The weight shifted in the barrels, the sand gave way and we went into a slide off the road. Sensing an impending rollover, Hal turned left with the slope and we plowed down into a deep sand wash. When the dust cleared we found ourselves stuck up to our hubs in a place that probably had swallowed dinosaurs millions of years before.
We celebrated the fact that we hadn't rolled and then tested old Blues resolve to the limit. By jamming it into four-wheel we were able to wallow down the wash parallel to the raised road. It was a rough half-mile later when the slope flattened enough for Hal to floor it so the truck could haul it's own fat butt back on the so-called road. In the process we broke a motor mount and ripped the radiator fan shroud loose which came back to haunt us later.
The sun settled below the horizon before we made the town, leaving us to figure a way after dark through the empty gaggle of falling-down houses and a crazy quilt combination of paths and streets headed in all directions
In the process, we came across an Army Base. Surprisingly, the soldiers were actually on guard, after a long day of painting rocks white. The directions we received to the racecourse were sketchy at best, but when the troops finally got all their flashlights pointing in the same direction, we took a chance and followed a rough path out of town, into the night.
Thirty minutes later we arrived at the race path, but 15 miles up-course from our pit location. Noting the cow skeleton lying there and knowing the so-called course would destroy our trucks and camper over 15 miles of rocks and ruts, we decided to camp there and find our pit location in the daylight. It was a wise move. In the morning we could actually see where we were going.
We hurried to set the pit, because we knew racers were already headed our way at blistering speeds. Over the next fifty-three hours we serviced sixty-eight vehicles--a new record. It was a long night and day highlighted by three close calls as one hundred mile an hour trophy trucks roared through, sirens and horns blasting, overtaking slower vehicles right in front of our pit. What a show. "Look, it's going to eat the motorcycle..."
After our pit had closed, Hal and another Pit crew member, Bill took off for a few days of Baja exploration. A few hours later, they encountered an off-road opportunity meant for a much shorter wheel based truck. They stopped on the edge to size up the situation.
The gully was steep going in and even steeper going out. If they didn't play this right, Blue could end up as a permanent footbridge with front and rear bumpers stuck in the opposite banks and the wheels dangling uselessly in mid air. Hal figured the key was momentum. Bill wisely got out of the truck and stood where he thought it might be safe as Hal and Blue prepared for the gully run.
Hal muscled Blue into 4wheel, turned up `The Grateful Dead' and stuffed the foot feed. The big 6 cylinder roared, the load nearly jumped out of the bed as gravity helped them free-fall down the embankment. But auguring into the gully wasn't the worst part--that came when Blue leapt for the other bank through the rocks of the dry wash and came up a little short, barging the front mounted spare into the dirt embankment. The colossal explosion of dirt and dust obscured the windshield, but Hal knew if he let off the gas he would be there forever.
Blue scrabbled for traction and found enough to plow the spare clear of the dirt and begin a charge up the other side. Hal felt a tremendous shudder passing through Blue's chassis, but the nose bounced skyward and he kept going. He bulled his way up the hill, fighting the steering wheel with both hands as it jerked back and forth over the rocks.
When he cleared the top, Hal let out a whoop and kept it rolling to the flat where he stopped for an inspection of the chassis. As Blue idled proudly, catching its breath, Hal peered under. The whole front clip was tweaked an inch or more to the right. The Spare tire and rack had taken the brunt of the blow in the dirt and was at a jaunty new angle, the idler arm for the steering was twisted; bumper supports were bent but not too bad. The raised letters on the front plate were no longer raised. But overall, with just some corrective steering techniques, Blue was drivable until repairs could be made back home.