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2013 Battle At Primm – Race Review

2013 Battle At Primm – Race Review

Well, what an awesome weekend; at least for most of us.

I was still in the backyard of my home spray painting body panels at midnight on Thursday and scrambling to get my pit boxes and tools organized and loaded into the truck. We were cutting it close, but I knew we’d be fine. Mrs. Wheezy and I rolled out of the OC at about 5AM on Friday morning with the truck and trailer loaded up. I was as excited as a 7 year old on Christmas Eve. Had my coffee, had my wife, had my race car and had a full tank of fuel. We were off!!!

Stopped off in Barstow for some Del Taco (if you don’t know, the Barstow Del Taco is THE BEST) and dropped the kids off at the pool. So far, so good. Checked the tie downs and got back on the road. We pulled into Primm around 9:00AM and found our pit spot that Jim Varshay had reserved for us. (Thanks again Jim!). I had a few guys out there already, eagerly awaiting our arrival. We immediately unloaded the car and got base camp setup and bs’d with Jim and Zac and Matt for a few. I realized I still needed fuel for the “not so fun run” lap. So I head over to the fuel truck in the parking lot. WTF, there’s nobody there? I sat and waiting for 30 minutes and still nobody. I remembered I had talked to them earlier in the week and luckily still had the phone number stored in my recent calls. They were allegedly at breakfast and would be out in another 10-15 minutes. The line of people started growing quickly! I met a real nice guy Billy that just bought his first 5 car two weeks ago and was there to race with the “b” crew. We hung out and watched some racing with him for a few. More and more cars were lining up to buy fuel and low and behold, Mr. Tom Bird shows up! Haahaaa. I actually really like this guy, even though he’s totally against the new engine options. We shook hands and bs’d for a few. Finally, 30 minutes after my call the fuel people showed up and started setting up. I took my 20 gallons and headed back to the pit.

The guys thought I had died and were just about to come looking for me. So, we filled the tank all the way up as we still weren’t sure what my fuel mileage was going to be and we were actually a bit behind schedule and saw cars heading out for the pre run lap already. I just grabbed my helmet and got in. I was disappointed in the pre run. I thought they would give some sparation or have some sort of controlled method of organizing everybody. We ended up stuck behind several “STOCK” vehicles that weren’t doing anywhere near 35mph. I was super patient at first and would go super slow, then get a good run until I caught them again. I finally got fed up with it and made a few passes. Turns out, these were pretty much the only passes I’d be making all weekend. Haahaaa! My codog did a good job of marking the GPS unit of the few “gotchas” out there.

After the fun run we headed over to registration. It had been quite a few years since we raced and the good people at SNORE racing did a good job of helping us get everything in order. I was super appreciative at how helpful and nice the ladies at registration were. Got my transponder, got my bands and my tech/contingency sheets. Life was pretty sweet! The anticipation of the following day was growing and the nerves were getting twitchy. I went out and pushed the car through the tech line with Mrs. Wheezy while the other guys went to pay their membership fees and get their bands. I should have gotten names, but THANK YOU to the class 9 team behind us that helped us push a few times on the minor uphill section. We got all the way through tech, no issues other than a “missing hose clamp” on the fuel lines. Never had one before, but I guess that’s something new. So, this is where the feces hits the oscillator. My co dog jumps in the car to fire it up and driver her back to the pits. As he pulls across the street I hear him rev the engine. I turn around and give him stink eye with a big WTF shoulder shrug. He fires right back with a “F if I know” hands in the air maneuver. I go running over and immediately see fluid all over the place in the back of the car. “TURN IT OFF TURN IT OFF” –

Well f me runnin. The drive flange fell out of the transaxle! Yep, you heard me. THE PINCHE DRIVE FLANGE FELL OUT OF THE TRANSAXLE! I went and got my truck and towed the car back to the pit were we did a little more investigating. I talked with Scott and he said his trans guy was back at tech. So I went on the mission and met up with Lorenzo. Heck of a nice guy! He rode with me back to the pit to inspect the transaxle. The guys had done a great job and already had the side cover off. It appears that this was some collateral damage from the crash 3 years ago. The thing never leaked, felt smooth as butter when turned by hand, and held up when we went testing the week before. All we REALLY needed to fix it was the spiral clip and some fluid. Turns out, these are NOT easy to find out in the middle of nowhere. Nobody had one. Closest one I found was in Vegas. But I sent a few texts and made a few calls as we realized the bearing on that side was also pretty roached. Mike Boone at Wicked Creations stepped up BIG TIME. Dude literally disassembled a new transaxle and had the entire side assembly on standby. That’s when Brandon Berge of Berge Reyes Racing (Jeepspeed 3777, BITD rookie of the year) also stepped up and offered to pick them up and drive them out to us!

Well, I was feeling sick and they were a solid 4 hours away at this point. The crew cut me loose and sent me to bed. The story goes like this though. Brandon showed up at about 11:30PM on Friday night with the parts. What SHOULD have been an easy bolt up and done job turned into a nightmare of “creative engineering” as the parts were from a 934 setup!!! They somehow, someway managed to take the clip from that setup and hammer it in. Of course, they didn’t tell me this! I showed up on Sat morning ready to race and everybody was all smiles and excited to go racing.

My codog, Fred Mooney, and I hop in the car and head to staging. I can’t tell you how nervous I was. So many thoughts flashing through my mind. Will my back be ok? Will the car hold up? What if I run out of talent and wad up off that f’n dike jump? What if I hurt my friend Fred? What if? What if? What if? Dudes, I was straight up scared. There is sugar coating it, this wasn’t just some nerves that come with racing, this was outright fear that I could end up paralyzed. I think we all know, this stuff gets into your DNA, that there is an overwhelming sense of desire to push ahead, to endure, to risk everything for that feeling that comes when you push the go pedal to the floor and dump the clutch, or feel the wheels come off the ground, or make a pass (even if it’s only a dozen little 9 cars)! I had so much adrenaline that I was literally shaking while sitting there waiting to go. This may sound funny, but as pulled up to the starting line, sandwiched between Varshay and Dormack, I had a complete sense of peace. All the nerves, all the fear, all the insecurity and what if’s immediately vanished. Instead, I was filled with excitement and determination. I was ready for war!!!

The green flag dropped and mashed the gas to the floor and dumped the clutch. I knew I might not beat Varshay off the line but I was damned if I was gonna let the kid with the home built engine beat me off that line! WOOHOOOO – that first berm looked like a 20 foot wave at the Wedge that was going to come crashing down on us. I stayed inside to purposefully block any attempt Matt might be making to lay down a pass at this point as I knew I wasn’t really going that fast through that turn. Into the rollers and around  and up and over and there was Jimmy, playing with a Krail for some reason. Mr. 300HP found his way off course awefully quick. WTF went though my head, it really distracted me and I was worried if he was OK. We made it out to the first big straight on through the pit section where everybody and their mom caught us. Jim FLEW by and Matt kind of walked away from me. I had it floored in 4th. She topped out at 72! Time for a new 4th gear.

Heading out onto the lake bed and another car or two pass us. Again, giving her all she had and it just wasn’t enough. BUMP – WTF?!?! There goes the green machine of Mr. DQ himself. Thanks for the nerf dick! I wanted to catch back up to him so bad to return the favor. FLOORED, he was running away from me, no chance. I’ll be candid, I was a bit deflated that the new car couldn’t keep up. Fred did a great job of getting me back to earth. He said “dude, just have fun, it’s your first race in a new car, let em go, just drive and have fun”. That sank in almost immediately, and we just kind of casually talked and enjoyed the race course and the scenery while continuing to give her everything she had. As we came around the track the only time I really backed off was the the little downhill nasty drop after the 25mph zone and coming into the dike jump. I only hit it at 40mph on the first lap, when I realized THAT WAS FUN! I hit it a bit faster each lap. 60mph was the fastest I hit it and was a nice fun speed to launch the new car at. We kept on racing and enjoying the day. Got passed by quite a few 5 cars, and even the top 2 or 3 9 cars did get by us. It was great practice though as I also got to pass quite a few of those little guys. All were clean and very respectful passes and I felt good about all of them. Never put anybody in danger at all. We continued to tick off the laps. As we cam in for our final stop before heading out on our last lap it set in. OHH CRAP, I MIGHT ACTUALLY FINISH A RACE! I took that last lap pretty easy and all I cared about was finishing!

Coming through infield on that last lap was amazing. I had flashes of all the years that had passed since I began this journey. I had flashes of all the time in the garage and various shops that had helped me along the way. I had flashes of my beautiful wife and my family. I had flashes of the horrible accident and the recovery that followed. I don’t even really remember seeing the last part of the course. All of a sudden I saw that checkered flag and was having to slam on the brakes as I came into that last stop a little hot. Hot diggety, I felt like I just overalled the Baja 1000! A great feeling of accomplishment, knowing that I had persevered and managed to get that first finish. I mean what, it only took SEVEN years!