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4x4 Off Road Truck Racing - Ready For Battle?

Off Road Wreck
Ken Brubaker
| Senior Editor, Four Wheeler
Posted December 1, 2001

Durability Is the Key to A Competitive Tough Truck

Tough Truck racing, like the kind found at Special Events 4-Wheel Jamborees, is a lot like high-speed desert racing, only it's designed for those on a budget. It offers hair-tangling speed, nosebleed jumps, groovy, drift-inducing corners, and the thrill of competing with other psycho off-road drivers in a slippery and dirty environment.

We've witnessed hundreds of these races over the years, and gotten to know the drivers, and we've poured over scores of technical spec sheets in a effort to deduce what criteria goes into a winning truck. Well, let's just say, a truck that can at least finish the race, because sometimes that's half the battle.

So Exactly What is Tough Truck?
First off, Tough Truck is a trade name, owned by The Promotion Company in Indianapolis. Other promoters call 'em Ruff Trux, Arena Trucks, Pro Trucks, and so on. But for this story we're going to stick with Tough Trucks because this is the event series that we attend most frequently, and all of the rules and truck requirements we're going to talk about are specific to the Special Events Tough Truck racing program.

The objective in Tough Truck is quite simple-race your 4x4 around an obstacle course as fast as possible. Course construction varies from event to event, but the tracks usually contain several jumps, whoop-de-doos, and sweeping turns. There are two classes of racing, stock and modified. The stock trucks race around the track individually and against the clock, while the modified class races in pairs, with the winner advancing to the next round. The first thing you have to do is be assigned a class, and that is done by race officials who factor in the vehicle modifications.

Pick Your Poison
To compete in Tough Truck racing, you'll need a vehicle. If you buy a bone-stock vehicle off a used car lot, you'll fall into the stock class. If you take it home and start modifying it for killer suspension travel, or whip out the Sawzall for some major body mods, this will graduate you to the modified class.

The idea behind the two classes is to create fairness so that stock trucks don't have to race head to head with highly modified trucks. There are three basic driver attitudes prevalent in Tough Truck racing. There's the driver who is just out there to show off and destroy stuff, the driver who is semi-serious about the whole thing and wants to keep the truck intact from race to race, and the dead-serious driver who may have big-time sponsorship and a custom-designed truck. We're going to focus on the middle of the pack, because that seems to be where the majority of the trucks are. With this in mind, we can analyze what mods can be done to your truck to enhance its durability and your safety.

Safety First
We would be remiss if we didn't point out common sense things that help you avoid being an astronomer (seeing stars) when you stuff your truck into the dirt. Special Events requires all drivers to wear a safety approved SNELL 90 full-face helmet, long pants, sleeved shirt, and neck collar.

Furthermore, all drivers must be securely strapped into their vehicle with a minimum four-point harness with two shoulder straps and a lap belt. All soft-topped and open-topped vehicles must have a six-point rollcage, and it must be tied into the frame of the vehicle in at least four places. Rules also require all vehicles to have front and rear tow hooks, and the battery must be firmly tied down.

The Welder is Your Friend
A welder is needed, not only to fix your Tough Truck when it breaks, but also to help avoid breakage to begin with. Case in point: axle trusses. They're probably the most important item you can install to help your Tough Truck's axlehousings hold together when your truck comes crashing back down to earth after that crowd-hushing major launch on your way to the checkered flag.

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