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MY PRO-RALLY AUTO RACING

Big Bend Bash
Lajitas, Texas
February 1991

The Big Bend Amateur Radio Club (BBARC) had provided communication support for the Big Bend Bash Pro Rally race in 1989 and 1990. BBARC members James Cook (K5FD) and I were among the operators that took part in the communications end of those races. James apparently became quite interested in actually entering a car and racing in the 1991 race, enough so that he called and asked if I would be willing to co-drive for him. After visiting with a few of his friends ("Will this guy go out and get me killed?"), I agreed to co-drive.

James bought a couple of V.W. beetles and poured an ungodly sum of money into them to get a race-worthy car. I was tasked with designing and installing the lights, computer, and all wiring for the car. We also passed our tests and were rewarded with our racing licenses. Finally we purchased the required helmets, Nomex race suits etc that we were required to have before we could race.

We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into.

Race day came and we spent the majority of the race getting ourselves familiarized with the technical and logistical ends of racing in a Pro-Rally. This was also the time where we started to build up our unique language that we used to get the maximum information exchanged with the minimum amount of effort. James had enough on his hands without me adding trivial commentary while we're racing down the road.

I also learned that the Co-Drivers job to get the car and its passengers guided to the end of a special (race) stage doesn't end at the finish line of that stage. I also had to get us transited to the next part of the race while at the same time doing a ton of paperwork while I figured out our standing in the race, how much time we had until our next checkpoint, what all the car and we needed if we were headed in to a service time, etc etc.

Fortunately, we were both familiar with the terrain of the race in the Big Bend Bash, having been around the race itself for the past few years.

The Big Bend Bash was well known for being a car killer. The terrain and the roads were among the roughest of all of the Pro Rally races and the numerous cars dropped out of each race. I still remember back when I was manning a checkpoint. One of the race cars slid in, the co-driver tossed me the battered remains of the cars hood, and then the car took off to try to continue the race. The fact that we even finished the race bears testament to James Cook's skill as an excellent race car builder. I don't even remember what standing we ended up with after the race. I remember that it was long, hard, dirty, rough, expensive, tiring, and the most fun I had ever had.

I was hooked.

So was James, I came to find out. The Big Bend Bash was the start of a four year, 10 or so race career that I enjoyed immensely and miss terribly.

We raced in the Big Bend Bash twice, I think. The second time it rained buckets and the day races were cancelled while everyone waited to see if the rain would subside. It didn't. Finally, the race officials decided to run just enough night stages to assure that all the participants would get enough points to justify the expense of the race. We raced mostly on the dirt road between highway 118 and the Terlingua Ranch Motel. It was a blast. Couldn't see a thing. Loved it.

Next stop: Grove, Oklahoma.


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BBB 91 Getting Ready
James and I getting the car ready before the race.

 

Laoding the race car
Loading the race car on the trailer. That's me in the center.

 

Race day
Pre-Race staging.

 

Me
All duded up and ready to go.

 

Ken Stewart
Ken Stewart running on a rim.

 

James and Doug
We lived.

 

Doug and Angie
Me and Angie.

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