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Mickey's '82 B1K winning Raceco restoration

bajaxp

Baja Bobsled Team
I already have one vintage Raceco and thus I needed a second one like I need a gun shot wound. I was working hard to get my OTHER car: a two-seat, mid-80's Raceco rebuilt to fit into the Challenger class for NORRA 2018. Progress on the two seater continues and Jamie Campbell at Raceco-USA is doing much of the heavy lifting. Lots of effort is going into making the two seater into a reliable, comfortable and safe peninsula runner. A link to that build is here... Rock'n Raceco Redux

So with all kinds of effort going on my other car, Jamie called and said some dude from Ohio contacted him claiming to own the Raceco that Mickey Thompson and Terry Smith drove to the overall car/truck victory at the 1982 Baja 1000. Yeah right! This was Mickey's only Baja 1000 win and some say his greatest victory. The car, a single seat Raceco was supposedly lost. So somebody claiming to have it seemed like a big, steaming pile of horse 'output.' But I got the guys number and we started communicating. The guy was adamant that 'this' was the car, but I wasn't convinced and more importantly most people don't need one vintage off road race car, and certainly I didn't need two. Strike two was the guy and the car were in Ohio. Strike three was that he was 'proud of it' price wise. Ok...I am out.

But somehow I was intrigued. If in fact this was the actual car, it would be a great find and this might be the first Raceco ever built. So I started doing research, which led me to a bunch of really great people.

The guy from Ohio bought the car from a woman that he worked with at Ohio University. She inherited the car from her brother, Bob Crawford after he died in Idaho and she brought this car and bunch of other stuff back to Ohio where it sat. I have paperwork on the car with Bob Crawford's name on it. So that is the 'back to Bob Crawford' part of my investigation. So I called Greg at Fat who supposedly use to own it after Jack Motley. He confirmed that he did and helped me a lot. He pretty much confirmed that it was the car and said it ended up being owned by a guy named Bob Crawford from Idaho. He suggested I contact Dave at Kartek who use to drive the car after him. Dave said the same thing and gave me more confidence that it was in fact Mickey's winner. Dave had me call Hank at Youth Theory and this was amazing. Hank not only prepped the car, but he actually helped build it. He confirmed a lot of stuff.

Ohio guy bought the car from Bob Crawford's sister eight years ago and put a type 1 in it (it was raced with a type iv at the '82 B1K) and painted it white and green. I think he raced it once at an east coast short course race, but other than that it just sat. The car had been modified some over the years but not destroyed. The four original Bilstein shocks per corner in the rear, were removed and replaced with a single Fox plus a secondary torsion suspension controlled with a single Bilstein. The front now only has one Bilstein per corner where it once had two. The original fuel cell was removed and replaced with a short course 14 gallon aluminum 'tank' (no bladder). But other than that and some other minor stuff, the car it pretty much intact.

I really, really didn't want to buy the car. But Ohio guy was persistent and the price went from stupid to merely crazy. I still didn't bite. Ohio guy saw the Beer Hauler and how I brought that old girl back from the dead and now he really wanted me to buy it. He really felt an obligation to get Mickey's winner into the hands of a person who would appreciate it and bring it back to life. But, I REALLY didn't want a second vintage, off road, race car despite the cool history. But we continued to talk.

I told him I wasn't interested in the 2180cc-ish type 1 which threw him off as he was proud of it, along with the lime green fan shroud. I investigated what it would cost for me to drive to Ohio and drive it back. Ok...that is a chit ton of gas/money when getting 10 mpg. So I looked at transport companies. This might work, but I told Ohio guy that the transport cost was coming out of the price. Ohio guy, was getting grumpy but I really didn't want to buy the car. Sooooo....he called with a last ditch price, bottom dollar, not going any lower. I said, he should sell it to someone else. He wasn't happy and claimed that he would just 'cut it up.' I was horrified, but not also not into extortion. Cut away. He kept calling and claimed I wanted this 'famous car for free.' Finally he asked what I would pay for it and I told him. I didn't hear from him for a while but he agreed and he said he was happy it was going back home. So after five weeks of waiting for the stupid transport company to get their chit together, it finally showed. Actually I feel really good with what I bought. I am going to 'restore' this car myself, in my shop and it will be a long slow process. If you are interested...follow along.

Prologue:

Mickey tried desperately to win the Baja 1000 in a car of his own design for nearly a decade, but he supposedly 'over drove' his cars a broke before victory. The 1982 deal was a last minute, and a year after he 'retired' from Baja racing where he agreed to drive someone else's car. Here is a quick synopsis from the FB vintage page....

"Here is a shot of Mickey Thompson next to the Jack Motley Raceco at the 1982 Baja 1000. Mickey was suppose to race with Jack but turns out Jack had some business that week so he had a last minute substitution with Terry Smith. It was so last minute that Mickey and Terry never got a chance to meet up in Ensenada to hammer down the details of the driver swap but both knew it would be somewhere near El Arco. Mickey started and had a VERY eventful first half including a great race with Larry Ragland and then drowning out the electrical in a water hole in Gonzaga Bay, which he had the great idea of drying out the ignition spraying fuel on it and lighting it on fire.....which it DID! He then jumped in and got up to 100mph as fast as he could to put out the flames....which it did.

In El Arco, Mickey's wife Trudy ran into Terry just in time to hear MT screaming down the course to them. Terry got in, took off, MT and Trudy jumped in the chase truck to follow only to have the chase truck break down. MT would get it going again and pull into La Paz to find out they had won OVERALL at the greatest off road race in the world! Sal Fish said MT must have worn that race suit for 2 days after the race he wasso proud!"
MT B1K.jpg


More to come!
 

Rory

Crayola Killer
"Here is a shot of Mickey Thompson next to the Jack Motley Raceco at the 1982 Baja 1000. Mickey was suppose to race with Jack but turns out Jack had some business that week so he had a last minute substitution with Terry Smith. It was so last minute that Mickey and Terry never got a chance to meet up in Ensenada to hammer down the details of the driver swap but both knew it would be somewhere near El Arco. Mickey started and had a VERY eventful first half including a great race with Larry Ragland and then drowning out the electrical in a water hole in Gonzaga Bay, which he had the great idea of drying out the ignition spraying fuel on it and lighting it on fire.....which it DID! He then jumped in and got up to 100mph as fast as he could to put out the flames....which it did.

In El Arco, Mickey's wife Trudy ran into Terry just in time to hear MT screaming down the course to them. Terry got in, took off, MT and Trudy jumped in the chase truck to follow only to have the chase truck break down. MT would get it going again and pull into La Paz to find out they had won OVERALL at the greatest off road race in the world! Sal Fish said MT must have worn that race suit for 2 days after the race he wasso proud!"


Matt, I didn't even get a credit for the story?!?!?!? For shame!! hahahah. Congrats on the car. Like I told you on the phone, I was close to buying this car 18 months ago but was working the deal on the Toyota and couldn't. I'm glad someone else who has a passion for the sport we love has gotten a hold of it and is returning it to it's true self. I'll be following along faithfully.
 

LantanaTX

Well-Known Member
This is so exciting Matt! I can't wait for this one to race Legend Era with us! I hope people will look for pictures of the car and share them. Great intro write up Matt (and Rory).


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NIKAL

Well-Known Member
When do we get to see pictures of the car in its current state? Matt, did you get it as a roller, minus motor? Or is it like the 001 Toyota and came in a bunch of boxes?
 

bajaxp

Baja Bobsled Team
"Matt, I didn't even get a credit for the story?!?!?!? For shame!! hahahah. Congrats on the car. Like I told you on the phone, I was close to buying this car 18 months ago but was working the deal on the Toyota and couldn't. I'm glad someone else who has a passion for the sport we love has gotten a hold of it and is returning it to it's true self. I'll be following along faithfully."

Sorry Rory, I didn't know it was your excellent prose. I was looking for the story that Marty did in the back of Dirt Sports when I found the piece you evidently wrote on the Vintage Facebook page. I mentioned above that I got it there. Anyway, nicely done RW and thanks! Slav Glick from the LA Times also did a story on Mickey's win, but I haven't been able to find it. You and I did speak about the car before I bought it and you certainly knew about it before I did. You were just smart enough not to buy it...haha.
 
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bajaxp

Baja Bobsled Team
When do we get to see pictures of the car in its current state? Matt, did you get it as a roller, minus motor? Or is it like the 001 Toyota and came in a bunch of boxes?
It was a roller, but I had the seller remove the type 1 in order to get the price down
 

Rory

Crayola Killer
Matt, that car would be mine if it wasn't for the Ivan Stewart Toyota. Hell, I even bought those 35" Mickey Thompson Baja Belted tires for it in anticipation of buying it! The story comes from little bits and pieces I've heard from reading articles and books. The Larry Ragland part came straight from Larry as he told a funny story about them being in the same pit together somewhere near BOLA (I think). In my opinion it's a very historic vehicle and is an important vehicle to restore. Here's a picture of it from when i was talking to the guy 18 months ago....

MT 82 Raceco.JPG
 

bajaxp

Baja Bobsled Team
I think he washed it for you Rory. Haha. Yes it was kind of dirty when I got it, but who cares. The louvers are unfortunate, and the rear panel has been butchered with tin snips. But all of that can be fixed. The cage has been repaired on top. The bottom beam tube has a pretty good dent in it, but I will cycle everything and decide if it should be cut out and replaced. The drum brakes are just too cool! I need to see if Tri Mil will make me an exhaust for the type iv that goes straight up like it did in 1982.

I just found the Dirt Sports article about the 1982 Baja 1000, Mickey, Motley and the car. Jim Ober wrote it not Marty. Click here to view it---> Hourglass

IMG_0243 (3).JPG


I bought several pics from Jim at Trackside of the car at the '82 B1K. Here is Mickey getting after it! Note the exhaust.

ThompsonM 29350.JPG
 
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CMA GUMBY

Well-Known Member
Looks like someone made it Street Legal at some point. Will be following this as well. Truck to buggy(s). Rory went from buggy to truck(s). What is happening? :confused:
 

bajaxp

Baja Bobsled Team
Looks like someone made it Street Legal at some point. Will be following this as well. Truck to buggy(s). Rory went from buggy to truck(s). What is happening? :confused:
Yes, it does have some goofy front turn indicators, but nothing in the rear. No clue why they are on there and they won't be there for long!

Re...truck to buggy, I guess I am a buggy dork at heart. ...And they are easier to work on, move around and tow.
 
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Rory

Crayola Killer
This one has been hanging in my office for almost 10 years, next to the Big Oly Bronco, Pat Deans TT Killer, RG's 66' Ford Hay Hauler, Baja Bob's "Betsy", Mark Stahl's Chenowth 1000 and Rob Mac's Venable class 8...

MT 82 B1K trackside.JPG


Photo credit: Trackside Photo.

Hey Matt, trade my MT Baja Belted 35" tires for those front Jackman wheels (it they aren't ruined)....... ;)

IMG_5723.JPG


IMG_5725.JPG
 
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bajaxp

Baja Bobsled Team
Rory, deal if you throw in a six pack of ice cold 'Banquet Beer.' Haha.

Here is the same pic that you have, except in color.
ThompsonM 540.JPG
 

LantanaTX

Well-Known Member
I spoke to Harry Jackman yesterday. He has all the tooling for the wheels and now that centerline is out of business is considering making those wheels again. There really isn't an option anymore for light wheels. He could probably sell a bunch if the UTV guys try them.


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Triple B

Well-Known Member
I work with the Smith family 20 plus years ago and Terry would tell me the story of driving into LaPaz with everyone cheering
 

Triple B

Well-Known Member
I'm not sure where he is...........I tried to meet up with him and his brothers in Johnson Valley a few years ago but we could not get together. Every time we stopped buy their camp they were out jeeping

I will reach out to his brother and see if i can get a phone #

The smith brothers are full of amazing desert camp fire stories
 

bajaxp

Baja Bobsled Team
Pulled the 002 pyramid cased transaxle and took it over to the experts at The Wright Gearbox in Corona. 'Fro Daddy' Sean grabbed the thing out of my truck, wheeled it into their shop and tore into it and had it completely apart in less than ten minutes. Amazing! Everything was in good shape, but there wasn't anything particularly special in it. The R/P was changed to accommodate some big tires such as 33's or 35's. Other than that, it was pretty stock

The car raced the Baja 1000 in 1982 with a type iv engine and therefore I am going to have to have the trans built and parts sourced with this in mind. Still working on sourcing the engine and fingers crossed that I will be able to get one that is a pump gas single carb like it had. Don't know if this throws me out of the Legends class, but maybe if will be grandfathered in because it was originally raced that way at the 82 B1K.

Anyway the car is coming apart and I am starting to remove pieces that were added later in its life like the secondary torsion suspension, angle iron on the rear bumpers, short course gas tank mounts, etc.
IMG_0244.JPG
IMG_0245.JPG
IMG_0334.JPG
 

LantanaTX

Well-Known Member
Mickey's Challenger IV was legal in Legend's with a V8 because it was raced that way. I believe any waiver to the rules have to be THE car. I have to run a type 1 unless pictures surface of our car racing with a type IV. It is great seeing these new pictures! This is exciting!!


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bajaxp

Baja Bobsled Team
The Mickey Thompson biography, the book 1000 miles to glory, talking to Norman Francis today and having him look at the valve covers, plus hearing from Greg at Fat who built the motor, pretty much convince me that it was a type iv.
 

LantanaTX

Well-Known Member
I agree, Those are not Type 1 valve covers and must be and appear to be type IV. I hope you will at least build it to the original displacement and remember fuel mileage is important at NORRA unless you want to see us fly by while you are pitting on the course ;) We only pit on the transit sections.
 
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