Before the race the team addressed three specific areas; brakes, tires and shocks. In all three cases we were lucky that the industry leaders in each fields also made products for the off-road industry, therefore allowing us to use our contacts in those departments to get our collective feet in the door. For brakes, we turned to Vanco Power Brake Supply, a company famous for making Jeeps stop. Our friends at Savvy Offroad had just started offering the kit with Black Magic pads and were nice enough to toss a set our way. And boy did they work. Without a doubt, we had one of the best braking cars on track…considering that we’re in a Jeep, that’s an impressive statement.
We’d been running the same no-name brand mono-tube shocks that came with the Jeep for the previous 4 races, and while they technically “worked”, we knew there was a lot we could do to make the Jeep behave a little better. Luckily, our friends at Bilstein just had a set of very used up shocks off of a Ford Econoline E-250 come back for warranty work and adapted them for our use. The Jeep handled quick transitions from left to right much better than before, felt far more predictable in hard corners and didn’t squirm as much under hard braking. Simply amazing how a set of (even totally beat up) good shocks can transform a car.
Perhaps the most startling change was in tires. The Jeep has been running on some pretty good rubber, and we were plenty happy with what we had, but when the option to get on the Falken race program came up we couldn’t say no. It’s no secret that most of the fast teams run Falken Azenis RT-615Ks, but we weren’t sure if the Jeep would be happy with so much grip, and how much faster the super sticky Falkens would wear. We went in guardedly optimistic, and left ready to get “Azenis” tattooed on our bodies. The switch to the Falkens also necessitated a bump up in wheel size to 17s, and again long time sponsor Raceline Wheels came through like magicians building and shipping a custom set of 17×8 to us in 4 days.
In the first corner of a race track I’d never seen, let alone driven, I knew immediately that these were something special. After the first two hours (during which time I took it from 32nd to 13th overall, and 1st in Class) I knew I was in love. We had so much grip it was hard to wrap our heads around. Further, when coupled with the new Vanco/Savvy/Black Magic brakes we could brake later than almost any other car out there. We could wait until the very last second to even start slowing, often passing 3-4 cars in the braking zone.
When I got out of the car after my first stint I honestly expected to see the front tires down to the wear bars; I was having so much fun passing people I forgot this was a 24 hour endurance race and was pushing really, really hard. To my shock, they looked nearly new. How was this possible? Even more amazing, on a track that’s notorious for chewing through tires, we only had to swap out the fronts at about 2 AM, and we finished the race on the same rear tires we started on. Even in the rain, they were incredible, allowing us to make up a bunch of lost time and take home the top prize, the Index of Effluence.
Huge thanks to all our sponsors from everybody at Petty Cash Racing, we couldn’t do it without you!