Dave Frazier likes to play in the dirt. In fact, he likes it so much he has a 4x4 playground in his backyard, and from time to time sets up friendly competitions for his buddies. He had always been intrigued by the Aussie-style challenge events so he tried one himself in the Arizona desert.
The idea was to challenge participants to a variety of obstacles and see which team could come out best overall. Drivers and passengers started by taking a short written desert survival quiz as a warm-up before running a high-speed 5-mile desert loop with firm dirt roads, sandy washes, whoop stretches, and a surprise stop midway for a skeet shoot. The higher-horsepower rigs dominated the event, provided they could stay on course following navigation instructions.
Back at Dave's yard, the drivers tackled a timed obstacle course, doing the first 100 yards blindfolded while listening to directions from their codriver. The course twisted up over berms, through dirt trenches, up and down a log stairstep, and finished across a short boulder garden.
With the dusty part of the day complete, the competitors headed to the mud pit. The water truck had been brewing this bog for about a week so what lay under the claylike surface was a soupy mix. Small tired rigs got to go first and each vehicle tried its best to run the full pit. While a few of the big motor rigs churned hard and fast, no one quite made it to the exit ramp. Lighter rigs floated more readily in the slop, while the heavy rigs clawed for firmer bottom soil. One by one, the drivers ran enthusiastically, but each was extracted by a huge crane truck.
The day seemed to be a big hit with those that gave it their best at being the fastest and getting the farthest. There's already talk about a repeat event in the future. Maybe this idea will catch on and we'll see more comprehensive 4WD competitions.