Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Okemo II Hillclimb Event--The Results...

Well, what is the saying??

I think it goes "Racers fall into one of two categories.  Those who HAVE crashed and those who WILL crash."

While I can't exactly claim to have "crashed" this weekend, I did have what rally drivers like to refer to as an "off".

The pictures found here are of one of my two runs up the mountain that I was able to make on Saturday.  In truth my two runs were quite decent and virtually identical to one another and extremely similar (all within 1 second) to my three runs made on the Sunday of the Okemo I event.  I realistically don't know how much more time I can get out of the vehicle and my current skill set.  Somewhere around the 3:25 mark is the near the best I can do at the moment.

Unfortunately I never made it to Sunday's race as on what was my third and final Saturday practice run (and it is practice in name only, I was running full out and actually running my fastest attempt of the day per the timing breakdowns) I made a poor decision which cost me the rest of the weekend and has put the NISMO Stuff Frontier in my garage awaiting parts.

Approaching the second to last corner of the hillclimb I felt that I was having a really solid run and decided to get greedy.  Seeing some grass and a mass of low weeds on the inside of the fast right hand turn my mind to all of a fraction of a second to decide that--yes, I can cut that corner about a foot or two tighter than I usually would as my truck would just breeze through the grass and weeds and I'd gain a few tenths of a second in time.

I hit my line at about 45 mph and cut into the grass and tall weeds right where I intended and my foot on the floor.  Then...WHAM...CRUNCH...

What I discovered after the NISMO Stuff Frontier ground to a halt some 50 yards later and 100 yards from the finish, was that my passenger side front wheel had clipped a large boulder that had been disguised within the tall weeds.  Upon impact with said boulder my wheel and tire had been snapped violently sideways and in the process ripped my tierod out of its steering rack, snapped the 7/8 hardened steel shaft of my front coilover shock like a twig and shattered the lower eye of the identical shock.  Once this occurred there ceased to be a "carrier" for the coils that hold up the front of the vehicle which lurched to the right and downward on top of the tire (which somehow still holds air to this moment despite the impact to itself and the rim of the forged wheel currently exhibiting a large gouge in its edge) and brought the truck to a rapid halt.

My first thought was that I had hit something and the tire had gone down to the rim.  That would have been an easy fix.  Unfortunately the truck was not repairable at the event.  I and the Frontier were towed unceremoniously down the mountain where I proceeded to call every NAPA, Pep Boys, AutoZone, etc. in the VT/NH area looking for an inner tierod in the hopes that I could replace it, get my steering back, put the passenger side suspension up on some urethane blocks and limp her home.  It was not to be.  No one it seems, stocks INNER tierod ends for Frontiers/Xterras/Pathfinders etc.  Live and learn right?  Next event I'll have a spare.

So a fellow competitor by the name of Anthony Burden with whom I am attending Black River Stages rally in late September kindly allowed me to use his AAA card in order to get 100 miles of free towing and get darn close to home without paying a dime on a flatbed.  The NISMO Stuff Frontier currently is stripped of all her broken parts and all replacement parts are on their way only two days later.  I hope to turn her around rather quickly and get some testing in on gravel roads in the near future.

Photos are courtesy of Steve at Vermont Racing.com and more can be found here:  http://vermontracing.com/1/index.php?album=hill%2F2011_okemo_2

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