2011 SNORE SoCal 250
This was our first race since the 2010 Baja 1000; it was also our first race in Plaster City. Plaster City is only a 2 hour drive from our front door, so supporting this race was VERY easy compared to racing in Baja.
Pre-running and Pit Support: We were honored to be invited to share pit space with KIT Racing - Rick St. John, Adam Pfankuch and their crew, who entered the race in Rick's class 12 car. Rick also invited us to pre-run the course with him in his 4-seater, giving us invaluable experience on the course prior to the race. We were able to identify the danger areas and "choke points" in advance, giving us an opportunity to think about alternatives before being faced with actual problems. Thanks Rick!!
Our first thoughts about the course were that it was rough and that there would be many opportunities to "wad-up" the car if we weren't "on our game"....... There were a couple of soft washes, lots of "whooped out" trails, a little high speed dry lake driving and some technical sections to "round out" the course. Nothing life threatening or particularly challenging for a well set-up 5/1600 car - easy compared to the races we've run in Baja. The trick was to learn the course well enough to be able to drive hard right up to the point that we had to slow for a hazard. Pre-running in the back of Rick's car isn't the same as driving the course ourselves, but it's WAY better than not seeing the course at all! We can't thank Rick enough.....
The Race: Race morning dawned clear and breezy, perfect for keeping the dust created by the race from settling and obscuring visibility! We arrived in the pit area by about 0640 for our planned 0745 staging and began doing our final preparations. SNORE wanted to start the race with a "ceremonial" start that paraded the cars along pit row 2 at a time beginning at 0745, so we began our move to staging at about 0730. Things began moving quickly after that, we were able to spend just a few minutes talking with other racers before we were called to the start line. After our ceremonial pass down pit row we were stopped, then officially started in pairs at the end of pit row. At the green flag, Trevor immediately pulled away from our "co-starter" (# 567 - Serena Pruett) and never looked back. The car was working perfectly and Trevor was driving in top form - guiding the car through the course without hesitation or error. Within the first few minutes, we had already passed several trucks and buggies - not to mention many overturned race vehicles...... We completed the first lap in 01:09:42 - much faster than we had been pre-running the course and just a few seconds behind 1st place. The second lap was slower due to a flat tire we had to change about 10 miles from the start/finish line. That flat tire cost us several minutes but we still had 2nd place! We pulled into our pit for fuel and a new spare tire at the end of lap 2 and were back racing in just a couple of minutes. By the third lap, the course was getting pretty chopped up and silt was causing problems in some areas on the West side. We crested a hill on one occasion and were immediately faced with several stuck vehicles blocking the course - stuck in the silt. We tried to go around, only to get stuck ourselves. Trevor and I attempted to get out by ourselves, but were not having much luck - so I got out of the car and approached another racer (# 560 Tommy Craft - he'd been stuck in the same spot for some time). I told Tommy that if he'd help us, we'd help him - he immediately asked if "we were out of the race", and I said "no, we're in 2nd place but I want to help if I can" he agreed and Trevor was soon out of the silt waiting for me to get back in the car. Tommy got back in his car and we tried several times to get him "un-stuck" without much success. Finally, his co-driver waved me back to our car and we left - feeling bad that we weren't able to get them out. That little episode cost us another 10 minutes or so....... On the fourth and final lap, it was obvious that the course was becoming much more technical, requiring some creative driving to navigate. Trevor told me that he was "taking it a little easy" on the final lap, but I felt he was driving harder than ever; our lap time confirms my impression (the course was very chopped up by then but we still posted our second fastest lap time)...... Unfortunately, we got passed late on our final lap - putting us in 3rd place by just a minute at the finish line.
Summary: This race was an all out "sprint"; we knew going in that if we had any "down time" due to flat tires, mechanical problems, etc. it would be difficult to win. Our decision to stay and help Tommy Craft (# 560) certainly cost us 2nd place. The difference between our third place finish and the first place finisher was almost exactly the time it took to change our flat tire. That's desert racing though and I'm sure the 1st and 2nd place finishers didn't have "perfect" races either...... Congratulations to all the finishers of this race!
Huge Thanks to:
VW Paradise and
Jason Lauffer for building us an outstanding motor that has never let us
PowerBox for building us a great transaxle
Custom Aircraft Parts for the use of their shop equipment
U.S.Wheel Repair and Carlos Orozco for repairing all the wheels we mangle
Rick St. John, Adam Pfankuck and all their guys for inviting us to pit and hang out with them