I can’t even begin to tell you how awesome it was to place first in class after all the bad luck and poor driving decisions I’ve made the past few months. But it was a whirlwind weekend, let me tell you.
It started off with me not going to sleep at all on Thursday night, and getting on a 6am flight from DC to LAX. It was just easier to not sleep. I was lucky enough to secure a Dodge Charger SRT8 through my RoadflyTV contacts, so I had some wheels while I was out there. Good thing too because I had to hightail it out to CBS to do a quick interview on KCAL 9, and then bust a move for tech up at Barstow.
This was a race I did as a part of Courage Girl Motorsports. The MORE Powder Puff Race for the Cure features all female drivers and co-drivers, with all proceeds going to Cedar Sinai Breast Cancer Research Center. Each year the race raises over $100K through team donations, a raffle, and our entry fees. It’s one of the best races of the season and it was great to be doing it with my Courage Girls Michele, Martee, and Pepper. You can read more about us at www.teamcourageracing.com
While at tech we talked to people, handed out calendar pre-orders (have you ordered yours? you should), took some photos, and did a few interviews for a DVD coming out about the Powder Puff. But really all we wanted to do was go to bed so we could get up and RACE!
The next morning Martee and Michele took off in Grace for the morning race. Grace is emblazoned with over 400 names of breast cancer survivors, fighters, angels, and previvors. Such a sight to see her racing across the Barstow desert. She finished 3rd in class with an average speed of 24.7mph.
My co-dawg Pepper and I got in the car, now named Christine because she sucks you dry and tries to kill you, for the afternoon race around 11:45. It’s always so nerve wracking to be sitting there in staging, waiting to start. All I can think about is how much I have to pee, how my helmet is too heavy, how much I’m already sweating. And then magically…we start and there is nothing but the road ahead and the wheel in my hands.
Pepper was fantastic in the car, calling corners and cautions, encouraging me to throttle down and pass (Trophy Trucks! We passed Trophy Trucks and Class 1 cars!), and telling me patience when Christine’s rear end started kicking out. And the end result? First in class and the car was still running. Holy crap! And I was so close to getting a 40mph average but alas 39.5mph was all that was to be had.
So what is next? I need to take stock of money and schedules and see if we can squeeze in one more race. We are really focusing on raising money for the Rallye Aicha des Gazelles, a 9 day all female rally in Morocco with no GPS. You can buy a calendar or donate at www.rally.org/teamcouragegazelles
What a great time we had this past weekend out at Lucerne Valley. This was the first time we had the car out for a race since we got it earlier this year. Yes we had the car out for the Mint 400, but honestly I never felt like we were truly prepared for that race (at since we only made it 36 miles, I think it’s fairly obvious that we weren’t). This time, the car was in good shape, we had excellent pit, chase, and driver/co-driver crews, and I had a TON of moral support since all four of us from Courage Girl Motorsports were together.
Westy had also brought out some fabulous people, 2 of whom were out chasing and I didn’t even meet until after the race was done! Keith Stewart of Pit Works and his pal Adam, Kenny the Russian, Dale the Welder, Bill and Gail, Shelly and Ryan, and awesome driver/co-dawg Mark and co-dawg Brent…everyone came out to help me get in the car and I will be forever grateful. Dad and Dale had been working on the car everyday for weeks and basically all I had to do was show up. I don’t know how I got so lucky!
The weekend started a little rough though. Dad and I were holding down the pits, waiting for Dale and Westy. Their truck wouldn’t start! It took them a few hours to diagnose and fix the problem, and as a result we had a really late tech over at the Slash X. But it gave Michele and I a chance to catch up with pals, so neither of us really minded.
Since this was a night race, we had until 3:30pm or so to get all the last minute stuff on the car done. Mark and I took her out and we both thought the back end was too soft, and it was tracking right a bit. We checked the shock pressures, looked at the tire pressures, clicked the rear torsions a few times. It was really all we could do at that point. It wasn’t running badly, but the back end was getting away a bit. Had my goal been a win I would have really flipped out. But my goal was to just get her around and not do anything stupid, as I usually am wont to do.
I had 2 really solid laps. Not too fast, not too slow. I met my goal for average mph. I passed a few people. I was passed by more. I was focused. I was consistent.
I was pleased.
I gave the car over to Mark who busted out a great 40 miles until the alternator took a huge crap. No GPS, no radio (well we didn’t really have a radio to begin with if I’m being truthful), no lights, no power. No go. They were able to get another car to radio back their position, but it took chase a while to find them. At that point they were able to switch out to a new battery to get the car to the road where Dad was waiting with the trailer.
And that was the end of the race for us.
So it sucked that we didn’t finish, but for me personally it was a victory. It gave me more confidence behind the wheel and 146 miles of seat time in some very rough terrain.
Next will be the MORE Powder Puff on October 6th, benefiting Cedars Sinai Breast Cancer Research Center. It’s one of the most fun races of the year, with over 200 entries and nearly 20,000 people out in the desert. Last year the race raised over $100,000 and I hope we can raise more than that this year. Hope to see you at tech!
PS On the way home Dad had a flat on the trailer, but Slime saved the day.
Well, okay not really, but a week or so ago I met Dad up in the high desert for a little bit of seat time in the car that may just turn out to be known as MA’AM (Mean Ass Angry Monkey. Either that or Rooster. What do you think?) Up until this point I’d had a total of 7 minutes drive time in her, and 36 miles of co-driving.
Thursday started off toasty and windy! We settled in at Stoddard Valley and found a few other people out testing as well, most notably COPS Racing. I wish I could have gotten a picture but their damn Trophy Truck went by so fast I was lucky I had enough time to jump behind a bush so as not to get *totally* dusted out.
We were finally able to break out our care package from Slime. They sent us a healthy supply of tire sealant, tire pressure gauges, a few plug kits, and a much needed portable tire inflator that connects right to the battery. Our old one was…well…old. This one by Slime is super fast and much quieter.
I spent the first day just getting a feel for the car. It’s similar in width to the baja, but the wheel base is much longer, so it’s a totally different ride. It has a puck clutch, which is either engaged or not (read: it’s kind of easy to stall). The transmission, however, shifts much smoother than the baja, which I always had to force into 2nd gear a bit. The front end behaves differently and there are bypass shocks and a little bit more travel all the way around. The baja runs a 2180cc motor whereas MA’AM sports the stock 1600cc. However, she’s much lighter. How much lighter I’m not sure since she hasn’t been on the scale, but I can definitely feel it. I keep telling people that any co-driver will have to be 170 pounds or less so we can keep total passenger weight down to 300 pounds or less. I’m not really joking.
Unfortunately, something was keeping my baby down. She was sputtering like Tom Cruise does when reporters ask him if he’s gay. It was most pronounced at the lower rpm range, like when starting out or turning around, but sometimes when going uphill, even if the revs were still high. Hmmmm….a carburetor issue of some sort. We were meeting fellow Courage Girl Motorsports team members Pepper and Martee that night for dinner, so Pep stopped off at Mohr Performance and picked up a fuel filter, new jet, and a carb rebuild kit.
You know how if you live in a small town you run into people at the best and/or worst times? That night at dinner was one of the best times. Martee was telling me about her secret weapon when it comes to shock tuning, the Mr. Miyagi of Shocks, if you will. Well we walked into Chili’s and who is having a beer at the bar? Monsieur Miyagi! It was agreed upon by all parties present that we should meet the next morning for a little go around. Of course, that night we still had to address the carb issues. I changed the fuel filter and helped the guys take off the carb. They went to work rebuilding it while Pep, Martee, and I ran out for supplies…namely zip ties and beer.
Next morning bright and early we were at it again. But still with the sputtering! The carb was totally clean, we had a new jet, new fuel filter. We decided it was the float. I can’t tell you yet if we were right, but the engine is currently at Major Performance getting a going through. But I digress. Mr. Miyagi (I would like to note that Mr. Miyagi is neither a karate master nor is he Japanese. I just like calling him that because he is a miracle worker and the Annie Sullivan of Shocks doesn’t sounds as good.) met us out in Stoddard Valley and the testing began.
We got in the car and he told me, “When I tell you to get on the pipe, you get on the pipe!” Uh..sir, yessir! Most of the session was him and I in the car for a run, him yelling at me, “ON IT! ON IT! ON IT! NO LIFTING!” and me thinking, “This guy is going to kill me today.” Then he’d be out of the car, adjusting things which I don’t even pretend to understand, then back in for another run. And I could tell with each run that something was different. And holy crap I could go faster! A lot faster! Now he’s telling me to stand on the throttle and I have all kinds of confidence! Taking the whoops in the baja at those speeds would mean my back end would get away from me. Now MA’AM leads with her nose BAM BAM BAM right over the whoops and the back end just follows, easy peasy. Of course, we didn’t get a super accurate tuning since the engine was not running at full potential, but it was a good start. Once we get the car back together we’ll go out again and fine tune.
So what is next? We will be running the MORE/SNORE combined KC-Hilites race in September, where I hope to have a fundraiser for Gazelles. We are also running the Powder Puff in October of course. That race will mean a lot as it raises money for Cedar Sinai Breast Cancer Research Center, and it will also be the Revenge Race for Grace, the official truck of Courage Girl Motorsports. Her front driver’s wheel has fallen off two years in a row and we are really hoping that doesn’t happen again. Pepper and Martee will be in Grace, and I will be in MA’AM for that one. I’m also working on an awesome calendar of bad ass female off road drivers. More info on that as it becomes available!
Next week I’ll be part of the drive team for Desert Dingo in their class 11 at the VORRA USA 500 out near Reno. Tech is on Friday July 14th, so come on down and say hi if you’re in the neighborhood. If not I’ll be tweeting as much as I can @MMMotorsports and using #USA500.