Tuesday, March 10, 2009

An Apple A Day Keeps The Bushings Melting Away

We had a absolute Blast and finished 3rd in class.... We Qualified 19th overall, which was spectacular for us also. We placed 1st in class on the Zacatecas day, beating the well prepared Alfa (that won all the other days) by 3 seconds....sweet! We had issues the entire race....kept melting bushings on our upper a arm next to the header. Uh JETCOAT???The guys replaced them 3 times during the race. It took less than 1/2 hour each time...Well Done. We had a continuous problem with our clutch also. T/O bearing, fork, and clutch rod.

I might add the funny part about when we got escorted out of SLP by a couple good motorbike cops, some of the towns finest. First they gave us directions, then they pulled us over, told us we ran a red light....What? Where?When?Huh? I showed them my racing license, then we gave them a few hero cards....showed them the broken car in the trailer, and Pow the red carpet service started. They gave us our own private escort complete with lights and sirens clear across town, stopping traffic along the way,to get us going again and even passing a wreck that just happened in front of us. Gotta love Mexico

When we departed from the morning service stop on the second day, our clutch rod broke, darn it. We got back to the crew and they hustled up a piece of all-thread from the nice people on the TBZ team and cut it to length, we were back in the race. We hauled butt to get back our place in the lineup, and the rest of the speed stages went well....problem was as we later found out at the drivers meeting, we were over the 10 minute limit, thus giving us the max. time for the rest of the day. No podium today.

On to Quaretero, more problems with the clutch rod and bushings but a 3rd place anyway. (along with having a little help from the federalies) they helped us get to the track when we ran out of gas 1/2 mile before we arrived. Then Christan and Dan helped us with a couple gallons of gas....got around the track 6 times and to the Pemex...so much for being light on fuel to go fast.....we needed more than fumes. It was 2 out of 3 days on the box. We are still doing well. Then to SLP, that was a good day. Still fighting the mystery clutch rod problem, but we still pulled off a 2nd for the day.

We elected to fix the problem that night, removed the tranny replaced the flywheel, pressure plate, t/o bearing, disc in the rain, up till 4am and it was still bad.....damn! What are we overlooking? The race left for Aguascaliente without us.....we were seriously thinking of calling it a done deal. We loaded the car into the trailer, and headed to the finish line in Aguascaliente.

On the way we came up with another plan. Lets get there and try to fix it for the stage to Zacatecas.... OK OK OK we fixed the problem and delivered the time steward a written letter at the drivers meeting stating why we missed the stage and we were back in it. With a new clutch fresh bushings, and sticky tires on we were ready to haul mail to Zacatecas.

Al kicked 10 tons of ass in this race.

Having missed the last day placed us all the way back in the pack. The car was as good as it had felt the whole race..... we must have passed more cars in speed stages than anybody that day. What a BLAST!!After a great day racing we all went to the Garufo Restaurant and had a world class Argentinean dinner, then did the donkey walk to the bullring and Proudly took the team to the top box on the podium beating that lighting fast Alfa (by 3 seconds) that had been sweeping the competition away from that piece of real estate the entire race. It was great!

Onto the final leg to Nuevo Laredo we were just trying to get her home.....and we did. Turns out we pulled off a 3rd for the day and 3rd overall in class.
NEVER GIVE UP, Its a long race. We are signed up to do it again this year. YAHOO! That's what happened to us.

I might add that Steve our chief mechanic who took the pics/videos was a Super asset to our team. The crew worked their butts off, we could never have done so well without them. A big thanks to Steve, Al, and Oddvar who became my Shepard and helped us through the Event.

Thanks from the Apple Farmer

These pics were taken by our crewman Steve Berry.


carson said...

This teams story is a big part of what PanAm is all about , overcoming the challenges with team work .These guys thrashed on their car the whole way and keeped it in the game, Richard da wheel man , can drive like the devil and did I mention Nate is a crop duster ?

George Sullivan said...

Great bunch of guys and fellow Volvo team always willing to share a beer in the basement of the hotel in Aguacalienties.Al was an absolute hoot to be around. Rich is one hell of a driver. Good post Gary.

sberry said...

Hi Gary - wanted to send you the new website for the Apple Farmer Racing Team. http://www.applefarmerracing.com

I'll be blogging from the road as often as I can get an internet connection.

Thanks for all of the documenting you do! Feel free to use any of our pics or stories.

steve berry