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Dust Junkies Racing and the legendary Parker 425

The Dust Junkies entered the 2010 Jeepspeed season with high hopes and a well prepared car going into the season opener, the BITD Parker 425. We had a surprise up our sleeve and introduced the exceptionally talented Tandi Hartman as the official Driver of Record for the series. Tandi has proven her skills as a driver, winning every Powder Puff race she has entered, most of them with an hour lead on the next competitor. She navigated for team owner Scott Hartman the entire 2009 season and was ready to take the reins.

The PRP 1706 Jeepspeed Wrangler started 6th off the line in a talent packed field of 23 cars. Scott Hartman and Dan Turner started the race on the streets of Parker, AZ with a perfectly tuned car. Two days before the race the team metwith King shocks in the desert near Barstow, CA for a testing and tuning session. In less than an hour the magicians at King Shocks had the car running the Barstow whoops faster than they ever had before. Scott and Dan left the line with the car running smooth and fast. They quickly passed most of the class and worked through the other classes that started ahead of them. At about mile marker 3 the antenna whip came loose and fell off the car immediately damping communication capabilities. This is the first race with the new motor built by Jeff ‘LJ’ Ranney with help from Painless Performance. The motor was strong, pulling hard up the deep sandy washes of Parker. At about mile 12, the transmission let out a horrible sound. A deep gutural grinding and Dan and Scott knew something was really bad. Third gear was gone, so Scott went for Second. To his surprise, Second was ok and so was fourth,fifth and first. The Dust Junkies worked with National Drivetrain through a lot of gear combinations to get the car running perfectly between third and fifth. Without the use of third gear,they had to go between 5500 rpm’s in second to lugging in fourth. It was a long 25 miles to pit 1. To make matters worse,they couldn’t communicate with the team to have them ready for repairs.

Two days before the race Brian Hartman was gathering parts and tools at LJ’s shop and called Scott to ask if the team needed the spare transmission that usually came to the races in LJ’s race trailer. He grabbed the transmission and loaded it up in the truck that was going to the midway pit at mile 90. Scott and Dan were passed by 3-4 of the cars behind them limping into pit 1. When they got there they couldn’t get ahold of the crew. Minutes later Tandi, Scott Parker and Brian showed up with the truck, some tools and the transmission. A plan was quickly formulated to change the transmission and get back on course to finish the race. The crew manhandled the transmission into the car without a tranny jack, just bench pressing the transmission, transfercase and driveshafts into the car. They knew that they were no longer in contention for the win, but nobody on the team has any ‘quit’ in them. It took about an hour and 40 minutes to change the transmission at pit 1 but they got it in and assumed the race at the back of the pack. When they got back on course with a new antenna, Tony Briley called on the radio waiting at pit 2 for the longest time for the car. It is great to know that the team has people that will volunteer their time and money and do anything necessary to keep the car in the race.

Scott and Dan set out to run a conservative pace to get a finish. As they made their way around the course they passed a few cars broken down next to the course and a few running slowly. By the time they hit main pit they had passed 8-10 cars. In main they saw a few of the top teams in the class in main pit. Bob and Machelle Green fueled the car and checked it over in record time and sent the car out to finish the race. They picked up the pace a notch or two and kept passing cars along the way. They fought the rain and the rutted up Parker course and kept the car together to hand it off to Tandi and Parker. Scott Parker is by far the best Driver/Navigator on the team. He knows the car and it’s capabilities. He knew how nervous Tandi was driving her first Jeepspeed race and kept her moving conservatively, but fast. Tandi and Parker drove the roughest part of the course in the worst possible conditions and kept the car together with the only problem being the loss of radio communication due to the radio getting wet from the rain. The Rubicon express long arm suspension smoothed out the course like it was graded road.

The clouds opened up and the rain was intense. They fought through the washes that had become rivers and through the slick Parker mud. The mud was not a problem with the Interco Tires, TSL’s. Tandi and Parker continued to navigate the course through the rain even though they were cold and wet. The car was running great and the only thing on her mind was getting to that checkered flag. They were both happy to see the Colorado River which was near the finish line. The rest of the team left the pit and rushed over to the finish line to see Scott and Tandi cross the line. When they got to the finish line everyone was surprised to see 3rd and fourth just crossing the finish line. Some 10 minutes later, Tandi and Parker crossed the line in a respectable 5th place considering the setbacks. The announcer at the podium announced that Tandi was the first woman driver on the podium that day. What a great race and a show of perseverance for the whole team. DJR couldn’t race like we do without our team and our sponsors. Thank you for being involved with an amazing team.

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