PRP Seats 1706 Jeepspeed V2R report


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The preperation countdown ended on Tuesday, August 18, 2009 and the Dust Junkie crew waited at the shop for the new Interco TSL's to be delivered. We wait and wait for the delivery truck, getting the last few things together, throw a complete third member together from spare parts and gather all the items from the 48' race trailer that would fit into the 14' enclosed trailer, Jeff 'LJ' Ranney's and Bob Green's trucks. Tandi Hartman was going to fly up to Vegas after work as we were slated to leave by 10:30 am. The truck never made it, so we mounted some worn out tires, installed them on the car and left for Vegas, seven hours late. Tandi canceled her flight and rode with us. We picked up Jeff Abbott, from Painless Performance, on the way out of town.

Registration, Technical Inspection and Contingency went off without a hitch and we enjoyed a couple of hours in the pool before the drivers meeting. Pattie from Interco tracked down the tires, and Scott Parker contacted the delivery company to deliver the tires to LJ Engineerings' shop helper. My sons, Brian and Robby Hartman loaded up the tires after football practice at College of the Desert and Redlands East Valley and drove them to the hotel in Vegas, then turned around to go back for school the next day. We dismounted the old tires with a high lift jack and mounted the new ones at about 1:30 am.

We started 2nd in class and went out strong but very conservative as this race is more miles than the entire jeepspeed season. Things were going well for the first 50-60 miles then the car started to sputter now and then. It seemed to increase on the long up-hill sections when the car was running a little warm. Somewhere after pit 1, after pulling a couple 1600 cars out of the silt there was a Trick Truck on it's side. They had a strap on it, so I pulled off to hook him up and instantly got stuck. I dropped it in 4wd low and backed out, what a relief, we didn't have to dig. So back in high range and hooked him up and nailed it. Almost, but just shy of the wheels. So I back up again all the way to the truck, 2nd gear pinned, got it on it's wheels, maybe a little too much oomph, but they were happy and I got back in the race. After pit 2 it started to sputter more and more and then noticed the fuel pressure dropping under load. I had to get out and look. I pulled the fuel filters and blew through them, jumped back in and it ran......for about a mile. The prefilters were not clogging. I tried everything including cutting off one of the pickups and sticking it down the filler neck. It was so frustrating, I was sweating profusely, changing filters and to the back-up pump, and nothing was happening. Finally Tandi and I stopped and pulled the filler neck off and looked in the tank. There were 150 wiffle balls in various stages of decomposition and what looked like 20 packs of ramen noodles swimming in the fuel. The in-tank sock filters were covered. I pulled all the balls out, then used my hand with a rag on it to strain the big stuff. I shut the regulator return line off with a pair of vice grips and fired it up. We were running again! We went hard to pit 3 where I had to get out to rinse the gas off my arms. Marty Scott and Scott Parker got in and we added 2 filters to the system and pulled the vice grips. They took off and went about 3 miles until it quit again. They changed filters, went a mile, then added the vice-grip regulator back to the the return line. It was a go, we were back at full speed. They pushed it hard and were about to make it before the pit closed. They got stuck in the silt, lost 10 minutes and timed out by about 20 minutes. I pleaded and begged the pit captain to let us go, but said that it was not his call, only Casey Folks could make the decision. The next morning Casey said that it wasn't his decision. LJ questioned the wiffle balls when I was adding them, but I read it on the internet, it had to work. I will never look at a wiffle ball the same again.

We knew it was a long race and that anything could happen, so Bob Green lead Clem Grieco and Paul Hartman in a fuel exchange service and cleaned the fuel cell. LJ re-routed the fuel lines that I had hacked up and Danny Turner and I rebuilt the shocks. Tony Briley and Steve Wallace had gone to town for fuel filters, a fuel pump and some hose and met us to fix the car. Jeff Abbott and Marty Scott removed the fuel injectors and purged the lines and Brent Bailey Helped Dan and I service the shocks. The entire crew worked feverishly to get the car back in shape.

Day 2 Brent and Scott started and were slated to drive the first 100 miles. Before pit 1 he took a hard hit to the axles by what must have been a huge rock. It ripped the .120 wall bottom truss off the housing. We did a visual and it seemed fine and let them go. We started 20 minutes back of 1736 and were 4 minutes back at the first pit. Pit two, another visual to check tires and they kept motoring. Between 2 and 3 they passed 1736 for the lead then hit the front right so hard it broke a rotor hat off, crushed a wheel and took out a tire. We replaced the hub and rotor and Tandi and I got back in at Pit 3. The car was steering a little loose but we kept a steady pace until about 12 miles from pit 4. The track bar snapped. Tandi and I jumped out, she disconnected the battery cables and hooked up the jumper wire to put the batteries in series. Somehow the vice-grips didn't get back in the tool bag, so she had to hold the wire on the battery terminal while I welded it up. I've been co-driving with Tandi a while but never had to work on the car like this with her. She stepped up and got it done. About 15-20 minutes later, we were rolling again. We came into pit 4 where the crew changed the track bar out and we headed for pit 5.

Coming into pit 5 the car was getting looser and looser when we stopped at a road crossing and asked if our rear tire was flat, he said low, but not flat. I jumped out and noticed both rear tires with about 2lbs of pressure in them. We had picked up a couple of nails and they were going flat slowly. It's crazy to think that a nail would give you a flat in the desert. We changed the tires and sped into pit 5 where Marty and Scott were going to get back in the car. Scott was pretty beat by this point and asked for another pit, so we blew by and went for pit 6.

We passed 1736 between 5 and 6 and were now leading after all the issues of the day. Scott and Marty got in and left the pit for another 100 miles to pit 8. The whole crew waited until the official pit closure time of 7:30 and left for pit 7.

Scott and Marty run a clean 100 miles to pit 8 where I want to get back in to take it to the finish so Scott and I can look the car over and prepare the crew for the 1 hour work time. The car comes in and Steve notices that the passenger side upper control arm bracket is broken. Tandi noticed 'something banging under her feet' when we got in the car back at pit 3, but thought it was just the bump stop hitting more often due to shock fade. The crew worked feverishly to weld it up and we were moving again in about 15 minutes. Scott and I took the car through some nice high speed hills then onto some of the roughest terrain on the course. At about 10 miles from the finish there were 3-4 cars all stuck and broken on a rocky hill, we dropped it in 4wd low and drove right around them. We finished day 2, tired, but happy that we had accomplished such a huge feat with so many little issues. Our crew kept us running this day, they are the best in the business.

I got in the car at the last pit on day 2 to be with Parker at the free area to look over the car. We were punch drunk, Scott more than me cause he was in the car so long that day. We stopped in the free zone and started looking over the car, it was surprisingly good, We started finding things and calling in to LJ to make a list. Marcy and Machelle were manning the radio and the crew was getting ready. All 4 shocks needed service and the bolts replaced, the truss broken on the bottom needed to be welded, the water filler needed to be moved away from the fuel filler, tires needed pressure checks, air filter needed changed and parker pumper filters replaced. The brake booster had a problem and one of the wheel studs had spun in the hub. The CTM's needed grease. I know there is more, but all this needed to be done in an hour. The crew came together under LJ's direction and made it happen. Marcy kept time and called it out every so often. When the dust settled and the list was complete, we had about 12 minutes to spare. What a crew!

Friday night came and we didn't have a set driver schedule for Saturday. I sat down in the motorhome at about 2am, absolutely worn out, and had to make some hard decisions. I had promised a ride to John from the new Crawl magazine, and I needed a driver that could keep the car together. Scott Parker was blowing snot bubbles and looked like he was about to pass out. Marty and Brent are great drivers, but Scott knows the car inside and out, and he is a great driver. I asked Scott to start the race with John, go two pits and then Brent to navigate the next 100 miles. I know Scott lost sleep that night being put on the spot like this, but he was up for the task. Scott lost a tire after pit 2 only to find the replacement jack handle wouldn't fit the jack. They made due and got the car moving again. They stopped by pit 3 where Steve and Tony changed the spare out for a fresh tire and motored on to pit 4. Bob and Machelle, Tandi, Brian and myself left pit 4 early to make pit 5 where we would change drivers.

Pit 5 was the coolest pit of the 3 day race. Right in the middle of a little Nevada town. There were locals lining the streets and on porches watching the racers pit and race. Scott and Brent brought the car to Tandi and I in perfect condition. We were down 20 minutes with 141 miles to go. I counted the cars between 1736 and us leaving so I knew how many cars I had to pass in the heavy dust. The first car was a sportsman V-8 buggy piloted by the former Jeepspeed champion Jason Lafortune, he was having cooling issues and I caught, tapped and passed him about 4 miles out, then was one of the H-3's of the halls, same senario, got by them both. Smooth dustless driving for a while!

At this point there were only two more cars to go, but we were in fast, non-technical roads where anyone could drive fast. I wanted it rough! Tandi kept reminding me that we had to finish, but all I wanted was a win that day. We passed one more car in the blow sand whoops with the car running at 235 degrees and in 3rd gear pinned. As we came up a crazy rocky hill in the pine trees, with about 10 miles to go i saw dust and tasted blood. It was the 1736 car! We made quick work of it and then drove the last 8-9 miles with absolute wreckless abandon. I needed to put about 4 minutes on him to win. The locals had made a jump just before a cattle guard and I hit it at about 85 miles per hour and launced the car. As i got back in it with 1/2 mile to go at over 100 MPH we felt a big vibration and then the transfer case exploded crossing the line. Day 3 ended not with the victory for the whole race due to circumstances partly out of our control, but with a personal victory for the Dust Junkies.

A lot of people worked very hard for this race and going home with a 2nd place finish is bitter sweet. We ran hard, worked together and had fun together. This group is special and I feel privledged to be a part of it.

-Scott Hartman
Great report Scott! Thanks again for the ride on day 3, that was a blast! Can't wait to figure out what we're gonna do now and get our own crew down racing!

John Mathews

here's a couple pics I got of you guys:






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Awesome story! Way to hang in there.