Yes You Can Teach An Old Dog
By Garry Abbott
By Garry Abbott
This is a story about Desert Racing, dedicated to two individuals with as much love of competition and playing in the dirt as anyone could have.
When we started off road racing in 1983 it was as raw as it came, no radios, no GPS just a printed course map you were able to receive in the mail if you signed up early for a race. Pit support teams were the cult of the day offering you that needed repair on the fly or just a fuel stop, radio check-ins were the means of determining what position you were in physically. This rebuild is dedicated to Brother and Friend Jeff Coan and Cousin and friend Doug Maxwell.
After cutting our teeth on an old Class 2-1600 Jeff Coan and Doug Maxwell decided to step it up in a class 10 racer, and WOW what a difference the ride and power was so, enter a 2nd class 10 for Perry Coan and Garry Abbott amongst any and all family members that were willing to give desert racing in a buggy a try.
With a string of DNF’s and mediocre finishes over the next few years which includes a 17th place finish out of 75 class 10 cars in the 1984 Mint 400 (which happened to be my first desert race and riding 300 miles of torture in our two seat 10 car) it was decided that the Coans would consolidate the racing endeavors and order a new 2-1600 from Bunderson racing of Las Vegas NV.
A New Beginning
A year or so later we had a new roller of which we would call the Bunderson, or what I would refer to as new blue since the first 2-1600 was blue in color and it was called old blue…..
Wow the new Bunderson had a mounted radio with our own frequencies, novel idea. The concept of this car was to build a long wheel base chassis with bypass shocks for suspension. The front shocks were laid forward to provide constant travel pressure through full travel which turned a few heads in the day as this concept was considered radical and even illegal by some per the rules at the time with HDRA and SCORE but as time wore on everyone agreed there was no infraction of the rules. By this time there were a few that copied the idea and I’m sure with success to their chagrin. With Jeff handling the business of racing Doug was the master of building the best 1600 cc engine out there of which we had great success with, Doug also maintained the Transmission, without Doug we would have been an incomplete race team.
Racing continued in many events for this car through 1988 and 1989. As life takes a twist sometimes in a direction that is furthest from imagination one of our neighbors decided to relieve himself at the automotive muffler repair shop he owned down the street only to find that someone had left an X rated magazine in the restroom. Being the inquisitive type of person he is he opens the magazine only to find an article on the Mint 400, 1988 and who is the centerfold feature car? Yes you guessed it, the Bunderson, New blue in a race we had raced 6 months earlier brightly chosen in its new graphics and brilliant Royal blue paint. Of course Perry Coan couldn’t drive to the local liquor store to buy up all the copies of Swank Magazine November 1988 fast enough. As the story goes Stephanie Rage was the center fold (so I’m told), well what better day to actually give the Bunderson/new blue a true name…. Stephanie it is!
Stephanie was sold to a racer in Southern California in 1989 and she took on a whole new life with livery and owners. Everything was sold to the new owners, trailer, spares tires, wheels radios etc.
The Journey Continues
I received a call from Perry on a Saturday joking that hey, Stephanie is for sale online from the same person we sold it to in 1989, some 28 years earlier complete with everything we sold him including spares, trailer etc. Wow it would be fun to get that car back and go racing again in it. Perry and I decided if we could swing a deal with this person we would restore it to exact livery but with updated components of which rules have allowed over the last 30 years with one condition we would maintain Jeff Coan and Doug Maxwell’s names on the car as it was in 1989. You see Jeff Coan died after a long battle of ALS in 2018, and Doug also lost his life in 2018 after complications from cancer treatment both by 60 years old. Our thinking is we would restore Stephanie, take her racing but make an adventure out of the race weekend by spending a few extra days golfing, boating or whatever relaxing time we can gain. So as we go forward Perry and I will always have Jeff and Doug with us racing with Stephanie.
God Speed Jeff and Doug