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Toyota Tundra - A Trail Tale

Mike Finnegan | Writer
Posted July 1, 2004

Notes From The Dirt

Recently, my monday morning ritual was interrupted as I strolled into my office to find OR's tech editor, Gary Blount, waiting for me. "Go down to the parking garage because someone trashed your truck," he said without warning. Now, you have to know that we joke around at the office quite a bit, so I was in utter disbelief when I walked into the parking garage to find no less than four police cruisers strewn about. Officers were probing every corner of the garage with flashlights, assessing the damage. Several cars had also been broken into, vandalized, and their contents stolen.

It only took a few minutes to realize how screwed up my own ride was. Five of the six BFGs were slashed, apparently because the thieves couldn't get the wheels off my truck. All my CDs were stolen from the cab, my toolboxes had been broken into, and the tools were gone, too. The punks even broke the hood latch and air-conditioning condenser in an effort to get at the engine.

It took a solid week worth of phone calls to my insurance company to get the damage repaired. Unfortunately, the contents of my truck, including my tools, weren't replaced. Ya gotta love insurance deductibles, right?

About the time my truck was back in one driveable piece, it was time to take photos of a really nice red Toyota Tundra built by Donahoe Racing. So off to Barstow I went with Gary, in search of mud, jumps, and clear skies to take pics of this truck.

At best, I'm an amateur off-road driver. I know the basic rules of thumb, but by no means am I going to win any races in my truck. We met Kreg Donahoe and the owner of the other Tundra, a nice guy named Garrett Russo, just off the highway, and spent the next hour exploring the terrain to find a suitable photo location. This particular area is an excellent place to test out your truck's suspension because of the different types of terrain available. We drove through whoops, silt beds, and rocks, and even found some mud that day.

I'd spent quite a few days having fun in my truck in Barstow without incident until that fateful day. Coming around a sweeping corner, I accelerated to approximately 40 mph and aimed my truck at a 1-foot-deep section of whoops. As I hit the third roller, the right-front tire folded over in the wheelwell, and the truck slid to a stop. A cursory inspection of the front suspension revealed my worst nightmare come true. The only stock suspension component left on my Tundra happened to be the spindles, and indeed this was the point of failure.

No big deal, I thought. I'll simply get the tools from the back of the truck. Dammit! I realized that I hadn't replaced the jack, wrenches, air compressor, or tie-downs that had been stolen weeks beforehand.

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