Author Topic: How to Make Racing Even More Redneck - A Blog about Trailer Racing  (Read 20346 times)

MiniVanMan

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Even if we don't officially support blogs here on A-R, I think I'll still do one about Trailer Racing.

Title is a work in progress.  :-\ Any helpful input on format or whatever is appreciated!

===========================================

Introduction:

It's sort of hard to deny that a major appeal of automotive racing is the ever present potential for spectacular wrecks. Nobody wants to see anybody get hurt, but skidding tires and crunching sheet metal is a recipe for an instant adrenaline rush - even for the spectators.

Crashing isn't a guaranteed thing in most forms of auto racing, so for those of us who get their kicks watching cars spin and slam into each other, littering the track with debris, entire racing genres have been created for the sole purpose of ensuring that crashes WILL happen.

Most obviously are Demolition Derbies.

Demolition Derbies are straight and to the point. If crashing is what you want to see, well, that's the entire goal in a Demolition Derby - to crash into the other participants, and be the last person left with a running, driving vehicle. Unfortunately, Demolition Derby attendance seems to be in a steady decline over the past few years. No one is really sure why.

One theory is that drivers are putting too much money into their cars and making them too strong. The spectators want to see cars crunched up and torn apart, so when you have a Heat full of over-built derby cars, what you see is akin to slamming a bunch of red bricks together, if those bricks had flimsy axles that would end up being the only part of the vehicle to show any noticeable damage.

Another theory is that because of the over-built cars, new-comers tend to have little to no chance of competing in any worthwhile way. Spending a few thousand dollars only to be knocked out of the event within the first thirty seconds is not very enticing, when the entire point of this type of "racing" is that it's cheap and accessible for those of us who don't have a disposable income.

Thankfully, redneck creativity seems to know no bounds, and we have plenty of other events to choose from.

From School Bus Figure 8 races where a fleet of 60-foot long vehicles must time their pass through an intersection as to not hit - or BE hit by another bus, to Skid Plate racing where front wheel drive cars have steel plates in place of the rear tires and must complete 10 laps around the oval truck in a constant state of over-steer, to Trailer Figure 8 Racing, where vehicles of all types must complete a number of laps on a Figure 8 track while pulling a trailer.

The last person left with a trailer, or the first person to cross the checkered flag is the winner. Tow-vehicle hits are not allowed, but incidental contact is a given. It's all about trying to destroy everyone else's trailer while keeping yours intact - and it's a ridiculous amount of fun.

Trailer Racing guarantees carnage. People tow anything from old campers (with the interior mostly removed, of course) to old boats, jet skis, or other, more creative cargo.

Of course, it's really difficult to explain the appeal of an event such as this. Sometimes it's better to just see it for yourself.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A9t5EVgFAzo" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A9t5EVgFAzo</a>

Trailer Racing is great because it embodies the "cheap" aspect that traditional Demolition Derbies originally touted. Any cheap, running non-4x4/convertible car and single axle trailer will do. The more interesting and creative your car/trailer combination, the more the fans will like you - and the more likely you are to be a primary target for everyone else on the field. That's OK, though, because the real reason people spend their money to participate in an event like this is to put on a show. It's not uncommon to see drivers intentionally destroy their vehicle and/or trailer in the name of causing some form of hilarious and awesome wreck. The spectators always appreciate it, and to many, the cheers from a satisfied audience are worth more than the prize money.

Trailer Racing is a true form of racing, to be sure. It may not involve highly engineered vehicles with trick suspensions and hot motors, but it most certainly involves an element of driver skill and a lot of strategic driving. It may not be as prestigious as the more straight forward forms of racing (for good reason) but I assure you, if you fail to be entertained by a Trailer Race, you are dead inside.

MiniVanMan

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One mans trash...
« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2013, 10:23:52 PM »
One of the benefits of working at a car dealership is that you get first crack at trade ins, and if you know anything about car dealerships, they have to make almost insulting offers on them to ensure that there is room to actually make money on resale.

Of course, sometimes a rock-bottom offer on a trade in also happens to be precisely what the vehicle is worth, and resale just isn't a probability.

That's great news for people like myself. Some say they could hear the gears turning in my head the day this arrived on the lot:



I've tried numerous times in the past to obtain a vehicle to use in the trailer racing but always came up short, for one reason or another.

This time, I put together a plan.

The managers meet every Wednesday, and I figured if I could plant the seed in each of their heads ahead of time as to exactly WHAT Trailer Racing is and WHY it would be worth donating the truck for it, it would be discussed in their meeting with everyone being fully aware of what was being discussed, so the only question at that point would be "Should we, or shouldn't we?".

To help ensure there were no questions about it, I printed off the list of rules for the race, building regulations, and typed up a full description of exactly what takes place during a trailer race. I even sketched a rough idea for what the truck would look like with the lettering and stuff done to it.

Apparently, that tactic worked. Immediately after their meeting, the general manager approached me and gave me the good news. I started tearing the truck apart on my lunch hour that same day.

End of Day 1:
-Removed center caps, painted wheels.
-Removed carpet, door panels, radio, glove box, vacuumed thoroughly.



By the end of the week I had removed the side and rear glass, grill, head lights, tail lights, bed liner, welded the tail gate shut and cut the exhaust off right at the down pipes. Also, I installed a set of used Hoosiers donated by a co-worker.



Of course, you can't run in a trailer race without a trailer. This was a difficult task, finding a cheap free trailer, since I really didn't have any spare cash to throw into the project and asking the dealership to front another $200-$300 just seemed greedy.

I perused Craigslist for several weeks and called the local wrecking yards to no avail.

Finally, I made a trip to a salvage yard a bit farther away than my previous searches. After a short ride on a front-end loader with the chain smoker owner of the yard, I spotted this trailer perched atop a large pile of scrap waiting in line for the shredder.



It's a truck bed from a Datsun 620 that someone re-purposed into a trailer. The only thing missing were the wheels, but apparently GM's six-lug bolt pattern is identical, so I found a pair of old, rusty 6-lug rims that were used as spares (mounted to the under side of the truck, so... very rusty.) and slapped on a used set of 16" car tires.

The width of the rim and tire combo meant that they wouldn't fit the right way, the leaf springs were in the way. I had two choices - look for another matching set of skinny rims and tires, or rip off the brake hardware and flip these rims around. I chose the latter.



Unfortunately, this exposed the tire and rim quite severely, leaving them extremely vulnerable to collision. No worries though, because 6 lug! I figured that 6 lug nuts would be enough to hold things together regardless of how far the tires stuck out from the wheel wells. I only had 6 total lug nuts, however, and had to scavenge for 6 more that would fit. Unfortunately I didn't find a perfect match, so I forced on the ones I could find - 3 on each side, so each side had 3 correct lug nuts as well, spaced out in a triangle pattern. I also ran a bead of weld around the inside of the lug nut to attach them to the studs and welded the rim to the center hub as extra insurance.

Part of the dealership sponsoring me and donating the truck meant that I had to have the dealership's name plastered all over the truck. For this, i turned to the Body Shop manager, who was surprisingly excited about the whole thing and was more than happy to have his guys not only paint it, but do it during business hours, on the clock.

It was sort of hard for me to take the truck down there and just leave it. I have been waiting since I was a little kid to race... something. Anything. The paranoid part of me was afraid that something would happen to the truck since I wasn't there to watch over it like a hawk... but after stopping by after a couple of days to see their progress, I was pretty impressed with what I saw.



They were excited to be a part of it, and were putting just as much effort into the paint job as I was into building the truck. They weren't half-assing it, they were enjoying being able to help. That made me feel much better.

The shark fin on the roof was a complete surprise, and happens to be my favorite part of the truck. It makes it distinguishable.

Finally, after what seemed like forever, they brought the truck back down to me and I added the finishing touches - the yellow stripes on the door beam and the black paint on the front bumper.



I took the left over paint and lettered up the trailer.


After that, it was a week of waiting in agony for the Friday, September 7th race.
« Last Edit: July 10, 2013, 11:14:14 PM by 00XJ »

MiniVanMan

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Rain on my Trailer Race
« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2013, 10:52:30 PM »
I'd been watching the weather forecast very carefully all week long. It was a roller coaster of emotions. Sometimes, the forecast would call for a beautiful Friday afternoon, and others it predicted doom and gloom from Thursday to Sunday.

Friday came and I was like a kid on Christmas morning. I had the truck and trailer connected and set aside all morning long, waiting for 3:00, when the flat bed would be coming to gather the rig and ship it to the track for me.

The weather forecast roller coaster had gotten much more extreme. Michigan has a very temper-mental climate. It's not uncommon for it to literally be pouring rain one minute, then clear blue skies the next, then snow moments later. Temperatures can range from 30 degrees in the morning hours to 90 degrees by late afternoon during certain times of the year. It's absolutely ridiculous, and Friday, September 7th was no different.

One moment the forecast radar would show a cluster of storm clouds heading from the east and the chance of rain would be 100%, then half an hour later, that storm would be gone and we were to expect sunshine for the rest of the day.

By the time we pulled out of the dealership lot around 3PM, it was calling for an ever increasing chance of rain - the highest percentage being specifically at the exact time the trailer race was scheduled to begin. You've GOT to be kidding me.



But, given the fact that the forecast had been so indecisive prior to race time, we were still set to continue as scheduled.

Once I was at the track with the truck unloaded, my anxiety shot through the roof. I was nervously checking the weather almost every 5 minutes for updates. I was one of the first people to arrive, but once a few others showed up I began introducing myself and making friends by helping unload their trailers and such. I met a man called Steve Utley who, despite being the thorn in the side of the race director for undisclosed reasons, was clearly a veteran at these types of events, as evidenced by his Nissan minivan decked out with a steel-tube reinforced front end and Shopping Cart roof ornament.



Sure enough, despite the wavering forecast, the storm clouds rolled in as predicted. The Trailer Race was the final event of the night, and it was agonizing to sit through the other events of the night, watching the clouds draw near.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mhF0kwzpdok" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mhF0kwzpdok</a>

The rain came during the School Bus Figure 8, but it was a soft drizzle, so they staged the trailer race vehicles anyway.



Because of the rain, there was a lot of confusion as to starting position (which was determined by drawing numbers out of a hat), but the general consensus seemed to be of the "fuck it" variety, so I wasn't too worried about it.

The rain seemed to let up a bit as we pulled out onto the track. I figured, no big deal, a wet track could actually make it more interesting. I had previously removed the wiper blades, but reinstalled the driver's side one "just in case". That turned out to be a good idea.



After several "parade laps", the green flag was waved and we were off. Immediately in turn one, I nudge the Jet-Ski trailer to my right, and it flipped over with ease. I had eliminated another racer mere seconds into my very first racing. Fucking SWEET!

In turn 2, however, karma bit me in the ass, and some dude in a Pontiac 6000 ripped my trailer off, which was then hit by several more vehicles and caused one car to drive onto another car's trailer, producing a blanket of thick tire smoke that trailed across the intersection and acted as a smoke screen. Chaos ensued as a result, and the rain began to pour, combined with strong winds, which lead the to race director throwing the black flag and canceling the race.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nAOUYpIR-zU" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nAOUYpIR-zU</a>

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5clCuRh9ZGY" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5clCuRh9ZGY</a>

As a consolation, I decided to "nudge" the speed boat that was laying on it's side in the middle of the track, and earned my truck it's first official battle scar.



The announcer told us to keep our wrist bands and that we could leave our vehicles at the track, for next Friday would be the make-up race.

I was drenched head to toe, and even though I hadn't even completed an entire lap, I was on high as a kite on adrenaline.

One more week before the REAL fun began, though.
« Last Edit: April 12, 2013, 12:24:02 AM by 00XJ »

Kalgorn

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Re: How to Make Racing Even More Redneck - A Blog about Trailer Racing
« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2013, 10:54:56 PM »
I'm enjoying this so far. Even though I would never participate in something like this, it's fun to read about what you experienced.

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MiniVanMan

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Flag Pole Racing
« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2013, 11:30:43 PM »
After yet another agonizingly long week, finally race day came, and this time the Forecast was very confident that rain was the least of which would occur that day. With that worry out of the way, I was able to focus on correcting a few flaws in the set up. First, however, I had to find and recover my trailer, which was whisked away by the track staff after the race.

I left the truck in the same spot I originally parked, but this time I brought the Jeep inside the pits with me so I had some tools of my own to use. The damage I caused to the truck was quite a bit worse than I originally thought... turns out, ramming a capsized speed boat on a race track isn't really a good idea.



No matter, it was structurally intact and that's what was important. Off I went to find my lost trailer. I didn't have a chance to look it over after the 9/7 race so I had no idea if I'd even be able to use it again. From the video shot by my friend, it was hit by at least 2, if not 3 other cars AFTER it detached from my truck, so there was no certainty that it would even ROLL let alone reattach.

Turns out, some kind soul had left my trailer upright in an easy to get to spot. It was beat up, to be sure, but none of the damage hindered its ability to be pulled around by a clapped out pick up truck in any way. The lug nuts were loose, so I had to re-weld them and hope for the best.





I bent it all back into shape. Well, relative shape, at least. Even managed to get the tail gate closed! Sort of.





Most ball-style trailer hitches operate via a lever-locking mechanism that includes a spring and a latch. These aren't very solid, but are more than enough for normal usage of a trailer. Of course, racing around a figure 8 track and smashing into other vehicles PROBABLY doesn't qualify as normal usage, so I replaced the latch mechanism with a bolt.



It didn't work very well. We determined that the problem wasn't the idea of using a bolt, but rather that I didn't tighten it enough. I left just a bit of play in it so it wouldn't bind up when turning, and that seems to have been the Achilles heel of the whole thing, so we replaced the bolt and cranked the sucker down as tight as we could.

The track pays $50 for entering a race. Not completing a race, but entering one. If you pass the start/finish line, you get $50. Since I was feeling a bit confident in my driving ability, I decided to risk it all and enter the Flag Pole Race, and chance wrecking the truck beyond repair and not being able to compete in the Trailer Race. I guess I figured I could back out if things got too hairy, but I had a LOT of people from work in the stands to cheer me on, so I wanted to make sure they got a show.

A flag pole race is different depending on who you ask. For us, it meant that there were three tractor tires laid out on the track. We'd start out in a stopped position and gun it when the green flag was waved. When you came up to a tire, you had to circle around it completely. If you skip a tire, your lap doesn't count. That doesn't sound like too big of a deal, but consider the fact that there were about 15 vehicles ranging from small sedans to Firebirds to pick up trucks to Suburbans, all trying to do this "round-a-bout" at the same time. Carnage is guaranteed.

The flag pole race was fucking awesome.

(Turn speakers down, loud at start)
<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uXTwfi-OaKc" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uXTwfi-OaKc</a>

I had seen flag pole races before and had already cooked up a strategy - instead of hugging the tire and hoping to squeeze through, I'd overshoot the tire, then make a sharp turn coming back around so that I could SEE what I was driving into rather than just blindly forging through it. It paid off more than once, and at least twice I managed to leave an entire fleet of cars behind while I precisely whipped around the tire while they all banged sheet metal fighting each other to get by.

The red flag was thrown for some reason (I never learned why), and I didn't see it until I made a final loop around Tire #3. The yellow truck in the video that scrapes across my front end as I'm coming to a stop... remember him. He's the guy whose jet ski I knocked off in turn 1 at the 9/7 race.

The flag man came to yell at me for not stopping (not on the video), so I politely explained to him that I stopped as soon as I noticed the flag being waved, but that the other guys were ramming me and pushing past as well. I actually lost several positions during this red flag, but gained them back as soon as the green flag was thrown, because who knew, a Vortec 4.3 V6 actually has some balls. At least compared to about half of the other vehicles on the track.

Not long after the restart, that yellow bastard #75 decided to exact some revenge for embarrassing him on 9/7. He rammed me once, then rammed me twice, both times on the driver's side, once in the door (should have been black flagged for that), then once right on the tire, bursting it. Had it not been for that, I might have been competitive in this race, but with a blown drive tire, I was as good as done.

Still I kept on, pushing it as hard as I could but also having the presence of mind to preserve the truck for the Trailer Race. It was starting to get hot, I could smell it.

A couple laps later, I got my revenge. I came around Tire #1 and saw the broad side of yellow #75, so I squared up on his drive tire and nailed him. Hard. Got his tire, too, but pushed the core support on my truck back about a foot. The upper radiator hose was now touching the mechanical fan, a fact I was not aware of until the following Monday.



I'm not sure was position I finished in, but it was definitely a blast.


« Last Edit: May 16, 2013, 10:53:20 PM by 00XJ »

MiniVanMan

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Ladies and Gentlemen, the Main Event
« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2013, 12:04:24 AM »
There was one event between the Flag Pole Race and Trailer Race. It's called the Skid Plate Race, where front wheel drive cars compete with their back tires replace with steel plates, so they're constantly oversteering. It's a lot of fun to watch, but unfortunately myself and my pit crew were busy changing a tire and bashing sheet metal back into shape.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kBTS0QCnru4" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kBTS0QCnru4</a>

The truck cranked about 10 more times than normal, and I instantly became nervous. I'm not entirely sure, but I remember from my old Cutlass that sometimes the residual heat in the engine bay would literally boil the fuel in the bowls to vapor, making it hard to restart after a long ride on the highway. Even though the truck has a TBI system, I imagine it was probably a similar problem.

Finally, we pull out onto the track. The spectators were cheering very loudly. One guy shouted to me "Nice shark fin!" as we stopped at the start/finish line.

After some parade laps, we were off.

Remember that yellow #75, and how I ruined him in turn 1 of the 9/7 race? Well, he attempted revenge in the very same manner. Fortunately for me, my trailer stayed attached and I merely spun around. I had to wait for the race field to pass by before I could turn around. I was tempted to hit the last vehicle's trailer as it passed, but a head-on collision with a trailer probably would have done more damage than it was worth. My little V6 was fast enough to catch back up... I hoped.

On my second approach to the intersection I was faced with a decision. Risk getting t-boned by a mid-80's full sized Silverado, or jam on my brakes and let him pass? Well, I stopped. And it was the last time I did such a thing, because yellow #75 just happened to be coming through at that very moment (driving through the infield, as he liked to do for some reason) and rammed into my trailer hard enough to lift it off the ground. Thanks to the fact that we cranked that bolt down so tight, though, it stayed attached, and I gunned it.



For the rest of the race I stayed on the throttle everywhere but the turns.

The trailer was so heavy that whenever it started to slide out, like when I took a turn too fast, it would pull the back of the truck out with it. I had to coast through the turns and use the straight as my chance to gain speed.



In turn 3, a veteran race car driver (the one who won the flag pole race) in a Hyundai Elantra was on the inside of the track and decided to come into my passenger side. Since Chevies are like a rock, he broke a ball joint and dug into the grass. He was done.

After a few VERY close calls, one in which I was mere inches away from hitting a trailer, and mere inches away from BEING hit (you can hear the crowd react to those moments in the video), a red flag was thrown due to a fire on the track.



Apparently someone was leaking fuel, and another vehicle had lost two tires - the sparks from his rims set the gas on fire.

They took this time to adjust a dislodged speed boat trailer. The trailer tongue was effectively a javelin for anyone stupid enough to crash into it, so they turned it around and pointed the sharp end away from oncoming traffic.

This time was ALSO used for the dude who set the fire to head in and change his tires. I have my opinions about that, but since he didn't win the race anyway, I'll leave it alone.

I think it ended up being almost 10 minutes before the race resumed. I was next to the Pontiac 6000 that took out my trailer in the 9/7 race. We chatted for a bit, then randomly he decided to start pumping up the crowd by waving his hands and revving his engine. I followed suit and revved the piss out of mine. That little 4.3 doesn't sound too bad when you abuse it.



At some point, one of my trailer wheels came off. i guess not finding the correct lug nuts really ended up costing me, because I was doing quite well until then. I was in 5th place, but to be fair, there were only 5 vehicles left. Given the nature of the race, however, i considered making it to the top 5 to be quite an achievement for a first timer.



Despite the rules insisting that losing a tire meant instant disqualification, the flag man waved me on. I guess the sparks were entertaining enough to deem it worth the damage to the track.

The trailer was making it very hard to drive at this point. It slid around a lot and jerked the back end of the truck out from behind me more than once. One time it actually put me in the grass and cost me a position.

Then, the second wheel came off.


I finished the lap, but was black flagged. I pulled off into the pits and jumped out of the truck, absolutely pumped with adrenaline.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mr-2nMe0u3o" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mr-2nMe0u3o</a>

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oeMA7Vz7OR8" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oeMA7Vz7OR8</a>

Without a doubt, the most fun I've ever had in my entire life.



The trailer was a bit worse for wear, but honestly I could have replaced the wheel studs and reused it. I had no way to take it back to the dealership though, so I let the track scrap it.



One of the wheels actually pulled THROUGH three of the lug nuts.


As for the guy whose gas tank ruptured, here's why:




He got ass-packed in turn one and his trailer tongue broke open his fuel tank.

The next race is on July 5th, 2013. Winter is over and I'm already starting work on a new paint job, and getting the new trailer ready.

MiniVanMan

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And still...
« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2013, 12:46:26 AM »
All things considered, the truck held up remarkably well.







I ended up pulling the core support back out a bit and cutting the front tip off of the hood because the latch mechanism was jammed and i couldn't open it.

Even though I loved the previous paint job, it was suggested to me that my number, 00, be painted larger on the side of the truck, so i zeroed everything out with some black motor paint. I also threw on a used set of BFG A/T's. They have a 3-ply sidewall so I'm hoping they'll stand up to abuse a bit better than the Hoosiers. The only downside being the lack of stickiness... although I'm not really dealing with a whole lot of power here, so it'll probably be just fine.



Rough layout for the new paint job. The Body Shop will be doing it again, I just wanted to lay things out where I wanted them.



This time around i managed to score a trailer way ahead of time. A co-worker got a free Jet Ski with a seized motor. I traded my old BFG's off of my Jeep for it, straight up.



It came time to take the truck back to the body shop, and it decided it didn't want to start without starting fluid. I narrowed it down to the fuel pump, but screw all that tank-dropping nonsense.



Yes, i know how close I came to cutting the hose, but I was being very careful.

And so it sat for a very long, cold winter, in the corner of the Body Shop parking lot, by the big dumpster.



Over the winter i got bored, but never stopped thinking about the race. It's been on my mind constantly. I'm so eager to race again I just can't stand it.

Then the nerd in me came out, and I made this:


Just today, a random idea popped into my head when looking at the 4 empty soap barrels stashed outside by the dumpster... so I sketched it out.



Then I made it a reality.



I just need two more barrels and some yellow paint to make it look right. Yes, I know I got the radiation symbol upside down in the drawing. I'm also going to get some glow-in-the-dark green paint to drizzle along the top of the barrels so it oozes down the sides. That'll be funny.

Everyone uses a boat or a jet ski, I didn't want to be like everyone else. This will be funny when a bunch of hazardous material barrels go scattering across the track.

Also yes, I work at the dealership again, but that's another story for another thread.

The next race is July 5th. I have to replace the upper radiator hose, replace the rear shocks to cure the bouncing, and finish the paint job... and we're good to race. Can't wait.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2013, 11:12:29 PM by 00XJ »

Meatywand

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Re: How to Make Racing Even More Redneck - A Blog about Trailer Racing
« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2013, 10:02:25 AM »
Expanding foam and green paint makes neat toxic waste, you should do that on the barrels, its what we did in the Haunt for toxic sludge.
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MiniVanMan

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Re: How to Make Racing Even More Redneck - A Blog about Trailer Racing
« Reply #8 on: April 12, 2013, 11:37:22 AM »
Good idea. I was just going to use glow in the dark green but the foam will give it a cool texture.

Meatywand

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Re: How to Make Racing Even More Redneck - A Blog about Trailer Racing
« Reply #9 on: April 12, 2013, 11:41:11 AM »
Yeah it makes it look like some kind of horrible slime is bubbling out of the barrels.
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MiniVanMan

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Mini Blog Update
« Reply #10 on: May 06, 2013, 09:03:57 PM »
Made more progress on the trailer. Bought a far too expensive gallon of Safety Yellow (didn't have any smaller sizes) and began rolling it on. Honestly, I'm surprised how well it stuck to the plastic barrels given that I did exactly fuck-all to clean them prior to painting.





I just need one more barrel to complete the package, then I have to figure out a way to make really good radiation symbols. You know the one...



I'll probably just make some sort of stencil out of card board and see if i can just shoot some black through it. It only has to look good at a distance.

I'm also working on some front clip bracing for the truck. I found a tube bumper at the junk yard that was way too banged up to use for my Jeep (I don't rock crawl anyway), so I'm in the process of adapting it to the truck.



Right now I just have it secured. I'm going to adjust the angle and add some tubes to it to tie the entire front clip together so it's nice and sturdy.

I also zip-tied the electric cooling fan in. It's not permanently mounted yet nor is it wired.

I still have to replace the rear shocks (you can bounce the ass of the truck off the ground with one hand), replace the upper radiator hose (the mechanical fan almost chewed through it when the core support got bent back), and give it a good tune up. Then, it's racing time!

jeepidude

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Re: How to Make Racing Even More Redneck - A Blog about Trailer Racing
« Reply #11 on: May 07, 2013, 09:55:51 AM »
That wave runner's color scheme is so tacky it's scary  :lol:

Looks like you're having a lot of fun  :)

MiniVanMan

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Shocking
« Reply #12 on: May 08, 2013, 07:26:18 PM »
That wave runner's color scheme is so tacky it's scary  :lol:

Looks like you're having a lot of fun  :)

I'm not exaggerating when I say it's the most fun I've ever had. It definitely is. Waiting all winter to start getting ready for the next race was agony. It's all I want to do now.


----------------------------

One of the biggest problems I had during last year's race was that the rear end of the truck liked to hop quite badly (you can see it in the Flag Pole Race video), making it hard to regain traction after a big bump. The rear shocks were completely blown out and leaking fluid, so today I replaced them.



The fresh blue paint on the shocks looks very odd in contrast with the rest of the truck :lol:

I also got around to wiring up the electric fan, which came from a Cobalt. Apparently the Cobalt went into a ditch and the housing for the fan was broken, so they had it replaced. Perfectly working fan, just with a broken housing. That's the least of its concern now that it's on my truck.



I used one of the cigarette lighters for the power and ground. Nice and easy short cut.



Now onto the reason I'm using an electric fan... The big crunch the front end took during the Flag Pole Race meant that the upper radiator hose was now in contact with the mechanical cooling fan, which was chewing its way through the hose slowly but surely. Obviously that's not good... so, new rad hose it is.



I also decided to remove the tail gate to make it easier to see the trailer. Last year I had no idea if my trailer was still attached until I felt it tug on the rear end around turns. This will also give the GoPro a better view of the action.



I also rigged up a super redneck GoPro mounting - a 21" long piece of broom handle bolted to the cab via the roof and the part just behind the driver's seat, spanning where the rear glass should be. The GoPros will be mounted with the Handle Bar mounting kit. Here's the view from both cameras:





Aside from my own GoPro, I'm borrowing two others. I'm thinking the third one will be mounted to my helmet, but I'm not entirely sure about that yet. I'll also have my dash cam (the one I used to film the Flag Pole Race) set up in another vehicle to possibly catch some of my action from outside the truck. That should be cool.
« Last Edit: May 08, 2013, 07:26:46 PM by 00XJ »

MiniVanMan

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The Redneck MacGuyver
« Reply #13 on: May 16, 2013, 10:15:08 PM »
Part of the fun of doing this type of event is that as long as the vehicle meets safety standards, there are no rules as far as equipment and operation.

Case in point: My shifter cable gave out, and I didn't want to spend $60 on a new one.



The plastic sheath that the cable resides within had worn out over the years (as they're known to do, apparently). The plastic sheath must remain rigid so that the cable can slide back and forth inside it, otherwise the cable just binds up and doesn't have the rigidity to move the gear selector on the transmission.

So, I did the best I could with what was available, and well...



It's not pretty, but it works damned good. Those are a bunch of little wire/brake line retainers that just happened to be the perfect size. I added a bunch with the rubber grommet to keep the cable from sliding on the floor, then a bunch of the bare metal ones to keep the cable from binding up. Then I soaked the whole thing in WD40. Now the gear selector works like new! Nice and crisp, no more guessing if it's really in the gear I've selected or not (I wasn't ever sure if it was in Drive or 3rd gear because it was so sloppy before).

I also set up the GoPro mount on my helmet. I'll have 3 GoPros running in total - one on my helmet, one solid mounted facing forward and another facing reward (see previous post for images).


This should be a lively view! (I'm using the GoPro app on my phone to adjust the settings and trigger the shutter).


So I was trying to come up with an easy way to do the Radioactive symbol on the barrels. They had to look good, I need people to recognize what they're supposed to be as soon as they see them.

I had considered just paying a sign company to cut some vinyl for me, but then decided I could redneck my way out of this one, too.

So, I printed off the symbol on an 8.5"x11" piece of paper. I used a ruler to extend the lines from the little wedge shaped things on the logo onto a piece of cardboard, and figured that the center of a roll of electrical tape was exactly the same size as the dot and traced it all onto the cardboard. Then, i took a fence tie (an L shaped piece of metal) and poked it in the center of the small circle and used it to make the radius for the whole thing.



Using a box cutter to cut out the shapes wasn't easy, but it worked. I applied some take to smooth over the edges for cleaner lines.





Turned out quite good, I think! I need to fix the center dot a bit, needs a bigger gap between it and the "wedges"... but other than that, I'm happy with the outcome.

I really liked the yellow caution stripes I put on the crash bar on the driver's door, and since I'm going to be hauling around "toxic waste", I figured it would make sense to use that as the theme for the entire truck.





Now I just need to finish the lettering and make it look all nice and clean.

The only thing left to do after that is to reinforce the brush guard on the front, and the truck will be completely ready for the race.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2013, 10:18:30 PM by 00XJ »

Meatywand

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Re: How to Make Racing Even More Redneck - A Blog about Trailer Racing
« Reply #14 on: May 17, 2013, 02:09:47 PM »
Nice job on the Radiation symbols...I was gonna suggest going to a local construction supply place (not Lowes or Home Depot, an actual Commercial Construction store) and getting a sign there for your stencil but you did a great job!
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MiniVanMan

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Re: How to Make Racing Even More Redneck - A Blog about Trailer Racing
« Reply #15 on: May 17, 2013, 02:16:43 PM »
Thanks!

MiniVanMan

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Very Minor Update
« Reply #16 on: June 07, 2013, 10:57:17 PM »
Not much to report, but it's been a while, so I figured I should write something.

Had a close call with the truck. I flip the air cleaner lid upside-down so it'll suck in as much air as it possibly can... and well, I forgot to flip it back to normal before I left for Georgia, and it rained. A lot. And the first time I tried to crank the motor when I got back, it sucked that water into the cylinders and hydro-locked it.

No worries, been there, done that. I hydro-locked my 96 Cutlass once, too, and it survived.

So I drained the oil and pulled the plugs then cranked the engine over a bit to spit the water out. Put it all back together and ran it some, then changed the oil again (still a lot of residual water in it) and left it running for about an hour to heat up and evaporate whatever was left. It was also a good time to test the electronic cooling fan. Once it reached operating temp, i switched the fan on and a few minutes later when I came back to it, it had reduced the engine temp by a significant amount. So, success!

In other news, I'm almost done with the paint job. Hand-lettering using foam brushes is a pain in the ass, but it's turning out alright, I supposed. I honestly don't know why, but that cross pattern I painted on the back wheel... I just think it looks cool. I'll be doing that to the rest of the wheels too. Not sure why I like it so much.



Just a bit more touch up to do, then some welding for the front end guard, and it's ready to go.

MiniVanMan

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Trailers for Sale or Rent
« Reply #17 on: June 10, 2013, 06:17:44 PM »
I finally got around to replacing the latch mechanism on the trailer. I used a Grade 8 bolt this time, so I don't have a repeat of last year.





Just crank it down tight and that trailer will NOT detach from the truck.

Last year:



I also finally got a 6th barrel to complete the trailer set up.



All that's left is to finish the lettering on the driver's side of the truck and do more welding/securing of the brush guard, and she's all set.

MiniVanMan

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And now we wait.
« Reply #18 on: June 26, 2013, 09:42:55 PM »
I finally finished the radiator guard. It doesn't look very sturdy, but I used a combination of weld and 1/2" threaded rod to tie it all together, it's quite strong. Should be more than enough to save me from a few direct hits on other people's trailers, which is all it needs to do. I won't be battling anyone during the Flag Pole Race... that one will just be for fun.



Paint job is finished as well. The wheels didn't turn out as good as they could have, but seriously, it's kind of a bitch to make it perfect. It'll look good from the spectator stands.





So now it sits, waiting for Friday, July 5th.



I start it up and let it run for at least 5 minutes every day just to ensure that things aren't locking up. I've had some issues with the throttle body but it seems to all be sorted out now. I think this will be the last hurrah for this truck, or the engine at the very least.

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Re: How to Make Racing Even More Redneck - A Blog about Trailer Racing
« Reply #19 on: July 04, 2013, 06:53:17 PM »
Just read through it all, so bad ass, I approve. and also good luck on your race tomorrow cant wait to see the outcome
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MiniVanMan

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Videos are up! +Full race report
« Reply #20 on: July 06, 2013, 03:32:15 PM »
Got to the track around 3 which was way early. It was hot and muggy outside and there wasn't much shade... but the consolation is that they let us run a few hot laps.

Trucks aren't meant for race tracks.

Turn-in is horrible and the suspension never seems to take a set. Thankfully, none of this would matter in the events I was running. Still, it was kinda fun to wing a 300,000 mile farm truck around a real race track. Very surreal feeling.

The first event, just like last time, was the Flag Pole Race. And it was pure insanity.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1jMSG9NnWo" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1jMSG9NnWo</a>

The very first turn was a cluster fuck of epic proportions. I'm not sure what exactly happened, but someone went into the wall and caused a major pile-up.

This video is from my dash cam that I used last year in my own truck. I set it up in a friend's car for the race to get another vantage point of the action. A good idea, until...
<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gHcqgrOW1dA" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gHcqgrOW1dA</a>

It was totally fine until someone rammed him in the back, then the camera flung off the mount and landed on his floor.

That someone was me.

I really had no choice in the matter, I did my best to stop.

Then, behind me came the Blazer with a sharp piece of angle-iron in place of his bumper. I told him before the race to stay away from my tires (in a friendly way) but I guess it was just fate that he would happen to crash next to me and blow my tire. I used BFG All-Terrains specifically because they had thick sidewalls and would stand up to most normal collisions/rubbing... but they were no match for a piece of angle iron with a jagged edge.



<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aovF6IFsj_o" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aovF6IFsj_o</a>

Near the end of the race the flat tire was starting to come apart, and smoke was coming out from under the hood, so I pulled into the infield and shut it down to prevent any more damage. Turns out, it was completely fine, except that the cap on the master cylinder decided to no longer seal tightly and brake fluid was spraying onto the motor. A few zip ties and it was good as new.



Next up was the School Bus Figure 8 race. This event is purely spectacle; the drivers are instructed to avoid wrecking the buses as they are very expensive to run and repair. Still, they're allowed to bump and rub. That may be disappointing to those who want to see wrecks, but considering just how dangerous is really can be to broadside a 60ft bus with another 60ft bus traveling upward of 30mph, it's more than acceptable.

I was able to film a short bit of it from the track side while we were lined up for the trailer race.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=it_t_5RfgZE" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=it_t_5RfgZE</a>

Time for the main event.

I drew starting position #2, which meant I was right up front and on the inside. NOT the place you want to be in a trailer race.



To make matters worse, the car behind me was the 66x. It's the car you hear snarling and growling in every video. It's the car that turns into a black blur as it speeds through the straights. It's the 75 Chevelle that was built as a full on demo derby car and has a big block in it. It's this car:





Thankfully, the driver, Kelly Hollister, is seriously cool and said he wouldn't screw me over right away - only if he had to. So, he didn't.

My barrels didn't stay on for long. They fell off the trailer almost immediately upon the green flag, almost as if I'd planned it that way. I was hoping for them to stay on until someone hit me so they would go flying all over the place, but a few of them managed to get back out onto the track for some hilarious barrel-punting moments that the crowd seemed to enjoy.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yw3FWK-HLPc" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yw3FWK-HLPc</a>

I made an attempt to take out the speed boat in the intersection once. Fiberglass boats are heavy so I just winged it. Didn't hurt the truck much but it also didn't seem to phase the boat.

The Monte Carlo pulling the camper

(this one)


Seemed to get in my face a lot. We rubbed paint numerous times. He was faster, for sure, but that camper slowed him down in the turns. Finally, once I'd had enough of him trying to push me off the track, I followed him into turn 1 with the sole intent of ramming his camper at any cost. Coincidentally, my friend TJ had just gotten his Dodge Ram fired back up and we both nailed the trailer from either side. The Monte spun out and TJ blocked 66x from passing so I was given a long lead... or so I thought. Apparently 66x was already an entire lap ahead.

TJ followed the Monte through the intersection and finished off the camper, sending the shell sliding through the entrance right next to where the Paramedics were stationed (and blocking their access to the track). The trailer frame was still intact, however, so the Monte was still in the race.

Later on TJ and 66x were doing battle as I came up behind them. They got untangled and TJ made a drastic maneuver to wreck 66x's trailer. It didn't work, but it did spin the 66x and I was able to pass. He was still a lap ahead.

At this point I knew I was in second and that my only hope of taking first was to destroy the 66x trailer... but since I had just witnessed it take a brutal beat down from TJ, I knew there wasn't any hope in that, so I simply stayed out of his way and battled for second with the Monte.

On the final lap the Monte came to pass me on the outside of turn 1. We were side by side in the intersection and as soon as we neared the turn I moved over into his side and spun him, quickly dodging around him and hauling ass around the rest of the track to secure my second place position.

As I crossed the finish line I rolled into the grass and punted one of my barrels into the intersection just as TJ was coming through, and he nailed it. Perfect timing.

I did not expect to do so well. My strategy was different, though. Last year I wanted to race and avoid damage. This year it was all about putting on a show. It just goes to show you that the more reckless you are, the better you do.

The most fun I've ever had. Ever.

GoPro front view:
<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ju2Xt3eUZkw" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ju2Xt3eUZkw</a>

Rear view:
<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PSRGWFY4JFE" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PSRGWFY4JFE</a>

Please be sure to "Like" my videos, it will help a lot when I finally start doing some editing and getting my channel rolling. I'd appreciate it!

MiniVanMan

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Aftermath
« Reply #21 on: July 10, 2013, 08:56:20 PM »
The truck held up impressively well. Again, this is an old one-owner farm truck with over 285,000 miles on it. The only mechanical repairs I've done were a new fuel pump and rear shocks.

My rock crawling bumper set up worked great to keep things away from the radiator, but as I expected, it shoved the core support back about a foot - roughly the same as last year. I wasn't sure I could run more bracing from the core support to the firewall, but other people did, and I will be doing the same thing before September's race.





The driver's side took another beating during the flag pole race. The BFG's held up well despite having at least two direct hits from the 83 Monte Carlo.



As mentioned in my last post, the only blown tire was due to a sharp piece of angle iron that literally sliced through the tire.





The trailer made it out in relatively decent shape as well, despite it also taking the full force of the 83 Monte in the intersection.



Thankfully most of the impact seems to have been directly on the wheel which absorbed a lot of it. That, combined with the low weight of the trailer seems to have prevented any major structural damage.



The driver's side spindle is completely wasted and the axle beam is slightly twisted, but that can be fixed with a torch and hammer, and I have already purchased a new spindle to weld in place of the old one.



The tongue was damaged from the trailer literally wrapping around the back of my truck. It's still usable, but I have to lengthen the trailer to meet the required 16ft anyway, so I'll be cutting it out and replacing it with a longer piece.



The truck is not running at the moment. Well, it runs... but not well. One of the throttle body injectors is not spraying. I have determined that is must be the injector itself, given that there is definitely fuel going to it, and when I swap the plugs the injector that already works continues to work (so that means there's power going to both of them), but no fuel is coming out of it. I have also ruled out spark, as I can spray starting fluid into that port and the engine will begin to run normally until I stop.

So, injector it is. Unfortunately, a new one is $115, so fuck that. I'm going to search for the upper part of the throttle body (containing both injectors) at the junk yard and just throw the whole thing on.

As for the barrels... I emailed the track director about them and offered to let them hang onto them for any use they could come up with. Apparently the "toxic waste barrels" were a big hit and the source for a lot of laughs that night, especially among the track staff, so they will live out the rest of their days alongside the track as water-filled crash barrels, turned with the radioactive insignia facing out toward the grand stands for all to see.

Awesome.
« Last Edit: July 10, 2013, 09:06:54 PM by 00XJ »

MiniVanMan

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Photos
« Reply #22 on: July 12, 2013, 08:05:33 PM »
Small update.

Got the photos back from the track photographer, just wanted to share. These are scans of printed images so forgive the quality/color balance, etc.






MiniVanMan

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Scratch
« Reply #23 on: July 29, 2013, 08:18:28 PM »
The truck isn't healthy.

I've narrowed its performance problem to an injector issue. The injectors are getting power and fuel, but one of them sometimes refuses to spray. Lightly tapping on the injector housing will cause it to work.

The obvious answer was to pick a throttle body from the junk yard and throw it on, but then there's also the problem that the valves are leaking oil down into the cylinders quite a lot.

In other words, the motor is tired and ready to give up its ghost.

I was planning on running it anyway, but then a better solution presented itself.

A friend of mine has been looking for a newer, more reliable car. He has owned a 1992 Dodge Dakota 3.9 since he got his license, and it was no longer sufficient as a means of daily transportation. He came to the dealership and bought a very nice 99 Grand Prix, and planned to send the Dakota to scrap for $350, until I told him and his dad about my trailer racing gig. They offered to sell me the truck instead as they'd rather see it get used for something than simply crushed.

So I bought it.









In all honesty, I feel kind of bad for what I'm going to do to this truck. It's NOT in terrible condition. It runs perfectly and it's only real problem is a broken brake line. All of the brake lines and fuel lines are rotted badly, so I will be replacing them before the race. There's also some underbody rot, but honestly someone could use this truck for a farm truck with no problems.

Oh well.

As before... first thing's first. Wheels MUST be black.



Pulled the grill and lights, already had them sold on Craigslist before I even started tearing it apart. Made an easy $50 off the grill, side mirrors and light sockets.



The passing of the shark fin...



Got the door brace mounted...



Started blacking it out. This is going to take a while.


I got on a demolition derby web site and read some tips on building Dakotas for derbies. They suggested notching the tail gate and dropping it down between the rear bumper and bed, then welding the whole thing together. Makes the ass end quite sturdy. You don't take a lot of rear end damage in trailer/flag pole racing, but having the added rigidity is never a bad thing.



Probably my best weld ever  (welding bumper to tail gate)



I got a lot done in just one day, and I have a whole box full of parts to sell and make some of my money back.

As for the original 00...



It looks so naked without the fin and door brace... the brush guard is getting transferred over, too.

The truck isn't dead YET, though! I'm loaning it to a fellow racer who is going to run it in the 30 lap enduro figure 8 coming up on August 11th. I'd run myself, but that event requires a bit more prep work (you have to brace the cab interior a lot) than I have time for.

I WILL be putting my GoPro on it and filming it from the stands, however.

MiniVanMan

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Just over a month left
« Reply #24 on: August 01, 2013, 09:52:41 PM »
I've made a lot of progress on the Dakota in one week. All I have left to do is a bit of welding, replace a broken brake line and a rotted fuel line (don't want that busting during the race), take out the glass, seal the doors and wire up the cooling fan.

Today I pulled the fan shroud and mechanical fan to make way for the electrical fan. It wasn't all that hard, but I learned my lesson about not wearing mechanics gloves... my hands are all cut to fuck now.

Pulling the shroud revealed that the radiator is in terrible shape.



I'm hoping it holds up through the race. One good shot to the front end and it'll probably puke.

E-fan is mounted in place, though not 100% securely yet.



I also decided to brace the core support with this truck, since I never did with the Chevy. Now there will be a lot more rigidity so when i hit something, the core support shouldn't fold over onto the engine. Even if it does move back a bit, that's exactly why i switched to the electric fan - to save the radiator from being chewed up.

Just have to weld them in place. I'm also going to beef up where they mount to the fender before welding.



I also mounted the brush guard to the bumper. Haven't welded it yet and I need to add connectors to the core support. I'll probably tie those into the angle iron I'm putting in the engine bay, too. The strong the front end, the more hits i can make. This is a smaller truck so I don't expect it to be as tough as the Chevy.




The guy I'm loaning the Chevy to picked it up yesterday.



i told him to feel free to repaint it, as long as he left my YouTube address on the side. I'll be putting my GoPro in the truck for the Figure 8 Enduro race on the 11th, so look for that video in the following days.





Kind of a shame, I spent a lot of time on that paint job... that was all hand-lettered and the blue drop shadow was all down with paint pens. Still, the splattered green paint DOES look cool and I'm excited to get video of the enduro race.