Werock Western Nationals Takes On Donner
In the past decade, the world of four-wheeling has taken on an entirely new dimension, and rockcrawling, or rock racing as it is now known, has lead the way. What was considered extreme just a few years ago, only to be found on full-blown competition rigs, now falls in the category of standard trail rig. The hard lines of the past have been replaced with insane lines of the present, and the driver's abilities have surpassed all expectations. In the process, several brands of rock racing have come, gone, or morphed, and one has risen to the top as the dominant force. Spun from the grassroots organization Cal ROCS, WEROCK (World Extreme Rock Crawling Series) has stepped up as a key player, transforming the sport from a rockcrawl to a rock race. This fall, we headed up to Truckee, California, for the WEROCK Western Nationals and some of the most heinous action to date.
More than 50 teams from across the west converged on the Sierra Nevada community of Donner for the 2008 season finale. The Ranch, which is privately owned and doubles as a ski resort in the winter, is the perfect venue for a competition of this type. Expanses of solid granite slabs, precipitous ledges, and narrow crags provide an unlimited number of Class X courses. WEROCK is not just for the well-sponsored and well-funded teams. The field was broken into four classes; Unlimited, Pro Modified, Modified Stock, and Formula Toy, which allows the low-buck guys to cut their teeth on the same terrain as the seasoned pros.
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Formats have changed a bit too. There are nine courses, eight regular competition courses and a ninth course, appropriately coined The Shootout, which is reserved for the top six finishers from the Unlimited and Pro Modified classes. Consisting of the most difficult lines of the event, this is where the big boys go head-to-head and it's worth the price of admission on its own. It is also worth enough points to make or break any and all comers. With eight courses in the bag and the WEROCK title on the line, teams pulled all the stops, hammering down on the skinny pedal when needed, and giving it everything.
Rather than giving you a play-by-play on the event, we were interested in what it takes to run with the big dogs (or the not-so-big dogs): To live, eat, breathe, smell, and sweat the rock racing circuit from start to finish. For a big-sponsor pro's perspective, we hooked up with Monster Energy team manager and veteran racer Shannon Campbell. But what about the independents? How do you cut your teeth in rock racing? This view can only come from a newbie grassroots guy like Justin Hall, self-promoted and funded, and has dear old dad for a spotter.
We usually don't need an excuse to head to the Sierras, and checking out the wild action of the WEROCK Western Nationals just sweetened the deal. If we missed "attend a WEROCK event" in our "25 Best Trail Events" (Dec. '08), we're jotting it down now. Check out the sidebars for an insider's view on what it takes to shoot it out with the big dogs of rock racing.