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A Racecar’s Sad Goodbye, Madd Maxx Goes Into Retirement

We’ve had a load of fun and learned every step of the way with our street stock project car Madd Maxx.  The car began its racing life at the hands of “The Barstow Boys”, a crew led by Mike Morris and Steve Rose.  Rose had wheeled Maxx to a couple of track championships when he retired the car to the back- forty to gather spiders and weeds.  We were able to convince Rose to sell us the car and bring it back to its glory days on the track.  The path to glory however, was much more difficult than we had predicted.

After a hit and miss season in 2009, where we attempted to make several of the scheduled races, only to have aging parts fail during each attempt.  2009 was a season of DNFs.

Our project car and driver, James Lawrence, was a little raw in the beginning. The car's handling was off and James was inexperienced on dirt. But after a while, we got the chassis set up correctly and he was passing other cars that were spinning out of control.

Onedirt.com decided in the off-season to “go strong or stay at home” so we started doing our homework on what it would take to get Maxx into a strong points run.  Our team came to the consensus that suspension was the one area where we could improve the most and get the biggest gains.  So we did what every good racer should do; we picked up the phone and called the experts at AFCO Racing.  The tech lines at most of these high performance companies are a real benefit to racers and sadly, they are under utilized by the race teams.

As our driver got more comfortable with the car it became obvious that we needed more help with chassis set up. When we bent this shock during a race, we decided to call the guys at AFCO Racing for some technical help.

The tech crew at AFCO gave us an education that would have taken us years to get on the track and it showed with the first race of the 2010 season.  We made some changes to our front suspension, based on the information that we got from Ben Baker and Eric Saffell at AFCO Racing. The next race James won his heat race and was competitive in the feature.  Our exploits were documented in the blog: Let the season begin.

AFCO gave us some great advice and we ended up with some major upgrades to the car, like this AFCO steering quickener.

After we discovered the advantage of using AFCO’s tech lines, we started making calls to every tech line we could find.  We figured that if AFCO’s front suspension helped us that much, then their rear suspension would surely put us in the winner’s circle.  We explained the rest of the suspension changes in our project car blog: Upgrading our street stock suspension part 2; the rear end. The results of the race were promising as our car was challenging for third when an electrical connector came off of the ignition system.  Another lesson learned, and we reported the results in our “The race that got away” blog. By this point the cream was rising to the top and a couple of racers were establishing themselves as the front runners. Mike Miller of Barstow and defending track champion Curtis Dietzsch were beginning their battle for the season’s top prize.

One of the early successes this year was winning our first heat race. The driver was pushing the car so hard that he ran up the wall when he was 10 car lengths in front of the pack. He was so far ahead that the car didn't loose a spot and went on to win.

Race Three

After hot gluing every electrical connector to ensure that we did not lose another race, we continued seeking ways to make our car more competitive.  The next significant change we made was switching to real racing fuel.  Pump gas is ok for the street, but for a race car, real fuel is the only way to go.  We picked VP Racing Fuels to feed our beast.  Race 3 was set to be a ‘breakout’ race for our driver and team.  Our heat race was not impressive however, and our driver had to go to the B Main and earn a transfer to the Feature.

The one race that really hurt was a B-Main qualifier where the top two cars transferred to the A-Main. We cut down a tire and failed to transfer. The next day we were getting these new AERO racing wheels mounted.

The B Main was going well as James had Maxx on the bumper of veteran driver Danny Queener.  These front two cars had separated themselves from the rest of the field by 15 car lengths and were pulling away.  The top two finishers would transfer to the A Main, so all James needed to do was stay behind Queener and take the second place finish.  It was a Sunday drive in the park for our team.  Inexplicably, James decided that transferring to the A Main from the first position was better than from the second position.  Attempting to pass Queener’s car with two laps to go, James made contact and cut down the right rear tire.  Our project car was blacked flagged off the track and onto the trailer.  Our experience was retold in the “Tire goes boom” blog.  In the track’s points standings, veteran drivers Curtis Dietzsch and Mike Miller both had tough outings during this race finishing 13th and 14th respectively. Alan Grubel established himself as the guy to beat by winning the race and taking the points lead.

Chassis setup is everything on the dirt, so we worked with the Pros at AFCO to dial in our car to the track.

Races Four and Five

For the next couple of races, our focus was on chassis setup.  We worked on getting the car scaled correctly and setting a baseline setup to work from.  We knew that we were working in the right direction because race 4 and race 5 both resulted in top 5 finishes for the team.  We explained our success in those races with the “Madd Maxx earns top 5 finishes in race 4 & 5 at Victorville” blog.  In the track championship race, after race four, Dietzsch finished 19th and Grubel finished in 15th for a poor points night. Miller finished in 4th, behind our project car, to put himself in tight contention for the points lead. Race five, James put Maxx in fourth, while Dietzsch finished second to make up some badly needed points. Miller finished in fifth with Grubel falling back to ninth.

We sought perfection at every opportunity and midway through the season, we switched all of our fluids to Red Line brand.

MAXX Gets More Support

Our team was certain that we were onto something special with suspension and track setup, so we investigated some additional changes with Global West Suspension.  We also added a little more electrical dependability with Optima Battery.  We published these updates in our “Global West, Red Line and Optima come to the party” blog.  The Global West Suspension components worked so well for us, that one race team continuously complained to the track that we were using illegal parts.  After two races, the ‘sour grapes’ team got their way and we were asked to remove the parts.  Although we never blogged about the snottin’ and crying that this team did, we were left wondering why they didn’t just put the Golden West A-Arms on their car too?

Race six saw Dietzsch return to his winning ways by finishing out front with James taking another third place finish. Miller finished just off the tech pad in sixth and Grubel finished deep in the field, putting his points lead in doubt.

After midseason, the chassis was set up so well that the driver was comfortable throwing the car into the corners.

After that episode we lost our taste for running against teams that wanted to beat you on the tech pad and not on the track, so when our driver’s wife gave birth to their first child, we took a break.  The following weekend, Madd Maxx and the new daddy were back out running on the track with one purpose in mind: Win one for the new baby.  We talked about the next races in the “Our project car hits the track after life changing event” blog. The race that we sat out was the track’s seventh race of the season and the result was the same.  Dietzsch found victory lane while Miller ended up in last place. Our return to the track for race eight saw Dietzsch take the win again and establish himself as the points leader. Miller finished in second behind Dietzsch and our team finished in fourteenth place.

We did our homework and found some really well engineered A-Arm bushings from Global West Suspension that fit into the rules because of the nylon insert. But that didn't stop another team from crying 'foul'. While these bushings did make a difference, it didn't stop us from beating the other team after we removed them.

MAXX’s Last Race

Race eleven felt like a letdown, even with a fourth place finish in the Main.  Our driver blogged about it in the “Driver disappoints in Victorville with 4th place finish” blog.  Our expectations had gotten the best of us.  The only thing left to do was hang out for the last race of the season and work our way into victory lane. The points leaders battled with Mike Miller taking his first win of the season and Dietzsch finishing in fifth to keep the season point standings tight.

In race twelve, James was caught up in the back of the pack getting beat on by the mid pack cars. Our project car was spun out a couple of times capping our season and teaching us that starting in the back can be dangerous. Miller finished ninth and Dietzsch finished thirteenth putting Dietzsch a mere three points ahead of Miller in the season standings.

We missed race thirteen which saw Dietzsch and Miller battle each other on the track with both cars sustaining damage. Both cars returned to the track under yellow, after two different tire changes in two separate incidents. In the end, Miller finished in second and Dietzsch in third which put Miller two points in the points lead. The track championship would boil down to the last race of the season.

Mother nature did not cooperate with our plans and the season finale race was cancelled due to rain.  We pinned our hopes on the annual Turkey Classic race, which covers the Friday, Saturday and Sunday after Thanksgiving.  As luck would have it, the track cancelled the Turkey Classic and put a cap on our race season. In the points race, Miller’s two point lead won the Championship by default after the last race cancellation.

Our project car makes its last run before being mothballed and waiting for it's next resurrection.

When it was all said and done, we had done what we really set out to do.  We took a raw driver with very little seat time, and put him in a worn out chassis, and made them competitive by steadily upgrading and doing our homework.  Most importantly, we were able to share the effort and research with our readers.  With the mission completed, we decided to put the project car back in mothballs for next season and look for another challenge.  You may see the familiar red and white #29 again.  It may be on a Sport Compact or Mini Stock.  Perhaps a Late Model or Modified.  You might even see it on a 410 Sprint Car.  You never know…you might even see the Madd Maxx Camaro back…

Victorville Auto Raceway Final Points Standings

1. Mike Miller 462
2. Curtis Dietzsch 460
3. Robbie Raigins 409
4. Joe St Louis 381
5. Pat Cooley 363
6. James Lawrence 337
7. Tim Foster 323
8. Tim Salch 310
9. Alan Grubel 307
10. JR Steele 299

Sources

AFCO Racing
Phone: 800-632-2320
VP Racing Fuels
Phone: 210 635 7744
Global West Suspension
Phone: 877-470-2975
Optima Battery
Red Line Oil
Phone: (707) 745-6100

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