2006 Grand Nationals - Boyd, Texas
Presented by Precision Gear, Alloy USA, and Blue Torch Fabworks
September 23-24, 2006
Story and photos by Lance Clifford
UPDATE 9/23/06 9:00AM CST
Don't Mess With Texas!!
We're in the heart of the Lone Star state for the first ever WEROC Grand Nationals. WEROC has definitely kicked it up several notches this year, and has what I feel to be the premiere series in rock crawling. From course design, to judges to competitor turnout, WEROC has definitely been the place to be in 2006. The year has come down to this weekend, in a small one horse town in sleepy Boyd, TX.
When I asked Big Rich why they chose such a small town 1,800 miles from the West Coast, the answer was simple. "Since this event is for both East and West Coast competitors, we wanted to try and find a centrally located venue that could make everyone happy. Boyd may be small, but it's less than 20 minutes from Dallas/Ft. Worth, which is a huge metropolitan area. We are expecting record setting crowds at this event."
Record crowds or not, this event should prove to be spectacular. Little Rich has really outdone himself in the layout of this event site. Made of concrete and pipes and dirt, this is one world class event site that should provide some serious action. Stay tuned for score updates every two hours, and evening stories tonight and tomorrow night.
Texas style NASCAR fan turned Rock Crawling
Did you know that our event coverage sponsor, leading
axle manufacturer Alloy USA has merged with leading gear manufacturer
Precision Gear? In a deal several months in the making, Alloy USA
and Precision Gear have announced an operations merger to put both
the respective company’s products in Alloy USA’s Corona,
CA and Precision Gear’s Taylor, MI warehouses. The arrangement
will provide additional reach for both company’s brands into
the drive-train market place while adding efficiencies in operations.
Alloy USA has been a huge supporter of Pirate4x4.com over the years,
so we are excited to see what new things Ron Stobaugh has up his
sleeve for our readers with the new merger. Please be sure to support
those who support us, so we can continue to bring you this type
Scores brought to you by Blue Torch Fabworks -
As promised, here's the latest scores that Grandma Rich could give me ...
SCORES UPDATED - SUNDAY 7:30PM CST
Jason Paule walks away with the Super Modified victory, and Jochim and Brian Errea clean house in the Pro Modified. Dan Patterson kills the stock modified class two years in a row. Congrats to all three teams!!!!
Super Modified Scores
Modified and Pro Modified Scores
So far the action has been off the hook! The crowd is huge, and the competition is brutal. I can't wait to tell you more about it tonight. For now, keep checking back for score updates every hour or so...
Can you say "Superbowl"???
UPDATED 8:30AM 9/24/06
George Negron gets a little tweaked. YES, he did drive out of it!!
Yesterday was a great day of rockcrawling. The weather was great, the crowds were big, and the wheelin was even bigger. After a night of hard rain, the courses were wet and muddy. I was wondering how on Earth some of these courses were going to be conquered dry, let alone muddy. I wasn't alone in those thoughts, with similar concerns by big names like Cody Wagonner, and Marty Hart. Once the national anthem was played, first competitors hit the courses, it was clear that the mud would play a significant role in course difficulty. As the sun came out and began to dry things out, rigs slowly began to conquer courses that were unmakable earlier.
"Beautiful" Bruce saves it after making the bonus on A3.
Bruce "Beautiful Face" Zeller was watching rig after rig get denied on course A3. "I think the concrete is going to be broken down by the time we get to it" said Zeller Sure enough, the pounding of the skid plates of rig after rig attempting to clear the concrete pipes began to break down the formidable obstacle, and make it a little easier. Cody Wagonner was the first competitor to complete this course, but he took a cone, a banner, and a few backups to make it. Most competitors would follow in Cody's footsteps throughout the day, and take at least a cone and a banner to complete the obstacle.
Becca and the Red Bull team burns the midnight oil last night to install a new motor in the new Red Bull Rockher.
Becca and Dustin Webster showed up with their new beautifully crafted Red Bull Rockher. As I watched her ace her first obstacle, I thought I heard a slight knock in the motor as she would it up to climb the vertical face of course B4. Sure enough, she ended up throwing a rod at the end of the day. With a never say die attitude and some amazing help from the Blue Torch Fab crew and some local Boyd Texans, they sourced a replacement motor in a local junkyard, and went to work on pulling the motor and replacing it overnight. I can't wait to find out of they got it running for today! Even with her motor issues, Becca is sitting in 2nd place in the Pro Modified class. "I can't believe how incredible our new Red Bull Rockher is! Even with the bad motor, I was blown away by it's performance. It is as stable as a moon buggy, and it climbs incredible. These guys are in trouble once we get that new motor in, and Becca gets a little more seat time," said Dustin after the last course.
One of the notable things about this event is the
absence of some big West Coast names. Tracy Jordan, Shannon Campbell,
Jason Scherer, the Lovells, Dean Bulloch are all absent. While it
was disappointing not to see these guys out here, there was no shortage
of talent. Two of the top three in the Super Modified are East Coasters,
and all three are on Maxxis tires. Young gun Jesse Haines has a
commanding 12 point lead over West Coaster Bruce Zeller. East Coaster
Marty Hart is only 4 points behind BZ. Will Jesse be able to keep
cool enough to maintain his lead today? I guess we will just have
to wait and see...
Rob McKenney eats it on the Bonus on A4.
Rob McKenney and Rob "Tin Bender" Park put on a great show on obstacle A4. At the end of the course was an optional bonus line that could be attempted after completing the course for an additional -10 bonus. To my knowledge, only rear steer rigs were able to complete this bonus line. Rob and Rob gave it hell, but in the end they did a spectacular back flip into the soft, sandy dirt. As Rob came climbing out of his rig all smiles, he gave a thumbs up to the delight of the crowd.
Dan Patterson spanks C1 with a perfect score.
The Modified Stock class had some great action with the mildly built Jeeps wowing the crowds with some sick lines, and lots of throttle. Dan Patterson and Bob Roggy were on their game and have a huge 30 point lead over 2nd place Derek West. Buzz Bronsema was driving his little Suzuki like he stole it (from previous owner Dean Bulloch) and sits in 3rd place.
Powered by Pirate4x4.com.
As I stood at the top of course B1 to watch Drew Goldie, he looked up at me and pointed at his freshly installed Pirate4x4.com sticker, and then hammered down. With the engine bouncing off the rev limiter and the tires a smokin', he roared to the top like it was child's play. I can't help but think that the Pirate stickers took him to the top!
While some may disagree, I still think spotter straps are cool.
While many teams struggled to climb up and out of B1 and use liberal amounts of throttle, Team Slow Speed decided to use a different approach. With big man Dave Cole on the spotter rope, Brian Ellinger idled right up and out like nothing. Ohhhh how I miss the days of the penalty free spotter rope...
Ken Blume had a rough day.
Poor Ken Blume sure had a rough day. While he literally was the only competitor I saw all day clean the beginning of course A2 without hitting a cone, he ended up rolling down the downhill side, and landing on a cone. Flustered after his roll, he ran low on time, and hit three more cones on the exit of the course. He also was telling me how he got called on another course for hitting a cone that his spotter claims they were a good 4 inches away from. Sometimes you win some, sometimes you lose some, I guess.
Torbett sits in 8th after a rough day.
I was surprised not to see better scores by Randy Torbett today, as he is usually at the top of the score sheets. I watched him on course A4, and while he was able to make the bonus line with his rear steer, he just didn't seem to be on his 'A' game. He ended up hitting the cone at the top of the bonus line, thereby canceling out his making the bonus.
Well today proves to be action packed. What will Little Rich have up his sleeve for these teams? Will he crank up the heat, or will he feel sorry for them, and ease off? We will continue to bring you hourly score updates, and an evening wrapup story tonight. Stay tuned for our photo gallery Monday.
UPDATE: SUNDAY 8:00PM CST
Rock Runner Racing Cleans house!
Jason Paule stays consistent!
UPDATED - September 24 9:35PM CST (on the plane)
While there was action all over, the most exciting
action took place on course B4. Course B4 consisted of a relatively
easy drop off, followed by an exciting sidehill that most competitors
hit with momentum to carry them around the lower cone. After getting
around this set of gates, it was time to line up for the "wall
of death" - a 12 foot, approximately 80* wall. The action here
was insane, and the crowd was loving it. Notable performances were
made by Scott Ellinger, Cody Wagonner, Rob McKenney, Rudezuk, Terry
Hawkins, and George Negron. Rudezuk busted a rear driveshaft attempting
the wall, and hit the wall in HIGH RANGE from about what seemed
a mile back. He launched into the air, pulled off a fat wheelie,
and made it in front wheel drive. Simply amazing. Terry Hawkins
gave it hell only to break all of his wheel studs off his passenger
tire at the top of the wall. He struggled to make it with only three
tires, but took the Sky Crane in the end. One of the most exciting
runs had to be George Negron, however.... He didn't roll just once
attempting the wall, but twice. With a never-say-die attitude, he
regained his senses and tried it a few more times (with a completely
flat rear tire) with full power, and made it to the top to the roar
of the Texas crowd. Simply awesome!!!
Over in the stock Modified class, it was the Maxxis team of Dan Patterson and Bob Roggy who ruled. Patterson and Roggy had a commanding lead after day one, and held onto that lead into the finals with a 24 point lead over 2nd place Derek West when the dust settled.
Rock Runner Racing dominated the Pro Modified class as well.
The never say die attitude paid off for team Red Bull.
The top three competitors in the Pro Modifieds were virtually locked into their places going into the shootout. With more than 40 points a piece seperating them all from each other, there really was no need for them to run the shootout. However the action proved to be a great lesson in technical rock crawling for all, and was awesome to watch. I almost forgot to mention that Becca Webster's amazing team was able to pull off an overnight motor swap in the new Red Bull Rockher. "Well they finished around 3:30am. It was crazy! It runs... It's definitely a one day motor. When we took it apart we found all kinds of crud inside. I'm just glad the Blue Torch crew and the local Boyd guys were able to get it in and running" said Becca. For a one day motor, it did the job just fine, and Becca finished the weekend in a solid 2nd place.
BZ hit a cone in the shootout which cost him the win.
Today's Super Modified lesson was about consistency.
Saturday's Super Modified leader Jesse Haines learned that it takes
more than one good day to win in a fierce competition such as the
Grand Nationals. The young gun Haines struggled to maintain his
lead and lost it when he tried to launch the vertical wall of B4
and blew out a rear shock. The team spent valuable time trying to
put the shock back together instead of attempting the climb again
with a broken shock. By the time they realized the shock was not
going back together, they only had 15 seconds left, and they 40'd
the course. The battle for 1st was on, and what a battle it was!
(Editor edit - It was informed a couple of days after the event
that Jesse could not attempt the wall with the broken shock because
the rear suspension links would have went through the gas tank.)
Cody catches air for the crowd
For a while it looked like Bruce Zeller was the man to beat. Cody Wagonner had a great day as well, and so did Marty Hart. These vetrans stayed consistent, and were really on their game. And then there was Mr. Rear Steer - Jason Paule who came out swinging, and showed all the moon buggies that a so-called out dated rear steer rig can still win. Jason drove with absolute perfection today, and pulled off some of the sickest rear steer lines I've seen. I know he was worried going into his last obstacle before the Shootout, because he doesn't like the high speed sidehills. He cowboyed up Texas style though, and pulled off an impressive -6 on the course - one of the best scores of the day. Not too shabby for someone who was worried about rolling and not making it.
Terry Hawkins tries in vain to get to the finish line after breaking the wheel studs off.
All in all, this was a great event. I had a blast
hanging out in the Texas sun, and can't wait till next year to go
back. See you all in Vegas for the world finals!