Trying to describe the huge Minnesota Go-4s Annual Total Off-Road Rally is like trying to describe the awesome size of the Hoover Dam to someone who's never actually seen it. You can season the description with loads of adjectives (or even an expletive or two), but it just doesn't convey the same feeling you'd get if you were actually there. In this case, just think big.
The Total Off-Road Rally isn't a new event (its 32nd anniversary was held in 2000), but each year seems new because the club is constantly modifying the event to make each year different - and better - than the year before. The three-day event takes place every May during Memorial Day weekend and consists of a number of 4WD-based activities that cover every facet of the sport of four-wheeling. The Minnesota Go-4s are based in Minneapolis and receive assistance for the event from more than 20 other four-wheel-drive clubs that help with the logistics of putting on this huge event.
The centerpiece of the event are the challenging trails that meander through the thick Wisconsin woods on the property of the Trollhaugen Ski Resort outside of Dresser, Wisconsin. The three trails (named Red, White, and Blue) were designed jointly by the club and the ski resort, and they reflect all types of trail challenges with something for every driver's skill level. For 2000, the trails were significantly modified with more than 100 dump-truck loads of boulders added to create even tougher trails. Participants can run the trails throughout the weekend and there are experienced club members at all the obstacles to help with vehicle recovery if necessary. Every obstacle features a bypass for anyone wishing a less challenging ride through the trail system. The trails feature all types of obstacles including rockcrawling, tight tree-dotted areas, mud (of all depths), hillclimbs, and sand. This year the trail system was the site of the first-ever Dresser Y2K Trail Challenge, which pitted around 20 trucks in a scored competition over the course of the three-day event. The winner walked away with a fat cash prize and the chance to defend his or her title at the 2001 event.
The Go-4s have created a huge racing area in a natural amphitheater-like area that offers spectators a bird's-eye view of the weekend's racing. This year, the lineup of diverse top-notch racing included National Off-Road Racing Association (NORRA)-sanctioned tough-truck racing, Central Mud Racing Association (CMA)-sanctioned mud racing, and eight monster trucks (Gravedigger, Bigfoot, Monster Patrol, Executioner, Iceman, Equalizer, Sudden Impact, and Eradicator) competing in side-by-side, roundy-round, and freestyle competition. The racing action kicked off each day around noon and finished up late in the afternoon.
Spectator Hill is not only the hot viewing spot for the racing action, but it's also the home of Manufacturers' Row, where a number of vendors had displays set up with loads of aftermarket accessories for sale. There was also food available and a constant barrage of free door prizes that were donated by more than 30 national and local businesses. From here, spectators could view Extreme Hill, which is a boulder-strewn uphill climb that is open to all participants to test their rockcrawling skills in front of a crowd.
Campin' And Rampin'
Most Off-Road Rally participants choose to camp on the grounds for the duration of the event, which is encouraged by event organizers who do everything possible to make it a comfortable experience. The campground offers showers and food services and is split into four areas ranging from family (quiet) to totally sleep deprived. In the middle of the campground, the Minnesota Four Wheel Drive Association had an RTI ramp that offered participants the chance to show off and measure their vehicle's suspension flex.
Are You Thinking Big Yet?
The 2000 Total Off-Road Rally was the Go-4s biggest and most exciting so far and 2001 will undoubtedly raise the bar even higher. For more information on the event, contact: The Memorial Hotline, (612) 427-5903, www.memorial4x4.org.
Homebuilt Backwoods Buggies
Oftentimes, our off-road needs can't be filled by production vehicles no matter how much we customize them. When faced with that dilemma, some folks take matters into their own hands by designing and building their own rigs. We saw a number of homemade 4x4s at the Total Off-Road Rally, and while some may not win any show-'n'-shine awards, they all reflect their owner's or builder's personality and needs.
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