Well, yes, our goal was to go to the USA 500 in our own car and go beat on it to learn and gain experience. Our car needs to have some driving time in it and we need to find its weaknesses. This was going to be our first opportunity to do that… but it didn’t happen.
We weren’t deterred, we decided, if the car couldn’t go, that didn’t mean we had to stay. We offered up our services to the Desert Dingo team and they accepted. So we headed out.
With three of us the plane tickets were pretty pricy and with cash at a premium we did the math and drove out to the race. Our savings can go toward more parts for our own car. We packed up a TON of Kelty gear for the trip as well as some tools and whatnot.
Of course, with any roadtrip we saw plenty of interesting sights. Some of them included Bonneville Salt Flats, flipped vehicles and more.
The trip is a solid 16 hours and when we arrived we stopped instantly at In ‘N’ Out burger only to receive a text message from Emme Hall with a photo of her In ‘N’ Out meal. Clearly great minds think alike.
When we arrived we were beat and we walked into “The Compound” and chatted with Crusty for a while. Crusty is just a great guy. He is a character and he has been in racing for his whole life. His knowledge is second to none and mechanically he is the heart of the team. He showed us around the car a bit and we looked really hard at everything they did to see what else we should consider for our car. After a good amount of time we pitched our Kelty 15 second cots in the basement of the house and got some rest.
When we woke up there was a lot of buzz in the compound. More people had arrived and we were meeting new people left and right. As the day got started the final prep of 1107 were wrapping up and we headed off to pick up a drum of fuel.
With everything set and loaded we headed out to make final prep at the start finish as well as do a bit of prerunning and of course go through tech inspection. We also got to finally meet our friends over on the Green Booger team. It was too brief this time, we will surely be spending more time with them in the future.
By the end of the day the car was checked in, the drivers were checked in, we enjoyed a DELICIOUS meal prepared by Roxanne Dingo, we attended the drivers meeting and we only had to distribute the fuel to pit 1 before heading to sleep. Evan and I headed out to pit one while Matt found a hotel and some supplies from WalMart. When Evan and I arrived at ProPits we were greeted with smiles and offers of steak. We sat down and chatted for a while and man what a great time. Those guys are good guys and we found out more about how good they are during the race!
In the morning we arrived at the staging area to find Toby in his hammock strung between cars.
The team was preparing for the day and drivers were getting suited up.
The race began and we saw 1107 off before taking the 70 mile trek to Pit 3.
Oh and lets not forget about some of the other 11’s!
When the cars were off the line we got our convoy together and headed out to pit 3. I ended up driving Crusty’s 1951 Chevy flatbed.
When we arrived at the pits we set up a nice base camp and pit area. We were ready with fuel and worked out a bit of a plan. Since many of us were working together for the first time we were sorting out all the things we needed to do and trying to make a plan.
When the car came in for the first pit it came in 30 minutes before we expected it to. Crusty was spent and got out of the car to sit down and recover. The course was hard, but it was very fast, they expected good things and made good time. Emme Hall hopped in the drivers seat and Toby Fray took control of the navigation duties.
They headed out and only minutes later did we hear a phone ring… 1107 has rolled. it is on its side and they are trying to get it on its feet again.
Instantly we started talking about what to do, what can we do, what are we aloud to do, how can we help and all that. Most communication was done through text message since cell coverage was spotty and the radios seemed to be intermittent. VORRA couldn’t let us on course to go help because faster traffic was coming up very quick. So we discussed and finally decided to try to find an access road. We bush whacked for a while and finally had to turn back when we realized we weren’t going to find them that way. Finally VORRA allowed us to go on course to get to our car. When we got there they had finally gotten the car on its wheels and we gave it a thorough inspection, fixed a few things and get it on it’s way.
We watched as the car took off again and loaded up to get ourselves out of the desert safe and sound. Moments later my phone was ringing. It was Emme Hall. “aww crap, she is pocket dialing me, she is going to be pocket dialing me for HOURS!” I answered it anyway and Emme was on the phone. “WE ROLLED AGAIN! PLEASE HELP!” They had rolled the car 1 mile ahead of us on the course and we rushed to their assistance.
Matt kicked one of the doors out to straighten it and we did another inspection. Mechanically it seems that 1107 was still a runner and we watched it go off to battle some more. Emme was clearly a bit upset and once she settled her nerves we were confident she was going to deliver the car safely to pit 1
Hours ticked by and we got a phone call from Jim Graham. “We have to call it, there is too much to fix to make this thing go.” Sadly we packed up pit 3 and we headed back to pit one. When we arrived we learned about all the problems and after a very motivating speech from Dave we rallied around the car. The engine was dropped, the clutch was replaced, the wiring was checked and the lights were dialed, the fenders were fixed and replaced, the roof was welded back on and wow, it was all done in a blink of an eye. I would love to say that it was 20 minutes, but i suspect that it was closer to 45 minutes. This is a group of motivated people and we were really glad to be part of this team. We definitely couldn’t have done all of this so quick without the help of BFG’s Pro Pits Service as well. As I mentioned earlier, they are a great bunch of people and they really showed us what they are made of!
In the midst of this, a tweet showed up on our feed.
Finally at some point we cut the front bumper to make room for the front tire again and sent it on its way.
The car tore out of the pit with cheers from everyone in the pits! You would think the superbowl and the World Series had just completed with the response. Dave was behind the wheel and the most durable codriver in the world of class 11, Toby Fray back in the seat again. As the car took off we realized that the biggest problem with breaking the GPS was that they didn’t turn where they should have… we watched as they disappeared over the crest of the first mountain when they should have turned right a mile before it… Radio calls were beng made, but the roll overs had caused problems there as well. No response came from the car.
Calls were made again and no response came from the car.
Hearts dropped as we watched them continue past their turn and someone said “if they go that way they are going to add 70 miles…”
Suddenly lights peaked over the top of the mountain and we could see that they were headed back. a staticy click came through and we gained a bit of communication with 1107 being able to say “yes” or “no” with one click or two. It was possible again and we saw them turn down the road that they needed to drive. Wow, what a relief.
We packed up a minimal pit to head out to pit 3, we revised our pit strategy allowing for minimal fueling at Pit 3 and a skeleton crew of 3 to man the pit. Pit 1 was going to turn into our primary pit and we hoped this strategy would speed things up and get us through the time cut off. With no communication however it was a tough pit to plan. The pit ended up being Me, Emme and Matt Fisher. We made a plan and stuck too it and at one point we saw a car coming, it was 30 minutes before we expected it and it came into the light… It was 1107. We promptly got Dave a RedBull with a Straw in it, had Toby watch the fuel gauge, put fuel in, made a visual inspection of the car, filled the hydration packs and made sure they had no other concerns. they had one. “Please adjust the lights.” With the lights adjusted we got the last of 7 gallons in the car and sent it on its way. Wheew
Not long after, another phone call… The alternator, it is done… Dave and Toby got out of the car and they poked around trying to figure out what was going on. They let it cool and Toby kept trying to make things happen. Finally the engine roared to life again and they were off. We organized a tow up at the one spot that no class 11 had cleared and we waited by the radio to see what would happen. The car came into Pit one, it got fuel and headed off to the Finish. Unfortunately with 1 lap down it was still a DNF, but the satisfaction of knowing what we accomplished was a great thing for the entire team.
At 5 am our heads hit the pillow and the next morning we headed home with stops along the way to add to our adventure! We can’t say thanks enough to everyone for making this trip a great experience!