|The 24 Hours of Le Fud|
It all started when Tom Godfrey (Big Tom, as he's known on the Pilot-Odyssey Board - aka P-O Board) headed out west, from Houston, and ran in a Fud Desert Race. He was hooked. (oh how I know the feeling!) Tom decided that he was going to run the 24 hour endurance race that's held every other year - another Fud Desert Race. One afternoon, or it may have been one evening, Tom posted to the P-O Board that he needed a crew to attempt the race - "Who's in?".
The list of acceptable candidates was quickly weeded down to about ten to fifteen people. When all was said and done, we had a crew of eight assembled:
Andy - KiowA
Eric - DunePilot
Greg from Desertkarts
Jay - Jayfab from Desert Dog Off Road
Kelly - Hoser
Scott - dhjunkie
Tom - BigTom
Myself - Moskito and a very good friend of mine, Jill, joined in at the last moment.
Hoser was a possible, but fortunately he didn't make it.
KiowA made it to the Las Vegas airport and ended up having an emergency pop up and he was forced to miss the race also. Bummer!
Scott getting ready
Eric and his pit pike
Greg from DesertKarts
I think the best way to tell the majority of this story is to let the guys speak for themselves. I've taken our posts on the P-O Board and put them here. Enjoy!
From: Big Tom/ DirtCheapRacing
What an experience!
We learned a lot and had a ton of fun.
We did not finish the race but I must point out we did a lot better than that JMS crew!!! They went poof-ka-boom for good early on.
We had a head gasket leak during the 3rd lap and got it hot to the point where it stopped the piston. After some amazing field repairs we were up and running again. This time it ran great for hours. The next time it failed was due to a crank bearing coming apart, or it is suspected. We installed a different top end and learned the bearing failure was the end of it. We called it off then due to limited down time left, or so we thought.
After the mornings little breakdown, we accumulated 1.5 hours of downtime and after several hours we had knocked it down to 5 mins. Maybe JMS can explain this process a little better than I can, I still don't get it 100%. So, in fact we did have time to fix a lower end but we didn't know at the time and we might not have had all the parts.
All that attended definitely had fun. Hoser wasn't even there but got many updates over the phone and kept up on our progress.
We were blasting through the desert at an average of 40-45 mph over a 10 mile loop. Some sections were WFO through the wash and others were WFO through those nasty desert whoops. It was challenging terrain and 4 of the 4 drivers crashed and/or flipped.
I hit a "gotcha" ditch too fast and it got me. Did the 2 wheel thing for quite a while before it came over on the side. Busted a brand new light....
Skito avoided a head-on collision with some dumb kids riding backwards on a high speed section. He missed the morons and hit some really rough stuff. Smashed the front end up good. He busted a rod end, taco-ed the tie rod, and bent a lower A-arm...
DHjunkie flew into the wash a bit on the fast side. He got caught up in the whoops and did the nosedive-into-a-front-flip. He landed on the wheels and never backed off. He finished off the front bumper/frame that Moskito had tweaked in practice. The biggest loss of this crash was the crash bag that jettisoned. Someone else in the world has my bag with all those tools, clamps, tire kit, 1st aid kit, etc...and oh yeah, DunePilot's wrench. We searched for it, it is gone :-(
Next up was Jay, everyone says I drive nutty, Largo. He roared off and turned good lap times. The wind had really picked up by now and the visibility was zero at times. We had destroyed the 25" tires by now and were on my 22". The top speed and ground clearance were reduced quite a bit. Jay did really well and drove smart up until the wash chewed him up and spit him out! He nosed dived and balanced on the front end, finally falling forwards on the roof and rolling over till he was pointed at the sky. He got out and pushed it back over. Not too many laps later, the bottom end let loose and we were done for the day.
Greg and DunePilot did not get to drive during the race.
Once again, fun was had by all. Fud is a a great guy for putting on these races and quite a character.
We will be ready for the 2005 running of this race, with a better built car I hope.
I have more pics to scan and more reports to give, secret squirrel type stuff! Hint" what do you do when your needle is too lean and you don't have another?
Tom & Jug
Jay and Tom
Scott, Moskito & Tom
Say Hi Scott
First and foremost, THANK YOU Big Tom and Dirt Cheap Racing! I had a bitchen time out in the Hell we call a desert. Who'd ever thought I would get the chance to race a pilot in the desert?
To start off the commentary for me I tried to leave early Wednesday morning only to be packing and have my 4.5-year-old back the Mustang into the truck. CRAP! This is starting off well. So what was supposed to be early ended up late, like way late. I rolled out of the Ghetto around 8 p.m. BUMMER! But hey I was going out to the desert to race. So I roll into Imperial County and El Centro around 1 a.m., cool I'm almost there. Flew past Plaster city and right past Plaster city west area and ended up in Ocotillo. OOPS! U-turn city. Finally found what I was hoping to be the pit area at 2:15 a.m., there were a total of two trucks there.
Thursday. Woke up and was informed that I was camped on the racecourse. Oh well at least I didn't unpack. So I moved onto the other side of the two trucks (Merry Old Men racing) that were there. First to roll in was Dune Pilot with his 30" RV and trailer. Then comes Big Tom around 15 minutes after DP. Cool, this is actually going to happen. We then start to get the Pits situated and trailers in arrangement. It was going to be a beautiful weekend (RIGHT!). Then in come the BBB and Moskito with Jill.
Now it is time for testing and getting the correct jetting for the race. Finally got the jetting done (Secret Squirrel activities, BT can evaluate) and time to test the entire course. But first comes the testing in the Dez Taz and other toy riding.
Friday. Moskito is the first to test the car and course. He comes back with a bent front bumper, telling us to watch out for the first wash entrance (I must have had a brain fart, more to come later). So we push out the front bumper and make it appear OK. Then everyone got the OK to test run the course and familiarize themselves with the terrain. After a few pre runs, we decide that the rear shocks are too stiff and not absorbing any of the small chatter bumps. So Moskito calls up Jay and we get shock tuning via cell phone. What a world of difference this made to the cars handling.
By now it's getting late and I still haven't prerun the entire course. So I hop into the car and Moskito follows in the Dez Taz. Lets say I can find every possible bad line and completely blow checkpoint one's corner! I come back on a flat right rear tire; a nice big finger size hole and a little puncture. No biggie. BT, DP and I fix the tire - hey it held! Cool.
By now the wind starts to pick up, not too bad. We are thinking to ourselves, "cool this will blow the dust away". Do some final sticker and net install onto the car and now it is time for bed and the sleepless night before the race.
Saturday. Everyone is up bright and early for the race and wander over to the driver's meeting (Yes there is one held). After the meeting we wander back to the pits and do the final go over of the car. Low and behold here comes JMS "are you guys racing?" DOH! We missed our start time. Oh well it's a 24 hour race and 8 minutes won't hurt much.
So Big Tom gets into the car and gets going. We are officially racing! BT comes through on Lap One, COOL! One completed lap. Then came the phone call. BT had seized the engine. Moskito calls me over and tells me to hop into the Taz and we are going to get BT. We find BT and pull him back into the pits. BT tells us that he managed to lay the car on its side before the melt down.
One driver one crash.
We push the car into DP's trailer and instantly start to tear down the top end to determine our options. There was some transfer onto the bore and the rings were stuck a bit, not too bad. So Jay takes the jug and cleans out the excess boogers, then hands it to me for cleaning. He then takes the piston and cleans the rings and cleans out the piston ring grooves. We do a final piston and jug slip through, then install back onto the bottom end. Meanwhile Moskito has found out that the head wasn't all that flat and preceded top lap the head. Got the entire top end done and installed in under 2 hours including BT down lap time. Not too shabby!
It was decided that Moskito was going to drive next. So Moskito suited up and blistered the first lap of 12 minutes then averaged a 13-minute lap times with one slow time due to a crash from avoiding a quad rider going the wrong way. (What can I say, all kinds of idiots here in CA). So Moskito came in to pit and we changed out the left front tie rod and the outer ball joint that fell apart in my hand while replacing it. What luck!
Second driver and second crash. 2 for 2.
An hour later and its my turn to drive. I hop in and do my first lap with out a hitch. But, on my second lap (here is where the brain fart set in) I am barreling into the wash entrance too fast! Well the car was handling great, just floating over the whoops that felt in total control. The car just bucked a little and I thought, "I'm cool, it's not that far up on nose", well here comes the wash entrance and a slight uphill whoop. The nose compresses and BOOM! I auger the front bumper and see nothing but dirt - A LOT OF IT! Next thing I know I'm on the tires and thinking S**T I just flipped the car and I'm right side up. I nail the gas and go. I proceeded to go down the wash still not letting off the throttle and watch the CRASH BAG bounce on the was left front bumper. I thought for a second that I should stop and take it off, but I would lose valuable time exiting, reattaching, and then re-fastening everything. So I made an executive decision and left it on there, this was the last time I saw the bag.
So back to the race. I round check point one and give them the thumbs up (I guess the front looked bad) and head off to check point two. By now the wind is really kicking up and the car is now pulling from the wind and a flat right rear tire (I guess my harsh and abrupt landing blew out the patch job). So I pull into the pit and point to the tire and the front bumper, The Dirt Cheap Racing pit crew pulls out their best NASCAR pitting and gets me mobile in no time. I am fueled up and fresh rubber squashed front bumper and ready to roll. I do three more laps with a bastard of a headwind, and then the scary happens.
WOAAA, WOAAA, WOAAA, CRAP I BLEW UP THE MOTOR! So I try and restart the engine. "Hey it runs!", stab the gas and blah. CRAP I'M OUT OF FUEL!!!!! Damn it, I'm in site of pit row! A phone call to the pits and Jay rolls out with a can of gas and I'm off again. Two more laps and I am called into pit for a drivers change. Cool, I was going to TAP out anyway, I was beat and didn't want to have another mishap.
3 drivers, 3 crashes.
Up next was Jay. He hops in and gets to business. Jay gets the award for cooking the first belt (not too bad for having over 200 miles one the belt) and also crashes. Hit the front bumper and does and nose stand for some time. Then rolls over and rests on the rear of the car, stuck. He has to get out and push the car over.
4 drivers and 4 crashes.
Meanwhile we are sitting in the pits wondering where Jay is. Alas we see him in the horizon, cool here he comes then poofkaboom the engine gave out, right in front of The Squirrel's (Squirrel in pic on right - that cone's attacking him!) campsite. DP hops into his pilot and tows Jay back.
We do a plug check and see that it is black, hopefully its just gummed rings. We do an impromptu compression check, 50psi. NOT GOOD. So off to DP trailer again to yank off the head, only to discover some mystery metal.
Off came the pipe and cylinder again and find that the piston is toast (couldn't ghetto fix it this time). So it was decided to install the not so proven jug with the original head (not the Duncan cool head). Did a lower end check and it felt good. We did the top end install and fired her up, only to hear the death noise. We all then pondered what needed to be done and decided that our race day was officially over.
It is a bummer to be taken out of a race by a mechanical problem, especially when all four previous drivers crashed and didn't phase the car. It sucks that Greg and DP put in such an effort and were not able to drive in the race, but Murphy is a mean son of a bitch and when I find him, he'll be a dead man. Well in two years Dirt Cheap Racing is planning on doing this again and I hope to be invited to be a driver. Maybe we can con Hoser into letting us run his time proven motor for the race?
Jill driving DP's Pilot
Fill 'er up!
DP's Trailer & Crew
Scott & Tom in the Dez
Ahhhh.... To be out of the FREAKING WIND!!! 50+ gusts, 35 constant. Sandy air SUCKS....
We gave it our best shot - and one great shot it was.
Short and sweet of it all:
Tested on Thursday and Friday - shock work, jetting and such. I ran a bunch of laps on Tom's XR400 (I was STUPID and left my desert YZF in Phoenix) - then ran a bunch in the DezTaz. Took people out on the track for both day and night viewing to learn the track and find SMOOTH sections. (for what it's worth, the Taz ran flawlessly - somewhere in the range of 25+ laps - uh, well, there was that mile and a half walk into the wind with Greg of Desertkarts - Dez no go without gas - but the new fuel cell works great!)
Saturday Morning - 7:00ish
Left the line a bit late - "Hey you guys gonna race? Your start time was about 5 min ago." - JMS...
Big Tom was out first and ran three laps (managed to fall over on his right side after hitting a nice deep rut) and the we got the dreaded phone call (we all carried cell phones) - It's boiled out and quit at the second rail road crossing. I retrieved with the Dez. 1.5 hours later they gave me the car.
First lap was 12 minutes (I thought I was taking it easy on the car!) next 6 were all 13 minutes. Last lap I almost took out some squid kid on a quad running the WRONG WAY in a 60mph section of the track! Dodged him, hit a deep whoop and got a killer look at the ground out the front, but didn't roll/endo - just tore up a tie rod. Don't know how I got lucky... Decided to change drivers while we fixed the front. Wind was bad running up the last straight, but wasn't killer. Down the wash with wind to the back the car was running 60+
Put DHjunkie in next - went into the wash and did a perfect endo - doink, bounce, landed back on his wheels and ripped off. 2 hours later he was done - oh, he ran out of fuel just at the entrance to the pits once. We'd changed tires (to smaller ones - all that we had available - flat rear) and it was just enough difference to keep him from running a full 4 laps. Back to three lap pit stops. Wind started picking up too. Scott ran 14-15 minute laps.
Jay took over - wash managed to get him too... Long slow endo. No damage done... He had to get out and push it off it's butt. By this time the wind was WICKED and blowing directly down the long home stretch - dropped his times down to the 15-16 minute range. ZERO visibility at times. Got the second dreaded phone call - squeak...
Turns out that what appears to be a crank bearing let go - mystery metal in the jug - got us. Put the squeaked jug back together, started it up and quickly shut it down. Damn.
Felt bad for DunePilot & Greg - never got to race the car. Eric was on top of the fuel situation and filling of the tank, though - gets a 10 for it!
Some pix... I'm sure more will follow as we all get back to our 'puters.
THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU to the guys that showed up. Big Tom for getting the whole thing together, Eric for being Fuel Master, Jay for taking off work and lending an experienced hand, Greg for support and great conversation, Scott for the bull horn - "Extinguish the fire now". We make one hell of a team and I'd run with any of these guys again in a heart beat!
DP Strapping in
Team Saasta's pits
Jill getting ready
JMS - a real Alien
Well, I made it as far as Las Vegas last night. This morning as I was preflighting the Bonanza for the flight down to Phoenix and then over to Imperial Valley when I got a call from my in-laws.
Had to head home and miss the race...maybe the next time (two years right?)
When it was all said and done, the race was a blast.