1/4-Mile Canyon from Hell
About the Tank Trap:
The Tank Trap is legendary, often spoken of in hushed, reverent tones. Tank Trap is a regular feature at the Hollister Hills SVRA, but for one day each year it’s significantly modified for Top Truck. In its basic form it’s a quarter-mile-long natural valley that climbs approximately 195 feet in elevation. For our once-a-year thrashathon we dig seven giant holes and we fill ‘em with 120,000 gallons of water, which significantly increases the challenge level of the course. Here’s how it works: Shortly into the course, competitors have to navigate two deep water holes that are preceded by steep dirt hills. Next up is the “Canyon.” This evil 100-yard section is quite narrow and bordered by steep walls. The Canyon contains slippery rock waterfalls, ledges, and the ghosts of former competitor’s hopes and dreams. But the worst is yet to come. Ahead are five more strategically-placed water holes, each separated by steep dirt hills. And if that doesn’t suck the will out of competitors, there’s a nasty, often underestimated thing we call the “Crevice” located between the fifth and sixth water holes. But wait, there’s more. The crown jewel is the final hill, which steeply rises just past the last water hole and guards the finish line. Add to all of this the fact that competitors are given only 30 minutes and you have a recipe for some world class action and drama. And no, we don’t let competitors see the course in advance. Strategically, Tank Trap is a major player because it’s worth more than double the points of the other events.
See Our Original Coverage Below:
We save the best for last! Often spoken of in a hushed, reverent tone, the Tank Trap is legendary, and for good reason. It takes place in a nasty, quarter-mile-long, deep, natural valley, which we modify in such a way as to make every inch of forward progress a battle. It’s a merciless course that can humble even the most well-built rig. The course begins with a nasty pair of water holes. From there, the course transitions into the Canyon, which is approximately 100 yards of steep slippery rock waterfalls and ledges, all bordered by sheer rock-laden walls! After the Canyon there are five more deep water holes separated by steep, loose-dirt hills. The course encore is a steep, rutted, slippery hill climb out of the last water hole. Tank Trap climbs approximately 195 feet in elevation from its starting point to the finish line and it’s lined by dense foliage that is either protruding thorns or covered in poisonous oil.
The Tank Trap isn't for the weak, period! It's one of the nastiest climbs you'll ever encounter and this year our challengers were pushed to their breaking point trying to complete the 1/4-Mile deep canyon climb. Although only one competitor finished the Tank Trap, every single one of them put on a heck of a performance trying to claw their way to the top.
Matt Huit's big block VW Rabbit was having a great run until it got a little off camber and rolled after trying to get through water hole 5 just outside of the crevasse where he called it a day.
Paul Boundy was making really good progress in the canyon in his 2003 Chevy Silverado until he got wedged in the middle of the canyon and snapped the front driveshaft trying to drive it out.
Pepe "Peps" Palomo spun the hamsters under the hood of his lime green Tacoma to the moon to crawl his way through the Tank Trap. Unfortunately the Tank Trap proved to be too much for the Tacoma which ended up rolling on it's side. After the front driveshaft broke near the top of the rock wall after hole 2, Peps called it.
Glen Green made it pretty far in his big bad '79 Ford F250. The big block 540 c.i. V8 was screaming through the canyon and stayed clear of the water thanks to the Green's addition of homemade engine mud-flap baffles. Unfortunately they had to throw in the towel once the shifter got jammed up just outside of hole 5.
Nolan Skopliak had a decent run in his '87 GMC K5 Jimmy until his engine developed an over-heating issues that stopped it near hole 5. With time running short, Nolan said they were going to push on with the over heating engine saying, "Screw it, we're going to melt the motor!" They were able to make it all the way to the crevasse just outside of hole 5.
John Retzloff had been very consistent throughout the week but he went all out on the Tank Trap despite his snorkel coming loose and landing in the water, John reached out and grabbed it - shoving it in the cab to keep it clear of the water. The Retzloff's worked very well together and were able to winch the truck out of bad situations and were able to get it very close to the finish but ran out of time just a few feet from the finish line.
Jennifer Smith pushed her 4.6-liter supercharged '68 Ford Bronco hard all week and charged up the Thank Trap with authority. Unfortunately she had a little trouble crawling her way through the rock wall canyon and ended up timing out just three feet before the third water hole.
Aaron Fava definitely had the largest truck at the competition but proved to have great skill at getting his giant Chevy K30 through the Tank Trap. If we hadn't seen it for ourselves, we would have never believed that a crew cab long bed Chevy K30 truck could make it through the treacherous Tank Trap. Aaron and his spotter were very calm and methodical while winching and it almost seemed like they weren't even talking on the radio. A part of their strategy was removing both passenger doors for the Tank Trap which proved to be the perfect move as they would set up and winch quickly. Aaron's spotter, Spike, developed a quick method of hoping in the truck by jumping in through the front where the windshield had previously been. Aaron displayed his rear steer skills for all during the Tank Trap and earned himself the only finish in the Tank Trap.
Josh Middleton and his brother Justin had a little Ford vs. Chevy sibling rivalry going on and they did not disappoint at the Tank Trap. Josh had a great run that ended at the crevasse outside of hole 5. Justin was the last competitor to make the run up the Tank Trap and had to winch a few times and got his '78 Blazer submerged pretty deep in the fifth water hole. With time running out, Justin told his spotter to drop the cable and said he was going to go for it. With less than 20 seconds left, Justin hoped into the submerged Blazer and fastened his seat-belt with only 10 seconds left he held it wide open in a Hail Mary attempt to make it all the way to the crevasse where his brother finished. Once the run was officially over, Justin and his spotter elected to finish the Tank Trap not for points but for pure glory. To find out who won this round of sibling rivalry, be sure to pick up the December 2013 issue of Four Wheeler Magazine!
Check out the rest of the gnarly action and carnage that is the Tank Trap!