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2002 Rock Crawler Association of America Series - It's All Rock & Roll

Posted in Events on November 1, 2002 Comment (0)
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The first event in the Rock Crawler Association of America (RCAA) 2002 Series was held in Farmington, New Mexico. The competitors battled in Vernal, Utah, in the second event. The third event for 2002 was held in the Three Peaks Recreational Area near Cedar City, Utah, on July 12-13, 2002. This was the toughest course yet in the 2002 Series, and certainly the hottest. Temperatures exceeded 100 degrees.

The 14 obstacles in Cedar City required each driver to demonstrate his skill at negotiating a vehicle over some of the steepest climbs, most off-camber terrain, and down the most treacherous obstacles we have ever seen in an event. The best way to describe the RCAA event in Cedar City, is to tell you that eight of the top 12 vehicles rolled over at least once before the end of the event. Although there were several vehicle breakdowns, it did not seem that there were as many as in past RCAA events.

When the rockcrawling championships began in 1999, an obstacle was marked off and, once the vehicle reached the top, he was normally finished. Not anymore. In Cedar City, a lot of thought was put into the backside of obstacles. Vehicles were able to climb over a rock face only to roll over on the backside of an obstacle, or become stuck and time out. Each obstacle in Cedar City was tough from the start to the finish.

The pathway through each obstacle is marked with red cones. In some sections, a driver is required to back through a set of gates (cones). Points are deducted when drivers touch a gate, back up, use rear steering (if the vehicle is so equipped), go over the time limit, us a winch, and a whole host of other actions that cause them to lose points. Competing in a rockcrawling event is a test of driving skills and vehicle capability; now it includes developing a winning strategy for each obstacle. Picking a line through the obstacles is not enough to win; there are obstacles with extra credit pathways.

Extra credit pathways within some of the 14 obstacles cause drivers to pause and develop a strategy for gaining the best score from an obstacle. For example, if you think your vehicle can scale a 25-foot-high wall rather than driving over larger boulders and clinging onto a steep side hill, you could gain extra points. Both ways are difficult. And if your vehicle flips over while trying to gain extra points, you could time-out on the obstacle. Of course, the vehicles running the obstacle in front of you frequently move the rocks around as their 3,500 pounds vehicle slides around trying to gain traction. This was very apparent in Cedar City, where, on some obstacles, the extra credit path became easier than the standard path on the second day. Whichever path a driver chose, it was thought out and part of his overall strategy.

Going into the Cedar City round, Mike Shaffer was in First Place, Joel Randall in Second, and Jason Paule in Third. There was a 52-point spread between the top 12 competitors. Although Shaffer won the first two events, there was plenty of pressure on him going into Cedar City. When the final scores were posted for Cedar City, Ken Shupe edged out Shaffer by two points with Team Currie/Waggoner only two points behind Shaffer. For the 2002 series, Shaffer has a 14-point lead over Shupe. Can Shupe catch him? Or will Third Place John Gilleland or Fourth Place Jason Paule pass Shupe and Shaffer in Johnson Valley? We'll keep you posted (or go to

The next and final RCAA event will be held in Johnson Valley, California, on September 20-21, 2002. In Johnson Valley, the traction is extremely good, but the rocks tend to roll out from under the wheels, leaving the vehicle high-centered or against a gate. The competitors have been there before, so they know what to expect. The total points from all four events will determine who the 2002 RCAA Champion will be.

Cedar City results:
1 Ken Shupe
2 Mike Shaffer
3 Team Currie/Waggoner
4 John Gilleland
5 Jason Bunch
6 Jeff Price
7 Don Robbins
8 Tracy Jordan
9 Walker Evans
10 Curt Hilderbrand
11 Jason Paule
12 Mitch Guthrie
Series point totals
before the final event in
Johnson Valley, California:
1 Mike Shaffer 418
2 Ken Shupe 404
3 John Gilleland 400
4 Jason Paule 388
5 Joel Randall 386
6 Don Robbins 370
7 Walker Evans 358
8 Jason Bunch 358
9 Tracy Jordan 354
10 Chris Durham 350
11 Team Currie/Waggoner 350
12 Ian Lijeblad 346


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