Wheelin' Around An Island
Drummond Island, Michigan, is not well known by city dwellers many miles south in the expansive concrete wasteland known as the Motor City. You will be hard-pressed to find speed limit signs, traffic lights, or rowdy crowds to put a damper on your fun. The 136-square-mile island is just east of Michigan's Upper Peninsula and has a vast trail system that will keep you driving for days in the dirt.
Every Memorial Day weekend this tranquil island overflows with 4x4 enthusiasts, all here for the Turtle Ridge Rock Challenge. This is one of the biggest noncircuit rockcrawling competitions in the state, and this year they had nearly double the competitors of years prior. The newly added Unlimited class brought a number of new vehicles to the scene and was responsible for the massive turnout this year. Over the weekend 27 people bashed, broke, and blazed their rigs through the four courses set up by the owners of the Turtle Ridge Off Road Park and volunteers from the hosting Williamsburg Welfare Wheelers out of Traverse City, Michigan. They also made quite a few more trails with taller, more off-camber cliffs to climb and brought in rock to extend the boulder crawl, which made it more challenging than ever before.
For more information, visit the websites of Turtle Ridge Off Road Park (www.turtleridgeorv.com) and the Williamsburg Welfare Wheelers (www.williamsburg welfarewheelers.com).
The winner of the Modified class with a blazing-fast time of 13 minutes 26 seconds for all four courses was Mike Raczynski, his spotter Mike Schmidt, and his over-200,000-mile Toyota. The 22RE motor and stock transmission feed dual Toyota transfer cases thanks to a Marlin Crawler adapter. Square-tube driveshafts feed the high-pinion ARB'd FJ-80 front and welded Toyota rear, which both stand up to 39-inch TSLs with Inner Air Lock beadlocks running at 3 psi.
Mike Colville is the owner of Motor City Machines, and this is the first buggy he has built specifically for himself. Mike has been running rockcrawling circuits around the East Coast for many years and brought this specimen of his rockcrawling expertise to the competition. It runs an LS1 and a 700R4. An Atlas transfer case spins a 14-bolt and 60 front with 39-inch Crawlers.