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2014 Top Truck Challenge Competitors - Rock Stars

Posted in Top Truck Challenge: 2014 on October 6, 2014
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Photographers: Greg P. Smith

Fasten your seatbelts, because over the next several pages we’re going to unveil and detail the 10 competing rigs and two alternate rigs for Top Truck Challenge 2014!

In the April 2014 issue of Four Wheeler, we published 50 Top Truck Challenge hopefuls and asked you to use the ballot in that issue to vote for your 10 favorites. We tallied the avalanche of votes, and the top 10 vote-getters were invited to compete in the 22nd running of the incredible, world-famous, grueling, Top Truck Challenge, commonly known as TTC. We also invited two alternates, just in case one or two of the top-ten rigs couldn’t make the trip. TTC is held at the Hollister Hills SVRA near Hollister Hills, California, and the competition is comprised of seven events. Each event is carefully designed to test each vehicles capability and durability -- as well as each driver’s skill -- in a variety of off-road disciplines.

In the April 2013 issue, we showed you a reader-submitted photo and gave you a basic overview of each rig. In this story, we’ll delve deeper into each rig by showing you detailed photos and provide the lowdown on everything from axles to engines to interiors. Each rig has changed to some degree since you voted ‘em in (a vehicle is allowed to be modified prior to competition, as long as it resembles the rig the reader submitted and adheres to the rules), and the way you see the rigs here is exactly the way they entered competition.

Of the 50 candidates, the top vote-getting rig was the 1995 Chevy S-10 owned by Matt Christian. Only 42 votes behind the S-10 was Rob Inglis’ 1996 Dodge Ram. The third most vote-getting rig -- 41 votes behind the Ram -- was Rick Jensen’s 1963 International Harvester Scout. You voted in four GM vehicles, two Fords, two Internationals, one Dodge, and one Suzuki. Notice a major brand that’s missing? This is the second year in a row that you’ve snubbed Jeep vehicles and marks only the second time in TTC’s 22-year history that the Jeep brand has been absent.

These rigs don’t drive themselves, and this is why we’re including information about each talented driver. We sent each driver a list of questions, and we’re including the answers to some of them within each feature. This will give you a glimpse into the thought process of each driver. One of the critical components of TTC is strategy, and it’s up to the driver to ensure that correct decisions are made on-the-fly so that they do well in each event while trying to keep their vehicle intact for the duration of competition. These drivers made the trek to TTC from five U.S. states and two Canadian provinces.

In next month’s issue of Four Wheeler, we’ll publish the huge, comprehensive event story. You’ll see incredible photos and read all the fascinating details of how each competitor did in all seven of TTC’s gnarly events. This month, get ready to be amazed as we look at the four-wheeled rock stars of this year’s event in pre-competition condition.

The “old-school” competition orange paint catches your eye, but the external mods grab your attention. The body sits on a homemade 3-inch lift and is protected by an exocage that ties into the rocker protection and front stinger/brushguard/modified Warn bumper. There’s a unique “twin” Warn 8274 winch up front (essentially two 8274s joined by a single welded drum) and a Warn 8,000-pound out back. The rear framerails have been extended 9 inches to accommodate the Barnes 4WD rear winch plate. Other exterior mods include aluminum roof panels made by Moore Fabrication, JB Custom Fabrication recovery points and shackles, an Engo 20-inch LED light bar, and four Engo 4-inch floodlights. The rig rolls on 44-inch tires that are mounted to Moore Fabrication recentered Humvee beadlock wheels with Coyote Enterprises interior pneumatic beadlocks.

Bain Bronco
Even though this 1969 Ford Bronco was shod with multiple colors in the April issue, you saw the rig’s potential and gave Tracker J. Bain the thumbs-up to bring it to Hollister. In preparation for TTC, Tracker swapped in a fuel-injected big-block V-8, added some body protection, and a custom rollcage, among many other things. Tracker says he’s been wheeling “since birth,” so does this mean he and his Bronco will breeze through the gnarly Tank Trap? You’ll get the answer to that question next month.

We’ve been doing this as long as I can remember and I have always wanted to compete at a national level.
Tracker J. Bain

Bain Speaks
Most looking forward to: “Tank Trap. It’s a challenge of ability, teamwork, communication, and vehicle durability.”
Not looking forward to: “Tow Test. This event can destroy many parts right off the bat.”
One thing you should know: “We’re here to have fun, meet new people who have the same interests, compete, wheel, and win.”

PhotosView Slideshow

The Details
Driver name: Tracker J. Bain
City: Myrtle Creek, Oregon
Occupation: Electrician
Vehicle model: 1969 Ford Bronco
Engine: Ford 460ci V-8
Transmission: NP435
Transfer case(s): NP203/205, Jed’s Machining adapter
Suspension (f/r): Four-link, 18-in-travel Sway-A-Way RaceRunner remote-reservoir coilovers, RuffStuff Specialties limit straps/four-link, 18-in-travel Sway-A-Way RaceRunner remote-reservoir coilovers, RuffStuff Specialties limit straps
Axles (f/r): Ford high-pinion Dana 60, Yukon chromoly axleshafts, Yukon Super Joint U-joints, Yukon Grizzly locker/GM 14-bolt, Ballistic Fabrication Shave Kit, Detroit Locker
Axle ratio: 5.13:1
Wheels: 16.5x8.5 Moore Fabrication recentered Humvee, Coyote Enterprises interior pneumatic beadlocks
Tires: 19.5/44-16.5LT Interco Super Swamper TSL Bogger

The huge 54-inch Mickey Thompson Baja Claw TTC tires help to give the S-10 its wicked stance and also contribute to the rig’s significant ground clearance. The TTCs are mounted to a set of modified 5-ton military wheels. Matt made the military beadlock inserts fit the Mickey Thompson tires and added Crawl Fab rock rings to the wheels. The exterior of the rig looks very similar to the last time you saw it. The body sits on a custom chassis, and a custom exocage protects the sheetmetal from trail damage. The rig sports dual winches, an EPF12000 Engo (with wireless remote) up front, and a Badland 12,000-pound winch out back. To light the trail at night, there are a number of LED lights from Well Lit LED Offroad Lighting. Body mods are numerous. The front fenders were enlarged to make room for the massive tires, the rear of the truck was narrowed 36 inches, and custom cut-down factory bedsides were used. Color? Matt says it’s Snakeskin Green.

Christian S-10
Was it the wheels-up photo Matt Christian sent in for voting? Was it the supercharged 5.3L V-8? Was it the Rockwell 21⁄2 /5-ton hybrid axles? Was it your love of green Chevy S-10 pickups? Whatever your reasons, you made Matt’s S-10 the number one vote-getting rig for this year’s event. The question is, will the truck perform at the same level as its modifications? Will Matt be able to keep his head in the game and stay consistent throughout TTC’s seven grueling events? Find out next month.

I have always wanted to compete in TTC since I was a ‘lil guy looking at the magazines. When I built this rig, I actually built it with the goal of making the big show!

Christian Speaks
Most looking forward to: “Coal Chute! It’s the newest event and looks like a blast.”
Not looking forward to: “Mud Pit! Man, I hate washing a rig after playing in the mud!”
One thing you should know: “I’m not afraid to use the skinny pedal! ‘When in doubt, throttle out,’ right?”

PhotosView Slideshow

The Details
Driver name/city: Matt Christian/Duncan, Oklahoma
Occupation: Vice president, Gas Mart Convenience Stores
Vehicle model: 1995 Chevy S-10
Engine: GM 5.3L V-8, Magnuson supercharger
Transmission: PATC TH400 Terminator
Transfer case(s): NP203/205, LoMax 205
Suspension (f/r): Four-link, 18-in-travel ORI struts/four-link, 18-in-travel ORI struts
Axles (f/r): Gearhart Engineering 21⁄2-ton hybrid, spool/Gearhart Engineering 21⁄2-ton hybrid, spool
Axle ratio: 6.72:1
Wheels: 20x10 modified 5-ton military
Tires: 19.5/54-20LT Mickey Thompson Baja Claw TTC

Joshua built the rig’s frame using 2x4-inch steel tubing, and the rig has a 121-inch wheelbase. He also built the exocage with the support of House of Diesel owner Chris Smith. Joshua reports he used 160 feet of DOM tubing to construct the exocage. One of the many unique features of the rig is a trick mounting system that allows a cradle-mounted winch to be mounted on the front of the rig at the same time as the permanently mounted 8,000-pound front winch. The result is that Joshua has an easily accessible backup winch. This may come in handy in the Tank Trap. A set of 46-inch Mickey Thompson Baja Claw TTC tires are mounted to homebuilt 20x11 beadlock wheels. Joshua procured the Hunter Green paint from his local hardware store and painted the rig himself.

Hardy Samurai
By all indications, Joshua Hardy didn’t sleep much from the time you voted him in until the time he arrived at TTC. You see, his ’88 Suzuki Samurai underwent a significant transformation. It was red last time you saw it, it didn’t have an inch of exocage, it had a different transmission, and a different T-case, among other things. Will all Joshua’s hard work be rewarded by impressive on-the-clock finishes in each event? Find out next month.

“For the last four years I have had the privilege of being a spectator of this rad event. In short, I just want to meet some cool people, see their badass vehicles, and play in some mud!”
-Joshua Hardy

Hardy Speaks
Most looking forward to: “The Mud Pit! It’s the only event I can hold it wide open and not worry about anything breaking.”
Not looking forward to: “The Coal Chute, because it requires so much attention. But that’s why I have a great spotter, so I’m not really worried about it.”
One thing you should know: “I’m a simple auto technician for a small family-run local auto repair shop. I have received help from many close friends like; Chris Smith, owner of House of Diesel and Jesse Bishop, owner of Off Road Recovery. Without these two great friends support and access to their shops my Samurai would have never been created.”

PhotosView Slideshow

The Details
Driver name/city: Joshua Hardy/Hollister, California
Occupation: Auto technician
Vehicle model: 1988 Suzuki Samurai
Engine: Chevy 350ci V-8
Transmission: TH400
Transfer case(s): Advance Adapters Atlas II, 3.8:1
Suspension (f/r): Four-link, F-O-A 18-in-travel remote-reservoir coilovers, 4-in-travel F-O-A 2.5 bumpstops, limit straps/four-link, Knight Stalker remote-reservoir nitrogen shocks, 4-in-travel F-O-A 2.5 bumpstops
Axles (f/r): 21⁄2-ton Rockwell, Mudpro Metalworks Mohawk pan and steering reinforcement kit, welded spider gears/21⁄2-ton Rockwell, Mudpro Metalworks Mohawk pan, welded spider gears
Axle ratio: 6.72:1
Wheels: 20x11 homebuilt beadlock
Tires: 19.5/46-20LT Mickey Thompson Baja Claw

One of the keys to the Jimmy’s agile nature is the narrowed front end, which has 12 inches removed from it by Josh. To make room for the large 44-inch tires on home-modified recentered Humvee wheels, the front and rear wheelwells were enlarged. A full exocage protects the Jimmy’s body and ties into the vehicles frame, as well as rocker protection and interior rollcage. Four-inch-square LED lights replace the factory headlamps, and a Warn 9.5-cti winch is at the ready up front. The Rust-Oleum olive drab paint looks good and is easy to touch up after a weekend of wheeling -- or after a week at Top Truck.

Harris Jimmy
The specs of Josh Harris’ 1992 GMC Jimmy read more like a 1-ton truck than a small SUV. The stock IFS is long gone, as is the anemic V-6 engine. The rig now sits tall, proud, and ready for TTC battle with a solid front axle, leaf springs, and a V-8 engine. Will the ring-and-pinion in the front Dana 60 axle succumb to the torque of the 6.0L engine in the brutal Obstacle Course? If this were to happen, will Josh (a forklift mechanic by trade) be able to use his finely honed wrenching skills to pull off an incredibly fast frontend rebuild in less than an hour to return to battle? The answer next month.

I have my co-driver on a strict diet and exercise regimen, we may need to winch a lot!
-Josh Harris

Harris Speaks
Most looking forward to: “I’m mostly looking forward to the Coal Chute. I have only seen it in the process of being built, and I think it will be a challenge to complete. I’m a rockcrawling kind of guy so I hope I can do well in this event.”
Not looking forward to: “The mud. I HATE MUD! I don’t like cleaning up after it, and I don’t have 500-plus horsepower, so it will be challenging to make it through the pit!”
One thing you should know: “I’m ready to go wheeling!”

PhotosView Slideshow

The Details
Driver name: Josh Harris
City: Portland, Oregon
Occupation: Forklift mechanic
Vehicle model: 1992 GMC Jimmy
Engine: GM 6.0L V-8
Transmission: TH350
Transfer case(s): NP203/205, Jed’s Machining adapter
Suspension (f/r): 52-in Tuff Country leaf springs, custom slider shackle boxes, Pro Comp ES3000 shocks/60-in GM leaf springs, ORD Zero Rate Add a Leaves, Pro Comp ES3000 shocks
Axles (f/r): Dana 60, Reid Racing knuckles, Yukon chromoly axleshafts, Detroit Locker, hydraulic-assist steering/GM 14-bolt, welded spider gears, Yukon chromoly axleshafts
Axle ratio: 5.38:1
Wheels: 16.5x8.5 recentered Humvee beadlock
Tires: 18.5/44-16.5LT Interco Super Swamper TSL

Daryl is a heavy-equipment operator by trade, so he’s not afraid of driving large machines. That’s a good thing, because his F-250 is huge. It rolls on 54-inch tires that are mounted to MRW 14-inch-wide beadlocks. External mods are minimal and include a homemade rear bumper and a homemade front bumper that houses a Warn 9.5-cti winch.

Horsley F-250
At first glance, Daryl Horsley’s 1991 Ford F-250 may not look much different than it did back in the April issue. Take a closer look: The 44-inch tires are gone, replaced by massive 54s. But that’s not all. The Dana 60 front axle and 14-bolt rear axle have been kicked to the curb in favor of Rockwell 21⁄2-ton axles. Now we know what Daryl meant when he said, “The truck is getting a couple upgrades, but you’ll just have to wait and see.”

"I’ve dreamed of competing in TTC since I first started wheeling. With being part of Glen Green’s team last year, it just made me want to compete even more and I’m so happy I get to actually compete this year."
-Daryl Horsley

Horsley Speaks
Most looking forward to: “I want to say the Mud Pit because that’s my roots, but I can’t wait to do the Tank Trap. It’s just so crazy, and I’ve never done anything like that yet.”
Not looking forward to: “I’m looking forward to everything. But the one that would be at the bottom of my list would be Coal Chute, only because I never do anything on rocks.”
One thing you should know: “I’m a hard-working family man that’s always there for friends and family.”

PhotosView Slideshow

The Details
Driver name/city: Daryl Horsley/Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada
Occupation: Heavy equipment operator
Vehicle model: 1991 Ford F-250
Engine: Ford 472ci V-8
Transmission: C6
Transfer case(s): NP205
Suspension (f/r): Four-link with track bar, F-350 coil springs, Bilstein 7100 remote-reservoir shocks, hydraulic-assist steering/four-link with track bar, F-350 coil springs, Rancho RS7000 shocks
Axles (f/r): Rockwell 2½-ton, welded spider gears/Rockwell 2½-ton, welded spider gears
Axle ratio: 6.72:1
Wheels: 20x14 Marsh beadlock
Tires: 19.5/54-20LT Interco Super Swamper TSL Bogger

When it comes to external mods, the clearly obvious include the thorough exocage, radiused front fenders, modified doors, tapered tail (about 4 feet in width), and cut-to-fit 1997 Ram bedsides. What’s not visible are the reinforcements Rob made to the frame for added strength, and he removed about a foot of length from the front of the frame and 6 inches from the rear. While he was at it, he moved the cab a foot rearward to make room for the big-block engine and to improve the rig’s center of gravity. The truck can be winched from the front or rear thanks to a forward-mounted Warn Zeon 12 and a rear-mounted Warn 12,000-pound winch. Those are 54-inch Mickey Thompson Baja Claw TTC tires inflated around custom-made double beadlock wheels. To ensure the windshield stays clean while blasting through goo, Rob installed a heavy-duty windshield washer system consisting of a five-gallon water reservoir, a water pump from a motorhome, and pressure washer nozzles.

Inglis Ram 1500
Rob Inglis is representing the Mopar crowd, because his Dodge Ram 1500 is the only truck of that brand you voted in. You chose a fine truck. This machine is big-block powered and features TTC staples such as 54s and Rockwell axles. Interestingly, Rob hasn’t changed many of the truck’s major components since voting. Does this mean the truck has the magic combination of parts to do well in TTC’s seven events? Rob must think so. We’ll reveal the outcome next month.

TTC is the baddest event in North America. Been building my truck strictly for this event for years!
-Rob Inglis

Inglis Speaks
Most looking forward to: “Probably like most drivers, I’m looking forward to the Tank Trap! And why? Because that means my truck is still alive for the last event! And I get to give my truck a lickin’ all the way to the top with not having to worry about another event.”
Not looking forward to: “I’m gonna have to go with the Frame Twister! Because it’s early in the event, and I’m worried about major carnage in the log trap or bouncing out of bounds because I’m hitting it hard.”
One thing you should know: “I’m known for breaking my truck catastrophically in style. Literally every time I drive it. I’m hoping to change that in TTC 2014 and finish every event and hopefully be possibly the youngest TTC champ at 28.”

PhotosView Slideshow

The Details
Driver name: Rob Inglis
City:Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Occupation: Heavy-duty mechanic
Vehicle model: 1996 Dodge Ram 1500
Engine: Chrysler 512ci V-8
Transmission: TH350
Transfer case(s): NorthWest Fabworks Black Box, NorthWest Fabworks-prepped NP205
Suspension (f/r): Four-link, 16-in-travel King remote-reservoir coilovers, 4-in-travel King bumpstops, TMR Customs limit straps/double triangulated four-link, 16-in-travel King remote-reservoir shocks, 2-in-travel Fox bumpstops, TMR Customs limit straps
Axles (f/r): Rockwell 21⁄2-ton, EMF-reinforced knuckles, OEM Violator spool and axleshafts, hydraulic steering, pinion brake with EMF rotor, EMF rod ends/ Rockwell 21⁄2-ton, EMF-reinforced knuckles, OEM Violator spool and axleshafts, hydraulic steering, pinion brake with EMF rotor, EMF rod ends
Axle ratio: 6.72:1
Wheels: 20x14 custom double beadlock
Tires: 19.5/54-20LT Mickey Thompson Baja Claw TTC

In what seems to be a popular choice for TTC vehicles, the front axle under the Scout is a Rockwell 21⁄2-ton. It has been fit with Ouverson Engineering & Machine alloy axleshafts and a Detroit Locker. A well-protected pinion brake helps scrub speed and uses a Mazda rotor and Wilwood four-piston caliper. The steering system is hydraulic and includes a PSC Motorsports orbital valve, double-ended ram, AGR Super Pump, B&M stacked-plate cooler, and a Howe reservoir/filter. Coils springs are the name of the game up front, and these Ford F-150 SuperCab-application Fabtech 8-inch-lift springs work in conjunction with Bilstein 6100 shocks and a three-link setup with mostly Ballistic Fabrication forged Ultra Duty 3-inch joints to provide plenty of flex.

Jensen Scout
This is Rick Jensen’s first time competing in TTC, but it isn’t his first time at TTC. How does that work? Well, you see, you voted his ’63 International Harvester Scout in as an alternate at last year’s event, which meant he and his rig were at TTC but since all the top ten made the trip, he didn’t get to compete. This year, you voted his rig into the top ten. Aside from being a rarity on the trail, Rick’s Scout is big-block powered and fit with Rockwell 21⁄2-ton axles.

“I would bet that almost everyone that wheels would jump at a chance to go to TTC and see it all first-hand. Being chosen to compete is an honor not many get to experience.”
-Rick Jensen

Jensen Speaks
Most looking forward to: “The Coal Chute. I like the technical aspects of rockcrawling; you need to know your truck’s capabilities and limitations, trust your spotter, and be able to ‘drive by Braille.’”
Not looking forward to: “Mud Pit. The clean-up sucks.”
One thing you should know: “If you’re riding with me, you should know that the passenger side of the truck tends to get the most damage, so you may want to pay attention!”

PhotosView Slideshow

The Details
Driver name/city: Rick Jensen
City: Valley, Nebraska
Occupation: Mechanical Engineer
Vehicle model: 1963 International Scout 80
Engine: Chrysler 440ci V-8
Transmission: TF 727
Transfer case(s): NP203/205, Jed’s Machining adapter
Suspension (f/r): Three-link, Fabtech coil springs, Bilstein 6100 shocks/triangulated four-link, Fabtech coil springs, Bilstein 6100 shocks
Axles (f/r): Rockwell 2½-ton, OEM alloy axleshafts, Detroit NoSpin locker/Rockwell 2½-ton, OEM alloy axleshafts, welded spider gears
Axle ratio: 6.72:1
Wheels: 16.5x8.5 recentered Humvee
Tires: 19.5/44-16.5LT Interco Super Swamper TSL Bogger

It isn’t obvious, but the IH body is sitting on a 1989 Ford F-350 chassis. The chassis was pirated from a crew-cab truck, so it had to be shortened at the tail by about 3 feet to fit the IH body. The rig rolls on 49-inch tires mounted to B.A.D. beadlock wheels, and to ensure that the tires had ample room to travel without tire-to-fender contact, a homemade 3-inch body lift was added and the wheelwells were opened up by approximately 6 inches. That’s a homemade front bumper and holds a Warn 8274 winch and offers a pair of shackle mounts. It’s also worth noting that what you’re looking at is the original factory IH paint.

Middleton International
Earl Middleton has owned this 1972 International 1210 pickup for quite a few years, but it’s only recently that the body has been transplanted onto a Ford chassis. The reasoning for this swap was simple: Parts are hard to come by for the truck, it needed more power, and there just happened to be a donor chassis and drivetrain lying around. If the Middleton name sounds familiar it’s because Earl’s boys, Justin and Josh, competed in TTC 2013. This year, it’s Earl’s turn. Will he show his boys how it’s done and coax the IH further up the Tank Trap than his boys did last year? The answer to that question will be unveiled next month.

“Mid-life crisis? No, my sons Josh and Justin got to compete last year, so they entered me this year, and it’s exciting to just tread their path for a while!”
-Earl Middleton

Middleton Speaks
Most looking forward to: “The first event. That means the wait is over.”
Not looking forward to: “The Coal Chute. My last experience with rocks didn’t go that well.”
One thing you should know: “I’m easygoing, love the outdoors, and try to enjoy life to the fullest.”

PhotosView Slideshow

The Details
Driver name: Earl Middleton
City: Shelton, Washington
Occupation: Retired
Vehicle model: 1972 International 1210
Engine: Ford 460ci V-8
Transmission: C6
Transfer case(s): NP203/205, Jed’s Machining adapter
Suspension (f/r): Tuff Country 4-in-lift leaf spring, Tuff Country SX8000 shocks/Tuff Country 4-in-lift leaf spring, Tuff Country SX8000 shocks
Axles (f/r): Dana 60, Yukon chromoly axleshafts, welded spider gears, PSC Motorsports hydro-assist steering/Sterling 10 1/2, welded spider gears
Axle ratio: 5.13:1
Wheels: 17x10 B.A.D. beadlock
Tires: 21/49-17LT Interco Irok

Jeff must know that fancy paint and exocages don’t make a truck wheel any better. There’s probably a great story behind every dented panel and scrape on his truck’s exterior. As a matter of fact, Jeff writes that the bodywork is by “rocks, dirt, and trees.” To facilitate unobstructed tire movement, the front wheelwells were heavily modified, not only because of the large 44-inch tires, but also because the front axle has been moved forward 7 inches from its stock location. Out back, the rear axle has been moved 14 inches forward to create a 138-inch wheelbase. The cargo bed was a longbed, but it has been bobbed 52 inches. Not enough mods for you? We’re not done yet. Every crossmember in the frame is homebuilt, as is the rocker protection, front bumper with winch mount (it holds an Engo EPF12000 winch and Impulse LED light bar), and roof-mounted snorkel. The rig’s wheels are 15-inch steelies with Total Metal Innovations beadlocks.

Noggle K1500
Some folks try for years to get voted into TTC. Sometimes they get voted in, sometimes they don‘t. Jeff Noggle sent in his entry form for the first time in 2014, and you immediately gave his 1992 GMC K1500 the nod. You chose well. Jeff’s rig is a fine example of the majority of fullsize rigs found on trails. Since you voted it in, Jeff has installed a new engine in the truck, as well as a variety of upgrades designed help it survive TTC’s grueling events.

“I want to compete in Top Truck Challenge because I have been watching these videos since I was 14 years old and have wanted to do it since the first one I seen. TTC’s events are similar to southern Oregon’s type of wheeling, with deep ruts, water bars, logs, and deep water.”
-Jeff Noggle

Noggle Speaks
Most looking forward to: “I’m mostly looking forward to the Tank Trap, because it’s a lot like local wheeling to me and has always looked like an awesome trail that causes lots of carnage.”
Not looking forward to: “I’m not looking forward to the Frame Twister, mainly because not very many rigs ever make it though there without winching and/or breaking.”
One thing you should know: “I have an amazing girlfriend and two beautiful children.”

PhotosView Slideshow

The Details
Driver name: Jeff Noggle
City: Medford, Oregon
Occupation: Diesel mechanic
Vehicle model: 1992 Chevy K1500
Engine: GM LT1 350ci V-8
Transmission: TH400
Transfer case(s): NP203/205, Jed’s Machining adapter
Suspension (f/r): Three-link, Panhard bar, 18-in-travel F-O-A remote-reservoir coilovers/four-link, 18-in-travel F-O-A remote-reservoir coilovers
Axles (f/r): Dana 60, Reid Racing knuckles, Yukon chromoly axleshafts, differential spool/GM 14-bolt, Yukon chromoly axleshafts, disc brakes, welded spider gears
Axle ratio: 5.13:1
Wheels: 15x10 steel, Total Metal Innovations beadlock
Tires: 19.5/44-15LT Interco Super Swamper TSL Bogger

Built to slither through obstacles, the ’84 Chevy frame has been shortened in length ”a little” in the rear and the S-10 body has been narrowed at the rear by 20 inches. The front fenders have been given the “flatfender” treatment and this helps provide space for the massive 54-inch Mickey Thompson Baja Claw TTC tires (mounted on 12-inch-wide Evolution Machine & Fabrication double-beadlock wheels). The rocker protection, front bumper, and rear bumper is homebuilt, while the rollcage was fabbed by E-Mortal Customs. A 30-inch LED lightbar throws lumens at night, and a front-mounted Warn 10,000-pound winch and rear-mounted Warn 9,500-pound winch ensure quick recovery should the trail win. The rattlecan paintjob is by the owner using an asphalt undercoating.

Tremblay S-10
Richie Tremblay, commonly known as “Porkchop,” says, “My rig started as a stock Chevy 3⁄4-ton farm truck that I was gonna use as a weekend wheeler that was also my daily driver. Soon after I started building the truck with a set of 36s, I saw a TTC video and said, ‘I have to do that.’” Long story short, your votes gave Porkchop his dream. The rig has a fascinating wheeling history and sports a new engine (its 19th powerplant) due to the previous one ingesting mud. The S-10 body is the fourth body to rest on the chassis. Will it need another new engine and body after TTC? We’ll tell you next month.

“I saw the competition years ago (on VHS) and said to myself that is something I wanna do! After a couple of different rigs, I bought a ‘84 Chevy ¾-ton and said to myself that I was going to build this one to compete in TTC. Fifteen years later, I have finally been given the opportunity.” --Richie Tremblay

Tremblay Speaks
Most looking forward to: “Most favorite that I am looking forward to is the Tank Trap, because it represents the local terrain and would be like venturing off into the woods at home.”
Not looking forward to: “Tow Test (very hard on parts) and the Coal Chute (zero experience on rocks).”
One thing you should know: “Rob Inglis and I have a bet for this year’s TTC. Whoever places lower has to get a tattoo of the other’s vehicle make. Rob would have to get the Chevy Bow Tie, and I would have to get the Mopar emblem.”

PhotosView Slideshow

The Details
Driver name: Richie Tremblay
City: Strathmore, Alberta, Canada
Occupation: Production manager
Vehicle model: 1996 Chevy S-10
Engine: Chevy 496ci V-8
Transmission: TH400
Transfer case(s): NP205
Suspension (f/r): Four-link, 16-in-travel King remote-reservoir coilover shocks, limit straps/four-link, 16-in-travel King remote-reservoir coilover shocks, limit straps
Axles (f/r): Rockwell 21⁄2-ton, OEM alloy axleshafts, disc brakes, hydraulic steering/Rockwell 21⁄2--ton, OEM Violator axleshafts, disc brakes, hydraulic steering
Axle ratio: 6.72:1
Wheels: 20x12 EMF double beadlock
Tires: 19.5/54-20LT Mickey Thompson Baja Claw TTC

How many of you have ever laid eyes on a 1959 Fiat 1100? How about one with a full exocage? This ‘cage was designed with some neat features including door bars that open with each of the four doors. The exocage ties into the custom tube chassis that John designed and fabbed. The body has an 1985 Toyota extended cab pickup floorpan and the rear of the rig has been dovetailed 6.5 inches (“A lot of work,” John says). The rig is also fit with a front Warn 9,000-pound winch and a rear 8,000-pound winch. The big 43-inch meats are mounted to Humvee recentered beadlock wheels with custom rebar rock rings.

Martinson 1100
Only 25 votes kept John Martinson and his 1959 Fiat 1100 from being one of the 10 competitors in TTC 2014. What your votes did get him was an invite to hang out as one of two alternates, and he happily made the trek from his home in the state of Washington. When he arrived at the Hollister Hills SVRA, his turbocharged, Unimog-axled Fiat made just about everyone stop and stare. We let him run a couple of events as non-scored exhibition runs and the rig’s performance was impressive. John says that the car was his dad’s and he always thought it was cool looking. “One thing led to another,” and the result is this custom Fiat/Honda/Toyota machine.

I wanted to be in TTC from the first time I saw a video, and as the Fiat evolved, TTC was kept in the back of my mind.
-John Martinson

Martinson Speaks
Most looking forward to: “The Tank Trap, of course! The Tank Trap has the least people that make it, making it the most desirable run.”
Not looking forward to: “Was the Tow Test. Now with turbo power I’d say the Tow Test. With minimal time on the stock Toyota auto with more power, who knows how tough it is.”
One thing you should know: “Guess I’m a hardworking do-it-yourselfer that loves a challenge. I love to fish steelhead and salmon. I love my wife, kids, and family for letting me work in the shop late and be me. Fiat power!”

PhotosView Slideshow

The Details
Driver name: John Martinson
City: Yelm, Washington
Occupation: Martinson Hardwood Floors
Vehicle model: 1959 Fiat 1100
Engine: Toyota 2.7L I-4, Precision Turbo & Engine turbocharger
Transmission: Toyota
Transfer case(s): Advance Adapters Atlas 4-spd, 5.44:1
Suspension (f/r): Three-link, 16-in-travel Sway-A-Way air shocks, Currie Antirock sway bar, 2.0 Fox bumpstops/four-link, 16-in-travel Sway-A-Way air shocks, Currie Antirock sway bar, 2.0 Fox bumpstops
Axles (f/r): Unimog 404, factory locker/Unimog 404, factory locker
Axle ratio: 3.54:1 (ring-and-pinion), 2.13:1 (hub reduction ratio), 7.56:1 (final drive ratio)
Wheels: 16.5x8.5 recentered Humvee, rebar rock ring
Tires: 43x14.50-16.5LT Interco Super Swamper TSL SX

A low center of gravity was obviously a project goal for this truck. That meant the wheelwells had to be opened up approximately 6 inches up front and 4 inches out back to give the 42x14 Interco Irok tires (on 15x12 steel wheels with Total Metal Innovations beadlocks) room to move freely. In order to help the fullsize rig slither through obstacles, the front sheetmetal has been narrowed 12 inches and the rear 14 inches overall. The rear of the truck has also been bobbed by 6 inches to vastly improve the rig’s departure angle. Ryan says that most of the stock frame is boxed with 3⁄16-inch plate and from above the rear axle back is 2x4-inch rectangular tubing. Other mods include custom doors and a front-mounted Warn 9.5-cti winch on a custom owner-fabbed bumper. There’s also a bed-mounted Warn 4,800-pound winch that’s used specifically for controlling the rear axle/suspension.

Agan K10
Only three votes separated our second alternate, Ryan Agan and his 1983 Chevy K10, from the first alternate John Martinson. Ryan purchased this truck in 2009 when he was a senior in high school to use as a daily driver. The truck has undergone a number of changes through the years, and just in the last 31⁄2 years, the truck has had two engines and three different transmission/transfer-case setups. “Now the truck is no longer street legal, but I still use it for everything offroad,” Ryan says. Ryan knows his truck. We watched him do an exhibition run on the Coal Chute, and it was nothing short of amazing as he dominated the course. Ryan notes, “If I stay an alternate this year, I will be entering TTC 2015!”

Agan Speaks
Most looking forward to: “Tank Trap. It has always been theevent everyone talks about when it comes to Top Truck Challenge.”
Not looking forward to: “Mud pit. The cleanup is no fun.”
One thing you should know: “I will do whatever I can to help out the other competitors in whatever way I can.”

“Ever since I was a little kid, my dad has been buying Top Truck Challenge videos, and I always thought it would be cool to be able to have a rig that could compete. now I have that chance!”
-Ryan Agan

PhotosView Slideshow

The Details
Driver name: Ryan Agan
City: Hollister, California
Occupation: Semi-trailer mechanic
Vehicle model: 1983 Chevy K10
Engine: GM 350ci V-8, Whipple supercharger
Transmission: TH400
Transfer case(s): NP203/205, Offroad Design Doubler
Suspension (f/r): Relocated Chevy 52-in leaf springs, 14-in-travel Rancho shocks/triangulated four-link, 16-in-travel ORI STX struts
Axles (f/r): Dana 60, RCV axleshafts, custom diff cover, Detroit Locker, PSC Motorsports hydraulic-assist steering /GM 14-bolt, custom diff cover
Axle ratio: 4.56:1
Wheels: 15x12 steel, Total Metal Innovations beadlock
Tires: 14/42-15LT Interco Irok

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