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.
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.