Getting to the first race - aka Heck Week

Making my first race was a strenous affair. I went through what I affectionately refer to as "Heck Week" trying to get the truck together to race on June 12th, 1999, but failed. At the beginning of Heck Week I started with a body tub and frame and rear axle next to the garage, and a big pile of parts.

That was a Friday night. I worked every night after work - a few times seeing the sun come up before I turned in. I was exhausted. But by the following weekend, I'd installed the engine, tranny, t'case, driveshafts, front springs, front axle, brakes, front clip, radiator, rollcage, seat, seatbelts, steering column, shocks, and a dozen other things.

It was a long exhausting week, but I turned a tub and frame into a running and driving Scout in a week of thrashing.

At 1:30am Saturday morning I posted the following to the IHC Digest:


OK OK, I admitted defeat. The brakes did me in.

I bought a new m/c tonight and installed on the booster I'd had, and started bleeding the brakes.. all was well until I broke a bleeder screw off in one of the rear drums.

Took well over an hour to get the drum off and the wheel cylinder out and put a new one in. ARGH.

I have *at least* working front discs.. the rear has tires and is on the ground, so I couldn't check.. though I did hear the brakes *moving* with the pedal.

I fired up the 304 w/ open exhaust for some friends that stopped by.. AFTER I had to pry the old oil filter off.. the first filter wrench I grabbed didn't do a thing.. a screw driver jammed through it only served to cut the filter in two as I rotated the screwdriver.. finally my good filter wrench was discovered, and I broke it.. but not before I got the filter off.

Trans didn't seem to leak any while I had it running.

As midnight rolled around I decided I had too much to do to get up at 7am and head to Bozeman to race.. so I'm taking a "bye" on Saturday, but I *will* hit Bozeman Saturday night and be ready to race Sunday morning for the 100 yard mud drags.

Still to do:

wire ignition (and safety switch)

Mount battery box n' batt

Patch fuel line, hook it up, fill tank

Remove shocks from a parts truck and make 'em work

Mount front clip - interesting since the radiator puts the front clip 3

or 4 inches higher in the front than it should be..

Mount seat

Install and make work, tail lights & head lights

Install hood pins

Put some more netting on the driver's door

Install 5pt belts


On the plus side, the Chevy axle install is done. My TriCounty gear steering arm is on, and my custom Gryphin Racing drag link works great.

I'm sure there'll be some "test runs" in the neighborhood tomorrow.. I might get the glasspacks installed yet.. ;-)

I'm beat. I couldn't quite make it.. so I'm sleeping in tomorrow and catching up some.. I haven't been to bed before 2am for well over a week.. and I've been up by 8.

Thanks for all of the help thus far, everyone!


Sadly, it wasn't to be.. Saturday morning came around and I tried to test it out and move it a little bit.. and that's exactly what I did.. a LITTLE bit..

I fired it up, shifted into gear, and I lurched forward a few feet n' stalled. I started it again, moved forward again, and stalled again. On my third try, I started the motor up, gave it some more gas (motor *was* cold), and the rear tires let out a screech of complaint as I lurched forward once more and stalled. And then... nothing. The 727 was no longer participating.

I took a nap. I was exhausted.

I spent the next week or two diagnosing the 727, and rebuilding it THREE more times before I finally had it working. I then went about finishing the race truck.. shock towers, front clip mounting and hood pins, ignition wiring, bolting down the battery, shock mounts in the rear, new shocks, etc.

Then the day of the next race approached.. on Thursday July 1st, Tyler Gordon came over to help with some welding and fabbing. Friday night another friend showed up and lent a hand.. and Friday night we drove it to the gas station.. it's first trip!

I wrapped up my efforts around 3am, with the following post:


Racing in the Morning!

(If I get *UP* in time!)

What a night.. but the front clip is mounted, hood pins are in. Battery was bolted down. Tow bar mounts are done. I cleaned out the inside, zip-tied the gauges to what's left of the dash, zip-tied the safety net to the rollcage.. hooked up the trans cooler..

AND WENT FOR A DRIVE. To the gas station (18.7 gallons of Premium into the stock tank!) and back. It wasn't SUPER impressive since it was low on ATF (just hooked cooler up) but it was fun.

It'll make the stock tires make awful screeching sounds if you punch the accelerator.. they don't stand a chance. ;-)

When I get to the race, I'm going to have to change the U-joints on my front driveshaft, install it, and fill the front diff.

I can wire up the headlights temporarily if they insist on seeing them, and for the rear I bought another adapter for my magnetic tow lights.. I'll just stick the lights on the back and show they work.. that's all that's required for "tech inspection"..

No driveline loops or Neutral safety, but I'm allowed one freebie race. ;)

Now, getting up in the morning could be another battle.. :-)

Oh yeah, the stock (old) Chevy calipers are not doing so hot.. I was digging holes in the driveway and figured out why I had a hard time backing it in before.. the calipers are not retracting properly. If I smack 'em with my sledge they work fine for a bit. I'm HOPING it goes away with a little use. If not, I guess it's time for new calipers.

Of course, if I lose a race, I can blame it on the dragging brakes, right?

Oh.. no bump stops or cut down U-bolts.. gonna be some "nice" obstacle course racing...


I did get up, and I did get to Cascade and I did race.

Saturday, July 3rd, morning. Notice I hadn't yet painted the front bumper even.. it got a shot of black spraypaint as I hitched up.

I woke up, fired up the racer, and tried to drive out into the street.. it wouldn't go. A little "coaxing" from my 3lbs sledge hammer, and the front calipers loosened up enough for me to drive out of the gravel driveway and into the street. I maneuvered behind my '77 Scout II and shut it off. I then hooked the tow bar up, backed up my '77, and hitched up.

The magnetic lights were put in place. Safety chains hooked up. Spare tire was tossed into the back of the racer, my "Grenade Launcher" camping box, the front driveshaft that still needed U-joints, some U-joints, and an assortment of tools I thought I might need all got tossed inside. The final step was to put the "Binder Bulletin" magnets on the truck.

I made two or three stops on my way to Cascade (60 miles). I had to coax the calipers with the sledge hammer a few times, and then my $50 magnetic lights fell off and were damaged.

Some really interesting driving down a gravel/mud/dirt road, and I was finally pulling into the Rally Site.. and not a moment too soon! I pulled up and went immediately to the closing registration booth, and told my friend Blair that was there to watch that there was a driveshaft n' U-joints in the truck..

Blair put the U-joints in while I went to the driver's meeting and registered. I then helped him put the front 'shaft in, attached the rear driveshaft, filled the front diff with gear lube..

I then had Blair help me check the 727 fluid and we added a bunch.. along with another quart of oil, and I was ready to race.. and not a moment too soon.. they were calling my name for the "stock drags"!

I'll leave the "race report" for another page.. but the summary of the damage I did while racing:


  • Blair blew out a front tire, and bent the rim

  • Slipped a couple front U-bolts a little, and had to re-tighten (100 mile check up? Try one race)

  • Had to remove the power steering pulley so the fan cleared, then lost the pulleys because we didn't re-bolt 'em down (a design change in the damper I was unaware of)

  • Bent one center pin that I hadn't trimmed

  • Put a dent in the front bump stop bracket from the center pin, on the passenger side

That was from Saturday's racing.. on Sunday, I ran the mud-pit and the "Baja" race.. in the Baja, I overheated the motor BADLY (no water gauge, bad cooling setup). I've only recently (7/20) determined what I damaged with THAT incident.. I blew a few connecting rods and probably a main bearing or two in the motor. It's coming out tonight. "Put a fork in it, it's done!"

I also broke one of my "temp" rear shock mounts during the baja, and damaged the brake line. Otherwise, the weekend was a huge success!