“Got kitesurfing on the mind, mixed with some search & classification tech, and a dab of political ranting”

SCORE 2008 – Laughlin Desert Challenge

Posted by direwolff on January 29, 2008

How cool is this shot of my buddy JK at the Laughlin Desert Challenge, the first SCORE event of 2008. Kind of reminds of me Herbie the Love Bug flying through the air. He and his co-drivers (dad (Jack Sr.) & wife (Dani) each participating in one day of the two day event) took THIRD place for their class!!! w00t-w00t!!! You may have seen my previous post on their exploits here, and it seems that they have now moved into 2008 invigorated to kick butt! I’m really psyched for them.

They are known as Team Baja or Bust in reference to the Baja 1000 race at the end of the season. They are supported by ORAF (Off Road Auto Fab) who built and maintain their car. Per JK’s permission, here’s an excerpt from his e-mail discussing the events and the practice session…pretty nuts…

The course is a 7 mile loop, with 80 minutes to complete 6 laps, with two days of racing and placement based upon combined times. The track had sections of very fast straight aways with several jumps that launched the car over 30′ to 50′ forward, and up to 10′ in the air. That was combined with very tight curves with ruts up to 4′ high. Great mix of terrain on mostly sand and mud. ORAF had the car back in fighting shape after the 1000 last year required a new front end, new shock, new engine, new transmission, and re-welding of many parts of the car. If you recall the pictures, it looked like it had been through a war!

Friday was practice running, and about .5 miles into the first lap, I hit a curve a little too hot, hit some deep sand and rolled the car over! Jack Sr. was co-driving, and got to see first hand dirt defying gravity as the car flipped. Help from some fellow races, and we turned it over and got back on track. Added a new small dent to the roof, but everything else was functioning fine.

Practice running was intense, as all vehicles, including 800 HP Trophy Trucks were on the course. One particular jump on a fast straight away, I looked out of my side window when we were about 5 feet in the air after hitting a high speed jump to see the bottom of the tires of a trophy truck about 3′ away, slightly higher then my roof! I was going about 45 mph, he was doing at least 90 mph!

Sat we awoke at 5 a.m. for a 7 a.m. start to a warm sunny day, and after a slow and cautious first lap, times continued to drop, putting us in 7th place with only seconds separating me from the next 4 drivers. Jack Sr did an excellent job of co-driving even after I destroyed his back in the Friday roll over. The course was dry and extremely fast, and the car performed flawlessly. A couple of pictures show us with all 4 off the ground, flying high enough to make the Duke boys look like a couple of wimps. Sat. afternoon after the race all Knight family members took turns at the wheel including Dani and Jack Jr. He was elated to get to drive daddy’s desert race car. Good stories to tell child services when they take me away. The most excited was Dani, and she caused me to hold on hard to the driver T bar while she took some good bumps at speed. She definitely got that look in her eye (those of you who have hung with us late night know what I mean).

Saturday evening after a few tequila’s, it was decided, with Jack Sr’s back out of line, and with some borrowed racing gear from Nicole at ORAF, Dani would co-drive with me on Sunday, the second day of the event.

Sunday however, was a different story weather wise. We woke up to torrential rain and temperatures in the low 40’s and a mud bog of a race course. She just gritted her teeth, and jumped in the co driver seat. All the gear was a bit of shock, as you are strapped in with a 5 point harness, neck brace, race suite, head restraint, gloves, and a poncho to try and stay somewhat dry, but she never complained. Growing up in PA was good experience, as the course was like driving on ice. The ruts were up to 5 feet deep, with small lakes forming all over the course, however just like blizzard skiing, I love the inclement weather.

After a good start we passed our first car on lap one, and then one by one knocked them off until we got up to third place. Dani had to wipe my visor down every few second after the waterfall of mud and dirt dumped into the car like Niagara Falls. (Remember, there are no windshields on a desert race car). We hit the last high banked curve, came through the finish line to cheers, with the news that the team thought we had either 4th or 3rd place! Again the car performed better then a new Maytag washer, with little to no issues, through most of the race. The guys at ORAF really came through for us and had it in tip top shape for the weekend. Nothing less then a miracle what they pulled off. Rulo, the lead engineer on the car had not slept in several days putting it, and his new car together. The results were posted about an hour after the race, and there it was, third place. Congrats to the whole team for their support and drive to help us bring across the great finish. I could not have done it without them.

Next race for the SCORE series is the San Felipe 250 in Mexico in March. A very high speed race through tough terrain.


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