(ED—Here is Pro hillclimb Yamaha racer Cable Willford’s
thoughts on the first RMSHA race of the season last weekend. We will be
following Willford as he helps to try to put Yamaha on the map—hillclimbing wise
This blog is a lot like my marriage. Lane (Lindstrom, SnoWest Magazine editor) made sure I was
on board with it in good times and in bad, for better or for worse. Needless to
say, Bear Lake did not go as expected for team
Thursday testing allowed us to dial in some serious speed
with our sleds and my mod sled in particular had me amped up for Friday
qualifying. My run in 600 Stock class was a refresher lesson in the basics of
hillclimb racing. One of the golden rules is to look through the gates, not at
them, but apparently I was a little rusty. Coming into gate No. 8, I blew right
through it with too much speed and got out of the groove into the fresh
snow. Over correcting for my mistake put me on the wrong side of the
groove setting up for gate No. 9 and the hill showed me no mercy as it sucked
me down for an embarassing highmark.
Mod class promised to bring me redemption as I anticipated
unleashing the weapon we had built with my turbo Nytro. The rider ahead of me
in 6 mod took out a gate half way up the hill and I was held at the starting
line for about 10 min. as they replaced the gate. In this 10 min. time frame of
off and on idling, an electrical problem developed that stopped fueling the No.
3 injector. This gremlin wasn't fully realized until I had taken the green
light on my way up the hill. Full throttle produced about 40 percent power on 2
cylinders making less than 5 lbs. of boost and the sled was seriously wounded.
Outstanding suspension performance and chassis speed still
allowed me to drive it hard enough for a 55 sec ET even though the lack of
power had cost me 5-7 seconds. The run was good for a 12th place finish on a
broken sled in a class that was won with a 47 sec ET.
We struggled to fix my sled for the rest of the day,
replacing plugs/coils/injectors and finally removing the entire wiring harness,
searching for answers. This downtime cost me a DNF in 700 mod and I had
to share teammate Kody Malmborg's sled in 8 and Open Mod.
Kody and I have completely different sled setups and I
struggled to find the speed with his sled that I have with mine. I managed an
18th in 800 mod which had 22 riders. As the last man on the hill at the bottom
of Open Mod class, I unleashed a banzai run in a cash or crash effort hoping to
generate something positive. Unfortunately this led to catastrophic failure of
the rear skid as I jumped the catwalk under full boost. The broken and crippled
skid caused total loss of track tension, every time I nailed the throttle, the
track screws would auger into the front cooler and I was forced to end my run
before tripping the timing lights.
Equipment failures and missed opportunities happen in
racing. Good teams get better by learning from the mistakes and that’s exactly
what we will do. My teammates and the corporate brass were hit hard with the
reality of the competition level on this circuit. The RMSHA learning curve is
in full swing as they have seen first hand that good mountain sled setups do
not translate to good race sled setups.
Thankfully Eric Josephson with corporate Yamaha, who was
attending at Bear
Lake, is a man of action.
He is already pulling the trigger on changing things within our program that
will help make us more competitive for the rest of the season. This is the
type of support that comes from a factory-backed effort and having these
resources available to me is encouraging as we move forward.
Look out Afton, here we