It was bound to happen. With 16 years of wildly successful Top Truck Challenge events under our belt, we figured someone out there would step up and follow our lead, especially during economically challenging times such as these. After all, hauling a 4x4 cross-country to spend a week thrashing with our crew at Hollister Hills isn't cheap. That's why when we got a phone call from Joe Collins of the Clay County 4x4 Club in Ocala, Florida, inviting us to cover the 2009 South Eastern Tough Truck Challenge (SETTC) event, we took note. Not only did Collins model his event after our own, but even his procedures for narrowing down the field of potential competitors was suspiciously similar. Instead of a print magazine, though, Collins used his website for voting. Subscribing to the belief that if you can't beat 'em, join 'em, we entered our project Mega Titan as a competitor.
Fast forward three months: Team Mega Titan touched down in Orlando, Florida, on a Thursday afternoon in mid-April. Our crew was comprised of feature editor Robin Stover, TTC extraction chief Rodney Hill, and TTC judge and Mega Titan's creator, Toby Lavender. Our plan was simple: Show up, make final preparations to the truck, and show off what we originally built it for. We had arranged for a transport company to deliver the Mega Titan to TruTech Automotive in DeBary, Florida, where we would spend Friday preparing the Titan for battle. Upon delivery, the truck was about 90-percent ready to rock, leaving just a few last-minute loose ends to tie up on site. After a full day of tweaking on the truck, we loaded it up and headed to the event site: Hard Rock Cycle Park in Ocala, Florida.
When we think of wheeling in Florida, we visualize deep mud and lots of it. So it was a big surprise when we pulled into Hard Rock Cycle Park and found virtually no mud whatsoever. Instead, we found a series of man-made obstacle courses that took full advantage of the change in elevation at the park. You see, Hard Rock Cycle Park used to be a lime quarry, so much of the terrain is sculpted from the remnants of massive earth relocation operations that once occurred there. Naturally, this type of terrain is rare in and around the flatlands of Florida. So it is safe to say that SETTC was much different than we had anticipated it would be.
Making it Happen
As with any race effort, in order to make an idea a reality, you have to depend on other people's professional abilities be they paid or donated. In the case of transporting the Mega Titan across the country, we relied on the dedicated efforts of Johnny Cantrell and Duke Livingston. Both readers of Four Wheeler and enthusiasts at heart, the two drove for five days straight with our Mega Titan in tow, asking for nothing more than a camping spot at the event and offering to assist our team as well as other teams when help was needed. We found the two through an online shipping community called U-Ship.com. Essentially, U-Ship is the eBay of the shipping world. Simply log on, post a shipment, and like moths to a flame, offers in the form of electronic bids start to arrive in your inbox.
The Mega Titan's Mega-Rebuild
Committing to a competition of this level requires a significant sacrifice in time, materials, and money. We would like to thank the following individuals for their support in making the Mega Titan's appearance at South Eastern Tough Truck Challenge a reality: Toby and Tracy Lavender, Rodney and Jennifer Hill, Jerry Sparkman, Jeff and Pam Arabia, Grant Wolf, Sean Carlini, Jonathan Burgess, Lance Nist, Nick DeAlvia, Clayton Kraatz, Donny Roebuck, Bob Graham, Ron Wirth, Brad Hylton, and Rebecca Stover.
For more information about SETTC, visit www.forums.claycounty4x4.com.