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Desert Dirt - Off-Road News - December 2010

Posted in News on December 1, 2010
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Lovell Racing Takes 3rd Place At Pike's Peak Hill Climb
Having always lived in the shadow of Pikes Peak, Brad Lovell has always dreamed of racing his way to the top. He decided it was time to take his V-8 powered Amsoil Pro-Light short course truck and throw it into the open class to see what he was made of. The 88th running of the PPHC would put his truck up against a modified Cobra, a dedicated hill climb car from New Zealand, a WRC rally car from Luxembourg, and a Honda Ridgeline outfitted for Baja. This eclectic group proved all you really need to compete in the open class is a body, which made his Pro-Light feel right at home.

Brad cannot recall much from the actual race because racing along the edge of a cliff at more than 12,000 feet takes all of your concentration. On a few of the narrow corners, he realized his tires were actually helping save his life. Pushing his truck to its limit he rounded the final corner and spotted the checkered flag. His lifelong dream of racing the PPHC had been accomplished and standing on the podium in third place was icing on the cake.

To check out a video of Brad's run, visit: YouTube, For more information about Lovell Racing, visit:

Off-Road Legend dies in Plane Crash
In early August, Frank "Scoop" Vessels died when his plane crashed in Oregon while en route to Montana.

Kash (left) and Frank "Scoop" Vessels stand in front of Scoop's historic Ford F-100. The elder Vessels used the truck and its BFGoodrich tires to win the 1977 Baja 500 and Baja 1000.

Even though Vessels was best known in desert-racing circles, he gained a big appreciation for trail-style off-roading. In fact, Vessels was first introduced to Lion's Back in Moab by former OFF-ROAD Editor Phil Howell himself. The trip over Lion's Back burned deeply into Scoop's memory and he spoke of it fondly for years afterward.

I had the chance to meet Scoop a few years ago, writing a profile story about the man who lived in the dual worlds of horses (racing, breeding) and horsepower and loved them both.

A little background info is in order here. Scoop's work in the world of horse racing and breeding had made him a very rich man. His stallion farm in Bonsall, California, can be accurately called "elegant" and "sprawling." I mention this because despite all of the wealth and accolades he'd garnered over the years, he was an approachable, nice man.

I suspect that much of his grounded, approachable nature came from hard work at an early age. That same hard work is also the origin of his nickname. Growing up, the Vessels family owned the Los Alimitos horse racing track in the Southern California city of the same name. As you'd guess, where there are horses, there are piles to clean up. It was young Frank's job to be handy with a shovel. "When they needed something cleaned up," he told me, "they'd just yell 'Scoop!'"

Vessels is survived by wife Bonnie and sons Kash, Colt, and Bryan.

Godspeed, Mr. Vessels. You'll be missed by many. I'm glad I had the chance to meet you. --Kevin Blumer

Was Cash For Clunkers A Bad Idea?
Just one year following the popular Cash For Clunkers program, are people sticking with the cars they purchased with the government rebate? Lease reports a significant trend in inquiries from people who leased a car with a Cash For Clunkers rebate looking to escape the auto lease just one year into their five-year commitment.

Lured by the idea of receiving a $3,500 or $4,500 rebate from the government, close to 700,000 vehicles were sold or leased during last year's Cash For Clunkers program. For many people this was an opportunity to trade in an old, inefficient vehicle for a new car lease with better fuel efficiency, even though this meant adding a monthly car payment after many years of enjoying a fully paid-off car.

In order to qualify for a lease through the Cash For Clunkers program, a car shopper needed to sign up for a lease with a minimum of five years. Fewer than 20 percent of all Cash For Clunkers participants were lured into leasing deals that came with either a $3,500 or $4,500 rebate. But after the initial luster wore off people now realize these contracts were a mistake. One year later has been fielding calls from drivers evaluating their options for lease transfer.

"It will be difficult for these people to exit their lease because there is very little market for a used car with three or four years left," said Sergio Stiberman, CEO and founder of "Many of these people didn't have a car payment when they took advantage of the rebate. Now they have a monthly payment and five-year commitment, which is extremely unfavorable in a leasing environment."

For more information, visit: Lease Trader,

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