T'was three years ago when my camera and I went to Rialto Off-Road Raceway in search of a bounteous plunder of dirt and trucks. And plunder we did. While there was a scurvy dog or two, most of the trucks braving the whoops and jumps at ROR were capable creatures. At day's end, I returned to my lair with a cameraful of high-flying images.
During a lull in the action, I spied an intriguing truck trio sitting side by side by side in the afternoon sun. Shawn St. George's long-travel Ford Ranger was flanked by two Toyotas, which were owned and driven by two Kevins. Kevin Mick's hospital-white Extra Cab wasn't a visual standout at the time, but the truck clearly had the performance factor nailed. It simply carved the turns and landed the ROR jumps without a hiccough. Impressive? Absolutely.
Flash forward to '07, and the nondescript, hospital-white 'Yota has now gained a personality that complements its performance level but does not overshadow it. Beneath the monster-size wheel openings of the Giant Motorsports front clip and the metalflaked gloss black paint lies the same real-life off-road hardware that caught my initial attention: an ESB long-travel front end suspended by King coilovers coupled with a long-travel, leaf-sprung rear damped by a pair of King 2.5-inch bypass shocks. Still impressive.
What's next for Kevin and the Black Pearl? A long, treacherous voyage through the deep waters of education. Kevin's put the Pearl in the classified ads, hoping that the sacrifice will net enough cash for a daily driver, tuition, and textbooks. "After I graduate, I'd like to build a Class 8 truck," he reveals. "I'd like something that has a V8. Something with a lot of power."
There's nothing to do but applaud Kevin's decision. We immortalize trucks in our pages, but the underlying reality is that education is forever, while trucks come and go. Meanwhile, keep a weather eye out for the Black Pearl swashbuckling its way through the wide-open desert. The new captain is sure to enjoy the high seas ahead.