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2004 UROC Finals - St. George, UT
Brought to you by Superior Axle & Gear, R.P. Films, & Marlin Crawler

Story by Sam Silveira
Photos by Chris Geiger from Marlin Crawler & Sam Silveira


[Tech Inspection] [Day 1 Action] [Day 2 Action]


Update 6:44 AM PST

I can hardly believe it. The last event of the UROC 2004 season is already upon us. It has been such an action packed year full of ups and downs, lefts and rights, rollovers and controversy, laughter and fun. All in all, it has been another exciting year of rock crawling competition for everyone involved. No matter who you are, well almost anyway, you have to agree there has been some good exciting times throughout the season. The UROC staff has learned a lot this year in what it takes to make a great competition run smooth. From their rough start in the beginning at St. George, the organizers have climbed out of their near grave event to put on a good season of challenge. Though there is a lot of improvement to go to make the series professional AND fun for everyone, the organizers have worked hard to get where they are now. I think they were successful in pushing the competitive part of our favorite sport into an organized point series

To that end, so does the series for the year. We are on the brink of the finals where it will be all decided. The weekend will be laid out like this. This event is a combined event of the West series and the Pro series. The West will be running on Friday and the Pros on Saturday. In both cases, all teams will be up against a total of 10 courses in one day. As you know, it was hard enough to get through 5 the first time we were out here. We improved on that back in Tennessee where they upped it to 8 courses in a day. Now we are pushing the envelope of time and going to try and squeeze in a full 10 courses. This means that all people involved in the event will have to work efficiently and not sit around wasting time. Furthermore, breakdowns and extractions will have to be accomplished at a fast rate so that courses aren’t jammed up like a rush hour commute in a busy city. Another area that may have to change are the courses. Will the UROC staff make the courses easier so that they are faster? Would that be a possibility to make the event run smooth and on time? We hope not because we always want a good final. The Western guys are the test. They will be the guinea pigs to see what it takes to make a full event in one day. It can be done, but there is more to it than meets the eye.

As you know we are out in the desert, home of the sand, wind, blistering sun, and rain. Rain??? Yes rain. Sure this is a desert, but the Cacti and Yucca trees (though I haven’t seen one out here yet) all get thirsty too. And as it just so happens, it looks like it is watering season out here. What started as a beautiful morning, slowly turned into a tanning booth where the sun belted down in full force. Reaching for my sun block and shades, I noticed a thunderstorm approaching. Shortly after, a shocking rain and hail storm belted down on the tech inspection participants sending everyone to seek out shelter. I was pelted pretty good by it all as I tried to catch some action on film. So is this what we can expect on the finals day? A drenching of rain on the courses and competitors? This would be an interesting change of pace for sure. St. George is a steep little village of rocks where the slightest rain will make for some extra slippery surfaces. If it does rain, this will be the first truly wet event of the year. We have had windy, hot, and humid, but not drenched. I look forward to what Mother Nature will give us each day.

The competitors are ready no matter what they see. At the tech inspection, we were able to run into several of the drivers and spotters to catch up on their take of the season along with their thoughts for the weekend. We arrived early to the event site, but I guess not early enough. Tracy Jordan was first on scene and through tech inspection under the radar. It appears to be a good luck charm or superstition to be the first driver through tech. If so, it is working well for him as he is the current Pro series points leader.

We were able to catch up to Matt Wooley in his #59 moon buggy though. With only his second run on the rig, the challenge is ahead of him. He is one of the few drivers that runs the Toyo tires here at UROC and wants to make them work this weekend. When asked about the event this weekend and the ten courses in one day, they were excited. They like back to back courses in order to keep their groove going. If they can run one right after the next, they feel their teamwork is far superior to waiting two hours in between courses. So they like the idea of 10 courses in one day in order to keep up their momentum. I snuck a peak at their readout when they parked the rig on the scales. They were sitting at a 3265lb mass with a 600lb bias in the rear of the rig. So they will have to look at resolving their balance issues before the start.

Jake in the #444 Western event crawler was back on all fours. He had an interesting finish at his last event which forced him to rebuild his rig completely. Many of the components remained, but it was a large reconstructive surgery to get it here. During tech he was warned for only one thing which was an engine cover. Not bad for a total rebuild. The final tally on his weight was not too far from Matt, tipping the scales at a very balanced 3463 lbs.

Daren Runyon was also out in his 9” portaled crawler. You may recognize it as it is the same rig that Jason Bunch drove for a few events. Daren is sporting new red sticker 37”BFGs this time around for his Pro Comps were just not cutting it for him. With new suspension links and a new 3 link front end, he said it is driving far better than ever before. In fact, at the last CalROCs event, he took a 6th place. He would have placed better if on an easy course, he didn’t make simple mistakes. He wound up getting a 29 pointer where others were pulling of single digit scores. A start cone hit began his troubles for that course. But Daren is confident and can’t wait to get out there and have some fun…… and win.

Team Carnage Crew is back out for more action in their Subaru powered crawler. Tapping into their motor some, they were able to get somewhere in the neighborhood of 246HP out of the motor. Though it is a good amount, next years comp rig will be sporting much higher numbers in the engine department. They seemed pretty excited for their part of the event.

And who can forget the crisp sound of an LS1 coming to life in a rock crawling event. Only one person can make it sound so good and that’s Shannon Campbell. Shannon has always been a crowd favorite for his high horse power antics and no guts no glory approach to any obstacle. My favorite quote came from him at the first St. George obstacle where he had to race over a big rock. He wasn’t intimidated at all and said, “they better clear everyone out on the other side”. Shannon has been playing with his car some this year trying to get it dialed in at each event. He is pretty happy with his settings and can’t wait to get out there. One real flashy thing he was proud of when talking to him was his all new 8 into 1 header. Now that’s totally tits. The sound coming off of this bad boy was a quiet idle crawl, but the signature scream of the LS1 when the hammered is set to work. Expect some real exciting stuff from him during these finals. For next year, depending on the rules, you may see some new stuff under him. They are going to start the new rig shortly, but he hesitantly stated some of the possibilities for it. Seeing the advantage of a lightweight and balanced vehicle, he “may” drop the LS1 in favor of a lighter motor. The other shocking possibility is that if the UROC staff reduces the penalty for rear steer, he may have to install it on the new rig. Many teams I spoke with today were actually going to go this route.

Peter Wells was all smiles as we talked to him. Coming from an expensively brutal weekend at Farmington, he is back for some action. Peter took a few rolls that weekend which knocked his rig around pretty bad. He took out two rims, each one on different courses, during some bad rollovers. During the last roll, he damaged his coilovers and moved onto Fox air shocks for this event. He had to replace several parts including bent front and rear panhard rods. Peter is reminded of his Farmington experience with a neck that is still stiff today. That’s ok though since he was on the front page of the Farmington local newspaper.

Josh in the #170 West division rig was out and about. We caught him at the last tech stand. Talking to him, he is planning a new rig for next year. Though there will be a lot of changes, his tires won’t be one of them. They currently run the 37”BFGs which he is really happy with. And with a 2nd place standing before Cedar City, he has every right to enjoy those tires. Unfortunately he had to miss Cedar City and his 2nd place standing is now in jeopardy. Hopefully he can make up several points this weekend to put him back in the top 5. One of his areas of success is all in part because of his Superior Axles. He has beat them to snot, yet they still keep kicking. So far they have worked great for him with no issues.

As you all know, Kelly couldn’t be with us this weekend, so Lance has taken her spot in the driver’s hot seat for the second event in a row. Lance hadn’t been in the competitive seat since 2001 and to him, things have changed a lot. “The courses are more radical” he said in comparison to his last time out. Though Lance spots for Mike Shaffer, he said things were totally different in the drivers seat vs. spotting. He is doing pretty well though. In Cedar City, he was able to pull off a 4th place finish. He felt he could have finished better had his torque converter been allowing for more RPM on the steep ascent of the Wall of Death. Instead his motor was bogging down because the torque converter was an 1800 stall. In contrast, he has now installed a 3500 stall converter which he hopes will improve his launches up hills.

Jason Bunch was back again with his new moon buggy. Painted in the standard yellow and blue colors, the team is still researching and developing the buggy trying to make it work up to its potential. His rig suffered some damage after the last event which sent the crew into a spiraling rebuild. With some drastic changes, he and his staff pulled amazing hours to get it ready for this weekend. They made it and were able to do some testing before the event which they just haven’t had time to do.

Pete Mazoni is the points leader in his Super Modified class on the West side. Pete has been running his #415 rig superbly this year, not only in UROC but in CalROCS as well. Pete’s looking forward to the 1 day event. As he said, when the day is over, it’s over. Pete had some serious rebuilding to do after Cedar City. He didn’t suffer any damage at the event itself. It was an after event challenge by Lance calling him out on “The Wall of Death” that got his rig in trouble. They were both denied during the main event on the wall and wanted redemption. When Pete took the hill, he balls out throttled up it, but took a Larry McRae spill back down. His roll down the hill damaged parts of the front and rear end of the chassis. He had to cut it all out and rebuild it for this event. Upon doing so, he also took the same route as Lance and replaced the torque converter with a higher stall version. The hopes of this are to get a better launch when getting on the steep climbs that UROC likes to make.

So the days ahead should be warm and full excitement. Stay tuned as we bring you the final 2004 UROC Pro and West series competition. All of this is possible thanks to Superior Axle & Gear, our sponsors for this and every event this season.
 

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Why are 2004 stories being re-posted in the trail reports forum?

Aaron Z
 

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04 Wrangler Unlimited, 67 F100
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Why are 2004 stories being re-posted in the trail reports forum?

Aaron Z
I think a lot of these were on the old homepage and are being put in the forums so that they aren’t lost.
 

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That makes sense.

Aaron Z
 
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