Posts tagged “MORE

Racing in the Rain: The Freedom 250 Report

2015 Freedom 250

2015 Freedom 250

The MORE Freedom 250 is traditionally a night race, and in the past I have raced the first half and then turned 1617 over to clean up driver Mark to take her through the night.

This past weekend I decided to push myself outside my comfort zone and take a stab at night driving. The plan was for me to drive the first 4 laps, and let Mark take the last 2.

But I didn’t count on the rain.

Or the mud.

Or the havoc the rain would wreck on the electronics of the car.

But let me back up a bit. You all may know that my car is part of the Martha Lee Motorsports program. They find teenagers in Barstow who want to learn about race cars, and give them access to 1617, and Martha’s (Martee’s) car, 1602. Under adult supervision they help to prep the cars, learning about CVs, brakes, torsion bars, electronics, and basic VW engine maintenance. The kids must maintain a C average in school, commit to twice a week shop nights, and are expected to be there every night the week before a race. They are just now getting to the point where they have earned co-driver seats in the two cars.

While we were at tech we ran into the fine folks at Sierra LED Lighting. They thought the program sounded awesome and sponsored both cars on the spot! We were able to take the old HIDs off of 1617 and add an amber/white LED bar to the front, plus three LED square lights to the top. Hallelujah! These new light bars did a lot to stave off the nervousness I was feeling towards my first night race.

2015 Freedom 250

 

Race day dawned with a thunderstorm and it hardly let up all day long.

Our first problem was with the radio. My radio wasn’t working at all. Journee could hear me, but couldn’t talk to me. Sometimes she could call/receive pits, but mostly we were incommunicado.

We started at the rear of our group of 18 class 1600 cars. The course was muddy, but at least I knew this first section and it was still daylight. Still, I had to keep wiping my visor, which only smeared mud across it, hindering my vision. I tried to keep my adrenaline and speed in check, as it’s easy to overdrive on the first lap. I was doing great until suddenly at race mile 9 we lost power.

The pit guys had warned us that if water got under the distributor the car would die. We got out, took off the distributor cap, sprayed it with WD40, and she was golden.

We continued on, passing a few cars, until a flat derailed us around race mile 15. It happened right at this crazy negative camber right hand turn uphill, and it was all I could do to keep the thing moving in the right direction.

2015 Freedom 250

Our tire change took a while as the ground was so muddy the car fell off the jack and it got wedged between this buried rock and the rear torsion housing. By digging around the rock and loosening it, then literally picking up the back of the car, we finally got the jack unstuck. We got the tire changed and zipped out.

2015 Freedom 250

The rest of the lap was clean and awesome. Lots of fast sections, a few crazy tight, technical sections…a lot of fun. We came in to main pits to swap the spare for a new rear Yokohama Super Digger and we were off.Around race mile 14 Journee heard over the static on the radio, “1617 your oil cap is missing. Get off course right now.”

What? How did they know that? Did someone radio it back? The engine was running great, the oil light wasn’t on…what are they talking about.

Sure enough, Journee crawled out and that damn cap was gone. We decided to duct tape it and zip tie the duct tape (Pro Tip: All race cars are held together with duct tape and zip ties.), figuring we would at least keep dirt out of it. We got all buckled in, I hit the starter button…and nothing.

 

What else is missing in this photo?

What else is missing in this photo?

Well, not exactly nothing. It was turning over, but not firing. And the more I tried to start it, the slower the starter got. What the what? Why is my battery dying? Is my alternator dying?  AGAIN??

Two MORE volunteers came by and called MORE recovery. We couldn’t bump start it since I was facing uphill and if you know VW transmissions you know you don’t ever want to even think about putting it in reverse, let alone bump start it in reverse. So the recovery guys gave us a jump and we were off once again.

…for five miles. Then the damn thing died again. But THIS time she died right in the middle of the track.

I have never been so scared in my entire life. I knew I needed to get out of the car, but all I could picture was some truck coming up just as I unbuckled and throwing me 500 feet in the air. Fortunately nobody was behind us and we got out safely. We put our beacon on the back, left our amber light on, and took the flashlight down the track a bit to slow cars down.

At this point I thought it was the alternator. I mean, it had crapped out three times and I was sure we were done. Fortunately I had cell service and was able to get in touch with pits so they could call recovery to get us off the course. It took them a while to get there and by then it was full dark. Full, desert dark.

And here is where I learned something. Something I thought I knew but apparently not because I never even thought to look at the coil. If I had I would have seen one wire had popped off. I felt like an idiot as MORE recovery just swapped the wires to the extra coil and voila…all the power you could possibly want. **

“Okay, Hall. Brush it off. You’ve got a lap to finish.”

Now we were in the thick of it. More rain, more mud, and full dark. I found one tiny little spot on my visor that maybe wasn’t as smeared as the rest of it, and just tried to look through that. I’m not going to lie, it was terrifying. I could only see 100 feet in front of me and while I knew there were fast sections, I didn’t know how long they were. I was afraid I would miss a transition and barrel into a rough section too fast. At that point all I was trying to do was get the car around the track. We planned to give the car over to Mark and one of the kids to get a lap in, and it was the longest 25 miles in my life.

Mark had a clean lap, although he did hit rather hard once and smacked both his head and the front beam. Still, he brought it around and they gave him a checkered flag. We completed 3 out of 6 laps, which earned us 13th place.

Martee in 1602 got 4 laps total and earned 11th place.

2015 Freedom 250

I try to come away from each race only with positives. I’m glad I pushed myself to race at night, and I’m willing to try it one more time, withOUT the rain and mud, before I make a final judgment on how I feel about racing in the dark. I also will be damn sure to check the coil the next time the car just dies.

1617 needs some fairly serious work on the rear. Both arms are cracked and were just welded to get us though this race. The frame is also twisted a bit back there, and now we have to find a new front beam, so I’m not sure when the next race will be. Regardless, you’ll read all about it here when it happens!

2015 Freedom 250

 

**It is worth noting that while Journee and I were stuck in the middle of the track, our chase, which happened to be our boyfriends, was trying to get to us. They came across three cars that were really in trouble, so Steve stopped to help them, sending Scott out to run across the full dark desert to help us. Apparently he was within 15 feet when we got the car started and zoomed off.

But it’s nice to know he’ll run across the desert for me. :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


We Had a Jack….Whoops We Lost It

Ready for action!
Ready for action!

Ready for action!

Race day came on like a bonfire. Scorching sun, baking sand, and a hot breeze. Who wants to put on a race suit and helmet and drive on a day like today?

Um…we do!

Dad and I had spent the previous day with Andy from Major Performance Engines, doing a last minute wiring job on the coil. It looks like we have a mess of bad wires from the coil to the distributor, but the clock was ticking so we just direct wired it and called it done. Well…Andy recommended making it a little more secure, but we just didn’t have time. The car was starting that was good enough for us.

Race morning was spent rustling up a new antenna, changing out the old Super Diggers for a new set with beadlocks (this will figure prominently in this report), affixing our new Radflo jack (again, this is important), zip tying down everything that needed to be zip tied down, and generally tending to all the last minute crap that comes up on race day. When Martee and I got in the car at 3:30 for a 4:00pm start, we were all feeling good.

Getting into my office to do some werk!

Getting into my office to do some werk!

The worst part of a race for me is waiting to start. I don’t mind seeing the competition all lined up, since we race to JFF* anyway. No, what kills me is the anticipation. All I can think about is how much I have to go to the bathroom, how I can’t move/see/breathe, how I may possibly die in the next few hours. But then the green flag drops and all that goes away. Suddenly I am just concentrating on the road ahead.

And I was concentrating so hard that I didn’t notice we had gotten a flat tire! Well, that’s not exactly true. This was our first race with the new beadlock wheels. For those not in the know, these kinds of wheels lock your tire on to the wheel, so you can drive on a flat. Previously we had regular wheels. You could baby it for a bit on a flat, but not drive.

With a regular wheel, it is very obvious when you have a flat. The car gets out of sorts right away. Not so with a beadlock. The car handles just fine. You can drive on a flat but the engine will bog down because you’re basically dragging one whole side of the car, right?

That's fixable...right?

That’s fixable…right?

So Martee and I weren’t sure if we had a flat or if we had a motor problem. We kept going because frankly it was faster to drive to Pit A than for us to get out and change it. New team members Chris and Art Saenz and Chad Krieger had come from their jobs in Vegas and literally were pulling in to Pit A at the same time we were. Thankfully my pal Alvin Dimalanta was there with a helping hand. They changed the tire and we were on our way.

For about 5 miles.

Something was wrong with the same tire! We got off the track and Martee climbed out, only to find our new hydraulic jack had come out of its “secure location” and was wedged between the frame and the ground. Oh Lordy. Well that was a nice $400 out the window. I’d already killed $700 and we weren’t even half way around the course yet!

Martee got the jack out and left it on the side of the track to be retrieved later and we were off again. Off to some of the roughest terrain I have ever experienced. How rough? The radio came out of its “secure location” and Martee had to hold it for 6 miles.

We always retrieve anything we leave in the desert...even if it's ruined!

We always retrieve anything we leave in the desert…even if it’s ruined!

We pulled in to Pit B where Josh Leon and Chris and Ashley Ives pulled the radio from the dash in one minute flat. Martee and I were now incommunicado with the rest of our team.

College Hill loomed above us. If you’re not familiar, this is a section of the course with huge whoops over 4 or 5 twising camelback hills. There is no good line through it, only lines that won’t kill you as quickly. At this point, Martee and I were vocalizing our discomfort. Each whoop was met with an, “Ooof,” or “Ugh,” or “I’m going to kill whoever set this course.”

Coming down from College Hill you can almost see Main Pits. We thought we were home free but NO! The course snaked around for another 5 or 6 miles. Those sneaky guys at MORE just wanted to torture us!

With all the problems we had, our first lap was two hours. Our goal was one and a half hours, so we had our work cut out for us. Tony and Chad G. did some welding on the caliper in Main Pit and we were out within 10 or 12 minutes. Our second lap, thankfully, was clean and we turned in a time of 1:42, which included our pit stop.

Getting out of the car is always bittersweet. I want to keep going because it’s fun but at the same time I’m just knackered, especially on this course. Martee had it worse though. Co-driving is tough on your body. Martee got out and got some water and the next thing I knew, she was throwing up. Yes, I made her throw up.

Martee and I looking good after our stint in the car.

Martee and I looking good after our stint in the car.

Mark and new co-driver Dustin got in the car and got a flat in no time. Pit A fixed them up but later they had fuel delivery problems. While under load it just wasn’t performing well. He got her around in about two hours and the crew in Main went to work. The distributor was checked, coil was checked, everything looked fine.

Off they went. Oh wait, no…here they come back. What?

The car had stalled and wouldn’t start. BUT WE SHALL NOT GIVE UP!

Tony pulled the fuel filter and therein found the problem. The foam in the gas tank had chosen this exact moment to disintegrate. We switched out the filter, cleared the fuel line and the jet in the carburator, but what else can you do? We couldn’t very well start pulling the foam out, so we sent them on their way and prayed they could make it around so we could finish.

Co-dawg Dustin had only been in trucks prior to this race. Glad we could be your first, Dustin!!

Co-dawg Dustin had only been in trucks prior to this race. Glad we could be your first, Dustin!!

Alas, it was not to be. The race ended at midnight and at 11:30 Mark and Dustin still had about 30 miles to go. They came back on the road so as not to stress the car or themselves.

It’s always sad to time out, but she was still moving and even with all our problems we ended up 5th out of 9 entries. We averaged 33.9mph and 4th place averaged 33.6mph. We were keeping up with him just fine.

The winner spanked everyone with average lap times around 44mph. In addition to being a more experienced driver, they obviously had no problems and probably didn’t do a driver swap.

Our goal is always to JFF*. While we didn’t succeed, we had a great time and I certainly did learn a lot. I now know how to wire the coil directly to the distributor, how to clear the fuel line, and what a flat feels like on a beadlock.

Race day ended at 1:30am, with most of the team enjoying a beverage and swapping stories of the race, under the moonlit sky of the beautiful Mojave desert.

It was a good day.

 

 

 

* Just Fucking Finish

 


All Jacked Up at the Freedom 250

Coming through pit row.

What’s worse than one flat tire during a race?  How about three?  Or how about three flat tires AND NO JACK?!  That is what happened to us this weekend at the MORE Freedom 250.

I arrived Barstow late Friday night (side note: sometimes I feel a bit like Robby Gordon…I just fly in/fly out for races.  Good thing the team is on it!) and fell into instant sleep.  The next morning we got out to main pits, did a quick tech, grabbed our gas from F & L, and set off on a quick pre-run.  I have a bit of an advantage as my clean up driver, Mark, usually helps MORE lay out the course.  He also knows every inch of that desert like the back of his hand.  It’s kind of awesome.

Sammy the Bull from Dezert Outlaw Motorsports was pitting right next to us and wanted to pre-run the 29 mile loop with us in his class 1450 truck.  We stayed together until the Mile of Danger, which is really more like Three Miles of Danger, when Sammy had to slow down.  We stopped and waited, radio-ed back to make sure he was okay, and continued on when we heard all was good.  Mark guided me through the course.  We did a few turns twice as they were a little tricky, and got back to pits in about an hour.

An hour after that, Sammy still was not back.  Here’s why:

Yep, broke the whole damn spindle off the truck.  Needless to say, he didn’t race (or did he?) and the Lady Bri is still out there waiting for her knight in shining armor to come rescue her.  If anyone has a winch, let me know and I’ll put you in touch with The Bull.

Russin and I getting ready to do werk.

I was off the line at 4pm with the Russian in the co-dawg seat for the first time.  We picked off a competitor before race mile 2 and had the leader in our around race mile 16 or so.  We chased him for a bit until BAM!!  Flat driver’s rear tire.  We pulled over, Russian got out, and…no jack.  What the WHAT?  All I can think of is we lost it in the Mile of Danger somewhere.  It’s never really fit all that well in the car and that section was really rough.

So….what to do?  No jack, big flat tire.  Russian lifted the back end a bit and I stacked some rocks.  Then we dug under the tire but it was so rocky there we couldn’t dig deep enough.  As luck would have it (for us, anyway), Nick Tonelli picked that moment to have electrical issues (I think) about 100 yards from us.  We limped over, borrowed his jack, shared a tool, and were on our way.  All told though we lost about 20 minutes.

Lap two was clean.  Unofficial time was 48 minutes, which is an average speed of 36 mph, with a quick pit.  The good family team of Bradley Racing was there to guide us safely into pits and lend a hand.  Lap three brought another flat, again lucky for us near a chase vehicle.  Not OUR chase vehicle, mind you, just A chase vehicle.  Big thanks to team 1280 chase who jumped out of their truck, impact wrench in hand, and changed the tire for us.

Lap 4 was clean, but at this point, I was toast.  I was not feeling well.  In fact, I was pretty sure I was going to barf.  I had wanted to try to stay in the car the whole time, moving over to co-dawg for Mark for laps 5-8, but I knew I was spent.  I radio-ed back to see if  back up co-dawg Pepper, whom I knew was coming late from work, was there yet.  The answer came back negative.

I came in just before 8pm and look who was all suited up and ready to co-drive?!  None other than Sammy the Bull.  I literally fell out of the car and stumbled over to a chair, willing myself not to throw up.  Martee is always on hand with a cold bottle of water and this time was no different.  I eventually laid down on the trailer until my body stopped humming.  It took about an hour for me to feel back to normal.

pleasedontbarfpleasedontbarfpleasedontbarf

Mark and Sammy had a bit of trouble with a loose distributer cap on lap 5, but he had a fast 46 minute lap 6.  Alas, the Mile of Danger took it’s toll on lap 7, with another flat.  This time there were no strangers on whom to rely on their kindness.  Chase was called out, but by the time they got to them, we had timed out.

Official results aren’t posted yet and I’m not sure if we’ll get a DNF or just a low ranking.  I do feel very proud of myself for the clean laps I drove.  A former Gazelle told me that after going to Morocco I would be a better driver, and she was right.  I was definitely more comfortable and relaxed.  I was better at picking lines and fixing mistakes when I made them.  Was I perfect?  Oh hell no!  I picked the same damn wrong line every lap in this one section!  But, overall I felt very good.  We were on the pipe quite a lot in 4th gear and I felt very much in control of the car.  There are still times when I am cautious; downhill and sharp turns being the worst.  Much of that is seat time.  Practice practice practice!

Mark, me, and The Bull

So what’s next?  Well, I need many new tires, the transmission could be re-geared a bit, the motor has a bit less than 1000 race miles on it, and I noticed one of our limiter straps is wearing.  Plus we need new bushings, the shocks always need work, and goddamn it I want a new race suit!  I wanted to run the Chili Cook Off in September but I don’t think we’ll have the coin.  We may just squeak through Powder Puff in October and then do a complete tear down in November/December.  We’ll just have to see where the $$$ is.

Thanks to everyone who showed up to help, including Dawn and Andrew, Pepper, Jesse, Chris, Steve, Russian, Mark,  Dad, Martee, Dale, Gary, and new pals Bradley Racing, Big Sam, Pirate Hooker (I swear that’s her name!), Carly, and some guy named Rut with a great red flashy light.

And PS to all my female racers:  Check out how you can be in the 2014 Women of Off Road Racing calendar!

 


We Take Second at Toys For Tots

What a great way to end the season!  I got to go out to Los Angeles for 5 fun filled days of cars, complete with the LA Auto Show and a spin in the new VW Beetle Convertible.  Then I capped it off with the MORE race, where each participant brought some toys to donate to Toys For Tots.

We saw some great cars at the LA Auto Show.  My faves were the new Abarth cabrio, although to be honest I’m not sure how much of a true convertible it really is.  I adore that car and really wish it were offered in AWD and a true drop top, but if you’re down with FWD and want some fun, definitely check it out.

Interior of the 2013 Abarth Cabrio

I also got to say hi to the head of SRT, Ralph Gilles.  We talked Challenger and Viper and all things SRT.  I really like how they have brought back some great designs, but never lost the original feel.  Design evolution as opposed to revolution if you will.

I can't decide who is the best looking: Ralph, me, or the Viper.

And though I will probably never ever buy one, I was pleased to see the redesigned Honda Civic.  Everyone pretty much trashed the 2012 Civic as being, well…boring.  Honda responded quickly with a 2013 refresh that I think is quite successful, at least from the rear.

It looks good, no?

Friday I found myself driving the new Beetle Convertible. They had many different engines/transmissions to try and I got behind the wheel of the TDI manual and the turbo manual.  Both are fantastic, with the TDI offering excellent mpg and torque.

Those headlights...so Boxster-y

Along the way they had some vintage VWs for us to drive.  Honestly I was more excited about this 1979 bug than anything!  Funny but it drove just like a class 11!!

Air Cooled Love

A highlight for me was watching some journalists try to get the Beetle out of the soft sand.  They were so cute!  I was tempted to tell them to lower their tire pressure, but decided it was more fun to just sit back and watch.

ROTFLMFAO!!!

That night I hightailed it out of Los Angeles and made my way up to Barstow for the MORE Toys For Tots race.  It honestly felt a little odd; like I was just kind of dropped at the race with little prep time, which I guess is not far from the truth.  Mark and Dad had been out with the Mr. Myagi of Shocks the week before and had the car dialed in as much as they could.  The engine had been gone through down in Mexico and everything was good to go.  They had even bought gas.  It just feels odd not participating in any of the pre-race stuff.  I never pack up the truck or do any of the leg work…I really want to get back to CA.  Being this far away from everyone is killing me.  I’m just so lucky that I have good people helping me.  Very very lucky.

At tech, making sure I have all my safety equipment and that it's up to date.

At any rate, we ran a pretty smooth race.  I dropped to fourth after the first lap (hey, I didn’t pre-run…gotta take that first lap slowly) but came back to second by the end of the second lap and held it the rest of the race, thanks to co-driver Pepper keeping me at a good pace and boosting my confidence with phrases like, “That was so much better than on the last lap!!!” The format of the race was pretty cool.  We ran 6 laps of 19 miles, then 6 laps of 13 miles.  Sometime on lap two I separated the tire from the rim a bit and had a flat.  Best flat to have if you ask me, as the guys just popped it back on the wheel and it holds air just fine.  We stopped again at the end of lap 3 for one minute as the guys had missed a lug nut during the tire change.

Talent running out in 3...2....1 (don't worry. we saved it)

When I gave the car over to Mark, we were 6 minutes behind the leader and 4 minutes in front of third.  Martee hopped in as co-driver but we had a bit of a fuel spill while she was getting buckled in.  I’d like to say that making sure this won’t happen again is Priority Number One for next season.  A fuel spill is absolutely not to be tolerated.  It’s unsafe and we won’t have that.

Mark and Martee took off and put down two great laps, but the spill took it’s toll on Martee.  She was smart enough to take herself out of the car so she could get out of her suit and clean up a bit.  I was  the only one still suited up, so guess who went into the car for another 50 miles?  Yours truly. I was happy to do so, honestly, as I got to ride with Mark who has more 1600 seat time than I do.  He kept a steady pace and took us the last 4 laps and on to the podium.

Congratulating the winning team by giving them a tiny little bit of shit. Kidding! First in class Chris Fogle in #1620 could not have been nicer.

The guy who won said his team were sweating us a bit.  They found our radio channel and modified their pit schedule when they heard our chatter.  It’s nice to know I made someone worry a bit.

The whole in-car team made the local paper

So now it’s all about Morocco and raising the money to get to the Rallye Aicha des Gazelles.  It’s nine days, off road in Morocco with no GPS.  Points are awarded for shortest distance, not fastest time, making this a rally that is won by navigation and decision making rather than speed.  We need about $18,000 just to register.  You can donate via the link at the top of the sidebar.  Anything raised above and beyond our entry and rental fees will be donated to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

And of course, don’t forget about our awesome Women of Off Road Racing 2013 calendar.  We are on our second printing so be sure to get yours NOW.  www.teamcouragegazelles.com/calendar

 


Toys For Tots

Pepper and I at tech for the Powder Puff

Looks like we’ll be out at the last MORE race of the season, the Holiday 200 on December 1.  The race will be a toy drive for Toys for Tots.  Gotta bring an unwrapped race car for a lucky kiddo!  From my understanding the race is 2 short courses of about 20 miles.  They split up the fast cars and the slow cars and you get a few hours on one course and then you switch.  I don’t know if they’ll put 1600 in the fast group or slow group.  We’re kind of slow fast cars.  At any rate, I’m so excited that Pepper Junus has agreed to co-dawg for me. She and I took 1st in class at the Powder Puff in October and we are hoping for a repeat.  Mark Burke will take over for the second course, with a super secret co-dawg. Let’s just say we are working on having the lightest passenger weight possible with his co-driver. I’ve heard Jason Coleman’s co-driver is a midget, and I aim to beat him.

And my week leading up to the race promises to be full of awesome.  I’ll be hanging out at the LA Auto Show for Roadfly.  Word on the street is Porsche will be debuting a new sports car, and since I just got out of a 911 I’m excited to see what it’s all about.  I’ll also get the chance to drive the new Beetle convertible.  But on Friday evening I have to high tail it out of LA to Barstow in time for tech.  If anyone can give me a ride let me know.

This has nothing to do with anything in this post, but I like the pic.

Remember you can still purchase our calendar, featuring some rockin’ female off road drivers.  All proceeds will go to getting us to Morocco for the Rallye Aicha des Gazelles AND help fund mammograms.  How rad is that?

 

 

 


WINNER WINNER CHICKEN DINNER!

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


The Hilights of the KC HiLites Race

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.

Courage Girl Motorsports

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.

Michele and I with Art, probably the most awesome person in desert racing.

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.

Quick pit stop...and another click on the torsions.

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!

Awesome livery!

 

Radio central.

 

Driver Change

 

"And then we flew through the air for like, 50 feet!!"

 

PS  On the way home Dad had a flat on the trailer, but Slime saved the day.

 


Doing It Alone Just Ain’t No Fun

Living in Washington DC and racing in California poses some shall we say, logistical nightmares.  I can usually only come out for 3 days to race, getting to actually work on the car is a luxury, and don’t even get me started on all the money I’m spending on plane fare.  Fortunately I have an awesome team that helps me out, and I wanted y’all to meet them!

First, there’s Dale.  He’s our go to guy for welding.  He’s made us a trailer (A WHOLE TRAILER!), repaired the floor pan of the 1600 car, and is making a new skid plate.  He also sometimes stores the car in his shop and his wife makes the best iced tea this side of Las Vegas.

Nickname: Moustache!

 

She's naked!

 

MA'AM's motor just waiting. Good thing we had Dale's shop to work out of

 

And what team would be complete without a logistics person?  This is actually the hardest job in racing,  as you are basically trying to predict the future while herding a bunch of unruly cats.  No…worse than that.  Unruly wild mustangs.  See racers can be like unruly wild mustangs; they are smart but damn do they want to do their own thing!  Your logistics guy has to figure out who is chasing and who is pitting, where they will be, when people are arriving, where they are sleeping, what they are eating, when you’re going through tech…I could go on and on.  And now, for this race at least, I have my very own Logistics Luminary.  And we call him westy (no capital w, he sez).

 

westy likes to look all mean and stuff.

 

westy has run logistics for the Baja 500 and 1000 as well as events stateside and he’s also a racer, so I have no problem turning everything over to him.  I know I’ll learn a lot with him running the show and if it all goes well, maybe he’ll join us permanently.  He’s bringing some awesome pit/chase people out to the race and I am so excited to meet everyone.  It always floors me when people I don’t even know step up to help me.  Sure, they are getting the thrill of being on a race crew but still.  Sometimes sitting out in the desert for hours on end waiting for the car to come through can be a nightmare.  Fortunately the car is in great shape and our goal is just to finish.  It would be great not to finish last, but honestly this is the first race with me behind the wheel of the new car AND it’s a night race.  I am doing this more for experience than anything else.  I want to drive well, not break, and finish.

So when is this next race?  I return to my native CA for the combination MORE and SNORE KC Hilites race on September 8th.  Tech is on Friday September 7th at the Slash X so if you’re around, come say hi.  I have no idea what color my hair will be, so just look for #1617!