Pajero Ute On The Race Track


Last time, David Glazier completed his first Pajero off road ute build. Go here if you missed it.

Pajero Ute In Driveway
Sparkling! Not for long… read on.


Time To Race!

Imagine you’ve just built a race car, but you’ve never actually driven one competitively. Well, this is where Dave was at.



Dave hadn’t actually driven in a cross-country event before his ute was built. So he entered a few AMSAG short-course club events to get a feel for it.

After a few of these events, he dived in the deep end. The Condo 750 beckoned. Condo 750 is a great event, a favourite amongst off-road drivers and bike riders alike. Based in Condobolin NSW, it is run over 2 days. It covers 750km of racing, ranging from open flat tracks to rocky, scrub-covered ranges with no discernable track at all.






Even now, it is still one of the signature events for the Denhams. Dave had been going since he was a teenager, servicing for Terry Denham.

Being such as short wheelbase, the ute was pretty twitchy. Still, Dave managed to have heaps of fun and kept it upright. The biggest achievement was crossing the Finish line. Attrition rates of 50% or more are not uncommon in cross-country events.

Pajero ute at Condo 750 off road event
Kicking up the dust at the Condo 750. If you look closely, you can see a ball of wire at the back left. Photo courtesy Off Road Images (www.offroadimages.com.au).
Pajero ute at Condo 750 off road event - tangled in a fence
“Hmmm, this is going to take a while”. Photo courtesy Off Road Images (www.offroadimages.com.au).
Pajero ute at Condo 750 off road event - tangled in a fence
“Actually, this is taking forever”. Photo courtesy Off Road Images (www.offroadimages.com.au).
Pajero ute at Condo 750 off road event
Success! The ute made it over the finish line in its first major outing. Photo courtesy Off Road Images (www.offroadimages.com.au).
Pajero ute at Condo 750 off road event
Neat “Rangero” ute at Griffith 2005 off road event.
Pajero ute at Condo 750 off road event
It needs a wash…
Pajero ute at Condo 750 off road event
Still going strong at Griffith. Photo courtesy offroadracing.com.au
Pajero ute at Condo 750 off road event
Not long after this, Dave rolled the ute. Photo courtesy offroadracing.com.au


Rollover

Unfortunately, the ute was badly damaged after a high-speed rollover at Griffith NSW in September 2005. They did get it back on its wheels and finish the race, but the ute was pretty bent.

Dave parked it in the corner of his workshop. After several months, he came up with a plan.

The original ute was twitchy and tended to buck and pitch. So he added 300mm to the chassis behind the cab. Of course, one change always leads to many others – longer tailshaft, relocate the fuel cell, rewiring, re-spray and so on.

Stretching the body and chassis
The ute getting stretched by 300mm behind the cab.

The extra 300mm allowed Dave to lengthen the rear trailing arms. This would hopefully settle the ute and make it more driveable.

One bonus was the rear panel work. With the extra 300mm, the rear panels from the Denham’s Triton fitted perfectly. These panels are fibreglass mouldings, so getting hold of a couple wasn’t an issue.

Stretching the body and chassis. Nearly ready to race again.
Fibreglass rear panel from the Denham’s Triton. A perfect fit.

By early 2006, Dave’s extended ute was ready. The longer wheelbase made a difference. It handled better and more predictably than the shortie. Dave and his navigator Kevin competed in the 2006 Condo 750 and finished, despite breaking a front tail shaft and losing their trip meter early in the event.

Chassis stretched and ready to race.
300mm and new rear panels transformed the look of this ute – and made it less twitchy.





Chassis stretched and ready to race.
Very neat.

However it just didn’t feel quite right at the back. Dave tried a few things – a slightly wider wheel track, better springs and specially tuned King shocks. These changes transformed its handling. But with better handling comes higher speed. Not always a good thing…


Tree 1, Ute 0

Motor racing can be cruel, as Dave was about to discover.

Dave and his navigator Kevin were feeling really good about this version of the ute. They’d completed a few stages of the 2007 Condo 750. With the new King shocks, springs and wider track, it just felt so settled.

However, a tight windy track through trees brought them unstuck. The track veered left then right between trees. Going into the second bend a bit too quickly, the back started to drift out. Dave gassed it to straighten it up. It was going to be tight, but it should have been okay.

The ute had other ideas. As soon as Dave planted his foot, the tyres bit and speared the ute straight off to the left. Normally it would have settled and powered on towards the right. Maybe an axle broke… who knows.

A head-on crash into a gum tree was the result. The ute climbed straight up the tree, snapped the tree off then rolled end-for-end.

Fortunately both driver and navigator were okay. The ute however, was a write-off. It had landed heavily on its roof. The chassis was creased and twisted, engine mounts snapped off, most body panels and cab shell destroyed, the whole front end twisted and wrecked… but the roll cage had once again done its job and cocooned Dave and Kevin from any injury.

Yes, the roll cage was bent but it had done its job.

Damage from a major rollover - cross country racing
Shock towers bent, chassis creased at the back of the engine – that’s just for starters.
Damage from a major rollover - cross country racing
That’s one large crease on top of the chassis rail.





Damage from a major rollover - cross country racing
Even the engine mounts snapped off.
Damage from a major rollover - cross country racing
This is not the first big crash the engine and gearbox have been through. They were both okay though. Unbreakable.

Where to now for Dave? Well, he wasn’t done with off-road racing just yet…

Next time, Dave comes up with another plan. Something more conventional… sort of.

Any questions or comments? Go to the Comments below or join us on Facebook or Twitter.

Any errors or omissions are mine alone.


Want to know more about off road racing? Then go here.


Leave a comment