Racing 905 Procomp 2017 Baja 1000 Race Report

PeteRock

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I have not posted on here for some time, but now due to lost password and being too busy, so I have created a new account to get caught up on all things racing.

This is my point of view as a part of the Racing 905 truck 704, and truck 72 2017 Baja 1000 race effort.

I don’t normally do long race recaps, but this time things are different. Our/my 2017 Baja 1000 race story started back in May. It was in May that most of the race team was busy prepping for the Baja 500, and I had started to layout the build and assembly of our new trophy truck frame we had taken delivery from the one and only Maniak. At this point the team was split and at any random time people were working on the 704 truck and others on 72.

The simple idea of being able to drive a TROPHY TRUCK at the 50th anniversary of the Baja 1000 was intoxicating to say the least. We all pulled every resource that we could as a team, and individuals to finish the build and have a two truck team for the 1000. A build that was way over our heads, and beyond our areas of expertise and experience. But as I mentioned the simple idea, shear the fantasy of driving a TROPHY TRUCK was too good to pass on. Even though we all were at our physical, emotional, mental, and especially financial breaking points months before the race even happened.

After a few months, it was clear that the final build and assembly of a trophy truck was more than we ever bargained for. We as a team have designed, built, and raced multiple race vehicles successfully over the past 20 years. But we quickly found out that there is nothing easy about building a trophy truck.

We knew the clock was ticking as far as the #72 truck was concerned, and as luck and fate would have it, the #704 truck would have a bad crash at the Baja 500 and would need extensive surgery to be Powder Puff ready, let alone Baja 1000 ready. So now with a half-built trophy truck, and a banged up 7 truck the team was pushed even closer to the edge, and thought of just throwing in the towel was on everone’s mind. We all joked about getting a golf membership, and simplifying all of our lives with no racing to worry about. At this point (mid-September) we all started to pace ourselves, knowing that there was so much work to do, every second would count. But the dreaded late-night shop nights started to creep up on us no matter how much we tried to stay on schedule.

Having sponsorship commitments (Procomp), the #704 truck raced the Powder Puff race, and then went on to the Off Road Expo. The B-team as they became to be known as did an amazing job of getting the 704 truck back together and getting it race ready once again.

Now mid-October, the trophy truck build seemed to be coming along with the usual unexpected 1 step forward 15 steps back scenario. Every little detail that could go wrong did: wrong length axles, incompatible engine parts, delayed shocks prep, missing fittings, incompatible electrical components, engine oil leaks, and the list went on and on.

I know we are not even to race day, and I am exhausted LOL. I will follow up the next part of the report soon, the team has tons of photo's and video to gather. We even have a 5 month long time laps from the shop, and a 32 hour long gopro footage from inside the TT.

More race report to come.......
 

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PeteRock

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Somehow the trophy truck came together and as we were loading the truck on the trailer, the stickers, and final details were still being finished. At this point, the B-team was well ahead of the trophy truck team. The 704 team got to Ensenada a Monday night and did their registration and tech with no worries. The 72 team made its way into town Tuesday morning, and as you can imagine started to finish more and more details as we arrived in town. Both trucks had a Procomp beach photo shoot to be ready for, so at sunset at the beach all the Procomp race trucks were doing their shoot, I stood back and watched both of our trucks like a proud father. Almost tearing up with the sight and realization that we were now a TWO truck team. The fact that one of the trucks was a trophy truck still had not sunk in quite yet. Of course at the same time the thought of WTF are we doing, its hard enough to finish the race with 1 race truck, and now we have 2!

This beach photo shoot was the first time the 72 had touched dirt, and we were all worried that something would break, leak, or blow up right there on the beach before we even got the green flag. So naturally after the photo shoot, we started to look the truck over for anything unusual. This is when we noticed a small oil leak that would bite us the ass later.

Wednesday the truck worked its way through contingency, and the team took this as a much needed break, to relax from the storm of emotions and stress we experianced just getting the two trucks to Ensenada. Not to mention the one that was waiting for us the next day. After tech the team reconvened at the house, and what seemed to be the 10th poop storm hit the team. The 704 truck ran into transmission issues and lost 2nd gear, so the B-team got to work on that. As for the untested 72, remember the little oil leak we found the day before, it turned out the camshaft button started to fall apart and the cam gear stated to wear through the timing cover. Well long story short and with the help of people still in San Diego, in Ensenada both trucks were back together in time for some of the guys to get about 30 minutes of sleep as the sun was coming up on race morning.
 

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PeteRock

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After another all nighter for some of the guys, it was race day! Hard to believe, everyone could feel the excitement, and at the same time the apprehension. What would happen? No one knew, but we could not wait. We all obsess over getting to the green flag green, but at the same time the green flag signified a much-welcomed door slamming closed on one long chapter. At the same time, a new door is thrust open just as hard and nothing else matters.

All chase crews split up, some head South, some head east, and some stayed in town. Aaron (owner) and his co-driver Goose were to start in the TT. This being the first TT race for both driver and co-driver their nerves were just this side of being out of control. They are off the line in the brand new untested 72 at approx.. 10:45am. They hold their own getting to Ojos Negros, truck still running like it should. After the road crossing in Ojos, the truck had an intermittent sputter, but switching from one fuel pump to the other seem to fix the problem. Around rm 60 all of a sudden, the power steering stops working. The guys stop and turned out the pressure line was left loose and finally rattled off and dumped all the fluid. After a quick fix and topped the fluid off the guys were back at it again. At this stop the last of the trophy trucks got around us, and the class 1 cars started to move around us. Since it was a miracle the truck was even racing, we would let them all go past us and found a steady pace. Untill a few miles ahead, a right rear tire goes down. So the guys once again are out of the truck and change the tire. They used the opportunity to look the rest of the truck over. After a few minutes, they were off again, by this time they were near the rear of the class 1 pack.

Smooth sailing for the next few sections, coming up on the goat trial, was a little bit of a surprise for the guys in the truck. Up until now we had raced the class 7 up and down the goat trail, but the trophy truck is a big fat beast, and required a whole different approach for the goat trail squeeze.

The first scheduled pit stop was going to be a rm 110, and was the first news I had got waiting in San Felipe of the truck. They topped off fuel, checked everything, and sent the boys on their way. By this time the truck was running with the front pack of the class 10 cars, and faster spec trucks. But all we really cared about was to keep the truck marching forward in one piece. For some reason, it was a goal to get the truck to the finish line with all the body panels intact. Why, don’t know, I would have stripped the truck if it meant we were guaranteed to finish, but things don’t work that way as we would later find out.

The section from San Matias to San Felipe was uneventful, the boys managed to pass some 10 cars back, and were slowly gaining ground. You figure it’s a trophy truck, and should catch a 10 car without even trying, right? But for us as a team, this was a steep learning curve and swift kick in the ass, driving an untested trophy truck for the first time ever.

I watched the truck inch its way to rm 190, I was pacing back and forth, nervously and anxiously awaiting my turn to join the trophy truck ranks. To me the idea of driving a trophy truck has always remained a distant fantasy. I never dared to think that one day driving a trophy truck would become a reality. In my mind, I went over every little detail: ok put helmet on, tighten strap, drop the window net, help driver out, get the ok to get in, left leg first, pull seat pin, slide seat forward, plug air and com in, install seat pin. At the same time, I was obsessing over the course, I had driven this same section of the 1000 4 times, and knew the general race course, but I was skeptical of the new sections, and the current road conditions.

We start to hear the chatter over the radio, 5 miles away……….3 miles………2 miles……around the corner and we can hear the truck. Its go time!

Truck pulls into the pit, comes to a stop, and the team goes to work. Hood comes off, front light covers come off, top off fluids, top light rack is on. The fuel goes into the truck, all the tires look good. I start to chat with Aaron, how’s the truck? How are the brakes? Temps running ok? Engine? Oil pressure?

I start to bombard him with questions, about everything I could think of. He cut me off and yells “Everything is running fine”.

I think it was mostly my nerves getting the better of me. Once I strapped in and hooked up, I closed my eyes and tried to organize my thoughts, catch my breath, and center myself. I open my eyes and I look at my dad standing in front of the truck as the guys are putting the hood back on, I gave him a thumbs up, and he gave me a quick thumbs up back. Me realizing a dream come true, and having my dad there to see it happen, choked me up a bit.

The driver side window net goes up, a quick light check, and I get the ok over the radio “GO Go Go”! I bounce the shifter through the gates in to first gear, center the steering wheel, and baby the throttle until we are on the course, then smash the throttle and grab second gear as the hood tilts skyward and the rear squats like a dragster.

The first turn of my trophy truck driving career was coming up, and I thought to myself “don’t embarrass yourself, don’t blow turn 1……..don’t F***ing blow turn 1”.

I slowed down, should I down shift? Do I pump the throttle? Leave it in second hear? Wait do I use the rally brake now? WTF am I doing??????

Did I mention that this was the first time I had ever driven this truck in the dirt? First time I had ever shifted the transmission past first. I knew how to drive it, but I did not know the truck.

As I cleared the first 90-degree right hand turn, I smashed the throttle, and the truck took off like a rocket, I remember thinking “OMG that’s what 700 ponies feels like”. I shifted into third gear, grabbed the wheel with both hands and punched it. I glanced at the GPS a few seconds later, 80, 85, 90 mph. Coming up on some mid-sized whoops, I checked up…..for what you ask? Well I had only driven race cars that required you to check up on San Felipe whoops. But now all I did was slow down for no reason, 40 inch tires, and tons of wheel travel, the truck never knew there were any whoops. Me and my co-driver just giggled and we reminded each other “we are in a trophy truck” in a girlish giggly voice. LOL yes you can hear us giggling on the in-car footage.

As we start to click off one mile after another, the novelty of our first trophy truck experience quickly wore off. We started to catch a slew of class 10 cars. Since I knew we were racing for a finish and not a win, we took our time getting around the cars, no need to nerf, or shower them with rocks and sand as we passed. Getting passed the old Puertercitos road, and nearing rm 200, the whoops went from, big to OMG these are huge! I was still checking up on big g-outs, and large step up whoops. But the more confidence I got with the truck, the less brake I was using, and was able to rest my left leg from hovering over the brake. I started to get into a rhythm, and hold a steady pace at 75-85 MPH. Now here is where I have to give credit where credit is due. The guys at FOX gave us a shock package that was never tested, never adjusted, in any way shape or form. The suspension on the truck was so predictable, comfortable and stable through big San Felipe whoops. We knew we were not going to race for a podium position, but the Fox shocks were going to make the long race just a little bit more comfortable.

I settled into the whoop rhythm and started to relax my death grip on the steering wheel. My fingers were going numb and I needed to relax my arms, otherwise I would be done after the first 50 miles. Right when the sun set over the mountains, bam welcome to driving a 6k lbs. truck in San Felipe. We did not see it, or feel it, so we must have grazed a sharp rock because the driver side rear tire blew out with no warning. Luckily where we pulled over there was a large group of spectators to help with the tire change so I selfishly stayed in the truck. My co-driver Nick hopped out and looked like he was running around like he was lost. On the dash we have a rear view camera and I could see everything from the driver seat, I felt kind of bad so I figured if he is still not done in 5 more minutes ill jump out. Before I knew it he was back in the truck huffing and puffing, he starts to strap in some of the spectators run up to the truck and take selfies, and group pictures. Sitting in the drivers seat with this happening around me, I had a big goofy smile in that helmet. In that instant I remember again, that it was not that long ago, I was the one running up to trophy trucks with a boyish wonder, wanting to help change a tire and now I am the one driving the truck, still hard to believe.

Back on the road, only two miles and we were on the highway, turned off all the lights accept our small bumper lights. The Stella was sounding off flashing and beeping the speed limit, which I can say comes up way too fast in the truck. I relaxed my grip on the wheel once again and slouched into the seat and tried to use this time to relax and save my energy for the long miles ahead.
 
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