The Legend Lives On -Drool Factor Ranger
Many of you already have heard of the passing of off-road racer and suspension designer\owner Larry Plank of Plank Motorsports (Sept. 17, 2000). We have been bombarded with e-mails, phone calls, condolences, and inquires about the status of Plank's four-link kits. The good news is that Larry's employees have ventured out on their own to form NewLine Products and carry on in the same manner, quality, and trickness that they have been known for.
Nester Berardi, Winter Douglas, and Jake Johnson are the three partners in NewLine Products. All were employees of Plank Motorsports who were handpicked and groomed for top-level fabrication. Larry would be proud - the temperature has been hot for these guys to perform. They have done so with the expertise that they achieved at Plank's. In between prepping race trucks and prerunners for the Baja 2000, they are building one-off tube chassis F-150 prerunners and finishing off this Drool Factor Ranger. The results speak for themselves.
Here's just a little tease of their new bolt-on four-link and the equal-length frontend on the soon-to-be featured Ford Ranger. The Ranger is equipped with a 500hp hopped-up Chevy 5.7L V-8. The chassis and the cab are a '94 with an estimated frontend travel of 20 inches out of equal-length I-beams with equal-length steering.
Their four-link bolt-on rearend achieves 28 inches of travel. These guys are based in Long Beach, California, and can be reached at (714) 269-9664.
You can be sure all of their vehicles will be featured in high-flying action in upcoming issues of OFF-ROAD magazine.
Chit-Chat, Live with Comp Cams
Looking up camshaft specifications in the extensive Comp Cams catalog is certainly informative, but enthusiasts often need specific information regarding which Comp Cams bumpstick is the best choice for their 'wheeler's powerplant. And, while a phone call to Comp Cams' technical line is certainly one way to get answers to questions, Comp Cams understands that the Internet is a viable conduit for tech help. That's why Comp Cams has announced that its Web site, www.compcams.com, has a section devoted to live technical talk where one of the knowledgeable Comp Cams technicians will instantly, and thoroughly, answer your camshaft queries.
GM to Phase Out Oldsmobile;'02 Bravada Will Be Last New Olds
Oldsmobile is coming to the end of the roadGeneral Motors recently stated that the oldest brand name in U.S. automotive history will be retired during the next few years. GM executives admitted they had failed to erase the stodgy image of a brand that was once synonymous with American prosperity and dependability. "Phasing out the Oldsmobile brand was an especially tough decision for us,'' said Ron Zarrella, president of GM North America. He said that new customers were younger and more educated, but there weren't enough of them. Oldsmobiles will be built and sold as long as GM can make money on them. GM declined to give a more specific timetable, but said that the '02 Bravada sport utility vehicle coming out next year will be the last new Olds model. As part of the plan to wind down the Oldsmobile division, GM is offering people who bought new - and still own - '96-to-'01 Oldsmobiles a $1,500 coupon for a new Olds. Combined with other incentives, that leads to discounts of $5,000 on the 2000 Bravada.
In its latest effort to unload the dying Oldsmobile line, GM said that it will increase its three-year/36,000-mile warranty to five years or 60,000 miles for all 2000 and '01 Oldsmobile models, including the Bravada SUVs. "GM is talking about phasing out the line, but if they're not careful, the public will switch it off immediately,'' Burnham Securities' auto analyst David Healy said. "What you've got is an orphan, and you need a major set of incentives like this.''
The standard warranty plan provides bumper-to-bumper coverage for the first three years. The extended plan provides coverage for two additional years on the engine, the transmission, the front- and rear-wheel-drive assembly, the brakes, the suspension, the fuel system, the cooling system, the electrical system, the computer, and the steering system, GM said. Under the plan, the customer pays no deductible costs. "What we're trying to say is that you shouldn't be afraid to buy an Olds,'' states Oldsmobile spokesman Vince Muniga.
Bureau of Land Management Looks to Expand Land Use Regulations
The BLM is currently looking at the manner in which off-road enthusiasts access and use public lands, as well as at the vehicles used for off-highway recreation. The Draft National Off-Highway Vehicle Strategy is the title of a document assembled by BLM officials, which is purported to "provide recreation opportunity for off-highway vehicles on public lands while protecting environmentally sensitive areas." Although the Draft Strategy makes no changes in land use regulations, the study identifies certain regulations that could be changed in a separate process if the BLM sees a need for expanded regulations.
Adena Cook, Director of the Blue Ribbon Coalition, a non-profit recreation group that encourages the responsible use of public lands, stated, "The BLM has suggested expanding the types of vehicles covered by the Draft Strategy to include new equipment, changing technology, and broadening recreational interests." The strategy will include updated regulations directed at 4x4s and ultra-light aircraft as well as bicycles and roller blades. Cook went on to say "...the Agency (BLM) has recognized that these diverse forms of outdoor enjoyment need both individual attention and integration into recreation management as a whole."
Cook noted that parts of the Draft Strategy could cause off-road enthusiasts problems: "It appears that the BLM's goal of addressing the Endangered Species Act is overly enthusiastic. It proposes that all BLM lands containing proposed or specific species and habitat be either closed to the public or limited in use. Given the number of species that are involved and the thousands of acres of proposed habitats, the Draft Strategy would seem to cover all BLM lands. Impacts to species on public lands should be scientifically established before restrictions are considered."
The silver lining of the Draft Strategy is that the BLM has recognized that the public's access to public lands is often blocked by private land. It is estimated that as much as 20 percent of the current BLM road system has no legal access, and crossing private land is the only means of gaining access to the BLM land. Apparently, the BLM report has made a priority of pursuing legal access to public land that's intermingled with private land.
Now, if we can only keep those pesky roller blade enthusiasts off the Dump Bump at Moab...
ProTrucks Rock SoCal Desert
As Ivan Stewart's Pro Truck Racing Series grows in a frenzy, Ivan was hard at it, marketing the program to would-be truck owners and media, such as OFF-ROAD magazine, near the Mexican Border in Plaster City, California, just before Christmas. The turnout was strong, and the rides were all-out fun. Pro Trucks are one of the most economical forms of off-road racing to get into that have a great payback per race.
By now, all of you must have seen Pro Truck Racing on Speed Vision, and if you haven't, it is a must-see event. Pro Trucks are all equal in design and horsepower. It's a true spec series in closed course or desert racing facilities.
If you're interested in the schedule, we'll keep you posted and will update accordingly. Keep your eyes peeled for race coverage throughout the year. If it's action, we'll be there covering it.
Clifford Performance Aids Victims of Hurricane Keith
Noted inline engine performance parts manufacturer Clifford Performance has joined forces with the Sons of Thunder Expedition Team in an effort to aid the victims of Hurricane Keith, who are isolated within the thick jungles of Mexico and Belize. Driving four specially modified Jeeps built to ford water as deep as 5 feet and trudge through thick mud and quicksand, the crew of eight drivers/navigators will set course for an 18-day trip to remote villages carrying food, medical supplies, and Bibles. Sponsors for this mission of mercy include: American Racing Wheels, Auto Meter, Bilstein, Flowmaster, Fluidyne, Fuel Safe, General Tire, HW Motorsports, Hicks 4x4, J&E Pistons, K&N Engineering, MSD, OffRoad General Store, National Spring, Optima Batteries, PIAA Corporation, Ramsey Winch, RedLine Synthetic Oil, Santa Ana Jeep, TracTech, Trail Master, and Wet Okole.