2010 Mastercraft SCORE San Felipe 250
Our goals for this race:
First - Have Fun
Second - Win! (we're in it to win now; we've proven we can finish!)
Third - Finish without major problems
Fourth - Learn from the experience
1) - We had fun
2) - We finished in 2nd (official as of 03/19/2010)
3) - No major problems during the race
4) - We learned that little problems can cost us a finishing position
Since the last San Felipe 250, we've made significant changes to our car; they looked very promising in the testing we've done and we're excited to see how they work out for us in a race!
We reported to staging at approx. 0950 and began the seemingly endless wait for our turn. We now use R3 head and neck restraints and we were worried that the extra time required to get in the car could cause us problems when they called for us to get in line - so we got strapped in early and waited in the car after just a few minutes of talking with our fellow 5/1600 racers. That seemed to work out just right because about the time we had the engine warmed up, they motioned for us to lead the pack of 5/16's to the start line. Soon enough, we found ourselves at the line waiting for the green flag. As soon as the flag drops, all the "pre-race" nerves settle and we get down to the business of running the best race we can as it unfolds in front of us.
From the start line to about race mile 55, the course is essentially the same as the last 2 years. We're not sure, but it seemed MUCH rougher than last year though! That's probably just "selective" memory, we've blocked out the pain from last year and remember it more fondly now........ After race mile 55, the course is almost completely different from the last two years. This year, we get to race across Laguna Diablo - miles and miles of smooth, wide open racing as fast as the car will go. Alonso Angulo, #550 was close on our tail when we got to this section, but we never saw him again once we got up to speed.
At about race mile 77, the course crosses "Zoo Road" at Morelia Junction and then a newly cut path through the desert parallels Morelia Road south to the Matomi Wash. We stopped at our Pit #2 at race mile 100 (we were surprised to see it at RM 100, it was supposed to be at RM 108!) for fuel and some much needed water, then continued south towards the Matomi.
At about race mile 114, the engine quit for no obvious reason and we could not re-start it after multiple tries. I got out to see if there was anything obvious wrong - there was nothing to see; no fire, no holes in the case, no missing pieces, no disconnected fuel lines, and no loose wires....... That left us with a couple of choices; fuel pump failure or Ignition failure. We turned on our backup fuel pump - no help. That narrowed it to an ignition system problem, so we moved all the wires to our backup ignition coil and tried again. Success! Back in the car and press on! Unfortunately, this little event cost us several minutes to resolve - minutes that allowed the other cars to close on us or to pull ahead of us.
At about race mile 120 we come to the Matomi Wash, it has been "scoured" recently with heavy rains in the area and is very rocky and difficult to traverse. When I say "rocky", I mean boulders that weigh at least as much as our car littering the path! We're able to pick our way through the "rock garden" and are relieved to enter the "normal" parts of the wash where we can move much faster. We had to contend with several chase vehicles towing broken race cars through the wash - most were careful to make way for us, but some thought the race was still on for them......
The course joins Mexican Highway 5 at about race mile 146 and travels north for 4.5 miles on pavement until turning back into the desert at race mile 150. That was a really nice break, but it's back to racing soon enough. The pavement section is the only "speed controlled" section and we are limited to 60 mph - penalties are assessed for every data point that we exceed 60. We never saw over 58.5 on our GPS, but there's some lag in what it displays.......
As we leave the pavement, we join the "Old Puertecitos Road" as it heads north towards San Felipe. This is our "back yard" and familiar to us; we've been playing here for years because it's close to our house at Bahia Santa Maria. My wife, brother and sister in law are watching the race at about race mile 165 and we fly by them as they cheer us on. They tell us that the lead 5/1600 just went through a few minutes earlier and we're # 2. We press on north a few more miles until the course turns hard left at checkpoint 3 and enters the Huatamote wash and proceeds to the west side of the hills.
The Huatamote has also been scoured by the recent rains and has a "rock garden" that is at least the equal of the one in the Matomi! Between the rocks and very soft sand in the wash, it's slow going for us until we come out the west side at about RM 195. The course then turns north towards the final wash, the Chanate.
The Chanate wash begins at about RM 220 and is the "nicest" of the three washes, though it has challenges of it's own. Fortunately, we pre-ran this section the previous weekend so there were no surprises. We exited the Chanate wash at checkpoint 4 (RM 231.7) and begin the last few miles to the finish line.
It's dark by now and I'm starting to worry about fuel; we're showing almost empty - and I know that when the gage says the tank is empty, it is.......... We are this low on fuel because our pit group decided that it was "better" to have pit 2 at RM 100 instead of RM 108 (where it was originally planned to be); they sent out an email to notify the racers, but I guess we weren't on their distribution list........ We tried to "connect" with them on Thursday, spares drop off day, to finalize all the details but there was nobody at Pete's camp representing them (that's where they said they'd be on Thursday to receive our spares)........ If we had known, we could have planned differently - the 8 mile difference could have cost us a "finish". Sense a little frustration here?
We're starting to see the lights of San Felipe in the distance and we're getting excited about getting to the finish line. We call our chase support and tell them that we're not far out; they tell us they're waiting for us at the jump. There is still more racing to be done, though. We have 16 more miles to go before the jump and fuel is really tight! I radio the chase crew our fuel status and tell them "it's going to be close". Unfortunately, it would be hard for them to bring us fuel in this section without actually driving backwards on the race course (that could get us disqualified). So, we'll just have to stretch what we have as far as it'll go (and if we have to, we're allowed to push the car for 2.5 miles).
At about 3 miles from the finish line, we finally exit the last wash and are on graded ranch roads to the jump at the end. It's really dark and difficult to see the final few turns leading to the finish line but we manage to get to the jump without too much stumbling around. Knowing the family is watching, Trevor hits the jump hard and we get about 5 ft. of "air" below us before landing - I remembered to "tag" the in-car camera at the jump this year, but it's dark outside! Still, we got video from the jump to the finish line. We crossed the finish line 2nd in our class and were sent to "post tech" for inspection. They didn't really want to look at our car once we got there though, so we got out and congratulated Gustavo Avina, the 1st place finisher.
Another SF 250 finish; 4 finishes in a row with better standing each time! This is also the 4th time Trevor has driven the entire race without power steering and without a driver change. Trevor did an awesome job driving the whole course! He drove the car to its limits all day long and never made a mistake that I was aware of. What a pleasure to be able to share this with him!
Thanks to My wife, my brother and sister in-law, Archie Negrete, Darien Moran, John Curtis, Jeff and Deb Rothrock, and all the others who offered us their support for this race!!
Thanks to Jason Lauffer and everyone at VW Paradise, you guys are the best! Our motor was more than equal to the task and pulled hard all day without complaint. The "name brand" motor builders have nothing on you guys and I'd rather have my VW Paradise motor than one of theirs any day!
Thanks also to Clinton and Mary Ann at Custom Aircraft Parts - we couldn't do this without your help!!