This update is a little late. It’s been a little crazy what with preparing for Gazelles and completing projects at work. At any rate, we had a great time at Battle at Primm February 21-23. We decided to do qualifying trials this year, so I took off for Las Vegas Thursday night, happy to leave my heavy coat at home in DC!
Based on what we learned last year, we decided to lighten our load a bit by not running a spare and by running smaller tires in the rear. While we were getting ready to get in line to qualify, we asked Dad how much gas was in the car. He assured us we had 4 or 5 gallons, plenty to get us through the 2 1/2 mile qualifying run…or so we thought.
As we were in the infield about 20 cars back from starting, we ran out of gas! WE RAN OUT OF GAS, PEOPLE! Mark jumped out and pushed me out of the way, then took off running to where Dad could meet him with some fuel. Meanwhile Dad isn’t answering the radio so I’m calling him on my phone (luckily I had it on me) and yelling, “WE ARE OUT OF F***ING GAS!” So Dad comes tearing across staging, trailer still attached to the truck, spare tires bouncing about, Mark grabs a pail of fuel and jumped in the official SNORE UTV to make his way back to me waiting in the car.
We were able to get refueled and not lose our place in line. We later learned that Dad forgot he had traded 3 gallons of gas out of the car for the use of the smaller tires. This is what happens when bartering goes horribly wrong.
We took off for qualifying and she sputtered for the first 1/4 mile or so, but then came to life and was going great. This was the first time I’d driven with these tires and they were great! They made the car, already nimble to begin with, much easier to turn. It’s like the steering ratio improved by 25%. Wonderful!
I drove on Saturday and had a great race except for losing 6 minutes when I put the car on its side. I came into a corner pretty hot and started sliding on the hard packed clay, then we hit the loose dirt and BING! Over we went! Other than that, Saturday was great, but we ended up towards the end of the pack.
Mark took over on Sunday and we ended up in an epic battle with three other cars for 3 laps. We would keep up with them in the technical stuff but in the straights they would pull away from us. We were pinned but they just had more power. Fortunately there was enough of the rough stuff for us to catch up and we’d get back in the fight in the infield. In the end the leaders finished way head, but we finished in the middle of the pack with the other guys.
We think we have a few problems figured out. First of all, we were able to weigh the car at she’s WAAAAAY too fat. We have to lose 250 pounds at least. Second, the engine has 1000 race miles on it. If we had money we’d get a new one but we don’t, so she’s getting the top end worked on. Third, the tranny must have the wrong gearing. Other cars should not be pulling away from us like they do in the straights. So the transmission is apart already and in Ensenada, getting worked on.
Next for me is the Gazelle Rally in Morocco. We’ll have the 1600 out again hopefully in April or May.
I have some GoPro footage, but Dad somehow ended up with one of the SD cards, so I’m waiting for him to ship it to me. In the meantime, check out the highlight reel from Race-Dezert. I get an interview!
We had such an awesome time at Battle at Primm this past weekend! SNORE Racing put on such a well organized and safe event. They had over 200 cars there but everything ran smoothly and on time, with plenty of volunteers and an awesome staff.
There were 26 cars in our class, and AAAALLLLL the big dawgs came out to play. Many of them had their single seat 1600 cars, which probably weigh about 10 pounds over the minimum. They all had their win faces on too. I knew this was a place to sit back, learn, and JFF.
As we pulled into staging on Saturday, I was shaking and my stomach was in knots. Just seeing all 26 starters there and knowing I’d be out with them on those short 13 mile loops was enough to get me super nervous. I needn’t have worried though. Since we were unable to attend qualifying we started in the back and I am not kidding when I tell you I saw only two cars that first day. What I thought was going to be some kind of epic wheel to wheel experience was more like any other desert race where you often find yourself out there alone for long stretches of time. I’m sure the guys in the front didn’t have that same experience, but for me I was rollin’ solo.
After the first day, it became obvious that the leaders had me in just flat out speed, to say nothing of drive experience. BAP is all about fast straightaways and dangerous turns. I’m sure I lost some time in the turns as my entrances were pretty timid (there is a limit to the whole slow in/fast out theory after all) but I was pinned in all the straights and the highest Mark saw for me on the GPS was 72 mph. Mostly we ran those sections in the high 60s. I am sure the other guys had at least 5-7mph on me in those straights. It’s a combination of gearing, weight, and let’s face it, money. I can’t afford a new engine or a complete tear down every race. So I guess we will continue on our quest to JFF and know that we are doing the best we can with the resources and talent we have got.
Mark took over driving duties on Sunday. Everyone turned in slightly slower lap times since the course was chewed up a bit from the day before. The fast speed I saw for him was 75mph, but there was a wicked wind and we may have been pushed a bit! At one point on the dike jump we could both feel the wind push us as we were flying through the air…not a good feeling!
We ended up 14th out of 26 overall so that isn’t too bad. I learned about the car, I got a lot of practice in dangerous turns, and hell we even got to drift a bit in the stadium section of the course! Next up for me is the Rallye Aicha des Gazelles in Morocco March 19-28th. In a week or so I’ll have info about how you can follow my team as we navigate our way through the dunes using only a compass and an old map.
OMG I ALMOST FORGOT ALMOST THE BEST THING THAT HAPPENED OVER THE WEEKEND! Fellow Gazelle Julie and her hubby Ben drove out from Vegas to say hi…IN A RALLY FIGHTER!!! I was so not expecting them to show up in a freaking Rally Fighter!!! And get this….BEN LET ME DRIVE IT!!!!!!!! It’s way bigger than I thought it would be and feels quite ponderous. The hydraulic steering is a bit twitchy but nice and heavy and the torque is just clean and available through a wide power band. I drove it on the highway and off road and while I was nervous because, hello it’s not my Rally Fighter, I did go fast enough to feel confident in saying that this car is a beast! AND Ben is hooking us up with a set of pink MaxTrax for the Gazelle Rally. Thanks, Ben!!!
Hola, race fans! We had a good time out testing this past weekend. The Mr. Miyagi of shocks was on hand to dial in our baby. It’s always a balancing act; a tweak done on one component effects the other and it’s all about finding that correct edge. It’s a very tricky process and it means a lot of turning something 1/2 turn, then running up and down the test track for 2 minutes at flat out. Then come back, turn something else 1/2 turn, back to the test track…lather rinse repeat.
After testing we headed on over to the Slash X, or /x to those who know. Always a great time to be had. Sabrina, my navigator for Gazelles, was able to join us and she just fell in love with the place. There are always motorcycles, quads, and buggies parked outside as families come out for a day of wheeling and always stop at the /x for lunch.
The next race will be Battle at Primm with SNORE Racing, Feb 22-24. Truth be told I’m scared shitless. There are at least 30 1600 cars entered (we’ll be running #1611 as our number has already been taken) and ALL the big dawgs will be there. The format is 2 days of racing with your class, and we will do 5 laps of 13 miles each. There will be a ton of wheel to wheel racing and I’m in my head about it a bit. I’m always scared before a race though. I think you’re an idiot if you’re not scared. Hello….you could die!! The trick is to push through that fear.
Because there are so many cars they will do qualifying runs. I won’t be able to get there in time for that but it’s just as well. My plan is to let the big boys battle it out and break down. My strategy is always JFF.
Just Fucking Finish.
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.
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.
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 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!