…And That’s How I Learned to Change a Torsion Bar
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.