Last weekend I headed out to Las Vegas for the General Tire Mint 400 race.
I was invited by Kent Kroeker of KORE Suspension company.
Check out my race highlights...
The Mint 400 race is a loop race that consists of four 100 mile laps. It happened east of Las Vegas in an area of desert where pretty much nothing ever happens. Aside from an Indian-owned fireworks store and gas station, the venue is basically deserted.
I took off with Kroeker in his Hemi-powered '07 Dodge Power Wagon around 8:00 Saturday morning.
The first 10 miles were heinous because of thick dust and poor visibility. I don't think we got much of 20 MPH in this first section. After that, however, we really picked up the pace. One by one we reeled in the Trophy Lites. Although faster than Kroeker's Stock Full on paper, Trophy Lites are usually piloted by beginners racers with very little race experience, therefor our pace was much faster. My job as co-driver was to inform Kent about upcoming dangers as shown on the GPS, call out corners, and inform any slower vehicles in front of us that we were looking to pass. A loud siren and horn were my tools. I used them often as we passed about a dozen or so slower teams.
As the race went on we started to hear a bad sound coming from the transfer case, but only when it was in 4-wheel drive. This caused us to back off a notch in an attempt to make sure we made it to the pit area where the noise could be addressed. Even so, we continued to reel in other racers one by one, in 2-wheel drive. Kroeker is a fast driver, and I've been in the truck with him many times before, so we both knew what to expect, and our team-work made the lap easy, even though we had a failing transfer case.
When we came into the pit area I was excited we had run a clean 33.3 MPH average despite our "survive and preserve" approach. After a quick troubleshooting session, Kroeker made the smart decision to swap out the injured transfer case. This cause about an hour delay.
Next in the truck was John "Zambo" Zambie, a veteran racer and co-owner of the race truck. Zambo's co-driver was KORE's lead fabricator Frank.
The two were off to a great start when disaster struck. A failed drive shaft required the two to stop and make repairs, yet again. After the replacment drive shaft was installed the two made great time and get the truck back to main pit where Rudy Iribe got behing the wheel for the final two laps.
About 40miles into Rudy's first lap a steering component decided to stop working. This left the truck un-drivable, despite tools and knowledge of what needed to be fixed, the proper replacement part wasn't on the truck. This caused about for a lot of frustration and more than 45 minuet delay. News of this took a while to get back to the team. SNOR rules make it impossible for chase crew to drive to a location on the race course. So Kroeker and his 65 year old father had to physically run the replacement steering part into the coarse some 6-miles away. It's a good thing the two were in tip-top physical shape.
About two hours went by and the truck was off and rolling again.
Later in the third lap another problem with a leaking front differential caused yet another set back.
Despite the day's many challenges, we finished the race with less than a minute to spare. We took first place in the Stock Full catergory. The race was tough, but team KORE's desire to put General Tire on the podium was tougher.