Anyone in off road racing will tell you that some days just don’t go your way. On April 6th, outside of Ridgecrest, California, at the HDRA 250, the Dirt Circus crew fought back hard against what the desert would throw at them. Rewind to Thursday before the race, Scott, Cronus, Kevin, and Brandon headed out to the desert early to secure a pit location and get setup. Race truck in tow, fully prepped and fueled. Friday was busy guiding in all the RV rigs which held our valuable pit crew and family and friends. Around 3pm it was time to head to the fairgrounds for tech. What a great experience, this was our first HDRA event and it was top notch. Truck passed inspection and after checking out some other vehicles, vendor booths, and talking to other racers, we headed back to camp.
Friday night at 8pm was the drivers meeting in town at a sports bar. Another great experience, with Monster Energy sponsoring the evening and making the racers feel welcome….hey, the meeting is mandatory, so we had to go.
Saturday morning, staging for the race starts around 8:30. The race will be 60 mile loops with Class 1400 running 3 laps, there are 23 trucks starting in our group. Not much wind to speak of. Desert racing is really the only time we wish for wind. The green flag drops and we fairly quickly start gaining on trucks ahead of us, but the dust and a mandatory stop check at the Trona Rd crossing causes us to lose a couple positions, but desert races are not won in the first 10 minutes, apparently they are not won in 9 hours either, but we’ll get to that.
Cronus set a good pace and before long we are passing through Pit B, where Jake and Todd are posted as our remote pit. About 3 miles later, a hard front end hit on a rock causes the engine to cut out and it feels like the driveline may have been damaged. Scott jumps out and there is nothing obvious but the motor will not restart. We determine it’s a fuel pump issue and the HDRA retrieval guys tow us back to Pit B for repairs but not before the helicopter filming the race does a fly by.
So with help from our crew, we get power to the fuel pump and get back on the course….for about 3 miles, until the engine cuts out….again. We decide to pull power for the fuel pump from a different source, and we are going again. The whole ordeal cost us about an hour and a half and we had only covered about 27 miles of the first lap. Forgot to add that, while troubleshooting the fuel pump issue, we noticed an oil leak from the right front shock reservoir fitting. Not getting a warm fuzzy feeling for how this race is playing out.
We make it through the rest of the lap without issue and at our main pit, Scott switches over to the drivers seat and David jumps in as co-dog for lap 2. The second lap is without incident, and into the main pit to switch drivers for lap 3. Cronus jumps back in as driver and his 13 year old daughter takes the co-dog seat for the first time. Knowing we are way behind on time, the goal is just finish the race. One 60 mile lap to go, so strategy says take it easy. 12 miles in, the call on the radio is not good. The left front wheel came off and the damage report sounds unrepairable. Pit crews gather tools and spare parts and head out to try and locate the truck. Fortunately it is accessible and Cronus and the crew from Pit B are already trying to sort out the mess. A broken spindle nut caused the wheel assembly to come loose. We bolt on a spare spindle, reassemble the hub, and crimp off the brake line. Back on four wheels, with time running out.
The whole team anxiously waiting at the finish line to see the truck come over the horizon. Finally it appears and crosses the line with 6 minutes to spare. The time limit was 9 hours. According to the race director, we celebrated more than the overall winner of the race. Long, tough day but the Dirt Circus team finished 11th place in class out of 23 starters.
Big thanks to the crew and our sponsors Maxtrax, SoCalFirePits, Valley Plating, and Fox Shox! Also thanks to Phil Kaos Photography for the awesome action shot at the top and for covering the race.