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XRRA Hannibal - Round 3 Eastern Division
Story and photos by Nolen "Rock Midget" Grogan - July 12, 2008

Friday, Tech Day


Things were not looking too good for me to get to Hannibal for this event. A last minute business meeting in New Orleans put the drive to Northeast Missouri just too far out of reach. As dawn broke over New Orleans, I could not help but wonder how long ago the water flowing by my hotel had passed through Hannibal, 600 miles north on the same river I was watching the sun rise over.


The plan unfolded when my wheeling buddy Carl McIntyre volunteered to fly me up in his wicked cool Lancair 4. Pirate4x4 airlines. Get it!


The 600 mile trip only took 2 hours and 45 minutes in this hot rod. Luckily for us, we were able to sneak in before the huge thunderstorms in the area covered up the airport. Check out the speed in the lower right hand corner.....215 knots, come awn!


We flew right over the event site on approach, but photos are not too good when you are zipping by at 250 knots on decent. When we got to the airport, Brian Shirley had also just arrived.

Hannibal Missouri is the home of Mark Twain. Located directly on the western bank of the Mississippi River, it is where some of the best American literature was born. With all of the flooding in the Midwest, the river was mere feet from topping the levees and flooding the historic Mark Twain district.


Soon we loaded up in our slammed Ford Taurus headed out to the event site. Guys, it is hot as HELL in Northeast Missouri in July. You would think a guy from Mississippi would be used to 99 degrees and 100 percent humidity, but I am not. As the vehicles rolled in to Hannibal Rocks for inspection, there was not much else to do but sit in the shade and drink lots of water.

One of the coolest things for Round 3 is that Western XRRA competitor Shannon Campbell loaned his King of the Hammers racer to 16 year old competitor, Levi Shirley. Levi is super fast this year and is looking forward to putting the famous racer through its paces tomorrow. Check out the only modification Levi had to do for the racer to "fit" him.

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Another cool thing was the 40" Trepadors on Doug Bigelow's venerable racer. These tires are HUGE and sticky and I want some!

The course is fairly long and it looks tough. It is full of tight turns, huge drop-offs and ledges. The problem with racing in a rock quarry though is that the low spots fill up with water. Hannibal Rocks had 4" rain on Wednesday, so the course designers are steadily pumping out water from the "hole" so the buggies don't have 2 feet of water to contend with.

We are looking for a great turnout tomorrow at the race. There is a 50% chance of thunderstorms, so anything can happen. Right now all eyes are on Derek West. This guy is HOT in 2008 winning round one and two of XRRA East as well as round one and two of WeRock East. I am looking forward to seeing him race with his cool style. Rusty Bray is back with his trusty 2007 champion rig. He is going all out in this round. Brian and Levi Shirley are ready to lay down some screaming times in their Campbell buggies. I am also looking for Josh Murray and Adam Carter to bring on the heat hard tomorrow. JT Taylor hitched a ride over with the Rock Ware guys to show us some trick driving. This will be my first time to see JT drive and I am sure he won't disappoint. The cool thing about the Eastern series is that it is anyone's race to win.

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