I've got a major sunburn on my head (forgot to bring my hat) and I learned a ton of valuable stuff about my truck and myself as a driver.
From little things (I have to superglue the insole of my left driving boot to the bottom of the shoe as it keeps moving around and making it feel like I have a rock in my shoe) to the bigger things (a near 4000 pound vehicle powered by a 160 hp engine is NOT an ideal hillclimb vehicle), I learned a ton and will only be a better driver/owner for it.
As always, though I had hoped differently, the weekend was a series of "hurry up and wait" events with the proceedings starting an hour 1/2 late on Saturday and about 45 minutes late on Sunday. Lunches on Saturday stretched from the supposed 40 minutes to over an hour and 1/2. Sunday lunch was less of an issue but mostly because a wrecked car had stopped the proceedings at lunchtime and needed to be hauled away for the event to continue--this got people moving. Needless to say, the number of runs taken by competitors suffered accordingly.
In all we got three runs in on Saturday and four in on Sunday. Not great but in aggregate amounted to some 25 minutes of "max speed", technical driving that gave Retro-Runner a true shakedown. Retro-Runner suffered Zero downtime. Not a bolt was tightened, not a tire pressure checked, not a hose cinched. In truth I wanted to see if anything would pop up without looking the vehicle over as during a rally or other longer form event you could go easily 25 minutes under racing conditions without stopping to look the vehicle over. So if you count the downhill, non-timed portions of the event (very hard on the brakes and done at a very brisk pace to get everyone off the hill as quickly as possible, you are looking at some one hour of race or near race conditions over some 40 or so miles without a hiccup. Not bad.
She comes home now and will have her fluids changed, get cleaned up and have all the primary systems checked. She also will see some additional welding per Don Taylor (RallyCar scrutineer who was in attendance) of RallyCar in order to get her RallyCar logbook. He wanted some additional gusseting around the rear "X" brace before issuing the logbook and so, additional gusseting it will receive and then be brought up to Claremont, NH for final inspection.
So how'd Retro-Runner do? Well, lets go back and look at what I stated my goals for the weekend were. Quoting myself from a post last week:
"As to the event itself, it certainly does not bode well for the Retro-Runner...I've never driven in real, flat out competition before...the event is run on asphalt (not the best for big all-terrain tires)...and will be mostly contested by small, light, AWD, turbo'd vehicles like Subaru STis and Mitsu EVOs. All in all, I should be bringing up the rear of whatever class I end up in. So my goal for the weekend?...I simply want to make every run possible and not DNF. If you look at prior hillclimb events many competitors do not show for the event on the second day...or take a number of runs "off". I want to run every single one possible to get seat time at speed and test out the durability of the platform--of which I have placed my faith in to be one of the key beneficial factors in going with the 2WD, 4cyl Frontier. So simply if I can stay out of the trees, come home with the truck in one piece and not DNF I will be satisfied with the weekend. Anything beyond that is gravy."
By that fore stated definition of success this weekend went extremely well. I won my class which ended up being SP6 as given the lack of additional gusseting on my rear "X" brace I was not to be issued a RallyCar logbook this weekend. That there was no one else actually IN the SP6 class makes little difference to me. Not my fault no one else tries to run a vehicle as heavy and slow as mine up the mountain! Still, far more important to me than the class win was the seat time and experience I was able to gain. I showed continuous improvement all weekend long, learning better shift points for keeping the engine in its optimum power range under varying scenarios. I also learned to trust the handling and traction of the truck during times of sliding and squealing tires and that keeping the power down was the key to getting through the turns quickly and under control.
As I said above, the truck made it home with nary a scratch (just some lost rubber from the tires), is apparently in excellent mechanical shape still and made a huge impression on the attendees and spectators. It was easily the most recognizable and poured over vehicle in attendance. I can't wait to go back for another hillclimb or (hopefully) stage rally in the near future.