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November 2010 Drivelines

Posted in Features on November 1, 2010
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Rod Hall Goes Xtreme
VORRA's Xtreme Outlaws 250 race outside of Reno, Nevada, had a real throwback: The Grabber Olds, once raced by actor James Garner, made the scene piloted by Rod Hall. The '70 Oldsmobile 4-4-2 was originally modified by Vic Hickey for Garner. A few years ago Ron Johnson came across what was left of the car and mounted a complete restoration.

Hall led a parade of Xtreme Outlaws' competitors to the start line in the Olds, and then raced the car until its alternator went south. A devoted fan found a replacement at a local auto parts store, and Hall was soon back on the course with sponsors and members of the media riding shotgun.

Emily Miller, driving Rod Hall Racing's Hummer H3, also had her share of problems. She lost a brake line and ran for some 60 miles without much stopping power before it was fixed. After the repair she ran hard, but Mike Shaffer in a JeepSpeed Cherokee nosed her out of a Class 7 victory by two seconds.

Roger Norman, who finished Second in Class 1, described the 65-mile course as "rock crawling, desert racing, and rally racing all in one. I didn't know we got to do all three."

Bigfoot in a Bow Tie?!?
Yes, Ford fans, your eyes aren't deceiving you. In a move that flies in the face of decades of tradition, a Bigfoot monster truck is dressed as a Chevrolet. How in the heck did this happen? Firestone, one of Bigfoot's major sponsors, has become the official tire of Major League Baseball. When the folks at Bigfoot 4x4 got wind of this, they saw an opportunity to have a monster truck at MLB's All Star Game. The hitch? Chevrolet is MLB's official truck.

So, could Bigfoot be a ... Chevy? "Yes!" said the Bigfoot 4x4 crew. They ordered a fiberglass Silverado monster truck body and even built a 540-inch Chevy big-block to power the truck.

Chrysler "demotes" Hemi
In another example of the world turned upside down, word has come out of Chrysler that it will no longer label its Hemi engines "Hemi" for certain Jeep and Chrysler models. How in the heck did this happen? It's all part of Chrysler's effort to "create a greener and more refined image," according to a story in the Wall Street Journal. As the automaker puts more marketing emphasis behind its V-6 Pentastar engine and fuel-sipping, Fiat-based four-bangers, Hemi apparently carries gas-guzzling connotations, not to mention a certain, um, unrefined quality. (Think back to when the Hemi was first planted in the Ram pickup and the TV ad with the two redneck numbskulls asking, "That thing got a Hemi in it?") A Hemi in a Jeep will be called simply a "5.7-liter V-8."

This nonsense doesn't apply to Ram trucks or Dodge cars. One unidentified dealer said in the WSJ article, "It's really just the Ram and Dodge owners who still wear the Hemi badge with pride." Huh?

V-6 Standard in '11 F-150
OK, we have one more weird one, but this may not be as bad as it sounds at first. Trade journal Automotive News reports the standard engine in the upcoming '11 Ford F-150 will be the 3.7L V-6 found in the base '11 Mustang. If that's the case (Ford would not confirm), it would actually give the new truck a more powerful engine than the current standard V-8. For '10 models, the F-150's base 4.6L, two-valve V-8 produces 248 hp. The Mustang's V-6 makes 305 hp, more than even the F-150's optional three-valve 4.6 (at 292 hp).

Now, the new V-6's 280 lb-ft torque peak falls below the standard 4.6's 294 lb-ft. And Mustang power peaks at pretty high engine speeds: torque at 4,250 rpm, horsepower at 6,500 rpm. But it wouldn't surprise us if Ford decides to tweak the 3.7 for better torque numbers at lower engine speeds before putting it in the F-truck. Plus, Automotive News also reports that the F-150 will have the Mustang's 5.0L V-8 as an option, with 412 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque.

Rock Racer on Pikes Peak
Nobuhiro "Monster" Tajima and his Monster Sport (Suzuki) SX4 Hill Climb Special notched a fifth consecutive overall win at the 88th Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. But this year Monster was joined on the mountain by JT Taylor and his Tube Shark/Torchmate Rock Racer. Taylor earned First Place in the Exhibition Class with a time of 14 minutes 7.00 seconds and a top speed of 86 mph. (By comparison, Monster's winning run was 10 minutes 11.49 seconds.) Taylor called the race "an absolute blast."

This Just In
'Wheel with an iPhone? Toyota and Jeep have an app for that. Toyota's is called Trail Tracker, which can be used to find trails and download trail info (maps, rating, distance, duration, elevation gain/loss) as well as upload your own favorite maps and on-trail photos. Jeep's TripCast allows you not only to get trail info and plan a trip but also share it on Facebook and Twitter. Both apps are free; Trail Tracker is available in the iTunes Store, and TripCast can be downloaded from

Some analysts saw the sputtering economy falter again in June, but that wasn't so for Ford. Sales for the '11 F-Series Super Duty were 58 percent higher than in 2009 and captured more than 50 percent of the heavy-duty pickup segment. Ford says this is the first time since 2000 that Super Duty achieved a 50 percent share. Light-duty F-Series trucks were up too, by 29 percent for the month and 34 percent year-to-date. F-Series is "the only vehicle sold in the U.S. to surpass 200,000 sales in the first half of 2010," says Ford.

Tired of waiting for the Mahindra compact diesel trucks? So is its U.S. distributor, says Automotive News. John Perez of Global Vehicles USA Incorporated has filed an injunction against Mahindra to pressure the Indian manufacturer to finally hit its U.S. market launch deadline, after it missed three previous launch dates. Global has lined up 350 retailers who have invested some $60 million in stores and franchise rights, and Perez is concerned that Mahindra has not yet filed the necessary paperwork to certify the diesel engines for emissions compliance. Mahindra is balking, says Perez, because it does not agree with Global's sales projections and wants more detail about Global's finances.

Earth Watch
SEMA's Washington, D.C., office reports that a bill introduced in the U.S. Senate threatens to designate nearly 330,000 acres of land in central Idaho as wilderness, the most restrictive designation that can be placed on public lands. SEMA opposes the legislation as drafted since many OHV trails in the Sawtooth and Challis National Forests could be closed if it passes. For nearly a decade, lawmakers have proposed several variations of the Boulder/White Clouds Wilderness bill, also known as the Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act. The current bill is pending before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. There has been no action in the House.

In more news from SEMA, as of January 1, 2011, in Illinois it will be illegal to sell or install a wheel weight that contains lead or mercury. The state joins several others that have enacted laws banning the manufacture, sale, and use of lead wheel weights. California's law went into effect January 1, 2010. Maine, Vermont, and Washington also ban the products, while Iowa, Maryland, New York, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin have considered a ban. U.S. automakers have already agreed to stop using lead weights as original equipment, and the three major U.S. manufacturers of wheel weights stopped distributing lead weights in 2009. The problem? When lead weights fall off tires, they become environmental hazards or contaminants in metal recycling. In the environment, the weights may get ground into fine dust and turn into lead oxides, hydroxides, or bicarbonates. Lead particles and chemical combinations also pose the risk of contaminating surface and ground water supplies.

Texas Rockcrawling Lives!
Last year south central rockcrawling enthusiasts were blown away by the news that Katemcy Rocks Off Road Park was closing at the end of the season. For nearly a decade, the Kruse family and Shain Chapman had hosted some of the finest crawling in the country. When word came down from the landowner that the party was over, rockcrawlers from all over poured into Katemcy Texas to enjoy one last ride on the unique pink granite trails. Behind the scenes, Randy Kruse and Shain Chapman hit the ground running to find another place to open a park.

The new site, dubbed K2, is about 18 miles southwest of the Katemcy Rocks. It has nearly the same acreage, but more of the property is usable for wheeling. K2 has a series of sharp ridges with rough points throughout the east side of the property. On the west side, pasture land blends with rocks for nice places to explore without too much risk of body damage.

Since taking possession of the property, the gang has installed a well-packed, RV-accessible road, an office, a pavilion, guest cabins, and a concessions building. Go to to find out how you can experience the new K2.
-The Rock Midget

No Diesel for New Grand
Don't look for a diesel engine option in the upcoming '11 Grand Cherokee, according to Automotive News. Jeep officials doubt there's a business case for the engine, since the urea-based emissions system required to meet emissions regulations could add thousands of dollars to the vehicle's cost. Plus, with diesel fuel prices equal to or higher than gasoline, there may not be much demand for a diesel-powered Grand. One Jeep exec said diesel demand in the '09 Grand Cherokee, the last time a diesel was offered in the model, peaked at about 8 percent of units sold.

Jeep's Rocks & Road Tour Winds Down
You can still take part in Jeep's Rocks & Road Tour, which brings off-road driving demonstrations to air and auto shows, fairs, and other events around the country. The demo's obstacle courses are open to the public, and current Jeep owners can drive their own vehicles on a Jeep Owner's Playground. The entire Jeep lineup, including the all-new '11 Grand Cherokee, will be available to testdrive. The program is free, and you can find the remaining Tour dates at Be sure to preregister while you're on the site, as attendance has been "enthusiastic," says Jeep.

New Land Rover
It's called the Evoque, and it delivers on a Land Rover mandate "to give luxury SUV customers another choice to enjoy Range Rover style, luxury, and all-terrain traction, but with a more compact, fuel efficient footprint," says Chris Marchand, executive vice president of Land Rover North America. The "desirable, premium, and compact car-like SUV" will debut at the Paris Motor Show and go on sale in America in the fall of 2011.

Holy Cross Trail is "outstanding"
The Holy Cross Trail, located in the high peaks of central Colorado, was added to the list of Outstanding Trails recognized by BFGoodrich, Tread Lightly! and the United Four Wheel Drive Associations. At a weekend ceremony, BFG presented a $4,000 grant to the president of the Big Horn Jeep club to be used to preserve the trail.

"Holy Cross is a scenic and challenging high mountain trail and offers beautiful views that are second to none," said Joe Mazur, light truck brand category manager for BFGoodrich. "We're honored to join with the Big Horn Jeep club to help in the conservation efforts for this amazing off-road park, and are extremely proud of the work that this club does year-round to keep this trail open for use."

Since its inception five years ago, the Outstanding Trails program has recognized 19 off-road trails and awarded more than $70,000 in grants to aid in the preservation of those areas.

•Sept. 30-Oct. 2: Maine Mountains Jeep Jamboree, Bethel, ME. Info:

•Sept. 30-Oct. 3: Dixie Run, Golden Mountain OHV Park, Sparta, TN, by Southern Four Wheel Drive Association. Info:

•Oct. 1-3: Superlift ORV Park Fall Festival, Superlift ORV Park, Hot Springs, AR. Info: 501.625.3600,

•Oct 2: Off-Road 101 Instructional Course and Moonlight Night Run, Kansas Rocks Recreation Park near Fort Scott, KS. Info:

•Oct. 2-3: Beginning Off-Road 4x4 Skills Clinic, Hungry Valley SVRA near Gorman, CA, by Badlands Off-Road Adventures. Info: 310.374.8047,

•Oct. 3: Great American Jeep Rally, Four Town Fairgrounds, Somers, CT. Info:

•Oct. 7-9: French Lick Jeep Jamboree, French Lick, IN. Info:

•Oct. 8-9: Powder Puff desert race, Barstow, CA, by MORE. Info:

•Oct. 8-10: Southern Cruiser Crawl, Superlift ORV Park, Hot Springs, AR. Info: 501.625.3600,

•Oct. 8-11: North Rim of Grand Canyon Parashant, by Badlands Off-Road Adventures. Info: 310.374.8047,

•Oct. 9-10: Iron Range off-road driving school, Iron Range OHV Park (north of Minneapolis, MN). Info:

•Oct. 9-10: VORRA short-course race, Prairie City, CA. Info:

•Oct. 14-16: Borrego Springs Jeep Jamboree, Borrego Springs, CA. Info:

•Oct. 15-17: Midsouth Jeep Club's 4th Anniversary Run, Superlift ORV Park, Hot Springs, AR. Info: 501.625.3600,

•Oct. 15-17: Bluewater Desert Challenge off-road race, Parker, AZ, by Best in the Desert. Info:

•Oct. 15-18: Death Valley Adventure, by Badlands Off-Road Adventures. Info: 310.374.8047,

•Oct. 16: Creepy Crawl, Kansas Rocks Recreation Park near Fort Scott, KS. Info:

•Oct. 16: Superstition 250 desert race, Plaster City, CA, by Mojave Desert Racing. Info:

•Oct. 16-17: Beginning 4x4 Training, Truckhaven Hills Discovery Course, near Salton City, CA, by Off Road Teach & Tour Adventures. Info:

•Oct. 21-23: Gateway to the Cumberlands Jeep Jamboree, Williamsburg, KY. Info:

•Oct. 21-23: Moab Jeep Jamboree, Moab, UT. Info:

•Oct. 22-23: Rocktober, sponsored by Green Country Offroad, Built 2 Rock Offroad, and Whynot Customs; Disney, OK. Info:

•Oct. 22-24: Jeep Jamboree, Superlift ORV Park, Hot Springs, AR. Info: 501.625.3600,

•Oct. 23-24: Fright-Night, Gorman, CA, by Point Mugu 4 Wheel Club. Info: 805. 857.3873, email

•Oct. 23-25: Mojave Road Adventure, by Badlands Off-Road Adventures. Info: 310.374.8047,

•Oct. 28-30: Pine Barrens Jeep Jamboree, Hammonton, NJ. Info:

•Oct. 28-30: Ouachita Jeep Jamboree, Hot Springs, AR. Info:

•Oct. 29-31: Death Valley Miners Cabin Tour, Death Valley, CA, by Off Road Teach and Tour Adventures. Info:

•Oct. 29-31: SNORE 250 desert race, Primm, NV. Info:

•Oct. 30-31: VORRA short-course race and Halloween barbeque, Prairie City, CA. Info:

•Oct. 30-Nov. 1: Mojave Road Adventure, by Badlands Off-Road Adventures. Info: 310.374.8047,

•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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