Three Events, 2500 Feet, One Very Long Day!
About the Obstacle Course:
The Obstacle Course begins with a shockingly tall and long slippery hill descent known as the “first hill” and it ends with a nasty dogleg gully that’s tantalizingly close to the finish line. In between is a treasure trove of terror. The “lower section” forces competitors to navigate a 360-degree turn through three deep water holes and sand. From there, competitors travel up a hill to the “upper section” that includes a deceiving off-camber U-turn (known as “U-turn Hill”), two deep water holes, and numerous tight turns. This event has a 10-minute time limit, but speed is the enemy. This is because the course is marked with numerous cones and each one hit adds 20 seconds to the overall time. If all four tires of a rig travel outside a cone the rig is disqualified at that point. Safety violations net a whopping two-minute penalty. Clearly, accuracy is the key to success in the Obstacle Course.
About the Hill Climb
Think back to those hillclimbs you’ve done in your 4x4. Yeah, the TTC Hill Climb isn’t like that. The Hill Climb is built specifically for TTC, it’s approximately 600 feet in length and it has an average angle of approximately 60 degrees. It twists and turns as it winds through the poison oak and it’s peppered with strategically-placed deep holes and dirt hills. Yes, we added hills to our Hill Climb. The Hill Climb is loose, steep, and unpredictable. Naturally, we don’t let drivers see it before they run it because that would ruin the surprise. The Hill Climb rewards those who can think on-the-fly and punishes those who are thinking about the next event. We allowed each competitor 5 minutes to tackle the hill and during that time they could stop, reverse, or winch. If a competitor exceeded the time limit, traveled out of bounds, or violated a safety rule they were disqualified at that point.
About the Coal Chute:
The Mini Rubicon, a staple of Top Truck for years, was a brutal event that forced competitors to fight for every inch of forward progress. It was tough and unforgiving. We wanted something tougher. So, for 2013 we replaced the Mini Rubicon with the awe-inspiring Coal Chute. This event uses a newly developed area (Rock Rash Ridge) at the Hollister Hills SVRA that contains an amazing collection of man-made obstacles. Naturally, we tweaked it to make it exclusive to Top Truck. Our mind-bending course was approximately 525 feet in length, and included steep walls in excess of 7 feet tall and jumbles of rocks and cement tubes. We even brought in a water truck and created a waterfall on the final cement climb. The course was broken into four distinct sections. We threw competitors a curve ball and allowed them to skip one of the two first sections. However, we penalized each competitor 10 minutes if they bypassed the first section and 6 minutes if they bypassed the second section. Strategy was a major player at this event. There was a 20-minute time limit and safety violations netted a two-minute penalty. If two of the vehicles tires traveled outside of the cones the competitor was disqualified at that point.
Check Out Our Original Coverage Below:
Hill Climb Coverage
Coal Chute Coverage
This ¼-mile-long course is filled with an eye-opening collection of obstructions. The event begins with a long, slippery hill descent that ends with competitors smack-dab in a deep water hole. From there, the course gets worse. It consists of a lower and upper section and highlights include the aforementioned deep water hole in the lower section, pair of deep water holes in the upper section, and a gnarly 90-degree dogleg-turn a short distance from the finish line. There’s also a shelf drop-off in the upper section!
There are no words that can truly describe just how steep the first hill decent of the obstacle course is. One wrong move and it could result in a bad tumble all the way down the hill into the lower water holes. This year the Obstacle Course had no mercy on our competitors and pushed them to the edge. It was also a game changer for most of the competitors as some of them redeemed themselves from the day before while others fell a bit short that day.
Jennifer Smith's supercharged early Bronco started out with a little bad luck as she got sideways while descending the long steep hill. Jennifer steered into the slide but was at a point where the Bronco was in a four-wheel slide down the hill. Luckily the bulldozer was there to stop her from tumbling down the hill, which almost happened. Most folks would be so overwhelmed at that point that they would just drop out of the competition but Jennifer didn't let that bring her down. She backed the Bronco up the hill and continued down the hill. Unfortunately she had a bit of trouble in the lower water holes and ended up putting the Bronco on it's side.
Paul Boundy seemed to have a hard time trying to maneuver his big '03 Chevy Crew Cab through the obstacle course. Paul's Chevy didn't seem to have enough room to make the sharp left hand turn at the lower water holes so he did the next best thing, run it in reverse! We have to admit, it was a hell of a strategy but ultimately the lower water holes proved to be a tough obstacle and ended up putting the Chevy on it's side. We should also mention that Paul had broken a front ring and pinion earlier in the week and ended up running most of the events in two-wheel-drive.
Matt Huit seemed to have no trouble finding his way through the obstacle course and whenever it was in a tight spot, Matt would crab walk the VW Rabbit with the rear steer setup.
Justin Middleton was doing great moving through the obstacle course in his '78 Chevy Blazer up until he reached the upper level water holes where his front U-joint decided it would have no part of the obstacle course and ejected itself from the front end. Justin and his spotter ended up winching out of the last two water holes in the upper section and made their way to the finish line in two-wheel-drive.
The guys who benefited the most from the obstacle course were Pepe "Peps" Palomo in his lime green '99 Tacoma and Aaron Fava in his giant red '89 crew cab Chevy. Pepe moved through the course without any problems all. The little Tacoma looked like it was built specifically for the obstacle course as it flexed it's way through the trail. Aaron Fava put on a great show demonstrating just how handy rear steer can be. The big red Chevy made its way through the water holes without any issues and even made the last two 90 degree turns look like a walk in the park once the rear steering wheels where thrown into the mix. Many doubted that Aaron's Chevy could be competitive after the first day of challenges but that was all thrown out the window when he made the obstacle course look like a Wal-Mart parking lot.
Check out the rest of the action from the Obstacle Course at this year's Top Truck Challenge!