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The weather was hot and dry as we prepared ourselves to start the Freedom 250 night race in Barstow, California. The Barstow "B" course is known for its rough terrain and grueling rocks, and on this day, it would live up to it's reputation.

We started side by side, 8th off the line in the right hand lane. We knew that the left lane was smoother so it was a drag race to get there. We pulled the first car off the line and reeled in all the others with the exception of one, by the first road crossing. We were not even to mile 3 when the first problem arose. The car had no top end power and felt like it was running out of fuel. Dan Turner flipped to the back up fuel pump and it improved the performance somewhat. The problem would recur again and again throughout the race. We worked our way through the other classes of cars with Rex Lair in our sights the entire time. We finally came out of the rough area known as College Hills and passed Lair for the lead as we went past Garth Goodell and Bob & Machelle Green at Pit 1.

About 15 miles into the race, Driver Scott Hartman attempted to brake and the pedal went to the floor. There were almost no brakes and we were leading on the roughest course of the season. We kept on course, just ahead of Ray Griffith through the first lap and into the second. Even with a 2 minute stop at Main Pit to diagnose the brake problem, which turned out to be a broken rear brake line. During the second lap, Dan and Scott felt something odd in the front end as they pushed through College Hills and down to Pit 1. The crew found a broken limit strap mount and zip-tied the strap out of the way. While we were stopped, Ray caught and passed us for the lead. We kept Ray in sight the rest of that lap until we pulled into Main Pit. Crew Chief LJ welded a new mount to the frame while the crew serviced the car and performed a driver change. Scott Parker driving and Tandi Hartman co-driving in their first race ever. The pit stop took just over 7 minutes and we were passed by Eric Helgeson while stopped. Scott P. and Tandi dealt with the lack of brakes and stalling car with enough speed to regain second place with over two minutes of cushion on Helgeson.

The fourth lap started great with the Banks Wrangler performing well. Just before pit 1 the car sputtered and died as if it was out of fuel. After a few minutes of looking and sitting it was evident that the problem was not going to fix itself. Garth and Bob left Machelle in the pit to relay on the radio as they went to the car in an attempt to get it running again. They changed fuel filters, checked pumps and relayed back to main that the car was out of fuel. Knowing that was not the case, Main Pit relayed through Machelle to the car that it must be the fuel pickup. They disassembled the fuel cell filler neck and attempted to replace the pickup. The fuel cell pickup line was swollen and cracked allowing air into the fuel system. To compound matters, the AN fitting installed by the factory was cross threaded and galled. With ingenuity and perseverance the crew built a new pickup and installed it through the fill hose to get the car running and off again on the race course.

Scott P. and Tandi were able to bring the car around after some serious problems and finish the race. This race was a test of patience and perseverance for the Dust Junkies and we passed! Sixth place was not what we were looking for, but it was a total team effort to bring in the finish.

Congratulations to Ray Griffith in his win. He is a solid performer and a great competitor. His team is winning because they work hard and have fun doing it.

The Dust Junkies would like to thank our families and teammates who give so unselfishly to this team to make it what it is. We would not be racing without the help of everyone. Thank you to our friends, family and sponsors who allow us the opportunity to race.


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Here's how the race went for us...

Machelle and I headed out to Barstow Friday morning, got to Barstow around 1:30 in the afternoon, as expected it was HOT...110+. We spent the day double checking the race car, and then over to tech in the early evening. A nice breeze kicked up and cooled things off enough that we could sleep without running the generator/ac Friday night.

Saturday was HOT again, as expected. We spent the morning doing a pre run of the beginning of the course. We were 8th off the line with mostly slower cars in front of us. We wanted to get a good start, get past as many cars as possible in teh first few miles. Scouted out my pit location and headed back to camp. Machelle and I prepared the team pre race meal...hot dogs. chips, baked beans, etc. Most of us tried to get a nap in the comfort of our air conditioned RV's after lunch.

Machelle and I headed out for our pit location around race mile 11 about 4PM. There was a wide sweeping left hand turn with numerous lines (at least 4 well defined tracks) through the turn. We decided to set up our pit at the point where the lines came back together. We parked the truck about 50 feet back from the furthest of the outside tracks (and WAY off line). We set up our antennae mast, generator, got the spare and jack out and prepared for the race to start.

Trophy Trucks/Class 1's are the first off the line. First few cars came through running the inside/middle lines through the corner before our pit. Then Pistol Pete Soren came roaring through on the most outside line, closest to us...plenty of room by Baja local standards, way too close for me, so we moved the truck back another 15 feet or so.

The rest of the first lap seemed uneventful...Scott and Danny passed the last of the Jeepspeeds in front of them just as they came by our pit. Later in the lap, I heard the race car telling main pit that the cars brakes were failing. Later I heard it was a broken brake line that was fixed in main pit after a quick stop.

Second lap seemed to be going well...then Pistol Pete came around again, this time taking a middle line. As he's coming out of the turn, he suddenly steers right at our pit, jumping a couple of berms, and sliding to a stop in the pit next to us. We all run over, Pete's yelling that he needs engine oil. It was like a Chinese fire drill as two pit crews were trying to help an unexpected car. In the end, we dumped 5 qts of oil in the engine, and sent him on his way.

Soon enough Scott and Danny came by for their second lap, reporting a knocking noise from the left front. Decision was made to pull in to Pit 1 to inspect the left front. Turns out it was a broken limit strap mount. I attempted to secure the loose strap to keep it out of harms way with a couple of zip ties, and we sent the car on it's way. We radioed to main pit what the problem was so they would be prepared for the repair. Started hearing reports from the race car about the fuel pumps cutting out, but still running.

Scott Parker and Tandi Hartman got in the car at the half way point. They were comfortably in second place to Ray with the car running well for the third lap, just needed to get around the course one more time for a respectable second place finish.

Machelle and I hear Tandi call off the road crossing at race mile 4 on the final lap , heading in to the College Hills. We hear Race Mile 9 called out...should see the car come over the hill and start heading to us in a few minutes...turns in to a long time...finally a report from the car that they are stalled, out of fuel.

I have no designated race fuel with me...the guys next to me have a 2 gallon can for their generator, and I have a 6 gallon aux tank for my generator. We talked to the main pit about what the problem might be, LJ, the crew chief, thought it might be the pump switching valve for the primary/backup system. We loaded tools and fuel in to Garth's XJ and headed across the desert trying to get to Hwy 247, near where the race car was reported to be. It's a good thing Garth came out to our pit. My GMC Dmax would have been a struggle to get to the race car. Garth's nicely built XJ was easily up to the task, and saved the race for us.

Some people camped in that area were trying to help Scott and Tandi troubleshoot the system. Garth and I immediately started jumping fuel lines around the switching valve that was suspected to be the problem, and adding what fuel we had. After several attempts the car fires, moves forward, sputters and dies again...still no fuel at the schraeder valve on the fuel rail. After several other failed attempts we finally decide that it is a fuel pick up issue. Only way to get to that is to pull the filler neck. We make short work of getting that off, reach in to the tank, and discover that the fuel pick up hose is shredded at the top where it is connected to the tank thru fitting. Easy enough to fix... remove the fitting, trim the hose, reinstall and go racing...but this is racing, the tank fitting would not come apart, threads felt galled when tring to diasassemble it. Post race repair will tell the real story there.

So now what...splice a couple of sections of fuel hose together, cut a hole in the fuel filler hose, route the fuel pump suction hose through the fuel filler in to the tank, zip tie/duct tape everything together, start the car...and we were racing again.

Garth and I saw the car again at the road crossing at Check 1, (we had time to repack tools, get to the highway, and back over to the course, so yeah, that's WAY faster )

When we get back to Pit 1, we hear that we are still in 6th place, respectable considering how things have gone for us. We got our pit broken down, and back to main pit well ahead of the race car. All is well until a couple of miles from Main Pit, race car hit a rock with the right front pretty hard, has a flat at minium is the report from Tandi. The car pulls in to main pit, we change the tire, notice that the car is leaking coolant, and send it to the finish line a mile and a half or so away.

The crew hustles down to the finish to meet the car, there we discover how hurt the front end and radiator really are.

I think we'll take a sixth out of this, learned a few more things...now to be ready for V2R!

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2,144 Posts
Nice write-up guys, I enjoyed reading the race report. I'm jonesin to get my 1724 JS into its first race under new ownership.

BTW, the interco tires look beefy and I'm anxious to see how the sidewalls hold up vs. the BFG's over the long haul.

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343 Posts
The swampers rock compared to the bfg's. At the Terribles 250 at primm, we hit a rock so hard, it broke the wheel (there's pics on here in another thread from that one). The Staun beadlock acts as a run flat, and we didn't know we even had a problem for 20-some miles when the inner tube finally let go. The Interco tire only had a small scuff on the side wall, and we've run it on a new wheel for two preruns and the MORE night race since then with out any problems.

Traction wise, there is no comparison between the Intercos and the bfg's. We were absolutely amazed when we made the switch.

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