Wednesday, June 6, 2012

2012 Mexican 1000 - Day 3 - Stage 2

May 1, 2012

We finished stage 1 and headed down the freeway.  At the Pemex we filled up the tank and ran into the Stroppe Bronco team.   We told them that we had seen their car by the side of the road but that’s all we knew (see 1:58 on the Day3 Stage1 video).  It would turn out they were having electrical problems.

Arwen and Mary hadn’t caught up, so we left a note at start of stage 2.  We’d heard that the start was going to be horrible.  “4 feet of silt” was the term that was thrown around and awful mountain roads.   Rhonda and I talked about it and decided I should drive.  I was really getting the hang of the zebra and she was getting better at juggling the map book and GPS. 

The Mexican 1000 is an unmarked.  It keeps people from messing with the course, or driving on it, but it makes navigation a challenge.  Before the race I hadn’t realized how important it would be to have a good navigator.  Rhonda’s combination of being a flight instructor and super bike training made her exceptional. Oh and Arwen had told Rhonda not to let me kill myself (or her), so she kept me from getting too reckless.


We started the stage --- no silt.  It seemed the “four feet of silt” didn’t exist, it was miles of straight flat road.  Which was great, but also a little tense when you’re expecting it to be horrible.  Finally we started to climb and the road got interesting.


At 31.3 miles we came across a jeep, car 8.  The welds on the cross member that held the tops of the rear shocks had broken.  So, basically the rear shocks were gone.  To top it off they’d worn a small leak in the fuel line.  The driver was going to remove the shocks, patch the leak and limp on to the Mag 7 pit.


We headed up the road and continued to climb.  It was beautiful.  Deep canyons, weird rock formations, wild horses and the occasional oasis.  We made good time and Rhonda tried to keep me focused on the road and not the amazing environment.

We eventually ran into Sol Saltzman, Justin Rivera and Big Oly. 

Saltzman has built a duplicate of the original Parnelli Jone’s Big Oly Bronco.  They’d been shorted gas from their pit and were dry.  We had plenty but getting it was a challenge.  The roll over flap on the fuel cell made syphoning difficult.  Rivera tried to disconnect the hose from our carburator but the mechanical fuel pump only gave a trickle.  

Finally I pulled the feeder hose and we syphoned straight from the tank.  We gave them three gallons and everyone was on their way.  Good karma.

Spreading some of my dad's ashes by Big Oly

As we went on the roads got rougher and the views more spectacular.  There were boulders that were fuzzy and green from the copper  deposites.  Small ranches and moments when you thought you were driving through the 1800s.  I swear we saw Don Quixote with a horse and albino mule.

We reached Mag 7.  Big Oly gave us 5 gallons of gas.

We passed the Stroppe Edsel with one of it’s back tires off.  Luckily it’s chase crew had caught up to them and they would eventually finish the stage.

Then we started the climb.  Narrow roads and steep cliffs.  We didn’t get any pictures because we were focused on the road.  We also came across a new phenomena, the random concrete road.  Some of the steeper sections had been coated with concrete.  It could be a patch that was about as wide as our car, often with deep pot holes.  Or it could be an array of rocks cemmented together in the form of a giant unruly cobblestone.  It was odd and a bit unnerving.

We climbed and then eventually started going down towards the see of cortez. 

Going down a steep grade in the land cruiser is kind of nice.  The first and second gears are so low you really don’t have to use the brakes.  Just put it in gear and slowly roll down the hill.


Toward the bottom we ran into truck 19.  Their fuel pump had gone out and their spare pump wouldn’t pressurize.  We couldn’t really help them, so we gave them some water, wrote down their information and were on our way.  

Within a half a mile we ran into car 203.  They’d lost their steering.  We gave them our extra power steering fluid and once again were on our way.  There was one last steep climb and then we dropped down and starting racing along the coast.  It was beautiful


Until the car start lurching.


My worn out brain decided we were out of gas.  Rhonda knew that with our 32 gallon tank we couldn’t be out of gas.  Then Big Oly came by.  They offered to syphon some gas but they were still in the race.  Their times were good enough they might place, so I told them to go on and take a message to Arwen and Mary.  As soon as they left, I looked at the fuel filter….it was a mess. 

Luckily I brought a couple spares.  We changed it and were on our way.  The last thirty miles of the race was fast and smooth and we finished to 161 mile stage with a time of 4 hours 51 minutes (not bad but not great).


We made it to the hotel just as Mary was gathering up stuff to come get us.  Had some dinner, took a swim and headed down to the beach for a bonfire and some excellent tequila.

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