uh "92 octane race gas". Camp was set at 3am. Our group wasn’t to hard to identify in the dark, a 20+ foot boat has a distinct silhouette I awoke at 8am to a buggy cranking thinking that we may have to stage in 15mins. We had heard that there was an unfortunate death that delayed the race. There was no complaint from the racers at having an informal impound while the funeral procession was in progress. We lined up for staging then shutdown the engines. It was very appropriate and respectful.
We started first out of three in Class 3, Tom Swanson (303) starting second and Larry Phoenix starting third. We started strong; the truck was running great. 303 was appearing now and again for 15 miles about 100yds back in the dust. 303 was obviously running faster but was having problems in the dust. Eventually, 303 caught us when he had some clear air and we let him by, as we had backed off because the steering was feeling a bit loose. At one point we made a right hander into a wash, and I had the steering full right, but the truck did not respond. We went wide through the turn and went into the trees before getting into the wash, we guessed that there was definitely a steering problem, we backed off a bit more and made it to the midway pit (race mile 27). We didn’t know this was the midway pit, we just pulled up to the first group of people we saw. Lucky for us it was the well-prepared Wood Bros. Team. We yelled out to check the steering. They did a quick check and said they didn’t see anything wrong. I yelled back to check again, this time I moved the steering back and forth, there were 4 people with their heads under the truck, and they all simultaneously yelled out some expletive. They motioned me to pull forward and to stay strapped in. They were quite the impressive team: they were all over the truck running or running for tools. What they had discovered was the front axle U-bolts had worked their way loose, so when I turned the wheel the axle would just move back and forth on the springs. While this was getting fixed Larry Phoenix passed us. Thanks to the Wood Bros. Team we were quickly on our way. Another 10 miles down the course the engine started heating up and the alternator was not charging, we threw the fan belt. We were only 10 miles out from the main pit and I thought if we could keep the speed up the temp would stay down, no such luck. The temp kept creeping up and at 250+ we pulled over and shut ‘er down to put the belt back on. At this point we had lost a lot of radiator juice and once we got running again the temp was still in the yellow. We radioed into the pit that we were going to need water. There is a trick technique where if you keep the engine above 2000 rpm the fluid doesn’t come out of the radiator, well this only works if your temp is below 210... which it wasn’t. The Doherty and Kolt Teams and of course my team, were all there to help. They got the radiator cap off with out much to-do, but when they started dumping water we had a no-kidding geyser going, pit teams 4 pits down estimated a 30 footer. Luckily no one was seriously injured, but we did have to close our visors to avoid the face wash/warm shower. We got that all squared, double checked all the U-bolts, pinned the hood and were back on our way. We proceeded into the gauntlet where one of the hood pins went vertical and was slipping through the hood. We stopped at a group of spectators who righted the pin, but a few bumps later the pin came out and was gone. Luckily we crossed near our pit again were Kras and Randy removed the offending hood for good. I recall two other times we had to put the fan belt on but don’t remember where. About 4 miles out of the gauntlet out of the second lap the engine stopped accelerating. It would slowly rev to 4k then bog, if I tipped it in it would bog right away. We pulled over and looked all over for anything wrong, fuel pressure was good, batteries were good. We called back to the pit to the experienced to see if they had any ideas, they came up with a bunch of good suggestions, but everything was checking good. The engine was still running, so we starting limping our way around trying to hold 2k rpm and let the tranny bring us up to speed. The tranny hung good. We were running 2k rpm 4th gear in the wash, and the tranny didn’t even get warm. As we were driving we thought of some other things to check, the fuel injection ground and power (Holley projection). The power fuse checked good, and we could not locate the ground wire, so we decided to get rolling again. But the engine wouldn’t start. Just by luck we were trying different things and we ended up cranking the fuel pressure up 5 psi and going full rich on the injection, that allowed the engine to start and accelerate, so we were at race speed again but leaving a trail of black smoke.
This was only our second experience running without a windshield. AC, my co-driver, kept complaining that every time he would "clean house" of branches I would bring in some more. We came upon a buggy being towed by a stock jeep blocking the racecourse, and my co-driver pointed to an alternate course through some very low branches that stripped off our radio antenna. We also found a 5 car on its roof so we strapped him upright. The last 10 miles the alternator belt turned over and wasn’t spinning the alternator enough to charge, but luckily we had two batteries to get us back and we shutdown all the electrics that we didn’t need. During one of our breakdowns we discovered that the engine temp sender was broken so we knew that the gauge was out. When the belt turned over we would smell a bit of burning thinking it was the engine over heating we stopped at where a buggy was broken down and had him check the engine, and he said the radiator was cold. Eventually we noticed (the hood off helped) that when we hit 4-5k rpm the belt would fling some smoke.
Being a Gran Prix style race we were checker flagged on our second lap and claimed a 3rd place finish. Tom Swanson (303) ended up being the 2nd overaller and the only truck to finish all 4, 47 mile laps. We were plagued with a bunch of little problems which delayed us about 2.5 hours, but at least we didn’t get upside down like last year. I ordered a new front fiberglass clip, so it should be ready for the next race. Hopefully eliminating the hood problem.
We stuck around Sunday to help with our quad and pilot brethren, dumped some gas, changed a tire, and pulled a quad off a brush pile. In the process we acquired a flat on the race truck (go figure after the race). Being new to refueling quads, I spilled fuel all over my buddy’s quad. I figured I’d let AC try fueling to see if he could do it any better, this resulted in me getting a petrol face wash. This gave the quad rider something to laugh about for a few miles. After the bike races, we looked at the truck a bit more and found the main fuel injection ECU ground broken and the choke wire broken. We repaired these to no avail, probably because the plugs were fouled beyond recovery.
The race was fun when we were running good. The washes, the low branches, and the gauntlet made for an interesting course. The breakdowns were disappointing. We were not as tired as Parker, but still content with the weekend of racing. A sincere thanks to all that assisted us (and this was quite a few) during our race.
It seems that there was more to the problems at Gila Monster then we knew. On trouble shooting the fuel injection I ended up completely removing the wiring harness for it and carefully re-installing it, which included all the wiring procedures that should be done; solder, shrink tube, grommets etc. To make this easier the old metal fenders and hood were removed; I had fiberglass hood and fenders on the shelf waiting to be mounted anyway. You ask, "what has that got to do with anything?" Well once the injection was rewired I couldn't really drive it around the neighborhood with out attracting a lot of attention. So I cranked the motor in the garage made some adjustments here and there and had it running ok but still a little rough. My co-drivers and I then took our time mounting the fenders thinking that was the only thing we had left to do. Jokes on me! Once we got the fenders mounted I drove it around a bit. The engine was running strong but was still missing a bit at lower rpm's. I figured it must be fouled plugs or bad wires or something. I brought it back to the shop and was inspecting the plug wires closely while I was changing the plugs, and I figured that I might as well do a compression check on the cylinders at the same time. The compression check showed that I had 0 compression on cylinders 3 and 4. A week and a half to go before the race. I immediately pulled the cylinder heads and found two bent valves and valve strike marks on the number 3 and 4 piston. Well since the motor was last rebuilt in 1994 it was probably about time to rebuild the bottom end anyway. Further tear down of the engine revealed a mushroomed lifter, a ground off cam lobe, copper showing on most of the bearings, warped heads, 3 bent valves, and 2 bent push rod's. Moral of that story.... overheating your engine is bad...(duh). Last years Gila monster busted the radiator which resulted in 250+ water temp, and this years Gila Monster same deal except for a thrown fan belt. With the help of my Tucson Racer friends we got the engine removed and found a good machinist and engine builder that could get the motor done in time. We completed some minor things over the weekend while we waited for the motor to get back, which we got back Tuesday afternoon. We had it installed Tuesday night and finally got it cranked Wednesday night 9p.m., two days before the race. I was able to put about 150 miles on it around town to get it broken in. We still had the belt-tossing problem but that was quickly fixed with some pulley shims and a washer. The tranny didn't quite feel like it was shifting correctly but was still working fine.
We had planned on an 8am Friday departure from Tucson to get us to Rocky Point around lunch. We stayed up late Thursday night loading the truck getting as much done as we could. We ended up departing at 11a.m.... It was a relatively uneventful trip to the beach, only one incident where a sleeping bag decided it wanted to make a break for it, flying out of the back of the pickup, diving under the race trailer and getting ran over by a car. My chase crew pulled over and jogged back to get it, and a little ol' lady actually picked him up and brought him back up to the truck, with the injured sleeping bag.
Once in Rocky Point we went straight to the Best Western registered, tech'd, and had a couple "frozen drinks" at the pool. We then relaxed at Manny's restaurant bartered with the vendors ended up with a new Baja shirt and straw hat. We had a few more items to do on the race truck but considered how tired we were, and the reasonable race start time in the morning. We decided wrenching in the morning would be more effective. We secured the race truck and trailer in town for the night and went out to Cholla bay for some ZZZZZ's. After the best night sleep all week we finished up the details on the truck which included installing the in car camera (Scoob Design), checking the fluids and all that normal stuff. On the way to the drivers meeting the race truck stalled a couple of times but we passed it off as being cold (wrong!). The drivers meeting went as usual "the ultimate down arrow is two or more locals standing near the race course", and someone got abused for having a un-pretty truck in front of the whole group, another truck guy got teased about "looping it" on the starting line. Besides all that 12 heavies showed for this race. There was some discussion whether the 3's should run with the 8's we decided to split. That was one of those should've, would've, could've deals. Little did we know that we had a very good chance this day.
Starting line: Engines were revving, race gas was in the air, drivers and co-drivers trying to remain calm. We were all strapped in, helmets on, engine temp good, oil pressure good, in car camera rolling, creeping up into position. 3 cars back from the start line I goosed the truck to move up, it accelerated strong then the engine quit! We cranked and cranked to no avail, while my crew pushed us up to then to the side of the start line. My start position passed, the clock has started. Check the fuel- getting fuel, must be flooded-not flooded, check spark-dang no spark, hot-wire the coil-still no spark. It's got to be something dumb, we can't DNF on the start line, the adrenaline is making it hard to think through the troubleshooting, all the cars have left the start line, argh. Hey what's that, dang the ignition wire coming off the starter has melted in two on the header (rushed engine install...). All right button it up, twist and wrap the wires of we go. Wife "Hey be careful the policia are gone so you'll have to watch traffic" Me "yes, pick you up later"(she was scheduled to get in at check 8). The truck was running great we wove our way around traffic, paused at the stop sign and made our way down the asphalt to the race course I think we surprised a few locals on the way. I hadn't burned down the adrenaline to a manageable level yet so we blasted/pounded our way down the first mile or so, got surprised by a big hole which gained us considerable air. My co-driver commented later that he was wondering if the whole 200 miles was going to be like this (no). A few miles later I settled in the "groove". We saw some dust ahead, I thought, all right we are catching somebody already. We did catch somebody but it was just some gringos packed into a jeep having some fun, they got surprised also. Later I found out that we passed a few 8 trucks that were done, didn't see 'em. 15 miles into the race the tranny was hunting between 1st and 2nd and I couldn't hold 2nd gear. 20 miles is kinda tough driving in 1st or 3rd gear, 1st was to low and 3rd was to high. Met our chase crew at check 2 to look over the truck and get some drinking water. Everything looked good on the temps so we continued. We made good time up to the well road, we heard Jay talk about the construction on the well road and the dirt work, but we were still surprised by the big truck swallowing ditch, kinda unnerving at 80mph. We finished the well road, but the tranny was getting worse and the temp was coming up. At race mile 36 or so at the base of a small hill we found #800 Mike Doherty, #306 Mark Wright, and a MC guy having a picnic or something. We got them to dump in a couple of quarts of tranny fluid and headed on down the racecourse. As soon as we took off we couldn't get 3rd gear anymore, so we were down to only first...well maybe it'll come back. We passed another MC rider sunbathing about race mile 38. I was still trying to get it to shift to 3rd on whoop-de-doo road. At race mile 40 we hung a U-turn and called it quits, not looking forward to loosing the tranny on the back side of the mountains. On the way back we picked up the MC rider and strapped his bike to the top of the spare tires, a little further down the policia estati was helping another MC rider and we tied a strap to his handle bars and towed him out also. He only took a dive once in some really deep silt, I was worried about him but the MC rider riding in the truck matter-of-factly said he was fine. We made it to the well road check where we left the towed MC rider, he wisely decided he didn't want to be towed down the highway, as we were headed for the Oasis in 1st gear topped out at 40mph. Halfway to the Oasis the torque converter blew in a spectacular cloud of smoke. So we decided, this place was good as any to hang out for awhile. #303 chase came by and offered any assistance. They didn't have the time to give us a tow since Tom Swanson was still kickin' it on the race course, and since there wasn't much else we needed they hooked us up with some cold beverages and headed out to meet Tom. My chase crew (1 truck) was busy at the "Curio Chop" waiting for us to come by on the racecourse and couldn't be reached on the radio or through Whiplash main. Steve Kuker and Jeff Wells crew came by and graciously gave me a tow to the Oasis.
We stuck around at the Oasis and watched only two 8's and two 3's finish out of the 12 heavies. We bummed a few beverages off of friends and bench raced with the rest of the racers that were already at the Oasis for one reason or another. There was just enough tranny left to back the race truck into storage, I didn't think it was going anywhere for the night. Once the crew and the rest of our Tucson racer buds arrived we went into town and gratefully got a hot shower at a friend's rental house. We then made our way out to JJ's for some grub, support our fellow racers, drink some margaritas, dance a little, and watch Beeler's head get bigger.
Sunday morning we took our time in getting up, and was reassured that, yes, we did have much fun at JJ's. We had an awesome brunch at the fishmarket with huge bloodymarys, a cool breeze, and fish tacos. While we were there, there was a group of porpoises playing 50-100 yards from our table, para-sailors, and skydivers to be seen. We enjoyed a long scenic and relaxing brunch. It then of course got exciting (for lack of better word) again once we made it back up to the Oasis to load the race truck. Those who were there will know exactly what I'm talking about and will probably grin at the memory. And those that weren't there will probably see a picture in the SON or on the web site. I'll just say this, it is rather difficult to load a race truck on a tilt bed trailer with an intermittent transmission, and nothing was damaged.
The trip home was un-eventful. The Mexican atmosphere was awesome as always, and made up for only going 40 miles on the racecourse. I was looking forward to running down the asphalt for 11 miles and not that pound your truck to bits section, but for safety I guess... The new motor ran great, and our bodies were ready for another 160 miles of desert. Hopefully our unlucky cycle is coming to an end soon. Thanks to the Commons, Doherty, Kolt, Kuker, Wells, and Swanson crews, Peurto Penasco, The Oasis, and Whiplash.
Got home late sunday night, great weekend. I guess it's always better when you take a first. We had 5 - class 3's show up but 1 of them, Mark Wright felt they had a chance in 8. First time racer Adam Crowley, One of the Fisher-Brown Crew purchased an ex SCORE CJ-8, And pulled 1st to start in the pill draw. Adam elected to start last, as this was his first race. So the line-up was AC-Scoob-Franklin (Swanson's 303 jeep)-Adam (CJ-8). Within 5 miles I had AC's dust in sight, and also had the 303 jeep in sight behind us. We battled out for about 5 more miles and after a really fast section (had it pinned in third gear) 303 stayed on my bumper easily. I thought I'd let him by to beat himself and to give AC a little to think about. 303 jeep caught AC relatively quick and passed him. About the same time the CJ-8 caught us, but we held him off in the tight/rough stuff and was able to put some distance between him. Had a hard time trying to get close enough in the dust to get by AC but his tranny stumbled on a steep climb on the power line road which allowed me to get in passing position, but we were in the trees and there was no where to pass. So we stayed on AC for a bit (1-truck length) It was easier to maintain this, in that little dust free window just behind another racecar. He hit a nice dip in the course and his Bronco did an impressive wheelie (all at race speed 1 truck length). Soon after the wheelie the course opened up into a meadow and he let me by. I totally blew a corner 300 yds later, the corner had a sloping down hill on the outside and I had to point it down the hill to keep from rolling. I got it under control and back on the course luckily I was far enough ahead of AC that he didn't get by. He said something on the radio about "thanks for all the dust"
The 303 jeep was really fast. We came around the first lap and he had like 8 minutes on us already, AC was a minute behind me and the CJ-8 was on his tail. The 303 Jeep was pulling away from us fast At one point we came through the pit he had 11 minutes on us. I gained a minute a lap on AC. On the 3rd lap we came upon the 303 Jeep on it's side gushing oil, their crew actually tried to stop me to pull them over. I slowed down enough to see that everybody was walking about and went around him. They went down in a pretty gnarly corner, a double down right 90 that pointed you at a "sucker tree" on the outside of an immediate 90 left. It looked like he was steering hard away from the tree and laid it over. The checkpoint was less than a half mile down course and we gestured to the crew that there was a rollover behind us, they waved that they knew. AC followed my tracks around the 303 jeep, but the CJ-8 stopped and put the jeep back on it's feet, doom.
While 303 was down I was able to put 20 minutes on him. AC had a drive line problem and had to stop in the pit. The 303 jeep caught and passed him on the last lap. On the lap the CJ-8 pulled the Jeep over, he snapped off his brake pedal trying to avoid a drunken man and his son on the racecourse. Adam called it quits, then walked down to school these individuals. As he was walking down there he saw the same thing happen to a 5/1600 car trying to avoid the idiots (except brake breakage).
If you look at the Lap times of Mark Wright, Tony's tips where right on the money. Scoob 1st, 303 jeep 2nd, AC 3rd, CJ-8 DNF, Mark Wright's lap times would have put him fourth with us. My race truck did not skip a beat, neither did the new Larry's Engine and Marine, Engine or the Art Carr transmission. Our BFGoodrich tires worked great with awesome performance and no flats. We did not stop at all during this race.
Whiplash put on an excellent race there was a huge showing; the two-race profile worked great and made it more fun. On the way home I told my co-driver Chad, "not a bad weekend" he said, "what are you talking about, that was an awesome weekend
==== We did not have to do any real repairs on the race truck after the flawless Snowflake race. In fact two weeks before the race I participated in the Tucson Rough Riders annual Trail Dust Days (Rock crawlin' Event- fun time). I checked the fluids, put a windshield in and swapped in a muffler and off I went to crawl up some local mountains (Rice Peak). This was actually a pretty good testing situation, discovered a few little things that needed to be modified before the race.
====== One week before the race my tow rig tranny was acting a bit weird so I took it to a racer supporting tranny shop in town and they hooked it up to a diagnostic machine and they said it showed a few errors (solenoid stuck, gear ratio problem), and that it would be quite expensive to fix. I talked to some friends and the previous owner, which ended up with me taking it to another tranny shop. That tranny shop said that everything was working fine. The diagnostic said that everything was working correctly and the fluid was clean. I asked them if it would be ok to haul a race truck to Parker, he said it would be ok.
===== So there I was in Gila Bend 4th gear not working and 3rd gear started slipping as I started over the highway bridge. We started making phone calls while we nursed it back to the Texaco station. Luckily we left early that day. We had come up with a handful of options. The Doherty and Commons teams were ready to assist but still hadn't left Tucson yet. The Wells team provided the most practical option and they were only 30 minutes away. With some trailer juggling and the abandoning of my tow rig. We were back on our way to Parker. Curiously this was one of the only times that the Wells team used this route to Parker, lucky for me!
====== We got to the racecourse in time to tech and do one jetting run and one lap around the racecourse. I discovered I could get on top of the little whoops section on the first try (this comes into play later). We cleaned and prepped everything and hitched a ride to the Blue Water Casino with Pitchit Gregg's taxi service. After chowin' on some Blue Water Casino buffet dinner we relaxed in the hot tub until they kicked us out. The rest of our crew (Commons Team) came in just before midnight.
======== Saturday: Being a Class 3 we are considered a "limited class" so we ran with the "limited" racers. We lined up with the 9's and 1600's. For us it was quite an impressive start. I'm sure the rest of the limited racers may have thought otherwise. We had quite the hole-shot advantage, I was kind of surprised myself how good the truck hooked up and was pulling hard. My crew commented to me later that they got caught off guard by the start, and was wondering why I was racing across the field by myself, if I was testing some more, or just foolin' around, until they saw the rest of the racers following a significant distance behind me. It only took a few turns for some of the cars to catch me (with their better cornering ability). The huge hole-shot put my adrenaline into overdrive. So when I got to the little whoops that we got on top during practice I didn't "lift". Well as luck would have it I had took a different line from practice. From inside the truck there was a big crunch followed by quite a bit of airtime. It's pretty amazing what attitude and altitude you can get off a couple of one foot high bumps. My crew viewing this from almost directly behind the truck said they could see the complete top of the truck, and that the spectators all the way up and down the racecourse were commenting loudly. I immediately found that it was more difficult to corner and that there was something seriously wrong with the steering or front axle. A few seconds later I heard over the radio that I had spit the front driveshaft out completely. There wasn't any unusual noises coming from the truck, like part of a drive shaft beating around underneath it. So we pressed on. The front drive shaft had broken relatively cleanly away from the CV joint and front yoke. What we didn't realize was when the driveshaft came off it had pounded away at the tranny pan enough to punch a hole in it. The tranny temp gauge was on the fritz on the starting line, but by feeling the tranny coolers in the back you could tell if the tranny was hot or not. On a 4wd you put your best tires on the front to pull you through the corners, but guess what happens when you lose your front wheel drive and it's the first time you raced in 2wd and also the first time you did a "short course" event. So for those fellow racers that I may have surprised or roosted in my cornering shenanigans, it was not intentional, although it was great fun drag racing down the long backstretch. On the second to last lap the tranny started to act up, shifting late or early. Since the temp gauge was broke I felt the tranny coolers and they were cool. "It must be the linkage or something", we continued on. On the final back stretch run when all I had left was 1st gear the big light came on…hey if there is no tranny fluid running through the coolers they won't be hot. So topped out in 1st gear for the rest of the lap the rest of the racers were getting their revenge. We crossed the finish line and went directly to the pit when we stopped the tranny was still gushing fluid. Tranny #2 for the weekend.
======= Post Saturday race: There was a lot of discussion on what to do to the leaking tranny pan, the best plan was to replace the pan-no pan available, pull the pan weld it put it back on-the weather gods decided to turn the pit into a sandstorm which would put a lot of sand into to open tranny, stick some epoxy putty on it and hope for the best-hope it works. The epoxy putty worked well, the tranny was barely seeping. We decided to let the epoxy cure until morning. We were tired and coated with a layer of dust and looking forward to the Blue Water Casino's hot tub and water slide. We enjoyed the pool until we were pruned up, by that time we were ready for dinner. While waiting in line for the buffet we thought it would be a good idea to pass the time with a few margaritas. Of course we continued the margarita intake after dinner too. We enjoyed lots of racer camaraderie and entertainment including gymnastics, and magic tricks with vegetables. When I got back to the room I entertained the rest of my crew already asleep by telling them tales in unintelligible tequila speak.
======= Sunday: In the morning we checked the epoxy patch and it seemed to be holding well. We filled up the tranny with fluid and took it out for a test run hoping that the other gears would come back. They didn't. All we had was 1st and 3rd gear. They were solid though. So we lined up with the limited cars again. When the green flag dropped I stomped on the gas and the engine stalled. No hole-shot today. Got it restarted in a few seconds, wound first gear up tight caught 3rd and was able to catch up to the middle of the pack. It was incredibly dusty, everybody was racing by Braille or chasing amber lights, a 9 car (I think) appeared stopped in front of us and I had to lock up the brakes to keep from hitting him, we must have stopped within inches of him. It was a total brown out, I turned on my headlights in case someone got turned around we could avoid each other, I would surely have gone over the top of any of them. After the infield, just before the back stretch, I was following an amber light of somebody who was pulling off the course, it took us a moment to figure that out. A few moments later we had to emergency turn away from a buggy that had stopped and the driver was crawling out of the car. (Leave your amber on if your going to stop in the dust). We still had 3rd gear so we could open it up on the backstretch. We pitted every other lap to check that the tranny patch was still holding up. We ended up taking the checkered flag for a 1st in class 3…
======== Mother Nature rubbed it in by raining on the white flag of the last race of the weekend. On the way home we stopped by Gila Bend and I jumped in my tow rig, which was actually still there. I was able to drive it home, by being very gentle with it .
==== The Racing was exciting and it was pretty cool too be able to watch the whole race (dust permitting). It was a bummer that the weather didn't cooperate, flooding everywhere but Parker, where we only got a few drops after the races were over. My Larry's engine and marine motor is still pulling strong and the Art Carr Transmission worked incredibly well considering it had barely any fluid in it. The Blue Water Casino was great. Whiplash put on a great race even given the difficulties they had to overcome with the weather and the dust and the broken water trucks. I would like to give a special thanks to the Wells and Kuker Family for getting me to the race and back home. It reconfirms the character of off road racers when they unconditionally help out a fellow-racing friend. Thanks.
Scoob #311 A two-tranny weekend is still better than any day at work.
Part of serving your country is that you have to move "occasionally". I have been lucky enough to live in Arizona since 1994. In that short time I have been lucky enough to participate in some of the most extreme and awesome motorsports in the world, and make some lifetime friends.
Extreme like, holy moly, did anybody get that on video, awesome like, that’s what that dude meant by purple mountains majesty. At my other Duty locations I only experienced the mud bogging type of terrain. My first Arizona Off-Highway experience introduced me at full bore, the drinking from a fire hose type deal. The Charleau Gap trail with a rating of 4.5 was my first lesson with the Tucson Rough Riders. "Air down my tires, why?" "Follow the other Blazer, Ok." "We have to go up that? (gulp)". My experiences later included events like Trail Dust Days, the Arizona Rough Riders Spook rally, several Baja 500’s, 1000’s, Baja 2000, The Nevada 2000, 3 Whiplash Championship series, Mikes Sky Rancho, and a bunch of Tecates and Margarita’s in Mexico.
During my initial rock crawling days I met what my wife calls the evil man of all time, Brent, the President of the Tucson Rough Riders. I did not know at the time that Brent was a regular co-driver for Don Kolt. Sometime after that Aaron Commons, a fellow "brother in arms" and rock crawler, says to me while we are watching the Dakar in Italian at a deployed location, "hey if you build a Desert Truck I’ll ride with you" and thus became my first fearless Co-Driver. This is where Brent’s "evil" comes in, he introduces me to the Arizona racing legend Don Kolt to help me install a cage in my rock crawler. A friendship was established on short order, as he helped me work on my truck I helped on his. This I learned is the first principle of Desert Racing. I soon learned about suspension, shocks, wheel travel, cooling, Murphy’s law, etc.. Through him I met many other Desert Racers at all levels, which have all enhanced the experience exponentially. Along the way I met World famous Class 8 Racer Mike Doherty who provided hand me down Chevy parts, lessons on how to promote your race team, and how to prepare for a race. Another friend that I owe our success to is Chad Nichols of Nichols fabrication. He has been a dedicated team member from our first race, he was the key player that enabled us to "step up" our race program with better race prep, additional expert fabrication, motivation, clarity at times of confusion, and of course co-drivership. I owe Brent for introducing me to Chad also. Chad introduced me to the most skillful and dependable pit/chase crew in southern Arizona Alfred and Justin. Other Tucson racers are envious of my crew.
So the point of this is that duty calls, Team Scoob will have to be split up. I have received marching orders to move to San Antonio to use my real job experience to teach bright shiny trainees how to be aircrew members. I am supposed to be ready for duty no later than April 30th, 2002. Team Scoob is considering how to participate at the San Felipe 250 for one more extreme race before the race truck is sold or hauled off to Alamo City. I will still be able to work on web pages and radio stuff, but there will be some shipping involved now. Some of the bits that will stay with me:
"The Fastest guy doesn’t always win!" DK
"Slow is Fast" LR
"Don’t worry about beating the other guys until you have beaten the desert" DK
"You have to finish to win" UNK
"Just gas it" SK
"Race prep starts before you take it off the trailer after the race" MD
Team Scoob has participated in the Whiplash Champion series for 3 years out of our 3 years Desert Racing experience. Of those years we came away with two 1st Place Championships and one 2nd place. Our success could not have been attained without our team mates, sponsors, and friends.
Chad Nichols of Nichols fabrication Co-Driver/Fabricator/Race Prep
Aaron Commons Co-Driver/Race Prep
Alfred Hudgin - Crew Chief/Mechanic/Pit Crew/Chase
Justin Kelly - Crew Chief/Mechanic/Pit Crew/Chase
Tiffany Commons - Pit Boss
Collin Hyde - Parts/Tire Consult
Don Kolt - Training/Fabrication/Car Washes/Networking/Catering
Mike Doherty - Training/Promotion
Riley Maloney - Chemical Warfare
Steve and Pam-ADS Machine
Larry and Danny-Foddrill Fabrication
Copper State Bolt and Nut
Don's Hot Rod