left Pollock Pines around 9:00 PM Tuesday night. Driving
non-stop, and driving in shifts, we made it to Montrose,
Colorado, in 19.5 hours. Vince was already in Montrose
and called us to let us know his friend who lives there
said we could park the motorhome at his house. You can't
go wrong with that! So after a long drive we set up
camp at Brian's house and called it an early night.
Bob, Maniac, and Vince headed out of town for some sight
seeing. Kelly and I stayed in town and did some final
touches on the rig. We drove over to the headquarters
for the event and got some information. Tech inspection
would begin at around noon. There were already a lot
of rigs driving around town. I could already feel the
excitement of the weekend to come. I pulled my rig up
for the tech inspection, and quickly realized there
was going to be a problem. With all of the commotion
at home with getting the rig ready, etc. I forgot to
bring my vehicle registration, and proof of insurance.
The rules require your vehicle to be legally registered
and insured to compete. All of my paperwork was sitting
in my 4Runner 1,000 miles away in California. So after
telling the official that I didn't have my paperwork,
they told me that I had to have it. I called up fellow
Pirate Troy Muse who had my truck for the week and asked
him to fax me the registration and the insurance. He
said he'd send it right over. Thank God. Troy was a
life saver. Of course things never go smoothly for me....
about 45 minutes the hotel received my fax. Insurance:
Check. Registration: Troy sent the wrong registration
paperwork! He accidentally sent me the registration
for the 4Runner. So I immediately called Troy back,
but there was no answer. After calling him over and
over for about 4 hours, I was getting desperate. There
was no way I was going to drive all this way and not
get in because of a stupid piece of paper! I went and
begged and pleaded with Bob Hazel and gave him my sob-story.
He eventually felt sorry for me and let us in. Man,
what a relief!
morning rolled around, and we were ready to get it awn.
The Cruiser was in excellent health, as I had rebuilt
the axles and driveshafts before the competition with
fresh u-joints. I was still concerned about the front
Dana 44 holding up to the 39.5 Boggers in heated competition.
Competition rock crawling strains your vehicle to the
limit, and the 44 was definitely going to be my weak
lined up at the hotel and followed the escort to the
trailhead. We would be running the "Cactus Trail"
the first course we ended up getting DQ'ed for running
over a flag. My rear driver's tire slid sideways and
knocked over a flag. The rules for this competition
are a little different than ARCA. If you run over a
flag, you are DQ'ed for that course. If you knock over
a flag, it's 6 points.
number two netted us a perfect score, as we easily walked
three is were it got interesting. It started off with
a large shelf, about 4 feet tall. The shelf had a groove
in the middle of it. There was loose dirt on top and
on bottom of the shelf. We tried to climb to the left,
and slid over into the groove. The Cruiser began to
climb, and then she laid over on her side. Bob ran over
and heaved the rig back onto it's wheels to the delight
of the crowd. Running out of time, I gunned it, and
I quickly ended back on my side. I floored it again,
but no dice. We timed out. This was not a good thing!
We winched the vehicle up and off the course, and vowed
not to let the rest of the day go to hell.
loosing 20 points a piece on course 1 and 3, it was
critical that we ace the rest of the courses. And that
is what we did. Courses 4-7 were aced by team POR. With
only one or two backups for the rest of the day.
rolled around, and we started off HOT. The first obstacle
of the day was not kind to many of the competitors.
It was a very steep off-camber waterfall. If the perfect
line was not taken, you would slide sideways and accumulate
lots of points for backups and stops. We crawled the
obstacle without a hitch, and earned a perfect score
with no backups or stops. We needed that.
two Had a 3 foot shelf parallel with the course. There
was a flag below the shelf, and you had to sidehill
on the upper part of the shelf to avoid falling of the
shelf and hitting the flag on the lower part of the
shelf. This was the rollover obstacle of the day for
a lot of people. Just before us, a white FJ45 rolled
as he tried to avoid the lower flag.
crawled up and onto the shelf. The Cruiser leaned over,
and Bob grabbed hold of the cage. I wasn't able to get
the rear tires high enough onto the shelf, and the passenger
rear slipped off the shelf. I gunned it to try and miss
the flag, but it was too late. The tire knocked it over,
and they gave us -6 points for knocking it down. I think
that the scoring for flags left too much to the judge.
We did the exact same thing to a flag on two different
obstacles. One judge gave us -6 points, and one judge
obstacle number three, I made an attempt to climb a
steep waterfall type climb. On my first and second attempt,
I was unsuccessful. Not wanting to take anymore backup
points, I shifted her into 2nd gear and dumped the clutch.
The Cruiser lurched forward violently and bounced into
the air and landed with a loud bang, busting my rear
driveline ujoint at the pinion. Thanks to excessive
axle wrap, the u-joint binded and blew out the caps
and ubolts. I raced to swap out the ubolts and caps,
and ran out of time. We received the maximum points
for the obstacle. This really hurt our chances of getting
into the finals.
letting the breakage get us down, we hit obstacle number
4. We nearly aced it only getting one backup in the
process. On to number 5. This was a extremely gnarly
rock garden, with huge boulders and flags placed strategically
to really get you screwed up. Bob and I agreed that
this obstacle would require exact tire placement and
that he would have to be my eyes one this one. After
watching several rigs get eaten alive by this course,
it was our turn. We took it nice and slow, inch by inch,
and walked it with a perfect score. Can't go wrong with
number six proved to be another walk in the park, as
we easily aced it. Now it was on to the grand daddy
of the day. The final obstacle, number seven. There
was a massive crowd gathered for this obstacle, as it
provided an insane off camber waterfall to climb, and
nobody had made it all day yet. Of course 2 minutes
before it was our turn, mother nature decided to dump
rain/hail on us. After a solid couple minutes of rain,
Bob and I decided to give the waterfall one or two tries,
then we would winch. After a couple of futile attempts,
the winch cable was pulled, and we winched to the top.
Bob crushed his finger stacking rocks, so we immediately
had to whip out the first aid kit and patch him up.
in all, we did very well. We came oh so close to making
the "dirty dozen." A simple driveshaft failure
cost us making it. Maybe better luck next time.
rolled around, and we went and watched the "dirty
dozen" get it awn in the finals. It rained all
night Saturday night, so the trail was very muddy. This
was going to make an already insane course near impossible!
Sure enough, the first few competitors were eaten alive
by the absence of traction. Full throttle was still
not enough. Rig after rig timed out on obstacle one.
Once the trail began the dry (the sun was shining) competitors
began to make the obstacles.
the dust (and mud) settled, Steve Rumore walked away
with 1st place. He drove consistent, and spanked everyone.
He is the 2000 Warn Rock Crawling Champion. Congratulations,