From a bare frame to Mexican 1000 fame in less than a year! Just the pure satisfaction of rebuilding and racing the three time Baja 1000 winning Chenowth by Jeff Furrier and Rory Ward would have almost been enough of a reward, but the Class 3 win made it that much sweeter! Special thanks to John Furrier, Chad Nichols of Nichols Fabrication and Mark Stahl for helping make the Chenowth 1000 a winner once again.
Tech Inspection- When arriving at Mexicali on Wednesday (May 4th) for tech inspection, the car was instantly surrounded by race fans and photographers. The car was so close to original, the old timers thought they were in a time machine! The car made it through tech without any problems, then was taken back to the hotel for the final touches. The chase crews readied the trucks for the support run to La Paz.
Race Day, Day 1-
Before the race, DirtSports magazine held a photo shoot of four fully restored Chenowth race cars, ours being one of them inside the Mexicali Bullring. We were very honored to be involved and can't wait to see the final photo in the magazine.
Day 1 consisted of three stages. Mark drove the 1st stage with no problems, minus a few minutes off course due to the heavy dust. Luckily enough our trusty etch-a-sketch pointed him back in the right direction. From what we heard, almost half the field was having "navigation" problems on the first stage. After Marks stage,Rory got in and had a smooth run, thanks to the Bilstein shocks, to Puertecitos. The 3rd stage of day 1 went just as well, Jeff took the wheel and brought it into Bay of Los Angeles. The #118 Chenowth 1000 was in 1st place after day 1 with a 20 minute lead on 2nd place. Prep for the following day consisted of 1 quart of oil and some carberator spray to lube the throttle linkage. The crew was able to relax and enjoy some cool drinks and dinner on the beach.
Jeff was the wheelman for the first of the two stages for the day. Limted course access for chase crews made day 2 the most difficult. Jeff had a 124 mile run with almost no stops, only one minor detail, a hard rock hit with the front right wheel, bending the wheel and blowing the tire from the bead. Lucky Jeff was able to muscle it through till the end of the stage in good time. Rory then tackled the rocky 175 mile stage 2 to Loreto with a quick pit stop performed by Tony Tellier and friends at mile 130, his champion pit crew provided the car with a splash of gas and a tire change due to picking up
a nail in the rear Mickey Thompson tire. Turns out both tires were fine but the same couldn't be said for the wheels. The competition struggled with issues behind the #118, but the Chenowth ran trouble free and only extended its lead. At the end of the day the lead increased 2+ hours over 2nd place which changed the stratagy to survival mode for day 3 to secure a win.
Rory started day 3 starting behind Baja legend Larry Ragland. The stage was uneventful, with only a brake bias problem that needed to be addressed during the transit stage. As Jeff took the car, the crew topped off the fuel, and warned him of the lacking brakes, then wished him good luck. The car blazed a cautious trail out of Ciudad Constituion to the finish line in La Paz. Jeff didn't let anything stop him at that point, not the deep silt beds crowded with his fellow races, not the brakes (literally) and not the cactus lodged in his back for that last 30 miles of the stage.
It seemed like a lifetime before Jeff came into view, but when he did the crew was estatic!! Jeff pulled into the finish line with the time of 14 hours, 3 minutes and 13 seconds, taking class 3 win at the 2011 running of the NORRA Mexican 1000!
The car pretty much ran with no problems even though there is a 30 year gap between its last three Baja wins. The car never would have made it to La Paz without the quality fab work of Chad Nichols at Nichols Fab and John Furrier, along with the prep from Rory and Jeff. Mark Stahl spent a couple days fine tuning his old friend the week before the race. Since the car was so close to original, Mark knew his way around it and was able to incorperate some of his old tricks.
A HUGE thank you to the following sponsors:
UPR racing Supply, Racers Only Motorsport Designs, Mickey Thompson Tires, Jamar, Bilstein, B&R Buggie, Bully Dog, Mendeola Transmissions, KC HiLiTES, Earls Performance Products, K&N filters, MSD Ignition, Troy Lee Designs, Racer X, Race-Dezert.com, DirtSports, Ntense Tee's, ESS Fire systems, Dirt Bagz and Nichols Fabrication in Tucson Az, Desert Rat Off Road Centers.
We would also like to thank the following people that have helped along the way:
Butch Dean, Bob Gordon, Lucas Hand, Carl Perez, Mike Cohen, Gary Haugley, Mark Stahl, John Furrier, Chad Nichols, Ed and Barbara Beard, Marty Fiolka, Bob MacCachren, Ron league, Jim Travis, Tom Surdez, Bobby Scott, Chad Fryman, Thom McDonald, Steve Monosmith, Don Kolt, Brent Mckee, Steve"Smitty"Smith, Alex Gilkerson and Michelle Marcotte.