The perpetuated stigma of how some people perceive our lifestyle and industry is that we are all booze-fueled lazy country folk who take life for granted and contribute little to society. Truth be told, we don't know anybody like that, and those stereotypes couldn't be further from the truth. It is guys like Ian Wenzel out of New Smyrna Beach, Florida, who prove them wrong day in and day out.
Early risers and hardworking Americans are the great majority of the enthusiasts in our pastime and sport. If you're anything like Ian, you have little time for slacking off. This hardcore off-road junky spends the majority of his life traveling the country with his company, Performance Log Finishers, restoring some of the most beautiful log homes in America. This profession has been part of Ian's life for longer than he can remember, but over the last few years his passion for 4x4 trucks and mud has gotten into his blood and now takes up most of his spare time.
Hard Log Life is a term Ian and his crew labeled their off-road crew when they first got into mud. “Work and play hard” is their motto, and their dedication to off-roading is clearly shown in their truck builds. This crew religiously follows Trucks Gone Wild to each and every event—even if their rig can't make it.
This '99 Chevy Silverado 1500 was built at home and in less than five months. After paying off his dependable daily-driven Chevy, Ian chose to keep the truck and turn it into one of the most exciting toys he has ever owned. To accomplish this, the crew fabricated a cradle (subframe) out of 1½-inch Schedule 80 tubing and welded a set of precut Plan B Fab four-link brackets all around. Connecting the 2½-ton axles to the new chassis is a set of 51½-inch link bars up front and 62-inch bars in the rear. Four 18-inch FOA coilovers keep the ride smooth while Ian is boggin' though the deep stuff. Ian had the reliable guys at Plan B Fab build a set of custom 24x12 wheels with 14.9x24 Firestone R2 tires. Heavy Metal Fab in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, came through with an impressive set of driveshafts fitted with 1410 U-joints. An SCS gearbox with a 3:1 gear ratio is bolted to the factory transfer case. A driveline brake kit was added to the new gearbox for a little added stopping power. Earl's Transmission in New Smyrna Beach rebuilt the factory transmission and added a B&M cooler to keep the temperatures in check.
Still utilizing the stock 5.3ci V-8 powerplant, the Hard Log life crew chose to keep the truck as stock as possible since Chevy did such a fine job at the factory. This rig is designed to run for 18 hours a day with no problems while enjoying the A/C or heat when needed. There's absolutely nothing wrong with keeping a body comfortable while racing through the mud. Four-wheeling for fun isn't a combat survival situation! With creature comforts like three separate video screens and DVD players, Ian is proud to take his daughters to the mud park, and they are more than happy to come along. So the next time your wife says you need to spend more time with the family, just remind her that the mud hole is only a few minutes away!
A bunch of friends and family helped Ian realize his newfound passion in life, and we think it would be rude not to thank them all. Included in this prestigious group is Barry Smyrna Hydraulics, Myron's Auto Care, Edgewater Towing, Advanced Auto Parts, Dirty Dave Customs, Migran Custom Auto, Henry's Driveway Shop, Kevin Darby, and Hometown Auto. It is community support like this that continues to help our industry grow, and the stereotypes are fading away with each passing day.
1999 Chevy Silverado 1500
Owner: Ian Wenzel, New Smyrna Beach, Fla.
Engine: Factory original Chevy 5.3ci V-8
Transmission: 4L60E by Earl’s Transmission
Transfer Case: 3:1 ratio SCS gearbox
Suspension: Custom 4-link bars
Axles: 2½-ton military
Shocks: 18-inch FOA coilovers
Tires & Wheels: 14.9x24 Firestone R2 tires on 24x12 Plan B Fab wheels