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Annual Chevy K5 Blazer Bash In Moab

Posted in Events on February 1, 2006 Comment (0)
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Contributors: Micheal Salbaum
Photographers: Micheal Salbaum

A marvelous desert land-scape, steep red slick rock, clear blue October sky, and a full-size truck crawling slowly through seemingly unscalable terrain always bring a smile to our face. A great oppor-tunity to play on the rocks in Moab happens during Blazer Bash, the annual get-together of fullsize Blazers and trucks hosted by Steve Fox of ColoradoK5.com.

ColoradoK5.com is the online meeting spot for owners of fullsize GMs, especially solid-front-axle Blazers, trucks, and Suburbans. It's also an excellent place to discuss all kinds of modifications and improvements for the trail. But while building and Web wheeling can be great fun, it's even better to take your truck out on the rocks and see what it can do. So four years ago, it was decided to bring K5s from across America together in the red rocks of Moab, Utah. The annual Blazer Bash is a cool opportunity to meet with fellow K5 and truck owners, check out rigs from around the country, and have a good time 'wheeling the various trails that Moab has to offer.

With the recent emphasis on extreme four-wheeling or competitive rock racing, it's easy to get the impression that one would have to be in 4-Lo to even drive into Moab, that turning off Main Street would require 40-inch tires and two lockers, and that one couldn't possibly have any fun without coilovers. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. This year's Bash featured GM trucks with various degrees of modification, from near stock to all-tricked-out tube buggies and truggies with big-block engines and cutting-edge off-road suspension technology. And while the Bash principally features K5 Blazers, a few vehicles of other makes are usually tolerated-but drivers must be prepared to endure some good-natured ribbing.

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The Friday of the Blazer Bash weekend typically features the early-bird trail ride, held as one big group with vehicles of all build levels together on one trail. This year's choice was Hell's Revenge, Moab's premier slick-rock trail offering something for everyone: great scenery on the rolling slick rock with impressive views of the LaSal mountains and Arches National Park, an introduction to high-traction 'wheeling for those new to Moab slick rock, and optional obstacles for the hard-core crowd to challenge their vehicles. The first stop was barely past the start at the Dump Bump. Since there was a big puddle at the base, it required a bit bigger bump than usual to climb and was even more entertaining because of it. The next stop was the Escalator, a steep slick-rock chute with a razor-thin line. We used Toby Erwin for a bad example, and after that everyone drove it just right. The last major stops were the hot tubs, where we heard the history of Mickey's Hot Tub from Dan Mick himself, and the Car Wash for a steep, wet, full-throttle climb in the link and coilover rigs. A fun obstacle for the less equipped vehicles was Tip Over Challenge on the way out, so we all paused for photos and fun before heading back to down for the barbecue and raffle. After a long day on the trail, everyone was more than ready for the catered dinner, cold drinks, and great prizes. Huge thanks go out to all the sponsors who donated items to the raffle-your contributions definitely helped make this event a success.

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Trail runs for Saturday and Sunday were split in two groups: the hard-core crowd and the Sheetmetal Gang. The hard-core run for Saturday is held in Pritchett Canyon, with Stephen Watson of Offroad Design as the trail leader. This run attracts the better-equipped full-body trucks, along with the more highly modified truggies and buggies. Minimum equipment for a K5 should be 35s, dual lockers, strong axles, low gears, towpoints, and a motor that will run at extreme angles. Due to erosion, trails such as Pritchett Canyon have become even more difficult, to the point that spare parts and tools as well as the ability to use both are expected. As usual, the Pritchett trail run took its toll on trucks and drivers, with repairs happening from the first wash crossing.

Jason Payne managed to lose a nut and break a bolt in a front lower link arm, which let the axle get far enough away from home to separate the front driveshaft. Some work with a winch and a big hammer got it back together and ready for more fun.

In contrast, the "Sheetmetal Gang" likes to 'wheel full-bodied trucks. The idea of the Sheetmetal Gang is to go on the Moab trail rides and bring each truck back essentially unharmed. Many members of the Sheetmetal Gang drive their trucks to and from the Bash, often halfway across the country or even from Canada. It is therefore essential that the truck survive the trail for the ride home. It truly speaks for the capabilities and stoutness of the older Chevy K-series trucks that they can master 3.5- to 4.5-rated Moab trails with comparatively few modifications. A general buildup recipe for this level of trail is around 4 inches of lift, 33- to 35-inch tires, and possibly one traction-aiding device. This year, the spectrum ranged from a show-quality '87 Blazer on 33s and open-stock axles to a Blazer on 38-inch tires with locked 1-ton axles. Mechanical soundness and reliability are expected, and everyone is willing to lend a hand, tools, or parts if things go sour-so no one will be left behind on the trail.

Awesome trails, great people, stout trucks, and excellent 'wheeling-we can't wait for next year's Blazer Bash!

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