The Mountain Jacks had to postpone there "After Labor Day" rally to October 7/8th because of the volatile fire season this summer.

Thusday night I got everything ready to - tires changed and loaded, fluids checked, tow-bar ready.. Saturday morning Michelle n' I hitched up Little Devil and cruised for Lolo.

Saturday were the drag races. I signed up for the "Street and Trail" class as well as the Sportsman E and D classes.

In Street and Trail I managed to squeeze out a 2nd place finish. The track was rather rough, and the fact that I was overpowering my tires and getting a lot of wheel-hop didn't help much. I did ultimately end up with the fastest reaction time of the day - .421 seconds - good for a $50 prize!

I had to pass on Sportman E with ignition problems - a so-so connection on my main ignition lead had gotten hot and resulted in no-spark. I did run in Sportsman D. I don't know where I placed, but my friend Blair Howze took second place.

Devil vs. a Chevy - 236K Hi-Res - 2.1M
Another Chevy - 228K Hi-Res - 2.1M
Racing Blair in his Bronco - 242K Hi-Res - 2.2M
Blair again - 178k Hi-Res - 1.6M

All in all, I was pretty happy with Devil's performance puting in a career best 7.3s 100-yard time with several around 7.5s. I think with more tire and less wheel hop I could beat that a bit more. I was even happier when one of the more experienced racers said, "That Scout runs REAL good! Whatcha got in it?" - "IH 304". I also got to show off Tigger's on-board air and help some others change tires n' such.

Sunday was the obstacle race. On Blair's first time around the course, he did pretty well, but drowned his '81 Bronco in the big mud-hole.

I remember sitting in the driver's seat, nervous/scared/anxious/excited - whichever it is - like usual and then it was time to go. I took the double jump at the beginning easy, then let Devil kinda nose into the deep rut that followed and stood on the gas on the way out the other side. The course then winds in and out of the trees. I almost made a wrong turn - I had to reverse just to get back on course, but I was having a pretty 'consistent" run until I got mixed up after going around the course twice or so and thought "I'm done" and headed for the mud pit. I had another lap of sorts to go 'round (actually something like 3 different circles with some overlapping sections and a few intersections). Instead, I turned toward the mud pit - nice n' slow this time. I thought the front tires were already in the water when I flat-footed the loud pedal. Watching the video, I hit the gas too soon and quickly sucked a good quantity of water into the 304 IH. I ran to the finish line, but it was a wasted effort - I was DQ'd for not making the last go 'round.

Obstacle Race 1 - 1.98M Hi-Res - 18M

While Devil dried out, I tried to help Blair with his Bronco and it's "No fire" problem. We spent a couple hours tracking wiring to ultimately find a bad battery cable. In the meantime we'd robbed the ignition coil from Blair's tow F250 and I lost one of my battery anchors while we were swapping batteries around.

We got our rigs together just in time for our second (and last) turn on the obstacle race.

Blair said he was going to clear the first doubles and the mud pit at the end of the course. He almost cleared the doubles - but he folded a radius arm doing so. He then fought his way around the course with a VERY good time - right until he swamped the Bronco in the mud-pit. Even after he tried to start his Ford and then unbelted and got out and ran, he had a good time. Had he bailed immediately - he might've had fast-time of the day ($200 prize money!). Had the Bronco remained running - I KNOW he would've.

Blair's Second Obstacle - 1.3M Hi-Res - 12.1M

My second run was far more dramatic, but much shorter.

I had told everyone I was going to take it easy - I wanted to finish the course.

I took the doubles easy, just driving over them. Then I stabbed the gas towards the rest of the course, and then dynamited the brakes to slow up for the harsh rut in the middle of the course. The course had gotten greasier since my first time around. WHAM! I had planned on the front end sliding down into the rut, then hitting the gas to jerk it out the other side. Nope. The next best thing would've been to simply full-throttle and try to clear the rut. Nope.

WHAM. My front end sailed right across the ditch and then planted firmly into the corner of the bank on the other side. UP came the tailgate of my Scout II roughly six feet in the air! Fortunately, it came back down the way it came up, instead of a full-on end-over roll-over. I refired the Gryphin Racing 304 and yanked the 727 back into 1st. No go. Reverse? No go. Hmmmm...

I looked at the transfer case shifter - Oh, I jumped out of gear! I pushed it forward towards 4-low. Hmm.. that was easy.. still, nothing. I shifted the Dana 20 into 2-hi and 4-hi. NOTHING. No forward, no backwards.

The crowd cheered when I tossed off my helmet and climbed out.

See it all on video!
128K version - 1.3MB Hi-Res VCD Quality MPEG
Just the actual impact, no commentary - hi-res - 1.9M

Once again I was towed off the course with a loud banging and clanging coming from underneath my 'Binder.

The damage, as I see it so far?

More Carnage Pics

The springs already had a sort of "S" shape that morning before the racing - perhaps from the wheel-hop on Saturday in the drags. My guess is I pushed the front axle back and up so far and hard that the springs simply bent, which allowed the front driveshaft to bottom out, which broke the Dana 20 right apart. It also revealed cracks in the welds and reinforcements of the fixed rear spring hangers for the front. OUCH!

Now I have some work to do before the Winter Baja in February. Oh boy...

-Tom Mandera
Copyright 2000