Team Trophy Challenge is a rally-type off-road competition held each year in western Oregon. Teams of four people with two vehicles each must find a certain station and complete various tasks, all while looking for hidden flags at which to get punches for their score cards. All these segments count for points and add up to decide the winner. So when the call came in that Chuck Fletcher, a technical field rep from Warn, needed a fourth person for his team, our fearless editor, Rick Péwé, answered the call.
What is Team Trophy Challenge? asked Rick.
Dont worry about it, youll have fun, Chuck replied.
What do I have to do? asked Rick.
Dont worry about it, youll have fun, Chuck replied.
Well, OK, Ill be there!
So in mid-May after weeks of rigorous training (Not!), Rick joined 33 other teams at Diamond Mill OHV park for the two-day competition. Much of the land around the park is privately owned and kindly opened for the Challenge. Doug Shipman is the director of the competition, and he has spent the last year laying out the course and devising new and interesting tasks. Dougs main goal for the challenge seems to be driver and teamwork skills, not crazy gonzo vehicles as seen in other types of off-road competitions. However, there was a great group of rigs on hand, ranging from Toyotas, Land Rovers, and Broncos to our home team represented by Cherokees, TJs, YJs, CJs, and Flatfenders. There is a technical inspection before the competition, which helps ensure a smooth moving weekend by requiring winches, lockers, safety equipment, and width restrictions of 76 inches to protect the trees on some super tight trails. Though there werent any super-wide rock buggies or fullsizes, there were still some cool rigssuch as a CJ-5 on tall, skinny Swampers with trick airbag suspension.
The event was split into three sections. The first started Saturday morning and ran until 8 p.m. This involved different winching, mechanical, and obstacle course tasks. There was also a section where the drivers must travel a certain distance in a set amount of time, and they lost points if they went too fast or too slow. The challenge was that the terrain demanded them to use caution in some parts and throttle down in others. Needless to say this was the area with the most carnage, including busted brake rotors and a rollover due to broken steering components. When carnage did hit, it was helpful to have a teammate who could run to camp and get supplies or even weld a busted steering shaft.
Then at 9 p.m. the teams headed out again and had more winching tasks as well as a mock medical emergency. This year it involved carrying a teammate on a stretcher with a bucket of water on his chest through the woods in the dark. Rick truly shined on this section due to his physical training, and, of course, his headlamp. During these two parts (as well as the Sunday morning event which ran from 4 a.m. to noon) the teams were constantly looking for hidden flags in a densely wooded area. To find these flags a map was supplied with the GPS coordinates as well as a card on which they were to punch with a special hole punch that hung at each flag. Many competitors had high-tech GPS systems to try and find each marker, but the winning team just used good old map-reading skills. Who was that winning team? Well, Third Place went to the returning Third Place winner of the last 4 yearsLeonard Trudell and David Lund. These guys had some trick flatbed Toyotas, and though they probably deserved the Hard-Luck Award for their return appearance to Third Place, that actually went to the team of Steve Grittman and Mickey Alexander after their rollover on the high-speed section as well as a bunch of other carnage. First and Second Place were decided through a tiebreaker task. It seems that the Land Rover team of Ed Hutson and Rick Pope tied with the Warn Jeep team that had adopted Rick as a copilot.
The stage was set, and the showdown was at a little past high noon on Sunday. Both teams were brought together at a bumpy obstacle course and given their orders: The first team to swap diagonal opposing tires without the use of a jack or power tools would win. The Rover team ran for their rig and headed up on the bumpy section and tried to get a tire to lift. Now all of the tech articles on super flexy suspensions were coming back to haunt the teams. Meanwhile the Jeep team dove into their gear and pulled out two chains. The YJ they were driving had Warns new XCL coil kit on it, known for articulation and axle droop, which was not what they wanted at this point, so they countered this by attaching their axles to the frame with the chains. Soon they were up on the bumpy section as well and with a tire in the air. They pulled the tire, tilted the vehicle, pulled the opposite one and switched em. The Jeep guys were sippin beverages from their new trophy before the Rover guys had their lug nuts tight.
If youre looking for a little friendly competition, maybe you should head up to Oregon next May. Just remember that ingenuity and teamwork wins, not a giant rig and a heavy right foot. By the way, be sure to practice your Warn winch tent post pull as it may be one of the tasks next year. For more info contact Doug Shipman at 503/252- 5566.