Posts tagged “Tut Tech

…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.

The car to beat, 5011, at tech.

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!”


MacGyver would be proud.  Come to think of it…maybe we should have just raced on this!

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.

The guys at Tut Tech Racing become Tutu Tech Racing  for Powder Puff..

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.

1107 Takes First in Class at the 24

1107 is super speedy.

Man, does it feel good being part of a winning team!  After taking more than a few hours to get from Washington DC to Fallon NV and getting about 5 hours sleep, Dad and I arrived at 1107 pits around 6am on Saturday morning.  There we joined Our Dear Leader, Jim Graham, Tut and Pepper Cote from Tut Tech Racing, Romy, and Paul.  After a quick drivers’ meeting (where teams were reminded again to not nerf class 11) we were off to the proverbial races.

If you haven’t been following along, here’s a quick catch up:  the 24 race consisted of 12 hours of racing a 41 mile track clockwise, a 12 hour intermission to wrench on the car, and then 12 hours of racing the same 41 miles, but in a counter clockwise direction.  I was in a class 11, which for all intents and purposes is a stock 1969 VW bug.  Sure we’ve got a roll cage, bigger tires, and a little bit better suspension, but it’s still a 1600cc engine with a stock transmission.  To say it’s rough would be like saying Kevin Bacon’s nose is only slightly turned up. (seriously, have you seen his nose?)

After a few laps the front driver’s shock mount tore away from the body and punched a hole in the body of 1107 that looked like it came from a shotgun blast.  Tut came to the rescue with a weld.  Now, I don’t know much about welding, but even I could tell he was McGyvering the crap out of that thing.  But hey, whatever works, right?  We just wanted to get back into it.

Shotgun blast-like hole in the body of 1107.


After an hour, I got in to drive and Tut co-dawged it for me.  He’d already taken two laps so he knew the course really well.  1107 was a little sloppy in the left hand turns, but she was doing okay and Tut was able to tell me how to deal with it, mostly by saying, “GET TO THE INSIDE AND SLOW DOWN!!!”

When we got to the hill section, I became quiet (which is a big deal).  In front of me was quite possibly the biggest hill I’d ever seen.  Seriously, it was like the Mt. Everest of the Nevada desert.  There was a tiny hill at the bottom, so we used that as momentum and you know what?  1107 busted up that hill like it wasn’t no thang.  We were greeted at the top by a very sharp right hand turn.  Had we missed it we would have gone pretty much straight down the other side.

I got through what we called Death Valley just fine, even with the giant sink hole in the silt that swallowed the car whole.  Death Valley was 6 or 7 miles of a box canyon with limited passing opportunities, rocks the size of Andre the Giant, with an uphill silt section at the end.  Aside from 1055 nerfing me about half way up (really dude?  I pulled over as much as I could!), this section was very technical and a lot of fun.

The rest of the day went great.  We didn’t have any problems and we only had to put in a few hours to strengthen the weld on the shock mount.  I was in bed by 10pm.  In a hotel.  And I took a shower.

Dad with a freshly cleaned Parker pumper air filter.

Day 2 found us up early again.  We were ahead of 1166 aka Skittles, and 1177 was out with a bad tranny.  Our goal was to just….Cruise.  VORRA decided on  a land rush start where everyone had to change a tire and then go.  It was really cool to watch everyone starting out on the lake bed.  We started switching drivers after 1 lap to give people more chances to drive.  Tut decided to stay co-driving, so he was with me on the second lap of the day.  There was a delay at Checkpoint 1 for a few hours so Tut and I got to know each other by describing the perfect sandwich and how much we wanted one at that particular moment.  Lesson learned:  duct tape some granola bars to the roof next time.

We got a call on the radio that Skittles was in need of a tie rod and could we stop and help.  At this point we were 4 laps ahead of them and since it takes a village to get a class 11 over the finish line, we stopped.  Turned out the driver and co-driver did not know how to wrench.  Tut put the tie rod on for them and they followed us into the pits.  And that’s how I learned how to change a tie rod.

The rest of the day ran pretty smoothly until the last lap.  We didn’t need to take it, as we had already won, but we wanted to push it a bit.  Not only would an extra lap give Desert Dingo more season points, we still had an hour and a half left and we wanted bragging rights.  So into the car go Pepper (yes, that’s her real name) and I.  She’s driving, I’m co-dawg.  As we were getting strapped in, the guys had the front open and were doing…something.  We couldn’t tell.  Pepper yelled, “Come on!  What are you doing?”  They yell back, “Just tying down your fuel filter.”  Yeah, right.  Turns out they were TAKING OFF THE PASSENGER SIDE SHOCK.  Here’s what Tut had to say about it:

“Took off the shock? It broke off.. not my fault.. I almost freaked out when I saw it stuck into the fuel lines etc. and started to yell to get you girls out and we were done.. but I pulled on the shock and it pulled right out of the fuel lines and… no leaks.. So I un bolted it and dropped it onto the ground.. your dad helped me duck tape the regulator on… It was like having Wonder Woman and Super Girl in the car at the same time.. you two are amazing :)

Romy with the sneakily removed front passenger shock.

We also learned later that we were down a torsion bar as well.  And the light bar, did I mention we had no light bar?  We finished at full dark, a mere 3 minutes before the cutoff time of 8pm.  The last part we were driving pretty much blind, with me reading the GPS and telling Pepper hard right, easy left, etc.

Pepper, Jim, and I throwing the C for Cruising; our race strategy.

A good time was had by all.  Thanks to everyone who helped us out, the other class 11 teams, and Wes and the people at VORRA for putting on such an awesome race.  You can read more words on the Desert Dingo website, and check out more pictures on my Facebook page.  Desert Dingo has a full roster of drivers for the last race of the season, a short course at Prairie City over Halloween weekend.  They probably won’t need me to drive for them until next season, assuming of course that Jim will ask me back.  But as I tweeted a few days ago, “…the milk of human kindness flows through his veins.”

Powder Puff Here We Come

It seems I’ve hit the ground running since I got back from Santa Cruz.  I’ve moved into a new office at work, formed a team to take on the Rallye Aicha des Gazelles (more on that later), and have made plans to drive again for Desert Dingo in the next event, a 24 hour endurance race.

But what I want to talk about right now is boobs.  Do you have boobs?  Do you like people that have boobs?  Then help us save boobs!  Every year Hall Ass Racing campaigns our class 5-unlimited baja in the Powder Puff race in Barstow, CA.  The event raises over $100,000 for Cedar Sinai Breast Cancer Research Center and we are so proud to be a part of it.

But take it from me, this ain’t your mom’s race for the cure.  We are in it to win it.  The race routinely draws over 175 cars and 25,000 people descend on Barstow to watch us get dirty.  Competitors run the gamut from noobs who have only watched their husbands or boyfriends to professional lady racers with many podium finishes in SCORE, SNORE,  and BITD.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women, after skin cancer. Today, approximately 1 in almost every 8 women (13.4%) will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. Breast cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in women after lung cancer — and is the leading cause of cancer death among women ages 35 to 54. The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2009, approximately 192,370 women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer and approximately 40,610 will die. Although these numbers may sound frightening, research reveals that the mortality rate could decrease by 30% if all women age 50 and older who need a mammogram had one.

Only 5% to 10% of breast cancers occur in women with a clearly defined genetic predisposition for the disease. The majority of breast cancer cases are “sporadic,” meaning there is no direct family history of the disease. The risk for developing breast cancer increases as a woman ages. (WebMD)

There is a link to my IndieGoGo fundraising page to the left of this blog.  If you’ve got a few bucks, I hope you’ll consider donating.  There are even a few perks available, like Hall Ass Racing t-shirts and magnets, even an opportunity for a ride in the co-driver’s seat!  Sorry guys…females only.

In 2009 we came in 4th in class, 2010 saw us earn 2nd (even after a last minute engine swap, no power steering, and the loss of second gear)…I’m thinking 2011 is our year to win!

My co-driver and I are so CLEAN before a race.