Whiplash 2009, Snowflake, September 2009
Last weekend was the Snowflake 100, this is the most popular race of the year and the entry count is normally the highest. The snowflake course is one of my favorites and I have always wanted to win this race. Last year the race was extremely muddy and it rained for half the race. I wasn’t fully prepared for the moisture and it ended up getting into my engine, and rear bearings both of which failed around lap 3 and cost me a ton of money. This year we were expecting lots of rain and possibly leftover moisture from the hurricane that hit Mexico earlier in the week. I couldn’t afford to blow another engine so I considered everything from borrowing a utility quad and racing it, not racing at all, or trying to waterproof my quad and just go slow and finish the race.
Heading into Saturday it hadn’t rained at all but on Saturday it really came down hard during the truck and buggy race. The whole place was a swamp when I arrived Saturday afternoon. Luckily it stopped raining and we got to work water proofing my quad. We used all the tricks we knew and I tried to get the quad jetted right with the stock airbox lid on. It felt like the quad had lost at least 20% of its power with the airbox lid on but that is a small price to pay for a safe, waterproof engine. It didn’t rain all night and on race day the course was drying out nicely. The motorcycles were racing first so they broke the track in even more. Come race time and the course was in great shape, the tacky, clay soil up there was going to provide a ton of traction.
At the start of the race the sun was out, they lined us up 2 at a time, according to the points standings so I was starting on the 2nd row since I am still 3rd in points. I was lined up next to Jason, the guy who I had barely beat at the Cinders. He was riding a new Honda 700XX quad. The green flagged dropped and I got the holeshot but he took the inside line and got in front me in turn 2. I got back around him in the next corner and put my head down and tried to pull away. Around mile 1.5 I saw what looked like the entire pro class pulled off to the side of the track, someone had wrecked badly. I slowed down and went around them and continued on. I wasn’t sure if the 2 guys from my class who started ahead of me were stopped there or not.
I was catching the quad in front of me and it was actually dusty. Jason was still behind me and in one dusty section I blindly went off the course and ended up in a big wood pile, I dropped the clutch and luckily got through it. Around mile 20 I saw number 40 (currently 2nd in points) off of the left side of the course. So I knew I was in 2nd place now and the rest of the lap was good. I kept racing hard on lap 2, at one point I overshot a tight corner and ended up stalling. I could hear quads coming behind me and luckily the quad re-started and I got going again.
Towards the end of lap 2 it started sprinkling. I also had a very hard time passing one of the pros, he looked back several times and saw me there and tried to hold me off. I guess he didn’t realize we weren’t in the same class. I finally got around him and made it into my pits. My pit team (my Dad and Adam as usual) did a great job and told me I was doing great and I was in 2nd overall and first in my class. I wasn’t sure I believed them because I didn’t remember passing or seeing Nick, the points leader. During the pit stop my gas vent line came off I pushed it back on but later down the track it came completely off so I was getting spritzed with gas the rest of the race.
Lap 3 I started catching lapped traffic and towards the end of lap 3 it was raining pretty hard. The course was very slippery and about a mile from the finish there was a left hand corner with a giant water hole in it. On previous laps I had hit it in 5th gear and flew around the water. This time it was very slippery so I decided to slow down to 4th but that wasn’t nearly enough. I hit the brakes and nothing happened, I was sliding right at the tree and fence post. I knew I was never going to make the turn and at this point I was staring at the tree so I tried going around it on the right just hoping I could avoid a collision and get back on course. The rear of the quad swung out to the left but I was still headed right at the tree. I hit the post with the left rear tire and my left shoulder at the same time. This spun me around like a top 270 degrees the other direction. Somehow I didn’t fly off the quad but I figured my race might be over since my wheel or axle had to be bent. It took a second for the quad to start and then I started riding slowly and everything looked straight so I put the hammer down and headed for the white flag. John from RSD was out with his whiteboard telling me I was 2nd overall and 1st in class.
I stopped quickly for goggles and Adam told me I needed to hurry because my class was behind me. I rode hard in the rain/sun on the last lap. The middle part of the course was still sunny, dusty and kinda hot, it was weird. I made it to the checkered without anymore drama. I ended up 1st in class by 3 minutes and I was 2nd overall. One of the open pros had beaten me by 2 minutes. At the finish line I noticed I had broken my swing arm pivot bolt again and it was sticking 3” out of the side of the quad, we had just replaced it the day before. If it had worked its way out, the rear of the quad would have separated from the front. I lost my swing arm skidplate out there too.
I still need to wash and inspect my quad to see if anything else is broken.