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NRT 2010 BITD Blue Water Casino Parker 425 Race Report


NAXJA Forum User
Brea CA
Nissley Racing Team

February 6, 2010

Written by, Bill Nissley

For the 2010 race season with the help of new sponsors and the continued support of returning sponsors we hope to be able to run the complete 5 race Jeepspeed series.

The first race for 2010 was the Best In The Desert Parker 425 which starts on the main street in downtown Parker Arizona and winds its way through the Arizona desert. For our class it’s a 2 lap race, 275 miles in length.

During most of 2009 and right up till we left for the race, we had been working on making our Jeep faster, stronger and safer than before. With the skills of Keith Sato and Doug Schmidt, we squeezed in new seats to replace our tired beaten ones also replacing and adding a lot of roll cage tubing making the roll cage safer. With very little time left after getting the engine and drive train all reassembled, Tony Sato was able to quickly get our shocks tuned in a short one day test session in Barstow.

We drew the third starting spot in a field of 20 jeeps in the Jeepspeed Challenge class. Chris Nissley was driving with Rob Renken our mechanic in the co-driver’s seat. Right away there was an issue shifting the transmission, which at first we didn't know how serious that would become. After passing all but one of the Jeepspeed Cup Series Jeeps and leading all of the Jeepspeed Challenge Jeeps, we were in first place and cruising. Although the shifting was problematic, at this point, as long as we were able to maintain race speed it was manageable. That was until around mile 80 when driving in a sand wash, Chris wandered too close to a tree and it violently side swiped our Jeep.

The front fiberglass fender exploded on impact, both passenger side doors and the rear quarter panel were severely damaged. The critical damage however was to the rear suspension which was ripped half way off of the car. The right leaf springs bent and broke in half and the rear shock shaft was bent beyond use. The drive shaft also separated during the impact damaging it and leaving the Jeep stranded on the race course with no way to get it out of the way. Fortunately a BITD recovery team quickly arrived and was able to pull the jeep to a safe location. Rob was then able to change the drive shaft and rig the rear end together with a tow strap so they could limp to the midway pits which fortunately was only 11 miles away.

Back at our main pit the mood went from being very excited that we were running in first place to huge disappointment hearing that they had hit a tree and were not running. Now our focus turned from possibly winning, to just completing the race to salvage as many points as we could. Tom Nissley and I borrowed a spare leaf pack from Eric Heiden, one of our competitors and drove out over 50 miles to the remote pit where they were waiting for us. By the time we got there the jeep was up on jacks and the weather had turned to a steady rain. Rob, Tom, Chris Haynes and Jessie Martin quickly installed the new spring pack.

Chris and Rob put on ponchos and got back into the Jeep, but now with only one rear shock, a transmission problem that was getting worse by the mile and rain. During the next 50 miles the transmission all but gave out when our friends and fellow competitors Eric Helgeson and Mike Slator passed us, on what by then was the end of their second lap, on their way to a first place finish. We managed to finish the first lap and crawl back to our main pit nursing the transmission that by then only had second gear, and that was failing as well.

We ended the race in 16th place, finding this out the next day after we were initially given a tenth place finish by mistake.

Even though we were unable to finish this race, we are really happy with the way the car performed before the accident and feel confident and look forward to a great finish in our next race, the Historic Mint 400 in Las Vegas Nevada.

Our thanks go out to our wives, girlfriends, families and friends, also to Clive and Michelle from Jeepspeed and to BITD and all of the competitors.

A special thanks to our sponsors:

Currie Racing Rearends

Rusty's Off-Road

General Tires

Soletek Lighting by Baja Designs

Justice Brothers Car Care Products

J.E.Reel Drive Line Specialists

Fox Racing Shocks

F&B Throttle bodies

Trailglow Lighted Products
Lady luck may have been doing something, but sure wasn't smiling down on you guys this time around.

Any clue what happened to the trans?