Okay, maybe only two videos. Not a lot to report in my off road racing world. We are still looking for a 2 seater class 10, 12, or 1600. Chassis and suspension only is okay. Shoot me an email if you know of anything.
A few weeks ago I got to test the 2012 Beetle for Roadfly. The good volks at VW have completely redesigned it: no more flower vase, no more doinky little tail lights. It’s much more butch now and tho the turbo takes a second to spool up, once it does the car is a lot of fun. The full review should be up on Roadfly in a few weeks.
Photo by Andrew Albosta. He’s kinda good.
Things for Gazelles are slowly moving forward. Michele has been working on getting us classified as a non-profit and I’ve been busy brainstorming possible sponsors. I will definitely talk to the Moroccan embassy here in DC. I’m here…I might as well use all the resources I got.
I would like to clear up a possible misunderstanding regarding my attitude in the Powder Puff race report. Yes, it is true I called back over the radio, “I have money. You get to McKenzie’s or KarTek right now and get me a torsion bar!”
However, when I said “I have money” I did not mean, “I am totally loaded and therefore you all should do what I say.”
What I meant was, “I have money from canceling my cable, scrimping on my electricity use, not buying any of the massively cute clothes from the Boden catalog, and even taking on a room mate to help with the mortgage payment, and I would prefer not to give up on this race right now.”
Because really…if I had any money DO YOU HONESTLY THINK I WOULD BE RUNNING A TORSION BAR IN THE FIRST PLACE???
I’m glad we could clear this up.
Well, we had an awesome, albeit unsuccessful, weekend at Powder Puff. No, let me take that back. We raised just over $2000 for Cedars-Sinai Breast Cancer Research Center, so we were successful in that regard. I hate to say it, but car 549 did not even get past race mile 4. Let me elaborate.
It was a bright and breezy Friday afternoon when I arrived at the Hall Ass Racing pits just outside Barstow. Dad had the baja there and she was looking good. The motor had been fixed since our debacle at the Mexican 1000 and she now sports a single carburetor. The transmission was in good working order, shocks were dialed in and looking good. Gail and I went out for a pre-run and were happy to find that there was a new section to the course…a fast section! It took you on a little trail that was flat and curvy, then dumped you out on to the familiar dry lake bed around a fun corner to where you had your choice of lines before it got really rocky and technical again. Even just cruising we did the 30 miles in about 50 minutes, putting our average speed at about 36mph.
But alas, I was never to get past the first road crossing on race day. We lined up behind the car to beat, 5011. Wendy Belk was at the wheel and she is FAST. That car has a lot of money in it so with a good driver behind the wheel, I knew I had my driving cut out for me.
I took off about 20 seconds behind her and we were looking good. Gail, my co-driver, was feelin’ it, I was feelin’ it…we could see Wendy’s dust not too far up. I’m not saying I would have caught her on the ridge, but I might have caught her on the ridge. And oh, how pride goeth before the fall.
We didn’t hit hard. At least, I didn’t think so. We just hit a regular old whoop and suddenly I was having a hard time controlling the car. And it was making a funny noise. And it smelled weird. I got off the course and radioed back, “Car 549 race to base…something’s wrong.” Eric Cox was out there in his truck and he came over to help. Jay and the Russian sped out to us in their chase vehicle, and the diagnosis began.
The rear driver’s side was completely collapsed. Shocks looked good so we knew it had to be the torsion bar. We radioed back to base to see if we had another. The answer came back negative. And this is where I got a wee bit bitchy. I called back, “I have money. You get to McKenzie’s or KarTek right now and get me one!”
So they did. Jay and the Russian towed us back to the pits and they started breaking it down. At this point, we knew we were just going to be racing for fun. You only have 3 hours to do as many miles as you can, and if we couldn’t get it fixed by 10:30 there was no point in even getting out there at all. They did get the torsion bar changed, but were just guessing at the angle index, so 549 just sank back on her haunches.
But here’s the thing: that’s racing. It’s not the first time I’ve DNF-ed and it certainly won’t be the last. We had a good time, our pals at Tut Tech Racing did really well, I met some great people, and shot the shit with some old friends. Half the fun of racing is the social aspect, and I’m glad I got to pal around a bit. Am I disappointed? Sure. But I had a few good races with Desert Dingo and I have Gazelles to look forward to.
And….I won the logo contest! Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who voted for me. Considering I got over 1000 votes, I’m pretty sure I don’t know most of the people who voted, so THANK YOU for supporting a small time off roader like me. There was a bit of a kerfluffle with the server at Studio Rhoad and in the interest of fairness, they are designing logos for ALL of us, which you have to admit is a classy thing to do. I’ll post it up here for sure when it’s finished!
Finally, we are looking for a new car. 2 seater 1600 or class 10 or 12. Chassis and suspension only is okay. I hate to move away from my beloved air cooled, but if we go class 10 or 12, we’re thinking ecotec.
Here is video of the most exciting four miles you will ever see in racing:
PS: After the race Pepper and I went out for a joy ride in her car, Kitt. We got a flat tire. At race mile 4. I swear I can’t make this stuff up.
Hey all! I’m competing to have a logo made for my race team from Studio Rhoad. I’m sort of losing and would appreciate if you could take about one minute to help me out. Just go to this link – http://studiorhoad.com/blog/motorsports-logo-contest-finalists-announced-voting-is-open/ – click on my bio, scroll down and vote for me. One minute tops. I promise.
I’m competing against two serious pavement racers…let’s show everyone that the DIRT is what DOMINATES!
Roadfly’s first car review was for the 2005 Audi A4, so it was only fitting that our 400th review be an Audi as well: the 2012 A6. Check out my review below. It’s over 7 minutes long because we wanted to spend some well deserved time in the interior. It’s a tech geek’s dream come true!
I’ve got my first radio interview coming up this Sunday, October 2nd on SOCAL Off Road Radio on KCBQ 1170AM at 7pm PST. Michele and I, along with Team Courage badass Heather Berger will be chatting with host Dave Stall about Gazelles, next week’s Powder Puff, the Team Courage brand, and our general awesominity. You can listen live online at www.kcbq.com.
Speaking of Powder Puff, time has run out to donate via my Indie GoGo page, but we raised almost $2000 for Cedars-Sinai Breast Cancer Research Center. It’s not too late to donate, though. You can go here and donate directly to Cedars-Sinai.
And if you’re in the San Diego area, take a look at my previous post about our fundraiser at Hooters on Monday, October 3rd.
Unfortunately, I will not be there. I know, I know…its very sad. But you can meet Michele and her crew and get to know them like you’ve gotten to know me. You’ll love her. I promise.
Some great video has surfaced from VORRA’s 24 hour endurance race on Labor Day weekend, where I helped Desert Dingo’s 1107 take first in class. You can read my race report in a previous post, but let’s just say it was a rockin’ good time. At any rate, here is your video fix.
We are getting ready for the Powder Puff on October 8th just outside Barstow, CA. All female drivers and co-drivers, racing for the cure. Dad has made his way back to his summer digs in Colorado to pick up the car and get packed for his winter move to Mexico (I know, rough life, right?). He’ll trailer 549 out to California and work with Jimmy of Shook Hawk Performance Engines to make sure the carburation is right. If you recall, that’s what did us in at the Mexican 1000 in May.
I’ll arrive in CA on Thursday night, then run out to see Dave Bonner at Kartek to get a new helmet. I’ve been wearing a hand me down and really need to get something that fits better. Plus I want it orange. The most obnoxious orange you have ever seen. I want my helmet to look like the neon sweatshirt I had in 1986 (when I was 4, natch), but multiplied by 100 in brightness.
Friday will be a pre-run day and we’ll take the car through tech late in the afternoon. This is always a fun time as a lot of the guys are in some kind of drag and people have decorated their cars with pink feathers, ribbons…there is even one car that shows up every year with a huge bra on the front end. Hilarious.
All proceeds from the Powder Puff will go to Cedars-Sinai Breast Cancer Research Center. It’s our team goal to raise $5000, and we still have a long way to go. You can help us out, even with $10 (but we’ll take your $Hunnies too!) by going to my fund raising page.
It looks like we’ll be pitting with Team Courage Racing and Tut Tech Racing, and whoever THEY decide to bring out. I imagine about a half a mile of pits where we all know each other and help each other out. Should make for a raucous party on Saturday after the race!
There are a few more surprises I am working on for the Powder Puff. I’m not sure if it’s all going to pan out, so I’m keeping quiet for now. Can’t guarantee how long THAT will last! In the meantime, check out the cool video from Powder Puff 2009. You might see a bit of little ol’ me in there somewhere.
Man, does it feel good being part of a winning team! After taking more than a few hours to get from Washington DC to Fallon NV and getting about 5 hours sleep, Dad and I arrived at 1107 pits around 6am on Saturday morning. There we joined Our Dear Leader, Jim Graham, Tut and Pepper Cote from Tut Tech Racing, Romy, and Paul. After a quick drivers’ meeting (where teams were reminded again to not nerf class 11) we were off to the proverbial races.
If you haven’t been following along, here’s a quick catch up: the 24 race consisted of 12 hours of racing a 41 mile track clockwise, a 12 hour intermission to wrench on the car, and then 12 hours of racing the same 41 miles, but in a counter clockwise direction. I was in a class 11, which for all intents and purposes is a stock 1969 VW bug. Sure we’ve got a roll cage, bigger tires, and a little bit better suspension, but it’s still a 1600cc engine with a stock transmission. To say it’s rough would be like saying Kevin Bacon’s nose is only slightly turned up. (seriously, have you seen his nose?)
After a few laps the front driver’s shock mount tore away from the body and punched a hole in the body of 1107 that looked like it came from a shotgun blast. Tut came to the rescue with a weld. Now, I don’t know much about welding, but even I could tell he was McGyvering the crap out of that thing. But hey, whatever works, right? We just wanted to get back into it.
After an hour, I got in to drive and Tut co-dawged it for me. He’d already taken two laps so he knew the course really well. 1107 was a little sloppy in the left hand turns, but she was doing okay and Tut was able to tell me how to deal with it, mostly by saying, “GET TO THE INSIDE AND SLOW DOWN!!!”
When we got to the hill section, I became quiet (which is a big deal). In front of me was quite possibly the biggest hill I’d ever seen. Seriously, it was like the Mt. Everest of the Nevada desert. There was a tiny hill at the bottom, so we used that as momentum and you know what? 1107 busted up that hill like it wasn’t no thang. We were greeted at the top by a very sharp right hand turn. Had we missed it we would have gone pretty much straight down the other side.
I got through what we called Death Valley just fine, even with the giant sink hole in the silt that swallowed the car whole. Death Valley was 6 or 7 miles of a box canyon with limited passing opportunities, rocks the size of Andre the Giant, with an uphill silt section at the end. Aside from 1055 nerfing me about half way up (really dude? I pulled over as much as I could!), this section was very technical and a lot of fun.
The rest of the day went great. We didn’t have any problems and we only had to put in a few hours to strengthen the weld on the shock mount. I was in bed by 10pm. In a hotel. And I took a shower.
Day 2 found us up early again. We were ahead of 1166 aka Skittles, and 1177 was out with a bad tranny. Our goal was to just….Cruise. VORRA decided on a land rush start where everyone had to change a tire and then go. It was really cool to watch everyone starting out on the lake bed. We started switching drivers after 1 lap to give people more chances to drive. Tut decided to stay co-driving, so he was with me on the second lap of the day. There was a delay at Checkpoint 1 for a few hours so Tut and I got to know each other by describing the perfect sandwich and how much we wanted one at that particular moment. Lesson learned: duct tape some granola bars to the roof next time.
We got a call on the radio that Skittles was in need of a tie rod and could we stop and help. At this point we were 4 laps ahead of them and since it takes a village to get a class 11 over the finish line, we stopped. Turned out the driver and co-driver did not know how to wrench. Tut put the tie rod on for them and they followed us into the pits. And that’s how I learned how to change a tie rod.
The rest of the day ran pretty smoothly until the last lap. We didn’t need to take it, as we had already won, but we wanted to push it a bit. Not only would an extra lap give Desert Dingo more season points, we still had an hour and a half left and we wanted bragging rights. So into the car go Pepper (yes, that’s her real name) and I. She’s driving, I’m co-dawg. As we were getting strapped in, the guys had the front open and were doing…something. We couldn’t tell. Pepper yelled, “Come on! What are you doing?” They yell back, “Just tying down your fuel filter.” Yeah, right. Turns out they were TAKING OFF THE PASSENGER SIDE SHOCK. Here’s what Tut had to say about it:
“Took off the shock? It broke off.. not my fault.. I almost freaked out when I saw it stuck into the fuel lines etc. and started to yell to get you girls out and we were done.. but I pulled on the shock and it pulled right out of the fuel lines and… no leaks.. So I un bolted it and dropped it onto the ground.. your dad helped me duck tape the regulator on… It was like having Wonder Woman and Super Girl in the car at the same time.. you two are amazing ”
We also learned later that we were down a torsion bar as well. And the light bar, did I mention we had no light bar? We finished at full dark, a mere 3 minutes before the cutoff time of 8pm. The last part we were driving pretty much blind, with me reading the GPS and telling Pepper hard right, easy left, etc.
A good time was had by all. Thanks to everyone who helped us out, the other class 11 teams, and Wes and the people at VORRA for putting on such an awesome race. You can read more words on the Desert Dingo website, and check out more pictures on my Facebook page. Desert Dingo has a full roster of drivers for the last race of the season, a short course at Prairie City over Halloween weekend. They probably won’t need me to drive for them until next season, assuming of course that Jim will ask me back. But as I tweeted a few days ago, “…the milk of human kindness flows through his veins.”
Lots of cool stuff happening, y’all, so grab a beverage and sit back for a nice long read. First of all, this weekend I’ll be racing with Desert Dingo in their Class 11 bug. When I say Class 11, I mean nearly stock VW bug. Sure, we’ve got a roll cage and some bigger suspension parts, but you can still only run one shock at each corner, and under the deck lid all you’ll find is a stock 1600cc engine with a 4 speed transmission. As I write this, 1107 is on her way to the Super Secret Hiding Place somewhere in Nevada, while Our Dear Leader, Jim, is at Burning Man.
The race this weekend will consist of 12 hours of racing on Saturday around a 41 mile lap course in a clockwise direction. Then we’ll get 12 hours to wrench on the car. Sunday finds us racing for another 12 hours same course but counter clockwise. The race director of VORRA has this to say about the course:
“We went out and placed course markers yesterday. There are some pretty deep washes across the road starting a 1/2 mile before Checkpoint 2 to about Mile Marker 38. And yes on Day 2 the 11′s are going to need jet packs.”
Um…wait. He’s talking about us. We need jet packs? Dingo leader Jim apparently thinks “jet packs” is code for “tow rope”, as he sent the team these encouraging words:
“We have a tow rope pre-tied to the front bumper so to get a tow, all you have to do is pop the hood, unspool the rope and hold up the end and hope for someone to pull over. I’ve gone on the VORRA discussion forum and asked the other teams to consider helping out us 11s if they can spare a couple of minutes.”
I’ll be tweeting as much as I can this weekend using #the24. If you’re not already following me on the Twitter, I’m @MMMotorsports.
And check out what’s going on with my third race team, Team Courage Gazelles. We are on the home page of Dirt Newz!
It seems I’ve hit the ground running since I got back from Santa Cruz. I’ve moved into a new office at work, formed a team to take on the Rallye Aicha des Gazelles (more on that later), and have made plans to drive again for Desert Dingo in the next event, a 24 hour endurance race.
But what I want to talk about right now is boobs. Do you have boobs? Do you like people that have boobs? Then help us save boobs! Every year Hall Ass Racing campaigns our class 5-unlimited baja in the Powder Puff race in Barstow, CA. The event raises over $100,000 for Cedar Sinai Breast Cancer Research Center and we are so proud to be a part of it.
But take it from me, this ain’t your mom’s race for the cure. We are in it to win it. The race routinely draws over 175 cars and 25,000 people descend on Barstow to watch us get dirty. Competitors run the gamut from noobs who have only watched their husbands or boyfriends to professional lady racers with many podium finishes in SCORE, SNORE, and BITD.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women, after skin cancer. Today, approximately 1 in almost every 8 women (13.4%) will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. Breast cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in women after lung cancer — and is the leading cause of cancer death among women ages 35 to 54. The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2009, approximately 192,370 women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer and approximately 40,610 will die. Although these numbers may sound frightening, research reveals that the mortality rate could decrease by 30% if all women age 50 and older who need a mammogram had one.
Only 5% to 10% of breast cancers occur in women with a clearly defined genetic predisposition for the disease. The majority of breast cancer cases are “sporadic,” meaning there is no direct family history of the disease. The risk for developing breast cancer increases as a woman ages. (WebMD)
There is a link to my IndieGoGo fundraising page to the left of this blog. If you’ve got a few bucks, I hope you’ll consider donating. There are even a few perks available, like Hall Ass Racing t-shirts and magnets, even an opportunity for a ride in the co-driver’s seat! Sorry guys…females only.
In 2009 we came in 4th in class, 2010 saw us earn 2nd (even after a last minute engine swap, no power steering, and the loss of second gear)…I’m thinking 2011 is our year to win!
The next 18 miles were awesome! We were flat out until we got to Endo Alley. We’d come up blind over these hills, only to find a 2 story drop off on the other side! Not as much of a problem for a class 11…a stock VW can only go so fast. But those class 1 guys who can go upwards of 100mph have to be a bit more careful.
Then the course hooked left and it got a little rough for 8 miles or so. Bob and I had to pee so badly I can’t even tell you! Usually if you know you’re going to be in the car for a long time a guy can wear a catheter. Girls…um…yeah. Not so much. At any rate, we brought it into pit 2, where Richard got in and Paul, a rally driver from Canada, co-drove. They didn’t have any issues and Richard tore it up! Then Paul drove with Crusty co-driving and he lawn darted the car, sheering off the front bumper and skid plate, as well as the front passenger fender. They also blew a tire at some point, but they brought it back to pit 3, where Richard and I got in.
With a class 11, stock VW and 500 race miles, just finishing is an accomplishment. This was my first time in the car and it wasn’t mine, so after a 10 miles of going a bit hot and doing a couple dumb things, I settled down. We lost a fan belt but were able to change it quickly. My mantra was, “Just get it back to pit 2 to hand the car off. Pit 2, pit 2, pit 2″. After about 30 miles I changed it to, “Pit 1, pit 1…just get it to pit 1.” Baby steps and all.
About 20 miles into it, I got nerfed by a truck. Nerfing is when someone comes up behind you and gives you a little tap to say, “GTFO of my way!!!” The problem with nerfing a class 11 is that we run stock deck lids. So you nerf us, you run the risk of killing our alternator and we are out of the race. VORRA explicitly said at the driver’s meeting that there was no nerfing class 11, but this guy did it anyway. I knew he was there, but I couldn’t get over quickly enough I guess. When I did, I overestimated our clearance and high centered on a rock. Richard showed me how to use just the starter to get out of trouble, and we were off again!
I started my leg around 6pm or so, which meant I took the car through sun down and into the night. Driving at night is freaky. All you can see is what your HID headlights illuminate. In my case, it was a shit ton of suicidal bunnies! We had 18 miles of flat out speed, and I killed 11 bunnies. I’m sorry, baby Jesus, but they obviously wanted to die.
The last 10 miles of so of my leg were the absolute most challenging. I had run it earlier in the day with Bob, and it was rough but no too bad. By the time I got around to it, all the big guys had been through and we had 4 or 5 miles of silt. Powder fine silt. Deep silt. Crazy silt. Silt in the dark. Silt coming into the car. Silt coming into my helmet since our Parker pumper was broken and I had to keep my face shield cracked so it wouldn’t fog. Silt going into my eyes and up my nose.
Driving in silt requires high rpms and as much speed as you can carry. There was a hot second where I thought we were going to to get stuck, but 1107 pulled out of it and we finished the rest of the leg with silt covered face plates and limited visibility. BUT, I made my goal and passed it over to the next driver. I was focused and I didn’t dwell on my mistakes. I might have driven cautiously, but I am proud of my 107 miles.
Bob was the hero, taking the car about 150 miles, fixing the alternator pulley with JB weld in a silt bed at 3am, and bringing 1107 to the finish line at 5:10am on Sunday morning, a mere 20 minutes before the maximum allowable time.
I’ve got more pics of contingency and such up on Facebook and you can search Twitter for #USA500 to see people’s updates. Next race will be the 24 in September. We’ll see how many laps we can do in 24 hours. Big thanks to Desert Dingo Racing for letting me come race with them!
PS: I also got to interview Buddy Crisp, an awesome class 1 (among other things) racer who is working as a builder for Local Motors. We chatted about the Rally Fighter, but no in car footage due to time schedules. We’ll hopefully get some in September and put together a Roadfly review. I will say that the Rally Fighter is pretty sweet, and you have to love their business model…if you want a Rally Fighter, you help build your Rally Fighter.
And in the mother of all ironies, the Monkey Miata broke on the way back to Santa Cruz! Bad relay switch and there isn’t one within 200 miles of Truckee, so here I sit. Part will be overnighted and I should be on the road tomorrow by 9am tomorrow.
I leave tomorrow evening for VORRA’s inaugural Master Pull USA500 in Reno, Nevada. We’ll have a day of media, tech and contingency, and I’ll even sneak in a Roadfly review! Local Motors will be there with their Rally Fighter and if all goes well I’ll get some face time with their Chief Sales Officer and get to drive it around a bit.
I’ll be co-driving or driving about 120 miles total of the 500 mile course for Desert Dingo Racing. Jim has been an awesome mentor in PR and social media for me. I’m going to pay him back by showing him how to drive!
To be honest, I’m glad the Dingo is ahead in points for the season. It takes a little bit of pressure off. We will have six (!) drivers on this race and I want to kick ass. Just not *too* much ass. Class 11 is a much slower class than I am used to, and a big challenge for me, besides the usual stay focused mantra, will be to remember that I’m not in a class 5 unlimited. This race will be slower and rougher than anything I’ve done so far. Well…almost anything
You can follow along if you’re so inclined on the Twitter. I’m @MMMotorsports and I’ll be using the hashtag #USA500. I’ll post pics and video as much as I can.
And if you’ve ever wanted to see me in a dress driving what can only be described as one of the oddest production vehicles on the road these days….
July 5, 2011, Washington DC – Mega Monkey Motorsports™ announced today that GoPro, makers of the world’s best HD cameras for sports, is sponsoring the team’s 2011 race season.
Mega Monkey Motorsports™ campaigns a class 5 unlimited baja bug and co-founder Emme Hall gets additional seat time by driving with Desert Dingo in their class 11.
GoPro has provided Mega Monkey Motorsports™ with one HD Motorsports Hero camera for the remainder of the 2011 race season and beyond. GoPro’s HD Motorsports HERO is the world’s highest performance 1080p HD on-board video and still photo camera. They provide professional quality 1080p, 960p, and 720p HD resolutions record at 30 frames per second (60 fps in 720p). The HD Motorsports HERO easily mounts to any helmet, motorcycle, ATV, car, plane, jet ski, boat, snowmobile or other vehicle. The camera’s quick-release mounting design makes it easy to re-position the camera around your vehicle for professional quality HD video from several angles.
“Some of our friends got some excellent video from the Mexican 1000 this year with their GoPro cameras. I’m so glad we’ll be able to do the same,” said Emme Hall. “Additionally I’ll be able to use the GoPro to record in car footage for my Roadfly TV car reviews, get some shots while running autocross with the Sports Car Club of America, and I’ll take it with me to Morocco when I run the Rallye Aiche des Gazelles in 2012. GoPro cameras are easy to use, nearly impossible to break, and deliver fantastic video.”
Based in Half Moon Bay, California, GoPro is the world’s leading manufacturer of ultra-convenient wearable and gear mountable digital cameras. Since 2004, GoPro has been designing cameras and accessories that make it easy for people to capture images and video during their favorite activities. Its products include the patented HERO line of shockproof/waterproof wearable cameras and gear-attachment devices. You can view their products at www.gopro.com
About Mega Monkey Motorsports™
Mega Monkey Motorsports™ consists of Emme and her father, Larry Hall as well as various unpaid but highly appreciated mechanics and welders. It’s a cross country, even international group as Emme lives in Washington DC and Larry in Colorado and Mexico. Larry previously raced the SCORE series with La Rana Racing in the early 1990s. Emme currently enjoys a very busy life which includes working as a costumer for Ford’s Theatre and doing car reviews for Roadfly TV. She participates in Solo competition with the Sports Car Club of America in her 2001 Mazda Miata whenever she can. To learn more visit www.megamonkeymotorsports.com
Life can throw you some curve balls in some epic, epic ways, y’all. Since I left Colorado I’ve had a super bad kidney infection, my ATM card was compromised (and since I’m away from my home Bank of America can’t seem to get me a new one), I said the *really* *wrong* *thing* to someone, and I’m living in campus housing with 2 roommates, one of whom is a former student. There’s nothing like running into someone you’ve graded while wearing a towel on the way to the shower. It’s awesome. On the plus side, I picked up a sponsorship with GoPro, formed a team for the Rallye Aicha des Gazelles in Morocco next year, and will be picking up some seat time with Desert Dingo in the inaugural USA 500, July 14-17 in Reno.
Alright, let’s take the good and expand on it, shall we? First of all…drive time at the USA 500! I’ll be getting at least one 60 mile co-driving leg and one 60 mile driving leg in Desert Dingo’s class 11 bug. For those not in the know, class 11 is basically a stock bug. You must add a roll cage, of course, and you can upgrade your suspension and tires, but you are still only allowed one shock per wheel. You have to run a Type 1 1600 cc engine with a single carburetor no larger than 24.10 mm and a Type 1 stock 4 speed manual transmission.
I’ve also been lucky enough to partner with Team Courage Racing for the Gazelle Rally in Morocco. I met Michele at the NORRA Mexican 1000 where she was instrumental in organizing the race and making it an awesome time for everyone. She’s a great driver who loves to kick ass and take names…just like me! We’re in the process of identifying sponsors and deciding on a car. We are thinking about running a Predator. What do you all think?
Most of the pictures I’ve seen from the Gazelle rally are of trucks; Hummers, Jeeps, etc. A buggy is perfectly legal according to the rules and would seem to me to be better suited for the dunes…sand storm not withstanding.
And lastly, I am so happy that GoPro has given us a little help towards getting some cameras. We’ll now have two cameras for the USA 500, plus I’m sure I’ll use them with Roadfly and any autocross stuff I have time for. If you don’t know about GoPro, you should. Small and affordable, GoPros record in high definition and can be placed just about anywhere. Roll bar, windshield, surfboard, your head…the possibilities are endless. I’ll be knocking out an official press release soon but for now, I’d just like to say, Thanks GoPro!
The folks at Roadflydug up some older footage of me testing the 2011 Range Rover out in the mud. It just proves that I am the textbook example of dork. An entertaining dork, but dork nonetheless. Enjoy!
Man, did I have an awesome weekend or what? Friday night found me on a little road trip up to Rausch Creek, PA to watch the qualifying race. Qualify for what, you may ask? For one of the hottest races around, the King of the Hammers. It’s only been in existence for a few years, but KOH now attracts some 20,000 spectators and 150 teams to Johnson Valley, CA every year in February. You can read all about the King of the Hammers at www.ultra4racing.com
It had been raining for two days before the race, so the course was really muddy. There were a lot of rock sections, this little bit in the video above being one of the easier parts. I’d never been to an event like this. The racers did 5 laps of about 12 miles, and the leaders did it in 5-6 hours. There was a lot of winching to the top, a lot of flat tires, and a lot of flames. Seriously, two cars had on board fires!
The feel good story of the race was in car 5252. My pal JT Taylor was co-driving with Bill Baird. Bill has been kicking ass on the stock car racing circuit for years now, but this was his first off road race. And what does he do? He comes in 5th overall and earns himself a coveted spot at King of the Hammers! First. Race. Ever. It’s kind of amazing. Above pic features Shannon Campbell, winner of the 2011 KOH, Bill Baird, wearing a street racing fire suit for which he got endless crap from his crew, JT Taylor, general manager of Torchmate Racing, and then some guy I don’t know.
After a fun Saturday night with the all the racers, I left early Sunday morning to get to Old Dominion Speedway in Manassass, VA for 15 laps on a NASCAR short track. I’m not particularly all hopped up on NASCAR, but it was a good deal and its always fun to drive high horsepower cars, even if all you do is turn left.
Frankly, the outfit seemed a little lax on safety. Nobody looked at my helmet to make sure it was rated, there were kids running all around the pits, the flagger (who had no flags and was using hand signals) was spotted talking on his cell phone, and the guy driving the ride along car routinely sped through pit row. Oh, and if you did a ride along, you didn’t have to worry about wearing a fire suit. Apparently you won’t burn up if you’re in the passenger seat. I felt like I knew the rules of the track and how to remain safe well enough, so I mostly kept to myself and did my own thing.
I followed a pace car for all 15 laps, and he would get faster as the session progressed depending on how well I followed. Most of the time I remained 3 car lengths behind, and was able to catch up easily if I fell too far back. There were no speedometers in the cars, but I’d be surprised if we were going over 80mph. I never felt like I was pushing it or driving just on the edge of fear. It’s a fine line that I try to live on while in the dirt; to feel like I’m going just fast enough to feel just a little scared. I never got to that point at Old Dominion, but that’s okay. It was just for a lark, and it was fun to hear the rumble of the 450 hp engine and accelerate out of the turns. The left hand turns.
Next weekend I’ll be taking an autocross school. That should be a lot of fun and I hope to improve my focus. I’m also planning my drive cross country to California. I’ll be in Santa Cruz for 6 weeks or so. I emailed with the Tesla folks today and I may get a tour of the facilities. Here’s hoping!
Who has two thumbs and got to drive a Tesla around town for two and a half days? THIS GAL! This Roadfly reviewing gig is working out quite well. I’ve been able to drive some boring cars, some expensive cars, some middle of the road cars, but this is the first sexy car I got to drive, and oh what a ride it was.
For the uninitiated, the Tesla Roadster 2.5 Sport is an all electric supercar. It will rocket you, and I do mean rocket you, from 0-60 in 3.7 seconds. And they gave it to ME to drive! I tried not to think about the $159,150 price tag as I drove around DC. Instead, I concentrated on the 273 lb/ft of instant torque. You step on the accelerator and she takes off. Quick merges are a thing of the past. Snaking in and out of traffic is a breeze, and beating that Porsche off the line and through the 9th Street tunnel? Easy.
It’s highly impractical. You get 245 miles to a charge, depending on driving style. I got 175 or so. If you have a high speed charging station you can get a full charge in 3.5 hours, otherwise charging via 220v, like your dryer outlet, will take about 8 hours. You can also charge using any old wall socket, but you’ll only get 5 miles of driving for every hour of charging. The top takes a while to take on and off, there is little cargo space, it practically writes its own speeding tickets, the cup holder is useless, and if I had the money I would have bought my test car that day.
At the end of Day 2, after having driven around town until 11:30pm, I had a heart to heart with the Tesla. I told her I loved her, which is funny because A) I’m not gay and B) I really meant it. I haven’t said those words in a really long time, but it seemed to be the most natural thing to say at that moment. I love the Tesla. It is genius. It is beautiful. It is the future.
In other news, my interview with Gearbox Magazine was published today. There are some great pictures and I talk about my experiences off roading in baja and beyond.
Also, the autocross times from last weekend came out. Due to my multiple DNFs, I was dead last. All I can say is, “I’m the best at being the worst!”
A few weeks ago I stated my goals for the next autocross event: “The next event is mid-May, where we’ll get 8 runs instead of 4. My goal is to stay on course, to get faster every run, and to not be in the middle.”
Well, I took the Miata out to Blue Crab studium yesterday, and although the times have not been posted yet, I can safely say that I did not meet my goal to stay on course. In fact, I was off course on all four runs. Yes. All. Four. Runs. Instructor Eric rode with me on the first run, where I missed two gates. I thought I knew where I had missed, and although I corrected the first missed gate on the following runs, I never hit the second missed gate. Honestly, I thought the cones were marking the outer wall, which isn’t an excuse, but at least I wasn’t driving towards the cone and thinking, “AH!!! Which way to do I go?” No, instead I ignored it all together.
But really, that’s not the problem, and here’s where the lesson comes in. It seems I am a bit of a self-indulgent nincompoop. As soon as I missed a gate, that was it. I proceeded to express every single emotion I had as I was having it, which meant that I was not focused on what I was doing. All I could do was think about how stupid I was, how dare I miss that gate, why can’t I get it right….all talk that is not conducive to… well…anything.
What’s interesting is that I don’t seem to do that when driving in the dirt. Out in the desert I am very focused, very intent. The mistakes just roll off my back as I concentrate on the road ahead and the terrain around me. I do, however, get bogged down in my negative emotions in real life, and while I’ve known in my head that its counter productive, it hasn’t been until autocross that I’ve realized that in my heart.
My brain has got to change, and so I am amending my goals. At my next autocross, I will be focused. When I make a mistake I will not dwell on it for the duration of the run. Mistakes will be water under the bridge and I will not self destruct. I think that focusing on these goals will ultimately lead to faster times, staying on course, and a higher sense of self worth.
Autocross…the cheapest therapy you can find.
Well, it’s been a fun week, even though we didn’t even come close to finishing. We made it through the first check point at least. Looking back, we probably should have put the car on the trailer and hauled her down to Loreto. We would have missed a whole day, but we could have run the last day and still driven into La Paz and finished. We were the only ones in our class, so we would have gotten a trophy. But, live and learn, right?
I did get to talk to some great people this week. At the hotels at night and at the finish line, the thing to do is tell stories about the day and races past. We heard all about Larry Roeseler‘s motorcycle races in Dakar, the history of the Meyers Manx from the man himself, Bruce Meyers, and I even got to meet Gustav Vildosola, leader of the first Mexican team to win the Baja 1000 in 2010.
Dad and I with Gustav Vildosola. They ran a stock bug and came in 2nd in class, 24th overall.
The rally time sheet for Car 40.
When we looked at the results at first, NORRA had screwed it up! Car 40 pulled into the checkpoint for the 6th stage at 10:25am, with a time of 1 hour, 8 minutes. NORRA wrote on the results that it took them 10 hours and 25 mintues. Ooops! That ain’t right! So we had to make sure they took 9 hours off the total time, which pushed us from 36th overall to 8th, overall, and third in class! Big mistake but NORRA took responsibility for it and fixed it right away. Thanks, Michele and Ken!
Quick note again, as we need to get over to El Borracho for the breakfast provided by Cam of Lucky Sperm Racing. Dad and I got off to a great first day. We started near the end of the pack, before all the stock bugs but after all the big Broncos. We immediately passed all those guys since the first part of the course was pretty rough. I thought I read the name Parnelli Jones on the side of the big Ollie truck, but I could have been wrong. So there is a tweet out there about my passing Parnelli Jones that might be a lie. Ooops! We got off course a little bit…added quite a few miles to our first stage. We had GPS but usually you can parallel a course with no problem. Not so here. We were paralleling the race course and the next thing we knew we were WAAAAAy right of the course. Dad somehow lost his radio in his helmet, so we had no communication between the two of us, which was frustrating. At any rate, we saw 4 other cars who had deviated from the course as well, so at least there were other idiots out there. I think we were on an old Mexican (ie NOT SCORE) race course, and we knew it would lead us back to where we needed to be. Eventually we got back on the dry lake and were kicking ass when I noticed I was losing power in 4th gear. Uh oh. So I downshifted to third, brought the revs back up, back to 4th and again, losing power. Then we started to hear it popping. The engine sounded like it was making microwave popcorn. We were able to get through the time station and on to the transit road. Our chase was nowhere to be seen as we weren’t planning on meeting up with them until after Coco’s Corner on the highway. We doinked around with the engine on the side of the road and diagnosed a blown cylinder and carburation issues. Oh boy. We limped into San Felipe, about 100km down the road and took the baja into our good buddy Juan’s place. He confirmed our suspicions. We did what we could but it wasnt enough. Oh, wait….while we were limping into San Felipe on the highway…WE RAN OUT OF GAS!!! First time that has EVER happened to me in baja! And who should drive by about 30 seconds later? The McMillin chase truck! These guys had given me shit at contingency (good naturedly) about changing my tire, and now I actually need them to help? And we were THISCLOSE to the first Pemex station outside El Dorado. But I digress…
We knew if we got the baja to Bay of LA that our chase guys could fix the car, but San Felipe to Bay of LA is a long way to go on 3 cylinders, wasting a ton of gas. So, as much as it pains me to say it, we went back to Dad’s house, put the old Hot Tamale in the garage, threw our shit in the truck and joined chase. We didn’t pull into Bay of LA until 10:15 at night, so we violated TWO cardinal rules of baja in one day: Don’t Drive at Night and Don’t Run Out of Gas.
It’s been fun chasing our pals, Ron and Steve. They are in a NORRA class 4 Meyers Manx with a V6 Subaru engine. It’s pretty sweet and they are doing really well. They are car 40.
I’m pretty disappointed, to say the least. I know that bigger and better racers have had to drop out of races, and the baja doesn’t give a shit if you’ve been planning a trip for a year or flew out from DC to drive. Baja is what it is, and all you can do is go with it. So far now, this is Mega Monkey Chase, live from Loreto, on my way to get a breakfast burrito.
Well, the car is ready, the suits are ready…if I could just pack then *I* would be ready! I leave tomorrow evening and will spend the night in San Diego. One of my sponsors, The Waterfront Tavern, is putting me up in their condo a block away from the roller coaster in Mission Beach. Unfortunately, I’ll only be there for 8 hours. Dad and I will be leaving the next morning at 6am to get to his place in San Felipe. There I will get my first look at our BRAND NEW 2180 dual carb motor and new transmission. Awwwww yeah!
After a quick sleep, we’ll be towing our Hot Tamale back up to Mexicali for registration, contingency, and of course, a party with our pals. Early morning of May 5th we’ll start Day One, driving back through San Felipe to Bay of Los Angeles. We’ll be staying with our pals at Villa Vitta.
Day Two will start at 8am at “South of town on Dirt Road”. What’s hilarious is that I know exactly where they are talking about! The second day will take us through San Ignacio, land of 1000′s of Palm Trees and we’ll end at Loreto. That night we get a special party at Del Borracho Saloon, sponsored by Team Lucky Sperm, YT Motorsports, and Team Courage.
But we can’t party too hard, because Day Three starts at 7am in a mad dash to the finish line in La Paz and another fun evening spent with friends, new and old.
The morning of May 8th will bring the awards ceremony and then Dad and I get the rest of the day and most of Monday to play in La Paz….or maybe I can convince him to buzz on out to Cabo? At any rate, I fly from La Paz to LA on May 9th, then red eye back to DC to be at work on May 10th.
I’ll be live tweeting the whole damn thing, when I can get a signal, using the #NORRA1000 hashtag, so be sure to follow me @MMMotorsports. You can also Like me on Facebook and stay updated there as well. We’ll have three Go Pro cameras on the car, so we should get some pretty sweet video.
That’s all from stateside…I’ll see you in the baja.
You might think this post will be about how I learned to walk the course ahead of time, or to look ahead and plan to be on the front of back side of a cone, or even how to use blue painters tape as makeshift numbers. But no. Believe it or not, autocross taught me that I lie to myself. A lot.
Just to get you up to speed, this is what the Sports Car Club of America says about Autocross: “It is like jumping down an elevator shaft with your hair on fire. It is you against the clock on a course defined with traffic cones. Our courses are usually six tenths to eight tenths of a mile long with 20 to 30 turns in about 60 seconds. Every course is different and you get four chances to drive your car at the limits of adhesion and defy the laws of physics to the best of your ability.” How fast you go depends on a lot of things: the kind of car you’ve got, what you have or have not done to said car, what kind of tires you run, and of course, driver skill.
On the drive to the event, I decided that my goal would be to not go off course (those cones come up pretty quickly) and to improve my time with each run. I told myself that I didn’t care where I fell in comparison to other drivers, that I would just run “my race”.
Oh how wrong I was.
First of all, I went off course TWICE and my times went from okay (off course) to bad (on course) to pretty okay (off course again), and back to okay (on course) again. But what really bothered me is that in my class I came in THE MIDDLE OF THE PACK! I’d almost rather be last than be in the middle. At least when you’re dead last you can say you’re the worst, and that’s better than saying, “I was…meh.”
I ran novice class, which means the only equal factor was that we were all newbies. I was bested by a 2010 VW GTI and a 2009 Subaru Impreza WRX. I beat the 2007 Honda Accord LX (and if I didn’t I would pick up my helmet and go home), 2002 Honda S2000, and 1994 Mustang Cobra. Part of me keeps saying, “If you’d all been in Miatas then you could compare” but the louder voice says, “MIDDLE! Nothing else matters except MIDDLE!”
The next event is mid-May, where we’ll get 8 runs instead of 4. My goal is to stay on course, to get faster every run, and to not be in the middle.
You can check out pics from the event at http://tinyurl.com/63gb2bp
April 12, 2011, Washington DC – Mega Monkey Motorsports™ announced today that the Waterfront Bar and Grill, San Diego’s oldest tavern, is sponsoring the team’s 2011 race season.
The Waterfront will be providing Mega Monkey Motorsports™ with funds to prep their Class 5 Unlimited baja bug. They will also provide housing for members of the team as they meet and prepare for races in Mexico. Their first race will be the Mexican 1000, a three day race down the Baja peninsula, May 4-8, 2011.
“I got my undergraduate degree at UC San Diego,” said Emme Hall of Hall Ass Racing. “My friends and I would go to the Waterfront in Little Italy…and now they are joining our team! It’s very serendipitous!”
The Waterfront serves excellent burgers, sandwiches, and appetizers, but also offers breakfast for any early riser, be it fisherman or otherwise. You can catch a local band, have a beer on the patio, or dance to the DJ stylings of Junior and his Dive Bar Disco every Thursday night.
About The Waterfront
The Waterfront Bar and Grill is located at 2044 Kettner Blvd (between Grape St & Hawthorn St), San Diego, CA in the neighborhood of Little Italy. Chaffee Grant and Clair Blakley opened the Waterfront in 1933, shortly after the prohibition was repealed, with a new custom bar, a few bar stools, a juke box, slot and pin-ball machines and some food snacks on the bar. It is rumored that Wyatt Earp, who had businesses in San Diego was an early customer. Today, the Waterfront is owned by Nancy Nichols. With the help of her two grandsons, Chad Cline and Jason Nichols, she hopes to continue serving San Diegans for years and generations to come. For more information call 619-232-9656 or visit www.waterfrontbarandgrill.com
About Mega Monkey Motorsports™
Hall Ass Racing consists of Emme and Larry Hall as well as various unpaid but highly appreciated mechanics and welders. It’s a cross country, even international group as Emme lives in Washington DC and Larry in Colorado and Mexico. Larry previously raced the SCORE series with La Rana racing in the early 1990s. Emme currently enjoys a very busy life which includes working as a costumer for Ford’s Theatre and doing car reviews for Roadfly TV. She hopes to begin Solo competition with the Sports Car Club of America in her 2001 Mazda Miata this summer. To learn more visit www.megamonkeymotorsports.com