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T&J Performance Center is now bigger than ever! Our twelve thousand square foot facility includes a manufacturing and fabrication department, ten full service bays and a trained staff of caring enthusiasts. T&J Performance Center has been in business for the past 25 years and have been involved in various off road race classes for the past ten years. We are current memebers of ORBA, CORVA, ASA and an authorized Jeepspeed Dealer. Please feel free to drop by and take a look at our showroom or give us a call. 1002 W. Collins Ave, Orange, CA, 92867

Russo gets to co-Drive the Royal Purple!!!!!

Posted by T&J Performance On June - 7 - 2011

After 3 years of watching these races from the pits, I was given the opportunity to Co-Drive.  It was great to see the entire racetrack, to see some of the s**t you guys have to drive thru.  I would like to thank Mike and Tom Barnett for giving me this opportunity, Randy Miller for the loan of a new Race suit, 1717 and Gadzooks racing for the helmet,  and Denise of 1708 for the…..Tube


What is a gift?

What does it mean to co-drive??

My dad taught me to ride on a Honda Trail 90.  I had an Enduro in college that I would ride in the fields behind school.
This was my experience of off road before I met Chris Wacker.  One day I watched Dust to Glory and my life changed.  When asked if I would want to drive I sadly said no.  I could never keep it together, I’m too excited.

But to fix:

To fix: Something I do every day
But not upside down
Not with the car running
Not with gas dripping inches away
Not with seconds counting
Not with whatever scrap and trash that is laying in camp

I fix in a cool, calm, collected manner.  In fact I don’t fix, I repair.
I draw the picture we send with the RFI
I order material cut to size
I make sure P.O.’s are signed
I send the invoices the day we finish work

But to fix; What do I have to do so this can do what it needs to do.
Thinking outside the box
Making it work
Bailing wire and Duct tape X 1000
The essence of working man since the dawn of time

Yea, I can be a pit guy

It was then that I met Chris Wacker.  I saw a machine like i’d never seen up close.  Looking at the welds, the geometry, the wiring, Interesting, Beefy, Cool.
Why would you put a gusset there?
Why cut this out and leave this?
Why does this weld look like this?
Why is this here?

When the mysterious, invisible, beast that is the racetrack takes hold,  Destruction like Ive never seen.
Welds torn at the edges
Gussets buckled under pressure
Steel Twisted, Ripped, and crystallized under torque.
What the racetrack does to these machines is unfathomable.
Axles bent
Shocks blown out
Frames cracked
Leaf springs broken in the center
S**t you would NEVER see on a car on the road. This thing is 10x beefier than stockand its ripped in two??

How to fix something that shouldn’t ever have to be fixed, that can’t be fixed, THAT is a challenge I can relate to
No engineer stamp
No architect approval
No Change order
No timesheets

Just “Fix the fu**ing thing”

To witness this is one thing, but to be a Team Member, to Help this amazing machine and its drivers come across the finish line.  It’s almost a dream come true.  it is what I do, a Builder, a Fixer, fused with the essence of who I am, an artist, a creator.

I am Russo, if it’s steel, I can build it.  If it can be fixed I can fix it, “I can weld it, no, leave it in place, I can get it”
I cant do what you d but I can do this.
I want to give you the best I have, because that is what I expect from myself
If I am not going to give my best, I won’t bother.  I can drink at home, sleep in a bed, and not have to pick rocks and thorns out of my shoes.

My best: what does that really mean?
When is the pursuit of perfection overkill?

I see what the driver goes thru
I see what the Car goes thru
I need to give an equal amount of effort

My participation to this point is a test

This is Fun, This is challenging,  This is almost surreal.  I have no frame of reference to the essence of this machine,  I want to understand, Try to learn, Discover.

The Machine needs to be Different,  To make it indestructible is a mistake, it has to flex, to breathe, to be able to grow and change with the driver.

The terrain will win, there is no escape, no avoiding it.  The machine needs to exist above the terrain, adapt to it.
That’s where the driver comes in.  Where to be, how fast to go, when to break, when to slide, when to steer, and when to Counter-Steer when to force and when to release.
The driver needs to have skills far above “normal” drivers
At first it looks like Balls, courage, adrenaline, guts.  How else can this guy drive 60, across bumps that would take out a weekenders 4×4?
When I first went for a ride, I was convinced this is the case.  I couldnt focus, I couldnt get that harness tight enough.  I couldnt see farther than the Rut that I feared would rip out the underside of the car.
3 times I’ve sat in the car, my experience was the same.

One Saturday my life and my perspective Changed.

“Russo do you want to CoDrive”

Ive seen every part of that car, the motor ,the suspension, every bracket, every weld, everything that makes that car, a car.

When youre strapped in, you can’t see any of it.  The car no longer has parts, it is one unit.  It talks to, you tells you he’s happy, or he’s not.

The driver operates the car in a different dimension than the rest of us live.  On top of the bumps, the side of the ruts, the plateau of earth feet from the racetrack.
The Driver lives in his own world, above, away, and clearly not connected to the earth.

The earth is what is; unforgiving, Reality, a rock that wont move, a rain rut that re-appears after a sprinkle.

The Co-Driver is what links these two worlds.   Where am I going? How do we get there? What is the car doing? When is it too much?  The co-driver answers these questions and communicates the answers to the driver in a language only 2 of them understand.

There is no other place like this, above the earth and ruled by it.  This is the condition of the Driver and Co-Driver

A Co-Driver must know the machine, he must know the earth, and he must know the driver.  The driver must merely express his gift.

A Gift: the transfer of something without compensation.

The driver has a gift being able to make the car do that.  I was given a gift being able to experience it.


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