T.S.U. Motorsports #1495 DRIVE Fiberwerx 200 Race Report

FCORR

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Prerace:

There were many factors that came into play that made preparing for this race almost impossible, matter of fact we had given ourselves a less than 50% chance of making the race with only 1 week to go. Most of our problems stemmed from an accident I was involved in on April 3rd that damaged my tow vehicle, totaled my trailer, and damaged my race truck as it went sliding across the I-15 at almost 60 mph. I had not touched the race truck since the day of the accident in order to let the insurance companies view the vehicle. Weeks went by before I finally decided that I could no longer wait for them and I needed to begin my prep. Starting the prep only 2 weeks before the race I discovered a cracked brake rotor and an unrepairable hub, after receiving parts from LC Engineering and switching to our back up hub I began reassembly only 1 week before the race only to discover that both front spindles were cracked beyond repair. This appeared to be the nail in the coffin for our race effort, we quickly got on the phone and had Ryan Lewis set up as a backup to race incase we couldn’t find a solution. Luckily we were able to have new spindles built, Tim and I finished up the truck at 11:30 on Thursday night only a few hours before we planned to leave for the race.

We arrived in Plaster City on Friday and set up our pit with Cameron and 1450-ORG. Tim and I set off for a prerun lap and shake down of the race truck, this being the first time the truck had seen dirt since the accident. The track was amazing, brand new desert that hasn’t been ran in a long time, dry lake beds, sand washes, silt hills, levee crossings, trestle crossings, this course had it all. Tim drove half the prerun lap to get used to the truck as he would be driving the second half of the race. The truck felt and performed great, we were now very optimistic about the race and couldn’t wait to get started.

Race Day, Laps 1 & 2 per A.J.’s recollection:

Dave and I started the race, with the plan to run the first 2 laps and then hand the truck over to Tim and Brad for the final 2 laps. We started around 8:15 pm, mid pack in class 1450 and ran hard through the dust as the truck felt and sounded great. The washes were already getting really soft and treacherous, but the truck was going through them without a problem. Approximately 8 miles in as we approached Tucker’s Trench I said to Dave “The truck really sounds good, it’s running strong!” Less than a mile later I made the comment, “You know, I don’t think the truck should be this loud!” Next we heard and felt metal on metal contact and the exhaust exploded into an unmuffled roar. We knew we had lost the exhaust but we were unaware of any damages that it may have caused or could cause by loose or hanging parts. We couldn’t stop in the deep, soft sands of Tucker’s Trench so we decided to slow down and make it through the wash first. As soon as we had open land Dave jumped out with a flash light and inspected the exhaust, he yelled “It broke off clean, we’re good!” Dave jumped back in and we took off with the pedal to the floor, and the exhaust screaming! At mile marker 20 we stopped to have it all inspected again, Ryan Lewis and Ryan Mathews inspected the truck and found loose wires where the O2 sensor used to be, Kristina jumped right in and grabbed zip ties for them. We raced on, battling through heavy dust and working hard to stay on course, using the GPS to help find our way. Finally around mile 26 we overshot a corner and hit what had to be the softest silt in the Plaster City area! We tried reversing but could only make it so far, finally after working the truck for a couple of minutes we were able to drive into the hard pack rocks that surrounded the area, we were able to get over the hill and continue on course. The rest of the lap went smoothly, we stopped at our pit to have the truck checked over, everything looked good, so we continued on to start lap 2. Lap 2 we set a much faster pace, the truck was working very well and was a blast to drive on this course. We didn’t see much traffic all lap until the final turn, about 1 mile from our main pit area we caught Cameron (#1457) and made the pass, pumped up from the pass we raced as fast as the truck would go back to our pit, to our amazement we caught and passed two more trucks on the straightaway before reaching our pit. We slid in to our pit, handed the truck over to Brad and Tim, took fuel, and a quick inspection and off they raced to start lap 3.

Race Day, Laps 3 & 4 per Tim’s recollection:

After watching A.J. and Dave race off into the night at the start of lap one, all Brad and I could do was wait, listen to the radio for progress reports, and pray that a dust clearing breeze would come up at least by the time we took over pilot and copilot duties. Early on we heard that the truck had shed its muffler, but was still moving with no real negative effect and it was obvious when they passed through main pit that there was no exhaust past the header flange, it sounded raspy. It did not seem like another hour had passed when we got the word to get ready as they were just a couple miles out, and that is when it set in that A.J. was going to let an old guy that can’t see well at night drive his race truck in a night race, dang, I’d better do well and more importantly don’t wad it up! A.J. and Dave came sliding in to main pit, Brad and I jumped in, waited for a fast moving truck to pass, and we were off! It quickly became evident that the shocks were pretty toasty and wouldn’t be doing much dampening and our prayers for even a light dust clearing breeze would not be answered. At times we were able to move at a pretty good pace, but whenever we would get close to the truck ahead of us, the dust was so bad that we couldn’t see 10 feet and had to slow down to keep it safe. The rest of the lap went pretty smooth, but after accidentally shutting the fuel pump off 3 different times while shifting into 2nd gear, I made a mental note to build A.J. a dash and move the switches! At the start of lap 4 we finally had some clean air and with what we learned on our first lap, we were really moving, picking some clean lines, and actually staying on course. We navigated the washes, silt beds, and dead/stuck race vehicles nearly flawlessly. However about half way through the lap we were passed by a class 1 car in one of the fast sections and the dust was so bad we actually had to stop a few times (too bad the GPS doesn’t have radar!). We cruised through the rest of lap 4 fighting serious dust most of the way, but getting more excited with every mile that we got closer to the finish line and before we knew it we took the checkered flag and were relaxing in the pits amazed that the only vehicle to pass us in 2 laps was a class 1 car! Seeing the look on A.J.’s face when they announced that we had secured 4th in class and we were the fastest leaf sprung truck made all the last minute work to get the truck ready to race worth it!

Overall, the weekend couldn’t have gone any better for T.S.U. Motorsports, we stretched our 1450-ORG points lead to 17 points over Steve Herrera, we were the first leaf sprung vehicle to finish, we finished 4th in class, 3rd in 1450-ORG, and went home with a wallet full of cash thanks to DRIVE and 1450-ORG. Due to the recent success at the DRIVE Night Race and surviving the freeway accident with minimal damage, we have been kicking around changing the nickname of the race truck affectionately known as “the Mutt.” Leading the list of new nicknames is “the Underdog” because it may not be the biggest, baddest dog in the pack, but it sure is hard to kill!

TSU Motorsports would like to thank:

DMZ Fab and Race Prep, not only for building a bullet proof chassis that is a lot of fun to drive, but for helping me finish the race truck at my house, away from the shop. If it weren’t for Tim and the rest of the crew at DMZ we never would have made it!

A huge thanks also goes out to SUD Productions, Desertfreedom.com, Copasetic Designs, Offset Photography, The Axe Shock Tuning, Lucas Oil, Trailglow Lights, Shells Shapes and Steel, RPC Commercial Inc., and Vista Paint.

Lastly thanks to everyone that helped us on the track, in the pits, or in the garage. Tim Duncan, Brad Lindseth, Dave Plueger, Chris “Noodle” Cobb, Adam Carter, Kristina Steavens, Tim @ RRP Fabrications, Ryan “Bonzen” Lewis, Ryan Mathews, Trever Leach, Tony Iwami, Sean @ Norco Tires, my parents John and Michele, Cameron and the 1450-ORG crew, Doug and the incredible group at DRIVE Racing, and finally all the friends, family, and racing fans who have supported me from the beginning. Thank you all!

-A.J. Steeber & Tim Duncan #1495
 

tmathews

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Great story !!

Your "Spotter" for the Drive Series.
 

Brian & Amy

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That was an awesome report AJ. You guys did a killer job. Amy and I were near road crossing 3 when you (or your other driver) came through the trestle area. Cameron's truck was very close and both you guys were screaming!

It is amazing to me that you and your team got that truck together for the race under those circumstances! Talk about adversity :eek:

Thanks for taking the time to put your story together so that we can all share in your race.

Great job.



-Brian & Amy
 

FCORR

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Thanks guys for all the compliments, I think having the points lead makes for a pretty good motivator to get it done! haha, I'm really glad we got the truck finished though, because I would have missed out on one hell of a course!
 

ultrablew

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AJ (cool initials by the way!), thanks for sharing your story. It was so much fun having the 1450.org guys out there and a pleasure to meet you. All in all, I'd say you had a very successful race overcoming the issues you did to even get there and start. Way to go! I enjoyed your race recap. So many of us go through so much to even get to a race. Then there are always the on-course obsticles to overcome as well. Just finishing a race can sometimes be a great feat in itself. I am very excited that you enjoyed the race, had a great time, and a bit of luck on your side for all the raffle winnings! It is always nice for racers to appreciate the courses. Doug and Larry work numberless hours to ensure a quality course. I personally have to say that they are 3 for 3. I hope that you come race with us again soon! I love the DRIVE series. EVERYONE involved are good people. The possitive feedback is always encouraging and anything questioned or negative (even in the slightest) is always addressed with a fair and attentive manner.
I think that the volunteers and staff enjoy hearing the stories as well. It helps them put together pieces of the puzzle from the race. They also are very excited to share in the experience. When I get a few minutes, I will recap our race as well.
Thanks again AJ for coming out and having some fun with us. Hope to see you again soon!
AJ
 

ultrablew

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So here it goes: To even start the report about this last race, we have to assess the damages from the previous (March). Drive shaft began making very bad sounds.10 miles out from the finish with a very comfortable lead... KABOOM! Drive shaft, tail housing and trans case all done in. DNF and some disappointment.
Pre-race prep. Found a cracked tube in the rear that most likely was the cause of the March race happenings. With the rear of the truck shifting, it certainly caused a good portion (if not all) of the damages.
Got the transmission pulled and sent to RDE. Sent both our drive shafts to Oceanside Driveline. Got everything back and the truck was ready for the Fiberwerx200 on Thursday before the race...
Friday morning at the track Ryan "Forklift" put on 2 HID's and wired them for the night race. We decided to get them on Tuesday prior to the race thinking with starting towards the back of the pack, we are going to be in a lot of dust for a while. The top bar only has 4 lights which are not HID's. Towards the afternoon we (Brian and I) decided to pre run in the chase Jeep. About 1/4 of a mile out onto the course, we happen to see a utv with the seats pulled and 2 guys working on it. Stopped, grabbed the strap and hauled them back in to their pit. Round 2-ding, let's try this again. Off we go. Pre run went good. We were thinking a day time pre run to get a visual on the course before the night race. Cruising along somewhere in the mm 25 area, we got passed by a 1450 truck. No big, we are just cruising. Get up to where check 4 was going to be and come stumble upon the 1450 stopped and the 2 out of it. So, we stop and talk for a minute. It's the same 2 that were in the utv earlier on the course. Decide we'll need to tow them in. Grab the strap and off we go. Down the drop after check 4 was pretty fun! Followed the rest of the course because there were only a few miles left anyway. It's starting to reach sunset Friday night.
Get back to camp and grab I grabbed my kids and headed to the 1450.org BBQ/B-day party. I had raffle tickets for a pit crew shirt give-a-way I was doing. Anyone that knew there was a raffle, could find me, and ask me for a ticket got to enter. That ended up to be pretty fun. The BBQ was awesome. Good people, good food and a great night! As the B-day cake was being prepared to be eaten, I snuck away to print the pit crew shirts for the raffle winner. (1495-AJ). I printed the shirts and ran them back to the winner who was SO excited! He didn't know that he had won, so when I presented him with the shirts, AJ had a priceless expression. That was so cool for me to get to be a part of. AJ got me almost as excited as he was just because he was so happy.! Very cool experience!
Saturday morning I begin to get things ready for tech/contingency. I realize..DOH...I left the canopy at the shop. Hubby "Forkilft" and Ervin (Chase help) go into town. A canopy, ice, hamburgers/hotdogs (for the volunteer BBQ, starbucks, and a ton more stuff later, they reappeared. In the meantime, I took a blow up pool out there for my little one so I filled it with air and cooler water while we waited for the water truck. Water truck came and filled the pool thanks to Art (Tech) who could speak spanish to communicate with the driver. That was awesome! The pool was a blessing to all those who used it! It was hot. Drivers meeting/race time! I haul butt to staging because Brian is already in waiting for me. (Had to give last minute instructions to the baby-sitter and help Amy with the computer for pics). We stage and the truck in front of us had something going on and they were out of it. We finally get around them in staging and see Duncan's truck pull to the line. WAIT!!! We drew in front of them. How come they are going? We pulled up next to them. Tried to communicate, but ended up they went and we were held. (Not a great start to a race BUT since we were towards the back anyway, did it really make a difference?) Shake it off. Just run our own race.
Green and GO! The first 2 laps went good. All was good and we were on a good pace. We ended up shutting the top light bar off and just using the 2 front HID's. THANK GOODNESS we had them. Otherwise we would have been left in the dark....Pitted on lap 2 for fuel and a quick look over. Everything seemed to be good. Off we go for lap 3...Go by mm 7, we hear over the radio. You look good, pick it up. Get to mm 20 and all is well. Hit mm29ish. The hard right up the sand hill. We are in a lot of dust can't see squat. I glance up and see an amber stopped on the outside of the turn at the hill. I tell Brian go right. Being as silty as it was with the speed we were going in it with, I did not want to risk sliding and hitting the other truck and hurting them. Consequence...we were now stuck.... Brian and I jump out of the truck. OH MY.....The whole 3rd member on the drivers side is buried. The passenger side is not quite as bad because of the angle on the hill but still in the sand deep. I radio to chase run to the driver side and start digging. I dug enough Brian was able to get to the valve stem on the tire (that was at the bottom) and let some air out. I ran around to find some rocks and kept digging. Brian threw the passenger side spare out of the truck and grabbed the jack. He jacked the right side up after being able to get under the axle. I threw rocks under the tire. He went to the driver side and I scrounged for rocks. He dug under the trailing arm enough to get the jack under it. I threw him the jack. He lifted the truck, I threw a larger rock I found under the tire. He yelled get clear. I ran to the front of the truck, he hit reverse and I was so happy when that truck went flying back!!! We were free!!! I jumped in, drank a ton of water and noticed Brian outside the truck grabbing the jack. I yelled to him “DROP IT”. “Ry is on his way”. Brian stopped dead in his tracks, dropped the jack and got in the truck. I radio’d to chase mm29 get our jack and spare...Off we went! The whole episode of being stuck I estimate the time being roughly 18 minutes. When we left, the truck on the other side of the track was still there. We were on a mission. 1 mission. FIND DUNCAN! We stopped at pit to check over the truck. Being as buried as we were and everything, we thought it best to pit and be sure. All is good....GO! Oh no.....A familiar drive shaft sound is not what we wanted to hear, but...Starting lap 4, Brian and I discussed the sound and decided to take it easy. Listen and feel and pray for the best. The vibration actually started mid lap 2, but I didn’t want to say anything at that time. Go by mm7, chase says looks good as we go by. Around mm 20ish, Brian reaches over and points. “There’s our guy. He’s down!” Pass Duncan we go. I thought to myself, KARMA. But being the pre run we did our good deeds, I was hoping for the best. I radio’d chase and asked for a location. MM29. I replied stay there. We were running the same channel as Duncan (how does that always happen?lol.) So I didn’t want to say why, but the drive shaft was really not happy. MM26...truck dies. Just stops going. Brian quickly pulls as far to the right as he can and we jump out. A huge bush is right under the truck and under the hot exhaust and we could hear it smoldering. NO BUENO! Brian said the fuel pump was making a funny sound to him when he shut it off. So, ok, change the pump. I grab the spare pump, give it to him, radio chase. MM26 Bring gas. Go to the back, smack the fuel cell. Nothing....? Blow through the breather tube....NOTHING. You have got to be kidding me. Chase had headed back to S/F because they were out of gas also and we were on our way in really. Finally get gas to us and fire it, nothing. DOH 2 of the race. Fuel pump is on backwards. Brian mounted it how I handed it to him and neither one of us ever thought to look. A quick flip and the truck sounds good again! (And we didn’t catch the bush or truck on fire.) All and all that ordeal took a good 45 minutes or so. Jump in the truck, off to finish the last 10 miles praying the 10 mile curse from the last race has passed us. Told Brian to cruise to the finish. No need to replay the damage from last race. Cruise at 40-50 through the wash back to the checkered! Wow. All the down time and we still pulled a 5th from the night. Brian and I were happy. For everything that night, a 5th to maintain the points lead in the DRIVE series worked well for us. Later in the am, I was at S/F waiting to see Duncan come across. Still waiting, and waiting some more. I walked passed Doug and heard him mention that 1492 (Duncan) may need a 4wd to give him a pull. I turned right around and told Doug to get more info like where? What mm? Asked hubby and Erv to get chase ready, they are going on a hunt for someone. (Oh yeah, all this time in the race, the right front of the chase Jeep kept losing air so Ry and Erv would have to put air in it every time they moved.) Ryan spoke to Doug, Erv got the Jeep ready and Brian jumped in the back. Off our chase goes to find Duncan and help if needed. This is with a little less than 40 minutes until time for him. With time running out and only minutes remaining, and the end of pit row there are lights coming towards S/F. They are glowing in every direction with every whoop I know they are crossing. I heard his siren and knew...Jason was on his way in! Crossed S/F with only 3 wheels! Ry said he met up with Duncan on the course but he was moving so they just dropped in behind him to follow him in. Way to go Jason! What an incredible tale.
Thank you to all our sponsors and help that allow us to run hard and have fun. Tony from RDE is a huge help, Parada Painting, Bear Designz, S-K Specialties, Rollie's Auto, Kartek, Jonsson Motorsports and all our friends and family. Another thanks is in order for DRIVE and the awesome volunteers that keep us going!
Well done all and we'll see you in September!
AJ 1494 Cully Racing
 

FCORR

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Very cool story! This is what I love about desert racing, every race team has their own unique story that no one experienced but the driver and the co-driver! Congrats on the solid finish considering all the issues you guys had!
 

Brian & Amy

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Alicia,
What an awesome story!

Amy and I met up with Ryan out near check point 4 at sometime during the night (it's a blur now). He had probably had just found your jack & tire (that is crazy!!!). It was really cool seeing you race and it will be even better when your in the drivers seat..... :D

Thanks for sharing your account of the night. I know it takes a lot of work to put a race together in story format, but it's a treat to all of us that watch you race.



-Brian & Amy
 
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