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2009 Ultimate Adventure Participants & Sponsor 4x4s - The Posse

Posted in Events on November 1, 2009
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Readers: Dale and Zane Znamenacek
Dale Znamenacek grew up listening to her grandfather tell stories of wheeling his old GPW flatfender jeep, so it just made sense that her future husband, Zane, would be a guy with that off-road interest. After they got married, Zane talked her into getting a '99 Wrangler fresh off the showroom floor as a daily driver and wheeling rig. His real plan was to get Dale's consent to build a cool Jeep that would eventually be his, but it backfired when she got the four-wheeling bug even worse than he.

Before long the Znamenaceks' Jeep grew from 31-inch tires up to 33s, 35s, 37s, 38.5s, and eventually Goodyear 42s. With these bigger tires came stronger drivetrain parts and a longer wheelbase. Meanwhile the family doubled from two members to four with the birth of two little four-wheelers. Dale and Zane decided a second Jeep was needed since a four-door Wrangler would mean one of them wouldn't get to drive.

As Dale and Zane explored their local Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah trails in her blue Wrangler and his red one (hers with all the latest greatest parts, his built on a budget with used axles and such) with kids strapped in beside them, they quickly honed their skills and became excellent at reading terrain and being prepared.

The blue Znamenacek TJ is a clean machine, and we quietly joked that Dale was winning Ultimate Adventure this year as she surmounted every obstacle with hardly any wheelspin or trouble and not a single broken part (though the gas cap was lost during a hasty refueling stop). Dale told us that she never imagined she'd be wheeling her brand-new Jeep with us on UA 11 years later, but we're glad she applied to come along. It's great to see a truly evolved off-road machine.

Rig Recipe
Driver: Dale Znamenacek
Co-driver: Zane Znamenacek
Vehicle: 1999 Jeep Wrangler Sport, Gunmetal Blue
Stomping Grounds: Billings Canyon and 21 Road in Grand Junction, CO; Die Trying, Cactus I & II, and Calamity Canyon in Montrose, CO; Farmington, NM; Coyote Canyon and Rusty Nail in Moab, UT; Rangely, CO
Engine: 4.0L I-6 (stock)
Transmission: AX-15 (stock)
Transfer Case: Atlas 4.3:1
Front Axle: Dynatrac ProRock 60 housing, chromoly shafts, CTM U-joints, Dedenbear inner knuckles, solid outer knuckles, 5.38 gears, ARB Air Locker
Rear Axle: Dynatrac ProRock 60, 5.38 gears, ARB Air Locker
Suspension: 12-inch Fox 2.0 coilovers with airbumps in the front, 5.5-inch Rubicon Express springs in the rear, modified Rubicon Express front radius arms, custom four-link rear
Tires & Wheels: 42x14.50x17 Goodyear Kevlar MT-R on Spyderlock 17x9.5
Winch & Bumpers: Warn HS9500 winch, winch custom bumpers
Other Stuff: Modified frame with wheelbase stretched to 111 inches, full hydraulic steering, modified stock cage
Dimensions (in): wheelbase 111, height 821/2, width 87

Title Sponsor: Goodyear
Chris Durham has long been a competitor and trail junkie running on Goodyear tires, so when title sponsor Goodyear needed someone to represent the company on this weeklong wheeling and wrenching road trip, Chris got the nod. He has been building and wheeling Jeeps all across this nation from his home base in South Carolina to the rocky obstacles of Moab. His current recipe of low-slung Jeeps on big tires is taking many trails by storm. Chris was the go-to guy for tricky trail spotting, emergency repairs, and lessons in Southern rock surfing.

Rig Recipe
Driver: Chris Durham
Vehicle: 2002 Jeep TJ
Stomping Grounds: South Carolina
Engine: 4.0L I-6
Transmission: 904 automatic
Transfer Case: NP 231
Front Axle: Dana 44, 4.56, Detroit Locker, 10 factory shafts
Rear Axle: Semifloat Dana 60 4.56 Detroit Locker
Suspension: Daystar budget lift, three-link Panhard front, Johnny Joints, rear four-link
Tires & Wheels: 37x12.50x17 Goodyear Kevlar MT/R on Walker Evans Racing beadlocks
Winch & Bumpers: Warn 9,000-pound Powerplant winch, Chris Durham Motorsports bumpers
Other Stuff: slip yoke and 2WD low transfer case kit, custom gas tank, oil pan skidplate, Currie motor mount lift, 2 1/2-inch exhaust, K&N filter

Readers: Mike DeMarco and Dave Caley
Mike DeMarco used to have a sports car, but it did nothing but land him in a bunch of trouble with the law and his parents. So with some prodding from his buddy Dave, he traded in the speeding-ticket-magnet for something more dirtable. As can be expected, Mike didn't lose his desire to screw off with his ride and the next thing you know the wheeling bug had bitten hard.

Based out of Orem, Utah, these wheeling buddies have a plethora of moderate to extreme wheeling choices. Mike and his rig quickly progressed from the bunny trails to the triple-black-diamond obstacles.

Although the Utah highway patrol may see it differently, we think Mike's '98 Grand is just about the perfect Ultimate Adventure rig built for highway and trailway: big tires, strong V-8, 1-ton axles, and a comfortable interior with room for camping, wrenching, and recovery gear galore. We even dig the Burnt Copper Metallic color (note to you readers thinking of applying next year: Bright colors look good in the magazine).

Rig Recipe
Driver: Mike DeMarco
Co-driver: Dave Caley
Vehicle: 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee
Stomping Grounds: Utah
Engine: 5.2L V8
Transmission: Trans: 42RE custom valvebody, high stall converter, Redline bands
Transfer Case: 203/205 ORD doubler kit, 1350 flanges
Front Axle: '89 Ford Dana 60, 5.13 gears, ARB Air Locker
Rear Axle: GM Cab and Chassis 14-bolt, 5.13 gears, Detroit Locker
Suspension: Homebrew, three-link front, three-link rear with track bar, BDS 41/2-inch coils, BDS shocks, Ballistic Fab 11/4-inch joints
Tires & Wheels: 40x13.5R17 Goodyear Kevlar MT/R on 17-inch Trailready HD beadlocks
Winch & Bumpers: Warn 9.5ti, synthetic rope, homebrew bumpers
Other Stuff: Alloy shafts, Longfields, Warn hubs/flanges, PSC steering, Lightforce lights, boatsides, quarter doors, Unibody reinforcement, Homebrew subframeDimensions: wheelbase 111 inches, weight 6,350 pounds

Sponsor: Hobart
Hobart returned as official welder to support our Ultimate Adventure. Mel Wade volunteered his '07 Jeep Wrangler as Hobart's official trail rig. Mel and Hobart reps Caleb Krisher, Don Foster, and Darrell Sickles took turns riding in the JK with the new Hobart Trek 180 portable/rechargeable MIG welder at the ready for any on-trail carnage (get yours today at Northern Tool & Equipment, Mel's Jeep has been the guinea pig for various suspensions and body armor from his Off Road Evolution shop, and he was more than willing to smash up any obstacle they encountered and repair any busted bits with Hobart's help.

Rig Recipe
Driver: Mel Wade
Co-driver: Caleb Krisher
Vehicle: 2007 Jeep Wrangler
Stomping Grounds: Johnson Valley, CA
Engine: 3.8 V-6 (stock)
Transmission: Automatic (stock)
Transfer Case: STaK three-speed
Front Axle: Dynatrac ProRock 60, Superior axleshafts, 5.38, ARB Air Locker
Rear Axle: Dynatrac ProRock 60, Superior axleshafts, 5.38, ARB Air Locker
Suspension: Off Road Evolution EVO long arm front, cantilever rear
Tires & Wheels: 42x14.50x17 Goodyear Kevlar MT/R on Walker Evans Racing beadlocks
Winch & Bumpers: Warn Endurance 12 on EVO bumper
Other Stuff: EVO rear bumper/tire carrier, body armor, Rock Hard cage, Wild Boar hard top, Lightforce lights, Mastercraft seats, PSC ram-assist steering, K&N filter, Quick Air onboard air compressor, JE Reel driveshafts, Viking winch line, Powertank valve stems

Sponsor: BDS
When the BDS Jeep showed up, more than a few people were wondering if head of engineering Glen Hard and head of sales Mike Maloney knew what they were getting into. You see, this '97 Wrangler wasn't much more than a bolted-together rig on 37-inch tires. We'd be lying if we said they didn't break anything, but they made it to the end of the UA with much less carnage than everyone expected, and it wasn't for lack of trying. There were quite a few times we expected these guys to be picking up Dana 30 and 35 parts from along the trail, but the perfect balance of skill, conservative use of the skinny pedal, and quality aftermarket parts kept the BDS Jeep trucking all week.

Rig Recipe
Driver: Glen Hard
Co-driver: Mike Maloney
Vehicle: 1997 Jeep TJ with 180,000 miles
Stomping Grounds: Outback Adventure Park, Butler, PA; Silverlake Sand Dunes, MI; various dealer trail rides across the country
Engine: 4.0L with K&N Filter and JET programmer
Transmission: Automatic (stock)
Transfer Case: stock
Front Axle: Dana 30 Superior Super 30 kit, 4.88 gears, ARB Air Locker
Rear Axle: Dana 35 Superior Super 35 kit, 4.88 gears, Detroit Locker
Suspension: BDS 6.5-inch long arm kit
Tires & Wheels: 37x12.50x17 Goodyear MT/R Kevlar on 17-inch Spyderlock beadlocks
Winch & Bumpers: Warn Endurance 12, custom- built bumpers
Other Stuff: GenRight tube fenders and rollcage, Warn onboard air system, Lightforce lights, custom wrap, custom high lift mount, BDS rocker guards

Readers: Kevin and Jen Stearns
The Stearns are wheelers and readers, and they also have a small 4x4/hot rod shop that's making a name for its late-model GM engine swaps, but sometimes even the boss needs a vacation. This year the Stearns left the daily grind to their hardworking employees and accepted the invitation to come wheeling with us.

Kevin has had his fair share of muscle cars and off-road machines. The goal for the tube-and-fiberglass Blazer was for it to be an all-around rig capable of big air at the dunes, flexing over boulders and still being comfortable for him and his wife to cruise the streets of his hometown of Morgan Hill, California. With plenty of reliable power under the hood and a strong drivetrain, this fullsize succeeded in being a great all-around machine. In fact, the Blazer only had some minor issues with some fuel cell foam clogging the filter and a front driveshaft issue-other than body damage, that is, but who counts body damage?

PhotosView Slideshow

Rig Recipe
Driver: Kevin Stearns
Co-driver: Jennifer Stearns
Vehicle: 1983 Chevy Blazer
Stomping Grounds: Pismo Beach and Hollister Hills, CA
Engine: Pacific Fabrication LS2 V-8 engine package
Transmission: TH 400, full manual valve body, Klune Goliath
Transfer Case: Round pattern NP205
Front Axle: Dana 60, ARB Air Locker, 35-spline alloy outers, Warn premium hubs, 4.10 gears
Rear Axle: 14 bolt, Detroit Locker, disc brakes, 4.10 gears
Suspension: Pacific Fabrication three-link front, four-link rear, 18-inch Fox coilovers, Fox hydro bumps
Tires & Wheels: 40x13.5R17 Goodyear Kevlar MT/R on 17-inch Raceline Monster beadlocksWinch: Warn M12000
Other Stuff: Tube and stock frame chassis, fiberglass body

Readers: John and Justin Bjorum
John Bjorum has a knack for overcoming adversity. For example, he ran all of Ultimate Adventure with a healthy LSI Chevy V-8 engine in his Cherokee yet only had a Dana 30 front axle. If that sounds amazing then you'll faint when you hear why he didn't upgrade to a larger front end. It turns out that after we telephoned him and invited him on the UA he was so excited he had a heart attack! Poor guy. He rebounded quickly, but his front axle upgrade savings account got sapped by some silly doctor's bills (priorities get switched around when you almost die). Lucky for us, John has a strong heart and a sensible right foot. He not only ran all of the UA without breaking that half-ton front, but he also drove many obstacles like a fearless four-wheeler.

John first started wheeling in a '77 CJ-5 with a 304 V-8 and a three-speed up in the Silverlake Sand Dunes near his home in Michigan. Over the next 20 years he had a variety of Jeeps and four-wheel trucks until he bought the red '96 Cherokee Classic for his wife. The XJ stayed stock until John and his wife went to Moab in 1999, and what went on the Ultimate Adventure is a rig that reflected 10 years of modifications since then. It was built as a daily driver until four years ago, when John bought another vehicle, an '04 Grand Cherokee. Prior to that John had to drive the XJ, wheel it, and be able to drive it back home. The XJ has been to Moab and back 11 times and also to California, South Dakota, Arizona, and New Mexico.

PhotosView Slideshow

Rig Recipe
Driver: John BjorumCo-drivers: Justin Bjorum, Josh Russell
Vehicle: 1996 Jeep Cherokee Classic
Stomping Grounds: Michigan; Moab; Buena Vista, CO
Engine: '00 GM Z28 LS1 V-8
Transmission: '00 GM Z28 4L60e
Transfer Case: Atlas 3.8
Front Axle: Dana 30 4.56 gears, ARB Air Locker
Rear Axle: Custom 9-inch housing with True Hi 9 with 35-spline axles, 4.56 gears, ARB Air Locker
Suspension: T&T customs long arms, ZJ coils, Big Off Road rear leaf springs, 61/2-inch lift
Tires & Wheels: 37x12.5R17 Goodyear Kevlar MT/R on Spyderlock 17x9.5
Winch & Bumpers: Warn 9.5ti winch, Hanson front bumper, Kaymar rear bumper
Other Stuff: Tube doors, PSC hydro steering, chromoly eight-point interior cageDimensions: height 80 inches; stock XJ width, length, and wheelbase; weight 5,000+ pounds

Sponsor: Warn
Fred Perry returned this year as the representing driver for Warn Industries along with Warn's southeastern sale manager, Corby Philips. Though Fred had built a new MJ for last year's trip, he had so many requests for the return of his older stretched yellow TJ that he blew off the dust and headed out on the UA with it. Fred has had some sort of major catastrophe every year with his Jeep, but maybe now the recipe is finally dialed in. Fred, Corby, and the little yellow Jeep came through the UA virtually unscathed.

Rig Recipe
Driver: Fred Perry
Co-driver: Corby Phillips
Vehicle: 1998 Jeep (stretched) TJ
Stomping Grounds: Everywhere around Clemson, SC
Engine: '01 Jeep 4.7L V-8
Transmission: 545RFE five-speed automatic
Transfer Case: Atlas 3.8
Front Axle: Rock Crusher high-pinion Dana 60, 5.38 gears, Detroit Locker
Rear Axle: Rock Crusher high-pinion Dana 60, 5.38 gears, Detroit Locker
Suspension: Tera-Flex LGC long arm with Fabtech air springs
Tires & Wheels: 40x13.5R17 Goodyear Kevlar MT/R on 17-inch Raceline monster beadlocks
Winch & Bumpers: Warn bumper with Endurance 12 winch and synthetic rope
Other Stuff: Advanced Frame Works chassis bobbed LJ length with 13/4-inch tube cage, Chris Durham Motorsports sloped fiberglass hood and grille, two TJ bodies cut and welded to stretched LJ length, Griffin radiator

Sponsor: Off Road Design
Stephen Watson and his father, James, are the proprietors of Off Road Design, the shop where the official UA truck, the Ultimate Adventure Super Duty (UASD), was built this year. This makes them the official fabricators of UA '09. With so much time going into the UASD, the Watson team decided to simply spruce up Stephen's old trail rig for the trip. The GMC Jimmy was originally his parents' truck, the one Stephen drove while in college. Over the years it has grown and morphed into a Frankenstein monster of ORD parts and off-road engineering, becoming a family trickster for Stephen, his wife, and three boys.

Rig Recipe
Driver: Stephen Watson
Co-driver: James Watson
Vehicle: 1982 GMC Jimmy
Stomping Grounds: the toughest trails of Colorado and Utah
Engine: 505ci Chevrolet big-block V-8
Transmission: 700R4 automatic with full manual valvebody
Transfer Case: Off Road Design 203/205 doubler
Front Axle: Dyntrac ProRock Dana 60 with Reid racing kingpin end forgings and knuckles, Superior axleshafts, CTM U-joints, 5.13 gears, ARB Air Locker
Rear Axle: GM Corporate 14-bolt, disc brakes, Superior axleshafts, 5.13 gears, ARB Air Locker
Suspension: Off Road Design custom four-link with 16-inch King coilover shocks
Tires & Wheels: 42x14.50x17 Goodyear Kevlar MT/R on Trail Ready beadlocks
Winch & Bumpers: Warn 9.5ti, Amsteel rope, custom tube bumper
Other Stuff: PSC hydraulic steering, custom top, windshield for mud protection

Readers: Jonathan Cooper and Andrea Miller
Jonathan Cooper came with us on last year's Ultimate Adventure, and upon returning home he tore apart his Tundra and reworked most of it. Even though he had some breakage issues last year, we saw his never-say-die attitude and figured he deserved the coveted reader return invitation. Plus last year he had brought his lovely co-driver Andrea Miller, and we hoped she would be along this year as well.

Jonathan began wheeling back in the day with a CJ-5 he bought out of high school. Over the years he progressed (or regressed, depending on your point of view) through a CJ-7, a Willys, a Cherokee, a Commando, and a Bronco and eventually ended up on the snow-white Tundra. Trying to curb his enthusiasm he swore the Tundra would only be a work truck, but after just 28,000 miles he broke a front axle CV joint on a mild trail. The next thing you know his Tundra was up on jackstands and the independent front suspension was lying in a smoldering pile on the floor of his garage.

The modifications never stopped. As the wheeling progressed, Jonathan was constantly mumbling about bigger tires this and flexier suspension that. Copilot Andrea has already been upgraded to fianc status, so now it is a question of what mods will be done before the wedding.

PhotosView Slideshow

Rig Recipe
Driver: Jonathan Cooper
Co-driver: Andrea Miller
Vehicle: 2001 Toyota Tundra
Stomping Grounds: Rubicon Trail, CA; Harlan, KY
Engine: Toyota 4.7L V-8
Transmission: Toyota (A340F) automatic
Transfer Case: Atlas four-speed (5.44:1)
Front Axle: Solid D-60, 35-spline 4340 Yukon shafts, Yukon Super Joints, 4.88 gears, ARB Air Locker
Rear Axle: GM 14-bolt, 4.88 gears, ARB Air Locker
Suspension: Alcan front and rear leaves, Fox shocks
Tires & Wheels: 37x12.50x17 Goodyear Kevlar MT/R on 17x8.5 TrailReady HD17 aluminum beadlocks
Winch & Bumpers: Warn 9.5xp, Viking Combo rope, custom tube bumpers
Other Stuff: PSC steering, dual Optima batteries, Engel fridge, Tom Woods 1350 driveshafts, LineX cab floor, Lightforce 170 Striker HID lights, Ready Welder II, T-case parking brake, Lite Spot rock lights, Power Tank CO2, custom antiwrap bar and rear axle truss, full interior cage
Dimensions (in): wheelbase 132, height 79, frame height 231/2, length 192, front track 841/2

Sponsor: LightForce
Lightforce Lights came on board as the official off-road lights of UA '09, sending two bright guys out as its representatives. Chris Corbett and Chris Begley were smart enough to rent/borrow a Jeep from UA '06 alumnus Mac McMillan. Plus by outfitting their rental with a set of Lightforce HID lights, they were ready not only for any night driving but also just setting up camp after we rode in late from a long day of asphalt or rock wheeling. If Lightforce returns next year, we may add a night run to the schedule.

Rig Recipe
Driver: Chris Corbett
Co-driver: Chris Begley
Vehicle: 1999 Jeep TJ
Stomping Grounds: Southern California and Moab
Engine: Stock 4.0L I-6
Transmission: 999 automatic
Transfer Case: STaK three-speed Monster box
Front Axle: Dynatrac ProRock 60, 4.88, Detroit Locker, Superior axleshafts
Rear Axle: Dynatrac ProRock 60, 4.88, Detroit Locker, Superior axleshafts
Suspension: BDS long arm, 6-inch kit with just 4-inch lift springs
Tires & Wheels: 37x12.50x17 Goodyear Kevlar MT/R on 17x8.5 TrailReady aluminum beadlocks
Winch & Bumpers: Ramsey 9500 winch, Fab Fours bumper
Other Stuff: S&N Fab rollcage, Trophy Truck spare mount, Chris Durham hood, Lightforce HID lights, Poison Spyder rock sliders and crusher corners, Kilby skidplates

Sponsor: K&N Air Filters
Ryan Hagel has come on the UA a few times representing various sponsors. This year he and his wife, Terra, came with the official K&N Jeep Commando. Actually it was Terra's own Jeep, commonly referred to as the Terra Crawler, and it was constantly earning stares of envy from other UA attendees and passers-by. Built by the crew at Off Road Evolution and outfitted with a K&N-fed Chevy V-8, this mad rig with the wild woman behind the wheel made mincemeat of the Michigan mud and Ohio obstacles we encountered.

Rig Recipe
Driver: Terra Hagel
Co-driver: Ryan Hagel
Vehicle: 1969 Jeepster Commando
Stomping Grounds: Southern California
Engine: 6.0L '03 Chevy LQ9V8
Transmission: 4L60E
Transfer Case: Atlas four-peed
Front Axle: Dynatrac ProRock 60, 5.38 gears, ARB Air Locker
Rear Axle: Dynatrac ProRock 60, 5.38 gears, ARB Air Locker
Suspension: Off Road Evolution coilover front, ORE Evo-Lever rear, 8-inch lift
Tires & Wheels: 40x13.5R17 Goodyear Kevlar MT/R on 17-inch Spyderlock beadlocks
Winch & Bumpers: Warn M12000 Endurance winch, custom Off Road Evolution front and rear bumpers
Other Stuff: Custom headers by David Chappelle of Chappelle's Exhaust and Kustoms, Custom rollcage by Off Road Evolution, Mastercraft Baja RS seats, Mastercraft 3-inch restraint system, paint and bodywork by Syndicate Automotive Concepts of San Diego

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