2020 Mint 400 Race recap!
What a weekend!
This years #Mint400 was anything but dull… last mint schedule changes, parts failures, missed flights, you name it and we experienced it. Racing 2 cars this year was logistically more time consuming but better in every other way. It’s so nice to part of a bigger picture with teammates in mind and operating at a higher level. We were able to help each other, strategize, and overcome obstacles that would have been otherwise difficult.
We came in early Wednesday excited for the historic parade down the LV strip and as we sat in the parking lot baking in the sun we wondered… “who brought the beer” Well this thought quickly turned to panic when we pulled onto the strip and the race car died (T923) A quick inspection would indicate a fuel pump failure (again) and we called the trailer to come get us so we could go repair her in the parking lot at the Main Street station. Now my frustrations ran very high here as we were forced to quit during the King Of The Hammers race due to the same failure. Not knowing at this point if maybe since it was a back to back failure of the same part that maybe a mistake was made during the wiring of the car to installation etc. After some checking of systems and voltage it appeared everything was fine and we simply lost another pump. We called a friend who flew down with 2 pumps so we’d have a spare for race day (thanks Jon Rabe) and make sure we didn’t go all that way for nothing. I still wasn’t convinced that there wasn’t another problem somewhere and raced out to fellow racer Chris Leaming from XTC Power Products who assured me that the car was wired and ran correctly and our issue was just a pile of garbage fuel pump from Aeromotive. He also recommended a replacement from Bosch that we were able to source and hook up. Fuel issue solved….
Tech day! We were excited to go through tech as the cars had been meticulously prepped for battle (so we thought) Overall tech went smooth but a last min change had everyone and I do mean everyone scrambling as the Mint400 crew wanted us to run corner window nets, something never before required or in the rule books… The other was they were adamant that each car had a 5lb extinguisher on the back instead of 2-2.5 lb extinguishers. Now this why its in the rules has always kinda been overseen as long as you had the 2 equaling 5lbs. Heres the reason… If said vehicle rolls on top of the side with the one 5lb and both driver and passenger are trapped or unconscious, outside help have nothing to extinguish flames with so it becomes a danger. Now again, rules are rules and I get it but at the end of the day I see this as a safety issue especially when the 5lbs are far too heavy for the mount and especially on that terrain. We saw no less than 20 on course in the first lap alone and 40 by nights end so there’s that.
Race day! Its here, we’re ready, lets throw down. So we thought… Little to no organization at the start line had cars scattered and the event was running an hour late. This isn’t to mention that the motorcycles were cut by an entire lap and there were riders that didn’t even get to ride after all that teamwork and prep. Now this is a huge event and as a racer EVERYTHING seems to be life of death on our end so while it is indeed frustrating its also a behind the scenes thing that we don’t see and the promoters made the call and Im sure they had good reason.
Race starts and were on course finally!! Adrenaline has begun to fade and focus kicks into high gear. As the first lap jitters are working the way out of our fingertips we take note of the harsh terrain while we battle for positions through the dust. Lap 1 was brutal on the T923 car as we first lost a front skid plate, then a belt on the lake bed at about 90MPH. This failure took a huge toll on the RZR and broke part of our secondary clutch and caused multiple belt failures in the miles to come. Out of belts and with our first flat I attempted to repair the clutches in the desert while my teammate (Tim) flagged down drivers for a spare belt to get us back to the pits. Once we got one (thank you to the McMillin’s) we the got our second flat that had been our spare and we had to run the next 40 miles on a flat tire. The KMC wheel I might add didn’t break or crack at consistent speeds of 40+mph in some ridiculous terrain and got us back in one piece.
We came into the pits where our teammates in the T929 car had already passed us and been back out for some time… Our team lead by our Crew Chief Joe Pavone straight KILLED IT and has us re-stocked and back out on course in record time. This lap was off to a much better start until we were hit with a broken axle and on the side of the track yet again for repairs. Axle fixed, strapped back in and we were at it again! About 70 miles in we were plagued yet again with clutch issues and were unable to maintain race pace but still managed to get back to the pits.
A belt and driver change later, we headed back out into the night. This time we ended up with 2 blown rear shocks in addition to more belt issues. I limped the car the 107 miles and with a heavy heart had to call it after 3 laps around 2am. Without risking the race car or our safety anymore it was the right choice. I will say the car ran flawlessly with our tune from our great friends and sponsors at Bikeman Performance and our crew couldn’t have been better prepared for what the desert hit us with. This is only our second race in a new car and we are satisfied with the performance we gave, but sometimes the desert wins… As for our teammates in the T929 car they straight killed it!!! Starting in last place (or second to last) they battled all the way to 15 with a strong finish and we couldn’t be more proud of them and their performance, great work gents!
Overall we really enjoyed our time and can’t thank our friends and family enough for all your continued support and are excited for the next one. Thanks guys!!
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