2010 Mint 400

The 2010 Mint400 Torchmate/SOR Jeepspeed Race, from the Passenger’s seat.

After having the fire alarm go off in the hotel from 11:30 until just past midnight, the night before the race, We were all a little tired and irritated about the disruption in what was all planned out to be a good night’s sleep before the race. The 4:30am alarm came as a hit, like the what felt to be 2 million cross grain G-Outs we’d experience in the race.

Lance Clifford and I were going to race the first 2 lap’s, handing the car over to Owner, and Driver of Record Mike Shaffer. As we staged we learned then, it was side by side starts. We were lined up next to Chris Nissley, who for some reason stayed about 10ft back from the starting line, and as the starter began the 5, 4, 3, 2 count down, I heard Nissley’s motor almost bouncing off the rev limiter, as Lance began to power brake our 4wd Jeep.

And we’re off! We pulled the 1719 to the first corner on a course I can only describe as a cookie dough like silt, it was powdery, but didn’t make alot of dust, and it was thick, which kept us from accelerating like we wanted. The infield jumps were interesting, we learned quickly they had no backsides to them! Ooops!

We headed out across the desert quickly passing 2 Jeepspeed’s and what seemed like 20 other class car’s all stopped, either fixing flat’s already, or just broken. We fell into a line of Cars, the 1736, then a 1450 truck, the 1708, 1730, then us. 1736 wouldn’t yield the 1450, and no one was yielding us as we were all a car length apart like a train through the rock garden, which we’d later come to learn was the SMOOTH part of the course! after the 1736 got a flat, we were able to pick the pace up, still all in a line, but gained 10mph! Thanks Coan!

Once we got to the first pit area, and the course opened up, We fully got it out of shape, and on the ragged edge of control to pass both the 1730 and 1708, almost in one shot. We had clean air, and had just gotten confirmation we were in the lead on adjusted time. We were reeling in the 1706 at a good pace, watching their line choice, and looking for faster lines and we’d closed to about 10 car lengths

Just about RM43 the GPS shut off so we were flying blind, and the engine was starting to blubber at high RPM’s. We’d lost the alternator! We pulled into a pit site, at pit 2, and began tearing into the alternator, when our chase truck arrive to help us out. The crew we pitted with brought us a battery charger hooked to a generator, so we were charging our batteries as we replaced the alternator. We also had realized what the banging noise in the front end we’d dismissed as an older race car letting us know we weren’t being nice to it.

Our right front bump stop had worked it’s way loose of it’s mounting can, and slid most of the way out of the tube binding between the coil spring and the bump stop pad. We were able to get the damaged bump back in place, and tightened in.

And we were off, now in Lapped Trophy Truck and Class 1 traffic, so I spent 75% of my time looking in the mirror praying we didn’t get punted as we pounded our way through the cross grain for the next 40 miles. Our wounded right front bump stop had stuck, fully compressed and was now a metal to metal bump, causing us to slow our pace for fear of damage to our front axle. At Rm81 we hit yet another large cross grain G out, and Lance said the steering was gone. My first thought was, ok, no big deal, just a track bar heim. i’ve got 4 of them and all the right tools in my door bag.

What we saw when we got out was quite a sight! the upper track bar bolt had broke off, almost flush with the forward half of the bracket. And the rear half of the bracket had peeled open, and was 3-4in to the left of where it needed to be! We hammered on the bracket to try and bend it back into place, but it wasn’t happening. We eventually put the spare track bar in, because it had a good solid busing, and a new bolt, and tightened it down in a single shear configuration to get us moving, and to limp ourself to RM85 to meet our chase crews.

Once Mike saw the damage, and knew in that pit, we wouldn’t find the needed welder’s and torch’s to make the needed repair.

Overall, this has to be the single roughest race course I’ve ever been on. I’ve Raced Parker, V2R, Primm, Baja, Lucerne, Barstow, KOH, all many times each, and nothing compared to the violence of the Mint 400 course!

A big thanks to Lance for letting me ride along, sharing in the pain and misery that was the Mint400. And to Mike for letting us start the race, and selflessly just say, hey, that’s racing! when we had to call the race due to the failure.

And to the companies that support us so we can have these misadventures

Torchmate CNC Cutting Systems
Pirate 4×4 .com
BFGoodrich Tires
Radflo Suspension
Rubicon Express
Motive Gear
PSC Motorsports
JE Reel Driveshafts
Staun Products
J&W Auto Wreckers
CTM Racing Products
Twisted Stich Seats

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