2011 Mexican 1000 Rally

NORRA Day 1:

Click the photo above for a full slide show

Parade start from the bullring in Mexicali.  A wild ride through the streets in rush hour.  We re-staged just off the highway and are going to start 40th or 50th, just behind Rick Johnson.  Right off the start we are all lost.  Rick Johnson is just ahead of me and I hope he knows where the course is.  GPS is not loaded correctly and the course is not showing up.  Thirty minutes later, we are back on course.

The rear suspension is not working at all, the shocks are too stiff.  And why did I use three shocks per side?  It takes the whole day to loosen up the rear end.  Carlos, Lisa, and my Mom are at the end of the first section.  I am going to stop for fuel.  Carlos spots oil around the rear tire.  After a quick check, the valve cover is broken.  The first person over to help has an extra engine in his truck and gives up the valve cover.  I wish I knew his name so could thank him.  I am ready for section 2.  Just before the start, Jeff and Betsy are towed in to the staging area with no gas.  The AMC is not getting very good gas mileage.  We had changed the ring and pinion just before the race.

Day 1 ends in Bay of L.A..  The AMC is not here, Jeff shows up later with a broken upper control arm and a massive exhaust leak.  It’s a couple of hours to fix it but the welder isn’t working and I don’t think it will hold.

I can’t sleep so, I get up early at 5am to take pictures.

NORRA Day 2:

It’s an early start, 8am and  Jeff decides to start the race then return to  repair the arm again at a local repair shop.  It takes a couple of hours but they are going to take a DNF for the day.  I am off to a rough start, also something is clicking in the rear end and half way through the day, all three shocks break off the right side.  After a long stop at Mag 7 pit support, I weld them back on with a welder that doesn’t work again.  Just down the road all three left side shocks break off.  I stop during a transit section and weld them back on with an arc welder and $40 later, I am back on the road.  I am now at the last section with 120 miles to go for the day and all the shocks on the right side break off again.  I am going to finish the day with three shocks in my lap.  Rear suspension now works too good and the car is going metal to metal, with 120 miles to go I can’t keep this up and must slow down.  It makes for a long day but I finish.  I got to the finish line just before dark.  I will spend the next 3 hours fixing shock towers at a local repair shop.  Another $40, a bottle of Tequila given to a local for his help, and I am ready to race.

(insert pic 7797)

NORRA Day 3, Loreto Bay:

Just out of town the road turns to asphalt and goes straight uphill with blind turns, no lines, and a long drop off the edge.  The shocks are working but why did I put three back on again?  Albert Einstein said “Insanity:  doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  The sections are getting harder to run fast, rocks everywhere, and small whoops take me out.  And the hard pack!  Every bump is transferring into the car.  I have hit my head at least 100 times today on the roll cage.    This was a brand new helmet.

Almost to the end now and I hit the silt beds full speed.  It’s 3’ deep but the Hi-Jumper keeps going.  It’s 1 mile to the finish then it’s all over.  Two trips to the Mexican 1000 and two finishes.  A long transit section to La Paz and 2nd place goes to Lost Boys Racing.  The AMC is not far behind, he’s having his own issues throughout the day but completes the race just after me.  Even after taking max time for day 2, he is still  awarded 2nd place in his class for making it to La Paz.  Jeff and Betsy did the best they could, this car really took a beating in 2010 and the prep time almost 4 months.  It’s amazing just how much damage these cars can withstand, but this may be the AMC’s last year.

The awards are tomorrow at 10am then poolside for the rest of the day.  At dusk we are off at Papas & Beer then a nice drive to the Marina Hotel.  Dinner at Guillermo’s overlooking the bay, a great evening with music, Jeff, Carlos, Lisa, and Mom.

What next?  A 30 hour drive to San Diego with 6 people in an F350 Crew Cab.  How do you spell relief?  Well, it doesn’t start with “Ford.”

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NORRA 1000 Tech Day

Silverstate 300 Recap

It was our race to lose… all it took was one simple mistake.

Click on photo above for a complete slide show.

Our biggest thanks go to our mechanics who prepped the truck.   We have just finished two complete overhauls on our NORRA 1000 vehicles.  The AMC Hornet and the 1983 Hi-Jumper.  To finish the month we replaced the engine in the race truck and prepped it for the Silverstate 300 as well.  The shop is a mess but everything is up and running with new engines and transmissions.  Butch Burtness and Stewart Dixon made it all happen.

Race Day:  Everyone is up early at 5:30am to drive to Alamo, 90 miles away.  Derek Dixon, Jeff McCullough, and Stewart Dixon are in Chase #1 and Jeff Marciano and Gary Dixon are in Chase #2.  We pre-stage at 8:30am.  There are at least 200 trucks here and 18 in our class today.  First truck off the line at 9:30a, and I have no idea what time we started.  It takes 10 minutes to catch up with 3rd place and 4 more minutes to pass 2nd and 1st.  I think we were in 1st place for almost an hour before #7203 passed us coming into pit 2.  We did not stop here, our first fuel stop is pit 3.  We are now rolling through the 25 mph zone, the speed on our GPS is messed up and not reading right, it says “-17”  I hope we’re not going the wrong way!  We catch with #7203 and hit the “resume race speed” sign 100′ apart.   It’s a drag race to the first turn.  We were both sideways going through the turn going 70 mph with wheel spin a lot higher.  As the turn ends, the BFG’s hook up and it’s all over, we are in the lead again.

One minute later we blow a slow left-hand turn, hit an 8′ high sand embankment and roll down in slow motion.  One mistake in our kind of racing and you go from first to last.  The trucks weighs 5600 lbs and there is nothing to do but wait and wait… and wait.  An hour and 45 minutes later, one of the Jeeps stop to roll us over.  They need to spin it first to get the wheels out of the sand.  We still can’t get a good angle on it then BitD shows up to finish the job.  Thanks to both vehicles we are back in the race 2 hours later.

Everything is working fine but we need to slow down, we need to finish the race now.

We make it to pit 3, a Diet Coke and 44 gallons of race fuel and we’re on our way.  The course is very tight and our GPS cannot give all the turns.  Switchbacks every 5 minutes, trees at every turn, then 100 mph straight-aways rolling down the mountains.  The course is fun but no mistakes are allowed.  It will take away your confidence very quickly.  “Does a falling tree make a sound after being hit at 70 mph an hour?”  YES!  We finished the race 1 hour and 50 minutes after 1st place.  I still like this race, it’s fun, fast, and a rally driver’s dream.

White boys can jump.