You know, for such a persecuted group, we off-roaders sure are a bunch of good people. Think about it: Every time you turn around, there's someone in a 4x4 helping another. This time, it was the Sacramento-based Sierra Treasure Hunters Four-Wheel Drive Club and the Grass Valley 4-Wheelers.
Thanks to a grant from the California Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Commission, a new statewide partnership has been formed between the California Association of Four-Wheel Drive Clubs Safety and Education Foundation and Disabled Sports USA. As part of the partnership, local four-wheel-drive clubs volunteer their vehicles, driving abilities, and time to expand the summer program for Disabled Sports USA members, including those affected with cerebral palsy, paraplegia and quadriplegia, spinal bifida, muscular dystrophy, and developmental disabilities. According to Doug Pringle, president of the Far West Chapter of Disabled Sports USA, his organization offers a variety of sports programs, including skiing, river rafting, and camping, and now four-wheeling.
On the inaugural venture, the volunteering four-wheelers and their guests set out from Cisco Grove, California, to the top of Signal Peak, almost 8,000 feet above sea level. From there, the group had spectacular views for miles in every direction. The convoy moved down the mountain after that to Fordyce Lake, where volunteers had lunch ready. Jason Berger of Truckee, California, along with his wife, Andrea, spearheaded the volunteer effort, with Jason serving as trail boss and Andrea assisting with registration and putting the meal together. Jay Byrn of Sacramento, who has had deterioration of the spine since birth, was quoted as saying, "This is really very special and it is nice to get out of the city and get to these areas where you can't get in a two-wheel-drive vehicle. Our volunteer drivers are giving us good insight into their passion for four-wheeling, and we are so appreciative for all of their help."
Dennis Porter of Redding, California, a representative of the California Association of Four Wheel Drive Clubs, said there are other four-wheel-drive trips planned this summer. By this time next year, he hopes to see the program go statewide. For more information on future Disabled Sports USA four-wheel-drive trips, call (530) 581-4161 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Four-wheel-drive enthusiasts and clubs interested in volunteering can contact Dennis Porter at (530) 221-1949 or e-mail email@example.com. Thanks to Jack Raudy of the Blue Ribbon Coalition for contributing this information.
Truckin' Launches New SUV MagNew from the editors of Truckin' magazine, the World's Leading Truck Publication, and the guys who we share office space, is Truckin's SUV, a bi-monthly magazine devoted to SUVs and enthusiasts. The new publication, which hit the newsstand August 14th, includes accessory buyer's guides, easy how-tos and tech stories, travel tales, and in-depth road tests. Dave Withrow, McMullen Argus Truck Group publisher, stated, "We will not be going after the soccer moms who strictly drive SUVs, making no changes. We want the reader who modifies their SUV so we can educate them on how to do it." The new mag will also showcase the latest in electronics and mobile audio and video systems.
Big Win for Early Autos
Legislation that threatened to allow car makers to crush pre-'70 vehicles in exchange for credits toward their obligations under the state's Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) program has been scrapped by California legislators. Under pressure from SEMA, environmental groups, and automobile hobbyists, the bill was rewritten to help ensure the purchase of reduced-emission school buses and diesel mitigation programs in low-income communities. The original bill allowed owners who surrendered their vehicles for destruction to receive a voucher of at least $2,500 for the purchase of a newer vehicle. This program was intended for implementation in low-income communities located in areas of the state designated as having severe air pollution. However, according to Steve McDonald, SEMA Director of Government Affairs, "the bill ignored the fact that lower-income car owners often cannot afford to purchase new or used vehicles with the money provided by this program."
Having long maintained that programs that call for the destruction of certain vehicles rely on the flawed premise that by scrapping older cars, the state will reduce emissions, SEMA stated that the bill provided no means by which to verify emissions reductions from vehicles destroyed and failed to recognize that pre-'70 cars are few in number and rarely driven. "This program would have unfairly provided flexibility to auto manufacturers at the expense of automobile hobbyists and low-income drivers and made no provision for rescuing valuable parts and parts-cars for repair and restoration projects, McDonald added. For information about SEMA and the good fight, check out the Web site at www.sema.org.
Defenders on Safari
If you're looking to go on safari in a Land Rover Defender 110 but can't make it to Africa, you can now head to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay in Tampa for a similar adventure. Billed as the world's boldest off-road safari and wild-river adventure, Rhino Rally takes guests for a spin through 16 acres of the park's renowned Serengeti Plain in custom 18-seat Land Rover Defender 110s. The fully operational 147-inch stretched-wheelbase vehicles carry guests on an eight-minute or longer two-part adventure ride where more than 100 exotic African animals can be viewed. After that, the Defenders are "swept away" in a raging flash flood of whitewater.
The Defenders feature a full complement of off-road equipment, including spare tires, a jack, ladders and full brushbars, and even snorkels so the engine won't be flooded during the wild-river portion of the ride. The vehicles, of which 16 were built, were manufactured in the U.K. by Land Rover and modified in-house by Land Rover Special Vehicles, an operation that builds specialty one-off and fleet vehicles for individuals and government organizations.
More Tests for Tires
In compliance with the TREAD Act signed into law by former president Bill Clinton in November 2000, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) had to establish new testing standards for tires by June 1, 2001. Current safety tests measure durability at varying speeds and loads for a fixed time on a rotating drum and have been in effect since 1968. Also, many of the tests pertain to bias-ply tires, which are rarely used on passenger cars and not at all by any of the manufacturers. The tests proposed by NHTSA include tougher high-speed and endurance tests but are limited to lab tests, which, according to General Motors, may not show how the tires are likely to perform on the road. GM safety engineers say the tests should be correlated with on-road testing since wheels, suspension systems, loads, road surfaces, and other factors affect tire durability.
A preliminary outline of the testing procedures was issued last year and included an increase in the number of speed and endurance tests. It also measured tire performance based on load, speed, temperature, and pressure and duration. Ford Motor Company is also giving input on the matter, sharing its test data and testing procedures it used in determining the cause of the Firestone tire failures on Explorers.