Details on Schedule Changes

Schedule Changes

I love our life and our lifestyle. To bring so many people together on a weekend is an incredible experience. We get to introduce our marketing partners to our drivers; our drivers to our fans; our fans to our marketing partners. It is full circle every event. There are just a few things I don’t love, the biggest right now is working with properties.
Please don’t misunderstand, I love our owners that are invested in their properties, but that doesn’t always mean we get to do what we all want to do. There are civil servants who hold up permits, there are local communities who don’t follow through on their promises, there are just some places that are impossible to get everything rolling, no matter how much time you spend on it.

Here’s what is currently happening in our world. Changes are afoot, pay attention, so we are where you want to be.
Attica, Indiana – July 23 & 24 – this event has been cancelled. The Badlands is an awesome offroad park, we thoroughly enjoy working with Kyle and his crew. But it doesn’t make a lot of sense to go there, financially or otherwise. We took a vote with our teams at the last event in Rausch Creek and it was decided they would all rather save their travel funds for Grand Nationals in Farmington then spend them to get to Indiana. They’ve already had three events on the east this year, so they aren’t missing out on a similar schedule to what they’ve gotten the last few years.
Goldendale, Washington – August 6 & 7 – this is a go. This community and our partners, Mark and Rody Shilling are great. We are excited to be here. The city helps with advertising and it is a fun event, lots of spectators, lots of good times.

Cortez, Colorado – August 13 – the schedule has changed a little, we will only be driving on Saturday – pre-run and racing on the same day. While this is not ideal, it is happening that way for a couple of reasons. The first is that our perpetual permit that we worked so hard to get a few years ago allows for a single event day, and the county has interpreted that to be that pre-running is an “event” day. So to stick to the usual schedule means we have to go before the county commissioners again, and the risk of not getting a permit is there. The second has to do with insurance, but I’ll explain that later. This event will also be the combined final event for the Mountain and Southwest series – see below for why. Double points for those of you playing that game.
Colorado Springs, Colorado – August 20 – cancelled. Damn it. This is a place we love to race. RAM Offroad has been hosting events for years, before us, it was XRRA, always the same weekend, until 2015. In 2015, the county required our partner, Ray Mandell, to file for a new permit. He has spent lots of time, effort and money for engineering studies, to no avail. The county is still not issuing a permit, this is frustrating for both him and those of us who want to play there. C Springs has always had a ton of fans. So Mountain drivers, it is Cortez for your final event, plan accordingly.

Buzzard Canyon, Oklahoma – CHANGED – to Canyons Offroad Park, Fredericksburg, Texas. Our partner at Buzzard decided that the time of year was wrong for an event, so we looked to our friends in Fredericksburg and asked for the opportunity to come back. The course will be different then when we were there in the spring, and it should be dry, which is a definite improvement! Again, we will be doing all the pre-running and racing on a single day, this time it will be so we can participate in a parade in Fredericksburg – this will be fun!

Farmington, New Mexico – WE ROCK Grand Nationals – September 10 & 11. We have been working with BLM for ten months on our return to Chokecherry Canyon, excited to announce we have our permit! This is a big deal and a ton of work for all, but the permit is in hand. We are starting now to recruit assistance for this big event.

Bridgeport, Texas – Dirt Riot National Rampage – September 17 – so, we are a little concerned because the park is underwater. Last year, through a lot of volunteers and Barco Pump, we were able to pump the water out and in to holding ponds, I’m not sure everyone wants to go to that much work again, so we are keeping our options open. The city tells us that the top section where we usually park has sloughed off behind the pavilion. Our goal is to still be here, but we have our sights set on some nearby alternative sites if we are unable to. They are all close in proximity, so plan the same trip for Nationals.

Now a little bit about insurance, last week, our insurance company made a change for the benefit of our drivers. We are pleased to offer medical coverage for all drivers. We have always had liability coverage for the competitors, but medical for an injury to the competitor was always on you. Going forward, there is coverage for an injury. Of course, this comes with a cost, and no choices – like a typical insurance company. Our insurance costs doubled to provide this, but I think it is a positive. No changes in driver’s cost will occur for the balance of 2016, but plan on a separate insurance charge of $25/event in 2017.

Like I said, it’s a lot of work and my least favorite part of what we do – I won’t even whine about some of things we’ve had to do to pull off the events we have already had this year. Just know that we hate changes as much as you do. Hang with us, we’ll keep working hard and providing you with the best events we can, those of you who commit to be there deserve our best effort, and you’re going to get it!

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The heart of it all

XJ

(Photo Credit:  Will Oliver at Rocky Mountain Photography)

So many great stories happen on a daily basis in my world, if only we take the time to listen. Yesterday was one of those, I’d like to share them with you. All of the details may not be accurate, but this is what I saw and heard.

Paul and Christie made the trip to Colorado from Tucson, they race in the SuperMod trail class – it was the two of them and their two dogs in a cab-over camper pulling the trailer with the race car on it. During pre-run, something unloaded and pushed the radiator in to the frame causing a leak and consequently, overheating. A rescue mission was mounted and they returned to the pits. Looking at the car, they started taking it apart, a little internet research and Christie went looking for a bicycle tube to check the radiator for leaks. Josh had one that was bad on his mountain bike, so he loaned it out for them to use. A little soapy water and the leaks were identified on the first few fins. This being a Friday night in the middle of nowhere, a plan was mounted. Again, with the help of the internet, they located a welding shop in Denver that opened at 7 on Saturday morning. The race day schedule was a little unusual this time, so it appeared they might have time to get there, get repaired and get back in time for the race. Paul set his alarm for 6 a.m. to make the 50 mile drive. In the morning, as he was jacking the camper off the truck to leave for Christie and the dogs, the driver pitted next to him asked what he was up to. Explaining, Kyle offered his truck to Paul to go to town. Mind you, these two families hadn’t even been introduced yet. Paul hopped in Kyle’s truck and headed out. Meanwhile, Christie stayed to attend the driver’s meeting and keep us posted. A long day later, Paul was back with the radiator repaired, the car put back together and ready to take the start at 5:00. Not halfway in to the first lap, their overheating problems continued. Turns out the thermostat also needed a repair. Bummer for them, but they finished their lap and placed in the race. Christie told me after that they’re adding the thermostat to the list of spare parts they carry with them. Congrats on your never give up attitude, it is inspiring.

Let’s talk about Steve. Steve has been struggling getting his race car together for months. His motor has been at the builder for awhile now, with promises for it to be done, but no delivery date. On Monday, Steve posted about still waiting, a couple of guys offered some assistance, but most of it was out of his budget. Enter his co-driver, Tom, and his blessed wife. Seriously, this girl stepped up and saved the day. Here’s what she did: she approved the purchase of a new motor for her own car and loaned it out for race day! Who does that? Except a saint, knowing what can happen when you least expect it, there was a significant risk involved. The motor arrived at 6:00 on Thursday night. Around the clock effort for two days had pre-running missed, and most of the team on site on Saturday morning. The only thing missing were the driver/co-driver and car – no biggie. Steve’s wife paid his entry fee, expecting him anytime. I was told they should arrive around 2:00, no problem, plenty of time to make the race at 5:00. A little after two, the truck was finally loaded and they were on the road. They arrived in time for the race, signed their waivers, and took a rear start. Both driver and co-driver were a little frazzled so we suggested they take the course slow on the first lap and just learn it, there would be plenty of time to make up ground. They had a good first lap, on the second lap, about 3 miles from the start/finish line, we noticed the hood was up and they were driving fast – both looking around it as it was blocking their view. Pulled in to the pits and the hood was removed. They continued on, another good four laps in as they continued to make their way to the front of the pack. Started tenth, they were in fifth and then the axle broke, took out the transmission, the motor and started a fire. Fire is a great motivator, both bailed from the car, grabbed fire extinguishers and put the fire out. But after two solid days and nights of building a race car, their race was over. It was hard to see the disappointment on their faces knowing that the motor was a loaner as it was, I wished they had filmed the previous two days so we could show everyone the heart of a sportsman. Congrats to Steve and Tom, men in it for the love of the sport. You’ll get ‘em next time!

Paul and Kim are competitors from California. This is their third race of the season, the last two ended in rollovers. One of them a hard roll. So the goal this weekend was to keep it on four wheels. They drove the I-70 over the mountains to get here, some killer passes that slow everyone down, I know, I drove the XJ. They kept having overheating issues on the passes, so the last 200 miles took hours to complete. Since they’d had such a trial getting here, Paul decided that he would enter two classes and get the most of his race time. The first was the Mod Trail, of which his car qualifies. He raced an hour and a half and came out on top. His first, first-place finish. Immediately following was the SuperMod race, another hour and a half. With some struggles and perseverance, they finished on the podium in third. The awards ceremony wasn’t until 9:30, after the final race of the day. After three hours in the car racing, more than anyone else for the day, Paul made the ceremony, sadly, Kim did not. He said he tried to wake her, but she just wasn’t having it. When I was paying Paul for his win, I didn’t realize that this was the first time in a few years he had been on the podium and the first time ever he had won some money! Another testament to never give up!

The last story I want to share is my friend Dustin. Dustin has had quite a bit of success with his racing, but he also works a full time job. He is racing the east Ultra4 series, so made the trip to Hot Springs, Arkansas a few weeks ago and busted up his rig pretty bad, overall, not a great experience. Next week is the Attica, Indiana race, so he leaves on Wednesday. That meant he needed to get the rig back together, needed to pre-race it for next week, and try to get it all done without taking too much time off from work. His brother is his biggest supporter, he said so from the podium. Kendall works hard to get the car prepped. This week, Kendall showed up with the car about 9 in the morning, Dustin had to work. Qualifying was at 11, first to qualify are the ProUTV’s, then the 4400’s. Kendall was all signed in, and prepared to qualify the car, but he was waiting for Dustin. Dustin calls to find out where we are in qualifying, it is after 11. He is flying down the freeway to get here on time. As his car rolls up to the start line, I’m not sure who is in it. I peek in, Dustin is in the driver’s seat, one of the other co-drivers is in the passenger seat. I slide the clipboard through the window net for Dustin to sign his waiver, and he’s off. The qualifying run is good for a fourth place start, which in turn becomes a second place finish. The dedication of these guys to their sport is good for the soul.

I’m always so proud of the men and women that we work with, thanks for showing your friends and families that something worth having is worth working for. Yes, there is hardwork, yes, there is heartache, but in the end, there is a story to tell and a lesson learned. No doubt there were more stories, these are the ones I heard.  I appreciate all of you, every day.

It’s a Monday…

Rampage 2015

Days of the week are a mystery to me.  Our lives don’t revolve around a standard work week, so when people complain about Mondays, I’m usually like “whoohoo, it’s a travel day today!”

When folks say “TGIF”, I’m like “WHOOHOO, it’s almost Race Day!”  I love race days!

Today is bittersweet, it’s a Monday, the last Monday before the last race of the year. This time of year, my mind is always ramped up with “Now, What?”  It’s not that we don’t have plans for the next few months, but this always feels like the end.  And I hate endings.

The race season has been accomplished, busy, challenging, dreamlike, exhausting, finished, genius, honest, inspired, joblike, kinetic, loved, magical, natural, obsessive, passionate, quiet, rewarding, successful, treasured, unique, victorious, winsome, yet, oh so zectacular!  (I ran out of ideas for letters 🙂 I am a huge fan of our racers, rockcrawlers, marketing partners, spectators and staff.  Without each and everyone of you, our lives would be less fullfulling.  Thank you for all you do for us, for supporting our dreams.

Rich has a new pitch when someone asks him what he does, he says he provides an adrenalin filled event for competitors in rock sports that want to have fun and enjoy their lives.  What do you think?  Is that an accurate description?  I know it’s only Monday, but I’m already looking forward to Thank God It’s Friday…race day cometh!

Day -133 – A Look Back at KOH

kohThe earth moves on the lakebed like nothing you’ve seen, in my mind it compares to a sand storm in the Sahara or a snow storm in the rockies, low visibility, abrasion, all in all, not so much fun.  But that’s what you can expect when you spend ten days on a dry lakebed in February.  For the uninitiated, KOH stands for King of the Hammers, it is a halo offroad happening each year in Southern California.  At one time it was an event, in current time it is bigger than that, I heard it compared to Burning Man for gearheads.

Last Friday was the eighth running of KOH, it started as a simple event, thirteen guys running for a case of beer, it has evolved in to a multiple race event covering almost an entire week.  Tens of thousands of people make the pilgrimage to take part in what is billed as the “toughest one-day off road race in the country.”  If the attrition rate is the measure, that is sure to be true.

Throughout the year, we host events all over the US to prepare competitors and their teams for this day, some years we are more successful than others.  I am proud of our Dirt Riot competitors and their accomplishments, while I would love to take credit for their efforts, the truth is it takes tenacity, hard work, perseverance, talent and sometimes, just pure luck to get through race day.

These are the folks who make every day a pleasure, who provide us with a lifestyle we love and who live their passions.  Not everyone made the podium, not everyone made the finish line, hell, not all of them made the start line, but they made us proud and they represented us well – whether that was their intention or not, we appreciate them.  Thank you to all.

The week started with the King of the Motos, not many racers or rockcrawlers participate here, it is an entirely different group of athletes that challenge the rocks on their bikes, but a shout out is well deserved to Craig Thompson, former competitive rockcrawler.

The UTV race was up next, the best finish came from Matt Enochs, in fourth place.  Matt was the 2012 UTV National Champion at Bridgeport, Texas.  Finishing seventh was Wesley Gryner, winner of two Central series events in 2013 in the UTV class of Dirt Riot.  Other competitors from Dirt Riot included Dean Bulloch, Chris Barnett, Brian Bush, Cody Nygren, Rob Usnick, Darryl Dunlap, Lindsay Syler, and Terry Kenyon. 

The next race of note was the Every Man Challenge, there were several races within the race in numerous classes on this day, we were represented in all of them.  In the 4500 class, champion rockcrawler Team Superchips Aaron Sykes placed sixth; eighth was Paul Bickerton, tenth was Alan Johnson from Letzroll, twelfth Jesse Bayne, thirteenth Jay Callaway, other competitors included Shawn Rants, WE Rock Unlimited Champion Justin Hall, Broadsword Racing’s Adam Arsenault, Daniel Sach from Olympus Offroad and rockcrawler Jeremy Eaton from Washington.

The 4600 class was represented by Matt Salyers, another member of the Letzroll team finishing ninth and Jason Kaminsky in his Superchips LJ finishing 10th.  Other Dirt Riot competitors were Victor Buness, Matt Peterson and Mike VanZyl.

The Spec class included former champion rockcrawler and former King Shannon Campbell.

The Legends class saw Brad Lovell placing first, with Matt Messer in the second place position, both are competitive rockcrawlers, Matt still competes in the unlimited class, Brad races the Moab Dirt Riot race, winning that in 2012.

And then there was the big race, Friday’s race determined who was the King…for a second time, Loren Healy won the event.  I would love to claim Loren as ours, but honestly, he was already King before he started racing with us.  We are still very proud.   Lots of other names make that very proud list, of the 154 cars that started the race, only 32 finished.  Finishers that have competed with us and hold that special place in our hearts:  Bill Baird, current National Finals champion finished third; Derek West, second place National Finals champion finished fifth; Rick Mooneyham, sixth, Andrew McLaughlin, 2013 third place National Series points, tenth; Roger Lovell, twelfth; Travis Cook, thirteenth; Wayland Campbell fifteenth; Dave Ashman, eighteenth; Brian Shirley, 2013 National Series points champion, twentieth; Levi Shirley, 2013 Runner-up National Series points champion, 21st; Hunter Sparrow, 23rd; Jason O’Neal, 29th

Others who competed and deserve a great round of applause and our respect; Spencer Murphy, Chris Hoyt, Randy Rodd, Airen Patrick, Matt Lee, Jeff McCullough, Kenneth Goodall, Jesse Haines, Dustin Isenhour, Adam Macke, Masa Tsuda, Kenny Blume, Billy Briney, Chicky Barton, Clay Gilstrap, Matt Burkett, Jeremy Hammer, Jonathan Terhune, Matt Nieman, Chris Sommer, Adam Carter, Dustin Sexton, Carl Langerhans, Shelby Gilstrap, the other Matt Peterson, Mike Nappi, Chip MacLaughlin, Greg Lundeen, Aaron Peters, Travis Leach, Peter Basler, Ben Swain, Tony Arledge, Jeremy Dickenson, Chad Wheeler, and Mike Klensin,  Congratulations to you all, each of you has a story to tell about your journey to KOH and the heartbreak that befell you there, be proud, we certainly are.

Day -45 – Thirty Six Hours of Racing Baja

bajaHave you ever gotten confused when someone said they were going to Baja California? You know that is in Mexico, right?  The little spit of land referred to as Baja, is the peninsula, it runs south from San Diego for about a thousand miles.  Baja has two states, the northernmost one is Baja California; the one south is Baja Sur.  We spent the last week in Baja California, the wild, wild west.

When you think Mexico, most people think of Cabo or Cozumel with the beautiful beaches; Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta with the ruins and lush green…when I think Baja, I think paradise – but that is for an offroader, the predominant color is brown, or better described as dust.  Baja is home to the SCORE 1000 race, the final event of each year for Score International.  It is an epic event that has been captured on film, think Dust to Glory, and has captured the hearts of many.

Each year we attend as part of a Chase team.  Our race team is the 1066 of Shaffer Motorsports.  This year there were about 20 people on the team.  We have six drivers that move the car forward, this year through 888 miles of course, starting at Ensenada and ending there as well.  It took 35 hours and 57 minutes, not our best showing, but we finished within the timeline of 36 hours; and a finish is almost as good as a win.  The attrition rate at the thousand is horrendous.

The other dozen of us were chase teams; our goals were to be where the race car would pass through sometime during that 36 hours to provide support.  There were three teams on the Sea of Cortez side; Chase 10 – that’s us, we run communications; Chase 2 – Shawn and Bror were stationed towards San Felipe; Chase 1 – Hector and friends (locals to Ensenada).  Our first challenge came providing an additional tire to the 1066 after they had to change one in the first leg of the race, Chase 1 met them at Pit 1 and dropped the tire; the second challenge came when we ran out of gas thirty miles from Pit 2.  All of us on the Cortez side got involved in that one, strapping down extra fuel cans we were carrying and sending them off with Chase 1 to find the car at race mile (rm) 173.  By rm 340, our team had moved away from the Cortez side and was running strong but we wouldn’t see them for what we estimated would be another 14 hours, they had moved to the Pacific side.

Driver change occurred at Coco’s Corner.  Coco is a legend in Baja, he lives in the middle of nowhere on a road that crosses the peninsula from east to west.   Coco has been a host to thousands over the years with a cold beer and many stories, all of the legends have been a part of that history.  San Felipe to Gonzaga has been almost completely paved; then there is another 30 miles of dirt until you get to Coco’s, this is race course in this event.  After Coco’s is another 20 miles of dirt to get to Highway 1, this year that 20 miles was slow going, so no easy task to get in there.  Chase 3 was waiting at the driver’s change, new drivers in, old one’s out, it had taken our team about 14 hours to this point. 

So at midnight, the 1066 was on its way headed to the infamous silt beds.  The silt this year was unbelievable, a 100 mile section of deep ruts with sand washing over the car; it wasn’t until daybreak that we started having an easier time of it.  Stuck in the silt at least nine times, because we had issues earlier in the race, we got the worst of it since it had all been run to death and powdered up even more than we had seen in prerunning.  The team forged on, Chase 4, 5 and 6 were on the Pacific side, since there are no roads that cross the peninsula easily, it is important to stage people on both sides.

No significant issues arose outside of the silt, but it was still very slow going.  Another driver change at rm 567 put the last of our drivers in the car.  We anticipated seeing the team at rm 750 when they finally made it out of the Mike’s Sky Ranch road around noon.  Chase 2 and Chase 10 were staged and ready.  It wasn’t until almost 6 p.m. that we saw them.  Chase 5 had helped with a change of GPS some miles back and then we hit a logjam at rm 735.  It took hours to clear the logjam with various race vehicles helping each other get through.  It doesn’t matter what team or what class you were in, everyone pitches in. 

By the time our car was cruising through, we had transferred Bror from Chase 1 in with us and Chase 2 had gone home, we were the last bastion of support on our side of the peninsula with 100+ miles to go.  Our concern now was time, SCORE checkpoints have very specific closing times.  Checkpoint six was set to close at 6:38; at one point, that time had been moved to 5:38 pm, but thankfully Weatherman fought for the time to move back to the six mark and he won.  Our car would have missed the checkpoint.  Checkpoint seven was set to close at 7:09, we were the last car through the checkpoint on time at 6:37.  The last checkpoint was crossed with plenty of time, but now we had to meet the 36 hour deadline, and we still had plenty of mileage to cover. 

We saw the car go past us three different times, after checkpoint 8, there was nothing further we would be able to do for them, so we headed to town, through the twisty mountain pass to meet them at the finish line.  By this time, we had added over 500 pounds to our vehicle and she wasn’t handling beautifully.  It wasn’t a good day to die, so we slowed down and took our time.  Pulling in to Ensenada, we parked and ran for the finish line, and there we waited anxiously for the racecar.  Watching our clocks, we knew that we just had a short window, we hoped our drivers knew that as well.  With a scant three minutes left, they crossed the line.  All of the team was there to greet them.  Finisher pins handed out by SCORE, pictures taken, this is what it is about.  The first finishers in the fastest trucks had finished before dawn that day in less than 24 hours; we were done an hour before the finish line closed, but within our 36 hour time limit.  So proud of our team, it takes everyone to make this kind of effort happen.

While all of our team arrived safely, we listened to Weatherman, the communications guru of the offroad community throughout the race and heard many Code Reds called.  Code Red is the radiospeak for an emergency is in progress.  Our first night out, just after dusk, Code Red had been called for a bike down; the KTM 2X rider was within 100 miles of the finish; he was leading the race; he died that night.  Kurt Caselli was a 30 year old legendary rider, he lost his life in the pursuit of his passion.

It happens every year, someone will die in Baja at the 1000; not often is it a competitor, it usually is a chase crew or spectator, but it happens every year without fail.  All of us going in country know the risk, but we do it anyway.  There is something to be said for being part of an event as epic as the SCORE 1000, for being part of something bigger than yourself, for being surrounded by people who push themselves so hard in pursuit of a goal, for living with that passion.  I can’t wait for next year.

 

Day 127 – Ode to Beer

brewOur racers and rockcrawlers have the best sponsors!  Not only do they keep them in parts, and funds to travel, but sometimes, they add to the party too!  Pedernales Brewing Company supplies one of racers with beer, now that is a good sponsor.  Each of the Central Series races, Carl regularly comes with a keg of beer, or two to share with the rest of the racers.  We have had dark and light, ale and Hefe, all of it delicious.

When we were in Fredericksburg, Carl arranged a tour of the brewery.  Technically, they are a micro-brew.  In 2012, open only for 8 months, they produced 750,000 cases of beer.  In 2013, they are set to exceed that amount.  Last year they were ranked #14 for microbrews in Texas in production, this year, they will exceed that amount, growing to the #2 or #3 producer.

We were lucky and the owner, Lee Hereford, gave us the tour.  Lee and his brewmeister have put together an impressive operation.  They brew to the German standard, which means only four ingredients can be in the beer:  water, hops, barley and yeast.  That’s it, just four, only when they brew Hefeweisen to they add an additional ingredient in wheat.  Now you would think that with just four ingredients, all beer would taste the same, not true, not true.  Their beers are as individual as any you will find, and I think it’s because they do something pretty special.

Each beer is made from an old recipe, some from the 1800’s, some from the 1900’s.  Each of them comes from a specific location, so to be able to match that beer and that location, one of the four ingredients must be changed to match.  That’s the water.  Pedernales filters their Fredericksburg water to its’ purest possible state, then through research on the part of the brewmeister, the water minerals and salts are added back to match the water that would have originally been in the beer.  One example is a recipe they use from St. Louis in 1910.  The water is brewed, just as the beer would be to match the water that you would have drank in 1910 right from the tap in St. Louis.  I believe that is what makes their beer unique, attention to detail.

So, when you are hanging in Texas, stop by and ask for a Lobo…it will come from the Pedernales Brewing Company and I guarantee it will be great.  Enjoy it and bottoms up…for the rest of you, watch for them, they are growing by leaps and bounds.

Day 200 – It’s a wonder I’m ever allowed out alone

A few weeks ago I told y’all about my new hydration pack and how much trouble I had the first time using it.  I’m still walking, still walking the race course and having fun doing it.  I love my app MapMyWalk, and I’m using it to keep track of not only where I am but how far I walk.  Earlier this week, before the whole course was marked, I needed it to find my way home, all the roads intertwine where I am and I used the tracking to see what my relation was with where I started, whew, I was glad to have it.

Tonight, we got back from doing laundry a little after five, the course is finally fully marked, so I wanted to get out and see if I could follow it.  It’s always a good test for the boys if I can see the arrows at the snails’ pace I walk, the drivers can probably see them at speed.  So I strapped on my hydration pack, clipped a radio to the shoulder and off I went, straight west in to the setting sun.  The very first thing I did was run into a piece of rebar sticking out of the ground about yay height.  Right smack dead center, yes, you can picture it, bruised my hoo-hah.  I walked that off and continued…

Around 7, Big called my radio to see how I was doing, good, my app showed I was three miles in, only one to go.  He reminded me that it was getting dark in about twenty minutes.  No problem, I said, I’m good.  He tentatively asked if he should come get me.  No, I’m fine, and I kept walking.  Down the double caution, in to the big wash, I could still see the arrows, kind of.  I found a turn arrow and turned up out of the wash – I called Big, “hey, do I go up the right or the left line?”  I told him where I was and he asked if I had gone through the brush yet, I had no idea where he was talking about, so I kept climbing.  First up the right line – the granite boulders got huge – I decided it must be the left line, so I headed over to there.  As I’m climbing up this mountain, I realize that I can’t see a damn thing, perhaps I should ask him to come get me.

Turns out, I missed the next arrow in the wash, and had made a wrong turn, the mountain I was trying to climb was fairly impassable, not only that, I would have had to scale some boulders at the end of the course to get back to camp.  I hate being rescued, now Big’s making me add a whistle and a flashlight to my hydration pack.  Men…. rescue a damsel in distress one time and they think you need them every time!

 

Day 207 – SCORE San Felipe 250

shafferRace Day:  San Felipe, Baja, California – Mexico:   Shaffer Motorsports is running a Class 10 car, 254 miles, most of which is north and west of San Felipe, our job is communications.  We actually do this often (at least annually) for the Shaffer team.  In theory, our job is to track the car, provide updates to the pit crews, and updates to the driver about his competitors.  We are pretty good at it most days, with a TelCel card; laptop; AT&T phone service; Spot Tracker; PCI Race Radios and a mast, we can keep track of most of what is going on.

Today, I felt helpless. We had picked a spot on the top of the hill between the north and south loops of the race; just after the split off of Highway 5 to Highway 3 – most of us call that section Three Poles.  The first thing we did was raise the mast for the radio, as we were doing that, our friend Mariah picked up and broke our mast in three places.  We lowered it and set up as best we could.  We know from past experience that the radio in the race car is weak, so without the tall mast, we couldn’t hear them.  Fail #1.

The spot we picked had AT&T service, so we could communicate by text with some of the pit crews and by phone with some of the others. So that was acceptable.  What it didn’t have was 3G service so the laptop would work, so I wasn’t able to watch the IRC tracker, Fail #2.  Thank goodness for updates from our stateside helper, Sarah.

Our race team has two race channels Shaffer 1 which the race car stays on; Shaffer 2 which is designed for the pit teams to talk to each other to keep the chatter down so we don’t distract the driver and co-driver.  Several of our pit teams only had Shaffer 1, so we had to talk to them there.  Fail #3.

We tracked and followed the race team until they were within 15 miles of the finish line, then headed in to town to see them cross.  It is always exciting to see the finish of a race, especially in Baja where the challenges are enormous.  Pleased to see our drivers in one place, imagine my surprise when Shaffer touched my shoulder and thanked us for being there.  He said hearing us call the updates, even though they couldn’t respond helped to motivate him and keep his head in the game.  I guess maybe we didn’t fail after all.  Congrats to the Shaffer #1066 on another successful race effort, thanks for letting us be a part of it.

Day 215 – BAM!

race

Like lightening, I had a thought today – I totally understand what happened to the summer of 2012.  It passed so quickly I don’t remember a thing, now I know why.  Race season.  I’ve been true and faithful to my blog since my birthday, posting almost daily, sharing my world with others, race season started two weekends ago and I’m already behind.

We had a race last week in Auburn, Alabama…this weekend was Bryan, Texas.  There are so many pieces, parts that have to happen to put an event on, there seems to be no time for anything else.  Now I get it, last year we didn’t schedule great and had eight weeks in a row, that would be the

majority of my summer.  This year we have scheduled better, we get a week off at least every two – well, maybe not a week off exactly, but at least there isn’t an event every weekend.

Yesterday’s Main Event saw a great ending, The checkered flag was thrown for winner as he came through the finish; he was followed quickly by six additional racers; one had broke about three laps back and would be the only 4400 class to not see the checker.  Left on course was Tony Arledge from Austin within sight of the checkered flag, but with no steering.  He had made the turn on to the short course and his car led him up the embankment towards the pond; Tony got it stopped, but could go no further, we could see him from the start/finish line.  Tony ran back to the pits to get tools and parts to fix it, we left the clock running. After a few minutes, the co-driver called in and asked if he could help steer from outside; there were no other cars on course, so Big approved it.

There were a number of drivers at the start/finish line who noticed what was going on and started out to help; Big called them back – this is a no chase race; they looked at each other and back to Big, said no problem, no one is going to protest the finish and off they fled.  The drivers steered the car down in to the bowl, around the dirt track and up the hill to the finish line by physically shifting the tires in to the direction they needed to go. Car #595 had plenty of horsepower available, but manual steer was required, Tony Arledge took the checkered flag for his first race of the season.  It was awesome to see the team work.

I’m so proud of our Dirt Riot family, the way they work together, the way they play together.  I am truly one lucky girl, even if this summer disappears like last years’ did, at least I will be in good company every weekend.

Day 223 – Race Day, Auburn, Alabama

rainWe live in a semi-truck trailer, you know the kind, you see them moving down the freeway every day.  They are made of metal on the outside, so listening to rain drops is like sitting in a little metal shed.  The reverberation from the drops is mesmerizing.  I know this because it has rained 3 ½ inches in the last 24 hours.  Every drop of that hitting the roof of the trailer.

The cat sits in the hallway when it rains, it’s the farthest and quietest point from the rain.  You can tell it’s the first race weekend, because we have brought the rain again.  In Texas last year the ranchers offered us bonuses if we’d come back every 90 days and bring the rain with us.  It’s frustrating at times because there isn’t a damn thing you can do about the weather.

First southeast race, first race of the year, first rainstorm.  The fact that those three statements are in the same sentence doesn’t surprise anyone who knows us.  We try to make the best of it.  If we can’t make money, at least we can have some fun.  We built a great race course, put 110% in to making the event great.  Having put together events for years, I know how important it is to give those that do show up your best effort.  So we did.

Our drivers had a great time, the spectators that braved the weather had a great time, the staff had a great time.  We just all had to modify our expectations.  That’s ok, this ain’t our first rodeo.

This event was a little different than most because we had a controversy, we never have a controversy so this was unusual.  It took a little while for the frustration to leave the staff after it was all over and it’s probably good that these kind of things happen on occasion so it reminds us that we have to put all the rules on paper, we just hope all the people affected end up ok with the decisions made.  One thing I’m sure of, the same situation won’t happen again, and in to each life, a little rain must fall.  I just hope next weekend, it’s not over three inches.