|2008 Off Road Expo
October 4-5, 2008
Story and photos by Nolen "Rock Midget" Grogan
[ PHOTO GALLERY ]
The King of the Hammers premier party was a perfect segue into the weekend of the 2008 Off Road Expo in Pomona, CA. The party served as a primer for the main event, an entire fairgrounds with nothing but "stuff" for the off-road enthusiast. Our world of rockcrawling is just a tiny percentage of all of the off road motorsports represented at the Expo. From the $500,000 Trophy Truck to the most tricked out Rhino's, the Off-Road Expo has something for the entire dirt nation.
The event began on Friday for the first time in the history of the show. Crowds were pretty thin on Friday, but it gave me a great opportunity to make my rounds and capture the essence of the show. Some of the most incredible displays of fab work in the world are displayed at this event. Unlike the larger SEMA show, this event is designed for the outdoor related business to mingle with the customer and display their wares and showcase their skills. TIG welding and Chromoly are king in Southern California. Unpainted chassis showing off the blueing effect of the TIG artists' heat were the mainstay of the finest builds at the expo. Bare chassis, cut-aways and rollers were intermixed throughout the show.
The W.E. Rock folks were out in force with a rockcrawling display as well as some killer side-by-side drifting action. Dustin Webster was on hand to MC the event and to keep the crowd alive. I saw some of the largest crowds of the event watching pros like Dave Cole and Becca Webster show off their rockcrawling skills. Since I rarely get to see any W.E. Rock events, it was really fun watching Becca work her RockHer buggy with all of the levers, buttons and pedals as she negotiated the rocks. A new thing for the W.E. Rock crew in 2009 will be side-by-side action. At the expo they had some examples of side-by-side's rockcrawling as well as doing some wicked drifting.
Saturday morning brought the highlight of the Expo. At 11:00AM racers from around the country gathered at the BF Goodrich booth and attended the drawing of starting positions for the 2009 King of the Hammers. Co-promoter, Dave Cole was working the mic for Pirate4x4.com with streaming audio of the drawings.
Jeff Knoll, the other co-promoter of King of the Hammers worked the exciting drawing with a deck of cards marked with each driver's name. New for 2009, the King of the Hammers will have a thursday race called the "Last Chance Qualifier." In this, any person that submitted an application to KOH and was not selected in the 82 permanent positions would be able to compete for 10 "Last Chance Qualifier" positions. These LCQ positions were intermixed into the deck of Queens and Kings with Joker cards.
The first card to be drawn starting in the dead last position is Team Lucky Dog racer Brian Shirley. Brian commented after the drawing that since he is driving a single-seater starting last is OK for him as all he has to do is follow the tracks and pick people off all day. This strategy worked for the builder of his chassis, Shannon Campbell in 2008. In last year's race, Shannon started in the back of the pack and passed everyone for the win. Drawing position number "69", Adam "Skinny" Lunn made the comment that his bumper just got bigger!
2008 KOH racer and extreme skier Tom Wayes was pumped to share his pole position with professional racer Jeff Mello. This is a drag race we all want to see! Starting off in pairs, the race will host 92 teams that are gunning to be champion in 2009. Check out the complete lineup and the team profiles at https://www.pirate4x4.com/koh09/
After the drawing, Pirate4x4TV's Jessi Combs was on hand to get comments from those racers on hand. It was funny as hell watching her work with the drivers and get all the scoop on the race. Look for the Pirate4x4TV show soon, it will be excellent!
In this picture, Pistol Pete Sohren explains to Jessi how he will be getting in the hot tub fully clothed later. Bender was talking birth control, but I missed most of that. Poor Jessi earned her keep having to hang with Camo all weekend for sure.
From there the racers took turns working the King of the Hammers booth selling DVD's and signing posters for all of their adoring fans. Jeff Knoll's super cool daughter Katrina made sure these clowns did not get out of hand.
Tom Wayes, JT Taylor and Derek Trent spend a moment with some of the "talent" of the show.
Walker Evans popped in to see what all of the hoopla was about. Jeff and Dave pounced on him to race in 2009, but it looks like he politely declined. Walker retired at 65 from Off-Road racing as one of the most successful desert and rock racers in the history off the sport.
When it got quiet, I snuck over to building #6 with Jeff Knoll so he could show me his Class 1 light racer. He is a driver for the Dust Junkies and is looking for another win this year in the Henderson Best of the Desert race. With a 200 HP Ecotec motor pushing this 2200# racer, Jeff says it is a rush that very few people get to experience. I plan on getting a ride in this buggy soon!
After all of the King of the Hammers stuff died down it was back to the show. I walked around and spoke with the Pirate4x4.com vendors that were at the show. Polyperformance.com was on hand showcasing a sweet 4 door JK and Fred Williams' California Street Legal buggy. Dave "aka PIG" was a gracious host to Pirate4x4.com, opening up his booth to let us sell 2009 Pirate4x4.com Calendars. Thanks Dave!
Randy Slawson debuted his new King of the Hammers racer. I borrowed Lippy Larry Gipson's SMOKING hot model to help highlight his work.
Jimmy's 4x4 came out in force as well. Showcasing their new 740 HP buggy and Terril's XRRA buggy.
Twisted Customs brought a new 4 seater out. This turn-key is running full Spidertrax bling, Trailready wheels and a 420HP aluminum 5.3 motor.
Spidertrax brought out all of their latest offerings. From fabricated axle housings down to to billet axle seals, Spidertrax is a one-stop-shop for all things custom on a rockcrawler. Rumor has it, they will be sharing their incredible experience with their 4340 and 300M custom axles with those of you that run Ford, Chevy and Dodge front axles. To date, they have not had to do a warranty replacement on their inner axles. That is something to crow about for sure.
Get a little squeamish with the $400 price tag on Spidertrax axle housings? This Trophy Truck housing with 6 piston calipers cost $20,000!
Trent Fab was on hand helping out at the KOH booth and showcasing their venerable racer/crawler. Trent and his girlfriend/spotter took first place in this buggy in Cal ROCS this year. Derek told me he had something special in store for us at the King of the Hammers. I look forward to seeing what he comes up with.
The Pomona Off-Road expo is an excellent gathering. With the King of the Hammers premier party, 2009 starting order drawing and DVD premier, it was the place to be. Stay tuned to Pirate4x4.com for video coverage featuring smoking hot Jessi Combs.
Check out Pirate4x4.com coverage of the King of the Hammers DVD premier party at Currie Enterprises here:
Also, National Drivetrain stepped up in a BIG way to sponsor the live coverage of the 2009 King of the Hammers race. PLEASE support this excellent vendor as they bring to the masses the greatest desert race in history.
Finally, the Pomona Off-Road Expo would not be the expo without the hotties. I collected a great collection of shots for enjoyment of all.
Until next time, see you guys on the trail!
Nolen "Rock Midget" Grogan
[ PHOTO GALLERY ]