2004 UROC - Jellico, TN
Brought to you by Superior Axle & Gear, Drivetrain Direct
Story by Sam Silveira
Photos by Lucie Silveira & Sam Silveira

[Day 1 Action] [Day 2 Action] [Day 3 Action]

Click here for our Photo Gallery

Welcome back to the UROC rock crawling series exhibited this time from Jellico, Tennessee. This weekend, we bring you both the Pro Series on their 4th round and the Extreme East Series gong through their 2nd round. Many thanks go out to Superior Axle & Gear and Drive Train direct for sponsoring the coverage this weekend as we bring you pictures, details, and video from the event.

For this event, things have changed a little to make the event run smoother when combing the two series into the same weekend. The event breaks down like this:
Friday June 18th - Modified class in both Pro and Extreme East circuits
Saturday June 19th - SuperMods for the Extreme East circuit
Sunday June 20th - SuperMods for the Pro Series circuit

The courses are a lot different than what we have seen from the events in the west. Where I am used to seeing an over abundance of traction courteous of grippy rocks, Jellico has something totally different to offer. Dirt, dirt, and more dirt. Most of the courses are rocks on top of loose dirt. I caught up with course designer, Darrell Motley who was really excited for the weekend and courses. He said, "These courses are a lot looser than the west. The courses are a lot harder to design. I am currently trying to work with Paragon Adventure Park to bring more rock crawling events to the east. They have huge rocks which requires cleaning up of the moss to run on it." The first day courses were all a little different from each other. Some courses were all about the throttle and really challenging where others were twisty and technical and brought in the gentle crawling aspect of the sport. All around the competitors enjoyed the courses toady. Another oddity for the westerners is the dramatic heat and humidity enveloping the day. It's one thing to have sun and heat beating down on the competitors, but when you throw in high humidity levels, the game changes. If you can't adapt to the harsher climate, it will effect your driving and scores. How much effect was there? Its hard to measure, so maybe the final scores will tell us something.

The day started with the standard tech inspection of the rigs at 7:30AM followed by the start of the event at 10:00AM. One of the first guys we ran into on course was Craig Stumph in rig #16, who is also a course designer. We found Craig on course #8 trying to leap the truck over a good size rock wall bonus line. He would get to the to of the rock, but wind up getting hung up on his belly pan. With time wasting, he called to the spotter, "let's just get out of here. Take a cone if we have to". To get unhung from the rock, Craig wound up spinning the truck sideways on the course and pushing him in the wrong direction. Now with the front tires facing up a wall and his rear bumper undercut on a rock, there was only one thing to do. A front dig followed by a 4 wheel burn, he was able to bring it back straight on course. He raced up the course and was able to finish the course with a decent score of 5.

Follwing Craig on course #8 was Sam and Joe in the most stock rig of the weekend in the #223 rig. With 33 inch Super Swamper SSR tires on an 85" wheelebase, you wouldn't think he could hold his own out there. However, he was a smooth driver not biting off more than he could chew when it came to obstacle and bonus gate selections. At this pont he had -2 on course #6 and a -1 on course #7. At the end of course #8, he pulled down a score of 15. Not as nice of score as his first two, but very respectable. I cought up with him again at the end of that course and he had this to say, "I wish I knew the gate went that way". He was referring to trying to exit the course the wrong direction. He continued by saying, "We are doing good so far After 3 good runs though, we wind up 40ing the rest of the courses for the day." We found him later in the day and saw that this wasn't true. He actually drove some very clean runs. He was doing really well until his second to last course got him in a snag. He had an easy time getting through the course, so he chose to take the bonus line. A couple bouncing attempts up and a loud back echoed from underneath the rig. It appeared that he broke an axle in the process. This forced him to back out of the course. He still finished well with 2 points on that course. Sam drove well today and was good enough to pull off an an eigth place position at the end of all courses. Just amazing knowing he was driving a near stock trail type rig. For those of you impressed by that, the rig happens to be for sale too.

As we sat there on the course, we ran across Judge Eddie. He was in charge of the #8 course and was lucky enough to have one of the shaded courses. A real commodity this weekend for sure. We asked Eddie how long he had been judging events and why he does it. He said, "I started 3 to 4 years ago at the very first event of EROCC. I have been judging ever since and love it." Eddie rides with the TKO trail riders on his days off of judging and has a new rig in the works.

We ran around the event site to check out other action going on. We ran across course #4 where Michael Smythe and spotter Kevin "BigDude" Shipley running in the Extreme East class were making their run for the money in the #180 rig. Early on in the run, Michael had some issues. A tire got pinched on a rock deflating it to nothing. With 6 minutes still on the clock, he came to the intersection of exiting out the final gate or taking the bonus line. With so much time left, the spotter said to give it a shot. The bonus line for course #4 started off with a wedge hill climb. Michael made a few attempts at the straddle climb and had some trouble. His spotter stepped in and stacked several rocks to help Michael up the climb. With authority, Kevin yelled out commands and helped to get their rig to the top of the climb and through the bonus. It's an 8 minute course, but they got through it in just over 5 minutes and walked away with -7 points. He enjoyed the course. In fact he said, "It's a tough course. it has a realy hard entrance into the course with a good bonus line at the end. We did, however, cut one BFGoodrich Krawler which didnt' help us any."

Next up on course #4 was rig #425, the Wombat, piloted by Danny Rohrer in the Pro class. He too was running BFG Krawlers which appeared to be the tire of choice this weekend for most. Hearing the sounds of air lockers clicking on and off as he travelled through the course, he arrived at the decision intersection of finishing the course easily or attempting the bonus line. With 6 minutes remaining, the decision was easy adn they were off to the bonus. A first attempt in low range up the straddle climb didn't get them very far. A lot of hopping of the rig kept him from getting up at first. He took several more attempts at the line and continued to get denied. With 1 minute left, Chad Royert, the spotter, stacked some good rocks and had the driver reline up for the climb. A full throttle dump soon got him up and over the obstacle and with only 37 seconds left to go. He finished the course with a -11 and a -64 for the day.

Dwayne Johnson and Chris Sonen were out with their 1993 custom TJ. Still running the factory CD player, the rig sports a stock 4cylinder motor and 4 speed auto tranny. I asked the guys what their thoughts were going into this particular course, referencing course #4 at the time. They said, "We've driven it before at the last competition. We didn't have problems then, however this course will make a fool of you if you are not careful." In their normal hours, they build up Jeep TJs at TJs are us. This just happened to be a salvaged TJ and they converted it into a true comp rig. In their Extreme East class, they did really well and were able to get a thrid place finish with -46 points. Not too shabby for a nearly stock TJ and a basic coil lift. On course #4, they made a really clean attack through the beginning. Not even hesitating, they reached the bonus line and in 1 shot, they were up and through the gates. No back up points were incurred and they had one of the fastest runs on that course with 2 minutes 16 seconds.
Getting sideways and tippy on course#1

Joachim Shwiesow, rig #001, was out again competing with the Pros in his ultra clean buggy sporting a titlted inward frame. Its a well crafted vehicle that was here this weekend to put on a good show. And that they did when they did a spotter ride along on course #3. They dropped into the course and slid easily down into position for pivoting around the next series of cones. Once past those, it was onto the long easy hill climb which represented any number of trails we see on a weekend. This wasn't a challenging course, but did screw some people up. Not Joachim though. He said they usually screw up easy courses, but they got through this one ok with a -12 score. A perfect run. However, as he was stating, they do have bad luck on easy courses and back on course #2, they were exiting the course through the exit gates when something went wrong. The rear end got pushed over into the cone somehow and hit them hard with a cone penalty. They may have taken the event if it weren't for that cone.
Do they look happy with their run this weekend?

Bob Standage, in the #999 rig, put on a great show over on course #1. With a never say die attitude, he charged the course with a goal of completing it no matter what. This course is a zig zag course. You start by dropping down a good size hill which quickly becomes off camber. The hill is embedded with loose rocks and dirt making the descent that much harder to control. Once you are down at the bottom, you swoop around and come back up another hill. This hill caused many problems, but probably not more than what Bob went through. Burning his way to the top, his front end kicked over some to the right which then sent him rolling down the hill. He wound up laying on his side still on the hill. With some power from his 4.7 liter Short Star, he was able to burn the tires enough to get the vehicle to right itself. With the crowd cheering, he raced over to the steep down hill section. There is a regular line and then there is the super steep line. Bob of course chose the harder of the two to drop in on. On his way down he was so caught up in trying to control the vehicle during the descent that he forgot to put the rig in gear. He made it all the way to the bottom of the hill where a steep ledge awaited him. There is no way to make the ledge with out spinning up the tires. When he went to roast em, the rig was in neutral and he couldn't pull out of his stoppie. The rig flipped forward, burying the stinger into the ground, and catapulting him on over to his lid. Although he flipped through the gates and was technicallly done with the course, he tried to right the vehicle again which wasn't too successful. Even with two flips on the course, he still finished the run. Now that's determination.
Bob putting the stinger to good use

Where Bob Standage charged to a win in the Pro Modified class, Mike Cole led the Extreme East to take home the big prize of the day. In the #94 rig on course #1, Mike cleared the course pretty easily. His drop down the bonus line was very smooth and fun to watch. A big part of the success of the run came from the spotter, Lee Cline, who stacked and moved rocks to make his drop in as smooth as possible. They too wound up having 2 rollovers on this course and were still able to walk away with a -9 points for the course.
Lee Cline pulling on Mike Cole going up #8

Over on course #5, rig#673, managed by Scott Amburgey and Dwayne Wells, just loved the course. And why not with a -8 points for that course and an overall score of -28 for the day. If you ask them, they would say their custom chassis, built by Roark Fabworks, was one of the key elements to making the rig work well. Up to the point where they were on course#5, they had 4 negative scores and only 1 positive score which came via course #1. They loved the event out here this weekend. There was one part about it making it a bit tough. Scott said, "Probably 2 more backs than we like, but it happens. The courses are fast today. So fast that it is hard to watch the person in front of you to see how they handle the courses. This is making it a challenge because they can't learn from the mistakes of people in front of them.
Scott lighting them up to finish course #8

Rig #102, part of the Extreme East group, driven by Jack Bettio, made a really really really smooth run on course #1. Sporting basic leaf springs on the rig, he was able to pilot his way around the course with not much of a problem. Unfortunately, he did have one dispute. Instead of taking the bonus line down the hill, he chose the normal path which has an off camber cone layout to mess you up. This got Jack pretty good. A rock was spit down the hill and knocked the cone over. The controversy came when he passed the point of where the cone would have been if it were standing. Jack felt he would have missed the cone where as two judges saw the tire go directly over where the cone was located. A Marshall was called in to clear the dispute, but eventually was ruled that he hit the cone. This sadly hurt his scores though. It gave him a 14 point tally on his card for this effort.
Debating a call by the judge of hitting a cone

Josh Wilson and spotter Nicholas Arllinghaos, driving the #213 rig, were already having a tough weekend even before they entered course #4. Midway through the course, they wound up breaking the steering C-knuckle off of the axle tube housing on the passenger side. This major break put a huge damper on the day for them and their shot at a win this weekend. The difficult part is that they couldn't get the vehicle off course in this condition, so they had to weld it back on right there on course. You might think that this would have ended their day, but later on they were back out there finishing out there runs. The repairs they made actually held up the rest of the event. Of course their troubles didn't stop at course #4. Josh had some difficult times on course #6 just getting through the course. This course wasn't very difficult looking at all. It's hardest parts are the sharp rock that stick from the ground just high enough to catch an axle. Well their misfortune got them caught several times which forced them into a lot of backups. Time also became a factor for them because to get the truck over these rocks, they had to stack a lot and reposition the rig which really ate up their precious minutes. They were able to finish the course in time, but they had to really rush at th end to make it happen. I caught up with Josh and he startedt to make a list of all the things that wen't wrong that day including electrical problems, engine problems to where it won't stay running, and more. These are all little things that pull your attention away from the much needed focus on the driving. Coming off of course #6, he wound up with 16 points. That included 8 backups and 1 cone. They gained back some points by not using a strap.
Rough ay for Josh but stll running strong

Dean Bulloch and Karl Munford, in rig#009 of the Pro class, had a good day on the courses. We met up with Dean after walking his Suzuki up and down the loose hills of course #1. Dean had chose to make the bonus hill as well and he made it look easy. The hill is so steep that a slight bump can send you into a crazy slide down the hill. Dean remained in control and dropped it down the hill bringing the truck to a short stop at the bottom where others needed to use a full runout to save the vehicle. Dean said this in a very excited voice, "The hill has some skid to it". His clean driving was rewarded with a -10 points, 2 shy of a perfect score. He was penalized for a couple backups.
Dean cruising down the bonus on #1

Garrett and Matt Sisson were commonly a crowd favorite as you could hear the crowd cheering them on. They had a unique style of driving the courses and you could count on them to try something just a little different than anyone else when on course. An example was when it came to course #1. Everyone else that actually attempted dropping down the bonus hill, drove their vehicle forward down it. Garrett and Matt chose to back their vehicle down the hill. Part of the logic is that the weight of the motor all the way up front might make them flip over easily, so if you come down backwards, that pushes your weight up the hill giving you a better chance of not flipping. The gamble of this though is not having enough gear in reverse to drive out of a wheelie. They did great though and slid the rig down in good fashion and when making the drop in, were not in too much trouble of flipping over. It was definitely a unique thing to see. Their reward was a 4th place win with a -62 for the event.
Team Sisson dropping in

Rob Stapelton and and Troy Slaughter were having a great time in the #24 rig. With a good day unfolding for them, they pulled onto course #1 knowing that they had to do well here since so many people were having great runs in order to stay in the top 10. Like the skilled drivers they are, The team pulled off some good driving and slid their rig down the bonus line to a -10 point score. We caught up with him at the very end of that heart pounding run and he had this to say, "That hurt. We hit pretty good", making reference to their high speed save coming down the bonus line. "I couldn't shift coming down the hill. I just wanted to hit the brakes. I feel great now. That was our best run of the day. I felt much better once were back on all 4 wheels. I would like to thank my sponsors Extreme Off Road, Master Pull, S&L Stucko, Walker Evans Racing and ExtremeJeep.com for all the support. I would also like to thank UROC and the trail keepers for putting on a great show today.". A -10 points on that course kept them in the top 10 and also brought them home a little bonus check for finishing with 2 points after all the courses were completed.
Rob and Troy workng on the edge

Rig #33, ran by Les Allan and Mark Andrews was also running very well today. We found them dancing through course #7 and having a good time. They pulled off a very successful run with only 1 backup and no spotter strap, which gave them -11 points on that course. They were having a semi-rough weekend where they had a few breaks and penalty points that hurt their overall score. On course #4 they lost their momentum when a hub broke when trying the bonus gate. They were forced to back out of the course through the regular exit gate. Les had this to say, "We were in 3rd place up to that point. We should still be in the top 10 for the day despite some of the problems. The courses are good out here today. We're used to running these courses."

We walked on over to course #2 where we found Aaron Clough and Garrett Maybe in the Pro class #40 rig making their attempt at the obstacle. This is an easier course than most out here today, so they chose to do a spotter ride along to gain them a few extra points. They dropped through the course completing it with -6 points. Talking to Aaron, he had this to say, "We have a new rear winch which made a huge difference getting down course #1. Also, the Maxxis tires are hooking up really well for us. I really love them."

As always, Becca Webster, in the silver #698 rig, was having fun at this event. It doesn't matter to her what she drives on, she appears to love the rush that this sport brings her. She is one of a very few female drivers in the series. She has no problem rubbing elbows with the boys down here. We found her on course #1 running the course in typical Becca fashion. Making it to the top of the hill with 3 minutes left, she just had to drop down the final bonus line. As she dropped in and sliding all 4 tires, an odd sound of "Woooooohoooooo" echoed from the cab of her truck. She was enjoying the slide down where others had feared it. At the bottom, after making it look easy, she said this, "That was too fast. That's a joy ride and a half right there" She definitely loves what she is doing and she took her Red Bull RockHer to a good finish with -33 points. That was good enough to give her a little check at the end of the day.
Becca and Frank siling from all te excitement of the day

Tom Banse, driving the #12 rig, had an interesting vehicle out here this weekend. He basically gutted a Toyota Tacoma, wrapped a cage up, and ran it. Even the dash gauges and steering column with ignition key was still being used. While on course #2, Tom decided to drop in backwards and finished the course backwards to save on course penalty points when changing direction. The course turned out to be pretty easy for him and was pretty much not a challenge. Although, his day wasn't completely that easy or nice for him. While on course #4, he actually ran out of gas and had to borrow some from other competitors. They are still working on improving the rig. They have some steering issues to work out and some other things as well, but they are well on their way. They finished the event with a score of 84 points in the Extreme East class.
Stock Tacoma dash column, ignition.... oh wait... is that an IH vehicle data plate?

Here are the final scores of the event. The top 3 for each class are as follows:
Extreme East:
Mike Cole -66 points
Carl Headley -59 points
Chris H. Sonen -46 points

Bob Standage -73 points
Joachim Shwiesow -66 points
Danny Rohrer -64 points

For all the rest of the scores, CLICK HERE

Overall, the event was a huge success for the Modified classes. The day went really smooth and by the local's standards, the weather was really nice, though I was dying out there. The rain never fell although it threatened many times. I swear I even felt some drops at one point, but nothing that effected anything. The courses look to be stepped up a couple notches for the Extreme East SuperMod class tomorrow. Hopefully the weather will continue to be nice and the mosquitoes don't eat everyone up. We will see you tomorrow.