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Off Road Racing Rock Crawlers - Guide

Posted in Features on May 1, 2003 Comment (0)
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Off Road Racing Rock Crawlers - Guide
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Contents
Score Corr Bitd NMRO
Pro Truck
Calendar
JeepSpeed
Rockcrawling
Kincaid's Tacoma
Herbst Trophy Truck
Nelson's Rock Crawler
Off-Road Gear

Welcome To Off-Road Racing 2003
Never in the long and colorful history of off-road motorsports has there been a better time to go out and get dirty. While other major forms of racing in America continue (with the exception of NASCAR) to struggle for survival in the new millennium, in many ways the past several years represents the Golden Age of our sport. From the surge of interest in professional rockcrawling events to record Trophy-Truck fields at this year's Tecate SCORE Baja 1000, off-road racing is alive, well, and looking toward a bright future.

For the staff of 4-Wheel & Off-Road, signs of this dynamic growth are everywhere. There are racing events nearly every weekend, with sanctioning bodies announcing new corporate sponsorships, higher contingency awards, and even national television packages. The guys and gals who make a living in fabrication and parts sales are thriving, and the opportunities to join in on all this fun are more numerous than ever.

What better time to present 4-Wheel & Off-Road's 2003 Off-Road Motorsports Guide. From the highly charged short-course action of Championship Off-Road Racing (CORR) all the way to the spectacle of UROC's World Championship SuperCrawl, we've created this guide to steer you through great racing events all around the country. To get you up to speed, we've also included an up-close look at some of the most awesome machinery in the dirt, including the Herbst Motorsports SCORE championship Trophy Truck, Jon Nelson's revolutionary "Tiny" rockcrawler, the Ford Protruck of Rick Johnson, and Toyota's CORR Pro-Lite Tacoma of Jeff Kincaid.

To make going to events even easier, we've included previews of the major off-road racing series across the country, as well as our Gear Guide to make sure your rig is properly outfitted for racing fun.

While we enjoy reading about our favorite sport or enjoying a great race from the comfort of our living room, the truth is that live is always better. What better way to enjoy America's great outdoors and the fun of off-road adventure than by adding some racing on top of that? So pick an event, load up your truck or SUV, and head out with your family and friends.-Marty Fiolka

Important Class Designations
Trophy Truck: Unlimited
trucks, up to 36
inches of wheel
travel and over
700 hp.
Class 1: Exotic open-
wheel race cars
that often take
the overall win.
Class 7: Unlimited ver-
sions of your
favorite mini-
trucks.
Class 8: Historic truck
class with big
suspensions,
stock frames.
SCORE Lites: Older style open
wheel cars with
1,835 VW
engines. Great
starter class.
Stock Classes: Both Full and
Mini designa-
tions for true
production
classes.

Score International Off-Road RacingWe've got to hand it to Sal Fish and SCORE International. Despite increased competition from other sanctioning bodies and a growing concern over desert usage (yes, even in an ever-growing Baja, Mexico), SCORE International has managed to maintain its status as the premier four-wheel desert racing sanctioning body in North America. In an age where too many desert sanctioning groups are overlapping race weekends and consequently diluting their entry base, SCORE is still the place to compete at the top level of the sport, and the series where participants still can enjoy the buzz that comes from being part of major events that average 150 entries in the U.S. and 225 in Mexico.

Much of this strength comes from Fish's years of experience (see sidebar) and his willingness to mix the sport's most traditional and important events like the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 and Baja 500 with new, more spectator-friendly venues like Laughlin, Primm, and now Henderson, Nevada. Although the race courses may change, the fact that some of SCORE's events are now in their third decade of existence can only serve to bolster the group's heritage and traditions.

For 2003, the SCORE calendar remains similar in content and dates to last year's, with the season once again kicking off at the SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge with its 12-mile course and a two-day racing format. Grandstands, concession booths, pit stop competition, the Laughlin Leap, and the huge SCOREvision infield screen have made this a very popular event. The series next moves to the sunny shores of the Sea of Cortez in San Felipe for the very popular Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250, followed in June by the classic Tecate SCORE Baja 500. The hot desert of Henderson, Nevada, is next for the second running of the Henderson's Terrible 250, followed by a trip to the Nevada border resort at Stateline and the Primm 300.

As always, the year is capped off by the ever-popular SCORE Tecate Baja 1000-still considered by many to be the pinnacle event in off-road motorsports.

All of this will serve as a perfect background for what is shaping up to be one of most competitive seasons yet. The growth of interest in the Trophy Truck division has been nothing short of phenomenal over the past year, with a number of brand-new, $250,000 trucks completed and ready to take on the championship team of Ed Herbst and Herbst Motorsports. Amazingly, the 2002 SCORE Tecate Baja 1000 saw a record number of 22 Trophy Trucks take the green flag, the most ever since the days of manufacturer involvement. The same growth and competition for overall victories is also evident in Class 1 for unlimited open-wheel cars. Here the horsepower race is on, and large numbers of the ultra-trick Class 1 cars will be fighting to take the title from the defending champion team of Mike Julson and Bob Jofton. Happily for SCORE, many of their 17 pro classes will feature the same intense amount of competition and top-level vehicle preparation.

ContactSCORE International23961 Craftsman Rd., Unit ACalabasas, CA 91302818/225-8402818/225-8102www.score-international.com

Important Class Designations
Pro-4: Specially built,
4WD, fullsize
V-8-powered trucks
Pro-2: Specially built,
2WD, fullsize
V-8-powered trucks
Pro-Lite: Specially built, 2WD
mini-trucks

CORR Championship Off-Road Racing
Still one of the best success stories on the off-road racing landscape, Championship Off-Road Racing (CORR) will once again provide Midwest and East Coast race fans great wheel-to-wheel short-course action throughout the summer of 2003. For thousands of enthusiastic fans that attend these events, along with millions more on television, CORR's Lucas Oil Series is as fun as it is addictive.

CORR and President Marty Reid can be credited with keeping the sport, the outgrowth of a series once known as SODA, a truly viable one from a spectator and manufacturer standpoint, still succeeding years after the death of the highly popular Mickey Thompson stadium events of the '80s and early '90s. By combining both Pro and Sportsman categories in one action-packed weekend, CORR appeals to a broad range of participants while ensuring a great show for the thousands of fans that pack the races. These continue to be strong spectator events wherever the series goes.

Fans making their way to one of these races will be treated to some of the best off-road racing action anywhere. Some of the sport's most recognized names will once again duke it out for overall honors in 2003, including the Toyota juggernaut of defending Pro-4 champion John Greaves in his Tundra and Jeff Kincaid in a Pro-Lite championship Tacoma.

Ford's Scott Taylor will look to win his fifth consecutive Pro-2 title in 2003, but will have to outlast a tough field that's expected to include Evan Evans in a Chevrolet. Greaves might have the toughest task of all in Pro-4 as he tries to compete against the likes of Rob McCachren, Carl Renezeder, Curt LeDuc, and Scott Douglas.

Once again, television in 2003 will be a big part of the overall series recipe for success (see Trail Notes), as will a revised schedule of events. While the two Crandon races are as good as off-road racing gets (especially the Labor Day version), other venues in Wisconsin, New York, and Michigan will spread the CORR love around to a wide variety of fans.

Whether live or on television, be sure to catch CORR off-road racing this season. Trust us, if you live anywhere close to one of these great outdoor venues, you'll be glad you made the trip.

Contact
CORR (Championship
Off-Road Racing)
192 N. State Rd. 267, Ste. 350
Avon, IN 46123
317/272-2827
317/272-2900 (fax)
www.corracing.com

Trail Notes
Once again in 2003, CORR Lucas Oil Series fans will enjoy hours of television coverage on Speed Channel as the sanctioning body is in its second year of a three-year contract. It is expected that the Pro division will enjoy 48 hours of coverage, while the Sportsman ranks will be seen in 36 hours of television beamed to more than 55 million homes. For 2003, it is expected that $1.5 million in sponsorship and contingency awards will up for grabs to the CORR series competitors.

Important Class Designations
Trick Truck: Unlimited trucks,
up to 36 inches of
wheel travel and
over 700 hp
Protruck: Ivan Stewart's
growing class for
identical, high-
performance two-
wheel-drive trucks.
Class 1500: Unlimited open-
wheel race cars

Best In The Desert
For Best In The Desert (BITD) founder Casey Folks, the 2003 desert racing season will reflect both lessons learned after several years of refining his relatively new desert series, and a recently announced media package intended to help push the sport into the future.

While still strongly popular with the two-wheel motorcycle crowd thanks to special motorcycle events, Best In The Desert has made encouraging progress in attracting larger four-wheel entries to their unique and always well organized races. The basis of this strength has been in the Nevada desert, which in 2003 will see the Terrible's Town 250 in April, the Las Vegas 200 in December, and the longest continuous point-to-point race in America-the Tube Specialties Company "Vegas to Reno" event in June. More significantly, the year is set to begin in February with BITD's return of professional desert racing to legendary Parker, Arizona, at the series' inaugural Blue Water Resort and Casino Parker 425. Finally, Folks has resolved to return to Baja for his second annual Baja Mex in August, an event which saw a limited four-wheel entry but promising potential in 2002.

All of this action is truly hard-core desert racing of the best kind, with a majority of races taking on the roughest, rockiest, and remotest terrain that Casey and company can find. More importantly, the series' commitment to limited chase-crew access and prerunning not only opens up more great areas to race in, but also makes "chasing" the event from pit-to-pit easy and fun for spectators.

Expect large fields at special Best In The Desert events, especially the welcome return to Parker and the challenging run from Las Vegas to Reno. Most of the sport's best drivers will be on hand for these races, including the Herbst Motorsports gang from Las Vegas, the two-time BITD Trick Truck champion Damen Jefferies in the beautiful Herman Motorsports/K&N Filters Ford F-150, and the factory Kia of Darren Skilton. You can expect a strong showing from the Protrucks ranks, as well as the giant Hummers of off-road legend and 2002 stock full-size class champion Rod Hall. Not to be outdone, big groups of unlimited and limited open-wheel cars will also add spice to the races, including defending Class 1 class winner Gary Weyrich and the BFGoodrich/ Toyota-powered team of former Indy 500 drivers Mike and Robbie Groff.

Can't make it to one of these races? Not to worry. After several years of trying, Casey Folks has recently announced a comprehensive television package intended to bring the dust and fury of his desert events right into your living room (see Trail Notes).

"While last season was a very good one for Best In the Desert, 2003 has shaped up to be our best since we began organizing events in 1993," explained Folks. "There is a huge buzz about both Parker and the return of the Las Vegas to Reno format, not to mention our new relationship with The Outdoor Channel. This is going to be very good year in the desert."

Like the rest of the sport, the future looks good for the hard-working Folks and his staff at Best In The Desert. It looks like all of them are taking their company's simple corporate motto to heart-"Life Is an Adventure."

Contact
Best In The Desert
3475-C Boulder Hwy.
Las Vegas, NV 89121
702/457-5775
702/641-2431
www.bitd.com

Trail Notes
At the beginning of 2003, Casey Folks announced a much-needed return of television to the desert thanks to The Outdoor Channel and its Speedzone motorsports show. Self-produced by Best In The Desert and an outside video firm, the new shows have the potential to reach 20 million homes. In order to assist in the high costs of these productions, racers and their sponsors have the opportunity to support a wide variety of onboard cameras, in-show commercials, and specially produced segments.

Important Class Designations Sportsman ClassesClass 1: Stock Mini Trucks. For all mini-trucks and Jeeps with stock 4/6-cylinder engines.

Class 1b: Stock Full Size Trucks. For all fullsize trucks with stock 8/10-cylinder engines.

Class 2: Modified Stock. For all fullsize trucks with stock 8/10-cylinder engines, which must pull 15 inches of vacuum at 800 rpm.

Pro Series Classes
Class 3: Super Stock. Body: Stock-appearing truck or Jeep, steel, or fiberglass. Engine: Naturally aspirated, single four-barrel carb. Fuel: gasoline/diesel only. Tires: DOT-approved, no cut tires, 45 inches max. height.

Class 4: Modified. Body: Any body, chassis, 140 inches max. wheelbase. Factory or tube frame allowed. Engine: Naturally aspirated. Fuel: alcohol and nitrous oxide allowed. Tires: DOT-approved, cut tires allowed, 45 inches max. height.

Class 5: Unlimited/Cut Tires. Body: Any body, chassis, 150 inches max. wheelbase. Factory or tube frame allowed. Engine: Turbocharged or supercharged. Fuel: alcohol and nitrous oxide allowed. Tires: DOT-approved, cut tires allowed, 45 inches max. height, 18 inches max. width.

Class 6: Unlimited/Paddle Tires. Body: Any body, chassis, 150 inches max. wheelbase. Factory or tube frame allowed. Engine: Turbocharged or supercharged Fuel: alcohol and nitrous oxide allowed. Tires: Paddle or scoop allowed, 45 inches max. height, 18 inches max. width.

NMRO National Mud Racing OrganizationThe National Mud Racing Organization (NMRO) sanctions two distinct types of racing-straight-line mud drag racing and Tough Trucks racing.

The NMRO Championship Mud Drags are contested using a single-pass format, with no eliminations and the lowest e.t. wins. The side-by-side lanes range from 140 to 200 feet long. Races are started using a drag racing pro style "Christmas tree." All events use electronic timing. Basic drag race rules apply.

There are six classes of NMRO Mud Drags (see Class Designations) split into Sportsman and Pro Series classes. Classes 1-2 are for sportsman competitors using road-ready or daily driver trucks. There are no points awarded and competitors run for trophies.

The NMRO Tough Trucks are split into two divisions. Stock, whose trucks run for trophies on a single-pass format, is designed for the daily drivers and they must run helmets and some basic safety items.

Modified Tough Trucks are purpose-built four-wheel-drive race vehicles. They must maintain a stock body appearance and are allowed basic engine modifications. They have naturally aspirated engines that use gasoline or diesel for fuel. Modified Tough Trucks run qualification rounds. The top 16 qualifiers are set into a bracket, and this class runs side-by-side, with the number-one qualifier racing against the number 16 qualifier. The winners advance; the losers prepare for the next event.

NMRO is a member of the SFI Foundation, a non-profit organization established to issue and administer standards for specialty/performance automotive and racing equipment.

Contact:NMRO (National Mud Racing Organization)804 N. Delaware St.Indianapolis, IN 46204317/236-6515www.familyevents.com

ProtruckTo understand the concept behind Ivan "Ironman" Stewart's Protruck series, look no further than the formula used to propel NASCAR's Winston Cup to the highest levels of American motorsports and spectator interest. Like modern stock car racing, the Protruck idea is based on a stable set of rules, identical chassis, carefully managed competition, and strong manufacturer identity since its inception in 1997.

Ivan and Linda Stewart have taken several important steps to insure the future success of their series, now in its sixth year of organized competition. While it's safe to say that the initial flurry of Protruck sales have slowed a bit, the interest from competitors and race fans grows with each passing race.

The big news for racers and enthusiasts alike for 2003 is a national television package that focuses entirely on the Protruck series. After several years of trying, the Stewarts have managed to put together a total of 40 hours of action-packed television for Protruck, including eight, one-hour shows on Outdoor Life Network (OLN), a growing cable entity that now reaches over 53 million American homes. In addition, ESPN International will broadcast the always entertaining Guam event to a huge potential worldwide audience.

This is welcome news to Protruck teams and manufacturers alike, with both Ford and Toyota now adding to a Contingency awards program that has topped $120,000 in cash and products. Along with Goodyear as its official tire, Protruck also receives corporate support from an A-list group of suppliers including American Racing Wheels, VP fuels, MSD Ignition, Bilstein shocks, AFE filters, and Wells Cargo.

The 2003 Protruck season will include all of the SCORE and Best in the Desert events, along with an appearance at Crandon in August, Guam in April, and a possible October race in Phoenix. All of this excitement should add up to one of the best Protruck seasons ever, as competitors try their best to take over the top spot from two-time series champ Steve Barlow and his familiar Red Bull-sponsored Ford.

Just like in his days of racing Toyota's factory trucks, it looks like hard work and perseverance will once again be paying off for the guy known throughout the off-road world simply as Ironman.

Contact
Protruck Racing Organization
14402 Bond Ct.
El Cajon, CA 92021
619/390-6252
619/390-6470 (fax)
www.protruck.com

2003 Off-Road Motorsports Calendar

JANUARY
Jan. 3-5 CalROCS, Johnson Valley, CA
Jan. 16 -19 SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge, Laughlin, NV
Jan. 31-Feb. 2 CalROCS, Victorville, CA
FEBRUARY
Feb. 1 JeepSpeed/MDR Wild Wash 250, Barstow, CA
Feb. 7-9 BITD Parker 425, Parker, AZ
Feb. 13-15 UROC, St. George, UT
MARCH
Mar. 7-8 NARRCA, Phoenix, AZ
Mar. 8-9 ProROCK, California
Mar. 14-15 SCORE San Felipe 250, San Felipe, Baja
APRIL
Apr. 3 JeepSpeed/MDR Mojave 250, Barstow, CA
Apr. 3-5 UROC, Farmington, NM
Apr. 4-6 NARRCA, Mason, TX
Apr. 5 JeepSpeed/MDR Mojave 250, Barstow, CA
Apr. 10-12 RCAA, Reno, NV
Apr. 17-20 PRO Guam, Guam
Apr. 25-27 ERoCC, Jellico, TN
Apr. 25-27 BITD Terrible's Town 250, Pahrump, NV
Apr. 26-27 ERoCC, Jellico, TN
Apr. 26-27 ProROCK, Utah

MAY
May 2-4 CalROCS, {{{Reno}}}, NV
May 3-4 NMRO, Springfield, MO
May 15-17 UROC, Cedar City, UT
May 16-18 NARRCA, {{{Durango}}}, CO
May 16-18 NMRO, Lima, OH
May 22-24 RCAA, Moab
May 24-26 CORR, Lucas Oil Series, Dresser, WI
May 30-June 1 Tecate SCORE {{{Baja}}} 500, Ensenada, Baja
  (also: JeepSpeed Pro Invitational)
JUNE
June 7-8 CORR, Antigo, WI
June 7-8 ProROCK, New Mexico
June 13-15 NARRCA, Goldendale, WA
June 21-22 CORR, Crandon, WI
June 26-29 BITD Tube Specialties Vegas to Reno,
  Las Vegas, NV
June 28-29 ERoCC, Jellico, TN
JULY
July 10-12 RCAA, Cedar City, UT
July 10-13 SCORE Henderson's Terrible 250, Henderson, NV
July 11-13 NMRO, Bloomsburg, PA
July 12-13 CORR, Bark River, MI
July 17-19 UROC Series Finals, Farmington, NM
July 18-20 NARRCA, Flagstaff, AZ
July 26-27 ERoCC, Attica, IN
July 26-27 NMRO, Canfield, OH
July 26-27 ProROCK, {{{Colorado}}}
AUGUST
Aug. 2-3 NMRO, Essex Junction, VT
Aug. 9 JeepSpeed/MDR California {{{200}}}, {{{Lucerne}}}, CA
Aug. 9-10 NMRO, {{{Lincoln}}}, NE
Aug. 9-10 CORR, Bark River, MI
Aug. 15-17 CalROCS, Truckee, CA
Aug. 16-17 ERoCC, Jellico, TN
Aug. 22-24 BITD Baja Mex {{{300}}}, Ensenada, Baja
Aug. 22-24 NARRCA, Mason, TX
Aug. 30-31 CORR (also PRO), Crandon, WI
SEPTEMBER
Sept. 12-14 NARRCA, Spokane, WA
Sept. 12-14 SCORE Primm {{{300}}}, Stateline, NV
Sept. 13-14 CORR, New Berlin, NY
Sept. 13-14 ProROCK, Nevada
Sept. 19-21 CalROCS, Johnson Valley, CA
Sept. 19-21 NMRO, Indianapolis
Sept. 24-27 UROC SuperCrawl, TBA
Sept. 27 Jeepspeed/MDR, {{{Lucerne}}} 300, Lucerne, CA
OCTOBER
Oct. 4-11 RCAA Series Finals, Farmington, NM
Oct. 5-6 NARRCA, Farmington, NM  
Oct. 11-12 PRO Phoenix, Phoenix, AZ
NOVEMBER
Nov. 13-16 Tecate SCORE {{{Baja}}} 1000, Ensenada, Baja
Nov. 22 JeepSpeed/MDR, Stoddard 250, Barstow, CA
December
Dec. 5-7 BITD Las Vegas {{{200}}}, Las Vegas, NV

American Racing JeepSpeed ChallengeIn today's ultrasophisticated off-road racing environment, the cliche expression "speed costs money" is considered the rule rather than the exception. But, happily for die-hard desert enthusiasts, there are those exceptions.

Now entering its third year of competition, the American Racing JeepSpeed Challenge has proven that adhering to a strictly regulated competition and truly lowering the cost of participating can have a very positive upside. Created in 2000 by veteran Baja racer and former Jeep dealer Clive Skilton, the JeepSpeed idea was to "create a Jeep off-road competition club for safe, affordable, and reliable Cherokee XJ models, with rules of vehicle specifications designed to create equality and durability, while keeping the cost to a minimum." Trust us, that is easier said than done, but Skilton's original brainchild seems to be working out perfectly for those who want to race on a lower budget.

Any street-legal Jeep Cherokee XJ model produced from 1984 to 2002 is a candidate for the series, including two- or four-door and two- or four-wheel drive. For 2003, JeepSpeed competition has been separated into both Pro and Sportsman categories, with the latter confined to Jeeps using completely stock powertrains and rearends, non-external bypass shocks, and BFGoodrich street-approved Mud-Terrain T/A tires. Unlike desert racing's "stock" classes, which can become surprisingly pricey and complex due to producing items that can withstand the abuse of the desert, the JeepSpeed suspension and performance modifications are enough to provide impressive levels of both durability and performance. "Even after years of desert racing, all of us involved in the JeepSpeed program are still surprised at the average speed we are seeing at our events," explained Skilton.

Interested in building a JeepSpeed vehicle? The process is simplified via a list of approved vendors and the support of such companies as American Racing Wheels, BFGoodrich, Valvoline, Skyjacker, and Currie Enterprises. Skilton estimates that the cost of Pro modifications runs around $15,000 (plus the cost of the vehicle), with the Sportsman version around $5,000 less. Considering that used Cherokees can be had for as little as $2,500 in today's market, the entire proposition begins to look very enticing.

In fact, the series has already issued around 30 Pro and 16 Sportsman numbers for 2003, and a new JeepSpeed East organization is forming to bring the concept to a group whose off-road motorsports park is located in Pennsylvania. Once again, the JeepSpeed series will run primarily at the lower cost Mojave Desert Racing (MDR) series of events, with an invitational run at the SCORE Tecate Baja 500.

As icing on this off-road cake, there is even a $20,000 prize and contingency package.

Contact
American Racing JeepSpeed Challenge
1826 N. Windes Dr.
Orange, CA 92869
714/538-7434
714/633-1724
www.jeepspeed.com

Rockcrawling RCAA, Prorock, UROC, Calrocs, And EroccIn surfing terms, it is known simply as "riding a wave." In movie lingo, producers refer to a film "having legs." No matter the language, it is the one intangible force that can make or break a project, a career, or an entire industry.

The "it" is momentum. As we approach the 2003 racing season, perhaps no other form of the sport has as much of that valued momentum as rockcrawling. A relatively unknown entity just a few short years ago, crawling is now experiencing a surge of interest and events the off-road crowd hasn't seen in decades.

Consider the alphabet soup of crawling associations. There's UROC, CalROCS, CRCA, NARRCA, ERoCC, NEUROC, ProROCK, and the RCAA that used to be ARCA. The sheer number of groups proves that there's enough interest and potential long-term profit to make sanctioning a series and holding events too attractive to pass up. Of course, it's likely that the evolution of the sport and land use issues will eventually result in consolidation and the emergence of one or two major professional series, but right now it's a wide-open market. Many off-roading veterans liken today's crawling scene to the early years of desert racing in the '70s. It is still a little primitive, still very pure, and decidedly on track for a long-term future.

As the sport and its fan base and participant base grow, so too do corporate influence, resources, and money. Companies such as Goodyear and Skyjacker were on the scene early with their continuing association with ARCA (ah, let's make that RCAA), and signs of other major involvements are starting to spring up everywhere. Last season saw the highly successful entry of BFGoodrich and the new Krawler tires to the scene, while rumors of factory-assisted programs and new vehicle sponsors continue to swirl around our offices at press time.

The vehicles themselves are rapidly evolving as well. One close look at Jon Nelson's radical "Tiny" crawler featured elsewhere in this issue only confirms what lies ahead. Not that everyone will be running air-cooled engines, but certainly good-old Yankee ingenuity will come up with new equipment that will make today's vehicles look like old Model Ts. Tires, chassis, engines, and drivetrains will only get better with time, and the organizing bodies will have to work hard to keep the courses in line with the new technology.

Happily for all involved, many of the groups are now separating the vehicles into more-specific categories such as "production" and "modified." Not only will this allow those with the money and interest to showcase the most radical of machinery, but it will also keep the grassroots enthusiasts involved.

Rock Crawlers Association Of America (RCAA)Formerly known as ARCA, RCAA will continue to produce its popular Goodyear/ Skyjacker Extreme Rock Crawling National Series. RCAA president Ranch Pratt continues to push the sport in terms of professionalism and profitability, with more than $380,000 in contingency, awards, and prizes available to contestants last season. This season, Pratt will divide his series into two classes, Modified Stock for OEM-based vehicles and Super Modified for "exotic buggies and highly modified stock vehicles." Great events and solid media coverage for RCAA have resulted in crowds that can top 20,000.

Contact
RCAA (Rock Crawlers Association of America)
P.O. Box 1406
Riverton, UT 84065
801/288-2574
www.rockcrawler.org

Professional Rockcrawlers Organization (Prorock)With roots that stretch back to crawling's first organized events, Bob Hazel at ProROCK has been there from the beginning. Operated by the off-road and 4x4 enthusiasts at Sports in the Rough!, the 2003 Superlift ProROCK National Championship Series is comprised of five dates in five different states. Thanks to the support of Superlift, BFGoodrich, and others, ProROCK contestants can earn more than $100,000 in series championship money and additional cash and contingency awards. Groups are separated into the no-holds-barred Trophy class and, for more mild street-legal machinery, the Modified Stock class.

Contact
ProROCK (Professional Rockcrawlers Organization)
P.O. Box 717
Ketchum, OK 74349
866/GO-PROROCK
www.sportsintherough.com

United Rock-crawling Off-Road Challenge (UROC)Thanks to solid venues, an increased contingency program, and the return of last year's hottest event, UROC is-pardon the expression-on a roll. Led by President Craig Stumph, the organization has series events in its home state of Utah and two in nearby New Mexico. UROC now has a strong contingency presence that includes BFGoodrich and will continue its work on land use and pubic land issues. Best of all, the group will once again organize the World Championship Super Crawl in September. Last season's inaugural Super Crawl was a huge success and hailed as the largest crawling event ever held.

Contact
UROC (United Rockcrawling Off-Road Challenge)
648 E. Bristlecone Ln.
Delta, UT 84624
435/864-2415
www.uroc4x4.com

California Rockcrawling & Off-Road Championship Series (CalROCS)
No doubt about it, Rick Klein at CalROCS is working hard to be a strong force in the sport's future. In 2003, the group is expanding its influence by becoming a member of the RCAA sanctioning body and is now responsible for America's western and mountain regions. Not content to have one series to run, CalROCS also has the North American Rock Crawlers Association, known as NARRCA by CalROCS, under its expanding umbrella. Beyond that, the CalROCS effort has also grown to include co-promotion of Northern California's venerable VORRA off-road and desert racing series.

Contact
CalROCS (California Rockcrawling & Off-Road Championship Series)
920 Hillcrest St.
Placerville, CA 95667
530/622-0370
www.calrocs.com

Eastern Rock Crawling Championship (ERoCC)Billed as the first and largest rockcrawling series held exclusively east of the Mississippi, ERoCC is helping expand the sport to new audiences. Founded under the Trail Keepers Foundation by Tim Rettig, this group is well organized and is home to 2002 SuperCrawl champion Ken Shupe. It is based in Ohio, but holds most of its 2003 events on the challenging rocks of Jellico, Tennessee. Be sure to keep your eye on ERoCC and its very bright future.

Contact
ERoCC (Eastern Rock Crawling Championship)
4743 Cornell Rd.
Cincinnati, OH
513/469-2412
www.erocc.com

GENERAL
Vehicle: Tiny rockcrawler
Owner: Jon Nelson, Hemet, CA
Driver: Jon Bundrant
Estimate Value: $60,000
ENGINE
Type: FAT Performance
{{{Volkswagen}}} Type IV
Displacement (cc): 3,000
Intake: Motec electronic fuel
injection, FAT manifold
Power (hp): 170
Torque (lb-ft): {{{240}}} @ 2,500 rpm
DRIVETRAIN
Transmission: Two-speed
Powerglide, Atlas transfer case
Rearend: {{{Ford}}} 9-inch modified
by John Nelson
FRAME/BODY
Chassis: Custom made Tiny
chassis by Jon Nelson
chrome-moly tube
Body: Aluminum and
clear plexiglass
SUSPENSION
Front: Sway-A-Way coilover
shocks with Eibach springs
Rear: Sway-A-Way coilover
shocks with Eibach springs
Tires: 37x12.50x17
BFGoodrich Krawler KR
DIMENSIONS
Weight (lbs.): 2,500
Wheelbase (in.): {{{100}}}
Track width (in.): 77
Top speed (mph): 55

Jon Nelson's "Tiny" Rock CrawlerThroughout its colorful 101-year history, one constant to the world of motorsports has been change. Be it on pavement or dirt, evolution is simply a way of life. Although relatively new compared to other forms of the sport, rockcrawling has already come a long way in terms of refinement; and no vehicle built yet is a better example of this than Tiny, the newest creation from Jon Nelson.

For those of you not familiar with Jon Nelson, this Hemet, California-based off-roader was the force behind several successful factory Chevrolet desert and stadium racing teams in the late '80s and early '90s. Now "retired" from high-stress and high-cost desert racing, Nelson built this in 2002 to both exercise his engineering creativity and to explore a new hobby.

From its radical asymmetrical chassis to its four cylinder air-cooled engine, Tiny flies in the face of conventional rockcrawling wisdom. Taking a history lesson from off-roading's scrapbook, Nelson's newest creation reflects an emphasis on power to weight, and built his crawler to be as light as possible. A huge 3,000cc, fuel-injected Volkswagen Type IV (the same engine used in Porsche 914s) is mounted right in the center of the car, as is the driver. According to Nelson, this optimizes the vehicle's center of gravity while simplifying the entire package. No water, no radiator, and no "extra" cylinders to worry about. In fact, he estimates that Tiny is a least 700 pounds lighter than the competition.

First introduced at the 2002 Supercrawl, Nelson's machine is helping refine the sport's immediate and long-term future. Much to the chagrin of some purists, Tiny has already won the first CalROCS and SRCA events of 2003 thanks to the driving skill of Jon Bundrant and the newest BFGoodrich Krawler rubber.

Looks like a 2003 version of David slaying Goliath.

GENERAL
Vehicle: {{{Toyota Tacoma}}}
Owner: Kincaid Motorsports,
Crandon, WI
Driver: Jeff Kincaid
Estimate Value: $75,000
ENGINE
Engine: {{{Toyota}}} 3RZ four-
cylinder by TRD
Displacement (cc): 2,500
Intake: Weber 48mm,
side-draft carburetor
Power (hp): {{{300}}}
Torque (lb-ft): 220 @ 7,000 rpm
DRIVETRAIN
Transmission: Five-speed by
G-Force
Rearend: Dana 60 with 7:17 gears
FRAME/BODY
Chassis: CORR Pro-Lite chassis
by Kincaid Motorsports
Body: Fiberglass Toyota {{{Tacoma}}}
SUSPENSION
Front: Double A-arm with
Sway-A-Way coilover shocks,
12 inches of wheel travel
Rear: Four-link, live axle with
Sway-A-Way coilover shocks,
14 inches of wheel travel
Tires: 32x11.50x15
BFGoodrich Mud Terrain
DIMENSIONS
Weight (lbs.): 2,800
Wheelbase (in.): 106
Track width (in.): 73
Top speed (mph): 110

Jeff Kincaid's CORR Toyota TacomaNow established as one of the most prolific short course racers in history, Jeff Kincaid literally grew up within a long stone's throw from the legendary dirt stadium at Crandon, Wisconsin. He began his winning career with his first truck in 1989, a legacy that continued strongly in the 2003 Championship Off-Road Racing (CORR) season-thanks in large measure to this beautifully turned-out Forest County Potawatomi Toyota Tacoma.

In stark contrast to the massive wheelbase and overall presence of an all-out desert warrior like the Herbst Motorsports Trophy Truck, Kincaid's CORR Toyota Tacoma is short and compact, with a footprint 18 inches shorter and track width 20 inches narrower than the big red Ford. Built for the tight, twisting short-course events that are unique to the CORR series, the Tacoma is as precise in its design and packaging as a fine Swiss watch.

The truck's high-revving, four-cylinder engine features all the latest tricks that the engine wizards at Toyota Racing Development (TRD) can throw at it and is mounted nearly in the driver's lap to maximize weight distribution. The cockpit is cocoonlike, wrapping Kincaid with a special aluminum panel that houses a myriad of gauges and encloses the Toyota's cooling and oiling system.

Kincaid's recipe for success must be working. Teamed with CORR veteran Johnny Greaves in the Forest Country Potawatomi Toyota Tundra, the two-time Pro-Lite champion scored his third consecutive title in 2002, winning five victories and posting his 23rd victory in the ultra-competitive division. Proving that success breeds success, Greaves gave Toyota the coveted Pro-4 championship, with the duo making history by becoming the first team in CORR history to win two pro titles in the same year.

For Kincaid, whose racing operation is still located near Crandon, the dream of being a professional off-road racer is alive and well. This championship-winning Toyota Tacoma is a perfect example of destiny colliding with resources and preparation.

GENERAL
Vehicle: {{{Ford F-150}}}
Owner: Herbst Motorsports,
Las Vegas, NV
Driver: Ed Herbst
Estimate Value: $375,000
ENGINE
Engine: {{{Ford}}} V-8 by
Shaver Specialties
Displacement (ci): 495
Intake: Electronic fuel
injection by EFI
Power (hp): 800
Torque (lb-ft): 655 @ 5,800 rpm
DRIVETRAIN
Transmission: Weismann
six-speed, sequential
Rearend: Custom live axle
by Chrisman
FRAME/BODY
Chassis: Chrome-moly tube
frame by Mike Smith/
Herbst Motorsports
Body: Carbon-fiber Ford {{{F-150}}}
SUSPENSION
Front: Custom independent
double A-arm, 22-inch travel,
custom shocks by Mike Smith
Rear: Four-link with live axle,
30-inch wheel travel,
custom shocks by Mike Smith
Tires: 37x12.5x17
BFGoodrich {{{Baja}}} T/A
DIMENSIONS
Weight (lbs.): 5,{{{900}}}
Wheelbase (in.): 124
Track width (in.): 92
Top speed (mph): 135

Herbst Motorsports Ford Trophy TruckBehold Off-road Racing Nirvana. Possessing mechanical engineering proven over years of development and the newest in whiz-bang technology, the Herbst Motorsports Trophy Truck is both state-of the-art and a crystal ball to the sport's possible future. Hardly a work in progress, despite the on-going development of Herbst crew chief Mike Smith and the always-enthusiastic Herbst Motorsports crew, this wholly unique Ford F-150 delivered veteran driver Ed Herbst to the 2002 SCORE Trophy Truck championship.

One look under the truck's specially constructed carbon-fiber and fiberglass body quickly destroys any myth that off-road racing is a low-tech sport. Look beyond the fire-breathing 495ci big-block toward the advanced all-wheel-drive system incorporating a Chrisman differential that propels the front BFGoodrich tires via aircraft-quality axles and ultra-trick CV joints. Unlike rally-car drive systems that have limited wheel travel, figuring out how to get 22 inches of vertical movement, plus driving 800 hp while steering 37-inch-tall tires, is no easy task.

Buried in the chassis-but by no means less impressive-is a transmission that's light years ahead of anything in motorsports short of Formula 1. Built by Weismann, the six-speed transmission is sequentially air-shifted with the help of electronic controls. Driver Ed Herbst can look down at a digital display to see what gear he is in, while the system will automatically blip the throttle on downshifts to smooth out the many speed/terrain transitions that occur in the desert. Simply awesome.

Now considered the benchmark in terms of preparation, testing, and race performance, the Herbst family and their impressive armada of "Herbst Red" support vehicles and team members are the envy of everyone in the desert racing community. The Herbst brothers and Mike Smith's crew are also highly respected for their unyielding commitment to both the sport itself and to winning. All anyone needs to do is take a long look at this championship-winning Ford F-150.

Painted, of course, in a specially mixed paint known simply as Herbst Red.

Like skiing or golf, having just the right gear can make or break your next off-road adventure. New products are introduced into the off-road market nearly every day, and we've scoped out some of the coolest recent introductions that are the real deal. Inferior quality will always rear its ugly head, usually in the worst spot possible. One hint-it doesn't matter if you're racing a truck or a spectator at a big time event-our advice is to buy the best and cry once!

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