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The Mystery of the Comanche Grasslands (LaJunta)


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Colorado 109 used to go right into LaJunta, meeting US 50 at an intersection with a traffic light. In recent years, however, the state built a viaduct for 109 to cross the BN&SF rails there, returning the road to grade level on the south side of LaJunta. Unfortunately, many visitors to the area, finding themselves on the south side of LaJunta, do not realize that what looks like a 7-11 up ahead on the left is actually a mirage, and they continue south. Soon after they enter the Comanche National Grasslands, and become lost in this rugged 400,000 acre wasteland, in the midst of rolling short grass prairies, rugged canyons, and pinion-juniper forests. Let us remember the souls of the chumps who are even now bravely struggling to make sense of their surroundings, even as they fight off the exhaustion and the overwhelming desire to just pull off the road (such that it is) and drift off to sleep sprawled on the brutal dry ground of the high plains. Please bow your heads with me for a moment of silence.

Hey!! Anybody hear from ANYBODY from LaJunta????????

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Please bow your heads with me for a moment of silence.

Hey!! Anybody hear from ANYBODY from LaJunta????????

We were there: "Who's on First?" Racing #86.

Eighty Six is an '88 RX-7 with an '89 Miata 1.6L. I know, Miatas started in '90, but the engine build was Oct 1989. We've dubbed it the MX-7, a model that Mazda might have built, but never saw fit to produce.

We went, we ran, and we broke.

But before the braking part, we had taken 2nd on Saturday. Four and a half hours into it on Sunday, we had just moved into first place. It was then that the "gods of speed" decided that we had enough fun already, and the clutch gave up the ghost.

We bowed our heads in silence, and went home.

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Anybody hear from ANYBODY from LaJunta????????

Given La Junta is located off the southern end of the local airport (which airport appears to be a leftover from the Second Great Unpleasantness), and appears to be smack in the middle of what once was the range of the Fukawi Tribe, I shouldn't be surprised if we don't hear from Those In Charge before Wednesday.

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Well lets see what I remember, it's a blur.

I had never been to LaJunta before, it's a sort of "P" shape on a WWII era complex of airstrips. It's definitely a throwback to a different era. You expect the world to turn black&white and for a couple XK140s to voot by with guys wearing pudding bowl helmets.

But anyway, it was a good weekend. In no particular order of memorable events:

Day 1, I don't recall the finish so well. I think the top three was the Spy-vs-Spy Honda (1), the RX7 above (2), and Dumboyz E30 (3) (please correct me if I'm wrong). Marvin the Martian was up there in the standings until some kind of transmission/clutch/slave/master fubarification took them out of the running in the last few minutes.

Day 2 was Dumboyz winning, Jamaican Bobsled Mr2 in second, and us (40/40 aka Road Crew) ZX2 coming in 3rd. In the last half hour or so of the race, the CRX in 2nd had its panhard bar mount rip off the unibody. Bummer of a break but we were happy for the bump in the standings. It was a nailbiter for us, we didn't know if we'd hold position or run out of tires, fuel, or battery.

Other things of note:

- There was an air show going on next door, we had aerial support and extra spectators.

-The shockingly fast Audi 5000 wagon. It was a bit of a whale in the corners, but rocketed down the straights. At least at one point, they had the fastest lap of the event. Speed came at a price though, I think it completed about half of its laps on a tow rope.

-Leon the Craptacular Neon spent generous amounts of time on jackstands, living up to his name. If I had a known good Neon motor laying around I would gladly give it to you guys.

-We spent the majority of our weekend dealing with strange electrical problems and a maddeningly intermittent charging system. We would swap batteries, drivers, and refuel about every 1.25 hours, this got us the Energizer Bunny award.

-Chumpcar award to the Porsche guys. Please forgive me for forgetting the team & member names. They went above and beyond by securing the venue and supporting the event with needed supplies.

I'm sure I'm forgetting plenty, we were pretty busy in our own world. Please correct me if I got anything above wrong. Thank you to the organizers for the racing, the beer & chili, and we look forward Colorado events next year.



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Guest Packard Goose

No internet access at the track, and limited time at the hotel = no live scoring and lack of race reports. We couldn't even use my Droid as a wireless hot spot at the track.

If you missed this race, you missed a helluva lot of fun.

The facility at LJR is... "basic". There is an air-conditioned scoring booth and registration building. Pit road cannot accommodate pit boxes so we lined off pit boxes int he paddock - which itself has seen smoother days. The track is a 1.3 mile, 7-turn layout with 2 pretty long straights and a LOT of run-off, which several teams made the most of many times. The surface is an asphalt overlay on the original concrete paddock/runway, with the aggregate pulled from local riverbeds. Plenty of granite makes adhesion like mad, but is hard on tires.

ChumpCar arrived in the wee hours Friday am and slept in, arriving at the track around 9a to set up. Dan Eveatt with the city is a great guy and had the timing loop we provided installed and ready to rock! The local PCA guys showed up to help, providing a truckfull (900) cones for us to delineate blend lines, on/off lanes, pit road etc. Registration and tech went through as per normal (READ THE RULES DAMMIT!) and at 6:30pm everyone took to the track in street vehicles for a slow-mo tour of the track led my Matt Lemons on his screamingly fast mini-bike.

Saturday morning brought a thick blanket of fog, but it was clear blue skies and 60 degrees by the time the drivers meeting rolled around. A couple of workers showed up a little late, and the green flag fell at 9:06a. I don't think we had our first flat tow until about 2:30p. While there is some elevation change on the course, it's pretty much flat and wide open, so off-course excursions created a wild cloud of dust but resulted in no damage to the cars. Turn 5, the second in a 2-turn right/left chicane at a lot of cars that carried too much speed into 4. Slow in, fast out guys.

The finish was wild, with the #27 Marvin the Martian Saab leading almost the entire race only to succumb to mechanical failure with 15 minutes left to go. At 5 minutes to go, another podium car, the #3 Mad Cow (Altima?) car went udder-up with transaxle failure at Turn 5.

3rd #1 Dumboyz Racing (E30)

2nd #86 Who's on First (RX7)

1st #8 PRoject Yellow Racing (CRX)

Saturday night, a few teams stopped by for chili and beer with the ChumpCar staff. We all enjoyed a little racing camaraderie, until a storm blew in and blew dumpsters over.

Sunday morning started well, but attrition started to take it's usual toll. I'm not sure where the #86 RX7 finished, but it had a couple of spectacular near fatal brushes with the K-wall in T7. Many off-course treks created s sight not seen since the Dust Bowl back in the '30s. I think I retrieved the Wagons West Audi wagon at least 3 times, no telling how many times they were towed in overall. Seems it would run once started. "Once started" being the key phrase.

There was some great racing Sunday morning, including a long running battle between the #945 Porsche and the CRX. In the end, it was

3rd #7 40/40 Racing (ZX2)

2nd #11 Jamaican Bobsled Team (MR2)

1st #1 Dumboyz Racing

Several teams that came over from LeMons were nothing but complimentary about Chumps, ChumpCar and the overall experience. We were glad they stopped in to try us out. We have many new friends.

ChumpCar Award went to the #44 REd Baron Team. They were instrumental in helping us move the event on short notice, overnighting a track map, proving cones, finding corner workers, helping set up, welding a broken trophy - anything we needed, Phil and Loren made sure we had access. True Chumps and a super fantastic team.

Other awards

Big Tow Award - #69 Wagons West. If we charged them per tow, we could have bought steak dinner for all

Maytag Spin Cycle Award = #26 Bobby Rickys - New chumps, should have been rally crossers. Spent plenty of time in the gravel even before their brakes started to go

Workers Choice - #22 Starving Artist Racing - another new team giving us a try. Great guys, raced clean all weekend. I don't think they had a spin or off-track until sometime Sunday.

Special Recognition - Bob Lee, #57 Red Green. Bob's club in NM had La Junta rented for that same weekend and he graciously gave it up so that we did not have to change the original date of the race. Thanks Bob!

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