2000 Goodyear Rock Crawling Championships, Phoenix Arizona

Bob preparing to tackle the next difficult obstacle. Concentration on what was in front of you, was key.
Even the famous Scorpion MK-1 has it's bad days. Here Bob and I tow it off the trail to the pavement, thanks to a dead motor.
A radical line for most, but a typical line for a Pirate. Whatever it takes to miss that flag!
Slippery rocks, and strategically placed flags kept us on our toes at all times.
Even with 39.5" Boggers, we managed to get hung up every now and then.
It doesn't hurt to have a fatboy with a little power behind him as your spotter. :)
After watching the Jeep in front of us roll here, I decided to use that girth to our advantage again.
Randy Ellis had a little trouble on this obstacle. After getting the Sami back onto all fours, he kicked ass the rest of the day.
Walker Evans' 2000 Chevy S10 Blazer. Complete with RC44/60, and 37" MTR's.

Preparations for the trip began only a short couple of weeks before the trip was to be made. We had elected to take my Land Cruiser, because Bob's Jeep was in need of a lot of work, and we thought that the shorter wheelbase of the Cruiser would be better for the Arizona trails.

A list was made of things we wanted to change/modify to the rig. Holy crap, did that list get long! We had about 2 months of work to do in two weeks! So the work began, which included converting the vehicle over to propane power, and "borrowing" a Dana 60 front end from Scott (aka: Billy Bob) for the competition. After many long hours (and lots of beers!) the Cruiser was looking bad ass, and ready to rock. Of course we didn't have any time left to actually test the rig.. The competition would be our test...

Wednesday morning we headed out for Arizona. We were driving Bob's 1980 Chevy one ton truck. Not exactly a Cadillac, but it would get us there. Some 15 hours later, we rolled up to the Best Western Hotel in Apache Junction, AZ, where the competition was headquartered. It was about 1am, and everything was quiet. Lots of motorhomes, and people in tents. We promptly got the tow rig and trailer stuck in some deep mud, trying to turn around. Just our luck! We are in the middle of a DESERT, and we get stuck in MUD! After about 15 minutes of trying to get the bastard out, I pulled the Land Cruiser off the trailer, and he was able to get out of the hole. While it didn't appear we had woken anyone up, Im sure a few people got a good kick out of us from their windows.

Thursday morning we got cleaned up, and went over the Land Cruiser one more time. Maniac, Scott (aka: Billy Bob) and others arrived that morning, to watch all the action. We sent Maniac to the auto parts store because the brake master cylinder was leaking. Good brakes were going to be necessary when climbing vertical walls!

We put in the new master cylinder, and took it for a test drive. I was able to lock up all four 39.5 Boggers without any trouble. Perfect! The propane powered engine seemed to be running perfect as well... A few hot laps down the highway confirmed that it was ready to rock.

We decided that we didn't want to camp near the hotel, so we ventured out into the desert for a more secluded area. We set up camp, and had some dinner. After dinner, we went back to the hotel to sign in, and get the Land Cruiser Tech Inspected. The tech inspection basically consisted of them checking the roll cage, the fire extinguisher(s) the gas tank (supposed to have a "rollover valve") tire height, and ask what kind of lockers you have. We were issued our number "50" sticker to put on the front of the rig. After tech inspection, we strolled around the area and gawked at all of the sweet rigs. Never had I seen so many awesome vehicles in one spot.

Goodyear had their 18 wheeler there, swapping out competitors' tires for Goodyear Wrangler MTRs if wanted. Even legendary desert racer Walker Evans was present with his tricked out 2000 Chevy S10 Blazer for the competition. This was going to be awesome!

We went back to camp, and partied way too late. Friday morning came way too soon, and Bob and I were both hungover. We slowly got ready for the day's competition. We went to the gas station, and filled up the Cruiser with propane. Once we were filled up, we headed out to the area where the courses were to be held. Both courses were to be held on the Lower/Middle/Upper Woodpecker trail. The courses zigzagged through the trail, on obstacles that normally would not be attempted if you were running the trail on a Saturday afternoon.

The group of 60 competitors was split into 2 groups. One group would run course one on the first day, and course two on day two. The other group would do the opposite. The group of 30 was then split into two subgroups. Each course had 7 different sections in it. Group 'A' would begin at section '1' and Group 'B' would begin at section '5' to relieve congestion. After Group 'B' completed sections 5-7, they would circle back and complete 1-4.

We were in position 14, on the first course. I thought it was a great spot to start. With Bob having zero driving time behind the Cruiser, and the Cruiser not having been tested in it's new configuration, it was going to be an interesting day.

Once it was our turn, we attempted the very first obstacle.... A 5 foot wall, with a sand base.... After several attempts, he finally made it up the wall. The wide stance of the Cruiser proved to be a bit of a hindrance right off the bat, as he plowed over two flags. It was a horrible start for the day, with 36 out of a maximum 40.

On the next course, we plotted our plan of attack. The rigs that went ahead of us were straddling the crevice on a steep climb. We figured if we put our driver's tires IN the crevice, we could make the turn better, and miss the flag at the top.

Bob began climbing, and the Cruiser's passenger front tire began to get airborne. The next thing you know, the rig is on it's side, and both passenger tires are in the air. The rig is still running perfectly, thanks to the propane power as it grinds the body into the rocks on the driver's side. After a little bit of muscling by myself, and a little throttle by Bob, the Cruiser lurched forward, and back onto all fours! Hank Hill would have been proud! ;)

After completing course 2, Bob was getting a good feel for the vehicle. We began to do much better on the rest of the obstacles, and spanking a few in the process. The last course, number 7, was quite intimidating in appearance. A wall of loose, shale, dirt, and sand, it was about 10 feet high. Apparently only one or two people had made it without a winch that day. Bob and I were determined to finish the day off on a high note, and we vowed to kick this obstacle's ass.

We saw lots of carnage on this section, popped tires, a hole in a oil pan, broken axles, etc. We elected to begin the course in reverse, so that we could make the 90 degree immediate right turn that was required, so we could have a good line on the boulders ahead. That was a two point sacrifice right off the bat, for starting in reverse. After crawling over the first few boulders like they weren't even there, we approached the giant wall of shale. Another 2 points needed to be sacrificed, to make the U-turn to line up correctly with the wall. The determination was made right off the bat that lots of throttle would be needed to make it in one shot. So I climbed to the top, and told Bob to "HIT IT!" Bob stabbed the throttle, and aimed the Cruiser for the top. The Cruiser thundered to the top, but got somewhat hungup on it's driver's side rear spring hanger. The 39.5 Boggers clawed for traction, digging massive holes into the soft dirt on the top of the wall. We were sooooo close, and it WANTED to make it! I pushed and pushed, but it wasn't going anywhere.. So I had Bob back up about 8 inches, and I dropped a few rocks in the hole to China he had dug with the front driver's side tire. He throttled down, and the Cruiser lurched a little farther forward. I pushed as hard as I possibly could, it caught traction, and the Cruiser popped up and over. What a rush! Bob yelled at me to get back down to the bottom, since he now had to drive down a near vertical wall with a 4 foot crevice in the middle. Very hairy! With the rear tires coming off the ground a few times, he eased down the wall, and finished the course with a total of 6 points, and a record time for the day! COME AWN!!!

Day two rolled around, and we were feeling pretty confident. They told us that we would be in starting position number 3 today, so we wouldn't be able to watch as much action before we were able to make an assault on an obstacle. We would be starting on course 5 today, while the other group was starting on course 1. Course number 5 was a very difficult one, and the two Jeeps in front of us did not even come close to making it successfully. The obstacle consisted of a sand base, and a very near vertical 6 foot wall with a 3 foot crevice in the middle. It was loose, and there we large rocks in the crevice at the top, perfect for grabbing hold of your differential, and not letting go.

After a couple of attempts at the wall, Bob finally powered to the top of it, only to get the rear end high centered on one of the diff-eating rocks. I pushed, pulled, and lifted with everything I had, and then some. The Cruiser was soooo close to popping over the rock, yet it wouldn't. Since only 6 minutes were allotted for this obstacle, we decided to winch before we timed out. I ran over to a large boulder, cable in hand, and promptly tripped and fell backwards into a thorny bush... Oh that felt nice. I jumped up, hooked up the cable to the rock, and to quick blips of the winch, and Bob was out. I unhooked the cable, and carried it along, and Bob made the final drop off a vertical shelf toward the finish line. One backup was made to avoid a flag, and about 10 feet before the finish line, we timed out. Add another 40 points to the score card. What a crappy way to start off the day. Exhausted, and cut all to hell, I climbed into the Crusier, and headed over to course 6.

Course 6 consisted of a sandy approach to a steep wall, with flags strategically placed to really screw you up. There were deep holes dug into the sand at the base of the wall, and it took Bob a couple of attempts to negotiate it. With the width of the Cruiser working against us on this obstacle, Bob ran over a flag making the tight right hand turn. The rest of the course was fairly easy, although I had to hang off the driver's side to ensure we wouldn't roll in one spot.

We pretty much spanked course 7, netting only 2 points for one reverse to clear a flag. This was one of the easier courses in the competition.

Back down to course one we went, were we actually caught up with the rest of the other group. Half of them hadn't even done course one yet, thanks to lots of carnage!

Bob and I did really well on courses 1 and 2, netting only a few points. Course 3 on the other hand, ended up kicking our ass. It looked to be a simple course, with a little sidehilling to avoid running over a flag. In the end, we ended up timing out thanks to some shoddyt , which was quite the shock for the POR crew. Another 40 points was tacked on to our score, which would keep us from being in the top 10 for the weekend.

Bob and I aced the last course of the day, netting the fastest time of the day, and only getting 4 points for two reverses.

While we didn't get the score we wanted, we did pretty good. We ended up coming in 15th place out of 60 entrants. Not too shabby, but not what we had hoped for. All in all, it was a great trip, and lots of fun. And that's what it's all about.

See ya in Cedar City!

Latest Scores...

Place Total Team Members Day 1 Day 2
1 68 Don Bernier & Robert McMahan 57 11
2 74 Jeff Waggoner & John Currie 71 3
3 109 Joel Randall & Mike Vokoun 101 -8
4 110 Chris "Trigger" Durham & Kevin "Moose" Nalley 92 18
5 112 Michael Palmer & Greg Noss 113 -1
6 127 Shannon Campbell & Mike Flores 38 89
7 137 Randy Ellis & Spotter TBA 113 24
8 142 Dana Verdoorn & Eric Bills 109 33
9 158 John Gilleland & Spotter TBA 92 66
10 159 Mike Harmuth & Tim Donaldson 120 39
15 171 Bob Roggy & Lance Clifford 101 70


Related Links:

http://www.rockcrawler.org: The American Rock Crawlers Association (ARCA). This is the organization putting on the event. A pretty basic site with nothing but a map for the events in Arizona.

http://www.outdoorwire.com/4x4/news/arca00phx/: 4x4wire.com's coverage, lots of pictures and excellent coverage of the event.