Jeep Festival, Baja 1000, and More!
TDS Celebrates Five Decades of Fun
In 1963, a year-old 4WD club out of San Diego called Tierra Del Sol (TDS) put on its first Four Wheel Drive Safari. Five decades later, TDS will hold its 50th Desert Safari March 2-4 in the Truckhaven Hills area of the North Ocotillo Wells SVRA. The busy weekend will feature trail rides for all four-wheeling skill levels, vendor displays, and a huge raffle offering more than $150,000 in prizes. Visit www.tds4x4.com for all the details.
The earliest members of TDS were wheeling in the Anza-Borrego area even before the club formed. According to 93-year-old Doris Wynne, who provided us with a detailed history of TDS and the Borrego Valley in general, after World War II “adventurous souls became enamored with using the military Jeep in our mountainous backcountry and desert.” Early on the Jeepers traveled trails used by the Indians and early European explorers as search-and-rescue teams, “but some decided to concentrate on adventure and exploration” instead, said Wynne. They eventually banded together to form TDS in 1962.
“Off-roading was different then,” remembers Wynne. “Big sand tires were the vogue, and the vehicles were largely Toyota Land Cruisers, Nissan Patrols, military Jeeps, and Jeep station wagons. For emergency repairs, baling wire, duct tape, even a wad of chewing gum were considered basic necessities along with spare axles, chains, shovels, and axes. It was a far cry from those early four-bangers to the current powerful computerized engines.”
Wynne recalls, “Camping was mostly with tents, though one early member had an old Greyhound bus converted into a motor home, and its amenities were greatly admired by the tenters.” She also notes that “politics were not a part of the four-wheeling agenda in the ’60s, but the hints of governmental trail closure and restrictions were beginning to grow.”
Then, as now, TDS actively works to keep its beloved part of the Southwestern desert open for all to enjoy.
Jeeps Set Guinness Record
This summer’s Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival in Butler, Pennsylvania, was one for the record books, literally. When event organizers gathered 1,106 Jeeps to drive the 3 miles between Butler County Community College and Butler’s Main Street, they set a Guinness World Record for the largest parade of Jeeps.
Butler was the home of the American Bantam Car Company, and Festival organizers are working to preserve Bantam’s local heritage and establish the town as the Birthplace of the Jeep. Last year’s Festival raised $20,000 for their efforts. Another Jeep Heritage Festival is planned for August 10-12 in Butler, which will include another parade, plus trail rides, a road rally, a WWII encampment, a swap meet, and more special events. Drop by www.bantamjeepfestival.com for more information.
McMillins Win Baja 1000
For the second time in three years, the Southern California father-son race team of Scott and Andy McMillin took the overall four-wheel and Trophy Truck victories at the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000. The McMillins covered the 705-mile loop course in 14 hours 51 minutes 36 seconds, averaging 47.12 mph. Well, technically that time is for 700 miles of racing. Five miles past the start in Ensenada, a big-rig accident blocked the course. SCORE officials decided to restart the Trophy Trucks at race mile 5, and they awarded the McMillins the overall four-wheel victory based on their having the highest average speed among all car and truck finishers.
We were glad to see Rod Hall’s name among the entrants this year. Hall, who turned 74 recently, is the only person to have competed in every Baja 1000 since its inception in 1967. He was listed as a driver in two trucks—with his sons Chad and Josh in their Trophy Truck and as a driver in the Stock Full class with Sam Edgar. Unfortunately, neither truck finished the race, dashing Hall’s hopes of adding to his 21 career class wins at the 1000.
This Just In
• Danny Thompson, son of racing legend Mickey, is planning to follow in his father’s footsteps with an attempt at the land-speed record for piston-engine, wheel-driven vehicles. He’ll pilot the Challenger 2.5, a streamliner that Mickey initially constructed in the late ’60s and Danny has restored and updated. The current mark is a tad above 417 mph; Danny is shooting for 420 or beyond. Why do we care? Because the twin 500hp engines aboard the streamliner are powering the front and rear wheels, Danny’s Challenger will become the fastest 4x4 in the world should he be successful. At the SEMA Show, Mickey Thompson Tires announced it will kick in $300,000 in sponsorship to aid Danny’s attempt.
• Every year after SCORE’s racing season ends, Toyota sponsors the Milestone Awards, given to those drivers who finished every required mile in the year’s series. In 2011, 21 drivers crossed all 1,762.02 miles of SCORE racing and earned Milestone awards, including six Trophy Truck pilots: Bryce Menzies, Rob MacCachren, Gary Weyhrich, Adam Householder, Jesse Ashcraft, and Ken Losch. This makes a record fifth Milestone award for MacCachren.
• The earthquake and tsunami that pummeled Japan have made a huge impact on the country’s automakers. The latest we heard is that the disasters have delayed the launch of the next-generation Nissan Titan pickup. Once planned for 2013, it’ll now be 2014 at least before we see the new truck. We also learned through Automotive News that Nissan plans to make the truck more attractive to contractors and other tradesmen by offering V-6 and single-cab models, which presumably would be less expensive than the King Cab V-8s currently available.