Cascade County Fourwheelers Winter Baja - February 10th, 2001

I asked David Nuenke to also contribute his thoughts on the weekend - David's Report

Then, just for fun, I did a Q&A with David, too!

For once I had my Scout pretty much ready to go before race day. I had replaced the broken parts from my attempted end-over roll in October (new front springs, a reverse shackle, new transfer case and adapter). I also rewired just about everything under the dash in an attempt to elminate the intermittent electric gremlins that have plagued me. This included converting to a Ford style starter solenoid and wiring everything through relays. I even repaired the front clip skeleton and added cables to stop the hood from opening much past 90-degrees.

I came home from class on Thursday night to find a house full of guests. John and Pansy Comer, Mark and Kathy Korsten, David Nuenke and his friend Matt had all arrived. Comers and Korstens drove up from Denver, Colorado while David and Matt convoyed over from Rapid City, South Dakota in David's 4" lifted 1980 Turbo Diesel.

We all piled into my '72 Travelall for the short jaunt to Perkins for some dinner, then hunted around the house to find a good spot for everyone to get some sleep.

I'd taken Friday off for any last minute preparations.. and in this case, that involved getting my Travelall ready to tow with my new car trailer that had been delivered.

This is the scene in front of my house - a veritable mini-Rendezvous.

Super Scout Specialists' Brutus IH 4700, driven by John and Pansy Comer of Gryphin Racing Team - Part of the SSS Racing Team.

Brutus was hauling Korsten's Pits, and Comer's Banshee on the thirty-footer triple axle car trailer.

Korsten's Eyore - Eyore towed my empty car trailer up from Denver

David Nuenke's 1980 Turbo Diesel w/ 4" Triangle Lift.

We spent Friday getting things ready. We unloaded Tigger's new doors, tailgate, and inner quarter panel from Pits, along with a spare 727-->D20 transfer case adapter. We then fired up all of the racers to make sure they were going to behave in the cold weather.

Firing up Little Devil

Satisfied everything was going to work as advertised, we piled into BUGM and cruised to my friend's place where David's Spirit of '76 is being stored and removed the Rally wheels and 31x10.50 BFG ATs along with various other items David wanted. I took everyone to look at the crewcab Loadstar 1600 flatbed I want to acquire. We then hit K-mart for supplies, drug my mom's '85 Chrysler Laser to the tranny shop, and then got back to IH work.

We unhitched Eyore from my new car trailer and set to work getting the Travelall ready to go. This primarily consisted of deciding what stinger and what ball I needed to use. Naturally, what I had on hand wasn't quite right, so a few trips to the hardware store were required. In the midst of this, my buddy Blair showed up with his F250 ex-cab towing his FS Bronco. Blair's Bronco just happened to have the stinger and ball I needed (this, after the various attempts at getting the right stuff sorted out on our own).

After we finally got the right hitch put together we hitched the trailer up to BUGM and loaded Little Devil up onto the trailer backwards so the wider front axle wouldn't have to drive over the fenders. We anchored Devil down and then proceeded to check tire pressures. Every tire on the trailer, BUGM, and Devil received 35psi of air.

I then loaded up my toolboxes and stowed all of the gear into BUGM and we retired to the house for Spaghetti and racing videos and plenty of bench racing.

An early morning followed. We wired up the trailer brake controller on BUGM (the in-cab wiring was all that needed attention) and verified the brakes worked, then rolled for the local Truck Stop for breakfast and fuel. I drove BUGM, with Little Devil on my new trailer behind me, with my girlfriend Michelle, David, and Matt. Mark and Kathy rode with John and Pansy in Brutus, towing Pits and Banshee. Blair was all by himself in his Ford towing his Bronco.

The drive to the truck stop was uneventful and everyone refueled - us and the tow rigs.

As we left the truck stop, I had mentioned the Travelall's tired 392 being a little sluggish with the 3.73 gears and 33x12.50s. Blair mentioned I should get a head o' steam going to climb the north pass. This was also after hearing from everyone how much better trailer towing was vs. flat-towing.

Here's the message I posted to TechTalk and the IHC Digest about how much fun THAT resulted in as we drove over the expansion bridge just after leaving the truck stop and things started to buck, sway, and get all manner of violent and my seat covers became stained..

What DOESN'T make a tow-rig. This past summer I bought John Comer's old 16' car trailer. The plan was to deliver it in February when the Comers would come up for "Winter Baja."

I got my Travelall ready for the weekend - wired up the trailer brakes and 6-pin connector and removed the rusted/jammed-in stinger among other things.

Friday, Feb 9th, we hitched up the new trailer and loaded Little Devil on.

Saturday morning we cruised to the Truck Stop on the south side of Helena for breakfast before the 60-some mile drive to Cascade and the race site.

We got back on I-15 and headed north over an expansion bridge.

My friend Blair was in his ex-cab F250 towing his '80 Bronco on a 20' gooseneck behind me. Blair (and many others) had been telling me how great trailer towing was going to be compared to flat-towing. Blair also told me to get a head o' steam going so we could make the north pass out of Helena (with a 392V8, auto, 3.73 gears, and the 33s, the T'all was lacking in the top-end grunt department).

I came over the bridge on the gas and the trailer started to sway.. the north side of the bridge slopes downhill.. and the trailer swayed WORSE.

I was very quickly oscillating back and forth violently, listening to tires howling and the gear in the back of my T'all slamming from quarter panel to quarter panel.

After attempting to drive out of it (I *knew* better, but failed to remember at the time) with the somewhat vague steering of the T'all.. I remembered, "OK, so I just manually apply the trailer brakes and that'll straighten it out.."

Bzzzz. I heard the trailer tires screaming while I continued to whip back and forth across both lanes with a loud slamming with each whip.

I knew I couldn't keep doing this very long and Something Very Bad was going to happen - so I attempted to get the Travelall pointed in the right direction (down I-15) and just stood on the brakes.

Amazingly, it straightened up and I was able to slow to the shoulder and stop.

We all removed the seats from our posteriors and shakily climbed out. My GF Michelle wasn't feeling particularly well at that point.

David Neunke and his friend Matt (over from Rapid City, SD) made some remark after a bit something like, "You know it's going to be a bad accident when you have time to actually think about putting your seat belt on" (Note: I kept telling everyone to buckle up over n' over again all weekend..).

My friend Blair walked up and commented something akin to "That was SOME driving! I've never seen anyone pull out of something like that. I was waiting to pick up the pieces.."

John Comer pulled up behind us - he'd been delayed leaving the Truckstop and missed out on the excitement.

With all of the whipping, I'd thrown one of the front tires of Little Devil right off the trailer - it was sitting on the axle tube. We had to unbind the Scout and use some jacks to get it back on the trailer square.

As we climbed back inside the Travelall, I noticed EVERYONE clicked their seatbelts on.

We didn't exceed 55mph the rest of the day (there and back). I got my "worst trailer towing experience" out of the way VERY early on.

Last night while unloading the racer and dropping the trailer in the backyard, I noticed new dents in my bumper from where the equalizer bar mounts on the trailer tongue had slammed into the rear bumper of the T'all.

(The equalizer wasn't hooked up because I have everything *but* the stinger - I may have one in hand before long though, Blair has one he doesn't need)

A number of factors were at work.

My inexperience with trailer towing was part of the equation.

Another large part of the blame lies in my Travelall. The 1/2T suspension didn't help. The worn out shocks didn't help. The broken anti-sway bar didn't help.

My plan has been to upgrade the Travelall to near 3/4T status this Spring after getting my Scout put back together. I hadn't planned on being able to use the trailer just yet..

I *definitely* need to get the upgrade done. I have a 4.10 Ford Dana 60 rear end to install, along with IH 3/4T rear springs with overloads. After getting that swap done I'll install new shocks, and look to get new end-links to fix the rear anti-sway bar - and maybe look for a front one!

I still need to acquire a 4.10 8-lug Chevy D44 or 10-bolt disc front end to install at the same time. Some 8-lug wheels would be nice to have, too.

I was also lacking in power pulling grades with the tiring 392, 727, 3.73 gears, and 33x12.50 tires - but I expected it with the 33s. I averaged about 7mpg with many 2nd-gear WOT climbs.

I had visions of Allan's Travelall in my head all weekend.. I used to half-joke about putting a 'cage in my tow-rig.. the half that was joking is gone now.

Scary. Glad I could write this.

-Tom Mandera, Helena MT

After I stopped, resecured Little Devil to the trailer, and we got back underway, the going was much slower the rest of the day.

Blair did apologize for talking up trailer towing and urging me to hit the loud pedal. A good part of it was still my inexperience and stupidity. :-)

We managed to make it up to the race site without further incident, though it did require 4-hi and 1st gear on the icy uphill grade.

I drove Devil off the trailer and warmed things up and started the tech inspection and registration procedures. Don Gordon borrowed some Aluma-seal for his '63 Scout 80 racer's leaking radiator.

I had intermittent ignition and electrical problems. Thankfully Shannon (who drove up from Kansas to watch the race!) and my friend Rich were on hand to help with the diagnostics and repairs. Seems I never quite finished tightening the solenoid terminal nut and a few other questonable connections. With everything tightened up, it worked MUCH better and started every time!

Finally, it was time to start racing. I missed the parade lap while getting things ready. Fortunately, we had a false-start ( a few racers hadn't shown up yet) so we had a practice lap anyhow. ;-)

I apologize for the jerky video - David's friend Matt was pressed into Camera-man duty, and I was too busy to show him where the tripod was!

Pistachio Pudno in Action

Practice Lap
128k Stream - 160x120 windowVideoCD stream - 320x240
1.5MB 3.8MB

With the practice lap out of the way, we restarted the "Stock" and "Sportsman" V8 class again.

Blair in his Bronco (generally in the lead - he took 1st), Mark and Kathy in Pistachio, Michelle and me in Little Devil, I believe Tyler Gordon drove the Gordon's '63 Scout 80. Brian Lee in the Chevy Luv (Brian is also an IH owner)..

Laps128k Stream - 160x120 windowVideoCD stream - 320x240
3-4 5MB20MB
5-6 5MB 45MB
7-8 5MB 46MB

Highlights: In the first video, Tim Kleppen remarks, "The way Blair drive's you'd think he only had one foot" - and that's the one that operates the loud pedal! But.. Blair took home the first place trophy - two if I remember right.

Lap 4 ends with Little Devil struggling to make the start/finish line - because the transfer case shifter had gotten jarred out of 4-hi into 2-hi. You can easily see why 2wd might not cut it on the icy race course!

Lap6 ends with Kathy Korsten's Pistachio stuck on the course with a fuel line problem. Brian Lee had to stop suddenly to avoid hitting Pits and lost a battery or something. I thought the yellow caution flag meant I had to stop and wait.. Blair new better and just booked on by.

With the stock/Sportsman V8 race out of the way it was time for the Competition Modified race. Banshee was doing what she usually does best - being a b*tch and wouldn't start. We finally got Banshee running and Mr.C raced to the starting line to make.. one lap. Banshee just up n' quit as she came back past the spectators and wouldn't turn over again. Mr.C called it quits proclaiming the engine was seized and Banshee was getting parted out.

Fortunately for Banshee, later that day she proved what a witch she is and started right back up and ran fine.. AFTER the racing was over, of course.

Gryphin Racing's Banshee

Clip128k Stream - 160x120 windowVideoCD stream - 320x240
First Lap 733K 7MB
1 643K6.9MB
2 1.2MB 11.7MB
3 800K 7.5MB
4 944K 9MB
Finish 473K 4.4MB

First Lap includes Banshee quitting.

The Finish shows Blair trying to roll after he won.. the rest of the video clips just show Blair with his foot on the throttle driving it like he stole it.

After the Competition Modified race the women ran. Since Banshee was misbehaving, and so was Pits, and Michelle was kinda cold there were only two women racing, and I didn't get any pictures of it. :-(

But.. after the women's race was the Jackpot race - anything left running can run. I got started late - only after I heard the other rigs running did I realize the race was on!

For this, Ben Martin was pressed into Camera-boy duty, and David Nuenke became my copilot.

Little Devil in action.

Clip128k Stream - 160x120 windowVideoCD stream - 320x240
1 1MB 10MB
2 909K 8.6MB
3 813K 7.7MB
4 300K 2.8MB
5 780K 7.4MB
6 300K 2.8MB
7 643K 6MB


Clip 2 - Mike Jongeling of Mike's Offroad, one of Blair's sponsors, passes me and then promptly rolls Blair's Bronco!

Blair's Bronco upside down..

Clip 4 - I nearly slide around the corner into Blair's upturned Bronco

After the race we loaded up. This was a little difficult for me. In the first race, I ripped a shock mount off - no big deal. In the second race, the hard steel brake line from the master cylinder to the proportioning valve broke, leaving me with no brakes. I recall stalling after not making a hill (I went to slow to make the turn and didn't have the momentum to make the powder-crested hill climb) I applied the brakes while restarting and noticed they went straight to the floor. I turned to David and yelled (as if he could hear me over the open headers), "We have no brakes!" and off we went! As the race wore on, I began lining up the jumps and just practicing my technique and seeing what the rig would do - I had a lot of fun doing it, too!

To get Little Devil back on the trailer, I used a tow-strap from my Scout to Tyler Gordon's 78 Bronco and used Tyler as my brakes as I backed up the trailer ramps. Unfortunately, it stalled at one point and I couldn't find reverse fast enough after restarting and I rolled down the ramps and into Tyler's Bronco. Fortunately, I only straightened out his bent grille guard!

Finally loaded, we returned to the Driftwood Bar in Cascade for dinner and trophies (of which I won none, but Blair took home two) and we returned to my house.

Comers and Korstens took off early for home, while David, Matt, Blair and myself watched the day's videos.

The following morning I took these photos:

Little Devil on my new 16' car trailer behind BUGM
The somewhat tired '74IC392 with ThermoQuad pulled off around 7mpg on the 60-70 mile tow to Cascade and back. 392, 727, NP205, 3.73 gears, and 33x12.50 tires. The 33s need to come off for any "serious" towing to get back some of the effective gearing. Either that, or I'll get the 3/4T running gear swap done and end up with lower gears AND some shorter tires.

Little Devil's ripped shock mount

Blair's Bronco on the trailer.

Blair's Rolled Bronco on the trailer

A few days later I had to move my rigs around to appease an appraiser and put 'em all back in the street.. Devil remaining where I had come-along'd 'im off the trailer.

Tigger in the snow..

My yellow '72 and Little Devil

I may not have won any trophies, but the good news is I finally finished a "Baja" race and with minimal damage! I repaired the broken brake line and rebled the brakes, then drove Devil into my garage to weld up the ripped shock mount and redrill it, reinstalled the shock, welded the U-joint shield that was a little loose, and drove it back outside the same day, ready to race again!

-Tom Mandera
Little Devil
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Copyright 2001, Tom Mandera