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November 20, 2006

Their race started with great hope and ended 40 hours later 60 miles from the finish line in despair and total exhaustion from days of sleep deprivation.

The first 150 miles were very promising with driver Trevor Streech and navigator Joe leading or in the top 5. Then the troubles began. A flat tire and a failed alternator cost about two hours. Then the engine began a slow decline. When the car arrived for the first driver change at mile 377, the engine was spewing blue smoke and blowing oil out of the breather and was consuming oil at a rate of one quart every 10 miles. Driver Trever Smith and navigator Garrett Severn got in the car and drove an excellent 11 ½  hour stint which ended at mile 787. Stopping about every 30 miles “when the oil light stayed on more than 20 seconds” to add 3 quarts of oil, Trever and Garrett kept the car in the top 10 of their 21 car class.

With the engine ever more worrisome, driver Josh Loveland and navigator Trevor Streech got in the car for the final leg. The two support vehicles raced ahead on public roads for a pit stop at mile 855 and a final stop at mile 961.  When the car arrived at the 961 stop at about 9:00PM on Friday night, things were a mess. The engine was discharging oil and was 30% down on power but worst of all, alternator #2 had failed- and there were no more spares. The race car battery was charged up by hooking it to one of the support vehicles with jumper cables while the crew begged, borrowed and bought every can of oil within 10 square miles. With the finish line only 80 miles away but with the dreaded “silt section” still ahead, the car was sent out into the night with only one of the 5 driving lights on and the filtered air breathing system turned off in a hope to get to the finish line before the battery died.

Only 30 minutes later, fears became reality; the IRC tracking system showed that the car was stopped in the silt section. The tracking system showed several attempts at movement and then- nothing. The support trucks found a road from the main highway to get close to the location. Trever Smith and Garrett Severn walked along the track with flashlights to find their friends stuck in the silt with a mortally wounded engine and a dead battery. Then in typical “Baja” fashion, along came an enterprising Mexican farmer with a tractor. For a few “Jacksons”, the farmer towed the race car to the location where the support trucks had set up a pit.

Jumper cables and more oil allowed the engine to be started, but there was now a loud knock which sounded like a piston pin. With hope that it could be overcome, valves were adjusted and even the idea of running on 3 cylinders was entertained. Finally, in a test of the engine, it disintegrated internally, locked up and the race was over at 3:00AM on Saturday morning. The guys never gave up and gallantly overcame every obstacle until it became impossible.

The crew of 8 then just collapsed in fatigue and slept until the bright Mexican sun rose a few hours later.

The 24 hour trip home beginning Saturday morning began with defeated silence but the radio chatter between the trucks and conversation at the stops along highway 1 for gas, breakfast, lunch and dinner slowly evolved. The “what ifs” began. If the engine and alternators had not failed, they could have had a top 5 finish. If they could have just made it through the silt- even with the wounded car- they would have had a top 10 finish.

By the time the crew crossed the border on Sunday morning, optimism abounded and plans were being made for the 2007 race. “The Baja” had captured them with its spell…

Full results of the race can be seen at:  http://www.dirtnewz.com/events-06/baja1000/officialfinishers.shtml

November 14, 2006

This What’s Happening piece seemingly doesn’t have much to do with Nordhavns or boating…but it is a fun story about some young guys who are racing in the upcoming Baja 1000. The guys however are PAE guys and the race takes place in Baja California, which is very serious Nordhavn country.

Starting in Ensenada and ending in La Paz, the “1000” is in its 39th year of running and draws hundreds of competitors and hundreds of thousands of race fans from around the world to see who can claim victory in this brutal Granddaddy of desert races.

Many of us here at P.A.E. are big race fans, but we have a vested interest in Team Nordhavn helmed by Nordhavn 86 project manager Trever Smith and former Nordhavn CAD specialist and now owner of Prime Fabrication, Trevor Streech. “The Trevors” have been dreaming about this race for over 10 years and have been actively planning and practicing for it the last 12 months. Their race car is a class 1600 buggy. And their months of preparation and practice is culminating in the big event that not only the drivers, but also their friends and family, have all been waiting for. Over the last 8 weeks, the race car has been stripped down to the bare frame and completely rebuilt with painstaking care. Elaborate plans of pit crews, spare parts, transportation and support have been developed. Included in Smith and Streech’s support team are Nordhavn salesman Eric Leishman, Nordhavn 76 project manager Garrett Severen and project manager assistant Andy Barnes.

The Trevors have drawn the coveted starting spot of #1 for their class. It is their hope to stay in first place to the end, but accidents, breakdowns and nasty surprises are the norm and absolutely anything can happen in the 25 hours that it will take them and their co-drivers to finish the race. Tenacity and perseverance are essential and these guys have shown that they have it.

The race car will be carrying a GPS transponder. This device will transmit their position along the course and will also indicate if they are inverted. The information can be read on a web site, so you can follow their progress in the race if you are interested.

To follow the race, please do the following: Go to: www.racetheworld.net/ircstore

  1. Click on "New Member"
  2. Fill out the information form and establish your user name and password (there is no charge)
  3. Log-in
  4. Click on "View race: Baja 1000"
  5. Click on "Click here to view the Baja 1000"
  6. Enter car #1601 as competitor #1

Beginning Thursday morning (in the west coast) you will be able to see a signal from the race car. The cars start on 30-second intervals and there are several classes, which start before the 1600 class, so the start time is an estimate only. (It is estimated that 1601 will leave the starting line at about 11:30AM.)

We wish the boys well and will be rooting for them. We know that the engineering skills and work ethic that have gone into the race car and the teamwork, tenacity and bravery which will be required to compete in this grueling event will shape these young men in a way that will help them build better Nordhavns.