Yankee Air Pirate race report 68


Well-Known Member
Tough race for us. Felt like we had a good handle on everything prep and plan wise. Started first of 25 cars in Stock Turbo UTV and laid down a great pace from the pepsi stand. Passed a bunch of cars from other classes. But out near Tres Hermanos, I got behind a slower car and just then he kicked up a giant silt cloud and we were blind. I tried to slow down straight ahead but the trail made a small right turn and we stopped on the bank of the trail, then the car tipped over on my side. Damn. It took about 15 minutes to get the strap on it and find someone nice enough to yank us back upright. No apparent damage other than ego.

Got to km77 and needed a splash of fuel. As soon as we left the pit, the car got hot and went into limp mode. We had to dig around in front of the engine to see where water was leaking from. Turns out it was the plastic thermostat housing. How that thing could get a crack is beyond me but oh well. I didn't have a spare so we pulled it all apart and smeared epoxy on the outside and put stop-leak in the system. We pressed on but any chance of a podium was already long gone on the first damn leg of the race.

We got to SF and all I wanted to do was figure a way to fix the cooling system, but that would have to wait. I noticed one front axle had pulled out of the diff, so we went about replacing it. As soon as we took the hub off, we noticed the front wheel bearings being pushed out of the knuckle? What if the actual F is going on here? All I can figure is the aftermarket "stronger" axles weren't plunging well enough and levered the bearings out past the retaining ring. Checked the other side and sure enough, same problem. Removed the knuckles, found a press, and reseated them. But the slot for the retaining ring was buggered up so they were probably going to just let the bearing out again, which they did. We completely rebuilt the front end again in Loreto and La Paz. Good times.

Meanwhile, before the start I went with Rudy to a radiator shop and had a couple makeshift fitting welded up to bypass the thermostat housing. No time to install them so we took them with us. We had to drive about 3/4 speed all of day 2 in order to keep the motor from getting too hot, and we had to keep adding water. Also, since we had such a bad time on day on we started in the back and had to deal with nonstop slower cars all day. Oh well, passing is fun. In BOLA, we installed the new fittings and they worked like a champ. No more cooling issues and we could finally run a decent pace. At this point we had worked our way up in the daily starting order to at least be in the same race as the lead cars.

No big issues on day 3 for probably the first time in my six years doing this race. Rudy drove the first leg and the only issue was co-dog Eddie hurling during the stage. Thankfully, he got most of the vomit in the pocket of his flight suit rather than all over the helmet and the cockpit. Jack and I had no mechanical issues on the 208 mile leg to Loreto either, just trying to get from Mag7 pit to Mag7 pit without running out of gas, which is very tight when you're on the pipe. I get 11mpg or so prerunning but only about 7mpg when racing hard, so the car would only go about 75 miles on a full tank. Good times! Matlock won that stage but we were only about 10 minutes behind despite a couple small nav errors, which was fine.

Day 4 was similar, no mechanicals all day, just dealing with normal race traffic. Got behind truck #2 right at the start of the looong cholla trail and his tracker must not have been working because we stayed behind him for over 20 miles. Somewhere in there we got around Matlock and he was right behind us the whole time and it was frustrating. After we finally got past that truck I let Wayne go but then he got low on fuel and had to pull over and I was able to press to Mag7 which was only a couple more miles. At Mag7 we sat there watching them fill the car with a 3/4" hose and it took forever. Meanwhile Wayne pulled in behind me and his co-dog jumped out and grabbed gas cans and did the fueling himself, which was definitely better than what we did. He beat us out of the pit by about 5 seconds. I stayed right behind him for a couple miles but then our fuel cap came off...thankfully on the CanAm its in plain view and also thankfully I had tethered it to the car. But we had to stop to install it and that was the end of the dicing game. No more issues that day, just the nightly front end rebuild in the parking lot to deal with. Thankfully my team was getting pretty good at it by now.

Last day, Rudy gave me a good car in Todos Santos and I decided that it was time to see if I could push it to the top level. I knew the leaders would all be going as fast as possible since there were only a couple minutes separating them for the win, and I wanted to see if I could match or even beat their time. Jack was simply awesome on the navigation and we ripped through the course. I was saddened to see Kyle V, who was leading by 4 minutes going into the day, sitting on the side of the trail with a broken rear hub. Around 20 miles in I went too fast through a vado and bottomed the rear end pretty hard but we kept going normally. About ten miles later, the transmission grenaded. Evidently I cracked the case, probably on that bottom out, and the gear oil seeped out. I could practically smell the tacos and beer at the finish but we were done.

Got on the strap in fairly short order and got to listen to the stripped out gearbox taunting me for the 45 minute tug to the highway. In any event, we got to town with plenty of daylight left and managed to get one last night of partying in before everyone headed home the next day. Got through the border at 6pm on Saturday after a 22 minute wait in line. I'll count that part as the big win for the week.

Thanks to our sponsors:
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Congrats on the podium to Deanne and Alan and the Baja Designs crew, it was a blast having you guys down for this race finally!
Thanks also to Jen and Tim Morton and BajaBound for the logistical support!
Thanks Eliseo, Mike, and everyone at NORRA for putting on this show every year.
See you all next year. Or maybe even October!