As a new team, we have only been able to participate in a few races and the 2017 Fallon 250 marks just our 4th race. In what little time we had to work on and prep the Turtle we were able to slam in a new motor from Jonny Lightning and a new transmission from Toy Shop Transmission thanks to the help of Marina Landscape Inc. The schedule got very tight at the end of the motor swap and we were only able to get the rig out for a quick test on Sunday in the desert before we had to leave for Fallon on Thursday. The motor and transmission were running great but we found we had a bit of an electrical gremlin which would cause the Ignition to cut out as the engine would heat up. On Monday and Tuesday, along with loading up everything we would need for the race, we also did what we could by replacing fuses and relays; and check our power and ground anchors. We were out of time to prep the rig and could only hope we fixed the issue until we were able to test the rig again up in Fallon.
We arrived on-site Thursday and were able to get a pit space marked off on the upper level next to some other great friends and teams. We quickly discovered that most of the teams were all traveling with a light crew so everyone agreed to help each other out when the cars rolled in for pits during the race. We took the rig out for our initial test and the electrical problem seemed to be fixed.
We brought the rig back to the pits and used the rest of Thursday to prep for pre-running and qualifying on Friday. The morning of Friday came and we suited up in the rig to head out and get a couple laps in around the 41-mile lap. We used this time to mark hazards on the GPS and explore alternate lines for passing options. After a successful two laps of the course we had our notes made and hazards marked, it was time to look over the rig and prepare for the drivers meeting and qualifying run.
As we looked over the rig we noticed there was a crack in the tube frame just after the front track-bar mount. This crack was not little it was all the way around the tube and would cause a massive failure if we did not get it fixed. We scrambled around a bit to figure out the best plan to get it fixed. We reached out to Savvy Off Road for assistance and they were very kind to lend us the use of their tools and trailer to get our rig patched up and ready for qualifying. As it was our turn to go for the run we knew we just needed a clean run, the ruts were deep and the turns were blown out. Our focus was to get through the course as best we could and accept whatever time we got. We were able to pull off a better than expected run at 1:29:40, which landed us in 27th for the starting order/ 7th in class. We were happy with our position but knew we were going to have to do some work to move up during the race.
Race day arrived and we were up early and eager to get in the rig and put the hammer down. We handled a couple last minute prep items and covered some pit strategies with the crew.
Rolling up to the green flag, for us, seems to still bring a bit of the jitters but we take this time to briefly discuss what it took, as a team, to get us here on the line and are thankful for everyone’s effort. BUT as soon as the green flag drops, it’s game on and we are pedal to the metal.The visibility on the course was the worst we have seen; the dust was so thick you could not see past the front bumper on the rig and there was no wind to blow the dust away.
We charged hard on the course maintaining what we felt was race pace, things were going good for several miles and then, WHAM, we clipped a boulder that had obviously fallen into the course; it wasn’t there during our pre-run. It popped the driver front tire and now we were left figuring out what was the best plan to get it changed.
Do we continue to drive it or do we take the time to change it? We drove for another few miles and decided that we should take it out before it takes us out. We pulled over around RM 8, changed the flat and got back into the race. Something like 8 vehicles passed us due to the tire change and we knew we would have to make up some ground and run some clean laps. As we completed lap 1 we called into pits for a tire swap and a splash of gas while we were there. We peeled out for lap 2 knowing that we really needed a fast lap and so we picked up the pace.
About this time, we started to notice that we were NOT having any electrical issues with the ignition and the new motor was just screaming along non-stop. The issue we did notice was that the navigation system was starting to power cycle intermittently as was hindering us from 100% navigation. The navigation system is extremely important when the visibility is extremely bad and having it go out was like driving with your eyes closed and navigating by berms in the road… NOT COOL.
However, we dealt with it and continued to battle and push the rig harder each lap. Through lap2 we had a clean run but suffered another flat due to the rugged terrain and sharp rocks but this one was on the rear and was changed out by the crew in the pits where they also gave us a fair amount of fuel.
We were able to gain some ground by passing a few other cars on course and taking note as we saw a few broken and off the course. Finishing Lap 3, we opted to stop in the pits for a quick look over the car to make sure there were no obvious issues and the crew was able to spot another tire losing air so the crew changed it out and we were off and running. As we approached the end of lap 4 we called into pits that we were going to come in and take on a full tank of gas and plan on running the last two laps without another stop. The crew filled the rig, looked it over and sent us back out as quick as could be. Throughout the race day we could feel that we were getting faster in several places throughout the course and were able to make more passes. On the sixth lap, we had quite a bit of clean air and were able to make a few more passes before the finish line. Crossing the finish line and taking the CHECKER flag felt great. It’s been a while since we raced and we were stoked to be back in the seats and battling it out with the other racers. We finished the Ultra4 Fallon 250 in 5:49:04 which placed us 4th in class and 16th overall. Without the hard work of our crew, Rob Bukacek, Trevis Sloan and Mike Bishop, and the joint effort of other teams, we would not have been able to pull off 4th place or finish for that matter.
Special thanks go to Savvy Off Road, Dan Wyrick and friends, the crew of Gigabit Off Road, the crew of Jimmy Jack and a couple other lending hands from Proving Grounds Racing. At the end of the day we are a dirt family. We all want to be a winner but the efforts of the crews is what makes it a family.
Thanks to our sponsors that have made the racing opportunity possible. Rock Krawler Suspension | Pro Comp Tires | Marina Landscape | Axial Racing | Poison Spyder Customs | Raceline Wheels | DJ Safety | Fuel Safe | Rugged Radios | J. E. Reel | Rugged Routes | Lasernut | Currie Enterprises | Magnaflow | CTM Racing | sPOD | Artec Industries | PRP Seats | Luxwurx | Sharq Skinz | DGP Motion Media
Additional thanks to these supporters. So Cal Land Maintenance | Enet | Beachview Insurance | Pacific Advisors | SoCal Services | Armeda | Villa Root Barrier | Sucuri | Imperial Sprinkler Supply | Rain Bird