Long read for a long weekend.
It was a pretty good weekend for us. We headed down Wednesday night with me pulling my camper and JeepM715 was pulling his buggy and the racer on his trailer. We left Fenton somewhere after 8pm and made it to the Badlands at 2:30am. I remember looking at my phone at 3am as I climbed into bed.
We had an appointment with Wayne (ZukIzzy) to tune our shocks on Thursday morning. We ended up making two huge adjustments, and two small adjustments on the shocks and bumped up the front bumps from 50psi to 100. The car was running great and we were excited for Saturday's race. We didn't put a GPS in the car to see how fast we were going, but the improvement was huge.
Friday morning we nut and bolted the car and found a few big things like the trans mount studs had fallen out and that caused the motor mount bushings to allow the engine to drop an inch or so and smashed out headers on the cyl #2 tube plus a few other minor dents. Plus a few loose jam nuts and the standard stuff you'd expect. We found a few bolts and got the trans mount sorted and then went to a neighbor's camp where JeepM715 welded some washers on the engine mounts to get it more solidly mounted for the race.
We spent the afternoon prerunning the course, which was short. We were doing laps in what seemed to be 5 minutes. In the last lap, Jesse noticed a lack of power climbing a sand hill, but we didn't think much of it. We cleaned up the car for the parade down town and checked for codes and found a TPS and coil code. We cleared codes and the coil code didn't come back, but the TPS did. We went to swap the TPS from JeepM715's buggy, but of course the connector was different. The parts stores were closed, so we figured we would just head to the parade and buy & swap the TPS in the morning.
Saturday morning we were at the parts store as they opened. The computer didn't list a 2006 Express 6.0 cable throttle TPS, only ETC. The guy said the GM dealer was open, so we went down there and worked with them, and eventually we figured out that the 4.3 and 6.0 non-ETC had the same TPS. So JeepM715 bought it and we went back to camp.
We put it in the car, and it still ran like crap. The driver's meeting was at 9:15, so JeepM715 went to that while I struggled to figure out what was going on. While I was checking stuff out, Jason from PAC springs stopped by to see how it was going. I was wiggling wires on the PCM and it got slightly better. Then Jason wiggled it on the engine compartment side and it started running perfectly. More wiggling and it was crap. So I start pulling the harness through the firewall and Jason spots chaffed wires. It looked like at some point the grommet had come loose, and it was direct rubbing on the wires to metal.
By the time JeepM715 got back from the driver's meeting I had the harness patched up "good enough" and found a small piece of radiator hose to further shield the wires running through the firewall. The jeep was running great. We turned it off and started to prep for a test drive before the race. We tried to restart and it wouldn't turn over.
We bang clanged on the starter, double checked everything we could and decided the starter must have died. It was the junkyard starter, so other than being 1.5 hours before race start, we weren't suprised. JeepM715 started unbolting enough exhaust to be able to drop the starter while I went and picked up a new one.
When I got back trailrail302 had stopped by and was helping JeepM715 get the starter out and let us borrow extra extensions and a small impact. He had to take off when I got back, but we managed to get the starter in and all buttoned up by 11:45 and the mad scramble was on to get into safety gear and get to the start line. Without trailrail's help, we wouldn't have made it. Thanks!
As we were heading to what we thought was the start line, we passed hosejockey who said there was noone there. He had been looking around for everybody, but couldn't find them. After a tour of the park, we finally lined up behind Hosejockey to be the 8th and final starter in 15 second intervals.
The race was muddy as hell. We burned through a roll of paper towels in the first half of the race, and I spent the last half trying to keep reasonably dry and mud free towels for JeepM715 to wipe his shield with. In sections low on water, I would raise my visor and help guide him through sections so he wouldn't get mud in his eyes and cause us to stop.
The first few laps we spent some time following people and making passes and trying to keep the car together. It looked to be a war of attrition, so we knew we needed to go reasonably quick, but not break the car.
On lap 12 of 16 we caught up to Hosejockey. On one of the laps we passed him, but then he passed us back in the next lap or so. Since we had started last, we decided to tuck in behind him and try and make sure we crossed the finish line within the 15 second time between us. We figured it was better to chase and let him make a mistake than the other way around.
On lap 15 the white flag came out. We were following Hosejockey and we were excited that we should be able to follow him and take the win. As we pulled up to the checkpoint, they pointed at our tire and said we had a flat. We must have cut it just before getting in the sand bowl. We took off after Hosejockey, but he quickly pulled away as we missed turns because the front flat caused the car to push so badly.
JeepM715 kept up the pace as much as he could, hoping no one would catch us and drop us back further. We managed to limp in for the checkers in 2nd place. Not bad for almost not making it to the start line.
official timing here:
Thanks to DTS for the parts that rebuilt the Dana 60, PAC springs for sponsoring the shock tuning and getting Wayne out to the Badlands and the proper harness wiggle, Sign-A-Rama for getting us numbers that you could read, Johnny Quest & Trailrail302 (and his father in law) for loaning us tools to get the rig patched up. And Betty for keeping the conversation interesting.
Anybody have a hook up for a 37 MTR?