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October 2011 Drivelines - Off-Road News

Posted in Features on October 1, 2011
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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.

Raptor Art
If you love your Raptor, you can bring its ground-pounding action indoors thanks to the latest limited-edition prints from Ford Images. A 27x30-inch framed print will set you back about $450, but it includes a special plate that can be personalized with your name and your truck’s VIN. Your Raptor’s not orange? No worries. There’s a similar photo available for each of the Raptor’s paint colors. To find out more, log on to ford and click on the “limited edition prints” button.

Earth Watch
• Chrysler, working with the U.S. Department of Energy, delivered a demonstration fleet of Ram 1500 plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV) pickup trucks to municipal officials in Yuma, Arizona, recently. The 10 PHEV pickups are part of a national demonstration fleet of 140 vehicles that will be used during the next three years to evaluate customer usage, drive cycles, charging, thermal management, fuel economy, emissions, and the impact on the region’s electric grid. In addition to Yuma, 11 other municipalities and agencies across the United States will receive vehicles for demonstration and testing. Chrysler is calling this “strictly a demonstration program” and says there are no plans for a production version of the PHEV Ram 1500 truck at this time.

• The BlueRibbon Coalition has formally submitted comments in opposition to the expansion of the Twentynine Palms military base in Southern California. The comments state that the planned expansion would practically or functionally close the entire 180,000-acre Johnson Valley OHV area to public use. Don Amador, western representative for the BRC, called the plan “fatally flawed” and said it “should be withdrawn and shelved given its fatal flaws, public objection to the project, and national economic crisis.” Among the BRC’s objections are its belief that the Marine Corps hasn’t “meaningfully explained” the need for the base expansion in the plan and the fact that “the purpose and need statement blithely ignores any discussion of the balance necessitated by any project of this nature.”

• Two board members of the California Off-Road Vehicle Association (CORVA) were selected for the BLM Desert Advisory Committee (DAC). The BLM DAC has formed a subgroup dedicated to working with the agency to preserve motorized and competitive events in the desert areas of California as the public permit process is reconfigured. In an acknowledgment of CORVA’s expertise with these issues, two of the six representatives chosen for the subgroup were Clayton Miller, southern director of CORVA, and Wayne Nosala, assistant southern director, known for his longtime involvement with desert truck racing.

W.E.ROCK Rocks Oroville
The second round of the W.E.ROCK Western Pro Nationals traveled to the Urban Assault area at Surplus City in Oroville, California, where Brent Bradshaw took the Unlimited Class win in dramatic style. Bradshaw wowed the crowds Saturday when he attempted to climb the over-30-foot Terminator. He rolled backward on his roof but then continued rolling and pulled off a 360-degree rotation to get back on all four wheels before immediately attempting the climb again, this time successfully.

Sunday’s action was no less intense. Bradshaw found himself behind in points by the end of the day and had to make a final, flawless run—including an attempt at the 25-foot Half Pipe (which is truly vertical in its final 10 feet)—to get ahead of Jesse Haines, who had taken the class lead. Bradshaw made it over Half Pipe on his first try; Haines wasn’t so lucky, crashing hard on his second attempt.

Book Review
X Play Nation, by Alex Striler, available at www.x-play, and

Striler’s new book chronicles the game changers in action sports, those people who created opportunities for themselves (or their companies) and not only made themselves successful but had a hand in shaping the nature of action sports, such as skateboarding, BMX racing, the X Games, and off-road motorsports.

“I wrote the book to raise awareness so athletes and racers can get new sponsorships, and so sponsors will learn to promote them correctly,” Striler said. “I also tried to explain the convergence of off-road motorsports with action sports by writing about the rise and fall of Championship Off Road Racing (CORR).” Striler worked for CORR for four years.

Motorsports fans will find plenty of recognizable people in here—4Wheel Parts’ Greg Adler, the LeDuc racing family, Ricky Johnson, and more—and aspiring racing stars will benefit from their experiences.

Toyo Wallpaper
Bored with the wallpaper on your computer? Toyo has released free, downloadable wallpaper featuring several of its racing stars (including Robby Gordon, shown here) and the easy-on-the-eyes Toyo models. Check ’em out at

Mahindra Troubles Mount
We hope you’re not in any hurry to buy one of the diesel-powered Mahindra compact pickups, as things are getting even uglier between the Indian factory, the U.S. distributor, and the dealers who signed up to sell the truck. According to Automotive News, dealer Jerry Ackerman, who paid to set up three Mahindra franchises, filed a breach-of-contract suit in St. Louis against Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. and its U.S. distributor, Global Vehicles USA. Ackerman hopes to take his suit to class-action status to represent all of the approximately 350 dealers who signed up for U.S. franchises. So far 45 dealers have shown interest in participating in the suit.

Dealers—and Global Vehicles—have been waiting three years for the pickups. Mahindra delayed the launch, stating that the vehicles weren’t ready for U.S. sale, and then last year severed ties with Global Vehicles, which has its own suit pending against Mahindra.

Ram Runner Details
Now you can build your Ram pickup into a lookalike of the Ram Runner concept truck that debuted last year in Moab. The Ram Runner Kit, developed with Baja racer Kent Kroeker, includes a Pre-Runner Stage II lift kit, a front bumper, fiberglass front and rear fenders, a rear-tire carrier, stamped-aluminum sport performance hood, and a cat-back exhaust system. Each of the kit’s components may also be purchased separately.

The lift kit, which increases travel to 14 inches front and rear, consists of 4130 chromoly lower control arms, upper control arms (both sets of arms are about 3 inches longer than stock), rebuildable high-angle ball joints, beefier tie rods, a five-link coil-sprung rear suspension, and Fox 3-inch internal bypass shocks. Ground clearance is approximately 13 inches at the center of the front crossmember.

Purchase price for all of the kit’s components is more than $20,000; the lift kit alone represents $13,270 of that amount. Stickers not included. For more details visit

• Sept. 1-5: Superlift 4xAdventure Series, Superlift ORV Park, Hot Springs, AR. Info: 501.625.3600,
• Sept. 3-4: JeepSkool, NE Ohio. Info:
• Sept. 3-4: Club Challenge, Rocks and Valleys Off-Road Park, Harrison, MI. Info:
• Sept. 3-5: High Sierra Poker Run, Prather (near Fresno), CA, by the California Association of 4WD Clubs. Info:
• Sept. 8-10: Ultra4 Stampede, Exit 28 Motorsports Park, Reno, NV. Info: www.kingofthe
• Sept. 8-11: Rubicon Scramble, open to all Scramblers and LWB Jeeps, Wentworth Springs to Tahoe, Northern California. Info: email
• Sept. 10: Getting Started Off-Road 4x4 Skills Clinic, Hungry Valley SVRA, Gorman, CA, by Badlands Off-Road Adventures. Info: 310.374.8047,
• Sept. 11: Advanced Beginner Off-Road Driving Clinic, El Paso Mountains, Mojave, CA, by Badlands Off-Road Adventures. Info: 310.374.8047,
• Sept. 15-17: Laurel Highlands Jeep Jamboree, Farmington, PA. Info:
• Sept. 15-17: Ouray Jeep Jamboree, Ouray, CO. Info:
• Sept. 16-18: Lucas Oil 4Wheel Jamboree Nationals, Indiana State Fairgrounds, Indianapolis, IN. Info:
• Sept. 17: Back to School Run, West Oneonta, NY (upstate), by the North East Xterra Club. Info:
• Sept. 17: Fall Blowout sand drags by the Tri County Four Wheelers, Elkton (near Lisbon), OH. Info: 330.941.9376, 330.277-3851
• Sept. 17: Rocks Clinic, Johnson Valley near Lucerne Valley, CA, by Badlands Off-Road Adventures. Info: 310.374.8047,
• Sept. 21-24: Oklahoma Classic Bronco Roundup, Superlift ORV Park, Hot Springs, AR. Info: 501.625.3600,
• Sept. 22-24: Catskill Mountains Jeep Jamboree, Monticello, NY. Info:
• Sept. 22-24: Black Hills Jeep Jamboree, Deadwood, SD. Info:
• Sept. 23-25: Jeepstock, at the Southern Missouri Off-Road Ranch, Seymour, MO, by Midwest Jeepthing. Info: www.midwest
• Sept. 24: Sand Driving Clinic, Oceano Dunes near Pismo, CA, by Badlands Off-Road Adventures. Info: 310.374.8047,
• Sept. 24-25: Muddy Buddys Fall Jeep Jam, Harveysburg, OH, by the Muddy Buddys Jeep Wrangler Club & the Village of Harveysburg. Info:
• Sept. 24-25: Iron Range Offroad Driving School, Iron Range OHV Park north of Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN. Info:
• Sept. 24-25: Iowa All Breeds Jeep Show & 4x4 Swap Meet, Story County Fairgrounds, Nevada, IA, by the Jeep Outdoor Club of Central Iowa. Info:
• Sept. 25: Great American Jeep Rally, Four Town Fairgrounds, Somers, CT. Info:
• Sept. 29-Oct. 1: Maine Mountains Jeep Jamboree, Bethel, ME. 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 4wheeloff Please submit your info at least four months in advance of the event due to our press lead times.

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