No matter where we travel to witness it, rockcrawling never ceases to amaze us. As the vehicles are built more extreme than the last and courses increase in difficulty, we've yet to witness a competition that didn't leave us asking ourselves, How the heck did they do that? The second round of the Northeast USA Rock Crawling & Off-Road Championship (NEUROC) held at Paragon Adventure Park in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, left us with the same question to ponder. This time, though, it was with a few more question marks.
As if these competitions weren't difficult enough, NEUROC course designers apparently cut a deal with Mother Nature to make them even harder. Intermittent thundershowers rolled through Paragon most of Saturday, leaving the rock obstacles slick and the mud thick. Throw some of that mud on the rock and you have yourself a burnout contest just approaching the obstacle. Rain or shine, the event surged on, with competitors taking it however it was dealt.
A bright and sunny Sunday emerged for the final day of the competition, though much of the earth was still swollen from an overnight watering. The competitors took the field, and by the end of the day, the victors were decided. Ken Shupe was a standout all weekend in his Dynatrac/BFGoodrich-sponsored Jeep TJ and harnessed a First Place finish in the Unlimited class. Adrian Dognin of Terryville, Connecticut, piloted his '95 Wrangler to the top spot in the Legends class, and Kane Riccardi of Sykesville, Maryland, captured the Stock class podium in his '52 Jeep CJ-3A. Along with the trophies, competitors who managed a high-ranking finish in their class benefited from the sponsor contingency program. Event sponsors BFGoodrich Tires, Bilstein, OK4WD, Skyjacker, and Tom Wood's Custom Drive Shafts each contributed to this program.
The three-part 2003 NEUROC Series culminated with the finals in September and will begin its next season in spring, 2004. For competition and spectator information, go to www.neuroc.com or call (570) 384-0550.