Winter Baja 2/13/2010 - 2nd place

Cascade County 4-Wheelers held their annual Winter Baja on 2/13/2010 in Cascade.

It was a warm day, so the road in got a little soft and the course was soft and muddy and snowy. Lots of goo.

I replaced the radiator in Little Devil before the big day, since the old one was chock full of mud.

Then, Friday night, I started my Travelette for the first time since Acton and went to the gas station, fueled up, then came home and turned it around to park it "ready to go" on Saturday, only to get it stuck in the snowy field. The extraction involved both the Green Scout and Tigger, the latter dug some big holes in the process, before I finally strapped the truck back to the clear parking spot where it had been sitting for months, but facing the other direction.

..only to have the rear tires ice up Saturday morning, requiring one more strap from the green Scout to get it moving.

The IC-706 in the truck worked well to talk to Michelle on the D710 in the car on the way up, on 2m.

Thus, she was able to inform me that I'd lost a ramp.. and bring me and Joleigh our McD's for breakfast.

Otherwise, things went fine.

Michelle and the two girls hung out in the car during the race and watched.

We tried out another comm system for the racer. I used a throat-mike with an "acoustic tube" ear piece that fit well within my helmet, and did a good job of transmitting my audio without the vroom-vroom noises.

It worked great, right up until the FRS handheld stuffed in my pocket ejected from the vehicle, somewhere early in the race.

Race started fine, with Blair and I in third overall, first in class after the first turn.

Race was mostly in 1st/high - it didn't want to pull 2nd. Motor felt a little weak, plus the thick goo and 4 15.5" wide tires didn't help.

Close call with Ryan - almost passed here..

After a few laps, we passed Ryan Clark and started to chase down 1st overall Tyler Gordon, when the motor really started to fall down.

It got bad enough that we couldn't pull one of the hills, and pulled off.

We struggled with the Dana 20 for a bit, but managed to get it into low range, and started regaining lost ground again running 2-3rd in low (3rd low is faster than 1/high).

Problem is, the t'case didn't like to stay in low. Blair was holding it for a while with his foot, then thought better of it, and it jumped out a few times, and then on one occasion, Blair kicked it back into gear and the Scout skidded to a halt.

3rd/R would put a load on the engine, but it wasn't going anywhere.

We pulled it back into high, until the next hill got us and Blair thought we'd try low again.. no dice, and we couldn't get it back out of low, so we had to throw in the towel for the first race.

Between heats I discovered my radio was missing, but put a ratchet strap on the shifter, wailed on the t'case with a pry bar, and then throttled up back and forth in 1st/Reverse and finally it popped loose and back into 4-high and limped back to the pits, where we replaced the inlet needle and made the engine happy enough to run back out for the Jackpot.

..only to run into Mike Nunn, who was sitting backwards on the course, just off the start line (Nunn put the last dent in my LF fender, and added to it this time).

We hit driver's door to driver's door.

The hit shoved the axle inboard enough that the air bump missed the U-bolt plate and instead went past it, and then the U-bolt plate hooked on the air bump, causing the LF suspension to be stuck at full bump.

This results in a rough ride, BTW.

Rough enough that the steering column fell into my lap after a few laps - it had rattled out of the sliding mounting bolts.

I called it a day at that point and put it on the trailer.

I then found out about the stuck suspension and we tried unsuccessfully to correct it with a come-along and winch pulling the frame and axle apart with no luck.

We boomed it down, then got the car stuck trying to leave, then the truck stuck trying to leave, and finally hit Cascade town where I put another 12 gallons of fuel in (that's about 5 mpg average) and Blair was kind enough to take the truck home for me.

He averaged about 5mpg, too, running with Scott at 75-80mph.

Blair saved me the trouble of finding a place to park the truck and coming back for it, since Michelle, Joleigh, Audrey and I all motored north to Havre to visit her parents for the weekend.. where it was -15F, instead of ~40F like it was in Cascade.

On Wednesday the 17th, I drove the truck back to town to make a car wash operator unhappy..