• JP Magazine
  • Dirt Sports + Off-Road
  • 4-Wheel & Off-Road
  • Four Wheeler

2012 Top Truck Challenge Competition

Posted in Top Truck Challenge: 2012 on December 1, 2012 Comment (0)
Share this
Photographers: Four Wheeler Staff

FourWheeler 18 talented drivers lay it all on the line at Top Truck Champions’ Challenge
Why Would anyone voluntarily return to the carnival of carnage known as Top Truck Challenge and willingly put themselves and their vehicle through the malevolent collection of off-road events, for a second time? What made ’em do it the frst time?

The answers to those questions lie in the minds of the competitors. These are people who relax by not relaxing. They’ve put heart and soul into building vehicles that are designed to be pretty much unstoppable off-road and they’re not afraid to use ’em. If these competitors existed in the 1800s, they would’ve been the ones to leave the comforts of civilization and point their horse west just to know what was over the horizon.

What we’re talking about here is the 20th anniversary of Top Truck Challenge (TTC), where we invited all of the past champions back to Hollister Hills, California, for an incredible week of unprecedented action that we called the Top Truck Champions’ Challenge (TTCC).

Since TTC’s inception in 1993 there have been 22 champions. How can there be 22 champions in only 19 years? Well, one year (2008) there was a tie for First Place and for two years (2010 and 2011) we had two classes (Truck and Buggy) that generated a First Place in each class. Of the 22 TTC champions, 17 of them returned to compete in TTCC this year! In addition to those from the west coast, competitors came from as far away as Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Idaho, Kentucky, Arizona, Montana, and Canada. We also invited one peer-chosen Four Wheeler reader to compete. After the ballots were counted that person was Ron George, former TTC ’07 competitor from Osceola, Iowa. For most recent competitors, TTCC would look familiar this year.

For those who competed back in the ’90s, things looked much different. Over the years we have streamlined the competition and we’ve eliminated boring events. This year, as in recent years, TTCC featured our seven signature events that included the Tow Test, Frame Twister, Mud Pit, Obstacle Course, Hill Climb, Mini Rubicon, and Tank Trap. Each of these events tests the vehicles and the competitors in a different way. You can read a description of each event on the following pages. And speaking of the following pages, that’s where you’ll fnd the details of how it all went down. You can read a play-byplay of how each competitor did in each event as well as what went wrong and what went right. Also included are quotes from some of the drivers after they had fnished each event. And speaking of events, we ran all 18 vehicles through six of the events and then the 10 vehicles with the most points (along with the voted-in rig) advanced to the Tank Trap for a fnal muddy, rocky, sweaty, dusty, off-camber shootout. We’ve included results for each event so you can see how each competitor fared and at the end of the story you’ll be able to see who left Hollister as the Grand Champion of the Champions’ Challenge.

We’ve featured the competing vehicles in the last two issues of Four Wheeler (October and November), so you already know that the past champions are returning to Hollister with some serious machinery. This event is no walk in the park. Competitors are being timed or their distance measured in every event. The days are long and the nights short. The pressure is unrelenting. But as we’ve said, these folks are hardwired for pressure like this. Some slithered, some slid, some slalomed, and some slammed, but no matter how they fnished they all did an amazing job against monumental challenges. The action begins on the next page.

Day 1 Event 1: The Tow Test
Unlike your normal run-of-the-mill, yawn-inducing truck pull, our Tow Test takes place on a dirt hill that climbs approximately 13 feet in altitude over its 150-foot length and has a maximum angle of approximately 16 degrees. This year we hitched each competitor’s rig to a 39,907-pound cement mixer and we turned ’em loose. Each competitor is allowed one pull and there is no time limit. A pull is completed when forward momentum ceases or the front axle of the cement mixer crosses the fnish line, whichever comes frst. The front axle of the cement mixer (and not the tow vehicle) is used as the measurement point to compensate for tow strap stretch. This is an event where a heavy vehicle is a good thing. This year, only one competitor drove to a full pull.

The Play-By-Play
Austin: Started with the TH350 transmission in First gear, shifted to Second gear during the run, didn’t like it, and shifted back to First gear. Ran with the Advance Adapters Atlas four-speed T-case in 2.72 low range, the front and rear sucked down with the winches, and with 10 psi in the 44-inch tires.

Burton: Lowered the front tire pressure to 4½ psi and the rear pressure to 12 psi. Used the winch to draw down the front end. No wheelhop out of the 54-inch Mickey Thompson Baja Claw TTC tires.

Campbell: Started with the TH400 transmission in First gear and the Advance Adapters Atlas 3.0 Tcase in low range. Shifted to Second gear along the way. The 42-inch Goodyear MT/R tires were aired up to 30 psi.

Duffy: Drew the front end down with the Warn 9.5xp winch. Stayed centered on the track nicely, but could’ve used more momentum.

Ellis: Ran with the fve-speed manual transmission in Second gear, the transfer case in low range, and the paddle tires infated to 10 psi rear and 14 psi front. The transfer case popped out of low range during the run due to body tub-to-shifter contact.

Fox: The TH400 automatic transmission was put in Second gear and it shifted along the way. The Advance Adapters Atlas four-speed transfer case was in 3.8:1 ratio low range and there was 25 psi of pressure in all of the 40-inch Goodyear Wrangler MT/R tires.

George: Never shifted from First gear with the BorgWarner 13-45 T-case in low range, ag tires pressurized at 20 psi, and 500 pounds of tractor weights hung on the front of the chassis. The engine stumbled along the way possibly due to a propane vaporizer extension that was installed so it wouldn’t ingest mud or water in other events.

Gray: Drew down on the front end with the winch slightly and ran 12 psi in the rear tires and 14 psi in the front tires. Began the pull with the TH400 transmission in Second gear and the Doubler T-case in double-low.

Green: The front tires were set at 11 psi, the rear tires were set at 8 psi, and the front end was drawn down with the front 20,000-pound winch. The buggy had so much momentum that the cement mixer rolled up the hill after the buggy’s ag tires lost traction.

harrell: The custom-cut tires were reversed so they wouldn’t bite as much and they were flled about 75 percent full of water with 20 psi of air pressure (this gave each tire an estimated weight of 350 pounds). In addition, a wheel and tire (also flled with water) was strapped onto the front of the buggy for added ballast.

Karwath: Ran with the buggy’s front tires at 20 psi and the rear tires at 25 psi in hopes of eliminating wheelhop. Also drew down the front end with the Warn 9.0Rc winch. No wheelhop out of the 54-inch Mickey T’s.

Kraatz: The front end was drawn down with the Warn 8274 winch and the rear end was drawn down with ratchet straps. Ran with 8 psi in the front tires and 15 psi in the rear tires. Completed the run with the C6 transmission in First gear and the NP205 Tcase in low range. Pretzeled the rear driveshaft, but had a spare on hand.

Montpas: Wheelhop central with all four 54-inch Interco Boggers off the ground at times, but the driver stayed in the power. The front end was drawn down with the winch and the tires were pressurized at 16 psi front and 14 psi rear. Destroyed the bull gear in the 2½-ton Rockwell rearend.

Naeger: Strapped a spare wheel and tire onto the front of the rig for added weight. Aired the ag tires to 8½ psi, and ran with the nitrous on and the TH400 transmission in First gear with the Doubler T-case in 4:1 low range. The engine got into the rev limiter three times during the run.

Sanders: Feathered the throttle to combat wheelhop and breakage. The 54-inch Mickey Thompson Baja Claw TTC tires were set at 4½ psi of pressure, the SM465 transmission was in Second gear, and the NP205 transfer case was in low range.

Thorson: Used the Warn 9.5xp winch to draw down the front end and lowered the tire pressure in the 54-inch Mickey Thompson Baja Claw TTC tires to 4 psi. Shifted the TH400 transmission from First to Second gear during the run.

Waddell: A tight build schedule meant no time to dial in the spring rates on the Sway-A-Way RaceRunner coilovers before competition. Suffered non-violent wheelhop with 8 psi in the rear tires and 6 psi in the front tires.

Wager: Chained the IFS and IRS cradles together to enhance strength under load. Didn’t have a tire pressure gauge but estimated the 46-inch Mickey Thompson Baja Claw’s pressure was around 8 psi per tire. Ran with the T-19 transmission in First gear with the Advance Adapters Atlas II T-case inhigh range.

Finish Line Quotes
-“It felt good. Halfway up the hill I was amazed that we still had the speed that we did. We were still accelerating.”
– Mike Karwath

-“I wish I would’ve got a full pull. I was going to go for another gear but I was afraid the hop would get worse.”
– Brian Waddell

-“We should’ve practiced some of that stuff at home or something.”
– Shannon Campbell

-“I’m happy with what we did. I’m surprisedm we got this far. No bouncing, I’m stoked.”
– Ron George

-“I’m used to a lot heavier rig, so it’s a little different for me.”
– Clayton Kraatz

-“It’s impressive trying to pull something that heavy up a hill.”
– Tony Fox

-“This rig isn’t built as heavy-duty as all these other ones so we didn’t want just to pull on the rear cradle and rip it out so we thought if we chained ’em together we could just rip ’em both out at the same time.”
– Geby Wager

-“I was pleased. I didn’t start hopping around. That was good. It was pretty smooth.”
– Matt Thorson

-“I couldn’t believe the load. At home I could get to Third. That was First all the way through in low.”
– Jeremy Naeger

Results
(elapsed time or overall distance traveled if DNF)
1. Green ............................................... 17.56 sec.
2. Burton ............................................ 128 ft. 0 in.
3. Montpas ......................................... 125 ft. 6 in.
4. Thorson .......................................... 124 ft. 0 in.
5. Gray ............................................... 116 ft. 8 in.
6. Waddell .......................................... 115 ft. 4 in.
7. Harrell ............................................ 112 ft. 5 in.
8. Karwath ......................................... 111 ft. 6 in.
9. Naeger ........................................... 110 ft. 2 in.
10. Sanders .......................................... 104 ft. 1 in.
11. Duffy .............................................. 103 ft. 8 in.
12. Kraatz ............................................ 100 ft. 0 in.
13. George.............................................. 98 ft. 0 in.
14. Austin .............................................. 95 ft. 8 in.
15. Fox .................................................. 94 ft. 0 in.
16. Wager ............................................... 93 ft. 3 in.
17. Campbell .......................................... 81 ft. 3 in.
18. Ellis ................................................. 66 ft. 4 in.

Day 1 Event 2: the Frame twister
We call it the Frame Twister, but it could also be called the “Mind Twister.” For many competitors this is the most feared event other than the Tank Trap. Due to the large number of vehicles this year we trimmed the fat from the course and left the choice cuts. We shaved about 100 feet from the course compared to last year and to further raise the bar we halved the time (to 10 minutes) that competitors were given to complete the course. Giant boulders greeted competitors just 27 feet into the course and a troublesome dogleg in the middle of the boulders gave several a heartache. The infamous perpendicularly-placed six wet logs with deep, water-flled trenches between stood guard beginning at 210 feet. The fnish line was a tantalizingly close 135 feet past the last wet log, but that distance was littered with a deep, water-flled X-shaped trench (which we simply called the “X”), a dry log pile, and a collection of cement culvert piping and old metal tanks. This year, the only penalty we assessed was a two-minute penalty (per occurrence) if a competitor didn’t adhere to the winch safety guidelines. Cones mark the course and a competitor is considered out of bounds if the inside of a vehicles tire travels past the outside edge of a cone. This year, the course humbled fve competitors.

The Play-By-Play
Austin: Exited the boulders with 21 seconds on the clock. Became stuck in the wet logs with 45 seconds on the clock and the driver exited the vehicle to help the spotter connect the winch cable. Left the winch cable connected to travel through the X, but while exiting took a bad bounce and went out of bounds near the dry log pile and was DNF’d at that point.

Burton: Cleared the boulders in 33 seconds. Winched out of the wet logs and the X. Entered the dry log pile with 6 minutes on the clock and drove the rest of the course. Utilized the 2½-ton Rockwell’s rear steer often during the run.

Campbell: Started the course with the co-driver out of the buggy. Cleared the rocks in 13 seconds. Became stuck in the wet logs and performed a quick winch recovery. Powered through the X, over the dry log pile, and was airborne over the fnish line.

Duffy: First competitor. Crawled through the boulders with no problem. Punched the 502ci V-8’s throttle in an attempt to power through the six wet logs but a bad bounce caused the Jeep to go out of bounds with only 1:30 on the clock.

Ellis: Powered through the boulders with 18 seconds on the clock. Became stuck in the wet logs with 60 seconds on the clock. Used the Warn 9.5 winch to drag the rig out of the logs and through the X. Winched over the dry log pile with 5:00 on the clock and drove over the fnish line about 60 seconds later. The T-case would not stay in low range so he ran with four hose clamps connected to each other, the rig’s frewall, and the T-case shifter in an attempt to hold the case in gear. It didn’t work and he was in two-wheel drive most of the time.

Fox: Second competitor. Cleared the boulders with only 20 seconds on the clock. Chassis hung up on the frst wet log, but quick winching with the Warn M12000 got the rig unstuck. Dropped the front passenger wheel into the X and almost rolled. Chose to end the run with 4:02 on the clock.

George: Ran with 8 psi in the ag tires. Cleared the boulders with 21 seconds on the clock. Became stuck in the wet logs with 1:00 on the clock but used the Warn 8274 to winch out within 45 seconds. Drove through the X without winching, but became hung up in the dry log pile and had to winch. Penalized two minutes for a winch safety violation. Gray: Wheeled the big truck through the boulders and the wet logs without winching. Actually had the front wheels out of the X obstacle before having to connect the winch with 2:00 on the clock. Drove over the fnish line 46 seconds later with the winch cable wrapped around the axle. Penalized two minutes for a winch safety violation.

Green: The boulders slowed him down slightly, but then he dropped the hammer and powered through the wet logs, X, and dry log pile without winching. Damaged the sidewall of the passenger side front tire in the wet logs.

harrell: Ran with the custom-cut tires turned to the correct rotation, without water, and with 12 psi of air pressure. Attempted to power through the wet logs, but on a hard landing the accelerator pedal bent, which allowed it and the driver’s foot to become wedged under the brake pedal. The vehicle drove out of bounds and was issued a DNF at that point.

Karwath: Final competitor. Drove out of the boulders with 34 seconds on the clock. Hit the wet logs at speed with so much force that it actually broke a log. Still got stuck in the logs, tried to get out under power, but began winching with 1:34 on the clock. Powered through the X. While trying to get over the dry log pile the winch cable became wrapped around the front axle with 5:00 on the clock. Airtime over the fnish line. Damage report: Bent an inside beadlock ring on one of the wheels causing a loss of tire pressure and damaged the two passenger-side upper spherical rod ends (at the chassis) on the suspension links.

Kraatz: Rolled over in the boulders and spent the next several minutes getting the buggy back on its wheels. With 5:45 on the clock it was upright and they were disconnecting the winch cable. Blasted through the wet logs without winching. While trying to exit the X the buggy traveled out of bounds earning a DNF at that point.

Montpas: Came to the event after a quick rear axle repair from Tow Test damage. Snaked the big Willys through the boulders in only 18 seconds. Caught big air trying to power through the wet logs but was stuck with 1:01 on the clock. Quickly winched out of the wet logs, X, and dry log pile.

Naeger: Left the boulders behind with only 14 seconds on the clock. Entered the wet logs with 40 seconds on the clock, became stuck, but was winching out with 1:52 on the clock. Winched out of the X. Problems winching over the dry log pile consumed some time. Airborne over the fnish line. Sanders: Sauntered through the boulders with 28 seconds on the clock, but couldn’t saunter through the wet logs even with some uncharacteristic application of power from the 406ci V-8. Winched out of the wet logs, X, and again into the dry log pile with 3:39 on the clock. Penalized two minutes for a winch safety violation. The rig’s electric radiator cooling fan began to operate erratically due to a faulty ground wire.

Thorson: Powered through the boulders andm attempted to power through the wet logs but after catching big air the wet logs grabbed the buggy and wouldn’t let go. With only 42 seconds on the clock they quickly winched out. Penalized two minutes for a winch safety violation. Damage report: Bent the rear lower driver-side links in the boulders. Waddell: Slithered the narrowed rig through the boulders in 37 seconds. Got stuck in the wet logs and unspooled cable from the Warn winch with 1:27 on the clock. Entered the X with 2:56 on the clock. Winched out of the X and drove over the dry log pile. Damaged the rear sway bar and the passenger-side front bumpstop along the way.

Wager: Exited the boulders with 55 seconds on the clock. Got stuck in the wet logs and tried to fnesse it out, but had to begin winching with 2:18 on the clock. Winched through the X and drove over the fnish line. There was such little wheelspin through the course that the body didn’t even get muddy.

View Slideshow

Finish Line Quotes
-“I really screwed up.”
– Jerry Duffy

-“You don’t see a hole swallow a 54 like that right to the frame very often, so I wasn’t quite ready for that.”
– Brent Burton

-“We thought we were prepared as we could be with straps, but it got a little sketchy there,but we came through it.”
– Jeremy Naeger

-“I heard it was going to be a lot more challenging. I was expecting to use more time than that. So I’m happy with it.”
– Brian Waddell

-“At least we made it this year. This is the only event we didn’t fnish last year.”
– Alex Sanders

-“That little devious X thing you guys put in there, that’s good.”
– Geby Wager

-“It was defnitely harder than what I remember. I don’t remember getting a winch out there before but we might have. It was a long time ago.”
– Shannon Campbell

-“It’s hardcore. That X is deep. There’s a lot of mud in there.”
– Dave Green

-“The only thing that went right in my prediction was I did climb out of the X.
– Ron George

-“I don’t know what happened in the logs. I have no idea. It thought we hit it plenty hard. The logs just didn’t work out for us.”
– Mike Karwath

Results
(elapsed time including penalties or ranking order if DNF)
1. Green ......................................... 2 min. 03 sec.
2. Waddell ..................................... 4 min. 19 sec.
3. Montpas ..................................... 4 min. 29 sec.
4. Thorson ...................................... 4 min. 37 sec.
5. Gray ........................................... 4 min. 46 sec.
6. George........................................ 5 min. 07 sec.
7. Ellis ........................................... 6 min. 06 sec.
8. Wager ......................................... 6 min. 38 sec.
9. Campbell .................................... 6 min. 50 sec.
10. Sanders ...................................... 6 min. 57 sec.
11. Naeger ....................................... 7 min. 10 sec.
12. Burton ........................................ 7 min. 20 sec.
13. Karwath ...................................... 8 min. 49 sec.
14. Kraatz ..................................DNF (157 ft. 6 in.)
15. Austin ..................................DNF (147 ft. 3 in.)
16. Fox ......................................DNF (124 ft. 0 in.)
17. Duffy ....................................DNF (89 ft. 10 in.)
18. Harrell ....................................DNF (80 ft. 2 in.)

Day 1 Event 3: the mud Pit
Mud is mud, right? False. We take great pride in Top Truck mud because it has to be better than any other mud. By better we mean not only challenging, but also memorable. This year we concocted gnarly goo that was created using specially chosen loose dirt, which was then saturated with thousands of gallons of water. Then we let it marinate. The result was a drier than normal 135-foot pit that contained glue-like, deep mud, which, as it turns out, adhered to competitors rigs like cement (that’s the memorable part). We knew many of these experienced competitors would be driving rigs with lots of power on tap along with aggressive meats and we wanted to see them let it all hang out. We pushed the starting line back to offer them a run at the pit and each rig was ranked by their elapsed time. Rigs that ceased forward movement and did not complete the course (only three this year) were ranked by their overall distance traveled. As we expected, it turned out to be a drag race with some incredibly close times. the rig just ran out of horsepower in the thick goo. Back in camp they found out that the day’s activities had caused the steering box to fail.

The Play-By-Play
Austin: Second competitor. Ran with the throttle-activated Cold Fusion nitrous on the entire run. Managed to stay in the ruts created by the frst competitor, Kraatz.

Burton: Shifted the TH400 transmission all the way to Third gear before hitting the mud, but there wasn’t enough engine rpm to get the boost up in the Magnuson supercharger so he dropped back into Second gear.

Campbell: Punched the throttle on the GM 6.0L V-8 and caught big air off the starting hill. Veered slightly out of the ruts at the beginning of the course but quickly recovered and drove to the fastest time of the event.

Duffy: The passenger-side ruts were slightly deeper than the driver-side ruts so the Jeep was tilted to the passenger-side, which had the effect of trying to pull the Jeep out of the ruts slightly about mid-course.

ellis: Next to last competitor. Chose to put the paddle tires in the recently unused left side of the pit. The T-case was in high range and the nitrous was activated during the run. The four-cylinder engine popped and quit 60 feet into the mud. The engine was perfectly tuned for a 75 hp shot of nitrous, but at the last minute Ellis changed it to a 200 hp shot, which damaged the engine’s piston rings and bearings, though it continued to run during the remaining events.

Fox: Good head of speed off the starting hill, but the rig just ran out of horsepower in the thick goo. Back in camp they found out that the day’s activities had caused the steering box to fail.

George: Left the starting line airborne with the automatic transmission in Second gear and the transfer case in low range. Halfway through the course the big ag tires jumped out of the ruts made by other competitors using the rig to pull to the passenger-side. This forced George to blast new ruts until the rig dropped back into the old ruts just before the fnish line.

Gray: Fourth competitor. Was a tad crooked on takeoff so he backed off the 454ci V-8 on top of the tarting hill to straighten and then he stood on the throttle. Near the fnish line the ruts made by Karwath grabbed his 54-inch Mickey Thompson Baja Claw TTC tires and pulled the rig to the right.

Green: Was one of the last rigs to run and the ruts in the track had morphed to the line that Thorson created. Green just dropped his rig into the ruts and laid down a decent run with no drama. harrell: Unwound the propane-fred 377ci V-8 and caught big air off the starting hill. His run followed George’s run, but the changes to the ruts by George’s ag tires didn’t seem to affect Harrell’s run.

Karwath: Third competitor. Came to the event after a quick fx of beadlock ring damage sustained in the Frame Twister. Ran with the T-case in low range and backed off the 504ci V-8 near the fnish line because the buggy was pulling to the right and he said it felt like he lost steering a little bit (it turned out to be mud on the belts). After competition he noticed the alternator had a developed a growl, so it was changed out.

Kraatz: First competitor. The spotter shifted the C6 transmission during the run. Veered slightly to the driver-side, apparently to avoid the wettest part of the pit.

Montpas: Last competitor. Pointed his big Willys to the right side of the track, unleashed the 406ci small-block and generated a respectable run with no drama.

Naeger: Big air off the starting hill and landed in the mud airborne. Entered the mud with the TH400 transmission in Second gear, the Doubler transfer case in 2:1 mode, and the NOS nitrous system activated.

Sanders: Good head of speed off the starting hill. The driver thought that Second gear had failed in the transmission so he kept it in First gear for the entire run, which meant it didn’t have the momentum to climb out of the pit and over the fnish line.

Thorson: Nailed the throttle on the LS9 376ci V-8 and caught huge air off the starting hill. Initially landed slightly left of the previous ruts but then bounced and ended up with his driver-side tires in the passenger-side tire ruts of the previous competitors. Ended up running the course with his passenger-side tires in virgin mud.

Waddell: The big 54-inch Mickey Thompson Baja Claw TTC tires were airborne off the starting hill and then they dropped right into the ruts made by previous competitors and never deviated from the track. Before the run he switched the good driverside bumpstop to the passenger-side due to “crucial tolerances” on that side of the truck.

Wager: Unspooled the Cadillac 540ci V-8 and few into the mud. Managed to stay in the ruts made by the previous competitors. The vehicle was low on fuel and began sputtering at the fnish line.

Finish Line Quotes
-“That was actually really, really, fun.”
– Clayton Kraatz

-“I thought it was going to be a little soupier, but it’s perfect for the way I’m set up. That was an awesome pit for the way I’m set.”
– Jason Gray

-“We needed it. We struggled. We’re going to go to school on winching and get a little quicker.”
– Jeremy Naeger

-“I actually like the fact that its mud and not just foating water.”
– Geby Wager

-“This went good for this machine. Especially for 44s instead of these great big 54s.”
– Jerry Duffy

-“I knew I blew it when I got out of the rut. I just felt the whole thing just slow down. I was trying to get back in, but it just wasn’t working with me.”
– Ron George

-“Maybe I redeemed myself after the Frame Twister.”
– Toby Harrell

Results
(elapsed time or distance traveled if DNF)
1. Campbell ..........................................8.190 sec.
2. Harrell ..............................................8.305 sec.
3. Waddell ............................................9.426 sec.
4. Naeger .............................................9.590 sec.
5. Thorson ............................................9.992 sec.
6. Austin ............................................10.060 sec.
7. Green .............................................10.230 sec.
8. Kraatz ............................................10.803 sec.
9. Karwath ..........................................11.020 sec.
10. Burton ............................................11.122 sec.
11. George............................................11.124 sec.
12. Duffy .............................................11.180 sec.
13. Gray ..............................................11.544 sec.
14. Montpas .........................................11.870 sec.
15. Wager .............................................14.990 sec.
16. Sanders ........................................DNF (125 ft.)
17. Fox ..............................................DNF (104 ft.)
18. Ellis ...............................................DNF (60 ft.)

Day 2 Event 1: The Obstacle Course
Our low-speed Obstacle Course is approximately ¼-mile of non-stop pucker. Historically it’s been tough, but this year we bumped it up a notch so our champions wouldn’t get bored. It still starts out with a gnarly, long, slippery hill descent that we simply call the “frst hill.” Descending the frst hill drops competitors into what we call the “lower section,” which contains a 360-degree turn around a couple of water holes. From there competitors travel up a hill to the “upper section.” Here they’re subjected to a twisty, rapid fre collection of obstacles including a new 6-foot-deep trench that could either be crawled or jumped. From there they head to the fnal section that includes a tricky off-camber dogleg. Cones mark the course and hitting one of them earns a 10-second penalty each. If three or more tires of a vehicle travel outside of a cone the competitor is issued a DNF at that point. Because of the increased number of vehicles this year we decreased the time limit for each competitor from 10 to 8 minutes. Ranking is by overall time for those who fnish or overall distance traveled for those who don’t. The key here is accuracy because those cone penalties can bloat an elapsed time pretty quick. This year, the course put three vehicles in a headlock. the Play-By-Play

The Play-By-Play
Austin: Descended the frst hill in 18 seconds.Jumped the trench, but the landing pancaked the lower control arm brackets at the frame, which allowed the axle to shift rearward and the driveshaft yoke to bottom out thus spearing the driveshaft into the transfer case. This in turn cracked the bellhousing in two. Chose to end the run with 2:50 on the clock. The driver had the repair parts but it was determined that it would’ve taken too long and too many points would’ve been lost to stay competitive.

Burton: Third competitor. Descended the frst hill in only 16 seconds. Blazing fast run until an unseen deep hole swallowed the vehicle’s driver-side front wheel while the vehicle was completing a 180-degree left-hand turn in the upper section above the trench, causing the rig to roll onto the driver-side. Received a DNF at that point.

Campbell: Incredibly fast run. Was at the bottom of the frst hill with only 12 seconds on the clock. Jumped the trench and avoided all but one water hole. Only hit one cone.

Duffy: Fast run to the bottom of the frst hill, arriving with only 18 seconds on the clock. From there, a conservative run that included crawling the trench and avoiding most of the water holes. Hit fve cones.

Ellis: Last competitor. With the 1.6L four-cylinder engine screaming he made it to the bottom of the frst hill with 26 seconds on the clock. Big air jump over the trench. Stopped to realign coming out of the last water hole in the upper section in an attempt to miss hitting a cone. Only hit two cones.

Fox: Came to the event sporting a new steering box. Careful descent of the frst hill, arriving at the base with 29 seconds on the clock. Crawled the trench and avoided all of the water holes except one. Broke the pitman arm and damaged the steering box lower sector shaft bearing in the dogleg.

George: With only 21 seconds on the clock he was at the bottom of the frst hill. With no rear steer he had to back up a couple of times in the tight sections. Successfully jumped the trench and only hit two cones.

Gray: With only 17 seconds on the clock, he had descended the frst hill. Crawled the trench, but with 1:20 on the clock he ran off course in the upper section and lost time. Tried to make up time in the fnal section but hit the dogleg too fast and sheared all four steering arm bolts on the driver-side of the front axle, broke the steering support on the end of the steering arm, bent the inside of the Stazworks wheel, and split the steering knuckle top and bottom. Annihilated 14 cones during his run.

Green: Fast run to the bottom of the frst hill in only 20 seconds. Restrained, calculated run and was the frst vehicle to crawl the trench. Only hit one cone.

harrell: Fast run to the bottom of the frst hill in only 16 seconds. Jumped the trench and avoided all but one water hole. Penalized for hitting four cones. The custom-cut tires threw so much dust the driver had to stop occasionally to let the dust clear so he could see the course.

Karwath: Blazing run that found him at the bottom of the frst hill with only 15 seconds on the clock and leaving the upper section with only 1:18 on the clock. Crawled the trench. Only hit two cones.

Kraatz: At the starting line Kraatz gave up the driver position to truck owner and former TTC competitor Leroy Latham. Latham fred the engine with 28 seconds on the clock and they descended the frst hill with 51 seconds on the clock. Crawled the trench. Only hit two cones.

Montpas: Came to the Obstacle Course with new driveshaft U-joints to replace ones that were presumably damaged the previous day in the Tow Test. Descended the frst hill with 24 seconds on the clock and then crawled the trench. Only hit two cones.

Naeger: Second competitor. Arrived at the bottom of the frst hill with 30 seconds on the clock. Successfully jumped the trench but the throttle pedal became damaged during the landing and the throttle cable broke. He had a pair of Vice Grips on hand for such an emergency and they were quickly attached to the throttle cable so it could be operated by hand. The spotter operated the throttle for the rest of the course. Only hit one cone.

Sanders: Made it to the bottom of the frst hill in 21 seconds. With 1:01 on the clock the power steering pump had blown apart and the driver was out of the vehicle. With 3:04 on the clock he had strapped in and was restarting the engine to complete the course with no power steering. Crawled the rest of course in front-wheel drive, only using four-wheel drive in the trench. Only hit four cones.

Thorson: Cleared the frst hill with only 15 seconds on the clock. Big air over the trench and avoided all of the water holes. Penalized for hitting six cones.

Waddell: Descended the frst hill with 20 seconds on the clock. Fast run on the course with no drama and only contacting three cones.

Wager: First competitor. Slow run to the bottom of the frst hill with 43 seconds on the clock. Attempted to jump the trench but the back wheels fell short, which caused the rear of the vehicle to contact the lip of the trench, kick up, and toss the vehicle end-over-end.

Finish Line Quotes
-“It was great. I had a blast. I want to jumpit again.”
– Jeremy Naeger

-“That was maybe a bit much, but I heard that the frst buggy went in and he didn’t carry enough speed and caught the rear and fipped him over and I didn’t want to do that.”
– Ron George

-“There was more turns in there. I didn’t study the map close enough that was for sure.”
– Jason Gray

-“I was planning on not using rear steer unless I had to, then I realized I had to.”
– Brian Waddell

Results
(elapsed time including penalties or ranking if DNF)
1. Campbell .................................... 1 min. 26 sec.
2. Karwath ...................................... 1 min. 53 sec.
3. Ellis ........................................... 2 min. 04 sec.
4. George........................................ 2 min. 06 sec.
5. Green ......................................... 2 min. 07 sec.
6. Harrell ........................................ 2 min. 09 sec.
7. Thorson ...................................... 2 min. 12 sec.
8. Waddell ...................................... 2 min. 18 sec.
9. Kraatz ........................................ 2 min. 25 sec.
10. Montpas ..................................... 2 min. 28 sec.
11. Duffy .......................................... 2 min. 36 sec.
12. Fox ............................................ 2 min. 39 sec.
13. Naeger ....................................... 2 min. 51 sec.
14. Gray .......................................... 3 min. 34 sec.
15. Sanders ...................................... 5 min. 25 sec.
16. Austin .......................................................DNF
17. Wager .......................................................DNF
18. Burton .......................................................DNF

Day 2 Event 2: The Hill Climb
Gravity is funny. Not funny ha-ha, but funny in the sense that it can be your best friend or your worst enemy. In the case of our approximately 600-foot-long Hill Climb, gravity is without question the enemy. Our Hill Climb takes place on a steep hill that we strategically pepper with holes and loose dirt and it has an average angle of 60 degrees. Well, unless a competitor is in one of the holes and then it could be more or less. This event tests each competitor’s ability to think on-the-fy as they try to peer over the hood of their rig to see something besides sky and the poison oak that borders the course. New this year we allowed each competitor 5 minutes to tackle the hill. During that time they could stop, back up, or winch if the need arose. If a competitor exceeded the limit, traveled out of bounds, or ran out of time—they received a DNF at that point. This year the Hill Climb stopped three vehicles.

The Play-By-Play
Austin: Did not run due to damage sustained in the Obstacle Course.

Burton: Very composed, steady run. Utilized the rear steer often and either drove through or straddled some of the large holes.

Campbell: Fastest run of the event. Drove like he was out in the desert and was unfazed by the angle and deep holes.

Duffy: Fast run with some incredible wheel lift along the way, especially coming out of the last hole.

Ellis: Had been plagued by a transfer case that wouldn’t stay in low range, so prior to this event he removed the case and welded the outer gear to the front output shaft so the T-case would be locked in four-wheel drive but still offer high and low range. The paddle tires stuck to the hill like glue and were key in pulling the little Suzuki to the top in what would be one of the fastest times.

Fox: With approximately 1:01 on the clock the TJ was perched about halfway up the hill with the driver-side front Goodyear hanging high in the air and the passenger-side rear tire in a deep hole. Entered the last hole near the top with 2:15 on the clock. Great driver-spotter communication.

George: Smooth, steady progress the entire way up the hill with a huge amount of front driver-side wheel lift coming out of the last hole.

Gray: Came to the event after a trailside fx to repair damage suffered in the Obstacle Course. Had trouble just about every step of the way and at one point was crossways on the hill. Became hung up in the fnal hole and the power steering belt fell off. Chose to end his run with approximately four seconds left on the clock.

Green: The torque of the Cummins turbodiesel and the traction of the ag tires made short work of the course. At one point the passenger-side front tire caught a rut and tugged the steering wheel out of Green’s hands so he had to get off the throttle for a moment to recover.

harrell: Super fast run, especially considering the driver was dealing with a twisted pitman arm that was damaged at the end of the Obstacle Course. Crossed the fnish line at a surprise angle.

Karwath: Steady, fast crawl with very little wheel lift from the Fox coilover-equipped triangulated four-link suspension. Blew an O-ring in the power steering pump along the way, but it was repaired before the next event.

Kraatz: Wheeled the fuel-injected, 460ci, rearengine machine up the hill quickly and with little drama. Never used the rear steer.

Montpas: Amazingly undramatic run that saw the tall rig easily maneuver the length of the hill. The custom double-leaf suspension swallowed up the terrain.

Naeger: The supple four-link coilover suspension with King triple-rate remote-reservoir coilovers swallowed up all but the deepest holes so there was little wheel lift. The throttle-activated NOS nitrous system never kicked in because the engine never spun over 3,100 rpm, which is the activation point for the nitrous system.

Sanders: Great run, especially considering that the only way the power steering would work is with the 406ci engine screaming at around 6,500 rpm.

Thorson: First competitor. The vehicle rolled onto its passenger side with 30 seconds on the clock. A quick winching maneuver had the vehicle back on its Mickey T’s with 2:06 on the clock. With 3:40 on the clock the vehicle had rolled onto its side again. Another quick winching job had the vehicle back on its wheels with 4:40 on the clock. Timed out a few yards from the top of the hill.

Waddell: Ran with 4 psi of pressure in the front tires and 6 psi in the rear tires. The fexy four-link suspension worked really well and the big Mickey T’s stayed close to the ground during the run. Some backfres through the intake due to a fuel injection programming issue.

Wager: Second competitor. Ran with no front clip due to damage sustained in the Obstacle Course and with the air suspension defated due to a damaged controller. Huge rear wheel lift early into the course. Slow, careful run. With 3:30 on the clock they were winching. With 4:00 on the clock the engine was off due to an electrical problem that was causing a dead short in the battery (ongoing crash damage). Chose to end their run with 4:30 on the clock.

Finish Line Quotes
-“We learned a little from the frst one. It wasn’t a race to the top it was a get to the top.”
– Brent Burton

-“I have way too much adrenalin fowing right now for my brain to think.” – Tony Fox
-“Piece of cake.” – Mike Karwath

-“So far everything that beat me last time I’ve got my revenge on.” – Ron George
-“Can’t be a pansy about it.” – Alex Sanders

-“I didn’t have a plan. I just drive it when I see it. There’s no other real way to do it.”
– Jerry Duffy

-“I was just driving too slow that’s all.”
– Shannon Campbell

-“We did really good here in ’09 and I was hoping we could just carry that luck on here and we had a good run.”
– Dave Green

-“It feels good, I’m used to it you know, I’ve been driving this thing for 12 years, so I know its limits.”
– Steven Montpas

-“It was awesome. We just tried to keep it real smooth, we didn’t hit the nitrous. We want to keep it together, we got one more event today.”
– Randy Ellis

Results
(elapsed time or ranking order if DNF)
1. Campbell ...............................................32 sec.
2. Harrell ...................................................33 sec.
3. Green ....................................................39 sec.
4. Ellis ......................................................41 sec.
5. Montpas ................................................43 sec.
6. Karwath .................................................44 sec.
7. Naeger ..................................................48 sec.
8. Duffy .....................................................49 sec.
9. Kraatz ...................................................50 sec.
10. Waddell .................................................53 sec.
11. Sanders ...................................... 1 min. 04 sec.
12. Burton ........................................ 1 min. 29 sec.
13. George........................................ 2 min. 07 sec.
14. Fox ............................................ 2 min. 27 sec.
15. Gray ..........................................................DNF
16. Thorson .....................................................DNF
17. Wager ........................................................DNF
18. Austin .......................................................DNS

Day 2 Event 3: The Mini Rubicon
It’s rare to hear someone say that they’re indifferent to rockcrawling. Most wheelers either love it or hate it. Fact is, rockcrawling is a staple of wheeling and that’s why it’s on our menu of misery. We designed our 149-foot-long, boulder-flled, narrow course with a few strategically placed holes and a limited number of “lines.” This year we cut the time limit to a measly 5 minutes. This forced the Top Truck champions to think and act fast. To keep things exciting, we did away with penalties for things like stopping and backing up. The only penalty this year is a two minute time penalty for a winch safety violation (per infraction). Cones mark the course and a competitor is considered out of bounds if the inside of a rig’s tire travels past the outside edge of a cone. This year the Mini Rubicon halted fve vehicles. trying to power through but chose to winch instead, which was a good idea because the winch pulled hard. Bent a tie rod somewhere along the line, which he straightened and sleeved prior to Tank Trap.

The Play-By-Play
Austin: Did not run due to damage sustained inthe Obstacle Course

Burton: Slow, steady progress with very little noise from the supercharged 347ci V-8 engine. Driver and spotter used wireless headsets to communicate.

Campbell: Super fast run with only a couple of hang-ups. One was right near the fnish line and he slammed his way through with the spotter pulling on the winch cable. Broke the passenger-side lower rear suspension link at the chassis and bent the shafts in both rear coilover shocks. Ran Tank Trap with an air shock replacing the driver-side rear coilover.

Duffy: With 2:45 on the clock he was trying to climb out of Hole 1. Broke the driver-side front sway bar link with 2:55 on the clock. Timed out just shy of 120 feet into the course.

Ellis: Third competitor. Arrived at Hole 1 with 1:50 on the clock. Made it to Hole 2 but couldn’t coax the Samurai out after repeated attempts. Cool wheels-up action along the way. Timed out.

Fox: Last competitor. Spotter exited the vehicle at the starting line. Entered Hole 1 with 1:40 on the clock. Still trying to get the right line out of Hole 1 with 4:02 on the clock. Seemed to fnd the right line with 4:40 on the clock. Timed out. Had steering problems due to fuid loss from a damaged sector shaft bearing and seal.

George: With 2:23 on the clock he was about ¾ of the way through the course. With 3:35 on the clock he was hung up near the fnish line. He considered trying to power through but chose to winch instead, which was a good idea because the winch pulled hard. Bent a tie rod somewhere along the line, which he straightened and sleeved prior to Tank Trap

Gray: First competitor. Amazing run that found him in Hole 1 with only 30 seconds on the clock. Only had problems at the very end but it didn’t slow him down much.

Green: Crawled right up on the rocks and went to work. Got hung up with 1:15 on the clock, but worked through it. Smooth, steady run with good communication between the driver and spotter. Was kind of crossed up near the fnish line, but quickly worked through it.

Harrell: Demonstrated smooth forward progress through the entire course. Stopped and assessed the last set of boulders by the fnish line that had been FourWheeler giving some of the other competitor’s problems and decided to steer left. It worked, and he powered over the fnish line. Karwath: Second competitor. Had a little trouble getting up on the rocks and got hung up with 1:02 on the clock near the fnish line, but still turned the fastest time of the event.

Kraatz: The highlight of his run was ending up crossways near the fnish line as he battled to get over some particularly stubborn boulders. Interestingly, it seemed to work to his advantage because he drove out of it and didn’t have to winch in that section like some of the other competitors.

Montpas: Came to the event with a new power steering pump because the old one wouldn’t allow the rig to steer with the engine at idle. At the starting line the spotter left the rig and ran to the end of the course and began rigging a winch point. Montpas drove the course with no spotter and was near the fnish line with 1:45 on the clock. Became stuck, but was under winch power with 2:10 on the clock. Finished the course a little over a minute later. Broke a front output shaft seal retainer on the NP205 transfer case and somewhere along the line cracked the ball in a spherical rod end on the driver-side rear suspension link.

Naeger: Strong, steady run right up until the last set of boulders near the fnish line, which forced him spend about 30 seconds trying to fnesse the rig through. Never had to use the Warn 9.5xp winch and the spotter never exited the vehicle.

Sanders: Came to the event with a new, re-valved power steering pump, but it blew apart early into the course. With 2:35 on the clock the rig was hung up and the team began winching. With 3:35 on the clock they disconnected the winch and Sanders reversed the rig in an attempt to get a different line. Timed out without making much forward progress.

Thorson: Airborne over the fnish line after a run that included lots of action including smoking tires and fying dirt. Powered through anything that got in his way. Bent a passenger-side rear lower suspension link somewhere along the line.

Waddell: Smooth, steady run. Only got hung up momentarily and the spotter never exited the vehicle. Near the fnish line the driver-side rear bedside became tangled up with the rear tire and it partially tore off.

Wager: Calm, calculated run. Entered Hole 1 with 1:40 on the clock, Hole 2 with 3:40 on the clock and the last hole with 4:30 on the clock. Timed out.

Finish Line Quotes
-“It was awesome and I’m glad I made it. I didn’t last time. I got hung up before the tree two years ago, so that defnitely makes me very happy.”
– Jason Gray

-“Wasn’t quite the walk in the park we thought it would be.”
– Mike Karwath

-“Paddle tires do not work on rocks.”
– Randy Ellis

-“It felt good. Calm, cool, and collected.”
– Brent Burton

-“I was hoping for like about 30 seconds faster, but I’ll take it.”
– Brian Waddell

-“It was a good course. Lots of fun.”
– Ron George

-“I get angry. I drive better when I get angry. If I try to stay calm I just suck.”
– Clayton Kraatz

Results
(elapsed time including penalties or ranking if DNF)
1. Karwath ...................................... 1 min. 32 sec.
2. Campbell .................................... 1 min. 41 sec.
3. Waddell ...................................... 1 min. 43 sec.
4. Thorson ...................................... 1 min. 45 sec.
5. Burton ........................................ 2 min. 03 sec.
6. Green ......................................... 2 min. 11 sec.
7. Harrell ........................................ 2 min. 17 sec.
8. Gray ........................................... 2 min. 23 sec.
9. Naeger ....................................... 2 min. 43 sec.
10. Kraatz ........................................ 2 min. 56 sec.
11. Montpas ..................................... 3 min. 43 sec.
12. George........................................ 4 min. 08 sec.
13. Duffy .................................DNF (119 ft. 02 in.)
14. Wager .................................DNF (118 ft. 10 in.)
15. Ellis .....................................DNF (84 ft. 01 in.)
16. Fox ......................................DNF (66 ft. 00 in.)
17. Sanders ................................DNF (33 ft. 06 in.)
18. Austin .......................................................DNS

Day 3 Final Event: The Tank Trap
Seventeen TTC champions came to TTCC, but only the top 10 points-earners from the previous six events qualified to run the final event of the week: the legendary Tank Trap. This event is the crown jewel of our repertoire of events and it takes place in a nasty, narrow, quarter-mile-long natural valley that climbs approximately 195 feet in elevation from beginning to end. It’s nasty in its natural form, but we alter it to make every inch of forward progress a challenge. This year we added a deep new water hole directly in front of the start line (we called it Water Hole Zero). Above that were two more deep water holes and then the trail gave way to the dreaded Canyon. The Canyon is approximately 100 yards of steep, slippery rock waterfalls and ledges bordered by sheer, rock-laden walls. Following the Canyon experience, competitors travel through five more deep water holes separated by steep, loose-dirt hills. Between Water Hole 5 and Water Hole 6 is the nasty, deep, off-camber Crevice that proved to be a nemesis to many this year. If competitors make it this far they come face-to-face with the final obstacle, which is a steep, slippery dirt hill climb out of Water Hole 7. Through the years the Tank Trap has humbled even the most well-prepared rigs driven by incredibly talented drivers. Competitors are given 30 minutes to complete the course and the only penalty is a DNF for a winch safety violation. In addition to the 10 qualifying rigs we also allowed our voted-in competitor, Ron George, to run Tank Trap (he had enough points to qualify anyway). This year, Tank Trap trapped more than half the field.

The Play-By-Play
Burton: Added two batteries to the rig prior to the event, which brought the total to four. Winched out of Water Hole 2 with 2:50 on the clock. Drove the Canyon with no stopping. Rolled onto the passenger- side in the Crevice below Water Hole 6 with 9:15 on the clock. Tried to winch the rig back on its wheels but the winch rope broke with 13:27 on the clock. Chose to end his run for a number of reasons including the fact that the snorkel was damaged and it probably would’ve allowed water to be ingested into the engine in the remaining two water holes

Campbell: Entered Water Hole 2 with 55 seconds on the clock. The rigs low bellypan was dragging as they entered Water Hole 2 and the raised exhaust was under water while crawling the hole. Winched out of Water Hole 2 with 2:35 on the clock, but was marked as a DNF at that point due to a winch safety violation.

George: The in-cab controller for the winch didn’t work while attempting to winch out of Water Hole 2 with 2:30 on the clock (turns out the power wasn’t turned on). A standard spare winch controller was used from that point. Entered Water Hole 3 with 5:23 on the clock and Water Hole 4 with 6:10 on the clock. Became stuck in the Crevice with 9:09 on the clock, but had winched out with 11:50 on the clock. Driver and spotter changed positions prior to Water Hole 6. Winched out of Water Hole 6 and began winching up the final hill with 13:44 on the clock.

Gray: Entered Water Hole 2 with 1:00 on the clock. After three failed attempts to climb out of Water Hole 2 he winched the rig out with 3:35 on the clock. Winched out of Water Hole 4 with 8:54 on the clock. Became stuck in the Crevice with 14:10 on the clock. Tried to winch, but the winch cable was bound up and only a small amount would unspool. Creative winching ensued and with 23:24 on the clock the vehicle was on two wheels up against the Crevice wall. At this point the winch controller cable became damaged so the winch couldn’t be used. Tried to power the rig out, but the driver didn’t know that the front line-lock had been inadvertently activated. Eventually the steering shaft pulled apart. Chose to end the run with 25:52 on the clock.

Green: Prior to the event the roll cage-mounted small “spare tire” was moved to a custom mount on the driver-side of the ‘cage. Green called this his “Canyon Killer” and it would serve as a “roller” in off-camber situations to protect the driver-side when the rig was tipped into the Canyon and Crevice wall. Winched out of Water Hole 2. Rolled onto the passenger-side at the entrance to Water Hole 3. Was back on its wheels and moving with 10:35 on the clock. Winched again near Water Hole 4 with 12:35 on the clock. Rolled onto the passenger side for a second time in the crevice below Water Hole 6. Began winching out of Water Hole 6 with 21:18 on the clock. Drove up the fnal hill after getting a winch pull out of Water Hole 7 with 24:51on the clock. Crossed the fnish line with the aroma of burning clutch and the driver-side front tire leaking from a gash sustained on the fnal hill.

Harrell: Second competitor. Entered Water Hole 2 with 1:00 on the clock. Cleared the Canyon with approximately 2:10 on the clock. Rolled onto the passenger side at the entrance to Water Hole 3 with 2:38 on the clock. Vehicle had been winched back on its wheels and was moving with 5:25 on the clock. Breezed through the rest of the course and crossed the finish line a little over two minutes later.

Karwath: Entered Water Hole 2 with 1:10 on the clock. Had a little problem on the exit, which used up approximately 40 seconds. Entered the canyon with 2:04 on the clock and into Water Hole 3 with 2:55 on the clock. Made it to the exit of Water Hole 7 at the final hill with 4:50 on the clock, but the TH400 transmission was slipping due to fuid loss from a cracked tail-housing. Attempted to winch with 9:00 on the clock, but the winch rope broke at the drum. Karwath ran to his support vehicle at the top of the hill and procured fve quarts of transmission fluid. The fuid was added but it was leaking out of the tail housing too fast. Chose to end his run with 25:58 on the clock.

Montpas: Final competitor. Became stuck coming out of Water Hole 2 with 1:05 on the clock and winched out with 2:19 on the clock. Rolled onto its side near Water Hole 3 and was back on its wheels with 10:00 on the clock. Became stuck in the Crevice with 17:02 on the clock and dealt with an engine that wouldn’t run for a while due to oil pushed into the cylinders by the accumulator with 21:50 on the clock. Insane heavy-throttle action eventually forced the Willys out of the Crevice. Climbed out of Water Hole 6 after two tries with 26:15 on the clock. Rolled over in Water Hole 7 and timed out.

Naeger: Entered Water Hole 2 with 1:30 on the clock, but had to winch out and exited with 4:02 on the clock. In Water Hole 4 with 8:00 on the clock the NP205’s rear output shaft broke. From that point the buggy only had front-wheel drive and it was winched through the rest of the course. Winched through Water Hole 6 with 19:02 on the clock. After a couple of tries he managed to get close enough to the winch point on top of the fnal hill to connect the winch cable and drag the buggy to the top to complete the course.

Thorson: Winched out of Water Hole 2 with 2:15 on the clock. Drove through the canyon in less than one minute. Winched out of Water Hole 4 with 7:02 on the clock. The engine started to suck in water and began misfiring in Water Hole 5 (it began misfiring later in Water Hole 7, too). Delayed slightly in the Crevice before Water Hole 6 with 8:10 on the clock. Winched out of Water Hole 6. With 13:45 on the clock the winch cable was being tightened for the last tug up the final hill.

Waddell: First competitor. Tipped onto the driver-side coming out of Water Hole Zero, but drove out of it. Made it through the canyon with no winching in approximately 63 seconds. Tipped onto the passenger-side at the entrance to Water Hole 3 with 3:30 on the clock. A small fre, likely caused by leaking transmission fluid, was extinguished quickly. With 9:40 on the clock the rig was back on its wheels and the engine had been started. Became stuck in Water Hole 4 with 11:45 on the clock and began winching but broke the winch rope twice. Along the way one of the electric radiator fans had become damaged while submerged in water and before it blew its fuse it had broken two blades and damaged the radiator causing a small coolant leak. With no winch he forced the truck out of Water Hole 4 and rallied to make it to the fnal hill before timing out.

View Slideshow

Finish Line Quotes
-“This one’s for Aaron, my oldest boy. He’s in the Navy somewhere.”
– Toby Harrell

-“I was disappointed with the Matt Thorson fnish too, because I really wanted to catch some air off the top of this hill.”
– Matt Thorson

-“Tank Trap was brutal this year. I didn’t expect it to be near that bad. We’re here. We fnished every event and that was my goal.”
– Ron George

-“We ended up in the last hole upside down, but we had a good time and we’ll never forget it.”
– Steven Montpas

Results
(elapsed time or ranking if DNF)
1. Harrell ........................................ 7 min. 45 sec.
2. Thorson .................................... 14 min. 05 sec.
3. George...................................... 15 min. 35 sec.
4. Green ....................................... 25 min. 32 sec.
5. Naeger ..................................... 25 min. 56 sec.
6. Karwath .....................................................DNF
7. Waddell .....................................................DNF
8. Montpas ....................................................DNF
9. Gray ..........................................................DNF
10. Burton .......................................................DNF
11. Campbell ...................................................DNF

Grand Champion!
The Grand Champion of the history-making Top Truck Champions’ Challenge is Dave Green from Red Deer, Alberta, Canada, driving his Cummins turbodiesel-powered custom buggy. Green won the Tow Test and Frame Twister on the first day of competition, which gave him a two point lead over the nearest competitor, Brian Waddell, at the end of the day. On the second day of competition he earned a respectable Fifth, Third, and Sixth Place finish in Obstacle Course, Hill Climb, and Mini Rubicon, respectively. Despite being outscored by two other competitors in the second day of competition his consistency had given him a commanding lead going into Tank Trap. The Tank Trap tried to trip up Green however, and he rolled his Cummins-powered buggy twice on the course. Sheer determination, fast recoveries, and teamwork drove Green to the finish line with less than five minutes on the clock. His Fourth Place Tank Trap finish helped him gather enough points to easily clinch the title of Top Truck Champions’ Challenge Grand Champion. “It’s a shock. We had a great week. I knew we were up in the points, we had some good events. You sit here chewing your nails waiting and waiting for the announcement and wow, it’s such a good feeling,” Green said after hearing he had won the event. Similar to his performance in 2009, Green drove the events in TTCC with restraint and he seemed unflappable, even when things went wrong. This comes as no surprise to his spotter, Mark Cymbaluk, who says, “You know what, it’s awesome because I know Dave’s abilities, his comfort level within his truck, I know how well he does with it. Spotting for Dave was real easy. Like I said, I was going to be the laziest spotter on the face of the earth here.” Green summed up his win and his week at TTCC by saying, “It’s overwhelming. It hasn’t sunk in yet. You couldn’t ask for a better group of guys. If you had a problem everybody was at your camp trying to lend a hand and vice versa. There’s no animosity or anything like that between anybody, everybody was here to compete, but everybody was also here to have a good time.”

final results
1. Green ..................................................... 137.7
2. Harrell .................................................... 125.0
3. Thorson .................................................. 124.9
4. Waddell .................................................. 122.4
5. Karwath .................................................. 117.5
6. Campbell ................................................ 115.0
7. Montpas ................................................. 106.3
8. Naeger ................................................... 105.6
9. George.................................................... 103.8
10. Gray ......................................................... 90.2
11. Burton ...................................................... 89.1
12. Kraatz ...................................................... 64.0
13. Ellis ......................................................... 61.0
14. Duffy ........................................................ 54.0
15. Sanders .................................................... 47.0
16. Wager ....................................................... 39.0
17. Fox .......................................................... 36.0
18. Austin ...................................................... 33.0

How Top Truck
Is Scored Our scoring system is simple. In the six events leading up to Tank Trap, the winner of each event received 20 points, Second Place received 19 points, Third Place received 18 points, and so on. If a competitor was unable to start an event they received no points for that event. The fnal event, Tank Trap, is worth double points. To eliminate tie scores the winner of Tank Trap received an additional point extra, Second Place had .9 of a point added to their score, Third Place had .8 of a point added to their score, and so on. In addition to eliminating ties, this procedure further rewards those who do well in the Tank Trap. Hence, First Place in Tank Trap received 41 points, Second Place received 38.9 points, Third Place received 36.8 points, and so on. Each team’s fnal score is the sum of all their accrued points.

Even More Awards
During Top Truck’s closing ceremonies we handed out several specialty awards. Including the team who had shockingly bad luck to the competitor who traveled the longest distance, we recognized them with a plaque. Here are this year’s winners.

Long Distance: Mike Karwath (Union, Kentucky, to Hollister, California, via Grand Forks, North Dakota, to pick up Leo Kuther and his rig, approximately 7,000 miles round-trip)

Hard Luck: Geby Wager (began his second day of competition by crashing end-over-end in the Obstacle Course)

Team Spirit: Jeremy Naeger and Mike Ballews (oozed positive energy, even when they didn’t)

Driving Elegant: Jerry Duffy (aka Mr. Smooth)

People’s Choice: Matt Thorson’s “Hells Bells” buggy (the crowd favorite)

Judges/Editors Choice: Brent Burton’s ’97 Jeep Wrangler TJ (all-around capable rig)

Get the TTCC DVD!
A perfect companion to the coverage of TTCC here on the pages of Four Wheeler is the offcial TTCC high-defnition DVD. Hosted by former TTC competitor Stan Prueitt and recorded by our team of professional, talented videographers, it’s packed with action footage from the week’s incredible competition as well as driver interviews and more. If you want to see this DVD masterpiece you can only get it through 4Wheel Parts, so call 800/213-5668, visit www.4wheelparts.com, or get to your local 4Wheel Parts retail location.

Safety First
Nothing can suck the fun from off-roading faster than injuries and we hate injuries. Safety is a priority at TTCC and in that vein we enforce the rules that govern the Hollister Hills SVRA. We also establish our own policies to ensure everyone’s safety. For example, following competitor check-in where the rigs are inspected to ensure they meet the offcial vehicle requirements, we gather all of the rigs and physically document important safety information including, but not limited to, what type of passenger restraints are installed, where the ignition shutoff is located, where the battery is mounted in each vehicle, and so on. This is done to ensure a safe and quick response in case of emergency. Safety of the environment is also a priority and for this reason we have commercial spill kits at the ready, including materials that can absorb oil in water in the event of a leak during competition.

Our Deepest Gratitude
Top Truck is a logistical challenge that wesimply can’t do ourselves. The Four Wheeler staff relies on a numberof talented people and companies to make it all happen, especially this year with a larger than normal feld of competitors. Some of the people who serve as support staff burn vacation time from real jobs to spend a week working in the mud and dirt, often leaving with nothing but blisters, a sunburn, and poison oak. The Four Wheeler team wishes to send its deepest gratitude to these folks and companies that helped make TTCC a success.

View Slideshow

- Event Coordinator Robin Stover, who worked tirelessly behind the scenes.

- Chris Finstad, our lead medic, JL Mongono, Oscar Grmaldo, Tony Morales, Robert Lund, and Chris Di Marco from the San Juan Bautista Fire Department.

- Phillip Indihar at Quality Construction, for providing the camera truck, water truck, and pressure washers.

- Beil Inc., M&J Trucking, and Las Animas Concrete, for the equipment support.

- Mike Mansmith and the incredible crew at Mansmith’s BBQ, for all the outstanding meals including the delicious wood fre-cooked welcome dinner.

- Canty Security and Investigations for securing the perimeter.

- J.V. Orta’s Rent-A-Fence for the safety fencing that also served as a great place to mount banners.

- The country band Whiskey Dawn for Thursday night’s awesome entertainment.

- And last, but certainly not least, the incredible team of staff and rangers at the Hollister Hills SVRA for going above and beyond the call. As they have for the past 19 years of TTC, they displayed impeccable professionalism for this 20th anniversary event.

Four Wheeler Would also like to extend a big thank you to the official top truck sponsors
Presenting Sponsor and Offcial Retailer: 4Wheel Parts, www.4wheelparts.com.
Offcial Lubricant: Amsoil, www.amsoil.com
Offcial Traction Device: Eaton, www.eaton.com
Offcial Tie-Down: Mac’s, www.macscustomtiedowns.com
Offcial Tire: Mickey Thompson Tires, www.mickeythompsontires.com
Offcial Energy Drink: Monster, www.monsterenergy.com
Offcial Fabrication Parts: Poly Performance, www.polyperformance.com
Offcial Suspension: Tuff Country, www.tuffcountry.com
Offcial Winch: Warn Industries, www.warn.com

Do You Want to Compete in TTC ’13?
Have you been dreaming of competing in Top Truck Challenge? If the answer is yes, this is your big opportunity. Turn to page 40 and fll out the offcial entry form and then pair it with a high-quality photo of your rig that shows the entire vehicle. New this year, you can either mail the pair tothe address listed on the entry form or you can scan the offcial entry form and email it along with a digital photo of your rig to john. cappa@fourwheeler.com. It’s that easy! All entries must be received by the due date shown on the entry form. We’ll publish a collection of TTC ’13 hopefuls in the April ’13 issue of Four Wheeler, and you may be one of the 10 rigs that are chosen by the Four Wheeler readers to compete in Hollister Hills, California. Good luck!

New Vehicle Requirements for TTC ’13
If competing against buggies has kept you from entering your non-buggy rig in TTC, we have big news. In an effort to level the playing feld we’ve enacted new vehicle requirements for TTC ’13 that are designed to favor stock-style rigs. Remember Real Truck Club Challenge (RTCC)? Well, think of a TTC ’13 rig as being the love child of an RTCC and a TTC rig. Here’s a brief rundown. All competing vehicles must be equipped with a factory-style front clip and the clip must have actual headlights (not stickers). The clip can be narrowed. At the rear the rig must have fenders, bedsides, or a fatbed, and like the front, narrowing is OK. No open rear tube-chassis rigs will be allowed. The rig can be a complete or partial tube-chassis rig, but it must include the aforementioned items as well as a frewall. Competing vehicles must also run DOT-compliant tires, though they can be grooved, siped, or even vulcanized with paddles. Quite simply, TTC ’13 rigs must resemble a production vehicle from end-to-end. A buggy with a production vehicle grille will not qualify. For a complete list of vehicle requirements please go to www.fourwheeler.com/ttcrules.

Last Words
-“Best one ever. It truly was a lot different than what we expected. It was faster. It was quicker, and I liked all that about it. ”
– Jeremy Naeger

-“The courses and the challenges that you guys set up were extreme to say the least, but obviously manageable because somebody managed to do them all.”
– Geby Wager

-“So many good people here. I would considerthem close friends now.”
– Steven Montpas

-“It was awesome. I’m leaving just as stoked as when I got here. I’m leaving just as happy. The rigs a little banged up, but every scratch is going to stay all year long. I’m going toshow ’em off proudly.
–Jason Gray

-“We had a great time. It’s a great event whether you win or don’t win everyone has a good time. I’d say we had just as much fun this time as we had last time. If not more. Made new friends plus our old ones who are here. That was cool.”
– Mike Karwath

-“How can you not be happy? This is like a riot. It’s a giant four-wheeling extravaganza, and it’s a blast. Shoot, you have a 40th, I’ll come back. Of course I don’t know what I’ll be driving then, but I’ll come back.
– Tony Fox

Sources

4Wheel Parts erferer
Compton, CA 90220
877-474-4821
www.4wheelparts.com
Warn
Clackamas, OR 97015
800-543-9276
www.warn.com
AMSOIL
Superior, WI 54880
800-777-8491
www.amsoil.com
Eaton
Cleveland, OH 44114
800-328-3850
www.eaton.com
Poly Performance
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
805-783-2060
www.polyperformance.com
Tuff Country
West Jordan, UT 84088
800-288-2190
www.tuffcountry.com
Mac's
Sagle, ID 83860
866-371-5175
www.macscustomtiedowns.com
Monster Energy
Corona, CA 92880
http://www.monsterenergy.com

Comments

Presenting Sponsor

Official Sponsors

Connect With Us

Newsletter Sign Up

Subscribe to the Magazine