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Gordon Wins 45th Baja 500
Robby Gordon, wheeling his Speed Energy/Toyo Tires Chevy Trophy Truck, overcame an early spin off course to win the 45th SCORE-Tecate Baja 500. He covered the 502-mile course in a little more than 10 hours 4 minutes, for an average speed of 49.73 mph.
We put the whip to her and let her run
On Gordon’s heels was BJ Baldwin, who was able to capitalize on Gordon’s early-race spinout and led the race in his Monster Energy/Toyo Tires Chevy for some five hours until “a $2 bolt broke in the brake pedal. That caused the brakes to fail,” said Baldwin. Quick pit work got him back in the hunt, and he finished Second overall.
“It was a good day for us,” Gordon said at the finish. “The pit stops were awesome. On the last stop we pulled out right in front of BJ, and that’s exactly what we needed to do. We needed to be the first truck on the road for the last 150 miles. We put the whip to her and let her run.”
More Power for 2014 Denali
When it goes on sale this fall, GMC’s ’14 Sierra Denali will be available with the biggest of GM’s new EcoTec3 engines, the 6.2L V-8. Though actual output numbers won’t be released until closer to the truck’s on-sale date, GMC says the estimated 420 hp and 450 lb-ft of peak torque are the “most power and torque of any light-duty truck engine.”
Standard equipment for the Denali pickups will include the 355hp 5.3L EcoTec3 V-8 plus a raft of high-end accessories, including a chrome grille, 20-inch chrome wheels, leather upholstery, heated and cooled front seats, and a Bose audio system. The Z71 off-road package, with Rancho monotube shocks and extra skidplating, will be available as an option.
The Other Mexican 1000
Some 148 competitors took part in the fourth General Tire NORRA Mexican 1000, a rally that sends vintage (and a few contemporary) desert racers through 1,200 miles of special rally stages and transit sections along the Baja peninsula. Much of the rally was led by two-time Mexican 1000 winners Bob Gordon, Frank Arciero, Ryan Arciero, and Tim Crabtree in their ’92 Chenoweth-Toyota. A broken rear hub on the final day opened the door for off-road icon Walker Evans to pilot his ’78 Dodge pickup to a Vintage Open Truck class and overall victory in the Vintage category. The hotly contested Vintage Production Sedan category was won by the just restored ’57 Chevy of Rick Johnson and Jim Riley.
California Family Funfest
This spring the Azusa Canyon Off-Road Association (ACORA) hosted its first Family Fun Offroad Weekend in Los Angeles. The weekend’s undercard was an R/C rockcrawling competition held at the park’s ATV Kiddie Training Area on Saturday. Ahmed Hamade took the win in a hotly contested 1:5-scale main event. The full-scale version, an amateur rockcrawling competition on the park’s manmade obstacles, was won by Jordan Pellegrino in his dad’s GenRight maroon YJ.
Vendor displays and a raffle helped raise funds to keep the area open and also for the Challenger’s Boys & Girls Club and Rosemary’s Foundation for abused children. Industry sponsors who helped make the weekend a success include GenRight, Raceline, 4Wheel Parts, OMC Offroad, Falken Tire, sPOD, ACRO Lights, All4 Offroad, Poison Spyder Customs, DirtBound Offroad, Axial R/C, Overland Expedition, Hellraisers Offroad, Fountain Valley Tire Pros, Beach Yamaha, New Image Tire Center, MP Carpets, Tony’s Hobbies, and Crawler Dolls. Killer trophies were provided by Lasernut.
For information on other activities at the Azusa Canyon Offroad Park, visit www.acorausa.com or look up the park on Facebook. —Tom Morr
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This Just In
• Pricing for the ’14 Jeep Cherokee, which goes on sale later this year, will start at $22,995 for a 4x2 Sport model. Add two grand for the 4x4 version. At the top of the Cherokee lineup, the Cherokee Limited will carry a base sticker of $29,995. The Trailhawk model, loaded with all the off-road gear Jeep offers for the Cherokee (including the Active Drive Lock 4x4 system with low range and locking rear axle), starts at $29,495.
• Speaking of pricing, Edmunds.com says the average sale price for a new fullsize pickup (including heavy-duty models) is $39,915, up 8 percent (adjusted for inflation) since 2005. This makes Detroit very happy, since such a big portion of automakers’ profits come from trucks. According to Automotive News, the F-series has accounted for as much as 90 percent of Ford’s profits, while the Silverado and Sierra generated two-thirds of GM’s earnings in 2012.
• Buyers of most ’14 model GM products, including the new Chevy and GMC pickups, will be covered by a new program that covers most routine maintenance (oil changes, tire rotation, vehicle inspection) for two years or 24,000 miles.
• GM is paying such close attention to the rollout of its new pickup trucks that the launch of the fullsize SUVs based on the same platform has been delayed, says Automotive News. The release of the new-generation Tahoe, Yukon, and Suburban has been pushed back at least three months to early 2014.
• Sources inside Chrysler confirmed for Automotive News that a new supercharged Hemi, codenamed Hellcat, will be built for the ’15 Challenger muscle car “and perhaps other Chrysler vehicles.” The 6.2L blown Hemi should put out nearly 640 hp, which should make for one awe-inspiring Wrangler conversion.
• There’s good news in the fight to keep Southern California’s Johnson Valley open, SEMA reports. Legislation that would end a five-year debate on potentially expanding the U.S. Marine Corps base at Twentynine Palms into Johnson Valley has been included in HR 1960, the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), greatly increasing the likelihood of approval. The provision allows the Marines access to Johnson Valley for up to 60 days a year for training exercises, but the OHV area would be otherwise preserved for recreational use. No longer a standalone bill, the provision will become law when the NDAA is approved by both the House and Senate and signed by the President. The provision protects OHV activities by establishing the Johnson Valley National Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area under continued management by the BLM. It provides for public participation in determining the dates for military activities that will be the least disruptive for OHV activities. Final passage of the NDAA is not expected until the end of the year.
• Are four-wheelers being underestimated by the government? According to the Stewards of the Sequoias, we are. The Forest Service estimates that off-roading in California’s Sierra forests makes up less than one percent of the total recreation taking place there, while we actually represent closer to 20 percent of forest recreation, making us the second most popular form of recreation. Why does this matter? The ranking of recreation is used to determine future allocations for recreation in forest plans, and the incorrect low numbers are being used to justify more road and trail closures. As part of Stewards’ No More Trail Closures program, you can see a short video about forest recreation at www.stewards ofthesequoia.org.