At last! We took to the starting line just behind the last buggy in the class ahead of us.
After we'd blitzed the starting line and scorched the first turn, Kreg had gotten into his driving groove, flowing with the terrain and guiding the Super Duty along as fast as possible. Shortly after we'd passed the first road crossing, we coasted to a stop next to the course as the engine suddenly went lifeless. There had been no warning. Kreg, Kyle, and I got out. Kreg and Kyle set about assessing why the SD had died. I snapped as many frames as possible, and then joined the fix-it party as a go-fer. It was time to be more than mere live ballast. We had a fried fuse and a dangling driveshaft. Best In The Desert rules prohibit chase teams from coming out onto the course independently, but parts and assistance can be brought out on the course via BITD officials and their vehicles. A BITD official drove out to us in a bright yellow '05 Super Duty, bearing spare parts. Former Donahoe shop foreman Tim Serviss was on board with the BITD official, and the two helped to get us on the move again. After changing a fuse and swapping in a fresh drive shaft, we were back on course.
BITD president Casey Folks had told us the night before at the driver's meeting to watch t
We set a fast pace -- for about a minute. "It's running horribly!" Kreg proclaimed. The water temperature had shot toward the redline and forced the engine into fail-safe mode. So began our overheating troubles. We were forced to the sidelines several times. The aforementioned nasty course conditions combined with the hot weather made for a combination that tested the best of fans, hoses, and radiators. While a racing engine isn't expected to last several years under the crucible of competition, we also didn't want to fry the Power Stroke in a single day.
Here's a photo that wasn't fun to take. The Donahoe Super Duty sits wounded next to the c
Sitting on the sidelines provides plenty of time to think about what's happening under the hood. We finally made the connection between the dead driveshaft and our overheating problems. It seems that the rear suspension had drooped out far enough to let the driveshaft start separating. When the 'shaft tried to slam itself back together under suspension compression, it shot the rest of the drivetrain forward, the fan severing the wires that control the fan clutch. With the fan clutch wires severed, air wasn't being pulled through the radiator. The problem had been discovered, but not yet solved.There's never a convenient time or place for a breakdown, but having mechanical trouble in a BITD race is only slightly more opportune than breaking down in L.A. rush-hour traffic. BITD rules regarding chase crews and pitting are very restrictive. No chase crews can be out on the course. Pitting can only be done in designated pits, and we were also up against our time limit. We had cleared Pit One and Checkpoint One and were on our way to Pit Two. If the overheating problem could be licked, it would have to be licked at Pit Two in about 10 minutes. Kreg called ahead to the waiting pit crew, explaining the severed wires. Chief engineer Dylan Evans would lead the effort to fix the fan by hard-wiring it so that the fan clutch was engaged any time the ignition was on.