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October 2009 Limited Articulation

Posted in Features on October 1, 2009
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We just returned from Hollister Hills, where we spent a week hosting Top Truck Challenge XVII amid magnificent oaks (and less-than-magnificent poison oak) in the rolling foothills of central California. We'll have more to say about TTC in next month's issue, but one thing we've noticed is how the concept of "Top Truck" as a grass-roots competition seems to be growing in popularity among enthusiasts nationwide. We know some fellas out in Hawaii, for instance, who have run a popular Top Truck event for several years now (for some reason, we never bothered to trademark the name), and now, it seems, the phenomenon has spread clear across the country.

It all started a few months ago when we received an invitation from some wheelers in Florida who were holding a TTC-style event of their own. Now, when we think of Florida, we think of gators, and the Everglades, and swamp buggies, and, well, mud. We certainly don't think of rockcrawling, or hill climbing, or obstacle-course racing, or any of the other disciplines that make Top Truck such a unique event. The event organizers, though, assured us that their version of Top Truck would prove to be just as varied and challenging as ours-and to prove their point, they invited us to compete. So our own Robin Stover, accompanied by master truck builder Toby Lavender, and our TTC-inspired Nissan Mega Titan, headed cross-country this past spring to see what surprises the folks in Florida had in store for us. As it turned out, the host club had some terrific tricks up their sleeve, and you can read all about them, and about their event, starting on page 34. And yes, they do have rockcrawling in the Sunshine State.

On the subject of Top Trucks, last spring's King of the Hammers race out in Johnson Valley attracted thousands of enthusiasts from all over the country who came to check out what may be the ultimate in short-course desert racing. While we were there, we saw some amazing rigs-and no, not only the competitors' vehicles, but trucks belonging to folks who simply came out to enjoy the race. Our Ken Brubaker was so impressed, he captured a cool quartet of these rigs for an expanded feature section this month, and it starts on page 42.

More on racing: Last year, the legendary Mint 400 returned to Las Vegas after a 20-year hiatus, and it immediately gave the sport of off-road racing a much-needed shot in the arm. This year, the Mint once again returned to Sin City, and we got a chance to ride along for a leg of it: Robin Stover, who certainly gets around, tagged along with the crew of a Stock Full pickup truck for 100 grueling miles of kidney-mashing whoops, and his account of all the fun (if you can call it that) begins on page 50.

Finally, we focus this month on wheels-a basic component which, at first glance, might not seem terribly complex. But on second thought, the subject of wheels brings up all sorts of subtler issues such as load ratings, unsprung weight, backspacing, offset, and even basic alignment that all need to be addressed before we decide to invest in a new set of rims. We suspect a lot of wheelers choose their wheels as much for looks as for function, and while there's nothing inherently wrong with that, we figure that a little bit of knowledge can go a long way when deciding on a set of rims for your truck. So we try to answer as many wheel-related questions as we can starting on page 30.

-Douglas McColloch

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