Matomi Wash JCR/Honda PitMar 25th, 2009
The Story of the 2009 JCR/Honda Matomi Wash Pit. Written by Scott Oberle. Photos up in Media section.
Four of us, Ron and Jean Heatherington, Dave Wilcox, and Scott Oberle have been pitting for Honda, and now JCR/Honda, for many years. We are usually given a remote pit, probably because we have the 4x4 vehicles to get in and out and Ron and Dave have very good mechanical abilities. This is especially important since the team van cannot get into our locations and we are really on our own. On the San Felipe 250 this usally means we get to visit our old favorite, Matomi Wash. Matomi Pit is located about an hour south of San Felipe on the Puertocitos Road, then about an hour and fifteen minutes (13 miles) up a really poor sand wash. It is a tough drive up the deep, sandy wash, particularily hauling a full load. And every year it seems to get worse!
After getting an early pit briefing from Johnny, we headed south about 1:30 the day before the race. Did I mention this pit requires an overnight in the desert? There is no way we could make it out to the pit in the dark, and since the pit opens at 8:00 AM we need to get situated and set up the night before. On the way down, we made a stop at road marker 32 to visit Nancy and Bob, who serve as Honda Pit Radio relay during the race. She got us a kilo of fresh shrimp for dinner. After an uneventful trip up the wash, we arrived at our location about 4:30. After a bit of feverish activity, we were all set up just as the sun went down. This is a very beautiful and quiet location. Very peaceful on Friday but not so much on Saturday! Ron and Jean set up the barbeque, and we had our traditional Matomi meal of great hamburgers and shrimp for dinner. Very few things as supurb as a really fine meal in the middle of nowhere! Our only problem was choosing the wine...didn't know what paired best with both hamburger and shrimp. I think we finally settled on a nice Pinot Noir. Life is indeed good!
The only problem during the night was agonizing for an hour or so if it was worth the effort to get up and go outside for a bathroom break! Turned out it was, and a good night's sleep followed. Dawn always comes too early, but at least it was warm this year. Matomi in November can be dreadful! After breakfast, we just bounced around getting last-minute stuff ready for the race. Just when we were feeling good about our efforts, Johnny came on over Pit radio to inform us that 3x and 4x both would quite possibly need rear wheel changes. And, by the way, they were less than a minute apart! Our pulses immediately red lined as this would tax our little pit to the max! Turned out to be a false alarm, as both teams decided to wait until the alternate pit 17 miles away. Thanks guys! We got both Team bikes out very quickly with no issues, first Quinn and then Kendall. We are always very happy when we don't "screw the pooch" on the Team bikes! The rest of the race seems very easy after we get the leaders out without issues.
The rest of the day also went very smoothly. Absolute no issues or problems, gas was quick, riders were appreciative, and all was well. Dave handled the day as the gas man, while Scott served as first rag! Despite the fact that Ron was out of uniform without the collered "boss shirt," he insisted on giving orders to see that things went smoothly. If he doesn't wear the "power uniform" next time we intend to completely ignore him! Jean handled the communication chores in her usual competent and efficient manner. All in all, Honda may have other pits as good as ours, but there are certainly none better! A good pit is a coordinated group effort.
Bike 609x was about an hour and a quarter behind the previous bike. We took down as much of our pit as we could, leaving out just the necessities for our last rider. Then we sent one of our vehicles down the tight spot to radio up to the other when the course was clear. Turned out we had about 10 minutes to spare before the trucks after we both got out! It was worth it though, as 609x was an older team, had never done anything like this before, and were having the time of their lives. Good for them!
Our only real issue occurred on the way out. We had lowered our tire pressure for the trip up the wash. Dave had researched air compressors and purchased what he thought was a good one for us to refill tires on the way out. Worked great on the first, second, and third tires. Then blew a fuse! On top of that, the hot little devil burned Dave's hand. To his credit, Dave took our harrassment in good humor, despite being irritated with the whole thing! Especially since he was trying to help the team by getting it in the first place. (Note to Dave...always have an extra fuse or two! And thanks for the effort!) Anyhow, we finally made it back to San Felipe just in time to get cleaned up and join in the post-race festivities. Had a terrific dinner at Al's Backstreet Cantina (owned by Scott's college fraternity brother), milled around town, then went back to the condos. It was a really terrific day, and we all slept well getting ready for the long trip home. Can't wait 'till next time...
Scott Oberle, Westminster, CA http://www.photosbysandj.com/index.html
Scott Oberle Pitts with the Heatherington crew and is one of the many great people that make the JCR/Honda pits the best in Baja..