Pierce led with a hung throttle from the green flag until under 2 laps to go
On July 17th, 2018 the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series made their way to Aberdeen, South Dakota for the second showing in the state of the history of the series.
Bobby Pierce put on a heck off a show that night at Brown County Speedway. He started on the pole. The green flag dropped and the throttle hung.
Pierce went right to the top of the race track as most of the field ran the bottom. He held off an early challenge from Scott Bloomquist and began pulling away.
The engine was screaming. Unknown to the crowd and everyone else but the #32 crew, Pierce had a stuck throttle. He went on to lead almost the entire race.
In the closing laps he caught lap traffic and Earl Pearson Jr was closing in on him via the bottom lane. Pierce was unable to work the pedals and ended up off the track as the aerodynamics changed when he got behind the lap car.
He re-joined the track in 2nd as Earl Pearson Jr took the lead. Seconds later, as they took the white flag, Pierce went up in smoke. He coasted around for the final lap and finished on the podium with a blown motor.
Pierce parked the car at the entry to turn one, a hundred feet past the start finish line. As smoke billowed from under the hood, he tossed the steering wheel and got a hook back to the pit area.
It was a badass race but there was a lot going on in the middle of July. I had this typed up but it never went out. Here’s the interview that was done that night at the track.
Bobby Pierce on the hung throttle
“On the four barrel, there’s a little screw on the bottom of the carburetor that holds something. I guess if that screw comes all the way out, then they’re just stuck open,” Pierce explained to RacingNews.co .
“I’m not sure if it’s just a set screw or what kind of screw it is. Basically, the back of the four barrel was stuck open the whole entire race.”
“The only way to let off the gas, back to about 5,000 [rpm]. I had to lift up on the gas every time I wanted to go into the corner. That was definitely the most difficult race I’ve ever run.”
You were able to pull it back? Like, lift up on the back safety lever of the pedal?
“Yeah. But, I’m not exactly sure how all that stuff works. My dad was trying to explain it to me. He was saying that since it was like that and had to pull back that it bent something on the other side of the carburetor, the linkage maybe.”
In the case of a hung throttle, cars come equipped with a safety lever on the pedal. If the pedal sticks, drivers can lift up on that bar and pull the pedal back.
Managing the stuck throttle
So, 5,000 grand was all the way back with the pedal?
“Yeah. Like, even when I was riding around on the caution there. My pace was really fast.”
“I was just stuck on 5,000. That was the slowest I could go. I’d pop it into low gear every now and then. But, then it would just scream, under caution.”
“I had what I had. It made it difficult throughout the corner. Whenever I had to lift, I didn’t have any throttle control.”
“That’s why I never went to the bottom. I was just afraid to go down there with how much throttle control I had. You just gotta play with the pedals when you’re running the bottom. You gotta be really smooth. I just wasn’t able to do that.”
“The top was really the only line I could have. I would have been fine. Then, I approached that one lap car and I got a little bit of a push.”
Pierce is describing a push that was caused from the lack of air. To that point, he had been out front the entire race with nothing but clean air ahead.
“Normally, I’d let off the gas. I did that. But, I wasn’t fast enough to lift up on the pedal to bring it to less throttle. I shot off the race track.”
“By the time I got back on, Earl was way ahead. A lap later, the white flag comes out and our engine breaks a rod or something.”
“It was a bad luck night. But, at least we were able to finish 3rd.”
Were the lights on and flashing at any point during the race?
“No. It just broke. I don’t know if falling off the track sloshed some oil around or what. But, it happened the lap after that.”
“I was just able to coast the rest of the way to the finish line and barely finish on the podium.”
2 days later, Pierce was again leading at I-80 Speedway. He led by a mile over Jonathan Davenport. With 5 laps to go, smoke starting coming out of the rear deck lid.
He lost another win and another motor, two days after the one at Brown County.