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BITD 2008: Team Hummer draws three deuces at Parker 425 Rally

Best in the Desert Racing (BITD) Association’s "Parker 425" got underway for Team Hummer. 295 Cars and trucks left the starting line in Downtown Parker and by the end of the day only 137 would finish, which will give you some idea how demanding it was to run multiple loops around this 138 mile-long stretch of Arizona desert.

Class 8100 was scheduled to drive three laps around the course, while Class 4100 (Chad) and Class 3100 (Rod) only had to go around twice. The race got off to a shaky start, with problems dogging two of the Team Hummer race trucks on the first lap of the event. About 105 miles into the race, Josh Hall, in the #8111 H2 SUT suffered a broken, driver’s side tie rod end, a part that rarely fails. It took about 15 minutes to replace the tie rod assembly with our on-board spare only to have the passenger side tie rod end fail in a similar way about 20 miles further on.

There was no apparent reason for either of these failures and the replacement tie rods lasted for the duration of the event, leading us to conclude that we would need to take a closer look at the broken units after the race. Meanwhile, the tie rod repairs had put the #8111 Team Hummer H2 about 30 minutes off the pace but it was still early and the truck was running well, once again.

Rod Hall got off to a good start in the #3111 Team Hummer H3 SUV and was enjoying a comfortable lead until shortly before race-mile 40 when the center bolt on the rear passenger side spring pack sheared off, forcing the H3 to stop at Pit #2 (RM 54) where Jeff Buffmeyer and Dave Williams were waiting to make the repair. The fix was labor intensive, requiring almost two hours to complete, before the #3111 H3 was back in the race. Rod stopped at the end of the first lap, almost two hours behind the leader and Mike Winkel took over behind the wheel. Winkel ran a trouble-free final lap and brought the #3111 Team Hummer H3 SUV in for a second place finish shortly before 8:00 PM.

Chad Hall ran both laps, in the #4111 Team Hummer H3 Alpha SUV, with Thad Stump in the navigator’s seat. Chad had no troubles on the course but the new Alpha still needs some fine tuning to the running gear and suspension before we can realize the truck’s full potential. Marc Stein in the #4102 Ford Expedition had a flawless race and beat us to the finish by 27 minutes. The H3 Alpha came away with a second place finish which is not a bad start to the BitD season. We’ll take it back to the proving grounds, where Matt Laramie and his team will do some testing and work on bringing the Alpha up a notch in preparation for our next race.

Josh Hall had moved the #8111 H2 into second place at race-mile 32, on the third and final lap, just 12 miles behind the #8106 Ford, driven by Larry Tunnell, Jr. of Parker, Arizona. The H2 had run perfectly since the tie rod problems on the opening lap and was gradually reeling in the class leading Ford, coming within a mile of him when he passed through Pit #4 (RM 104). Unfortunately the H2 had worn out all the linings on the brake pads half way into lap three and although the H2 was faster on the graded sections of the course, he could not keep up in the rough terrain, where the use of brakes are critical.

Equally unfortunate was the fact that the final 30 miles of the course was very technical (rough) terrain, so Josh had to slow it down and settle for our third 2nd place finish on the day. The good news was that this was the first finish for the H2 and it was a solid one, coming in just 23 minutes off the class win. We’ll analyze the brake pads back at the shop and come up with a more durable solution in time for our next race which is the SCORE ‘San Felipe 250, March 14-15 in San Felipe, BC, Mexico.

2008/02/12 | 15:32 CET | Editor: MR/HS/Team Hummer

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