68 Lord Humungus race report

Zambo

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Very crowded on team Humungus this year with the addition of Jerry, aka Leekster. That brought our total up to 5 guys from our usual 4. Rockin' the new Pacific campaign Marine fighter colors this year.


New for the 75 Chevy mechanically was the addition of a carb-replacement EFI throttle body from FITech. It worked great! I'll post a review of it in the shop section. Also new was the addition of a front sway bar that I removed from a Jeep Cherokee at Pick A Part.

On the first transit section down to Santo Tomas, I noticed that the voltage was low and jumping around. We pulled over across from the gas station and I found that 3 of the 4 bolts that were holding the alternator case halves together were gone! I'm surprised it didn't come apart like a pistachio. I had a spare in the back of the truck so 10 minutes later all was well and we were ready to roll. Only think that happened on day 1 was the steering started to tighten up and I was worried we were losing the pump. Turned out after about 15 minutes of troubleshooting, it was just mud in the support bearing for the steering shaft that was drying up and hardening. WD-40 to the rescue. Rudy and Max did a great job getting thru the silt and a logjam at the beach south of El Rosario and we cruised to BOLA. Long day though!

Day 2 was totally uneventful for me on the 1st half and most of the way for Rudy on the second half. Then, while going through La Purisima, they noticed quite a bit of excitement from the crowd which didn't coincide with the 25mph pace of the truck through town. And the engine was running little rough. They got out and the rear limit straps were on fire! They put it out with the extinguisher, then drove a few more miles to San Isidro and the motor stopped altogether and another fire broke out near the firewall, which again they squirted out.

Turns out what happened is that the exhaust pipe on the drivers side had come loose from the header collector. Since the new EFI system uses the 02 sensor just aft of the collector to control the fueling, it was sensing a super lean condition due to the extra air and dumping fuel into the motor as fast as it could to try and get the AFR correct. All that extra fuel was coming out of the collector and the tailpipe and starting the fires. They scrambled around Mag7 and eventually found 3 bolts and nuts to reattach the exhaust and they were on their way. The rich running caused them to run out of gas, but that was after the end of the special and we were right behind them on the highway was a gas can in the chase truck. Lost about 1.5 hours or so dealing with all that. Thankfully we had Racer Services to help us get everything sorted out in Loreto or our short night would have been a lot shorter.

Day 3 was uneventful mechanically, but far from uneventful race wise. With noob Jerry navigating, we started out on the last leg to LaPaz making good time. We came around a bend with a cliff on the left, and the locals flagged us down frantically telling us a car had gone off the cliff. It was a huge cliff! I pulled the Humungus to the side and we got out to asses.

Peering down from the ledge, we indeed saw a yellow buggy way down in the canyon. Jerry grabbed a fire extinguisher and the med kit and started climbing down. It took him at least 10 minutes to scramble down there and he kept his helmet on in case he fell. I tried raising weatherman but had no luck, so I flagged down a buggy, 167 I think, to try his radio. He was able to get through. I pulled the yellow brick out and pushed the rescue button, then went back to the ledge to shout back and forth with Jerry about what was down there. It was hard to communicate because they were a long way down and there were a lot of locals yelling and screaming.

The guys were initially unresponsive, then the nav came out of it and with help was able to wiggle out of the car and lay down on the rocks. It was pretty obvious that his leg was messed up and we were worried about his neck. The driver was worse off and remained mostly unresponsive. With help from the locals, they started pulling panels off the car and cutting out the jammed window nets. The driver's legs were pinned up under the dash, but once they got access they were able to get him loose. He woke up and was able to talk but couldn't remember anything and asked every couple of minutes where he was and what was going on.

Weatherman reported they were sending a helo. It was pretty obvious to me that landing anywhere near the crash site was going to be impossible, and that bringing those guys back up to the road was going to be damn near impossible as well. I could see that the canyon they were in went down to a fairly big wash, with 4 notable tall palms at the entrance. I shouted down to Jerry that I was going to go down there in the Humungus and try to find a suitable LZ for the chopper.

I backtracked on the course, found a trail that went down toward the wash, and then a little village were the local farmer pointed to a trail that paralleled the wash. I went as far as I could then parked and headed into the wash on foot. I soon found the 4 palms and started up the canyon, which was solid boulders, some the size of VWs. After a few wrong turns, I made it up to the crash site.

Jerry had climbed into the nav seat of the buggy to sit next to the driver and to use the buggy's radio. He was in contact with airborne weatherman and was giving them updates. I spent some time looking over the navigator on the ground who, although in rough shape, didn't appear to have any life threatening injuries. There wasn't much to be done there so I told Jerry to tell the helo to find me in the wash. I started back down and it took about 10 minutes to go the 200 meters down the canyon to the wash and just as I got there the helo showed up overhead. They circled around forever trying to find a place to land seemingly anywhere but where I wanted them to set down. Finally they gave up and landed right next to me but we were running out of daylight. The helo can't take off in the dark so we only had a little time to get those guys out of there.

The medic jumped out and a few locals helped him carry his gear up the canyon to the crash site, while I helped the pilot rig the helo to carry a litter. Turns out only one victim would be able to go on the helo due to weight. We had to rearrange seats and other gear and get the gurney clamped down to the floor. The pilot finally said that he had to lift or the helo would be stuck there all night, so without any victims on board he took off. Then he noticed as he did one orbit around the area that the rescue party was right at the entrance of the canyon on the way down so he set it back down and they hustled over carrying the driver on a backboard and put him on the gurney and they took off.

The injured navigator was put in a local pickup truck driven by some nurses from the nearby village but before they could leave, the NORRA sweepers showed up with some medical personnel. The nav got into a UTV for the ride out to the highway and to La Paz. He must have been in some kind of pain hobbling down that canyon and then riding on the dirt road back to town.

Jerry and I said goodbye to the locals that helped us and to the sweepers and headed back into the race. It was now dark and I only have a few lights on the Humungus so it was a little slow going but we got to LaPaz without further incident. Our chase team had stared driving into the crash site from the highway but they turned around when they met the "ambulance" coming the other way, and they didn't get to LaPaz until around 1am. Quite an intro to Baja for Jerry who was on his first ever off-road race. He's no stranger to carnage however, having been inches away from the Reno Air Race crash a few years ago and spending all day triaging and evacuating the wounded after a P-51 crashed into the crowd.

The last day went smoothly, the Humungus was pretty much a perfect truck coming across the finish line for our 2nd win in a row in the Prerunner Truck class. Hooked it to the tow bar the next morning and were back home in Escondido in time for dinner the next day.
 
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Zambo

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Does anybody else enter a stage of depression after this race is over? I often wonder how the Apollo astronauts were able to deal with coming back from the moon.
 

LantanaTX

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Great write up and glad you guys were there to help with the emergency. Do we know how the guys are doing? I had heard the driver was still going in and out of consciousness a few days later in an American hospital.
 

Quailhunter

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Wow...way to go Zambo. You and your buds really did a great job to help in a tough spot. Good to know there's a great team like yours ready to handle an emergency. Congrats on the win.
 

Zambo

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The nav is doing well recuperating from the broken leg, knee, sternum, and other bruises and contusions. I hear that the driver went into surgery for a broken neck and some crushed vertebra. They were both at the awards, which is pretty incredible.

Perhaps the biggest piece of luck
Was that the buggy came to rest upright. It would have been a whole new ballgame if they were on the lid.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

Mark Newhan

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Hey Zambo, save the hero stuff for the firemen.... Where the F was Rory ;)
 

Zambo

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Combing his mustache would be my guess.
 

Rory

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CZLou

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I'd like to give a big shout out and THANK YOU to Team 68 Lord Humongus from Lou (the driver of 161). I think things would have turned out much differently had it not been for you guys. Thank you for taking the time to help us and showing the true colors of you and your team. I really don't remember the crash or the rescue as I had a concussion. Once we got to the states, we both went to the hospital. Rich (the navigator) has several fractured bones in his leg and foot and sternum, and I fractured my C-2 and several other vertebrae in my back. They were going to do surgery but decided the break in the neck would heal ok in a halo and teh rest of the fractures would heal on their own. So now I have this heavy halo apparatus attached to my head and shoulders for the next 2 months, but as I said, it could have been a lot worse had it not been for you guys. We are forever grateful to you for what you did and the time you gave to help fellow racers. Thank you again. Lou - Team 161
 

Zambo

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I'd like to give a big shout out and THANK YOU to Team 68 Lord Humongus from Lou (the driver of 161). I think things would have turned out much differently had it not been for you guys. Thank you for taking the time to help us and showing the true colors of you and your team. I really don't remember the crash or the rescue as I had a concussion. Once we got to the states, we both went to the hospital. Rich (the navigator) has several fractured bones in his leg and foot and sternum, and I fractured my C-2 and several other vertebrae in my back. They were going to do surgery but decided the break in the neck would heal ok in a halo and teh rest of the fractures would heal on their own. So now I have this heavy halo apparatus attached to my head and shoulders for the next 2 months, but as I said, it could have been a lot worse had it not been for you guys. We are forever grateful to you for what you did and the time you gave to help fellow racers. Thank you again. Lou - Team 161
Lou! Hey man, sorry about the halo but that's good to hear. A buddy had one after being hit at the SF 250 years ago while racing his bike....sucks but its temporary and he's good as new. I hope you don't mind me sharing the story, its always good IMO so we can all learn what can happen and how to handle things. As a team, we've already identified several things that we will be better prepared for next time we go out racing. You are one tough bird, I can't believe you were at the awards!

Last I heard they were going to disassemble the car in place and carry the pieces out one at a time. I hope you get as much of your gear back as possible. That was one tough spot.
 

volks 73

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The night of the accident a deal was made with a local farmer to strip the car and carry the parts out of the canyon (the only way to get the parts out). It was relayed to us that the parts would be ready to be picked by 4:00 pm on Thursday. My team (203) and 2 of Lou's team members went to the site to retrieve the parts on Thursday. They had stripped the car of almost all of the salvageable parts. There were a couple of hard to get off parts we would have liked but we would have run out of daylight had we taken the time to remove them, so we cut are losses and left with what they had removed. The local farmer was definitely a man of his word the parts were off and ready when we got there. If the deal hadn't been made the night of the accident I'm not sure we would had anything to haul out. It took 6 men to cut a path and many trips to haul the parts out of the canyon. The sweep crew had also removed personal items, GPS , the tracker and other easy to remove items and tracked us down in Cabo to make sure we got those.
 

CZLou

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I'm lucky that I only have to wear a halo and that it wasn't worse. Again I am thankful to Team 68 for the help they gave. My life would have been different without them. My entire team did everything they could to make sure Rich and I got all the medical treatment we needed, and then did what they could to retrieve the car parts. Regarding the car parts, Team 203 (Jay Bills) and his wife Beth, I am very grateful for all that they did to help retrieve them and to help me and Rich, and especially talking me into flying home instead driving back through Mexico. This experience shows what great people are involved with racing and NORRA. Jay's team and my own team were amazing, and I am grateful to all of those who helped me though this experience.
 
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