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The Sh!tbox Derby!

Posted in Events on January 1, 2011 Comment (0)
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The Sh!tbox Derby!
Photographers: Alan Huber

Hazel plays his cards close to his vest. Cappa and Trasborg were completely in the dark about what this contest would hold until literally seconds before the first event began. In hindsight, they should've known that the Sh!%box Derby would be more about having fun than actual competition. After all, Sun Tzo wrote in The Art of War, "If you know neither yourself nor your enemy, you will always endanger yourself." And what sh!%box pilot isn't familiar with Tzo? If knowing nothing of Hazel's nature didn't tip them off, they should've caught a whiff of something in the air when he told Trasborg he'd get extra points if he showed up with a bale of hay and overalls. Cappa chose to forgo the Fonzie jacket and hair grease that he was asked to bring, but at least he got the mechanics overalls and handcuffs. But more on that later.

Yep, the Sh!%box Derby is history and the winner is the guy who not only brought the biggest sh!%box, but embraced the spirit of owning and operating a sh!%box-including all of the trappings that title holds. You can't expect to keep a sh!%box nice, or have it be reliable, or not get beat on in the name of reckless fun. Since an event like this really translates better on the big screen, we employed the help of our Web Producer extraordinaire Jason Gonderman to shoot tons of video of our shenanigans. And to keep us unencumbered while we played the clown, our ace Art Director Alan Huber headed out with camera in hand to expertly capture the action. Gonderman and Huber shot plenty of coverage, so be sure to check jpmagazine.com for the video and additional photos and coverage. Will we do it again next year? Should we do it again next year? We dunno. What do you think? With that said, enjoy Jp magazine's Sh!%box Derby.

View Slideshow

1 The 40-Yard "Drag" Race
Setup: Sh!%boxes break down frequently, and off ramps and intersections are dangerous places. As a sh!%box pilot, you'd better be skilled at getting your non-moving junk off the road in a big hurry. At the drop of the hat, "drivers" must push/pull/yank/or otherwise move their vehicle 50 yards using nothing but their feet and arms.

What Happened: Hazel lined the vehicles up and then read the event description, at which point Cappa busted out laughing and said, "I totally didn't see that one coming." The tone for the event was set. Trasborg seemed like the underdog, because after debating (mostly to himself out loud the night before) whether or not he should air down his tires, he went and dropped his pressure. The low air pressure, coupled with his rig being the heaviest, gave hope to Hazel, who stood little chance of beating Cappa in his superlight flattie. At the word "Go," Cappa was off like a shot, while Trasborg's big ol' Clydesdale legs got his rig rolling in short order. The drum brakes on Hazel's Comman D'oh didn't release at first, and Trasborg was a full half-car length ahead of him and moving fast before Hazel even got rolling. In the end, Cappa won it by at least two car lengths. Hazel began closing the distance, but Trasborg's bulldog tenacity didn't let up and he grunted out a very solid Second Place.

Winner: Cappa - 10-points
2nd Place: Trasborg - 5 points
Loser: Hazel - 0 points

2 Donuts: Not Just for Breakfast
Setup: A rite of passage for any sh!%box driver, the donut, much like the mullet, is part art and part party. The winner is the driver able to complete the most complete donuts in 30 seconds.

What Happened: Hazel let Cappa go first so his tires wouldn't catch a rut from one of the heavier vehicles, causing his flattie to flip, catch fire, and kill the boss. Hmm, on second thought. Cappa tried in earnest and the little L-head engine was giving it a real go, but the horrendous turning circle of the closed-knuckle Dana 25 did him in. He was only able to muster four complete donuts in the allotted time.

Hazel lined up next and gunned the V-8 in the peg-legged Comman D'oh. He should've taken a cue from Trasborg and welded up the diff, because the inside tire was screaming for mercy. A bit of throttle modulation kept the vehicle speed up and when the Comman D'oh emerged from the dust storm, it had completed five donuts.

Trasborg was last and as he pitched his sway bar-less MJ into its first turn we were all worried he was gonna go straight over onto his roof. That is, until the sound of a hog getting slowly lowered onto a radial saw greeted our ears. To his credit, once Trasborg gained control of the body lean he kept the Comanche at full steering lock, completing four donuts and sending his power steering pump off to Valhalla.

Winner: Hazel - 10 points
2nd Place (tie): Cappa/Trasborg - 2.5 points each

3 The Rockford
Setup: A sh!%box rite of passage, no true sh!%box in the history of the automotive world has made it to the junkyard without its driver trying to imitate "the Rockford" maneuver. Escape from the bad guys, chase the bad guys, whichever you prefer! From a dead stop, reverse to high-speed, cut the wheel flinging the vehicle around 180 degrees, and hit Drive to peel out heading in the opposite direction.

What Happened: Since this was the first time that two thirds of the contestants had actually driven their sh!%boxes off-road, each contestant was given two tries. Hazel was up first and the initial attempt was pathetic, with the Comman D'oh front tires barely making it all the way around. For his second attempt, Hazel stayed in the throttle during the turn in Reverse until the very last second, then banged Drive and peg-legged a dust cloud as the Comman D'oh lurched forward.

Cappa was next in the Willys microbus, and, despite some fairly scary body lean, managed to get the front end nearly all the way around on the first attempt. His second attempt was more aggressive, and he swung the nose of the flattie around 180-degrees crisply, but when he hit First gear to peel away the results were as impressive as an old lady with a walker trying to catch a bus.

Despite the fragged power steering pump zzzznnnnngggging along its merry way, Trasborg gave it the old college try. Well, college drop-out try. Trasborg got an A for effort, but failed on the execution because he just couldn't manipulate the steering wheel fast enough to bring his wounded porker around.

Winner: Hazel - 10 points
2nd Place: Cappa - 5 points
Loser: Trasborg - 0 points

4 Car Character
Setup: Every sh!%box worth its salt has at least one intrinsic feature of redeeming character: something that makes it stand out from the sea of Yugos, Hyundais, and Geo Metros. Find yours. Point out the coolest, most character-filled part of your vehicle and tell why it makes your vehicle worthy of points awarded.

What Happened: Hazel went first since the other two really didn't know what to make of this event or where it was heading. (Again, a little Sun Tzu would've warned them.)

To Hazel, the most redeeming part of his Comman D'oh was a toss-up between the cool little cat's eye gear shift indicator on the steering column that glowed blue at night or the '72-'73-only bumped-out tailgate with original folding license plate bracket for use with the spare tire mount.

Cappa went next and spouted about how his pile needed to use a lawnmower gas can as a fuel tank and some malarkey about its intrinsic crappyness. Point is, he didn't really answer the question because neither was technically a part of his vehicle, so he lost. Looooser!

When he was asked, Trasborg talked about how he always wanted a MJ with an H.O. 4.0L engine. Yeah, we also want world peace and every stray kitten to find a nice home in the country, but either has as much to do with the original question as Pete's answer. Then, when pressed for an actual part of his vehicle with character, he said he liked his headliner. Weirdo.

Winner: Hazel - 5 points
Loser (tie): Cappa/Trasborg - 0 points each

5 Smashy, Smashy
Setup: Take the 3lb hammer and smash whatever you pointed out in #4.

What Happened: Hazel pulled out a 3lb steel hammer and then proceeded to annihilate the entire tailgate of his Comman D'oh. Then, for some strange reason, Cappa took the hammer and dented up the side of his flattie on the rear quarter-panel. Since he didn't mention anything about the quarter panel having character in #4, nobody really knew why he did it. An even bigger mystery is why Trasborg then took the hammer from Cappa and began smashing the plastic bumperettes on the front of his Comanche. Last we checked, they had nothing to do with the headliner.

Winner: Hazel - 15
Loser (tie): Cappa/Trasborg - 0 points each

6 Anti-Theft
Setup: Sh!%boxes are seen as undesirable and even unsightly to upstanding citizens in everyday society. However, the allure of the sh!%box to your garden-variety degenerate is great. Thankfully, due to their unreliable nature and slipshod repair work, most sh!%boxes have an anti-theft device that only its owner knows how to overcome. "Disable" your vehicle using this feature and if the other two contestants can't start it and drive it away in 30-seconds, you win points.

What Happened: Each contestant positioned his vehicle 20 yards from the other competitors, then "disabled" his rig so it wouldn't drive. To prevent hotwire attempts, we left the keys in the ignitions.

First, Cappa and Trasborg attacked Hazel's Comman D'oh. They had the engine running in a second and then quickly overcame Hazel's antitheft method of leaving the sometimes-sticking T-case shifter in Neutral. Naturally, when he needed it to stick, it didn't. Cappa and Trasborg easily dropped it into gear and motored away.

Next up was Cappa's flattie. Since Trasborg is the staff-appointed electrical wizard, he took underhood duties and quickly diagnosed a disconnected battery, but it still wouldn't start. Time was called and Cappa fired it up by reconnecting the ballast resistor and flipping a toggle switch. Bastard!

Finally, Cappa and Hazel hit Trasborg's Comanche. Trasborg has such a reputation for this type of thing that they completely overlooked the simple stuff and went straight to the obtuse-like turning the radio on, wipers to high, dome light on, and so forth. The rig cranked, but wouldn't' fire. Nothing worked and they both felt stupid when Trasborg popped the hood and put the coil-to-distributor plug wire back on.

Winner (tie): Cappa/Trasborg - 10 points each
Loser: Hazel - 0 points

7 Real Drag Race
Setup: Who says a sh!%box has to be slow? At the drop of the hat, drivers take your marks. Run 15 yards to simulate a restaurant "chew and screw," start your vehicle, and first one across the line wins.

What happened: Hazel is a bonehead who loves to drag race. He was so amped up to race the Jeeps that he forgot to have the contestants start off rally-style with a sprint to the vehicles. It's here that the vehicle's ability to start quickly would come into play. Regardless, at the drop of the hat, Hazel sprung out in the lead and quickly pulled away from Cappa. Trasborg was a bit eager and spun the tires too hard off the line, then kept it in Second gear a bit too long. Although out in front, Hazel was having engine issues because he had lowered the floats in his Motorcraft 2100 carb a bit too much and the engine was running out of fuel at higher rpms. He was able to modulate the throttle just enough to walk a fine line between starving the engine and maintaining a fender-length lead on Trasborg. Cappa finished sometime later that hour.

Winner: Hazel - 10 points
2nd Place: Trasborg - 5 points
Loser: Cappa - 0 points

8 Sand Dune Action
Setup: The top of the dunes is where the cool parties are held. No climby means no beer for you! Whoever can make it to the top of the razorback claims the points.

What Happened: The contestants dropped their air pressure and Trasborg hit it first. However, since he never completed his 4x4 conversion, his 2WD Comanche only managed to eke its way more than 1/3 of the way up the steep dune. Cappa took off before Hazel was done airing down and climbed a winding, meandering route that covered nearly every square inch of the dune face. It was funny to watch, but the little 60hp flattie eventually made it to the top. Cappa then got out and jumped up and down on the hood while pumping his arms in the air like that scene in Rocky when he finally climbs those stupid stairs. Hazel then set off on a straight shot up the dune with the little 304 whirring at low rpms. He doesn't run gauges, so when it sounded like it was beginning to bog, he slapped it from Third to Second gear and the little Comman D'oh sprinted straight up the climb with momentum to spare.

Winner (tie): Cappa/Hazel - 10 points each
Loser: Trasborg - 0 points

9 Abandonment
Setup: Most of your finer sh!%boxes have spent a decade or more languishing immobile in a field somewhere where they invariably collect bullet holes from wayward rednecks. Embrace the bullet holes as a true sign of your vehicle's sh!%boxedness by showing any existing or adding new bullet holes for points.

What Happened: We pulled the rigs to a safe place with a huge sand backdrop and Hazel loaded eight rounds into a 9mm handgun. Hazel went first, firing from the front seats through the precious tailgate of the Comman D'oh. He fired his first three rounds slowly, then shot the last five rapid-fire. Muscle memory got the better of him, because four of the rapid fire rounds created a single large hole, technically resulting in only five bullet holes. Cappa went next, firing into the rear quarter of his flattie. Because he was firing from the side, many of his rounds made both entry and exit holes. We counted 13 bullet holes in his flattie when the dust settled. Trasborg declined to participate in this one.

Winner: Cappa - 26 points
2nd Place: Hazel - 10 points
Loser: Trasborg - 0 points

10 Airtime!
Setup: Who hasn't launched a sh!%box off of a railroad crossing, off-road culvert, or through a mini mall parking lot? Jump your junk and points will be awarded to whoever gets the most air between the tires and the ground.

What happened: Cappa lined his flattie up first along the top of a huge sand dune razorback. He hit the jump a few times and got a bit uneven until he found his line. He was making decent distance, but the short-wheelbase rig just didn't have the legs to really get much air between the tires and ground. Hazel followed with two warm-up runs before he nailed it for the final launch high into the air. Despite the height, the Comman D'oh reentered the Earth's atmosphere without burning up and landed without killing the pilot. Cappa wanted one final try, so he hit it and hit it hard. Thankfully Gonderman was rolling video, because the sound made as the flattie augured into the dune was priceless. We don't know if it was the passenger seat coming out and landing on the dash or the several pounds of rust scale dislodging, but it sounded hard and unpleasant whatever it was. Even though he didn't get more height than Hazel, he earned an extra point for sheer violence. Trasborg didn't want to jump his truck, proving he's much smarter than the other two.

Winner: Hazel - 10 points
2nd Place: Cappa - 6 points
Loser: Trasborg - 0 points

Extra Credit Daily Driver
Setup: Trasborg was the only guy brave enough to drive his clunker to the contest. Despite having his power steering pump die on him early in the competition, he managed not only to limp through the rest of the contest, but drove his Comanche home under its own power.

Winner: Trasborg - 10 points

Extra Credit Archetype Costume
Setup: Hazel asked each contestant to arrive with a costume and some props for a lead photo. Cappa, having no idea what the costumes were for, brought the camo jockey ensemble for Hazel to don. It was perfect, because many of the Scout-Jeep-guy types we run into behind the wheel of these things seem to think they're on a secret military mission anytime they get more than five feet into the dirt. From top to bottom, we have the overly hot, full leather "trail dork" hat followed by a full wannabe-soldierguy-camo outfit. Topping it off are the full-length white tube socks worn with leather flip-flops.

Cappa was asked to bring either a '50s greaser getup complete with black leather Fonzie jacket and hair goop, or at the very least a mechanics jumpsuit and a pair of handcuffs. It's not really an archetype of the flattie driver. It's just what his staff thinks of when they picture Cappa going out for a night on the town.

Trasborg should've been posing with a big straw hat, farmer overalls with no T-shirt underneath, and a big pitchfork. He actually went out and got a bale of hay to put in the bed of his farm truck, but left it at home when he couldn't find any overalls. Darn. Looks like you ladies are gonna have to wait until we do this again to get your Trasborg calendar shot.

Winner (tie): Cappa/Hazel - 5 points each
Loser: Trasborg - 0 points

View Slideshow

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