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October 2011 Drivelines - Off-Road News

Bryce Menzies Truck
Drew Hardin
| Contributor
Posted October 1, 2011

Baja 500, Crash Tests, Raptor Photos and More!

Rookie Wins Baja 500
Judging by his win record, you’d never know this was Bryce Menzies’ rookie season in SCORE desert racing. He won the Laughlin Desert Challenge in January, placed sixth at the San Felipe 250, and notched another win at the 43rd annual Tecate SCORE Baja 500. Menzies’ F-150 Trophy Truck finished the 452-mile race in 9 hours 4 minutes, averaging nearly 50 mph. Rob MacCachren, in another F-150 Trophy Truck, finished 12 minutes behind him to take Second Place.

Menzies was the first to leave the starting line in Ensenada, and he held the lead throughout the day. The only thing that slowed him down was hitting a big rock in Borrego. “I thought we broke a caliper off the truck,” he said. “But we stopped and it was good so we kept going. I didn’t have one flat all day long. No bent rims, no nothing. I couldn’t be happier.”

Speaking of tires, Menzies’ victory gave BFGoodrich its 28th Tecate SCORE Baja 500 win in 31 years and 72nd overall four-wheel SCORE Baja race win. BFG had a lot to celebrate after the 500, as seven of the top 10 four-wheel finishers (and 13 of the 18 car/truck/buggy classes that completed the event) rolled on BFG tires.

F-150, Tundra Earn Top Safety Pick
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recently gave Top Safety Pick awards to the ’11 Ford F-150 and Toyota Tundra due to the trucks’ strong showing in the institute’s crash tests.

Earlier this year the trucks were subjected to front, side, and rear crash evaluations and earned top ratings in each. The most recent test, for roof strength, evaluated the level of occupant protection in rollover crashes by pushing a metal plate against one corner of a vehicle’s roof (crew-cab models were used in the test) at a constant speed. The maximum force sustained by the roof before 5 inches of crush was compared to the vehicle’s weight to find the strength-to-weight ratio.

The Tundra’s roof withstood a force 4.5 times its weight, while the F-150’s roof withstood a force equal to 4.7 times the vehicle’s weight. They were the only pickups to earn the top rating of “good.” The Nissan Titan earned an “acceptable,” while the Chevy Silverado/GMC Sierra and Ram pickups earned “marginal” ratings.

Mark Smith Honored
California State Senator Ted Gaines presented off-roading pioneer Mark A. Smith with a resolution recognizing Smith’s contributions in building a major hobby enjoyed by thousands of Californians and contributing to the state’s economy. (That’s Mark in the photo with his wife Irene.)

“Mark Smith is the father of the world-famous Rubicon Trail off-road trek that literally created a new sport,” said Gaines. “Now people from across the country come to California to put themselves to the ultimate off-road test.” Gaines called Smith “a pioneer who shows true California spirit. He built a sport, built a business, and built an unmatched reputation in his field. It’s my pleasure to honor him.”

Smith was among the group of Georgetown, California, Rotarians who started the Rubicon trail run in the ’50s as a means of bringing tourism dollars to the community. His company, Jeep Jamboree USA, now takes some 7,000 Jeepers annually on Jamborees held across the U.S.

This Just In
• The Toronto Star reports that Chrysler will build “a niche vehicle called the TR Ram Life Style Truck” at the Windsor, Ontario, Canada, plant that currently builds Chrysler minivans. This light-duty truck will, in fact, be based off a front-wheel-drive minivan platform and will compete against the Honda Ridgeline. There is no mention of an AWD or 4x4 platform for the truck. Chrysler is not commenting on the vehicle; the reports are coming from Chrysler suppliers and an automotive industry research firm. According to the newspaper, the truck will launch in 2013.

• Yamaha is offering all-white bodywork on its ’12 sport ATV models so riders can customize the look of their ATVs. Custom graphics kits are also available through the ATV maker.

• Bilstein is looking for the hottest customized 4x4s in the nation. If you think your rig qualifies, enter the Shock My Ride contest at shockmy The grand prize is a customized Bilstein 9100 Series suspension package plus an all-expenses-paid trip to Las Vegas and two passes for the 2011 SEMA Show.

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