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Been a While

It has been a while since I have posted anything on here. The last time I wrote anything was about KOH2021, This time am here to tell you the story of KOH2022.

I started my Koh week by getting 4595 teched on Thursday afternoon, I only had a few simple things to fix to be race ready. I had to re-route the vent lines for the transmission, transfer case, front differential, and power steering fluid reservoir. Zip tie the oil dipstick. And add a fuel “drip guard”. Thanks to the help from Tribe16 I was able to get it done quickly and back to get teched the next morning so I could get out pre-running.

My dad and I started pre-running the desert on Friday and was able to use Lance’s buggy so that we didn’t put unnecessary miles on 4595. We got to meet the Lonestar Racing team and go pre-running with them on Saturday until they had problems in their buggy and had to call it early. My dad and I were able to get 90% of lap 1 pre-ran when we had to head back to Hammertown.

On Saturday we went to start pre-running the rocks. Again in Lance’s buggy we got through most of the rock trails when it was time to head back to Hammertown, it was our last day with Lance’s buggy so on Sunday we took 4595 out to give a little “shake down” and make sure that everything felt goo and was working properly. That didn’t go to plan, it was going good until it wasn’t. We decided to pre-run Spooners and Outerlimits but weren’t sure about where VCP’s were so we stayed down in the rocks and when going up Spooners I made a mistake and ended up wedging the front driver tire in a crack in the waterfall at the bottom and broke an axle shaft.

Now stuck in Spooners with the sun going down I had to figure out how to get my wounded race car out of the canyon and back to Hammertown. I was able to get the broken race car off the waterfall and down the canyon just in time before the sun completely disappeared. Once back in the Tribe16 garage I began taking the front end apart to find out what all broke and what would be needed for repairs, when the tribe crew returned from their day of wheeling they immediately began helping me work on 4595. Once we got it apart we found that the front locker was damaged when the shaft broke, so we all started trying to figure out where to get a locker on the lake bed.

I made a lap around Hammertown asking everyone that I knew if they had a locker I could borrow, unfortunately for me everyone has gone to 40 spline inner shafts and I am still running 35 spline. One of my friends gave me a contact to a company that could help me, so I reached out to that company and the individual said that he could bring it to the lake bed in the morning. I went to bed satisfied that I found parts to fix the race car.

On Monday I got the parts and everything cleaned up and ready for the new locker that was on its way, the locker ended up not making it to the lake bed and I wasted an entire day waiting for it. Since I was supposed to be qualifying on Tuesday we decided to put a spool in the front so I could at least get a qualifying time. I had never driven something with a spool in the front so to say that qualifying was a rough 3 and a half minutes is an understatement. I was doing ok in qualifying until I got to the rock section and had to make 4 tight turns without any mistakes and mistakes were all that was on the menu for the day.

I made the first turn just fine but then blew every turn after that got hung up trying to shoot up the rock face, once out of the rock section I took it easy getting back into the short course, after I took the first turn back in the short course I was feeling confident in the car and the track. That was until I came out of the Talladega turn and realized how quickly the finish line jump was after the turn. Since 4595 was broken leading up to qualifying I didn’t get to practice the qualifying course so the day of was the first time I put tires on it. I was unable to get 4595 straightened out after the Talladega turn and went off the jump sideways and it was all over from there.

I still finished the qualifying run and got a time but ended up rolling 4595 down the straight away. After my dad and I got out of 4595 the track support righted it and drug it back to our pit at Tribe16. I started looking at what got damaged in the roll over, it wouldn’t start so that is where I began my inquiry. I was unable to figure it out, but as soon as Adam put his hands on it it fired right up.

I'm bed for the night. We all wanted to make sure that everything was working properly before the race the next day. I woke up to the sound of race cars and in my opinion there is no better alarm clock. Everyone started their race cars and got them warming up which is how it usually goes, being that it is typically cold in the mornings at King of the Hammers. I started my process of getting ready for race day and stepped out of the motorhome and went straight to the race car since it was inside the tent with heaters aka warmth. Skipping ahead to the green flag, as usual I got the butterflies in my stomach and after crashing 4595 earlier in the week didn’t provide me much confidence as I lined up.

That didn’t play a role in the results of the day though as those thoughts of the wreck left me as so as the green flag flew. Taking off the line is always a blast for me, getting the hole shot means nothing to the results of a race like this, it is just way too much fun when you are able to get it. For me it helps set the tone in the cockpit for the results we are going to have that day. The dust out on course was insane, it was “patchy” in some places it was blowing off and in some it was so thick I couldn’t see the steering wheel. This made for a day of speeding up and slowing down or looking for new lines through the desert, lines that I had not pre-ran so they were questionable.

When we left Cougar Buttes we hit a patch of silt that was the worst I have ever experienced, it was the type of silt that you see in the Baja videos. Shortly after that we were working our way through a really choppy area and all of the sudden we got passed by a gray, green, and black, truck with red and black wheels passing us moving insanely fast. It finally clicked who had just passed me, I said to my dad “holy sh*t that’s Loren and Vaughn!”. Although it was a 4600 vehicle that had just passed me, I was so excited to have the chance to go back and forth with these legends on a race course! It also woke me up and showed me the pace that was possible in the section we were in. A few turns later I found a lane that was just slightly faster than the one they were in and I put the pedal on the floor and cruised past them and put some distance between us and them. They would eventually pass me again because they had a faster flatter lane than I and that would be the last time I would see them all day.

At the end of lap one I pulled into the main pit, got a full tank of fuel and asked Lance where I was on course. He told me “about seventh”, Which told me that I had passed 10 cars in class or had 10 on corrected time either way I was super excited to hear this. Once the Tribe16 crew finished looking 4595 over they sent me on my way to start lap two. Lap two was fairly straight forward, as usual we got caught in traffic jams going through the rock trails. Every trail we got through was a weight off my shoulder, things began to go downhill once we got half way through all the trails.

We were coming to one of the many sketchy dirt roads, located on the ridge of one of the many mountains in Johnson Valley, I started smelling gas and asked my dad if he smelt anything. He did so he got out and started looking for leaks, he didn’t find any so we thought it was coming from one of the cars stuck on the hill in front of us. When we got to the end of Not Her Problem the fuel smell showed itself, all of the sudden POOF! FIRE at our feet, my dad and I went for the rip cord on the fire suppression system. Unfortunately the tank was already emptied, so we got out and went for the extinguishers on the outside.

Spectators helped us get the fire out, once the fire was out I began to look into the cause of the fire and determined that the fuel rail had cracked. Although later we would determine that not to be the case, however we were a long way from the pits and didn't have what we needed to fix the issue. Oliver and Lance got their buggies and came to our rescue. Oliver towed us back to the pits and we parked it and hung out around the smudge pots and told stories from the day and enjoyed what was left of our time with the Tribe16 crew.

Saturday came, as much as I wish it wouldn’t have. It was time to get packed up and start heading home. The guys from Tribe weren’t convinced the fuel rail cracked so they tore into the fuel rail and discovered that it was just a pinched injector o-ring. They replaced the o-ring with one that we pulled off of the spare injectors I had, and just like it started running again. The mystery didn’t end there though the fuel pressure kept dropping and wouldn’t allow the engine to keep running. Adam noticed that the fuel pumps didn’t sound normal and thought that we ran out of fuel as well. They put some fuel in the tank and fuel pressure returned and it ran fine, now we could drive it onto the trailer inside of winching it on.

The week was over and we headed home with smiles on our faces, no we didn’t win or did we even finish the race. We did however have a great time with friends and a much needed break from our lives back home. I want to thank everyone that helped me get to where I am today, and for supporting me in my dreams.

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