UROC Crawls Through Another Great Season
With the 2003 season of competitive rockcrawling well underway, it seems you can find a major event somewhere in the country on any given weekend. If you're a hard-core fan and have a really cool boss, you could spend the entire summer following the UROC, PROROC, CalROC, or RCAA circuits. However, if your boss isn't that cool, and you haven't won the lottery lately, we are here to help. Last year, we brought you tire-to-tire coverage of UROC's Three Rocks Ranch event near Cedar City, Utah. We also brought you the Super Crawl in Farmington, New Mexico, where more than 20,000 fans witnessed the largest single rockcrawling event to date. Receiving an invitation from Craig Stump, founder of the UROC series, we headed back to Cedar City for two days of hard rockin' competition.
We've been watching the evolution of rockcrawling, or rock racing as many refer to it, since its inception. Rockcrawling events, in their infancy, presented competitors with insurmountable obstacles. With a few exceptions, most of the rigs were OE configurations. Coil spring and four-link suspension conversions were cool; many rigs had turning brakes and some had the ability to disconnect the rear axles, allowing front-wheel-drive only. With the equipment available at the time, most drivers were forced to put the hammer down for any hope of clearing an obstacle. However, necessity is the mother of invention. The following year, the aforementioned trick items became the standard, and the twisted minds in rockcrawling brought out new technology and ideas, which in turn became the standard.
Today's events have changed and technology is finally catching up with the rocks. Courses that in earlier years would have required skinny pedal-to-the-metal technology, can now be navigated at slower speeds. Teams have become more sophisticated in their mindset and approach, relying on the technical abilities of both driver and spotter, and greatly advanced vehicle systems.
The sanctioning bodies of these events have also evolved. As high-tech rigs have edged out us "normal guys" who want to get a taste of competition, new vehicle classes have been added. The rules have also been refined to address safety and environmental issues. For example, most promoters don't allow the use of ethyl-glycol coolant. Additionally, all differentials, engines, and transmissions must have fluid containment systems, greatly reducing the possibility of fluid loss in a rollover. Promoters are working closely with land management agencies to maintain responsible use of public lands and ensure future working relationships.
Rockcrawling events have also created the perfect venue for real-life product testing, which many aftermarket manufacturers have taken advantage of by running their own vehicles or sponsoring teams. Competitors know what works and what they'd like to have made available, and the manufacturers are listening. BFGoodrich, Goodyear, Interco, and Pro Comp have all come out with new tire sizes, tread designs, and rubber compounds. Maxxis and Toyo have been grabbing market share with the introduction of new tires. Suspension manufacturers such as Skyjacker, Superlift, Rancho, Fabtech, Pro Comp, and Rubicon Express now develop and test new technology right on the track. When perfected, many of these ideas make their way to the consumer. These same companies have also stepped up to the plate to sponsor events and drivers with both cash, contingencies, and free giveaways for spectators.
The Three Rocks event provided two days of stiff competition. UROC officials set up some extremely technical courses. While many teams used a liberal dose of the skinny pedal, we watched a few teams ace the courses with pure driving finesse. On day one, only 11 points separated Jason Paule, John Gilleland, Mitch Guthrie, and Jon Bundrant for the top four spots in the Unlimited Class. When the dust settled on Saturday, Paule and Guthrie held First and Second, while Tracy Jordan slipped into Third Place. In the Legend Class, Dean Bulloch, Garrett Session, and Mike Bailey pulled off the top three spots respectively.
Another addition to this venue was a half-time show. Miss Utah Miriam Fackrell entertained the crowd with our national anthem, while patriotic skydiver Curt Bastian, decked out in red, white, and blue, parachuted in trailing a 2,000-square-foot American flag. Randy's Ring and Pinon, BFGoodrich, Maxxis, Toyo, Tom Wood Custom Driveshafts, Howe Products, Advance Adaptors, Rec World, Factory Tubular, and Red Bull sponsored the Cedar City event.
We'll continue to bring you a variety of great trail rides and venues throughout the year, including the hard rockin' action of competitive events such as the UROC Rock Crawling series. For more information, contact: UROC, (801) 932-0322, www.uroc.com.