Thoughts on and questions about V2R from the Subaru guy

pontoontodd

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We had a great time at the Vegas to Reno. It was good to meet dan200, 450girl, and tons of other people. Thanks to everyone in contingency or staging who laughed at us, with us, gave us thumbs up or high fives, it made the trip worth it.

We built a super buggy twelve years ago that we've raced in the midwest in at least 100 events in at least 6 series in about ten states and this blew them all away.
We have desert raced the Subaru in Texas on a fifty mile loop and it was fun but the V2R was much different. Deeper ruts, softer and rockier terrain, and the point to point aspect of the race was awesome. At the V2R you just keep going and going and going, never really knowing what's around the next turn or over the next hill. Working on cars in the middle of the desert isn't my favorite activity, and it was a big disappointment that made us time out both days, but it really adds to the challenge and adventure, rather than just waiting for the tow truck to take you back to the pits.

I'm wondering about a few things.
Does the course get smoothed out or groomed by any mechanical or natural process?
Is the course normally that rough? Everyone we'd talked to before we went said it's one of the smoothest desert races. Some people we talked to after Friday said it was the most challenging course they've ever driven. I guess it wasn't so much rough as rutted and rocky.

Here's the whole story of our trip if you have some time to read:
We left Illinois Tuesday morning for Vegas. I was reviewing the GPS track they gave us for the course on the tablet on the way and one thing I noticed is that it seemed to be difficult to get the tablet to get a GPS signal. After a while it seemed to be working if we started the tablet GPS when we were stopped. We were making good time when all of a sudden the car started sputtering in eastern CO and my friend pulled off on the next exit. He stopped at a stop sign and then the car died and wouldn't start. We tried a few things like unplugging the MAF sensor and the car would run a little bit but kept dying. We pushed the car off to the side of the ramp. Seemed like it wasn't getting fuel at the engine. Pulled a hose off the bottom of the surge tank and nothing came out. The transfer pump seemed to be making noise but didn't seem to be pumping fuel. We switched the inlet hoses on the pumps so the high pressure pump was drawing directly out of the big fuel cell. We went to an O Reillys and found fittings and some other things we needed to use our spare high pressure fuel pump. We used that in place of the transfer pump. By that time it was dark and we decided to just drive past Denver and stop at the next open hotel (most were full for some reason) for the night.

The next day's drive was more scenic and uneventful. The section through Glenwood Canyon and into Utah was very cool, haven't been that way in a long time. We realized the tablet GPS wasn't working at this point so we ordered a bluetooth GPS receiver to be shipped to the hotel on Thursday. We checked the fluids at every gas station and one time the overflow bottle was empty. Stayed at the same level at all the other stops. Used about a quart of oil every 500 miles as usual. We got to Vegas at about 3PM and stepped out of the car. It was HOT, I think about 110F, a shock since we'd been blasting the AC all day. We parked in the shade and put in the door bars, corner windows, number stickers, checked all the suspension bolts, etc. I got ahold of a friend we used to race who lives in Vegas and he met us at the hotel and took us to dinner. We talked for hours, he told us all kinds of racing stories and gave us advice about trying to finish V2R. He didn't believe we'd driven the Subaru out and were planning on racing it and driving it back. He had also never considered just trying a desert race to finish and have fun, he's always trying to win (in class).

The next morning we went to registration early and got in line. Casey Folks, the owner of Best in the Desert, thanked each person in line for being there. He asked one kid in line in front of us if he was going to be riding during the race. Casey told him when he goes to school next week and they ask what you did over the summer, tell them you were in the longest off road race in the US. The other kids will say they got to play horseshoes. We signed up and got shirts and hoodies. Went out to the parking lot and got the Subaru in line for contingency/tech. Trying to pull into the parking lot to stage for contingency, the security guard was blocking us until we convinced him that we were racing. Baja pits, the pit service we hired for the race, was back there so we talked to them and tried to figure out our pit strategy. When we went to pull in the lot for contingency, the security guard would not let us in. I told him we were racing and he said “this is for race vehicles only” so I told him this is our race car and he finally let us in. Tons of people in contingency loved the Subaru, took pictures, laughed, gave us high fives. At least one guy told us were his heroes, insane, but still his heroes. They were also jealous that we had air conditioning. The racing trax guy gave us a tracker and thought it would be best to just stick it on the roof. It wouldn't get power with the ignition on. My friend realized the rear lights weren't on so we spliced them and the tracker into the old wiring for the rear fan. That switch goes directly to the battery (fused) so we could leave the tracker on all day like they wanted. Hours later we got to tech and as I was giving the suits and helmets to one guy, the other guy told my friend he thought our car would be a nightmare to tech but it looked like we had our stuff together. Thinking we didn't have much else to do before the race, we drove down to Fremont street and wandered around. Ate lunch at a buffet, saw the shark tank, world's biggest gold nugget, a million dollars under glass, guy making paintings with spray cans, container park, etc. Headed back to the Aliante for the driver's meeting. Took longer than expected and there was probably at least a thousand people in the room. They presented Casey Folks with two helmets that all of the drivers (including me) had secretly signed during registration. We headed back to the hotel to find out that the bluetooth GPS wasn't there. It was already 7PM and it was still supposedly going to arrive by 8PM but the hotel manager said their shipments usually come in the early afternoon. Package tracking said it had left Phoenix at 6PM so we didn't see how it would be there that day. We went to Fry's, they didn't have any bluetooth GPS so we checked out the tablets. They had a couple of 10” tablets with GPS on display but apparently none in stock, so I bought one of the display models, so they had to get a manager, etc. Lower resolution than the one I had, but it worked. We were up until about 10PM transferring over the maps, tracks, etc getting it to work how we wanted it and getting back to the hotel. We had hoped to get to bed early.

Got up early Friday morning for the two hour drive to the start of the race. Put on our driving suits, packed things up, and headed northeast. Filled up with gas in Alamo and got to the start area. There were hundreds and hundreds of trucks, trailers, and RVs lined up for at least a mile. We parked near a port a potty and put the rear number plate on, aired down, pulled the air bag fuse, etc. There were about 3 trucks behind us so we were starting almost last. Just before the start I realized the windshield wipers didn't work. The start of the course was fairly fast and smooth, then we got to the silt beds everyone had warned us about. For about ten miles we must have passed fifty trucks and buggies that were stuck, broken down, or rolled over. We weren't on the course most of the time since it was full of stuck vehicles. Many people looked up from their trucks to cheer us on or give us a thumbs up. A bunch of times it was so dusty we couldn't see anything, probably not even the end of the hood, but it's not a good idea to stop. We got to one place where a wash crossed the course and people were trying all kinds of detours. Some guys pointed us to a gap that dropped into the wash and back out the other side. As I was going down into it we saw a truck that had started behind us coming down the wash from the left. I stopped to let him by and then crossed out the other side. Another time we were driving in the dust along the course and all of a sudden there was a fence in the way. I looped back around and went around the end of the fence. Eventually the dust and traffic mostly cleared and the course smoothed out. People told us the next day that was the most carnage they've ever seen at the start of a desert race. We were going well until about the 30 mile mark the car sputtered to a stop. Didn't seem to be getting good fuel flow/pressure when I pulled the hose off at the engine. After we switched around the fuel lines it seemed to be getting fuel again so we kept going. While my friend was working on that I checked the fuses and the wiper fuse had blown, which is probably what the rear lights and tracker had been spliced into, so I replaced that. After another five miles the engine died. More fuel line diagnosis/rerouting. It did this a couple more times and every time it seemed that both fuel pumps were running. We eventually figured that the fuel pump was just getting too hot. We had to put it close to the rear diff when we replaced it with the wiring and hoses we had, and the diff was super hot. The whole fuel tank was hot. By the time we got to the first road crossing they told us the first pit was already closed and we should just drive up to Tonopah on the highway. We drove down to Ash Springs for gas and to check over the car. A guy there said their motorhome was overheating and would have to be towed back to Vegas. Finally got ahold of Baja pits and they said we should go to pit 2 on the highway and see if his guys could help. They couldn't and that pit was closed so we drove up the highway to Tonopah. Going up a long grade the car died again, I hopped out and dumped a bottle of water on the fuel pump and it fired right up and ran fine the rest of the way. Went to the finish line to tell BITD that we'd timed out but were going to start again on Saturday. We moved the pump to the top of the fuel cell in the parking lot of the Clown motel and rerouted the wires and hoses. Checked all the suspension and subframe bolts, lug nuts, tires. They didn't have a room for us so we drove to camp adventure and found a place to park and set up the tent close to a port a potty. Slept fairly well, got up the next morning to pack up and check over the Subaru.

Here's our campsite:

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Saturday morning again a ton of people stopped by, impressed that we were going at it again the next day and that we planned to drive it home. Another long wait in staging for the start of the race. Parked by a port a potty again since we were there for hours. Went to the rescue truck so they could bandage up some minor burns I'd gotten on my arm. Some guys in staging said they'd been desert racing for 20 years and Friday was the most challenging race they'd ever had. Saturday we started dead last, but there were supposedly only about 220 entries still running.

Here we are waiting to start Saturday:

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They were taking down the signs as we pulled up to the starting line and then we were off. We quickly caught up to the guys in front of us in the stockish Ford SUV but it took a long time before I got close enough to get them to pull over so we could pass. We were running a 37mph average pace which we thought was good. Had to average 30mph including stops to hit the pits in time so we wanted a little extra time. This meant I had to push the car harder than I really wanted to but it seemed to be taking it. Every five miles or so we'd catch up to someone and pass them and a few times someone must have gotten their car running after being broken and passed us. The course had some very fast sections but a lot of it was about two foot deep ruts. Some were in silt, some in rocky river beds, and it was always almost impossible to stay out of them. Early in the day we went up a long grade up a mountain. It wasn't very rough but I had the throttle wide open for maybe 20 minutes. In third gear it would slowly lose speed, so I'd have to downshift to second but didn't want to run too high RPMs for that long at full throttle so I'd hold it around 4500 in second. At the top of the mountain was a narrow, rough, rutted pass that went by an old mine. Going back down the other side was a pretty smooth long run we did at about 70mph. We eventually passed pit 7 and some of the people working on their trucks stopped to cheer us on as we cruised by. A couple of times in the silt beds we'd be cruising along through soft silt and suddenly hit a big rock. At about mile 70 we realized we had two flat tires. The course being so soft it was hard to tell when the tires were going down. We only had one spare in the car. We could still hear the left front leaking so we jacked up the front end but couldn't find the leak. The left rear wheel and tire were both completely destroyed so we put the spare on that corner. Here's what was left of it:

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This all took an eternity with our bolted in spare and jack, maybe a half hour, plus we got stuck for a little while before we got back on the course, had to do some digging and used the sand ladders. We knew it would be difficult to impossible to make pit 8 before it closed but we got back in and hammered down. After another five miles or so the front tire was clearly shredding apart and the car shut off, everything went dark. Popped the hood and saw the alternator belt was off and figured out the positive cable was loose. Fixed those and eventually got back on the course, difficult in soft terrain with no left front tire. By the time we got to the public road crossing before pit 8 we were out of time again.

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Eventually the guys from Baja pits showed up with a couple of our tires. We replaced the front tire and put the other one in the back of the Subaru for a spare. Baja pits noticed the LR was missing a lug nut and others were loose. I probably never tightened them when we were rushing to replace it and get to the pit, so we jacked up that end of the car and tightened them down. We headed towards Tonopah on the highway, they were going to help us repair the exhaust back in town where they had more equipment. As we were getting close to town something bad was clearly going on in the rear and we smelled burning rubber so I pulled off on a big gravel shoulder. We replaced the LR wheel studs and wheel and tire. While it was jacked up and apart they straightened out the LR rear lateral link with our bottle jack and by supporting the bottom of the link with their bottle jack. Another guy and I bent the driver's wiper arm away from the windshield, it had started scraping the glass by the end of the race. We also noticed the windshield was cracked. This was a dust storm blowing in while we were doing that:



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We drove a few hours to Ely, NV just to make some progress and stayed at a Motel 6.

We got some decent sleep and kept heading north to 80. On the way home the LF tire (one of the old ones we'd shipped to Baja pits) was leaking badly enough that we had to add air a few times a day. The overflow bottle would also randomly empty completely or overflow. With the high pressure fuel pump just pulling from the RR of the big fuel cell, when it got down to about half a tank it would start to die on right hand turns or hard braking, so we had to stop for gas every 150-200 miles. Went across UT on 80, got to see salt flats and lakes. By the time we made it home there was some kind of rattling noise coming from the rear we could never figure out. Got home OK though.
 

J Prich

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Have to take in to account what class a person races in when you get advice about whether a course is "smooth" or "rough". What's fast and smooth in an unlimited class is not quite the same in a Subaru! Kudos for making the solid effort!
 

dan200

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I was really excited to meet you guys. Easily the coolest story of the race. Out of curiosity, did you guys enter THIS race because it's such a difficult one? Or?


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pontoontodd

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Thanks again everybody for the excitement and encouragement, it made our weekend a lot more fun. Even the guy who told us our mom was going to be pissed when we got her car back home had us laughing.

I was really excited to meet you guys. Easily the coolest story of the race. Out of curiosity, did you guys enter THIS race because it's such a difficult one? Or?


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We entered mainly because it's the only point to point in the US, also because people told us it was smoother than the course we ran on in Texas.

Amazing story. When I read the word "Subaru," I was thinking "Subaru-powered truck or buggy ..." Boy, was I wrong. You guys are super-human.

How many times have you seen Dust to Glory?

Haha, I've seen it once, I think my co-driver has seen it many times.

If anybody has pictures or video of our car in action we'd love to see them. Have a few photo companies we're trying to buy some from too.
 

treypal

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We entered mainly because it's the only point to point in the US, also because people told us it was smoother than the course we ran on in Texas.

So was it smoother than our courses?

Big High Five on the effort! Hope to see yall back in Texas again soon.




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goofballracer

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amazing write up you guys are troopers
 

pontoontodd

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So was it smoother than our courses?

Big High Five on the effort! Hope to see yall back in Texas again soon.




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Thanks Trey. Rougher probably isn't the right word, mainly rutted, but ya, definitely rougher than Notrees. Had to push the car a lot harder to maintain a 35mph average. We're going to try to come back down to Texas next spring to beat on the car to test it out for V2R. The Texana ranch is rougher than Notrees, right?
 

WickedGravityVideo

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THANKS FOR sharing your story of Subie Survival across Nevada ---- I was yelling at you when you went by@! I am now inspired to run a subie in some race sometime. Are you the same guys that ran an Subie Wagon in the NORRA a few years back? same vehicle? Congrats for taking on the challenge!!! FULL OF WIN!
 

dan200

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Dust to glory 2 highlight car!!


Sent from the RDC Mobile App. Get it for your IOS device today

Right?

Seriously, let's get this dude to say "F-it, I'm game!" and get his gofundme going...


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pontoontodd

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THANKS FOR sharing your story of Subie Survival across Nevada ---- I was yelling at you when you went by@! I am now inspired to run a subie in some race sometime. Are you the same guys that ran an Subie Wagon in the NORRA a few years back? same vehicle? Congrats for taking on the challenge!!! FULL OF WIN!

Thank you for the congrats. No, we're not the same guys that raced NORRA, although that was an inspiration. I'd warn you the stock struts are definitely not up to the task, so you'd want to do something about them.
 

pontoontodd

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Please race the 1000. Instead if watching "Dust to Glory", you can be in "Dust to Glory"

Probably.

If you aren't, the whole film will be a lie.


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Of course we want to race the Baja. Seemed like the V2R would be good practice for that.
 
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