Dan Gable is a quiet guy from Coweta, Oklahoma, who lets his driving do all the talking. He pulled down back-to-back wins at the first two 2001 Ramsey National Off Road Challenge events in Cass, Arkansas, and Hazleton, Pennsylvania, and he slid into Stage 3, the finals, with his heavily modified '78 Toyota Land Cruiser tuned to perfection in anticipation of another win.
The final stage of the Ramsey National Off Road Challenge Series was held at the Badlands Off Road Park in Attica, Indiana, and it was arguably the most brutal stage of the series, subjecting the teams to the most evil off-road challenges. The Badlands encompasses more than 1,000 acres, and the normally brutal terrain was made even more grueling as Badlands owner Troy Myers worked closely with event promoter Bob Hazel of Sports-In-The-Rough to incorporate as many varied obstacles as possible.
As with all of the events in the series, the teams (defined as driver and navigator) and their trucks were subjected to a barrage of tests, including a vehicle-engineering inspection and a variety of hands-on driving tests that pushed the vehicles and teams to their limits and tested each discipline of 'wheeling. So how does the competition work? Simple. Points are awarded to each team for successfully completing a challenge, and these points are added to the teams' ongoing points total. The first two days of competition are open to all competitors, while on the third day, the Top 10 points-getters do battle against each other and the obstacles in a fight to the finish.
The team that has accrued the most points at the end of the event wins a variety of cash and prizes (not to mention some illustrious bragging rights). Additionally, the points accumulated at each event are added to a season-long points total, and at the end of the season, the team with the most points is crowned the Series Champion and is awarded even more cash and prizes. The bottom line is that the competition is designed to reward both season-long participants as well as participants who choose to attend one or two events in the series.
The Indiana competition got underway bright and early each morning and continued until late in the afternoon. It may seem hard to believe that folks would actually pay cash to work their minds, bodies, and trucks this way, but there is no shortage of challengers for this type of event. These are the guys who don't just talk about going to the great outdoors to go 'wheeling, they actually do it. Additionally, many of these competitors drove from points all over the United States to be a part of the action.
The schedule of events included driving challenges on some of the worst terrain that Indiana has to offer, including deep water, soft sand, slippery mud, and unforgiving rocks. Many of the events were slow-speed, thinking-type events, but there were also a fair number of high-speed events that tested the drivers' quick-thinking skills. As you can imagine, this type of competition is hard on vehicle components, and the Indiana event lost competitors on a daily basis because of irreparable damage. The carnage wasn't too bad, though. Only four trucks had to bail out of competition on day two of the Challenge, and this illustrates the impressive quality of the participating trucks.
The Top 10 points-getters of day one and day two were invited back for Sunday's competition, where they were subjected to the most brutal of challenges, including a deep (and lengthy) mud course and an absolutely gnarly obstacle course. It was here that the quiet Dan Gable solidified his points lead for the event, and his excellent driving earned him a win in the Indiana competition and the top spot for the Ramsey National Off Road Challenge. The Ramsey National Off Road Challenge will return again in 2002 with a full schedule of nationwide events, and they will undoubtedly offer some of the finest off-road competition around. Whether you choose to participate in all of them, or just selected events, it's guaranteed that you'll be challenged to the max.