Click for Coverage
  • JP Magazine
  • Dirt Sports + Off-Road
  • 4-Wheel & Off-Road
  • Four Wheeler
Subscribe to the Free
Newsletter

People & Vehicles of Ultimate Adventure 2016: Part 2 #UA2016

Posted in Ultimate Adventure: 2016 on October 26, 2016
Share this
Photographers: Harry Wagner

Ultimate Adventure 2016 will go down in the record books for several reasons. Chances are you’ve already heard about the 127-degree highs we endured this year near the lowest point of Death Valley, California. Also the trip came together very quickly because major players in organizing the event were not emplaced until seven or eight weeks before we started the adventure. All in all it was a great trip. Generally the focus of the trip is awesome rigs, awesome wheeling, and once-in-a-lifetime adventure. None of these things can happen without all the people associated with these awesome rigs. You’ve met the readers and the sponsors, so who is left?

First, the cronies are a group of enthusiasts who volunteer their time and vehicles and pay their way to go on the Ultimate Adventure. It’s a nearly thankless job that requires late nights and early mornings. In return we all get to go four-wheeling. We, the Staff, could not do the UA without all the cronies’ help. In all honesty we love having them around because they are our friends and generally flush out our group of ragtag dirtheads. Here is a rundown of who’s who from UA 2016. Some faces are new, some are old, and some have been on every UA to date.

Oh, wait! We nearly forgot the Staff. Christian, Fred, and Verne Simons were along for the ride with former full-time Staffer and current freelancer extraordinaire Harry Wagner. What do we do? Sometimes even we wonder, but we figured out where to go, we built (or at least prepped) some cool rigs, we took photos, and we occasionally wrote about it in a coherent manner. Besides that, you should know that all of us are enthusiasts just like you who gave up a chance at having a real career to play with trucks all the time.

We love the UA. It’s a time to see our friends, play with trucks, and see the country! Can’t wait till next year? Neither can we. You can apply to come. If you have a decent rig you’ve got a pretty good chance, so do it. We get fewer applications than you would think. Soon we will have the 2017 application online.


UA Cronies

All My Friends Build a Lowrider

Drivers: Dave “Dirthead Dave” Chappelle & Tom “Tommy “Tom”” Boyd
Working at the world’s largest off-road magazine means you have the opportunity to bump into very talented fabricators. Dave Chappelle is one fabricator who can build just about anything and build it cool. He has been dabbling with modifying cars and trucks since he was just out of high school and unlike many a true dirthead he has also dabbled in the lowrider car and truck world. Not too many people would have thought to build a lowrider rockcrawler, and almost no one could pull it off with a resulting vehicle that works and is cool. Chappelle did. His lowrider 1973 Toyota Hilux was in the magazine and on the net since he brought it on UA 2013 so it may look familiar. Since then he blew it all apart and put it all back together and painted it for reasons unknown. Also, it looks like the pizza delivery truck from the Toy Story movies (google it).

Chappelle is a nice guy who is always willing to lend a hand—and who can tolerate Tom Boyd for a week. Speak of the devil! Boyd is allowed on the UA for comic relief and the federal funding we receive for our UA WDFSDO (Weird Dude From San Diego Outreach). It’s a charity that we care about. Boyd knows some stuff about something. If you ever meet him just ask him what it is because we don’t know. Still, he’s pretty good in an emergency (despite being somewhat confusing during nonemergencies) and is always willing to try to help fix things or say something unexpected—sometimes to a complete stranger.

Tech Specs

1973 Toyota Hilux

>Drivetrain
Engine: 22RE
Transmission: W56
Transfer Case: Toyota duals with 4.7:1 in the rear case, Marlin Adapters, and low gearset
Front Axle: 1984 8-inch axle, 5.29:1 gearing, Grizzly Locker, Dirty 30 chromoly axleshafts, chromoly hub gears
Rear Axle: 1988 Toyota 8-inch, 5.29:1 gears, Detroit Locker
>Suspension
Springs & Such: 3-link with a track bar and airbags (front); 3-link with an upper wishbone and airbags (rear); Skyjacker M95 shocks all four corners
Tires & Wheels: 37x12.50R17 Falken Wild Peak MT, KMC Enduro beadlocks powdercoated white and pinstriped to look like steel white wagon wheels
Steering: Toyota IFS box with old-school All-Pro Off Road high-steer arms, custom Y-link (tie rod and draglink)
Winch: Warn VR8000s
Other Stuff: ARB Fridge Freezer, factory air compressor converted to OBA for airing up tires and the suspension, mechanical Little Larry’s airbag controller, Rugged Radio 25W, Acura Integra seats, Burbur carpet from Chappelle’s living room, 4-point rollcage, molded-in rock sliders that are plumbed as air tanks, in-cab air intake using VW bug air cleaner and a shop vac prefilter, bobbed bed, trimmed fenders

Crony

Every UA Ever

Driver: Trent “Sir Trentward McGoogleheimer III” McGee
Built to be simple, lightweight, and reliable, Trent McGee’s blue TJ-based buggy just works. It drives down the road well and, with McGee behind the wheel, can climb difficult obstacles rain or shine. It also has just enough space to carry all the stuff a UA’er needs on the trip. McGee also knows what he’s doing because (like Tommy Boyd) he has been on every UA. That means he knows how to figure out what’s wrong and how to fix it—or how to get a vehicle down the road to a place where parts to fix it can meet. Not only has McGee been on every UA to date, but the buggy has been on a lot of them too. The rig has been upgraded over the years with some of the most notable upgrades being the front axle and full suspension. The original bent and tired Dana 30 axle was replaced with a narrowed Ford Dana 60, and the Superlift TJ coils were swapped out for 14-inch-travel Fox coilover shocks. Since no project is ever done, the buggy awaits a few more upgrades. For one, McGee has a Dana 60 rear to replace the tired Ford 8.8 rear axle. Also, this year may be the last trip for the Jeep’s AX15 transmission, which deserves a rebuild. It has lots of hard miles and is starting to make noises.

Tech Specs

1997 Jeep Wrangler buggy

>Drivetrain
Engine: 4.0L
Transmission: AX15
Transfer Case: Atlas 4-speed
Front Axle: Narrowed Ford ball joint Dana 60, 4.88:1 gears, Detroit Locker, RCV shafts, Dynatrac hubs, Warn locking hubs
Rear Axle: Ford 8.8, 4.88:1 gears, Detroit Locker
>Suspension
Springs & Such: 4-inch modified Superlift long arm with 14-inch-travel Fox 2.0 coilovers
Tires & Wheels: 37x12.50R17 Falken Wildpeak MT, 17x9 Spyderlock beadlocks
Steering: Rusty's Off-Road heavy-duty tie rod and draglink, PSC ram assist
Winch: Warn 9.5 RC
Other Stuff: Stock TJ frame with PMP chassis kit, boat tail rear, aluminum skins, custom aluminum gas tank, floorpans, and dash; Rusty's suspension brackets on front and rear axle; Optima battery; Skyjacker brake lines; Rugged Radio; onboard air; removable spare tire rack

Crony

Keith & Bailey Blue

Driver: Keith “Can I help” Bailey
On the UA the cronies are there to help. That means keeping people moving on the trail and road so we don’t arrive in camp too late. It also means lending a tug or running winch cable on a hard obstacle, and helping with repairs and trail fixes to get participants going again. Keith Bailey, hailing from Mount Olive, Alabama, exemplifies all that a UA Crony should be. He’s always willing to help and seems to know the best way to fix something fast, because chances are he has fixed something like it before. We’ve seen him set up ring-and-pinions in the parking lots of hotels, and we’ve seen him run winch cable up some pretty steep hills in just about every state of the union. Bailey is always first in line to help and one of the last people on the scene of a fix helping clean up.

He brings either his drool-worthy 1984 CJ-7 on 1-ton axles, known as Bailey Beige, or his very capable Hemi-powered Bruiser II chassis that he brought on UA 2016. Both rigs are very capable and have served him for years despite hard off-road use all over the country. This year Bailey was flying solo to help carry camera guys over the Rubicon and Fordyce, but in the past he has been kind enough to carry Tommy Boyd and all his water guns and water balloons.

Tech Specs

2005 Bruiser II TJ-based Buggy

>Drivetrain
Engine: 2003 5.7L Dodge Hemi Transmission: 545RE
Transfer Case: Atlas II 4:1
Front Axle: High-pinion Dana 60, 4.56:1 gears, Yukon Chromoly axles, Detroit Locker
Rear Axle: GM Corporate 14-bolt, 4.56:1 gears, Grizzly Locker
>Suspension
Springs & Such: 14-inch-travel Fox coilovers, triangulated 4-link front and rear
Tires & Wheels: 38x13.50R17 Falken Wildpeak MT, 17x9 Fuel Anza
Steering: Full hydraulic
Winch: Warn XP9000
Other Stuff: Onboard air system, various water cannons, Spidertrax rotors and calipers, Flowmaster mufflers, GM hydroboost, MasterCraft seats, ARB fridge-freezer

Crony

Paranormal Paramedic

Driver: Clifton “Cliffypoo” Slay
Our friend Clifton Slay is one of those guys who seems to have dabbled in multiple careers. He can parley about lots of interesting stuff . . . and some boring stuff. In the past he served our country in the military. As if that weren’t enough, he has dabbled with freelance writing, been an off-road trial guide all over the Southwest, helped create and build the Poison Spyder Customs brand, is a happy father of two budding humans, and most recently (over the past five years or so) went back to school to become a full-fledged paramedic. He has used these newly acquired skills to help people and as part of a backcountry search and rescue team. He also helps teach others how to become a paramedic at his local college spreading the knowledge.

Somehow in there Slay also manages to keep four-wheeling, with his blue 2005 Jeep Unlimited doing most of the trial duty. The Jeep gets up and goes thanks to an Avenger Supercharger and Cliffypoo’s (you shouldn’t call him that unless you know him pretty well and he doesn’t want to hurt you) heavy right foot. Anyways, one way or another, this UA Crony gets a lot done. Maybe the rest of us should look into sleeping less so we have more time to do stuff. (Nah, sleep gives us a chance to think up our next project.) Until then we will just be glad to have Slay on hand in case someone gets hurt or needs something fixed on the trail.

Tech Specs

2005 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon

>Drivetrain
Engine: Supercharged 4.0L
Transmission: 42RE 4-speed auto
Transfer Case: NP231 with JB conversion slip-yoke eliminator
Front Axle: Dynatrac Pro Rock 60, 5.38:1 gears
Rear Axle: Dynatrac Pro Rock 60, 5.38:1 gears
>Suspension
Springs & Such: 5 1/2-inch Rubicon Express long arm
Tires & Wheels: 38x13.50R17 Falken Wildpeak MT, 17x9 Spyderlock
Steering: High-steer with PSC Motorsports hydraulic assist
Winch: Warn PowerPlant Dual Force winch
Other Stuff: TnT Customs aluminum corners, rockers, and high hood fenders; MasterCraft seats; American Rock Rods cage, bumpers, light bar, and louver panel

Crony

Green Alabama Tube Car

Driver: Sam “Sir Yes Sir” Gillis
The story goes that as a youth our pal Sam Gillis got into a bit of trouble until someone convinced him that serving Uncle Sam in the Army might straighten him out. We don’t know what kind of trouble Gillis caused, but we bet he was just having a little fun when it happened—or the many times it happened. Uncle Sam did straighten him out as near as we can tell. He is good friends with Keith Bailey, and the two both live in Mount Olive, Alabama, where Bailey runs an off-road shop called The Offroad Connection. Gillis is known to spend some free time there helping out. When he isn’t doing that, he spends time with his family or at work. Gillis still works for Uncle Sam, and that seems to keep him out of trouble most of the time.

Gillis usually helps on the Ultimate Adventure by playing the all-important role of tail gunner (sharing the duty with Clifton Slay). He stays in the rear with the gear and helps anyone who falls to the side make it to the next stop. His bright green Alabama tube car works darn well on-road and -off with him behind the wheel. The tube car is light and powerful. Both Gillis and Bailey have their buggies pretty well figured out. That’s what you need in helpers who play cleanup crew: rigs that work well and hold together. Gillis is also full of stories. We could listen to his tales of adventure all day long.

Tech Specs

2009 green tube car

>Drivetrain
Engine: GM 5.7L LS1
Transmission: TH700R4
Transfer Case: Atlas II 4:1
Front Axle: Dynatrac Dana 60, 4.56:1 gears, Grizzly Locker
Rear Axle: Shaved GM Corporate 14-bolt, 4.56:1 gears, Lincoln Locker
>Suspension
Springs & Such: 14-inch-travel Fox coilovers, triangulated 4-link front and rear
Tires & Wheels: 38x13.50R17 Falken Wildpeak MT, 17x9 Fuel Anza
Steering: Full hydro with PSC components
Winch: Warn XP9500
Other Stuff: 2009 tube chassis, green paint, green pool noodles for rollcage padding, spare green pool noodles for whatever, Rugged Radio, aluminum radiator, Jeep Liberty hood and grille

Staff

Our Learless Feeder

Driver: Christian “Not Rick Péwé” Hazel
It’s no secret that our former editor Rick Péwé left some rather large shoes [I think they’re dirty Teva sandals. —Ed.] to fill with respect to the Ultimate Adventure. Filling the unenviable position of following Péwé’s years of experience coordinating the UA for 2016 was our new editor, Christian Hazel. That meant for lots of rapid planning and making tough decisions in a very short period of time (like seven weeks). Of course, Hazel isn’t new to off-roading or the world of off-road magazines. He isn’t even new to Petersen’s 4-Wheel & Off-Road. He cut his teeth in the magazine world at Petersen’s almost two decades ago as a budding feature editor, eventually promoted to tech editor before moving over to Jp magazine. After a few years there, Hazel served a very successful tenure as editor of Jp before becoming the editor of Four Wheeler.

Since he only recently came full circle to his roots at 4WOR, Hazel lacked a suitable rig for UA until Fred Williams reminded him of the 2013 UA project rig, Ultimate Super Dirty. With the keys in hand and the head position at 4WOR, Hazel drove the snot out of the 3/4-ton Ford, showing little regard for what was left of the bed’s sheetmetal. Either that or he just thought he was driving his capable and comparatively tiny 1953 DJ-3A Willys flatfender.

Tech Specs

2013 Ford F-250 Super Duty

>Drivetrain
Engine: 6.7L Power Stroke diesel
Transmission: 6R140 automatic
Transfer Case: Offroad Design Magnum 205
Front Axle: Dana 60, Reid Racing inner knuckles, Axletech portal boxes, 5.32:1 final drive ratio (3.55x 1.5 reduction from the portals), ARB Air Locker
Rear Axle: Sterling 10.5, Axletech portal boxes, 5.32:1 final drive ratio (3.55x1.5 reduction from the portals), ARB Air Locker
>Suspension
Springs & Such: Custom Shaffer’s Offroad–built 4-links with track bars front and rear and Skyjacker M95 shocks
Tires & Wheels: 38x13.50R17 Falken Wildpeak M/T, 17x8.5 GT/Cepek
Steering: PSC hydraulic assist
Winch: Warn 16.5 winch (front); Zeon 12 (rear)
Other Stuff: TrailReady bumpers, frame shortened 16 1/2 inches to fit a short bed, custom dents.

Staff

Hill-Killin’ Summer Camp Jeep

Drivers: Fred “YouTube Ferd” Williams & Harry “Ring-tailed Lemur” Wagner
Fredward Williams ought to be familiar to anyone who reads our magazine or likes looking at off-road rigs on the internet. He has been at 4WOR 14 years, most of the time as a tech editor building many of our cool project rigs, including many Ultimate Adventure project vehicles. In addition, Williams hosts the Four Wheeler Network’s interweb show Dirt Every Day. He does all kinds of whacky stuff like turning an old RV into a go-cart for one episode. For UA 2016 Williams brought his most recent UA project vehicle, the Ultimate Summer Camp Jeep, a one-of-a-kind, fire-breathing, hill-killing, mud-slinging aluminum-tub Willys that can go just about anywhere and do almost anything.

Also along for the ride was Williams’ (and our) friend Harry Wagner. Wagner “spent time on the inside” at 4WOR as a feature editor for a couple years. Before and since this stint as a full-time magazine guy, Wagner has had one of the most successful 4x4 and off-road freelance writing careers from the past 20 years. He knows what is cool and knows how to use a camera. We brought him along for at least three reasons. First was for his photography. Second, he served as head trail guide for the Rubicon and Fordyce trails, which he has been running since he was a toddler. And lastly, he’s pretty fun to have around.

Tech Specs

1947 Willys CJ-2A farm Jeep

>Drivetrain
Engine: Chevy Performance LSA 6.2L, supercharger to force-feed it more woopow!
Transmission: Gearstar 4L80
Transfer Case: Offroad Design Magnum 205
Front Axle: Spidertrax Spider-9 with high-pinion Gearworks 10-inch, 5.40:1 gears, Gearworks locker
Rear Axle: Spidertrax Spider-9 with high-pinion Gearworks 10-inch, 5.40:1 gears, Gearworks spool
>Suspension
Springs & Such: Custom Synergy suspension with Fox shocks
Tires & Wheels: 38x13.50R17 Falken Wildpeak MT, 17x9 TrailReady beadlocks
Steering: PSC steering
Winch: Warn Zeon 10
Other Stuff: Plaid PRP seats, Aqualu custom tub enlarged to fit cooler and fullsize spare, modified JK frame, Ron Davis radiator, Omix-ADA grille and windshield, custom top, custom cage, custom everything, just an old farm Jeep.

Staff

I Roll on Command . . . or on Accident

Verne “I Fall Down Sometimes” Simons

Verne Simons started writing for Jp magazine way back in 2000 and stayed on Staff for about two years before trying to become a new-wave Indiana Jones, digging up fossils and artifacts in rare and exotic deserts. During that time he kept writing for Jp and occasionally 4WOR as a freelancer. He likes to focus on any and all tech that can be done in just about anyone’s driveway. He has been on about six of the past seven Ultimate Adventures helping with driving, taking pictures, and writing. Today he is on Staff at 4WOR.

For UA 2016 Simons fought tooth and nail for weeks to finish up the never-ending project that is his 1949 Willys Jeep 1/2-ton truck. As you may know, the Willys fought him every step of the way, breaking down on the way to the start of UA 2016. Then with Jeepin’ Joe Fernandez riding shotgun on the first obstacle of the first trail on the first day, Simons laid the ornery old Willys on its side. With a few new dents from the flop and no (newly) broken glass, the Jeep was righted. From there on out the Jeep ran hot, had charging issues, and consumed more fuel than any vehicle has a right too—but by golly it finished the UA.

Tech Specs

1949 Willys Jeep 1/2-ton pickup

>Drivetrain
Engine: 1967 505ci Dodge RB big-block stroker with Eagle rotating assembly, Edelbrock E-Street fuel injection, Edelbrock aluminum RPM cylinder heads, Edelbrock intake, Crane solid lifter roller cam
Transmission: Dodge NP435
Transfer Case: NP203/NP205 Offroad Design Doubler
Front Axle: GM kingpin Dana 60, 4.88:1 G2 gears, G2 chromoly axleshafts, Detroit Locker, Warn 35-spline locking hubs Rear Axle: GM Corporate 14-bolt, 4.88:1 G2 gears, Detroit Locker, Offroad Design disc brake brackets
>Suspension
Springs & Such: Old Man Emu ZJ coils and Synergy 3-link (front); Old Man Emu LJ coils and Synergy 4-link (rear); Old Man Emu shocks
Tires & Wheels: 42x14.50R20, TrailReady 20x9.5 HD20 beadlocks
Steering: Redneck Ram hydro-assist box and ram, Chris Durham Motorsports aluminum tie rod and drag link, Sam’s Offroad pitman arm
Winch: Warn 8274-50
Other Stuff: Stretched 1997 TJ frame, many custom brackets from Rob Bonney Fabrication, full rollcage made of 1.75x0.120-wall DOM, custom headache rack, poop-pipe front bumper with chain hooks.

Staff

Camera Car—er, Truck

Driver: Joe “Fetch Me a Sammich’ Rocky” Fernandez
The camera crew who films the Ultimate Adventure really works hard to make everything come together. They run up and down the trail carrying expensive camera equipment between obstacles to capture the action, get the story of all the people, and catch all the trail fixes. It’s tough work that requires lots of fuel and drink to keep Mike, Russ, Jeff, and Scott happy enough to do their jobs. To help them and schlep them around and keep them fed and watered, we tapped our friend, enthusiast and fellow industry member Joe Fernandez. Fernandez spends his weekdays working for Synergy Manufacturing and has played 4x4 with us during Cheap Truck Challenge 2015. He was also a driver and judge on 4WOR’s 2016 4x4 of the Year. Fernandez is helpful and knows what needs to get done, but he is also one of the funniest guys we know, so we like having him around to keep things light. He was driving his new-to-him, nearly stock 2003 Chevy 1500HD 4x4 filled to the roof with camera-guy gear, food, and drink.

Tech Specs

2003 Chevy 1500HD 4x4

>Drivetrain
Engine: 6.0L V-8
Transmission: 6L80E
Transfer Case: NP246 that sometimes doesn’t want to shift
Front Axle: GM IFS crap, 3.73:1 gears
Rear Axle: GM Corporate semifloat 14-bolt, 3.73:1 gears
>Suspension
Springs & Such: Stock
Tires & Wheels: 285/70R17 Falken Wild Peak AT3, 17x8 American Outlaw Patrol wheels powdercoated Synergy Grey
Steering: Stock
Lighting: Stock
Other Stuff: Smells like camera crew after 127 degrees in Death Valley; Bubba Rope; Rugged Radios 25W radio

Official Retailer

Official Tire

Official GPS

Official Transfer Case

Official Communcations

Official Suspension and Shock

Official Recovery Rope

Official Winch

Official Crate Axle

Official Turbo Diesel

Connect With Us

Newsletter Sign Up

Subscribe to the Magazine

Browse Articles By Vehicle

See Results