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Off-Road Competition In The 1990s And Beyond - Trail’s End

Posted in Features on August 8, 2014 Comment (0)
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There seemed to be a lot of 4x4 competitions in the 1990s. There were events like the Florida Safari Triathlon, which was modeled after the incredible Camel Trophy, and the Superwinch Off-Road Sportsman Challenge held in Tennessee. Some trailrides, like the Florida Superlift 4x4 Adventure, even included competitions that merged an obstacle course with a paintball competition. We regularly covered events such as these, and they packed the pages of Four Wheeler.

"This event was unusual in the world of 4x4 competitions in that all of the competitors had to keep a canoe lashed to the roof of their 4x4 for the duration of the event"

One of the stories we wrote on the Florida Safari Triathlon published in the Aug. 1999 issue. This event was unusual in the world of 4x4 competitions in that all of the competitors had to keep a canoe lashed to the roof of their 4x4 for the duration of the event. They’d use the canoe during competition as they raced each other on a 10-mile canoe run through an alligator-infested swamp. That’s creative. And as you can imagine, keeping a canoe perched on top of a 4x4 during extended high-speed wheeling is a challenge in itself. Elements of the Florida Safari Triathlon included time-speed-distance rallies and navigation challenges, both of which required each two-man team to be proficient with a map, compass, and GPS. Other aspects of the competition included an obstacle course and a 50-yard mud bog. Physical tests included a race to see which team could pull their 4x4 15 yards through deep sand the fastest using a Hi-Lift jack. There was even a skeet shooting competition.

The Superwinch Off-Road Sportsman Challenge story published in the July ‘99 issue kicked off with a full-day rally course on a mountain. Mandatory checkpoints dotted the course, and the course caused a significant amount of damage to many of the competing vehicles. An evening run further punished the competitors, but teams worked throughout the night to repair their rigs, and by dawn, only two vehicles were still broken. Day two found the competitors engaged in canoeing and rifle shooting before being tossed into a series of special tasks and short-course loop racing. It was a packed two-day event.

Four Wheeler jumped in the competition arena in 1993 when we introduced the incredible Top Truck Challenge. It didn’t require canoes or rifles, but it did throw down a gauntlet of challenges to a willing group of adventurous 4x4 owners, much like it does today.

Rockcrawling competitions came on strong during this time period as well, and they added to the wide variety of choices available for those wheelers wanting to engage in competition. It wasn’t long before rockcrawling spawned rock racing. And a few years later we saw the birth and incredible growth of the King of the Hammers, an event that combined several off-roading disciplines.

As long as there are 4x4s, there will be competition. This is good. What is the next big thing? Who knows. What we do know is we’ll be there to cover it, just as we have been.

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