It is the last event for the WERock East series and we are headed back to Dayton, Tennessee. As I have said before, this is a great site to compete. It is very spectator friendly due to the layout of the terrain.
It is 11:00 pm Thursday night and we are on our way. We had a few problems on the trip to Dayton this time. There is road construction on 495 around Washington D.C. At around 1:30 am we hit an orange barrier barrel that was lying down in the road. After hitting the first one, I noticed two more lying over, and swerved to miss them. We started hearing a noise coming from the trailer shortly after that. I pulled over as soon as we could get to an open shoulder of the road. We walked around and inspected the trailer to find that we had sheared off all the wheel studs on the left front wheel. With some help from V.D.O.T., we were able to get the trailer off the RT 66 and into a shopping center. By now, it is 3:30 am and we decide to sleep in the truck til morning.
In the morning, we run around and find wheel studs and lug nuts to get us on the road again. We make it about 10 miles when I start to see smoke coming from the left side of the trailer. We stop and check it out and the left front hub/drum assy broke. We limp it off to a parking lot. After making a few phone calls, we found a trailer supply shop. After installing a new drum and bearings, we are on our way again. The GPS says we will arrive at 7pm. The comp starts at 7 pm and we still have to make one more fuel stop.
Due to traffic in Knoxville we arrive about 45 min late. When we park, Bruce runs to get our paperwork and find out what course we are on. Matt gets the Jeep out of the trailer while I get my fire suit on. When we get to our course, we find out we are only 15 min into our break-down time. The group that was running behind us says that they want to continue the running order that had already been set. So while we were waiting, Matt and I went back to the trailer to top off for fuel and swap out a bad switch.
We started on A4 which is the hill climb that almost totaled the Jeep the last time we were here. This time it was up on the rocky side of the hill and the regular line down on the far left or bonus line down in the steep undercut section. We chose the regular line down so we would complete the course with no issues. Considering that I was unable to watch anyone run the course before we ran, I was very happy with our score of -5.
Now on to A1. We are currently at the back of the group that was following ours. When we get up to A1, our group had just finished. The judge made a decision to have us move up in front of the group we were with which would put us back in line where we belong. Unfortunately, once again, we are asking the judge course direction because we were unable to watch anyone before us. There are a couple side hill sections to this course along with some climbs and two large drop-offs towards the end of the course. We chose to run all of the regular lines and bypass the bonus, not knowing if anyone had even tried it. We got through the course clean but on the drop-off cut a side wall in the left rear tire, but we did finish the course with a -3.
While Matt and I took the Jeep back to the trailer to change the tire, Bruce stayed behind to watch the next course. On to A2, and I get a chance to watch an unlimited struggle to make an eight foot undercut climb with no success. As of when we were to run, no one had completed A2 in either Pro-mod or Unlimited. We struggled some with the first two gates, but were able to get through. Now it was on to the third gate which no one has made. We attempt to side hill the gate and take it dirty with three tires through. Unfortunately, before we could get through, we timed out with a score of 38.
On to A3 which is a lot of ups and downs across the course. We get up through gate one with no problem. I spin the Jeep around at the top and start to head back down through a steep stair stepped section. Before I realize it, I am on a bad line and the Jeep tips nose down and rolls to the bottom. Once again, the Jeep lands on its wheels, and I am pointed in the right direction. I start to go when Bruce is yelling at me to stop. Not knowing what has happened, I tell him I am okay. He tells me the Jeep has lost a tire. I said that is okay we can run it flat. Bruce said, “No, it is three feet behind the rig.” When we rolled the Jeep’s side slapped a large rock and snapped the left rear axle shaft off at the bearing. We time out on A3 with a 38.
After having the Jeep towed back to the trailer, we assess the damage. For the night, we swap out the spare shaft and install the wheel to get the Jeep in the trailer.
Bruce and I get up early and head out after breakfast to gather parts we need to fix the Jeep. After kicking Matt out of bed, we head back up to the comp course and spend half a day making the necessary repairs. We run back down the mountain to grab a late lunch and set cleaned up before Saturday night’s competition.
We are first up tonight starting on B4. Tonight, I have Matt spotting for me. Bruce asked to sit this one out. This course is a lot of ups and downs with two of the gates being side-hill approached. We clipped the number one gate but ran the rest of the course clean with a few backups for a score of 10.
Next is B1 which is basically the same as A1 was the night before but just in reverse. We ran gate one clean but as I turned uphill, the Jeep went on two wheels. Matt is yelling in my ear, “Go Go Go!” after getting the Jeep back on all four tires, we head to gate two. We take the lower gate two cone and go up the hill. We chose to take this gate after watching so many others struggle to get up and hitting the cones anyway. We run the rest of the course clean, and get out with time to spare. We are happy with a score of nine.
On to B2 which has an obstacle they call table top rock. Gate one is at the bottom of table top. As of when we ran, no one has made gate one. We tried to clear the lower gate, but the Jeep got really off-camber, so we took the lower cone. While I got spun around, Matt stacked some rocks so that we could get up onto table top rock. I got up on our first attempt. With a few back-ups, we were able to make the remaining gates clean with a tie for the best score of 13.
Our last regular course for the evening is B3. When we looked at this course, we knew we would be taking a few cones. This course had one climb but the rest was all off camber side hills. With a little stacking, we made gate one. We chose to take the bonus line, knowing we would take a cone, and we did. On toward gate three, where Matt attempted to stack a few rocks but the right rear tire just rubbed the cone. Around the outside and out the exit for the second best Pro-mod score of 19.
Since we ran all of our courses with no major problems, we now wait to see if we made the shoot out. When the scores got posted, we found ourselves to be in second by one point. We are onto the shootout.
The shootout for this event is bonus land, where every gate is worth -5 points and there are no penalties for back-ups, and if you go through the gate with three tires dirty, you still get the -5 points. After watching several competitors run and seeing that Josh Crowe was putting the pressure on us with five gates, it is our turn. Matt and I had a plan to get six gates if all went well. It took a few tries, but we got through our first and second gates and then we head over to the eight foot drop and we have them checked in. Up and around the outside for gate three. Unfortunately, when going through the down route, the right front tire goes into a hole and over the Jeep goes, rolling to the bottom. Once again, the Jeep lands on its tires and I am off and heading for another gate. We go up and through gates three and four, back around and down the steep drop and we check them in. Now, we need one more to keep second place. I run over to table top rock and on the third try, I am up. Matt says go and check it in, but I am lined up for our sixth gate, and I tell him that I am going for it. Up and over around and down, and we check in six gates with less than 10 seconds left on the clock for a score of -30. We set the lowest score for the Pro-mod class.
The team; Bruce, Matt, and myself hold onto second place. Our best finish of the season and my personal best so far.
Sunday morning, we get up early and start heading home. Thinking that we had a great comp and all of our problems are behind us. About half-way home, we blow the left rear tire on my truck destroying the side of the bed, tail light, and bumper. We swap on the spare tire and finish the trip with no more problems.
Once again, I would like to first thank our fans and the spectators. For if it was not for all of you, we would not be able to do this. Second, I would like to thank all of our sponsors: Quadratec, BFGoodrich, Ramsey Winches, Tom Woods, Corbeau Seats, Griffin Radiators, Painless Wiring, PSC, Bestop, Bushwacker, KC Hilites and Skyjacker. And last, I would like to thank my family and friends who have been there to help and support us for another season. I hope to see you all next year.
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