During the past 30 years, off-road enthusiasts have improved their vehicle's capability in the same way golfers improve their clubs or NASCAR teams improve their times - by trial and error. Beginning in the year 2000, the Goodyear Rock Crawling Championship provided a forum for rockcrawlers across America to match skills and machines against one another.
The American Rock Crawling Association, commonly referred to as ARCA, organized five competitive events beginning last February and ending in September 2000. Each event was open to 60 street- legal 4x4s, and we use the term street-legal loosely. The drivers and spotters were matched against each other on two obstacle courses over a two-day period. Each obstacle course contained seven obstacles on which the competitors were timed and points deducted for such acts such as knocking over a trail marker, stopping, backing up, losing forward motion, or winching. Points were accumulated from each of the five events, and the team with the best record would win the ARCA Series.
Ranch Pratt, the founder and chairman of ARCA, put it this way, "Match all these guys against each other over several events, and the cream always rises to the top." Ranch is hoping these events will enlighten more people about four-wheeling. "It's the people who don't have an opinion about land access that will ultimately make the decision about closure," Ranch stated.
The first and final events were held in Farmington, New Mexico. The remaining events were held near Phoenix, Cedar City, Utah, and Vernal, Utah. Going into the final event were Jeff Waggoner in a Currie-built TJ running First Place with 440 points; Chris Durham from South Carolina with an J-10 pickup in Second Place with 438 points; and Steve Rumore in his tube frame Sniper, built by Avalanche Automotive, with 402 points. By the time the dust settled after the last day in Farmington, Chris Durham took First Place, earning himself $10,000. Jeff Waggoner came in Second and Steve Rumore held onto Third Place. Prize money was distributed to the top 10 positions in the Goodyear Extreme Rock Crawling Championship Series.
The competition was keen. Most of the drivers had plenty of rockcrawling experience, and they know their vehicles inside and out. All of the vehicles were running at least a Dana 44 or Ford 9-inch axles and many have upgraded to Dana 60 axles in the front for the strength it offers. Detroit Lockers are as common as hot dogs at a baseball game. And 35x12.50-inch tires are the minimum size for a vehicle to be competitive. Although a few vehicles entered the competition with 42-and 44-inch-tall tires, that's a thing of the past. In 2001, tire size will be limited to 40-inch-tall tires measured from the ground to the top of the tire.
Some drivers entered a couple of events for the competitive spirit while others just got started late. Walker Evans, the famous off-road driver, missed the first event but now has his rockcrawling Chevy S-10 pickup dialed in for next year's competition. At the last event, Dave Hickman from Phoenix entered his custom-built tube frame buggy, which sported more hydraulics than a farm tractor. Dave appropriately named his vehicle Big Iron, and we're sure we will see more of Dave next year. Regardless of why four-wheelers entered the competition, they all had a great time.
As we enter the new millennium, optimum rockcrawling vehicles will be lightweight, have sticky tires, the drivers will have good off-road driving skills, the spotters will be experienced (it helps if they're real big, too), and the vehicles will be equipped with a cutting brake or rear steering. Of course, a lot of luck never hurts. If you would like to enter the Goodyear Extreme Rock Crawling Championships next year, contact: ARCA, (801) 446-JEEP (5337) for an entry form or visit www.sidekickoffroad.com for an ARCA update and a streaming video interview with Chris Durham and Jeff Waggoner.
|Final Scores for the Top Competitors |
(place, points, name)
|51||86||Richardson, Stevie Joe|
|60||60||Stumph, Craig 87|
American Rock Crawlers
Association Point Rules 2001
The following is a list of point assignments for competition in all ARCA events
Stopping: 1 point. One point was issued after a competitor's vehicle has stopped forward progress for four seconds. Stopping is defined by a vehicle not making forward progress. A team whose vehicle's tires were rotating, but was making no progress, was considered stopped and was marked as such. Once stopped, the competing team received no further calls until forward or backward progress was made.
Backing: 1 point. One point was issued for a purposeful Reversal by a competitor. A purposeful backup is considered when a driver puts the vehicle in Reverse and backs, pushes in the clutch, and rolls back, and so forth. A back is not counted when the vehicle is nudged back by the obstacle. Reversals were counted only when the vehicle moved backward. A reverse in an attempt to save a rollover was considered a back and received backing points. If a competitor was stopped (after the full four seconds) he received his points for the stop. If he then chose to reverse, he would receive the point for the reverse. If a competitor reversed prior to the four-second stop rule, he would receive only 1 point for the back.
Gates: 10 points. Each obstacle was marked with gates or flags. The gates included the start gate, course gates, trees, and bushes that were tagged with yellow ribbons and the ending gates. Ten points were issued for every gate touched. The gate did not have to fall to be counted. It only needed to be touched by any part of the vehicle. That does not include the base holding the gate. Exhaust, wind, bases that fell over due to unstable rocks that have been touched by the vehicle were not counted as a touched gate. Spotters, winch cables, pull straps, and so forth counted if a gate was touched. Once a gate was touched it was considered disqualified from that obstacle for the team who touched it and may not be counted for a second contact. Gates are designed to lay out the course, however, a competitor could exit a gate and return through the same gate without points or obstacle disqualification in areas designated and advised by the official. It was the responsibility of the competing team to ask a judge prior to any attempt to leave a laid out course. If a vehicle tire was on the outside of a gate (outside of the course layout), a gate penalty was issued. From time to time, brush or trees were marked with yellow ribbons. Hitting the tree or brush thus marked counted as a gate. As in the course gate, the team had only to touch it to receive points.
Tools: 10 points. Vehicles had to pass through an obstacle under the power of the vehicle and spotter. Tools could be used with a 10-point tool penalty. Tools were considered any item used as a means of leverage or bridge building that is brought with the competitor and not found naturally in the area surrounding the obstacle. Rocks could not be carried in a vehicle. Spotters may, and were requested, to use straps on the vehicle to aid in spotter leverage without endangerment and would not be assessed tool infraction for such use. Pulleys or any torque/leverage multipliers for spotters were counted as tools. Tools used to clean the course are considered a penalty.
Winches: 30 points. Winching is assessed a 30-point penalty for use. Winching is considered when a team hooks a winch cable/rope to any anchor and begins to load the cable. A loaded cable is considered as soon as the cable has tension on it. As an example only, a cable that is off the ground but sagging has tension on it. However, ARCA recognizes that all pulls are not straight and, therefore, does not consider that a cable must be off the ground to be counted. A separate call is issued each time a cable is attached and loaded on an anchor point. Therefore, two anchor points on one obstacle counted as two winches. There are occasions where a judge or marshal may allow a cable to be attached to an anchor for safety and no points will be issued as long as the winch is not used to pull the vehicle. This is called a safety cable.
Breakdown Time. Each competitor is allowed 45 minutes of cumulative breakdown time per day of competition. If a breakdown occurs, the team may use the time left on the obstacle to begin repairs. The team must, however, immediately move the vehicle off of the course when they have timed out (see timing out below). Repairs and work done while on the obstacle clock must be performed entirely by the team (driver and spotter). Outside help will immediately time out the team, and the vehicle must be moved. Once moved (either after timing out or before), the competitor must advise the judge of the obstacle that he broke on and that he is using his breakdown time. The judge will mark the competitor's scorecard with the time of day and sign it. When the repair is completed, the team must tell the same judge of the completion. The judge will then mark down the time, sign it, and mark down the number of the vehicle the competitor is following. The team does not have to use breakdown time if they feel they can make the repair prior to the time they are required to be on the next obstacle. Teams who move to an obstacle out of order and without a judge's signature will be disqualified for that day and receive 50 points for the remaining obstacles.