Just four short years ago, the off-road world was turned upside down by the first rockcrawling championship. It not only caught our attention, but when it graced the pages of 4 Wheel Drive & Sport Utility, the world's definition of extreme 'wheeling changed forever. Since then, various promoters have organized their own brand of extreme rockcrawling events. Combing the country in search of hard-core terrain, they established event sites from Las Cruces and Farmington, New Mexico, to Lake Amador, California, Reno, Nevada, and Durango, Colorado. Staying on the forefront of this evolution, we've logged countless red-eye road trips to follow this rolling-rock phenomenon and bring you the latest hard-core, in-your-face event coverage. This month, we're taking you to Cedar City, Utah, for axle-snapping, rollcage-crumbling action with the United Rock-crawling & Off Road Challenge (UROC).
The Cedar City event was held at the 1,000-acre Three Peaks Ranch. Resembling a wild west movie set, courses were laid out over precipitous rifts of sandstone chutes and ladders, gullies, and trenches. Having come from as far away as British Columbia and Florida, some of the country's top competitors were on hand with every intention of taking home the gold. Curt Hildebrand returned to defend his crown, and on his tailpipe was the team of Brandon Gillen, Chris Durham, and John Gilleland. Tom Le Blanc, a.k.a Captain America, in his patriotic red, white, and blue CJ, rolled though the gates sporting a tie.
The UROC field of competitors is broken into two classes: Legend and Unlimited. The Legend Class consists of semi-streetable rigs with a maximum tire size of 36 inches. Lockers are required front and rear, as is a six-point cage, a magnetic metal-boxed or semi-boxed frame, and stock-type steering components. As for the Unlimited Class, this is where you'll find sick and twisted rigs on four-wheeling's lunatic fringe. Tires must be a minimum of 37 inches; beyond that, it's whatever you like. These are sandrails on steroids -- bobbed, narrowed tube frames; four-seaters; single-seaters; stretched wheelbases; beadlocks; four-wheel hydraulic steering; cut breaks; driver-controlled pneumatic and hydraulic suspensions; three- and four-link coilover setups; fire-breathing big-blocks; and screaming four-cylinders. The only streetable characteristic is that they must be insured.
Although this event was held on private land, UROC always places a high priority on minimizing environmental impact. Since vehicle roll-overs are bound to happen, all vehicle fuel systems must have a rollover valve as well as a structurally protected and covered radiator. Every course has fluid absorbent available for possible spills, and all teams must carry plastic bags in order to pack everything in and out. Teams are also assessed a 10-point penalty for fluid leaks on a course.
The first dust was kicked up Friday morning as rock buggies, hard-core Jeeps, Samurais, and Toyotas were unloaded into the pit/staging area. Driver and spotter teams reviewed last-minute check lists, analyzed courses, and discussed strategies. Each team would be required to run a gauntlet of six technically challenging courses each day. Event sponsor, Randy's Ring & Pinion was on site with a full array of drivetrain products; BFGoodrich pulled in with a complete mobile tire repair facility; and Red Bull Beverage kept the crews and event staff energized with a constant supply of cold drinks. Other key sponsors were Advances Adaptors, Tom Woods Custom Driveshafts, and Howell Products. Add all of these ingredients together, with several thousand spectators in centrally located Cedar City, and it was one hellacious weekend.
What's to come? Super Crawl 2002. UROC will be promoting the first World Championship Super Crawl in Farmington, New Mexico, October 9-12, 2002. The Super Crawl promises to be the biggest shootout in the Southwest and will draw the top competitors from UROC, CalROCS, ProROCK, EROCC, the Kremmling Crawl, and RCAA. To qualify for the Super Crawl and the total purse of $52,000 in cash, prizes, and contingencies, teams must have taken a Top-10 Place in one of these events.
The Cedar City event was held at the 1,000-acre Three Peaks Ranch. Resembling a wild west movie set, courses were laid out over precipitous rifts of sandstone chutes and ladders, gullies, and trenches. Having come from as far away as British Columbia and Florida, some of the country's top competitors were on hand with every intention of taking home the gold.
For more information on UROC events or the October Super Crawl, contact UROC at (435) 864-3199 or see them online at www.uroc.rockcrawler.com