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November 2006 Top Truck Challenge - Limited Articulation

Posted in Features on November 1, 2006
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As you read this, the Four Wheeler staff is likely out of the office, beating up a bunch of brand-new SUVs on some rocky California trails at our annual Four Wheeler of the Year test, and you can read the results in the February 2007 issue. But for readers of this magazine, November is always the month for Top Truck Challenge.

We've been holding Top Truck since 1993, and by now, we have a kind of love-hate relationship with it. On one hand, we dread the time and planning it takes to make an event like TTC come off without a hitch, and every June, as we load up our vehicles for the flog up the coast to Hollister, we find ourselves muttering, "Oh no, not again, another boring week with the same old trucks in the same stupid obstacles." (Hey, when you've been doing this as long as we have, familiarity breeds a bit of boredom, if not contempt, at times.)

But then, something happens. We pull into Hollister and swing by the campground where the competitors have gathered. We look around the site and behold some of the craziest, wildest, most incredibly built and imaginatively engineered vehicles we've ever seen, and we realize that no, we really haven't seen it all yet, that every TTC is like a brand-new event, and our feelings of excitement and awe return anew.

And of course, along with the vehicles, we get a chance to meet some of the most genuinely great guys and gals at this event-the competitors themselves, and their families. Every Top Truck field has been filled with upstanding individuals, and this year's bunch may have been the most collegial and team-spirited group we've ever had the privilege to host.

Naturally, we can only take a small degree of credit for this since, after all, we don't pick 'em. Thanks to all of you who took the time to participate, a record number of ballots were sent in this year-2,977 to be precise, and with 10 selections on each ballot ... well, yeah, you can figure out that's a lot of votes to be tallied. (Fortunately, we thought ahead this year, and a wage slave was enlisted to crunch the numbers as our beleaguered local postal carrier brought them in by the wheelbarrowful.) As always, though, the final results gave the nod to some predictable finalists, to a few surprising underdogs ... and, this year, to one trailblazing entrant who would be going where no (female) competitor had ever gone before in Hollister Hills.

Finally, we heard from a lot of you last year about our coverage of Top Truck in the magazine-or should we say, the lack of coverage last year. At least that's the consensus we got from most of you, so to keep the natives from getting restless, we've decided to expand our TTC coverage again this year, starting in this issue. This month, we'll take a detailed look at our 10 finalists and an alternate who attended but didn't compete. Next month, we'll cover the event itself.

For now, turn to page 28 and see who you voted in this year. Once you've seen their trucks, checked out their buildups, and read their specs, turn to page 67 and fill out our entry form for TTC 2007-that is, if you think your truck has what it takes to conquer the Mini Rubicon or the Tank Trap. We'll publish the best entrants for your approval in the April issue next year.

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