Posted in  Project MadMaxx

Madd Maxx: Tales from Race #1 at Victorville

Madd Maxx is OneDirt’s 1979 Camaro Street Stock entry – and you probably don’t know much about her story. That’s because the car was purchased and our racing efforts at Victorville Raceway from 2008 were not chronicled on because the site didn’t exist yet. It’s probably better that way: a rookie driver, a former-championship winning car that was sitting for 2 years under a tarp, and a motley crew all working together to fix broken parts so that Maxx can get out on the track. It’s a story repeated over and over at local dirt tracks all over the country.

This is our story from yesterday’s Street Stock first-race at Route 66 Raceway – aka Victorville Raceway – which ended in more heartbreak for the crew and for poor Maxx. However, the upside is that we had a great time, and also I got a lot of driving time, and the was performing great!

Check out our tales below, and you can also visit the full photo gallery from the race.

To give you a quick re-cap from 2008, let’s take a look and the car, and the crew, and we’ll give you a quick re-cap of 2008.

Madd Maxx – Our ’78 Camaro. A former 2-time track champion owned and built by Steve Rose, it sat under a tarp for 2 years since 2007. It’s a top car, but with all of the gremlins associated with a vehicle sharing a living space with spiders for two seasons.

BJ Kimbrough – Crew Chief – BJ is a Dirt-track champion and’s Project/Shop Manager for all vehicle builds. He is also the Senior Editor for He pushed us to start Dirt Track racing.

James Lawrence – The Rookie –
Your author, driver, and all-around Dirt rookie. The so-called wheel man.

Tom Bobolts – Crew & Wrench –
Tommy is the ace crew member and head wrench for Maxx. Fresh to the dirt, Bobolts keeps Maxx freshly tuned and fixed up for Victorville.

Melissa Lawrence – Crew – Melissa does it all, from helping crew on the car, to covering the entire event with great photography and video. And best of all – she makes sure the wheel man is happy every day!

Let’s do a quick re-cap of 2008. First race, 27 entries in Street stock. Just learning how to drive and the car setup. Finished 13 out of 27 cars. Strategy: avoiding everyone else. Race 2: this race just did not go smoothly. Repeated throwing of belts, overheating, and a finicky shifter. We went out in the A-Main on lap 3 with massive overheating. After this race, we changed the head gaskets because we warped the heads. Wonderful. Next race up: the infamous Turkey Classic.

The Turkey 2008 – Nothing But Problems

Gee, where do we start. Carb problems. We can’t get the car to start. Charging problems. Shifter problems. Tach doesn’t work. After the hot laps, we pull off the track with a shifter that we think is still mis-adjusted. We try to fix it. Thumbs up. We’re ready to race. Jacked up in staging for the Heat race, we’re finally going to go out and compete. Oops. Try to shift into high gear. There is no high gear. Is there? Transmission is shifting between low and high gear. Car is over revving. Crowd booing. We pull off the track with heads hung low, a angry hot driver, the crowd booing…… and a resolve to make 2009 a better year with some good driving.

Let’s fast forward to 2009.

The Changes
– We think we fixed everything.

• Rebuilt the transmission and put a oversize transmission pan on it to prevent the fluid from boiling
• A new shifter.
• New pulleys to prevent belt-throwing.
• A new carb and Wilson carb spacer for the engine.
• An alternator to keep the battery freshly charged and juicy.
• We wrapped on some Cooper Cobra 245/60 and 255/60 tires, and got our driver charged up.
• Finally, a new quick-disconnect steering wheel should offer some more precise sawing of the wheel for this rookie driver. The old quick-disconnect was loose and had lots of play.

We are going to tell this story in photos. Check out the photos and captions below and you can follow along with Maxx and his first race with BJ, N8Dogg from Tremec Transmissions, and Melissa working crew for Maxx. Maxx’s got a fresh touch up on the paint, the Cooper Cobra’s, and a bad attitude. Hopefully, with a fresh Wilson 2-barrel carb spacer, and a fresh carb, he should have a lot better throttle response than at the turkey. We spent some time hanging out with CD – Curtis Dietzsch – a great Street Stock racer from Perris that came up to Victorville for the first race. He was checking out the Cooper’s as he’s thinking of switching.

Maxx on the tech pad. There was a minimum of snickers directed by the Victorville tech staff at the Rookie wheel man. Everything passed with flying colors. Check out Nitro N8 (black shirt) providing the muscle in the background. Any problems on the tech pad and Nate would have been in the frey knocking some fella’s out. That’s how he does things.

N8 checked and setup our tire pressures, and re-checked all of our lug nuts. N8 is a real stud-muffin.

Here’s Maxx’s engine for 2009. An old crusty 350 short block, 186 camel hump heads, 2101 performer, and a fresh carb, spark plug wires, and carb spacer should get the job done. We’re thinking of a new cam, but we haven’t gotten any laps on the car so driving is our problem. Horsepower is hardly our problem. The engine is exactly the same as we got bought it with the exception of that we had to replace the head gaskets that we blew when we overheated. We’re really not sure anything about the cam or anything else other than what we listed.

Getting strapped in for hot laps by crew chief BJ, I was actually relaxed for the first time in the car. I felt like we probably worked out most of the bugs, and I was just looking forward to getting some laps under my belt.

We prepped the car to be setup for a dry, slick track. Well, the hot laps were loose, muddy, and the track surface was really wet and gooey. Still, I felt really good in the car. It had nice bite, good power, and was very responsive. The only problem I had – the darn overheating was dangerously close to repearing. In only 6 laps, the temperature jumped to 220 degrees. I did get loose a few times (as you can see from this picture) but I still felt the car was controllable.

We were happy, but we were worried. It was time to fix our cooling problem. A quick discussion with our crew resulted in a theory: the problems could be limited air flow into the front of the radiator. Our front end didn’t have any holes cut into it, and we were thinking perhaps at low speed the fan alone wasn’t cutting it.

So we took inventory. Hole saw? No. Drill? No. Large shears? CHECK. Pocket knife? CHECK. Time to get to work.

Folks, do not do this at home. Give BJ and James some shears, and you end up with hack work that looks like this. The goal was to get air flow into the radiator. Now, all I need you to answer. Check out my hole on the left versus BJ’s on the right! Just call me an artist.

We also cut some large holes in the bottom. At this point we were thinking, the more air flow the better. We had to keep Maxx from overheating if we were going to compete in the A-main and a Top 10 finish. The big question would be: did we do enough hacking to allow air flow into the Speedway radiator? There was concern, but we both felt that we could get 10 laps out of the engine (enough for the heat race) and enough to qualify for the A-main. Then, if the problem was still present, at least we would have enough time to figure it out.

Meanwhile, check out the hard work of our crew. Is Melissa scraping Mud, or is she uploading pictures of Madd Maxx to Facebook? You decide. Either way, it was time for the Heat races, or “GO TIME” as BJ said. Time for the rookie driver to prove his worth to the team.

With the sun setting at Victorville, and Max’s freshly cut air holes to his radiator, the time was right to let the Camaro stretch her legs, and for me to finally put together some good laps.

Here I am getting ready to get the Green for Heat Race #1. 1 lap to go. Good old car #84 is giving me some love a full lap early, apparently he was getting pushed from behind.

Our Heat is with 10 other Street Stock cars, and we were lined up in second row, inside. BJ gave me some tips for the start – make sure to stay close to the car in front of me, and to run an aggressive, but smooth race of 10 laps. I needed to finish in the top 7 of 10 in order to make sure to make the A-main, since we weren’t sure if there was going to be a B-main, I just needed to make sure I was in the show.

The heat race went well. I felt really comfortable in the car. It had a lot of power, and it felt very stable. Although there was a great deal of mud still and it was not dry, I really felt like I had good control of the car and was able to drive it just the way that I wanted to.

This is despite the fact that the car, and the tire pressures, were set up for a dry, slick track. The first five laps were really just “get back in the driver’s seat” laps where I was just trying to feel comfortable in the car. On the start I lost a position (to 5th) and I was just kind of maintaining that through the first 5 laps getting used to the car. I was driving and utilizing the power and handling of the car at about 60%.

And then it happened: I went blind.

See, remember that whole thing about the “rookie wheel man”. Well, this rookie accidentally tore off all of his tear-offs at a single time by accident. Next thing I know I can’t see anything. It is getting worse and worse, and with the very heavy mud (see the picture above for the flying mud clumps) I kept trying to wipe the mud off of my visor. Bad idea. That just smeared mud and dirt all over my helmet even worse. The end result: 90% blindness and block of vision. I briefly thought about lifting my visor but with the flying mud, wasn’t sure if that was a good idea. So, I just tried to block my position and stay in 5th knowing that would get me in the A-main. And I was able to do that with some very conservative (read, blind) driving.

Finishing 5th in our heat put me qualified at #13 out of 23 cars for the A-main. It was time to prep the car and get ready to go racing.

BJ Kimbrough is the reason, the inspiration, and the drive behind not only, but also Madd Maxx. A dirt track racer and automotive enthusiast at heart, we would not be doing this without him. A humble man, is going to be a major part of Dirt Track Racing over the next 5-10 years because of him. And here, he looks over old Maxx before the A-Main. With temps hitting 230-degrees during the Heat Laps, there was some question about whether she would live over a 20-lap feature. We have tracked down the problem to a crankshaft pulley that is too small. No way we can change it out here – no parts to come to the rescue. All we need to do is get our mind right for driving, make some small tire pressure adjustments, and go out there and earn ourselves our first-ever Top 10 finish.

BJ straps me in for the A-main. We felt good about our chances. The car was performing well, I wasn’t screwing up too badly, and all of the stars seemed to be in alignment.

That is until the starter button decided to go “CLICK” instead of firing up the small block. Dead battery. Panic ensued.

Here is what happened. The unedited, uncut version.

1. The crew came running from the stands (they were watching the Sprint Car A-Main).
2. We got the Trailer and the Expedition (connected) quickly moved into place to get the battery/jumper cables hooked up.
3. Got the Camaro fired up.
4. Moved said Expedition
5. Drove the Camaro to the Staging Area
6. Got lined up, Row 7, inside position. Left car running.
7. Friendly VAR staff member brought up battery charger/power starter. We could always restart it with the power charger.
8. Turned off vehicle (see #7).
9. Tried to start vehicle. Would not start.
10. Hooked up power pack/charger.
11. Would not start.
12. Cursed.
13. Frantically searched for fresh battery.
14. Friendly racer Tim Timmerman provided fresh battery.
15. Hooked up jumper cables between old and new battery.
16. Would not start.
17. Field went around us, raced, and our friend CD won the race.

This is how our night ended. It’s never a good one when the tow truck is pushing you (or worse: carrying your car) to the trailer. It would be a long night from there, with the come-along being our method of choice for wrenching ol’ Maxx unto our trailer.

Despite the heart break at the end, and the lack of points accrued, we had a blast. This it the first chapter of 2009, not our last, and we will be back.

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