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Mike "Carwash" Karwath: 2009 Sigma Buggy

Posted in Top Truck Challenge: 2010 on November 1, 2010
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Photographers: Sean P. HolmanKen Brubaker

A.K.A. Carwash
Mike "Carwash" Karwath of Union, Kentucky, has built quite a reputation over the past couple of years as he built up his 2009 Sigma chassis into a terrain-dominating implement of fun. This tube-chassis buggy polarizes the most hardened trail veteran with its mix of well thought out design, good looks, and quality fabrication. It is one helluva nice rig that any of us would be so lucky to have under our Christmas tree. Prepped for battle, the ultimate test of two years of hard labor was a week of hard fun.

A 2009 Sigma three-seat tube chassis was a starting point for the Carwash buggy, which has been transformed from a pile of parts to an extreme machine capable of conquering the toughest trails. The YJ grille and hood give square-headlight guys something to root for, and the front and rear Rockwells with 54-inch TTC Claws make it nearly unstoppable. With three seats, there is room to carry a replacement spotter-just in case the original one can't hack it.


  • Owner name/city: Mike "Carwash" Karwath/Union, KY
  • Occupation: Shop owner/Fabricator
  • Vehicle model: 2009 Sigma
  • Estimated value: $60,000
  • Engine/aspiration: 468ci Vortec Gen VI OHV V-8
  • Transmission: TH400
  • Transfer case: Stak Monster Box 3-spd
  • Suspension (f/r): Triangulated 4-link, 2.5x18-in Fox Air Shocks/triangulated 4-link, 2.5x18-in Fox Air Shocks
  • Axles (f/r): 21/2-ton Rockwell/21/2-ton Rockwell
  • Axle ratio: 6.72:1
  • Wheels: 20x14 steel Stazworks double beadlocks
  • Tires: 54-in Mickey Thompson TTC Claws

Mike Karwath, Team #11

  • Most looking forward to: "Tank Trap. Seems to be the biggest challenge of the week. Some seem to roll right through it and others have problems every part of the way. There also seems to be no rhyme nor reason to this success or lack of success. So I'm anxious to see how my team fares in the 'Trap."
  • Not looking forward to: "The Mud Bog. Ugh. Mud sucks. 'Nuff said."
  • Playing in his iPod/CD player: "Next four songs from the random playlist: 'I Go To Work' by Kool Moe Dee, 'Drink to the Dead' by Clutch, 'Gimme Back My Bullets' by Lynrd Skynrd, and 'Break 'Em Off Some' by Cypress Hill."
  • Karwath says: "The big toenail on my left foot grows at a 45-degree angle, to the left."

The front suspension consists of a Rockwell 21/2-ton axle located by a triangulated four-link suspension design that is managed by 2.5x18-inch Fox Air Shocks. Inside the front housing is an Ouverson spool and 6.72:1 gearing. A POS steering ram turns the massive Mickey Thompson TTC Claws, and Ouverson pinion brakes are matched to Wilwood four-piston calipers. And just in case stuckage were to occur, a Warn 9.5ti with 100 feet of Viking rope is on call and ready for duty.
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