Woodstuff Chaparral #110 NORRA race report

Rory

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I was pulling 16 hour days for about 4 weeks prior to the M1K trying to prep/fix some issues with the #110 Larry Ragland Chaparral. Ed Maurin (car owner) had done a great job on the prep on the back of the car but a new front end arrived late and he was unable to test before delivering the race car to me before the MINT 400 from the Midwest. Without getting into detail it was a loooooong 4 weeks. The crew consisted of 4 people, myself, Ed, Paul Lavine and my 15 year old daughter Hanna on her first TRUE Baja Mexico trip.

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Turns out the chase truck had issues the night before we left with a bad AC compressor so I had to use my truck to chase. We also decided that instead of using the smaller, skinnier Baja friendly trailer (original trailer for the Woodstuff buggy), we would use my trailer that would carry more stuff and we wouldn't be maxing out the weight limit.......probably turned out for the better.

Race week:

Friday- Traveled to Ensenada along with Noah Ostanik (and crew) in his 4 seater (#44) after sitting at the border at Otay Mesa for an hour while they shook him down for $64 after finding a t-shirt receipt in the race shirt box loaded in the trailer. No other issues, headed to the Villa Marina and checked in.

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Saturday- Dropped the race car off at tech early, then went for breakfast. It's really nice to have your race car sit at tech for a couple hours while you take care of other stuff, all promoters should look into this. by 2pm we were tagged and ready for the race, just had some minor stuff to do to the car before the start.

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Sunday-

Stage 1- I would start the race and Ed Maurin would do stage 2 & 3. The only real issue I had with NORRA was our starting position, although we never said anything to them, we kept our mouths shut....it's suppose to be fun. We would start in the 114th position out of 125 cars. Stage 1 was uneventful but since we are driving a single seater we needed some notes for our stages, especially when it came to speed zones. I would have to deal with 8 speed zones that stage and there was no way to remember them all. The night before I would make thin strips of duck tape with a fold over tab, write the mileage and the MPH, then stick it to the back side of the front lower valance of the race car. When I would go through that section, I would rip off the duct tape and throw it on the floor of the race car and so on and so on, it worked out great for us. I would pass A LOT of slower race cars but can tell you everyone was doing a better job (for me anyways) of watching there mirrors and getting out of the way.

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Stage 2&3- Ed would have some relatively good running but the silt would start slowing him down a bit. He never got stuck but had vision problems for the stage 3 section. One other issue we were having was lighting. The race car is actually street legal in Missouri, so Ed had DOT lights on the front bumper. The race car also has KC LED daylighters on the A-pillars but they are mainly for show. Unfortunately for us we didn't plan on running in the dark (I was going off prior years of experience) and when the sun set with another hour of racing it bit us in the butt. Ed still finished the BOLA section with no issues but slowed him down quite a bit. As we got to BOLA (after 9pm with no issues on the race course, never had to get out of the race car), we then spent the next 3 hours prepping the car for the next days run. The floor was packed with silt and with no running water to use to wash it out with we tried to get as much out the best we could. We wouldn't get to bed until after midnight.

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Monday, Day 2

Stage 1- We passed a lot of cars the day before and we moved up to the 49th starting position for day 2. More silt but no issues for Ed. We had a 1 hour lead from the day before so we kicked it down a notch because we didn't want to be stupid. The silt on the bottom of the car from the day before would stir up when racing and hitting bumps causing the cab to look like it was on fire and dust covering your visor....Fun fun fun.

Stage 2- I jumped in for the San Ignacio stage (my favorite stage in Mexico) and headed down the hwy at 60 mph for 30 miles. Once I hit the dirt the silt from the floorboard reared its ugly head and I felt like I was chasing a race car in the dust. It took approx. another hour for it to almost completely clear the car out. I was following RDC's own "Zambo" in his Chevy prerunner truck for a couple miles abut 5 miles before San Juanico, I know he didn't see me because I couldn't see him. Finally he saw me and let me go. Sean Hoglund from YT Motorsports arranged for me to pit for some fuel from the Terrible Herbst guys and they topped me off (thanks Ken Shroud and guys). Zambo got back by me but I would catch him before La Pirisma after he let me pass....again, thanks Zambo. With absolutely no problems for another day of racing, we were still running late into the day and the sun was going down. I got my turn at running in the dark after La Pirisma and did 35 mile with horrible lighting.....not the lights fault, we take responsibility for not being better prepared.

Ron Bellerive from Loreto opened his home up for us and we got to use his race shop/garage to do all the maintenance in style. I most say the accomidations were off the chart too....THANKS RON! We buttoned up the car before 11pm then off to bed.

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Tuesday, Day 3-

Stage 1- Our competition was way back and we noticed we had a 1 hour lead for the "Challenger Era" trophy. We would move up again in the overall standings with a 32nd starting position, even after backing way off the throttle the day before. We have now went into full Prerun mode, slow prerun mode because we really wanted that trophy. Ed would have another nice run out of Loreto, trying to give faster cars the right of way and pulling over as soon as he saw them. The car was in great shape.

Stage 2- I would get in for the Insergentes to La Paz section. They starter told me to look out for the "fire" up the course and be careful. I went by it and saw the Truggy on the right side of the course with chase vehicles around it and the fire on the left side. Sean Hoglund would run to the side of the course and give me a thumbs up. I didn't put 2 and 2 together yet and realize the Truggy had burned. Anyways, my run was uneventful except for 2 things.
First, I came across #181 (I think), upside down halfway down a mountain, it must have just happened 5 minutes prior to me getting there. I stopped and they wanted me to relay to weatherman for help, not medical help, just to get the car out. I had to wait till the end of my stage because the radio in the Chaparral is located under the hood and you have to unbelt to reach the dial.
Second, about 10 miles from the finish I noticed the front end was really harsh at times. turns out the link pin was binding on a bolt and locking the front suspension in the compressed position every once in a while, especially at the finish line.

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This was the first day we finished in the daylight and were able to sit down at the hotel and have a REAL dinner before going back out to the car to finish prepping. Larry Ragland would come by every once in a while to see how we were doing, then rib on us a little saying we were driving too slow......LOL. Soooo, as a disclaimer, Larry Ragland did NOT race in the #110, he was busy driving the Jimmy Smith 4 seater and finished 3rd in class from what I remember.

Day 4-

Stage 1 & 2 went flawless, nothing really to report. We were in prerun mode again and didn't want to be "That guy" who screwed up the race because we did something stupid on the last day while leading by 3 hours. After finishing we went to the hotel and started drinking....A LOT!

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I can't thank Ed Maurin enough for giving me the honor of splitting the driving with him in such a cool and historic race car. I remember watching Larry Ragland wheel this car to the Overall win at the 1986 MINT 400 and to think I would be racing it 30 years later is amazing to me. NORRA did a fantastic job again, I'm sure there will be some grumbling about the length of the first 2 days but I appreciate him trying to mix it up each year and not give us the same old stuff. They also killed it on the trophies, we're floored on how cool they are. Thanks to all of the sponsors that helped us get to the finish line in Cabo:
Fast Eddy's pellet cookers, Cookshack, MSD Ignition, Bob Hindson Racing, Artigas Transaxles, Bilstein shocks, KC Hilites, Ntense Tee's, B&R Buggies and Racers Only.

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Special thanks to our crew Paul Lavine and my daughter Hanna who KILLED it in her first Baja trip down the Peninsula. She was our sandwich maker, timing and scoring, race car panel cleaner and anything else we needed done....and she did it without complaint or second guessing.....Thanks kid, Dads proud of you.

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Zambo

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Cool write up! That was Rudy driving when you were at San Juanico. Did you see any fire coming out of the back of our truck in La Purisima? The exhaust came loose at the header flange and the o2 sensor started directing the fuel injection to start dumping a ton of fuel in to correct the suddenly lean condition. It set our rear limit straps on fire and burned up some wiring.
 

TRichards

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Thats too awesome Rory, It was great to hang out with You, Ed, Paul and Hanna at the start. Congrats on the win.
 
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