BITD: Team Hummer Terrible's 250 preview

TEAM HUMMER® FINISHES FIRST & THIRD AT TERRIBLE'S TOWN THE INSIDER The Latest News from Team HUMMER Parumph, NV - May 1, 2005: Team HUMMER arrived in Pahrump late Thursday evening in time to establish a working area to make minor last ...

TEAM HUMMER® FINISHES FIRST & THIRD AT TERRIBLE'S TOWN
THE INSIDER The Latest News from Team HUMMER

Parumph, NV - May 1, 2005: Team HUMMER arrived in Pahrump late Thursday evening in time to establish a working area to make minor last minute adjustments to both trucks and negotiate with the front desk over the rooms we had reserved for the weekend. The mood of the crew was confident, in spite of the fact that the 'Terrible's Town 250' has been troublesome in recent years. Although we have managed a number of second and third place finishes at Terrible's Town, the trip to victory lane has eluded us since 2002 when Chad took the win in the H1. Josh Hall in the #4103 Mile Marker/Team HUMMER H2 SUV had not lost a Best in the Desert event since last year's 'Terrible's Town 250', when he finished second after the shocks on the H2 started overheating late in the race. Since that race the crew has added external bypass valves to both the H1 & H2 shocks, which has significantly improved the handling of both trucks.

Early Friday morning, the race trucks were towed out to the time trial area where the #4103 H2 SUV qualified first in class. We discovered a faulty waste gate on the H1 turbo that was allowing too much turbo boost. The crew fixed the problem before the time trials and the #8102 H1 pickup was able to qualify in second position. These time trials are not mandatory but normally, the short five or ten mile test areas where BitD runs the qualifying events give us the opportunity for a brief test on the course so we can make pre-race adjustments if anything is not working to our satisfaction. The H2 seemed to be running perfectly and we felt that the H1 was also performing well once the boost problem was identified and repaired.

Chad and the #8102 H1 pickup left the start line on Saturday morning at 10:47 AM, second in class 8100 behind Dave Morrison in his #8107 Ford F-150. Josh got out on the course, first off the line in Class 4100 at 10:56. Shortly before Pit #1, Chad move up a spot when Morrison crashed going into the first pit.

Foutz in the #8101 V10 F-250 Ford had passed both Chad and Morrison in the rough terrain just before the crash that sidelined #8107. The H1 was starting to reel the #8101 truck back in about mid-way between Pit # 1 & 2 when the boost gauge began to fluctuate wildly showing boost of anywhere from zero to 18 Lbs. Chad stopped at the Checker Pit at Fort Amargosa (Pit #2) but everything seemed to be in order.

The only conclusion we could reach was that the turbocharger had a defective bearing. Chad took off, still in second place and soon discovered that if he kept the engine running at 2000 RPM it would sustain about 7 Lbs. of boost. Anything over this and the engine would simply "crap out". Normally the engine runs around 3400 RPM at 14 Lbs. of boost and Chad calculated that the horsepower dropped from the expected 450+ to about 160 for the remainder of the race. At this point the race became a quest to get to the finish line.

The #4103 H2 cleared Pit #1 at 11:27 with Marc Stein in the #4101 Ford Expedition right on his rear bumper. Stein passed Josh shortly after the pit and had put about 1 1/2 minutes on the H2 at Pit # 2 (Fort Amargosa) where he passed through the pit area barely on the edge of control. Pretty exciting stuff to watch him recover a split second before running headlong into an AT&T phone pole! In spite of the aggressive driving style of the #4101 Expedition, the H2 was able to catch and pass the Ford about 10 miles up the road and had a 5 minute lead on him at Pit # 4 (Crater Flat) at race mile 105.

In a classic example of 'High Energy Field Testing', Josh came up behind two trucks in almost zero visibility conditions just before Pit #3 (Black Cone). He was stuck behind them, waiting for an opportunity to pass. Eventually the lead truck, a Class 7200 Ford Ranger, pulled over and stopped so that truck #2 could pass. Unfortunately, the dust was so intense, Josh was unable to get a visual on the lead truck so he had no idea that he had pulled over and stopped. When he did finally see the 7200 truck it was motionless in the middle of the course just a few feet away and the big HUMMER center punched him traveling about 40 MPH. As Josh would later comment, "...the Ford went from zero to 40 MPH in about 100 feet and I went from 40MPH to zero in the same distance." It was the first real test of Sam Cothrun's new 4130 Chrome Moly front bumper, which was bent like a tubular tongue up and over the Lightforce HID lights, which sustained no damage and continued to function. In fact there was no damage to the H2 at all other than the bumper.

After regaining their senses from the sudden impact, Josh checked to see that the occupants of the Ranger were OK and drove on, thankful for the new MasterCraft harnesses that had been installed just before the race. Miraculously, the Ford also sustained little damage form the collision. As luck would have it, H2 Project Engineer Thad Stump was in the second seat and ideally situated to observe the incident first hand for GM. Other than a permanent welt on his chest in the exact shape of his safety harness, he seemed to suffer no ill effects from this close encounter.

Chad motored on in the #8102 H1 pickup, low on power but holding on to second place. He stopped briefly at the Checker pit in Crater Flat (Pit #4) while Team HUMMER mechanics, Brad Falin and John Klatte made a few adjustments to the shocks. Pit #6, at Omni Station, was the only permanent Team HUMMER pit location at this race. The other four pits were operated by the Checkers, a large racing and support team who have been active in the desert since the early 70's. Team HUMMER chase crews arrive at each pit just before our race trucks and the Checkers assist our crews with the pitting duties on the HUMMERs. The Checkers also have a number of other member vehicles which they service and membership in the Checkers gives us the benefit of having many established pits without the commitment of the manpower and equipment it would take to run them.

The H1 stopped in Pit #6, at race mile 135, where the Team HUMMER crew was waiting to refuel the truck and give it a thorough inspection under the watchful eye of race manager, Rob Henderson. H1 Lead crewman, Brent Falin, discovered a broken right, rear half-shaft and the crew attacked the problem like a duck on a junebug. John Klatte, Brad and Brent Falin, Sam & Wilbur Cothrun, Dana Morris, Kelly Willis and John Cummings all pitched in to change the half-shaft in a record four minutes. Unfortunately, while this was being done, Merritt took over 2nd place in the #8104 Ford F-150 and was in front by over seven minutes when Chad got back on the course.

Josh had experienced problems with the radio all day in the H2 and when course debris ripped the rear brake line out of the #4103 SUV, he had to make a quick stop at Pit #4 to tell them to call ahead to Pit #6 so they would be ready to make the necessary repairs. Driving 30 miles without any brakes forced him to drive with some degree of caution but he had a bit of a lead and by the time he came into Pit #6, the second place truck had broken something critical so we were able to replace the brake line in 11 minutes and still get back on the course well out in front of the pack. The Mile Marker/Team HUMMER #4103 H2 had no further problems and took it into the finish line at a casual pace winning our fifth consecutive BitD race in the H2 by a margin of over 2 1/2 hours. This was also the first 'Terrible's Town 250' victory for the H2. Chad also had no problems after the half-shaft replacement at Pit #6 but with the failing turbo, the H1 couldn't develop enough speed to catch the #8104 Ford F-150 and regain second place, so he throttled back and drove it in for a 3rd place finish. After two races the H1 stands fourth in the Class 8100 points championship just five points out of second place and the H2 has an 11 point lead over second place, Marc Stein in the Class 4100 points chase.

Team HUMMER's next race is the 'BitD/McMillin Nevada 1000', July 6 -- 10, 2005 which will be held in the desert surrounding Tonopah, Nevada.

-grt-

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