Step By Step
If this were really a 01 S-10, we all know who would have won our 4x4 of the Year competition. Just one week after competing in this years first ARCA rockcrawling championship event in Johnson Valley (Circus Maximus, June 01), Walker Evans was out wheelin for fun with his wife in this dual Dana 60, 4.3L Vortec-powered, 4L80E shifted, S-10looking tube-frame deal. Note to Goodyear: Evans needs 39-inch MTRs, and so do we!
Dodge is back in NASCAR racing, but how about Jeep? We thought a Winston Cup car had winched up the trail behind us when we heard Gary Howards 350 TBI CJ-7 roar over Rocotillo Rapids. Howards 81 Jeep rolls on 39-inch Boggers and runs Dana 60s with Detroits and 5.38s. Basically the stuff that AMC engineers wanted to use, but the corporate guys wouldnt let them back in 1981.
A stretched wheelbase can make climbing ledges a lot easier. Dennis Stansfields 84 Toyota has had its 36-inch SSRs set 106 inches apart to help keep the 94 4.3L Vortec-powered Toy from testing out the TIG-welded cage on the inside. Warn winch power got the truck up this climb when the 4.88s and Marlin Crawler could not.
Painted sky-blue camouflage, this Chevy Luv gave us our first Birfield (thanks to swapped-in Toyota axles) roadblock on Saturday. The doors have been removednot to aid in visibility, but rather to reduce the time it takes for the driver to exit the vehicle during these frequent Birfield repairs.
It looked like Pat Gremillion was going to go the whole weekend without having to weld or Pull-Pal anyone out of trouble. He pretended that it didnt bother him (we werent buying it), and that he was content to go through the motions clawing his way up the waterfalls on Tabasco Twister. A last-minute self-sacrificing shock mount on a Jeep called Gremillion and his 71 Bronco into action, and we could see the smile on his face behind the welding mask as he struck the first arc to patch it back together.
A lot of guys were out pounding their aluminum-bodied Land Rover Defender 90s. Jesse Rodocker showed us how to hole a few BFG sidewalls out on trails with his. Judging by the stickers on his tailgate well say he runs ARBs front and rear (or maybe he just likes the ARB coolers). We cant pick on him though, as he was the only one in the group that had a magnet with him to remove part of a broken axle from a 91 Wrangler. Rover!
Chip Munks Scorpion shrieked with power-steering-belt squeal over every obstacle. If you plugged your ears it sure made scaling the waterfalls look easy. Actually Munk was pressured by the rest of the group to try strange and unusual lines over obstacles to give his just-back-from-ARCA rig a run for its money.
Not everything out in New Mexico was built to compete. There was a whole group of Toyotas from the Yota Yard in Colorado out working its way up Rocotillo Rapids. Most broke a Birfield at least once during the weekend, but one 4Runner was running 38s and a 4.3L Chevy V-6 without any problems. What is your excuse?
No need to run Chevy power under the hood of an 82 Scrambler when you have an AMC 401 engine backed by a TF727 with an Atlas II. Jim and Nancy Baily were making a shakedown run with this new competition vehicle out in Las Cruces. Well tip off their competition in the Warn Rock Crawling Championships by telling you this Jeep runs a Holley Pro-Jection system, Dana 60s front and rear (what else, right?), hydraulic steering, and Hummer 16.5 bead lock wheels to hold those 42-inch Swampers.
It was a terrible winter for rain, sleet, and snow all over the country. It kept us from hitting the trail as much as we would have liked, but it did give us more time to work on our vehicle projects. We actually got stuff done for a change! Now that spring is here and the weather has made sleeping outside possible again, we had to find some fresh trail action to help thaw out from a long winter. We were going through four-wheel withdrawal so we headed south to hit the trails with the Las Cruces Four Wheel Drive Club in New Mexico for this years Chile Challenge.
Looks like we werent the only ones who got their winter projects out of the way. There were all kinds of new rigs, and new parts being tested out on the trails of Las Cruces. We scouted out a bunch of these new rigs (and some familiar old ones) to see where the new trends in rockcrawling were headed. If you want a sneak peak of next years vehicles, keep an eye on www.zianet.com/lcwdc, or write to Las Cruces Four Wheel Drive Club, P.O. Box 1344, Las Cruces, NM 88004, for info on registering for next years event.