Jeepspeeding In 2002With just a few events remaining in the 2002 American JeepSpeed Challenge race series, the number of entries - and the heat of competition - is on the rise. The increase in competitors is quite possibly a result of how easy it is to enter the series. With each competitor adhering to strict regulations that limit the amount of modifications, it's near-stock Cherokees racing against near-stock Cherokees. This pits driver against driver, whereas many race classes turn into a race to see who has spent the most money. This is where the rising heat of competition comes into play. Cherokees duking it out in the desert. It's a beautiful thing, people; you'd best check it out.
Another great thing about the 2002 JeepSpeed Challenge, and certainly an enticement to the competitors, is that two championships are being run simultaneously. Along with the American Racing JeepSpeed Challenge Championship, the Mojave Desert Racing (MDR) Class 17 championship is also up for grabs, with contingencies totaling $20,000 from race sponsors American Racing Custom Wheels, BFGoodrich Tires, Skyjacker Suspensions, and Rubicon Express.
Going into the fourth race of the season, the series' point leaders were Casey Currie, with 139, Barrie Thompson, with 110, and Charlie Peltzer, with 106. Peltzer, whose wife, Carrie, serves as his navigator, scored a First Place finish in the third race of the season, the MDR Kartek 400 in Lucerne Valley, California. Rolling on stock Dana 30 front axles and Dana 35 rear axles, Peltzer set a JeepSpeed record average speed of 39.9 mph. Look for Peltzer and the other Jeep Cherokee driving competitors at the final race of the season being held in Barstow, California, November 22-23. For more information about the American JeepSpeed Challenge Series, check out www.jeepspeed.com.
Friends Of The RubiconThe Rubicon Trail has long been considered the crown jewel of four-wheeling. In fact, more than 15,000 mountain bikers, motorcyclists, and off-road enthusiasts make use of the trail every year. On June 29, 2002, these same enthusiasts spent the day giving a little something back. With shovels in hand, more than 70 volunteers joined together on a conservation project targeting five separate sections of the Rubicon Trail.
Friends of the Rubicon (FOTR), a grassroots organization created specifically to protect public access to the Rubicon area, coordinated the event. The group has taken a proactive stance on land use and environmental concerns in the area, and, with the help of the California Off-Highway Vehicle Commission, has brought multiple government agencies together to discuss responsible continued access.
The June work project addressed five specific areas of concern that were noted in a 2001 survey of the trail. Some of the work done included creating rock-lined drainage channels to divert standing water, blocking off spur trails, and back-filling muddy areas with several tons of rock. Overall, more than 300 volunteer hours were logged in. According to land-use advocate Del Albright, "These volunteers are dedicated to doing whatever it takes to keep this trail open for future generations."
Off-Roaders Protest Land Closures
On July 11, more than 100 Jeeps, mountain bikers, and SUV owners circled the State Capitol to protest Senator Boxer's California Wild Heritage Wilderness Act of 2002 (S. 2535). Afterward, the convoy of about 125 men, women, and children gathered on the north steps of the Capitol to listen to speakers who vowed to fight Senator Boxer's effort to close forest roads, trails, and dispersed camping.
Speakers included representatives from Congressman John Doolittle's office, Assemblyman Tim Leslie's office, the Blue Ribbon Coalition, Friends of the Rubicon, and the California League of Off-Road Voters. Statements in response to the statewide protest were made by Senator Boxer's office and the California Wilderness Coalition (CWC).
Don Amador, the western representative for the Blue Ribbon Coalition, said, "The main message of this protest today is that we are not going to let Senator Boxer close our favorite trails and camping areas in the National Forests."
"The CWC's claim by Jean Munoz that existing and maintained roads were left out of the proposal is just simply not true. Many of my favorite forest travelways, including a segment of the designated California Back Country Discovery Trail in Humboldt County, are targeted for closure in this bill," Amador said.
"A review by staff of the Los Padres National Forest states that Boxer's plan would close trails and impact the agency's ability to manage the forest for recreation and wildfires. Designated trails in the Tahoe National Forest and elsewhere would also be closed," Amador concluded.
Editor's note: In all, Barbara Boxer's Wilderness Act would designate a total of 2-1/2 million acres in California as wilderness, which would make it off limits to any type of motorized vehicle, including bicycles.