129 ISS 1976 Class 1 Buggy Race Report

LantanaTX

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Our race report starts when I flew into Palm Spring on Tuesday and my uncle Dave Tilton showed up to pick me up with a beautifully prepped race car on the trailer. We headed straight from the airport to Ocotillo Wells for testing. Our brand new trans went four miles and split the case of the trans the full length on the underside. Next stop was to Bud Feldkamp's office to talk about taking the engine and trans out of the Bel-Ray Bullet. Bud had to pull his entry because of back surgery caused by 40 years of racing in the desert. With Bud's blessing Dave and I worked hard the get the car ready to leave Friday morning.

Saturday, Contingency was a blast kink of like a cool car show and making new friends and meeting legends of the sport.

Sunday Race Day: Ensenada to Bay of LA 460 miles

They started us about 5th from last. The transit section from Ensenada was about the only testing we got before I hit the dirt in Santo Tomas. I had driven this section last year but this year was noticeably more rutted out. I passed quite a few cars heading over the mountains to the Pacific. Everyone was polite and waved me by. About 70 miles in disaster struck. The car would run well for a bout 5 miles and then barely run at all. Sometimes it just died. Because of this I got some needed experience passing people. Rod Hall had to wonder if I was just messing with him. I would pass him and then a few miles later I was dead on the side of the road. I am pretty sure I passed Rod Hall 6 times on this stage. I didn't know what to do so I decided to pray that god would heal this screwed up engine. Then a mile later about 100 miles in the car suddenly ran like a bullet! but once I hit the highway it started cutting out again. I pulled over and Dave re adjusted the floats. Back in the dirt and a mile later and it wanted to die. Towards the end of the stage it was running well again and I gave the car to Jake Johnson for the second half of the day. He rand 90 miles no problem and then he started having the same issue. We brought the car into Bay of LA and we had lost 20 minutes to overall leader Mark Stahl. Dave ruled out electrical and went to work on the carb. The old Zenith seemed to have self adjusting floats! Running good we called it a night.

Day two - Bay of LA to Loretto

This day was two long specials that would test our gas mileage. Jake was to take the morning and I would drive the second stage into Loretto. Well the carb started doing the same thing but now would only go about a mile. At the highway crossing on the first stage Jake could barely drive the car. Dave took the carb completely apart and rebuilt it. Still no Beuno. The car ended up on the trailer into Loretto. That night we visited a local named Rick where we did an engine change last year. After hours of ruling out every possible cause we were left with a serious carb problem. The old Zenith that had overalled so many races including the Baja 1000 was dead. Our local friend Rick took the Weber and manifold of his 2180 sand rail and loaned it to us. We promised to bring it back on the way home. Engine sounded great now and we were in bed by 4 am.

Day 3 Loretto to La Paz

I drove the morning and Jake drove the afternoon. Because we missed a stage NORA started us almost dead last. Heading up the wash out of Loretto I instantly knew that the Weber carb had really woken up the engine. Since I am in a single seater and doing my own navigating, I sometime borrow the navigator of the car in front of me. I followed Todd Z in his Bronco right off course and got stuck! Todd waited for me to get unstuck (thank you!). Once back on course you hit a very twisty highway section up to the mission were the little Funco hauled the mail and passed many trucks. The rest of the course is very fast and I was seeing speeds of 97 as I kept approaching dust and making passes. Everyone was polite and easily let me byEXCEPT ONE!!!! YOU $%^$@#ing Jerk! I come up on one of Pistol Pete's Rental Baja Lites. He is in the center of the course. I hit the horn and watch the back of his truck dip as he tried to run away. Not a chance! I stayed right on his bumper. there was big berms on each side and he was giving me half the width of my car on each side of him. I moved to the left let him know I was still there. He moved left to block me!! I shot right, he shot right! He kept doing this for a few more miles. I moved up to see if there was anyway to nerf him. I realized that my car was so low that I would be nerfing with my A pillars! So I lined up with his left fender and though about taking out the fender knowing that these renters are responsible for damage. I thought about taking out his fender and nerfing him in the left rear tire but being a rookie didn't know if this maneuver whould shoot me into the air. Just then he entered a right trun and I had half the width of my car and big berm available so I made my move and powered past him on the outside fo the turn. Good thing we run tubes because that pass cost us a brand new polished Centerline. Jake got in the car and drove an almost flawless race into La Paz. He just got one flat when he picked up a nail crossing the dump.

Day 4 La Paz to San Jose del Cabo finishline

I drove the whole final day. Car ran great until I started up the goat trail. it lost a bunch of power and felt like it had a dead cylinder. Stopping to check the engine on the goat trail over the mountain is not a good place to stop as it would just create a log jam which is exactly what I drove up to. When the jam up cleared everyone kept moving over to let me by. Nice guys but this was the one time I didn't want to pass anyone since I was nursing a sick engine and did't want to be the cause of the next log jam. Regardless, sick engine and all I passed 7 cars before I saw the ocean shear cliffs. I was first of the bunch to the stage finish. The course was super fun until I hit big woops in the wash as you approach the finish line. At one point I was tired of those huge woops and nailed the gas in second and tried to get up on top of them. BAD MOVE with stock VW suspension!!!!! I am pretty sure this is why my back still hurts so bad!!! The finish really sneaks up on you. I was in my zone going as fast as the little car would go when I flew up a hill and landed on pavement with a traffic cop scared I was going to run him over. Holy Crap I mait to the finish!!!! We finished 1st in class and second overall to Mark Stahl. Congrats on the win Mark!! We will try again next year!!
 

LantanaTX

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I also want to thank Bilstein, Mickey Thompson Tires, Glen Helen Raceway / The Feldkamp's, Jake Johnson for his driving skills/tips and trailer and especially Dave Tilton for a great prep! Dave had some sleepless nights dealing only with the things he doesn't build which is the engine and transmission. Nothing Dave touches ever goes wrong. He built one tough buggy!
 

bajaherbie

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Which bajalite was it? The white one or the one with the wrap? I know one of the renters....

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bajaherbie

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My guess is it was the white one...

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LantanaTX

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My guess is it was the white one...

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How did you know? There were two white ones. One of them had the nicest people driving it. The one that almost made me crash to get around was number 55 Bajalite. I know his name from looking at the entry list. The guy was the biggest jerk at the race. We weren't even in the same class or era. He was driving like it was the last lap of the Daytona 500. Pistol Pete told me I should knocked the crap out of him. I heard they may have blown an engine but not sure. It doesn't look like they finished the stage they messed with me on. He has raced two years in a row. I hope he is racing next year. ;-) I heard from a very experienced racer that nerfing their tire really screws with them and in a corner will flip them every time. If you know Richard Cranium, tell him we destroyed a new polished centerline getting around his lame a$$ or tell him to make sure his belts are tight next year as they start us behind him and we have no trouble catching them on the course. I am sure he noticed how fast I left him once I got by.
 
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scary fast hummer

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'" I borrowed their navigator.." Absolutely brilliant! Glad you did well and had a great time.
 

bajaherbie

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Pete had three bajalites in the race? I know they guys in the one with the vinyl wrap 3042 (Proper Oil I think?) but I think they burnt a piston on the last stage of the 2nd day. Don't know the guys in the white one at all.

Next year nerf em good!

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LantanaTX

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I also want to thank Jim Richardson (Lifeflight on here) for the incredible decal work he did on our car. Thanks Jim!
 

scary fast hummer

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Btw, how did your solo in car navigation go? Did you find a way to do it without killing yourself or always "borrowing" the guy in fronts navigator??
 

LantanaTX

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Btw, how did your solo in car navigation go? Did you find a way to do it without killing yourself or always "borrowing" the guy in fronts navigator??

It actually worked just fine. I used GPS but I mostly read the dirt and when going straight or in someone's dust that I was about to pass, I would check to make sure there wasn't a big turn coming. I glanced at it often. A couple of times I glanced down and the little screen was covered in silt and had to wipe it with my glove. Using a road book would have been insane. The problem areas for me was more in the washes with multiple lines and not all of them going where I needed to go. In the washes was where I borrowed someone else's navigator if I was following someone. I like the new system that talks to you like a navigator but I also heard the rental was $2,000 and had the occasional problem of swapping north with south which causes it to give the instructions backwards.
 

BajaBronco

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That was actually me, Andrew, day 3 and my co-dog who you borrowed to get almost stuck! Sorry bout that...was fun tearing up the twisty pavement with you after that tho! Great meeting you in person finally and by the way thats an awesome car!
 

Rory

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Congrats on the win Bob, you guys did well. I think you and I (and Ed Maurin) were the only single seat cars out there this year although I might be wrong. I found the navigation to be pretty good myself, just kept looking down at the GPS if I saw a road coming up or what looked to be a turn. The real issues was the speed zones out in the middle of nowhere. I came up with a pretty good plan with duct tape and wrote the mileages on them, then would grab the tab I made on the tape when I went through them and put them on the floor of the race car.

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Mark Stahl

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Congrats on the win Bob, you guys did well. I think you and I (and Ed Maurin) were the only single seat cars out there this year although I might be wrong. I found the navigation to be pretty good myself, just kept looking down at the GPS if I saw a road coming up or what looked to be a turn. The real issues was the speed zones out in the middle of nowhere. I came up with a pretty good plan with duct tape and wrote the mileages on them, then would grab the tab I made on the tape when I went through them and put them on the floor of the race car.

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I'm glad you put them on the floor and didn't litter Baja.


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bajaxp

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Should have wrapped them around your cath tube and made a Buddhist prayer flag.
 

LantanaTX

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Congrats on the win Bob, you guys did well. I think you and I (and Ed Maurin) were the only single seat cars out there this year although I might be wrong. I found the navigation to be pretty good myself, just kept looking down at the GPS if I saw a road coming up or what looked to be a turn. The real issues was the speed zones out in the middle of nowhere. I came up with a pretty good plan with duct tape and wrote the mileages on them, then would grab the tab I made on the tape when I went through them and put them on the floor of the race car.

View attachment 169268

Rory, I did pretty much the same thing. I studied the road map ahead of time and noted the mileage of the speed zones and the !!! hazards on a strip of duct tape that I stuck to the dash. Navigation really wasn't an issue.
 
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