2020 BITD Silver State 300 - #4535 Race Bronco recap

CGreenwood

Rank III

Advocate II

May 20, 2020
5
30
846
Denver, Colorado
Member #

0223

Sharing our last race recap as someone might find it interesting -

As most things this year, the 2020 #silverstate300 was an interesting race, cut short by a forest fire, a downed chopper (everyone walked away) and a 48 year old drove a 48 year old Ford Bronco through some of the most torn up race course ever. We might not have been the fastest but we were the oldest and didn’t finish last. First in class.

The Bronco is actually mostly stock, built to race the NORRA Mexican 1000 in Baja Mexico in the Pioneer class we are required to run a stock suspension setup with original suspension points, Dana 44 front, rear ford 9 inch, stock size rear leafs (length and width) stock coil buckets, stock radius arms and limited to a single 2" reservoir shock at each corner. In addition we have to run a Ford small block, original transmission and transfer case as it was offered from Ford so in our case we are running a 351w stroked to a 408, C4 transmission and Dana20. There are obviously a few things we can upgrade and the additional safety items, which we take very seriously. But overall its probably more Stock than most race vehicles and even production class racers out there.

I knew going into this years Silver State 300 (SS300) the course would be tough, there were almost 300 vehicles starting ahead of us and a bunch are running 40" tires which as you can imagine plow massively deep ruts through the majority of the race course. Undeterred our 72 was prepped and we stepped up our tire game this race and crammed 35 inch BFG KM3's under it to help us out and glad we did!

We traveled from Denver to the oven known as Las Vegas on Thursday, the day before tech, and arrived before sundown to do some quick prep for the next days safety and tech inspection before grabbing a good dinner and a good nights sleep. The next day we sprinted to registration so that we could get through tech early in the day before it got really hot. Tech went fairly smoothly, we have a few things to address but nothing major, we were good to go. We spent the rest of the day checking fluids, zip tying stuff to various parts of the Bronco, taking care of a leaking rear axle seal and a broken leaf spring retainer that had been diligently bailing wired from the last years NORRA (apparently the crew didn't appreciate my bailing wire retainment approach). We took a break during the heat of the day to relax, watch the drivers meeting and subsequent race changes from a lightening induced forest fire and then headed off to grab some In-n-Out before hitting the parking lot once more to do final prep and a quick light aiming.

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Saturday morning is race day. We grabbed a good breakfast and headed out with the rest of the racer north to Alamo Nevada. A quick last minute truck stop to fuel up the chase trucks and top off the racer and dump cans we headed for the starting line.

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The Forest Fire was very obvious in the mountains above the starting line and the wind certainly wasn't helping the efforts.

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We knew we would be one of the last off the line and as it turns out we were third from last - which was just fine by me. To finish this race you have to keep above a 30 mph average pace. There are closing times for each pit and the goal for us was to run a consistent smart pace.

Waiting for our start time we did last minute prepping and relaxed staying well hydrated. The start of the race was around 3500 feet and it was probably mid 90's, so not quite as hot as Vegas (108F) but still hot. The course would take us up to 7800 feet and back to 4000, so we anticipated the first three hours to be pretty warm in the Bronco and would keep an eye on our temps as we hadn't raced in this warm of weather, even in Baja.
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We lined up behind a ocean of Golf Carts (and some Jeepspeed folks) - basically as far as you could see, never seen so many side-by-sides in all my life and they certainly were not stock, the photo below doesn't do it justice...

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We left the start line right at 1:30PM, almost two hours behind the first "Trick Truck" (Trophy Truck in Baja, its a trademark thing apparently) and quickly ran into a bunch of stuck trucks in silt. The Bronco easily maneuvered around the stuck trucks and silt and we settled in to some nice power line roads to get up to speed and a feel for the course. About 10 miles in, we noticed our Transmission temps creeping up. We have a pretty beefy transmission cooler and after racing 4 days straight we never saw temps above 195F in Baja, even running long high speed stretches. As we kept up the pace were now at 220F within a few miles. We slowed down and ran conservative to the first Pit at race mile 27 or so, we didn't have anyone at this pit so we cruised through and slowed our pace as the transmission came down to around 200F. A few miles later we hit another long straight and opened the bronco up, sure enough our transmission temp quickly pegged out ~250F. We were pretty worried as we were really not pushing the Bronco very hard and so far the course was relatively easy. We knew the hard stuff was coming up and we would have a tough time keeping our finish pace if the transmission was overheating. Again, we slowed down for the next 10 miles or so and finally got into some technical narrow race course through the mesquite trees and through some very rocky and torn up gulleys. The transmission finally decided to cool off. At Race mile 74 we meet up with our chase team for the first time at Pit 2, for a quick 1 min stop for a visual and off we went.

The next 15 miles were pretty rough, huge rocks, huge ruts, deep river bed silt and did i mention rocks? Yes, rocks.. lots of them, it looked like the bigger trucks threw dynamite out the windows as they went by. At mile 100 we started to hear some clunking from the suspension. We took some pretty big hits and thought we had thrashed the rear end or drive shaft. We pulled over and crawled under the bronco looking for the obvious stuff and just couldn't find anything. I knew we had about 20 miles to go to the next pit and the Bronco was still running and driving great so we jumped back in and headed on down the course to Pit 3.

We radioed ahead to our crew about the suspension issues, the banging was more of a hammering and in time with certain cycles of the suspension. I knew it was on the drivers side and it was somewhere near the front. I suspected we had blown an air bump or lost a bushing. Pulling into pit 3 the crew immediately saw the front axle moving back and forth and sure enough we had lost the drivers side radius arm bushing completely, there was nothing left of the front half and the back half was already half gone.

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The crew quickly assessed the situation, dug through the parts bins we started to formulate a fix, possibly using used bearings and random poly bushings, luckily digging further through the spare parts bins we found a used set of Radius arm bushings! The guys lept into action strapping the front axle and pulling it forward to get the radius arm out of the mount - bushings in we noticed the passenger side was just about done but still in place. Time was ticking, each pit has a closing time and if you are not underway before it closes you are done. Additionally we were told that the fire has worsened and they had shortened the race, the finish line would be at Pit 7. We decided that the bushing could wait as we had a fuel stop with BFG at Pit 4 and we would swap the bushing there.

The next section seemed to be even rougher than the last as I tried to keep the passenger side axle from taking too big of hits. This section was filled with rocky washes with deep ruts and lots of high centering possibilities but we didn't have any issues and arrived at BFG pit 4. Taking on fuel and with the BFG folks help we got the passenger radius arm bushing swapped in and even a little time for a couple of new decals :)

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Last edited:

CGreenwood

Rank III

Advocate II

May 20, 2020
5
30
846
Denver, Colorado
Member #

0223

At this point we were told that the race was shortened once again - this time the finish would be at Pit 6, about 70 miles away. We decided to have the crew skip Pit 5 and we would just meet them at the finish, a bit of bummer but we enjoyed the last 70 miles as it was the best so far, lots of elevation changes from sandy washes then into the mountains (where we came across the helicopter crash from earlier) and then toward the end nice open roads and huge sweepers. We even got to run with our new light bar for a few of hours in the dark and with the temps dropping and faster course we were having a great time!

A couple miles before Pit 6 we rounded a corner and crossed the finish line, a quarter mile later we were greeted by the BITD crew, race tracker removed and then headed down the road to Pit 6 - where there wasn't a soul in sight...


We radioed our crew and were told they were a few miles down the road, apparently they were stopped from coming to the finish line - later found out there was allot of out bound traffic from the pit earlier and thats why they restricted two way traffic. So we headed off down the road and finally found them in a field, loaded up, had a beer and headed home.

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A huge shoutout to #bfgoodrichtires and the BFG pit support. They flat out rock, nothing better than seeing the big Red white and blue truck out there! Most of all i have to thank my crew - no way we would have finished with them.

Upon further investigation we found that the brand new rubber bushings that I had installed recently in the Racer had metal re-enforcements in them. The metal re-enforcements were discs that fatigued the bushings and acted like a razor blade and destroyed the bushing from the inside out. I know the vendor I bought them from doesn't make them and have reached out to them to let them know. I will be replacing the rubber bushings with poly AND keeping a spare set of polys as backup :)

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Thank for letting me bore you! We have a bunch of 360 degree 4K video we are reviewing from the race and some on course actions shots and will post up soon.
 

Dee C

Rank III

Champion II

Absolutely breathtaking.....(I held my breath while I read your story)
I have loved my 1989 Bronco for 20 years. so proud to be part of the family.
your accomplishments are record-setting. and I'm sure your Grandpa is smiling on you.
when I left home as a young girl, I left my Grandpa my 1971 Ford 100 pickup. bright orange with a crazy horn that played "I've been working on the railroad"
my Grandpa drove that truck on the roads of rural Minnesota, up north for years.
My grandpa was the most important person in my life, and I LOVE the story of you and yours.
P.S.
I cant wait for the video!
 
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CGreenwood

Rank III

Advocate II

May 20, 2020
5
30
846
Denver, Colorado
Member #

0223

I just posted some video from the race however it looks like we forgot to turn on the camera at the start line so only have the last 80 miles or so from Pit 4 which is where we replaced the passenger side radius arm bushing.

Also of note, this was a new camera mounting location and it didn't work out too well. The arm on the camera mount was too long and the mounting point on the aluminum roof flexed too much.

Video is horribly shaky and really tough to watch - so just warning ya!


 

RockstarBobby

Rank V

Supporter I

Jul 14, 2020
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Lockhart, TX, USA
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At this point we were told that the race was shortened once again - this time the finish would be at Pit 6, about 70 miles away. We decided to have the crew skip Pit 5 and we would just meet them at the finish, a bit of bummer but we enjoyed the last 70 miles as it was the best so far, lots of elevation changes from sandy washes then into the mountains (where we came across the helicopter crash from earlier) and then toward the end nice open roads and huge sweepers. We even got to run with our new light bar for a few of hours in the dark and with the temps dropping and faster course we were having a great time!

A couple miles before Pit 6 we rounded a corner and crossed the finish line, a quarter mile later we were greeted by the BITD crew, race tracker removed and then headed down the road to Pit 6 - where there wasn't a soul in sight...


We radioed our crew and were told they were a few miles down the road, apparently they were stopped from coming to the finish line - later found out there was allot of out bound traffic from the pit earlier and thats why they restricted two way traffic. So we headed off down the road and finally found them in a field, loaded up, had a beer and headed home.

View attachment 720

A huge shoutout to #bfgoodrichtires and the BFG pit support. They flat out rock, nothing better than seeing the big Red white and blue truck out there! Most of all i have to thank my crew - no way we would have finished with them.

Upon further investigation we found that the brand new rubber bushings that I had installed recently in the Racer had metal re-enforcements in them. The metal re-enforcements were discs that fatigued the bushings and acted like a razor blade and destroyed the bushing from the inside out. I know the vendor I bought them from doesn't make them and have reached out to them to let them know. I will be replacing the rubber bushings with poly AND keeping a spare set of polys as backup :)

View attachment 721

Thank for letting me bore you! We have a bunch of 360 degree 4K video we are reviewing from the race and some on course actions shots and will post up soon.
Fantastic story! Truly enjoyed reading about the race and visualizing being there. Those BFG guys sound awesome! I know having an extra set of hands to help you get back in the race was a great help. Keep us posted on your future runs! Congratulations!
 
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