Mountain Jacks Rally - August 25-26, 2001, Lolo, Montana

After returning home from RMIHR and NWBRU (and a first place finish at RMIHR in the "DirtyBone" racing for Michelle, and a 2nd for me, along with Best Use of Plating at RMIHR and Ugliest Truck at NWBRU), we had a weekend "off" before loading up for the Mountain Jack rally.

I didn't finish packing, loading, and tool stowin' until after midnight Friday the 24th, so we planned for an early start - 5am!!

Once on the road the trip to Lolo was fairly uneventful. It was a bit of a stretch, fuel wise, from Helena to Bonner - covering about 100 miles and burning 13.x gallons of fuel out of the 15gal tank in my crewcab (the second 15gal tank currently needs reconnected).

We finally rolled into Lolo just before 10am. In my haste to get Little Devil off the trailer and teched in, I forgot to unhook one of the chains from the rear of the trailer to the rear springs.. instead, I removed it from the trailer. D'oh.

During tech I was given a warning for having a couple uncovered holes in the firewall, no inspection hole in my cage, and no backing plates on the underside of the cage mounts. Per the M4x4A rulebook, there's no mention of backing plates. Apparently the Mountain Jacks have adopted their own rulebook now. It doesn't seem to matter that I designed the 'cage to be a break-away. The driver's seat and belts are all tied into the 'cage, so should the cage seperate from the body in an accident, the driver remains in the cage. In any case, I was allowed to race..

I then put on Blair's 35x12.50s and he borrowed my 10-15LT SuperThings for the rear of his Bronco. Blair needed less tire/ more RPM, and I needed more tire/less RPM, so we tried swapping.

Little Devil on 35x12.50s - full width, SOA.

Saturday we ran drag races. I managed a 2nd place finish in Sportsman E, while Blair took 3rd. With the 31s, I had been out of RPM around 2/3 to 3/4 of the track, and I was running 7.0x seconds in July. With the 35s, I was still pulling at the end of the drag strip, but still turning 7.0x seconds in the 100 yard drags! I just can't seem to break into the 6s! *grin* We forgot to air down the 35s for better traction and I was spinning hard off the line - I had to upshift to 2nd almost immediately - I didn't have time to wait to think about shifting, I just had to shift. Blair's times didn't change much from the bald 30" tires to the 31" Super Things, either.

Tom v Blair, Sportsman E, 1227K653K
Tom, Sportsman E, 2nd Run203K591K
Blair, Sportsman E, 2189K547K
Tom, Sportsman E, 3rd173K491K
Blair, E, 3267K783K
Tom v. Blair 2189K549K
Tom E 4211K611K
Tom v Mike Jongeling, D179K511K
Mike J., D, 2195K561K
MJ, D, 4173K499K
MJ, D, 5149K433K

Then we came back on Sunday to run the obstacle course. I managed to get some still shots of a few of the rigs before the racing started.

Britt Kanter and Bryce Simpson's Early Bronco

"Crazy" Mike Jongeling / Mike's Offroad's Early Bronco

Blair Howze's fresh new front clip on his '81 Bronco

Another picture of Mike's EB.

And another of B&B's

I also took a few pictures of an interesting Terra pickup I saw - I thought it might be one of the elusive factory "Scout Cab" pickups that I've only seen pictures of. Instead, it's just a really nicely done conversion. Still cool.

The obstacle races went poorly for those of us from Helena and Bozeman. Mike Nunn watered out, Heather Jongeling watered out, Mike Jongeling watered out. Blair's Bronco went around the course three times, tho' Blair had to get out and run to the finish line. My rig made one pass around the track and finished, but it was done after that..

Blair's GF Glenda made a good, clean run and finished - deftly avoiding all of the trees this time, too. :-)

Heather Jongeling1.2M3.5M
Mike Jongeling1M3.1M
Blair Howze243K701K
Britt Kanter447K1.3M
Tom Mandera1.7M5M
Tom's Ouch219K637K

I was trying to behave and make sure my rig held together through my run so Michelle would be able to take a turn behind the wheel. I was doing a pretty good job of it all the way up until the end. I slowed up through all of the water holes so I didn't drown the engine, I even backed up to avoid tagging a tree and managed to zig zag away from a few others..

..but as I came around the final turn and turned back towards the finish line I was on the gas (as I should be) and after a little tune-up session at RMIHR, the 304C was running pretty darn well and I had plenty of giddyap. As I approached the final doubles I knew I was going fast - so I thought I would ease off to slow down, blip the throttle, jump over the first jump, land, and make an ugly mess of the second jump, but a not-too-harsh ugly mess.

Boy, did I screw up.

On the video you can hear the engine roaring towards the finish - then I lifted to let it slow up for what seems like a long time, then hit the throttle just as I hit the jump to help lift the front end.

I was still going too fast to land between the jumps, and by lifting for that short bit of time, I was also too slow to clear the double. Instead, I nosed right into the second berm.

The worst part is my GF, Michelle, was supposed to run after me. She was all excited to race and said, "Don't break it".. d'oh.

A few pictures from Glenda's run

This is the aftermath of my failed finish:

Looks like it's time for a new front axle.. and a TRUSS this time! I had made one a year ago but it broke off - I figured I did such a poor job on the first one, I wasn't going to attempt a second. I'd been thinking of bringing my rig down to Mike's Offroad to have a truss built this winter, but hadn't brought it up to Mike yet. Too late. Since the front axle broke, it also allowed the differential to come back again and destroyed yet another Dana 20 and 727-->D20 adapter. *sigh*.

Fortunately Mike has a Chevy '44 lying around. I'm going to make arrangements to have my 4.88 gears installed and a truss added to the housing, then I'll swap my outers and axle shafts n' such into the "new" housing and reinstall. One more 727-->D20 adapter and another transfer case, and I'm back in business. Unfortunately, not before the Labor Day rally in Cascade.

With a front truss and some more length on my front reverse shackle mounts, I may finally be able to really start abusing Little Devil and run hard with the others - without breaking major components.

Tom Mandera
"Little Devil" M4x4A #576
Gryphin Racing, Super Scout Specialists, The Binder Bulletin
Copyright 2001, Tom Mandera/TMComputers