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September 2010 Drivelines

Posted in Features on September 1, 2010
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The $2 Jeep
You read that right. Our friends at the California Association of 4 Wheel Drive Clubs are once again raffling a well-modified Jeep. This hopped-up Wrangler Rubicon could be yours for just the two-buck cost of a raffle ticket. Among the parts you'll find on this sweepstakes Jeep are a TeraFlex short-arm lift kit, BFGoodrich Mud-Terrains on ProComp wheels, a Warn winch, a Hi-Lift jack, a Bestop bikini top, Poison Spyder body armor, PIAA lights, and much, much more. The association is taking the Jeep to several West Coast events this summer, and you can register when you see it or log on to to buy your tickets. The raffle runs through February 2011.

Racing's Past returns to Baja
After a 35-year absence from the wilds of Baja, the Bill Stroppe-built Ford Bronco driven by Chris Wilson and Glen Straightiff crossed the finish line of the NORRA Mexican 1000 Rally in La Paz, Mexico, in First Place in Production Class 5C. The NORRA Mexican 1000 was not your typical Baja race. It was a rally with 746 miles of flat-out racing stages joined by more than 300 miles of transit sections. Most of the vehicles entered in the rally were historic Baja racing vehicles-like the abovementioned Bronco-and many were driven by such Baja racing legends as Parnelli Jones, Rod Hall, Walker Evans, and Malcolm Smith.

Wilson and Straightiff drove a total of 1,107 miles in three days, including 50 miles on the third day after getting lost. Unlike most other competitors, they did the entire route wearing open-face helmets and without GPS or race radios, relying on their Baja savvy and intuition to know the correct route. When told about the extra miles, Parnelli Jones laughed and said, "Hell, we got lost all the time down here in the old days!"

The team's vehicle prep was exemplary, as the Bronco required nothing more than a fuel pump change on the first day. Other than losing a few bolts and a grille screen, the truck performed without any problems, consuming half a quart of oil in 1,000 miles and reaching speeds as high as 105 mph. Wilson's goal was "to finish before dark every evening and have a cocktail," and he did. Other than some concessions to safety (thanks to Mastercraft Safety and new BFGoodrich radial tires), the truck was historically accurate in its early '70s as-raced livery. -Todd Zuercher

Todd Zuercher

Small Land Rover Coming
Land Rover will build a small SUV based on its LRX concept vehicle (shown here with a vintage Rover) to go on sale in 2011. The announcement was made to LR dealers at a dealer conference, though no specifications or pricing were discussed, reports Automotive News. The vehicle will debut at the Paris Auto Show this fall and make its U.S. debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

This Just In
Consumer Reports cancelled the "do not buy" rating it had put on '10 Lexus GX 460 SUVs. Lexus corrected the stability control software that caused the issue and recalled the trucks it had already sold. Lexus had stopped making the SUV pending the fix, but production has resumed.

Remember the "Premium Tool" story we wrote in July about the GMC Sierra Denali 2500HD? Apparently, response to the high-end work truck was so enthusiastic that GM decided to add the luxe equipment to 3500 HD models as well, for both single- and dual-rear-wheel versions.

Three people won Islander editions of the Jeep Wrangler during the Jeep Tiki Hunt contest. Justin Walter Reade-Chitaphana of Los Angeles, Melissa Block of Virginia Beach, Virginia, and Scott Carman of Golden, Colorado, found the three Tiki figures buried around the country and claimed their limited-edition Jeeps. The maker reported a 275 percent growth in the number of Twitter followers and 32,000 new Facebook friends as a result of the contest.

Chrysler has extended its Affiliate Rewards program to include Tread Lightly! members. That means that if you belong to the land-use organization, you may qualify for a "preferred price" that's 1 percent below factory invoice for Jeeps and Ram trucks. Go to for more info.

The Bantam building in Butler, Pennsylvania, where the first Bantam jeep was built, has been nominated as one of the Top Ten Best Preservation Opportunities in the Pittsburgh Area by the Young Preservationists Association of Pittsburgh. This annual list highlights historic preservation projects around the nine-county Pittsburgh region that are threatened but have a good chance for survival and reuse.

Vorra Adds Ultra4
The Valley Off Road Racing Association (VORRA) has added an Ultra4 class to its off-road races this year. The season's class winner will earn a starting spot at the 2011 King of the Hammers. VORRA is a seven-round series that includes four short-course races at the Prairie City OHV Area in Folsom, California, and three desert races in northern Nevada. Three Ultra4 cars competed in last year's series, and Kevin Yoder (seen here) took the 2009 Sportsman Class win. For more info, log on to

Earth Watch
Our friends at the National Off Road Association (NORA) report that due to the leak of an internal White House document showing plans to designate 13 million acres as national monuments and wilderness without public input, President Obama announced his America Great Outdoor Initiative in March to encourage local involvement in the crafting of this new plan. NORA calls this "more Washington double talk," since locking the majority of the public out of their public lands via wilderness and monument designation will discourage the most popular forms of outdoor recreation. "This will clearly discourage the public from enjoying the backcountry," says NORA. "There is just no way reducing access can be preserving access." President Obama held a last-minute conference in April to encourage local partnerships, but after polling more than 60 local organizations, NORA could not find one that had been invited. Those that were invited support closure of public lands, such as the Sierra Club and the Wilderness Society.

Yamaha employees recently joined members of the U.S. Forest Service and the San Bernardino National Forest Association by volunteering more than 500 hours to improve OHV trails and staging areas and plant 2,250 trees in the San Bernardino National Forest.

W.E. Rock Blows In Arizona
Actually, high winds blew during the second round of the World Extreme Rock Crawling Championship Series (W.E. Rock) in Tucson, scattering tents in Vendor Row and messing with the concentration of some of the drivers.

Shannon Peed, racing in the Pro Mod class, was one of just four female competitors at the W.E. Rock event in Tucson.

Brent Bradshaw earned his first Unlimited Class win after early leader Tracy Jordan dropped out with a mechanical failure. Jesse Haines looked like a lock to win in Pro Mod after leading at the end of day one, but he timed out on one of the big hillclimbs during Day 2, opening the door for Brad and Roger Lovell to claim class victory.

Unlimited Class winner Brent Bradshaw.

From Ua To Bitd
Remember Kevin Stearns from Ultimate Adventure 2009? Once the UA was done, he rebuilt his Blazer and went desert racing. First stop was King of the Hammers, where he unfortunately did not finish. Stearns pressed on, though, and joined the Best in the Desert series. He raced the Silver State 300 in the Ultra4 class and finished a respectable eighth in class, despite losing time to a rollover and his self-recovery. Having Yukon Gear, Bilstein, and Goodyear as sponsors helped the team, says Stearns, who now has his sights set on the Vegas-to-Reno race.

More Trouble for Toyota
At about the same time Toyota announced it had repaired some 3 million recalled vehicles for sticky pedals and pedal-entraping floor mats, the NHTSA opened yet another safety-related investigation, this time concerning steering linkage in '89-'95 4Runners and '93-'98 T100 pickups. Toyota issued a recall notice to fix the steering in 2005, but according to the Los Angeles Times, allegations in lawsuits filed in 2009 show that the company received complaints about the steering as far back as 2000. Federal law requires an automaker to notify the NHTSA and conduct a recall to fix a problem within five days of learning about the problem.

After the news broke, Toyota said it has "received and is reviewing the information request from NHTSA and will cooperate with the agency's investigation."

Build A Corbeau Baja Seat
Corbeau, longtime maker of specialty seats for the off-road, street, and racing markets, is looking to enthusiast off-roaders for help in designing its newest Baja RS seats. From a technological standpoint, Corbeau is proud of its engineering; the suspension in its current Baja RS seats reduces the amount of g-forces transmitted to your body, alleviating much of the shock on your spine that comes from aggressive driving. Yet the seat maker recognizes that, for all the good tech in the seat, its overall aesthetic is lacking. So Corbeau wants some help in designing a better-looking Baja RS seat. You don't have to be an ergonomics expert to submit an idea. Corbeau will accept anything from a sketch on paper to a 3-D CAD drawing. If your design is chosen as the next look for the Baja RS seat, you'll win that all-new seat, plus brackets and harness belts. You can submit your designs to Direct any questions to

Grand Cherokee Prices

Jeep announced pricing for its all-new '11 Grand Cherokee, which goes on sale this summer. The Laredo 4x4 model starts at $32,995, the Limited 4x4 versions start at $39,995, and the top-line Overland 4x4 starts at $42,995. As we've mentioned in this column before, the new Grand is powered by a 290hp, 3.6L V-6 and sits on a fully independent suspension. It will be available with some new features, including Quadra-Lift air suspension and Selec-Terrain, which will "tailor the vehicle's traction performance based on road conditions," says Jeep.

Some Good Toyota News

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) announced the all-new 4Runner has earned its highest ranking of "good" in frontal offset high-speed crash ratings. These evaluations are based on crash tests held at 40 mph, faster than the NHTSA's 35-mph test regimen. A vehicle's overall frontal evaluation is based on measurements of intrusion into the occupant compartment, the severity of injury to the driver-seat test dummy, and the level of movement in the dummy's restraint system.


July 30-Aug. 1: Jeep Jamboree on the Rubicon Trail leaving Georgetown, CA,by Jeepers Jamboree and Jeep Jamboree Inc. Info:

•July 30-Aug. 1: Nevada Trophy GPS rally raid, northwestern Nevada, by Off-Road Experience. Info:

July 31-Aug. 1: Iron Range off-road driving school, Iron Range OHV Park (north of Minneapolis, MN). Info:

July 31-Aug 1: W.E. Rock Western U.S. Nationals, Salt Lake City, UT. Info:

Aug. 2-6: Ohio Adventure by Painted Rock Adventures. Info:

Aug. 5-7: 4x4 Blast by the Two River Jeep Club, Pittsfield, IL. Info:

Aug. 7: Jeep Show and Burger Burn, by Adirondack Jeeps at Saratoga Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge, Saratoga Springs, NY. Info:

Aug. 7-8: Beginning Off-Road 4x4 Skills Clinic, Hungry Valley SVRA near Gorman, CA, by Badlands Off-Road Adventures. Info: 310.374.8047,

Aug. 9-10: Getting Started Off-Road 4x4 Skills Clinic, Hungry Valley SVRA near Gorman, CA, by Badlands Off-Road Adventures. Info: 310.374.8047,

Aug. 12-15: Rubicon Trail Jeep Jamboree, northern Sierra Nevadas, California. Info:

Aug. 13-15: Team Trophy Challenge Washington, by Timber Tamers 4x4 Club and TrailReady. Info:

Aug. 13-15: Superlift 4xAdventure Series, Gore, VA. Info:

Aug. 14: Free Rock Nationals, Coal Creek OHV area, Oliver Springs, TN. Info:

Aug. 14: California 200 night race, Lucerne Valley, CA, by Mojave Desert Racing. Info:

Aug. 15: Summer Mud Derby and Make-A-Wish benefit, Muddy Run Raceway, Smoke Run, PA. Info:

Aug. 16-19: Rubicon Road Trip & Adventure, Rubicon Trail near Lake Tahoe, CA, by Badlands Off-Road Adventures. Info:310.374.8047,

Aug. 19-21: TSCO Vegas to Reno Desert Race, Nevada. Info:

Aug. 19-21: Great Northern Trail Ride, Mole Lake Lodge & Casino, Mole Lake, WI. Info:

Aug. 21: Mud drags, mud bogs and sand drags by the Columbia River Mud Racing Association and Northwest Sand, Barlow Point Raceway, Longview, WA. Info:

Aug. 21-22: CalROCS rockcrawling series, Donner Ski Ranch, Norden, CA. Info:

Aug. 21-22:Iron Range off-road driving school, Iron Range OHV Park (north of Minneapolis). Info:

Aug. 21-22: Beginning 4x4 Training, Big Bear Lake, CA, by Off-Road Teach & Tour. Info:

Aug. 25-30: 40th anniversary Gravelrama, Cleves, OH. Info:

Aug. 26-28: Big Horn Mountains Jeep Jamboree, Dayton, WY. Info:

Aug. 28-29: Tri-State 4Wheel Jamboree Nationals, Olmstead County Fairgrounds, Rochester, MN. Info:

Aug. 28-29: W.E. Rock Eastern U.S. Nationals, Dayton, OH. Info:

Note: If you have a 4WD event you want us to publicize, please send the date, location, a description of the event, and contact info-phone numbers and/or email/website address-to Calendar, 4-Wheel & Off-Road magazine, 831 S. Douglas St., El Segundo, CA 90245; fax 310.531.9368; email Please submit your info at least four months in advance of the event due to our press lead times.

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