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Taking On Snowflake, Part IV

I have a friend that calls me Wiley Coyote. It always seems that I have really odd things take me out, put me on the side lines or mess up my day. (like doing a back flip off the front of a boat, sticking the landing and discovering that the boat's floated over a sand bar and the water's no longer 6' deep, but only 18" deep - can you say broken heel? I can - in fact, I'm still in a cast) It's never something that would happen to everyone else, it's always something goofy. This trip was pretty typical of my Wiley Coyote luck.

Once again I loaded up the Big Blue Beast (my box van) and headed west. It's about 27 hours behind the wheel and takes me about 36 total hours to get from Cincinnati, OH to Phoenix, AZ. I've done this trip, on average, four times a year for the past five years, usually without any problems. Some of my more adventurous trips included the time I got caught in really nasty fog after dark. Fatigue set in and I watched a pair of huge jelly fish (yes, a pair of 40' long,white jelly fish - go figure!) float about in front of me, swimming through the fog. (if I could have found an exit I would have gladly taken it. Fog cleared, jellies left and I drove another 3 hours.) One time I had problems with trailer tires and locking my keys in a van during a snow storm. Once I had a dog with me that would puke each time I'd stop, I lost my cat at a rest stop just west of Santa Rosa, NM this past May - weird stuff.

This time it was a bit more of a problem. As I left the construction zone on westbound I-40 in the little town of Santa Rosa, NM which is about 120 miles east of Albuquerque (just what is it about my luck and Santa Rosa?), I hit resume on the cruise control. Nothing unusual here. The engine starts to rev up, the speed begins to climb and usually it gets to the set speed and all is good. Not this time. As I crest an overpass there's a sudden BANG and I sort of see a puff of something come out from under the hood. My first reaction was "Crap, blew a tire". I figured it was the front right - something about the direction of the sound. Hmmm. No shuddering. Must have been a rear tire. I pulled over to the shoulder and began to slow down. Still, no shudder, no squirming, no signs of a flat. As I rolled to a stop I noticed something quite key. The van had quit moving forward, but the rhythmic thump, thump, thump, which had slowed as I slowed, didn't stop! Uh-Oh! I hopped out and could hear the sound coming from under the hood. NOT GOOD! Open the hood, sound is louder. Pull off the air filter cover and the sound's nice and prominent. CLACK, CLACK, CLACK and the van's not idling very smoothly. Crap.

I decided my best bet was to run up the road to the emergency turn around (about 1/2 a mile) and head back into Santa Rosa. I took the first exit - ironically, the same overpass the truck had just gone boom on - and slowly proceeded up old Route 66. On the right was a rough looking auto repair place. Think I'll pass this one... Just up on the left is another one that's even worse looking. A couple blocks later on the right is one that looks, uh, better. I pull in and ask if there's a Ford dealer in the area. "Nope - you need to go back down the road (to the first one I passed) and ask for So and So." Off I went and the guy I was told to talk to came walking up - the place I'd stopped had called him.

We proceeded to go over the BBB's drive train and it was decided that it had to be a valve train problem. No more driving the BBB and the closest Ford dealer was 120 miles away in Albuquerque. Damn. I unhooked the Jeep from the tow bar and piled all my stuff in it. Time to follow the tow truck into Albuquerque.

Four hours after the van let go, I was standing in the dealership being told "We won't be able to even look at your van until Thursday - it was Tuesday afternoon. My plans of a week's worth of setup, testing, shake down and such on the Dez had just been squashed. "If we get lucky and it's an easy fix, we may have it running by next Monday." Great. Oh well. Not a lot that I can do other than head on to Phoenix and wait for a phone call. Turns out the engine broke a rocker arm and bent a push rod at 70,890 miles. Go figure! (thank goodness it has a 100,000 mile/5 year warranty. Only cost me 100 bucks deductible)
I did get the van back on Saturday, so I only lost four days. Had to fly back up on Saturday and drive 7 hours back to Phoenix again - but that's another story in itself...

I was able to address some of things on the Dez during the week before the race: Quiet the car, work on some problems (radio, rear brakes) and do a full car shakedown, but it wasn't as complete nor relaxed as I'd planned. I really wanted more time, but hey, when you don't have it, you deal with it, right?

I've made my annual trek in August out west for what I consider the beginning of my race year (even though it's 3/4 the way through Whiplash's season) four times now. I'd never seen a desert race, much less been involved in one until four years ago when the ATV Racing crew and I showed up with a new car that everyone said wouldn't work, wouldn't make it, wouldn't be competitive. It was one of the most amazing, coolest days of my life, even though we only went 10 miles on that first try. Maybe the nay sayers were correct? I think not!

Snowflake's been a teaser for me from the start.
First Race: I can accept teething problems. The car hadn't even been fully shaken down yet and we were racing it.
Second Race: We had first place until an unscheduled pit stop let the guy behind me get past. I took second.
Third Race: Let's not talk about it... Sudden Down Hills can be a nasty way to finish the day.
Fourth Race: It was a ripper right up to mile 104. Too bad it was a 108 mile race.

Sit back and I'll tell you a story.

History would say that the fuel tank has been one of the Dez's more troublesome parts (rear brakes are up there too). The first tank was too thin and cracked after 10 miles of torture. The second tank cracked due to chassis flex and abuse (hey, the desert is a nasty, harsh mistress that takes no prisoners) and it was on the small size. We finally ended up making a 23 gallon tank with a thicker, well braced build and a fuel cell inside like they use in NASCAR, CART, IRL. Let the outer shell crack, the bladder's gonna hold the fuel INSIDE the tank now. With the 23 gallon tank, everyone that's been involved with the Dez (The ATV Racing Crew) would have bet pink slips that it would have gone 120 miles on a tank of fuel - remember that: We ALL thought the Dez would go 120 miles on a tank.

Last year I was bitten by the track. There was a new section (old section that had been brought back into the track, actually) that I'd not seen - The power line road. That along with a sudden down hill proved to be my doom, since I'd not run that section of the track before. Not this time.

My Crew Chief, James, his son Chase and I headed out of Phoenix on Friday afternoon and set our sites on getting to Snowflake in time for a bit of set up and a chance to do the Poker Run. The plan was to get out on the track and do one lap at a nice, relaxed pace. I'd be able to take in the track, look for problem areas and get a general feeling for the 27 mile loop. Boy am I glad I did.

The Poker Run, as Whiplash likes to call it, is held on Friday afternoon. The drivers get to take a lap around the course and then come back and draw a poker hand. I guess the winning hand takes the pot from the $10.00 entry fee each "player" pays. I managed to draw five cards that had absolutely nothing in common with each other. Oh well.
Anyhow, we got the Dez jetted for the mile plus altitude and made sure everything was set for a shakedown lap. I left the pit row and meandered on down the way.

The first part of the track, heck, the first 3/4ths of the lap, I knew pretty well. I remembered the long straights, I remembered the water crossings, the tight twisties through the trees, the down hill sweeper with the rail road tank car, heck I even remembered a lot of the tree and power line section from last year, but this time, as I came up on that dreaded rise, with the telephone pole on the left (the ONLY place where a pole is on the left of the track - I've watched last year's video a bunch, so I know what to look for now) I slowed WAY down and checked out the drop off very carefully.

The first thing I noticed about this particular spot is that it's a sneaky bastard. It doesn't look that bad from the approach. There's a small rise, the track looks like it drifts to the left just slightly and drops over a small ridge. Now it's what you see as you make this little drop that get's one's attention.
There's a flat area - about 30 to 40 feet long and then there's a small rise, followed by a DROP into the rocky abyss!!! The tree I kissed with the left rear tire last year is still quite alive, but it has this nice, 15" tall, 4" wide strip about four feet off the ground where the dark bark is missing and the bright white under layer sits shining in the sun, smiling as if to welcome me back.

I drove over the lip of the second rise (that we launched off last year), coasted to the bottom of the hill, turned around and just stared at the drop off. Wow, what a rush it was to just drive over - I'm NOT gonna repeat last year's mistake. No way. No how. I turned around, went back up the hill and then came back down again - a little quicker, but still pretty much just putting along. In retrospect, even if we'd made the landing, the bottom of the hill would have been a very, very nasty g-out. I bet it would have hurt us either way. Once again, I wasn't about to get bitten by this section of the track again.

After surveying the dreaded crash site I headed on down the track and started taking in the course the best I could, making mental notes of water bars, wash crossings and other potentially nasty stuff. Just a couple miles on down the line I discovered that we were back on the part of the course that I knew. I had the track figured out, knew what to expect and was ready for a day of racing. It took me right at 56 minutes to make the lap.

The rumor all week was that it was going to rain during the weekend. I talked to a guy that lives in the area earlier in the week and he said that the track was extremely dusty, but not to worry, it was going to rain. I wasn't too sure about that. I don't really care for mud anymore and would almost take the dust over driving in the rain. Sure enough, not long after my recon lap, the rains came down. I wasn't sure whether to be happy or bummed. James, Chase and I decided it was horizontal time and we shut down our camp for the evening. Jay and his group showed up about 1:30 a.m. - let's just say the circus arrived.

We got up bright and early on Saturday morning. The sky was mainly over cast and the rains would come and go. As we went over the Dez one last time, checking everything, topping off fluids, making sure the pits were ready in case we needed to stop, etc., etc. Jay and I started to get pretty jazzed about the race. Around 9:30 the Pro classes left the line and as they'd come around completing a lap, they'd be covered in another layer of mud. Most of the cars were now one color - Deep brown/red muddy dirt color. Great... We got ready and headed to the line about 1:00. The rains had dropped off almost completely by now.

I'm not sure what time we left the start (1:30 maybe?). We were fourth in line. Two 900 class cars in front then car #1200 in front of me. Every 30 seconds they'd let a buggy launch.

What can I say. I LOVE the starting section of the track (video from 2002). It's a high speed sweeper section that snakes to the left, then sweeps right into a long very fast left hander. This straightens up for a bit then makes a sweeper to the right. In the middle of the sweeper is one of my favorite jumps (video from 2003). Just like last year, I set the corner and jump up and hit it flying. We have to be running close to 70 when we hit it and I just love it! It's also where the track starts heading out into the desert.

By mile marker 8 we'd passed both 900 class cars and were sitting pretty right behind car 1200. Wow, caught him quick. Jay and I decided to sit back and follow him for a while. We were already in first place by 30 seconds by virtue of catching him, so we dropped back out of the mud spray (not dust!) and followed him through a couple of the tight twisties and down a couple fire roads. It was fun watching his car work over the bumps and through the corners. You'd be amazed at the amount of punishment the suspension on one of these cars takes! We did have one scary moment during our following time. There's this long very fast straight that runs along a fence line. It has three water bars. Water bars, for those of you that don't know, are nothing more than a small dike or mound of dirt that goes across a road like those damn speed bumps in parking lots - only a lot bigger. The idea of a water bar is to break the flow of running water and redirect it off the road. They're very common in hilly areas and I've seen them all over the country. They can be 1' high, they can be 4' high - all depends on the amount of water flow, how steep the road is, how fast the water flows, etc..

Most of the time you can hit them moving along pretty fast - just make sure you're on the go pedal as hard as it will allow when you do go over them. By driving the car into them, it keeps the front end light (allows it to float) and keeps the back end planted. Hit one when you're off the throttle and be prepared for a nose down, butt up attitude. So, anyhow, here we are running about 70 mph, we've floated over water bar #1 without incident. I'm about 100' behind 1200. As we come up to water bar #2, I can't see it very well (because of the car in front of me) and suddenly I'm looking at the bottom of his car! His ass end is about 6' above the front end and we're next! Jay and I both braced for impact and the bar pretty much just tossed us on over it. I remember watching the dirt road flying under the front bumper (because all I can see is "Down") and thinking "Ah crap." Fortunately the Dez just soaked up the landing, settled back into it's suspension and we didn't miss a beat. I'm betting the guys in 1200 made a mental note of that particular bar too.

Following 1200 got old pretty quickly so about mile 10 or so it was time to make the pass. As we came out of the first section of woods (just past the corner that ate the fuel tank four years prior) the track makes a crossing over a cattle guard and into an open area. I just sneaked up behind him through the guard and as we got onto the fast section I put the pedal down and danced the Dez right on around 1200. I kept the pace up for a few minutes to get some distance between us and 1200 and then dropped back into a nice smooth, easy pace. Jay and I had planned from the beginning of the day that we WERE going to finish the race. We WERE going to take the first lap easy and get the track dialed in.

The rest of Lap #1 was pretty uneventful. Not a soul in front of us, so no dust or mud, two G-out sections that we both made mental notes about, lots of familiar terrain and a good time was had. The majority of the track was just about perfect. Just enough moisture to make it a blast and give me great traction, but not enough to make it slippery - until we got into the trees. Talk about slick!!!

The tight sections is where the Dez really shines. It's a blast to drive in this stuff. Point, squirt, nail the brakes to get the back end steering, stab the throttle and launch to the next corner. Do it again. This time it was tip toe though the trees. The car was sliding all over the place and I had to be extra careful not to let the Dez get out of shape. Last thing I wanted to do was hit a tree (again). Only once did Jay say "I think you can go a bit faster though here." I replied that we'd decided to take it easy on the first lap and he agreed.

There were two VERY muddy sections on the track. The first one was a left hand corner. You came down a small rise, hooked to the right just a tad and then it turned sharply to the left. The ground was soup. There was a buggy from the Pro classes (run earlier) sitting there on the inside of the corner. I think it may have been white at one time, but now it was the same dark nasty color as the mud all around. We came into the corner fairly slowly and when I touched the brakes and started to turn the wheels, they all just locked up and we went sliding along in the goo. After we slid to a stop, I tried to get going again. There was absolutely NO traction. Jay and I pretty much sloshed through the mud sideways and finally we made it to harder ground. We finally figured out that this was one of those corners that you just tip-toed through. Very slow and easy in, ease through the corner, line up with the tracks and crawl out of.

The other muddy section was about 1/2 to 3/4's of a mile long. You came out of a fast right hander and into an open field. The track was on the right side, but it was butt deep in slop. The problem was that after a couple hundred passes over this area, the path was now 100' wide and slop was everywhere. It was pretty much just pin it and try to keep the front end pointed towards the dry patch of land at the end of the mud run. There were a couple water bars and small washes we went over, but they were pretty much just pin the throttle and hit them type of crossings. These both got better as the day went along, but man, oh man, talk about slick, squishy, soupy stuff.

By the end of lap one Jay and I were three minutes ahead of second place (we were told this by the people at check point #6). The only thing to do now was step up the pace and see how much faster we could go - without messing up... We had the track figured out and knew the three places that bottomed out the Dez. We didn't have anyone in front of us, the track conditions were great. Time to let the Dez rip!
Lap #1 time: 0:34:30

Lap two was a good one. We had no traffic for the majority of the lap and pretty much just cruised along. The track was starting to come around - the mud was being pushed off the line and areas that were slicker than snot the first lap were now just marginally slick. We started lapping cars about 7-8 miles from the end of the second lap. Most of them were the slower class cars that had left the line quite a while after we did. Remember, 30 seconds between cars at the starting line and at least 30 cars in staging - that's 15 minutes of time ahead and some of those cars ran 45 or more minute lap times.
Lap #2 time: 0:33:34 - a mere 3 seconds slower than the fastest lap turned all day - by a Pro Truck!

I won't say that Lap 2 was perfect. We did have one small incident, if you will...
Part of the layout of the Snowflake track includes a section that's about a mile to a mile and a half long that runs though the pit area. It's pretty much the nerve center of the race track. The pit section of the track has what I would consider spectator section. The pits start after a tight left hander (pic on right). It then runs two short straights that are connected by a slight right hand bend. You hit a small water bar and drop into a tight right hander. Run down another straight that feeds into a particularly nasty left hand corner; It's about a 200 degree turn that starts out fairly tight, opens up and then decreases in radius. You get a good run at it and then have to scrub off speed. It's the classic, enter slow and leave fast type, when the race mode says "drive it in hard!" - not the right way. At the end of that is a right hander that leads to the jumps. Usually this section of the track is extremely dusty, as shown in this video from 2002. This year, with the rain, the visibility was excellent and I was able to set up for the pair of jumps that follow the corner (pic series below). Hard on the brakes after the second jump, make an extremely tight right hand 180 and then get a run at the whoop section. After the whoops, you make another sweeping 180 left, run a short shoot to the finish line, through another sweeping right hander and we're back on the starting straight.

These pictures are property of Kim Cook and I Shoot Horses

For the first time, I didn't have to follow anyone through the pits (Whiplash doesn't want passing and racing through this area, as there are spectators, camps, pits for the racers, etc., so they want it safe. I always seem to come up on a lapper and am forced to putt along through the pits behind them.), and I didn't have dust. All I had was clean air and a clear track. Very cool! We ran the corners, we hit the jumps, I got a good drive out of the corner and we set up for the whoops (on the left, where they're deep - much smaller/smoother on the right - which is the side we did the first lap). As I came into them, I went into Glamis Mode - point and pin. The Dez pretty much will float over deep whoops IF you're aligned with them. Problem was that I was still a tad sideways from exiting the corner. We hit the first whoop, and the car bounced a bit, pointing to the right. The next bounce made us point to the left. By the time it was all done, I'd managed to bounce out of the whoops and into the small trees that line the edge of the track. Time to go into avoidance mode and dodge trees (probably should have let off the throttle too, but it was fun!). I remember watching one spectator go blitzing off away from the track, fearful of me hitting them! I gathered up the Dez, pointed back towards the track and went back to racing. Whew! Fun, but let's not do that again - made another mental note - run the right side of the whoops. You learn something new each lap.

Unfortunately for me, Kim Cook of I Shoot Horses caught my actions through the whoops with her camera.
These pictures are property of Kim. (Thanks Kim!)

Lap Three was our problem lap, if you will:
Once again, we pretty much ran the majority of course with out any problems or mess ups. Jay and I said "Hello" to a large rock in the tree/power line section again - "Hello" meaning I SEE YOU and I'm NOT going to hit you! (this rock was the size of a bowling ball and sitting right in the middle of a switch back corner. It creeped out into the line as the day went on.) We were careful about the dreaded third water bar on the back section, we tip-toed through the three nasty water crossings. I was driving carefully, but quickly. The rear brakes were starting to fade, though. (I FINALLY got this problem solved, too bad it was after the race). I managed to blow one corner because of the brakes going away. Fortunately, it was a good one to miss. We just rolled over the back side of the mound that made up the corner and jumped right back on track.

It was about 2/3rds the way through Lap three that we had our problems:
We came upon a lapper and discovered that it was Car 1200, Jay and I were pretty blown away. We were lapping the guy that left the line in front of us. He must have had problems - Jay finally spotted that he was running a narrow rear tire, so he had to have thrown the spare on during the race, sometime. Anyhow, we came up on him just as we entered a wooded section. He wasn't going slow, but he was definitely holding me back. The track was drying out even more and the conditions were becoming more and more Dez favorable. Twice I showed him a front tire - in fact, I got up right along side him and looked over at the driver as if to say "Come on, it's pretty obvious that I'm faster, let my by!", but he just kept it pinned and shut the door on me. I had to drop back in behind him so I didn't go sailing over a nasty water bar. Now it was time to dog his butt. 1200 and I came up on a white four wheel drive SUV - the SUV pulled out of the way and waved us on. 1200 gave the guy the "thanks" wave and I really expected that he'd let me by now that he'd been given a pass. Nope. It wasn't gonna happen.

By this time, I'm telling Jay "I wanna tap him!". I got bumped back in Mexico during my second race and ever since then I've wanted to return the favor. It's a legal move. Honk the horn, show the guy a wheel, let him know your back there and then, if they aren't nice and let you by, give 'em a love tap. I've wanted to do this for a long time now, but every time I start to, the track will open up and give me room to pass, the driver will let me by or what have you. Jay's usually saying "Hang on, we'll make the pass in a minute." Not this time! After he shut us down for the second time, then has someone let him by, Jay was beside himself. "HIT HIM!"

Because my rear brakes were fading badly, I decided that I'd drop back a touch and see if I couldn't get a run at him out of a corner that was coming up. I had my spot picked. We came ripping into the corner and 1200 slows WAY down! UH OH! I nailed the brakes, trying to avoid him (his heavy, long car had to go slowly through a corner that the Dez just cruised through), but it wasn't to be. BANG. I nailed the back of his car and as he bounced forward I saw that I'd bent the back tube of his car a tad. I felt pretty bad about it, but hey, this is racing and I've been hit more than once. It happens. Then again, 1200 nailed me in the chest with a golf ball sized rock during the start of the race and it HURT, so that lessened my guilt a tad... Needless to say, car 1200 finally moved over.

Now here's the pisser...
Just as I started to pull back on line as I passed 1200 the drive train of the Dez says BANG! Of all the times and places to loose a belt! DOH!!!
I pulled over, rolling to a stop in the trees, Jay hopped out and in record time changed the belt out. (He's got it down!) He informed me that the CV boot had been torn loose by the belt letting go, but oh well. 930 CVs are tough pieces and we weren't worried about it failing. Because I knew we had a decent lead, I sat at the edge of the track for a couple minutes allowing Jay to get buckled back in. Usually I'm back on the gas as soon as he gets in the car, but I figured I'd be nice. I was surprised when we didn't catch up with 1200 pretty quickly, though. I figure we lost somewhere between one and two minutes being stuck behind 1200, the belt change and the pit road problem. The rest of the lap was good. Quick, fun and uneventful for us. There was one thing that caught our attention at the end of the lap, though.

As we came into the final part of the race course, before you make the left hander that leads into the pits, I noticed that there were spectators that were standing along the edge of the track waving their arms wildly, trying to get people to slow down. I did and as we made the corner into the pits, there was a lot of commotion going on just down the track from where our pits were. There were emergency workers, a fairly large crowd and people directing the race cars off line and into the bushes where we had to creep along side the track. Come to find out, a woman on a quad, with her son, decided to cross the track. The problem was that there was a RACE going on! From what I understand, she squirting out onto the track from between two bushes and nailed the side of a Trophy Truck! (she was so lucky she hit the side of the truck instead of it running over her!) They said the kid was fine, Air Care landed right by our pits and they hauled her off to the hospital. I hear she was okay. Man, you HAVE to pay attention out there.
Lap Time: 0:34:20

Lap Four - The Lap That Should Have Been

By now the track conditions were PERFECT. The ground was moist, so the dust was minimal and the mud was pretty much pushed off line. A couple of the dryer sections were actually starting to form blue groove (where rubber from the tires starts sticking to the ground - gives the dirt a bluish haze) I was having a blast and now I was starting to push it a bit. In fact, as we flew over the jump at the end of the pit section, I told Jay to keep telling me to keep my cool and drive, not race. When I get out and start playing - just having fun, I usually drive well and don't screw up. The second I get into race mode, I start over driving - blow corners, screw up in technical sections, in general I submarine myself.

Not this time! I wasn't gonna loose this one. The car was working perfectly (well, back brakes were an issue, but I adapt pretty well) the track was just about perfect with the exception of the two really nasty, muddy sections - and even these had started to develop a dryer line. I'd survived the down hill in the Power Line section three times, not tried to kill us on the nasty water bar or the three mean wash crossings. Everything was going to plan. We were ripping and way out in front. The forest section, that had been so slick earlier was a blast. I was able to rail through the trees and didn't have an issue with any corners, trees or cattle guards. This was as good as it gets!

As we watched the mile markers go by, Jay and I started counting down. 10 miles to go!
8 miles to go!
We came back down the long hill with the four water bars for the last time - this is the same area that I followed car 1200 through the previous lap. Right after we jumped over bar number two the Dez sort of went flat. The engine seemed to cough a tad. My first thought was "Crap! It's acting like I've lost a cylinder!" Nope, the car suddenly surged back on the power. About the same time Jay says "Oh No!" Then the engine coughed again and burbled. No Freaking Way! I'd run out of fuel!!! I'm four miles from the end of the race and the damn thing's run out of fuel!!! NO, NO, NO! It's supposed to go at least 120 miles on a tank! We coasted down the road and pulled up right next to the people running check point #6.

I was caught off guard by the two people running Checkpoint #6.
As we pulled up, Jay and I climbed out of the Dez - "You have any gas?"
"Yea, we have a couple gallons. Seems this is the place to run out. You're the THIRD car today to come rolling in."
"Oh. How about oil? - ANY oil - we'll even take regular engine oil."
"Nope. Only oil I have is in the engine of the Jeep."
"Can we steal some of that???"
The guy laughed.
Jay has James on the radio and is telling him the situation. I hear James say that he'll be there in a minute.
The woman, sitting in the Jeep doing scoring suddenly pipes up. "You guys were ripping! You were 3 minutes ahead of everyone on your first lap. Best I can figure out now is that you're 11 minutes ahead of second place."
"Yea, we WERE."

A few minutes later, we see car 1204 come by. There goes first place. Damn. A bit later, here comes car 1200 and he has another flat and is limping along. He's now on the same lap I am, but still down.

We chat with the people there in the check point and then we see our race saving pit crew! Jay's brother Jimmy is at the controls of a quad that they've borrowed from the people in the pits next to us and James is sitting on the back, hanging on to a 10 gallon quick fill jug (with about 5 gallons in it) looking like he's just had the ride from Hell. He walks (well, more like a stagger, I think Jimmy tried to kill him on the ride out - they both look like the trees won.) over, dumps fuel in the Dez and Jay and I get strapped in. A few seconds of starter cranking and the Dez roars to life again. It barely had a chance to come down to idle before I've slammed it into forward and we're off. (I had a bad adrenaline surge going - I was pissed that we'd tossed first place and the overall away). I over drove a couple corners and then got my witts about me. We cruised on to the finish line from there, dejected and bummed that we'd missed on fuel range, but also happy that we'd finished. After all, you can't win place or show in a race if you've not finished.
Lap Time: 1:00:43

Now don't go giving me that line of "You should have topped it off." We did. The quick fill setup doesn't give you a chance to just add a little bit of fuel. It spills 10 gallons of fuel in about 8 seconds - it's not easy to just put in a little bit. The tank has a 1" overflow on it and when we topped off the tank before the race, we ran at least a gallon through the overflow. In all the running I've done since we put the 1000 triple in the Dez (back in March of '02), we've always figured fuel mileage to be right around 4.5 to 5 mpg in the sand (Mexico, Glamis) and closer to 6 mpg in the desert - hard packed, rocks and such. Snowflake's about 6,000 feet above sea level - I have to drop three main jet sizes, so we figured that has to help with economy too> The Dez probably looses 10 to 15 hp up there than at lower levels, so that has to mean less fuel is being used. Either way, the end result is that the Dez went 104 miles on a full tank - ironically, 4.5 mpg. Jay thinks we used a bunch more than usual in the muddy conditions of the first two laps. Dunno. I do know that we'll be stopping on Lap Two next year for another 10 gallons. We learn something new with each race and this one was no exception.

I have to give my good buddy and co-driver Jay a lot of credit for doing "his" job throughout the race. (usually his "job" is telling me "GO FASTER!") During the driver's meeting the issue of mud and not being able to see the numbers on the cars was giving the score keepers fits. Since there were six checkpoints that kept track of scoring, they needed to be able to see the numbers on the cars or at least be able to identify the cars as they went rolling past. We (the racers) were asked to carry something that could used an identifier for each car. We decided on a paper plate with our number drawn in large black print. Being that we weren't exactly sure which of the dozens of groups of people along the course were score keepers, Jay would hold up the numbered plate to anyone we saw at the side of the track - whether they were in groups, alone or what have you. Jay did a hell of a job letting EVERYONE know we were car 1202. Heck, I think he even held up the plate to drivers that had become Snowflake Victims and had pulled off the track. After the race, we discovered that you could read the numbers on the side of the Dez with no problem. - I appreciate the help Jay and I'm glad to have you riding along.

One last note: Once again, I'd like to thank James (and for the first time) Jay's brother Jimmy for the killer pit work and help though out the weekend. We can't do it without you! Let's get 'em in Mexico!

Miles Total: 109.3
Moving Average: 47.6 mph
Moving Time: 2:17
Stopped Time: :29
Total Time: 2:46
Max Speed: 83.2 mph
* these are from my GPS that rides onboard - moving time probably includes driving back to the pits. I got the data tracking started about 5 seconds before we left the starting line.
Fastest Lap: 33:25 - according to Whiplash

This is off Whiplash's Snowflake Results Page:

Sportsman Unlimited Car Number Laps
Completed
Total Time Lap 1 Lap 2 Lap 3 Lap 4
KENNEDY, MICHAEL 1204 4 2:23:59 0:37:10 0:37:07 0:35:05 0:34:37
KOSAR, RICHARD 1202 4 2:43:08 0:34:30 0:33:35 0:34:20 1:00:43
NEWTON, RAY "RJ" 1244 4 2:50:27 0:40:29 0:38:16 0:54:09 0:37:33
MYERS/MASK RACING TEAM, BOB 1200 4 3:17:08 0:44:54 0:59:27 0:51:05 0:41:42
HUGHES, KEITH 1208 3 1:54:34 0:40:52 0:36:23 0:37:19 -
SMITH, BRET 1205 3 2:43:57 0:44:09 0:48:29 1:11:19 -

A full listing of the results from the race can be found at Whiplash's Snowflake Results Page

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9/16/04