From left to right, Jackie Sanders, Alex Sanders, Steven Montpas, Randy Camp
For 2011, the Top Truck Challenge Truck Class winner is Team Montpas (driver Steven Montpas and co-driver Randy Camp) from Roseburg, Oregon, and the Buggy Class winner is Team Sanders (Alex Sanders and co-driver Jackie Sanders) from Salem, Arkansas.
It wasn’t an easy, runaway win for either team. Truck Class winner Team Montpas’ ’49 Willys suffered major damage in the Mini Rubicon with one twisted and two broken Rockwell axleshafts and a broken winch cable. This damage forced them to end their run and settle for a Fourth Place finish in the event. Further, they were closely pursued in points by Team Dallner throughout the week of competition and going into the Tank Trap event, the team had a slim two-point lead over Team Dallner. A blazing fast run in the Trap was what solidified Team Montpas’ win.
Buggy Class winner Team Sanders’ sub-$2,000 homemade buggy didn’t suffer any major damage throughout the competition. Going into the Tank Trap event they were four points behind the leading team of Team Vizenor. Based on Team Vizenor’s strong performance it looked as though the win would be theirs, but the Tank Trap had other ideas. Team Vizenor rolled in the Canyon and couldn’t recover, while Team Sanders continued their consistent, almost casual performance, and took Second Place in the Trap to earn the double points needed to pull off the win.
Interestingly, the similarity of this year’s two winning rigs is uncanny. Both are small-block Chevy V-8-powered; both are equipped with SM465 manual transmissions, both have NP205 transfer cases; both have 2½-ton Rockwell axles, and both are shod with 54-inch tires. Is this the hot setup? Read into it what you will.
What do our winners have to say about Top Truck? Steven Montpas says, “Cloud nine. We came in as an alternate. We never knew we’d make it this far. We just knew we’d do our best. We broke in the rocks and I was a little worried. I knew we had to finish good in the last event. My co-pilot’s awesome and our team just pulled together and we did everything we could.” Alex Sanders says, “Blows my mind. It is awesome. This is the best of the best. You can’t get no better than this.” He goes on to say, “I was shooting for Fifth. I just wanted to complete every event.”
1. Montpas’ Willys 70.9
2. Dallner’s S-10 64.8
3. Keller’s F-350 50.7
4. Seely’s Suburban 26.6
5. Montalto’s Bronco 26.5
1. Sanders’ Chevy 56.8
2. Hall’s Samurai 48.7
3. Vizenor’s “Li’l Nasty” 48.5
4. Timson’s YJ 44.9
5. Spencer’s FJ40 40.6
How Top Truck Is Scored
The Truck and Buggy classes are scored separately. The winner of each event gets 10 points; Second Place gets 8 points; Third Place gets 6 points; and so on. The final event, Tank Trap, is worth double points. In order to eliminate tie scores, the winner of Tank Trap receives 20.9 points; Second Place receives 16.8 points; Third Place receives 14.7 points; and so on. In addition to eliminating ties, this procedure further rewards those who do well in the Tank Trap. When all seven events are completed, each team’s points are tallied, resulting in their final score.
Even More Awards
During Top Truck’s closing ceremonies we handed out several specialty awards. From the team who had the worst luck to the competitor who traveled the longest distance, we recognized them with a plaque. Here are this year’s winners.
Long Distance– Team Hall (from Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada, approximately 2,759 miles)
Hard Luck– Team Timson (missed the Obstacle Course due to a DOA transfer case and missed the Mini Rubicon due to a broken hydro steering mount)
Team Spirit– Team Dallner (happy campers all the time)
Driving Elegant– Team Sanders (Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata could be the soundtrack to this father/son teams performance)
People’s Choice– Team Vizenor “Li’l Nasty” buggy (the people have spoken)
Judges Choice– Team Vizenor “Li’l Nasty” buggy (the judges have spoken)
“It was absolutely a great week. All the competitors were great, and we had a great crew. It was fun. Best week I’ve had in a long time.” –Ron Adams
“Best thing ever. Pretty awesome.” –Jeff Seely
“It was the best week of wheeling I’ve had yet, for sure.” –Josh Hall
“Top Truck is awesome. Top Truck Challenge is a great thing to do and it’s a good test between you and your machine. It really is fun. And they make it harder and harder every year.” –Mike Keller