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CGYS Motorsports: Ultra 4 East Round 2 Badlands
We loaded up and headed out about 9:30PM on Thursday night. We were making good time heading to St Louis. We were almost to Six Flags and we had our first flat. We pulled over and swapped it out quickly and were back on our way. Jeff had mentioned that the bus had a new vibration and it was very evident, but we couldn’t pin point it. In normal CGYS fashion we had hauled some parts to a customer in St. Louis to drop off. Shorty after our flat we made the delivery and Farmer took the wheel.
We pressed on wondering what the vibration was and trying to make time. It was just a short time later we heard an even stranger sound from the passenger side. I stuck my head out and could tell we had an issue, but couldn’t tell what it was. We pulled off the highway and got out to take a look. Well, it was pretty discouraging…as we walked back to the trailer. We had 2 flats on the passenger side (1 ruined wheel) and also a flat on the drivers side. We were shocked to see the situation at hand. We swapped some tires around, unloaded the race car and decided to gamble with the laws of current society and drive the race car 6 miles through town to the nearest Wal Mart.
We made it to Wal Mart without any law enforcement encounters and were pretty happy. We brought a few new spare tires, but had no good way to mount them ourselves. It was now 6am and Wal Mart opened at 7am. We hung out for a spell then got some tires mounted. Wal Mart didn’t have any trailer tires and I wanted all new at this point so we found a trailer shop and went after more tires and a wheel. Well, at about 2:30 PM we were finally sitting on all new tires and ready to press on. We stopped for fuel and decided to check the bus out again. This time Jeff noticed some play in the driveline u joints and we knew what our vibration was.
Since we were still in St Louis we located a Semi dealership and purchased 2 new u joints for the driveline. Pulling over on a side street nearby, we pulled the driveline, repaired it and reinstalled it. Happy as we could be, we loaded up and pressed on. Realizing we would miss the RCV dinner at the park we decided to stop and grab dinner and be ready for the weekend when we arrived. Arriving at 9:30PM 25 hours later (we lost an hour in time zone) we managed to get signed in and parked. We unloaded the trailer had a beer with friends and crashed for the night. The trip out was exhausting and time consuming.
Waking up bright and early for an 8:30 drivers meeting we were all in slow motion. We made the meeting on time and Tried to walk the qualifying course. We were called to the meeting before we could get a good plan for qualifying, but we were just happy to have some sleep and be on time. Qualifying began and we watched a few cars before lining up and taking a turn. We had a decent run, but knew that our backup would prob cost us a spot or two. We were right… we qualified 3rd in our class. Our race wasn’t until 4:15 PM and it was about 11AM so we had some time. We headed back to pits. We have been working with PSC motorsports to increase our steering speed and the box we had on wasn’t going to be quick enough for the woods sections so we pulled it off and put a faster box on. We had some time before our race began so Jeff and I loaded the course map on our GPS and went for a trail ride. We were pre running as well as testing the new box.
The car seemed great, the steering was nice and fast and the brakes were on point. We felt like we had a good chance to podium and possibly even win it. We have previously raced at Badlands two times and were yet to actually finish the entire race.
It was race time! We loaded up, got in line and patiently waited our turn. It was finally time… we started 3rd in our class, but around 16th in the race. We took the green flag and were soon to see the first car we wanted to pass. When we were finally close enough to pass them, they were being held by the last place car in the 4800 class. We were out of the woods and into the big bowl and rock section. We hit the rock with some aggression and accidentally bumped the car ahead and decided we would have to be very aggressive to pass to cars. Quickly out of the rocks and back into the woods we caught the 2nd place car and they pulled aside so we could pass. Driving pretty aggressively we managed to also pass two 4800 cars before gaining sight of the lead car in our class. Chasing the leader with all of our ponies and skills we were gaining ground. Into the desert sections we tried to go left when they went right and also tried right when they went left, but never gained rough ground to make a clean pass. Heading back into the woods it was mostly single track, but we split trees when we could and finally were close enough to make a clean pass. The leader graciously pulled aside and allowed us to pass and take the lead. We were stoked and beginning to drive even more aggressive because we knew the chase was on and it was exciting. We splashed through a huge mud hole waay too fast and lost visibility, but for just a second. Overshooting the turn and having to lock the brakes up to reverse and taking a mere second to wipe our visors, the OG leader was once again back in control and we were 2nd and on the hunt. The leader now knowing his pace wasn’t fast enough to stay out front was in full tilt race mode. We were close behind but not gaining much ground.
Trying to focus on clean driving and braking we kept our cool and the leader was in sight and we felt like we were gaining but very slowly. Racing through the qualifying course and back up the mountain , down the huge drop section and back around the WE Rock courses we found that the leader was being held up by a 4800 car. The small hold up allowed us the once again catch up and make another clean pass to once again regain the lead and check in the fastest 1st lap in our class. (Just short of the start finish line is a decent drop and while coming off that drop I felt the brake pedal go to the floor. Although alarmed, this has happened previously and the fluid was just hot and the brakes pumped back up fine.)
Passing through the starting line and checking the lap in felt good and we were once again in the lead. We headed up the first hill and back down the other side when the brakes hit the floor again. I pumped them several times and there was no pedal. We somehow managed to miss several trees and make the turn headed back up another good slick climb. Knowing we had no brakes and not wanting to stop at the bottom and cause a major cluster we decided to Baja the hill and pray we didn’t slide back down. Making the climb cleanly and working our car off the main track we pulled over and jumped out to address our issue. The OG leader was hot on our trail and regained the lead in a matter of seconds.
Jumping out and looking for a torn brake line! We were lost. No lines were damaged and we were a bit puzzled. Jeff pressed the pedal and we realized that somehow the drivers side rear caliper was leaking internally. Shit! We didn’t have a brakeline cap or vise grips so we decided to smash the line with a hammer. Upon completing this great idea we soon realized we had actually cut the line and it was leaking even worse. Great! Now what? We decided to cut the Stainless brake line, bend it over and hose clamp it to the link. This was an awesome plan until we realized our Hose clamp was too large. We decided to grab a short, fat stick and use it to take up the slack.
Man we are quick thinking guys now, im hear to tell ya.
Tightening the clamp tight enough to keep the line crimped and tight to the link we soon realized that the stick was crushing and it only took another turn or two and the stick collapsed into mush. Dammit man, we are pressed on time, several cars had passed us and we were stressing. We dug around in the tool box and found a 3/4″ bolt. We clamped it on, it took up the slack and we were headed to the pits for some brake fluid and a tire change. I failed to mention I KO’ed a huge rock with the drivers side front and compromised the tire just before the largest drop of the race. Oh well. Tire balls are awesome and we were still racing. Loaded in the car and driving Semi cautiously we raced to the pits.
We had radioed in what we needed and when we arrived Farmer was on point and had rallied up the Fults crew from Rockrock Express Racing. They pulled the hood, the cowl and the left front tire. Topping off the brake fluid, vise gripping the rear brake line for added security and a new tire. All super quick and efficient. We were off and running again. With no idea what position we were in we knew we had lost a lot of time and had to rally to gain position and finish well. We raced out of the pits back on course. We managed to catch another car or two and made quick aggressive passes. Having a lot better idea of the track we were able to go a lot faster with comfort and gained ground. We approached the start finish line for the second time and cars were still on the biggest climb of the track (we were required to make the climb 1 time, any lap before finishing the race) so we once again bypassed it in hope of it being open on the end of lap 3.
Checking in our second lap and driving even more aggressively we passed another 4800 car or two, several broken cars and even caught site of another 4500 car. Knowing nothing of our position we went into hunt mode and tracked the 4500 car we could see. Guessing he had caught sight of us in his mirror he added a bit more lead to his pedal and was running from the evil eyed #26 car.
Driving with not much regard for the car or our personal safety we tried to pass several times on dangerous lines before finally gaining an inside corner advantage and making an aggressive zero f’s pass. We still didn’t know our position or if the car we just passed had already made the huge climb so we pressed on hard and fast. Jeff radioed in to see if we could get a position and we were told we could back off a bit. The leader was in sight of the finish line and we were still 10 minutes or better out. With a lot of exhaustion and disappointment we peeled back a lot and decided to try to save the car and finish. We were still making good time and having fun, but we knew the win was out and a podium was the best currently available. The more we thought about the big climb we were gonna have to winch and still not 100% about our current position or who close had already made the climb we decided to gas it back up and finish strong.
We quickly made the last corner before the big climb and was super stoked to realize it was wide open and ready for us. Jeff was out quickly and we had already pulled winch line for a quick pull. When he pulled the line from the car and toward the tree it managed to spider web and seemed to be the end of our podium hopes. As I sit patiently in the car trying to not freak out I watched Jeff and his newly formed puzzle unwind. I could tell he was super frustrated and I radioed to the pits. I described the situation and explained that we were almost unwound (literally). Lol.
Jeff kept his cool, solved the puzzle and hooked the line. I calmly eased up the climb with our awesome Warn winch, General Tires, Yukon Gears, RCV Axles and Raceline wheels. Once at the top Jeff tossed the winch line slack in the car and I left him in hopes of gaining extra time and finishing faster. When we crossed the finish line we were told we had finished in 2nd place and couldn’t be caught (on corrected time).
Whew! What a relief… we finally managed to get the Attica Triangle monkey off our back and finished an entire race at the Badlands Offroad Park.
It was a long hard fought battle from all sides, but it was one of the funniest tracks we have raced in awhile. It was a great breakup of terrains. We had wide open desert style racing with tons of whoops, huge Sandhills, wooded areas, man made rock sections as well as big nasty drops and challenging climbs all the while having just enough mud and water to create visibility issues. It wasn’t the win we wanted, but it was super fun swapping leads, passing cars and enjoying the Ultra 4 Eastern Series second race.
Huge thanks to Aaron Faucher aka “Farmer” and my co-dawg Jeff Speer for all their dedication and hard work. Thanks for not giving in when everything is collapsing around us and always making each trip as fun as we can.