Donahoe Racing's Fight for Every Mile
Why have you turned against me?" Kreg Donahoe demanded. "I thought we were friends!" Although two other humans were present in the form of codriver Kyle Williams and yours truly, Kreg's inquisition was directed at the 6-liter Power Stroke resting hotly under a raised hood. We were in between pits and checkpoints somewhere between Pahrump, Nevada, and the Amargosa Valley. There was nothing to do but wait under the pounding rays of the Nevada sun.
The day had started well. Donahoe Racing has designed, engineered, and manufactured itself to the forefront of the Super Duty aftermarket with a primo line of suspension kits for Ford's biggest pickup. To prove the worth of the Super Duty and the DR suspension, Donahoe Racing has campaigned an '06 Super Duty in the Stock Full class, debuting the 6,000-pound machine at last year's Baja 1000. Kreg had had the good fortune to draw the first starting position for Class 8100 (aka Stock Full). I filled the third seat in the SuperCab. My third-seat duties were minimal. "You're basically live ballast," Kreg stated before we went into battle.
The Terrible's Town 250 is the second stop on the Best In The Desert tour that includes the car and truck classes. BITD founder Casey Folks runs his series each year with races in Nevada and Arizona. Some races, such as the BITD Parker 250, are exclusively for motorcycles and quads, while others include all classes of desert racing vehicles. The TT 250 is a short one, mileage-wise, but it makes up for the minimal miles with maximum brutality. The course traverses sweeping, wide desert valleys, so when viewed from a distance, the course appears smooth. It's not. Rocky whoops alternate with silty whoops that alternate with deep sand washes that alternate with fields of golf-ball-sized rocks interspersed with television-sized rocks. Yes, the TT 250 is a nasty one. Then there's the weather. Late April sees much of the U.S. still fighting snowstorms or at least a fair amount of cold rain. While parts of Nevada do get quite cold during the winter, by the time the TT 250 shows up on the calendar, southern Nevada gets downright toasty during the day.
Eventually, the Power Stroke chilled out enough to let us resume our quest for the next pit, where crewmembers waited with wrenches, diesel fuel, and drinking water. We hoped to get our heating troubles behind us and start racing the course and the competition instead of the emperature gauge. The three of us fastened our five-point harnesses, hooked up our fresh-air hoses to our helmets, and connected our intercoms. We were off.
Kreg guided the 3-ton desert missle using desert racing experience that ranges from stock mini-trucks to four-linked Trophy Trucks. A major part of success in limited classes is an understanding of what the truck can and cannot withstand and driving within those parameters. The live ballast took mental notes and snapped photos where the course was smooth enough to do so. There's no way to really look through a camera's viewfinder with a helmet on, so the photo strategy was to snap as many frames as possible and count on a few to turn out well. Kyle Williams kept an eye on the engine's vitals and relayed the temperature readings out loud. "230... 234... 239... 242... 250..." When the temperature soared, Kreg had no choice but to back off the throttle and limp the truck along. Ford's engine management system actually forced his hand, since the computer goes into a fail-safe mode when the temperature rises to dangerous levels. My brain flashed back to Race Mile 0.