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Goodyear Extreme Rock Crawling - America's Newest Spectator Sport?

Posted in Features on February 1, 2001
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America has long been in love with motorsports. Ever since the early days of the automobile, the competition bug has bitten men and women. Whether it's on a dragstrip, a racetrack, or even a dirt field, if you bring out a few internal combustion-powered machines and compete to see who's the best driver with the best machine, you're sure to draw a crowd. This used to be termed the need for speed, but with the slow pace of rockcrawling, this enthusiasm is really a need to compete.

Like knights of old in twisted metal armor, the competitors at the Goodyear Extreme Rock Crawling Championship went into battle. The final event of the season was held in Farmington, New Mexico. Those competing didn't ride into the arena on fire-breathing horses, but rather on draft animals bred to work hard in the dirt. As with the gladiators and knights of old, the crowd roared as it attempted what looked impossible and made it seem more than plausible. When it was done, the nation had a new champion to applaud, and all were aware of a whole new kind of motor-sports enthusiast. They had seen the rockcrawlers, and it was themselves.

The Goodyear Extreme Rock Craw-ling Championship series for 2000 took to the trails of the nation, bringing a new sport to light. Local newspapers and area guides in Farmington, New Mexico, Phoenix, and Cedar City and Vernal, Utah, alerted readers to the event's locations and dates. Originally, they did this to fill the pages of their local happenings column, but as people flocked to the events, they saw the real interest that the communities had. Sure, at first people came more out of curiosity than real interest, but then the fever took hold, and they found out that rockcrawling was in their blood. After all, not just any town can have a NASCAR track, but if you have rocks, you can enjoy rockcrawling as a spectator or a participant. In fact, many of the participants are locals from the towns where the events were held. This meant they had their own cheering section. Another advantage to rockcrawling is that it is a sport the whole family can enjoy, and the crowds proved this. The only limitation to the number of people who could view the event was the sheer lack of seating alongside the many obstacles. In fact, it was hard to see for many of the smaller fans. Not to worry: As though they were at a parade, fathers lifted their children high so they could see too. Yes, family fun at its finest is an American motor-sport tradition, and the Goodyear Extreme Rock Crawling Championship series is the newest keeper of the faith.

The Goodyear Extreme Rock Craw-ling Championship series is the first of its type. Sanctioned by the American Rock Crawlers Association (ARCA), the events aim to bring rockcrawling into the public eye as both a fun and family oriented sport. If the crowds at the finals were any indication, then they have made a great start. We even met one couple who had driven down to Farmington from Oklahoma City. If fans are this dedicated already, then rockcrawling may in fact be America's latest spectator sport.

Event Changes For 2001
The ARCA and Goodyear are making some changes for the series in 2001. The first of these changes is the name. Next season the series will be known as the Goodyear National Rock Crawling Championship series. Other changes were made in the rules for the event. Here are a few of the restrictions in place for 2001:

Vehicles must have hoods with no un-baffled opening larger than 12 inches in diameter.

Vehicles must have a front and rear bumper.

Vehicles must have a six-point rollcage at a minimum.

Rear steering and steering brakes are approved for competition.

Manual suspension controls (airbags, hydraulics, and so on) are approved, but must control both sides of only one axle. This means no corner-to-corner or single-corner operation.

Tires are limited to 40 actual measured inches in diameter.

The Goodyear National Rock Crawling Championship series' tentative schedule for 2001 is as follows: February 23-24 in Johnson Valley, California; May 4-5 in Cedar City, Utah; July 13-14 in South Dakota; and September 28-29, location to be determined. For more information, write to:

The American Rock Crawlers Association, Dept. 4WDSU, 12666 S. Critter Cove, Riverton, UT 84065; www.rockcrawler.org.

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