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September 2007 Best Whoops! Ever Part 1

Posted in Whoops on September 1, 2007
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Our "best"-themed specials are difficult to do. First, we say goodbye to our life for a couple of days-we're talking 30 years of history to rummage through! Second, we become easily distracted. Traveling deep into the bowels of our office building to get to where all the old issues of 4-Wheel & Off-Road are stored is a lot like when you stumble upon that box in the back of your closet overflowing with old photos. Loads of memories-and many flashbacks of bad hair. Even though we were on a Whoops! mission, we probably lost a full day simply cruising through old news columns and tech stories (the bad-hair cup runneth over).

Once we refocused on collecting Whoops!-which used to be part of our Tailgate department back in the '80s-we had the difficult task of culling the best of the bunch. Is there really such thing as a bad Whoops!? No-and we failed miserably at narrowing them down. So that's why we're putting together two Best Whoops! special editions. This month's will focus on the first 15 years of submissions to the magazine, and the second round will appear next month, featuring the last 15 years. We've left the entries exactly as they ran in the day-complete with their cheesy text and dated humor.

And, as always, keep your Whoops! coming!

Send yours to:
4-Wheel & Off-Road
6420 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90048
E-mail to:

Check Out the Flying Grille
"Take two aspirin."
Photos by Dave Silvernail, July '84

PhotosView Slideshow

"Dang it, Mona, when I said we had high-flotation tires, I didn't mean...."
Photo by Steve Haffner, July '86

Mud Hole 1, New Engine 0
I was at Little Rock Dam near Palmdale, California, with my '74 Chevy truck. It seemed like a good place to test the recently installed 350ci engine, but before I knew what was happening, this mud hole "jumped" out in front of me, and I was stuck. Luckily, my pal Joe was nearby with his '77 Chevy 4x4 to pull me out. Nothing broke, but the frame was really twisted.
Dave Beaudin, Sun Valley, CA, Dec. '91

Tropical Mud
This picture was taken while I was stationed in Hawaii with the Navy. We were on our way home in my stock '79 CJ-7 Renegade and we saw this harmless-looking mud hole. I thought I would just buzz right through and sling some mud. Next time, I guess I'll be sure to lock in the hubs before I assume how harmless something is.
Robert LaGrange, Arp, TX, Oct. '88

Not the Loch Ness
We are not really sure how the gentleman in this photo came to find himself in this situation. It must just be his way of cooling off after a long, hot day of fishing on Folsom Lake.
Bill Wallis, Orangevale, CA, Aug. '88

Water World
"Artie, I told ya: Don't never pick a campsite when the tide's out."
Photo by Tim McGuire, July '86

Stuck, Stuck
I shot this picture along the lower Salt River near Mesa, Arizona. The river is a popular place to off-road for all types of four-wheel drives. The older, gray Toyota got stuck on an underwater cliff. The newer, white Toyota went in to help and you can see what happened to him. The Suburban couldn't haul either vehicle out. Finally, another Toyota hauled the gray truck out and the white truck was pulled across to the other shore.
Philip A. Fortnam, Scottsdale, AZ, Nov. '88

It Was Totaled?!
I just developed some pictures taken two years ago of my friend and his Jeep. The Jeep was wrecked, but my friend managed to save the radio and console.
Tim McCarthy, Potomac, MD, May '88

Stuck in a Foreign Land
Lt. Col. Joe Worley took this photo when the temperature was over 130 degrees Fahrenheit. We all get stuck occasionally when off-roading, but to get unstuck in that kind of heat means these two Army majors deserve a special four-wheeling award. Joe says that his field artillery unit is stationed in Saudi Arabia to advise its National Guard. He's based in the capital of Riyadh and says that his unit travels considerably throughout the desert. "We exclusively use GMC Jimmys and Suburbans (buy American) and we get great service out of them," he writes. This Jimmy is buried up to its axles in Arabian sand. "The two gentlemen studying the problem are about to practice sand ladder extraction over a very long distance before freeing the vehicle," says Joe. Come on, Colonel, don't you think you ought to help out a little bit?
4-Wheel & Off-Road staff, Dec. '87

Not Thelma or Louise
We were two girls in a Toyota on the Upper Eel River for a fishing trip. We made it across the river, but the bank gave way and the truck floated downriver about 15 feet. Just on the other side of the truck is a 15-foot waterhole. We got towed out three hours later, and the "mini-sub" started like a true Toyota. We gave a yell and went on fishing, but with our poles this time.
Cricket Thibeault and Ronda Card,
Santa Rosa, CA, Apr. '91

Knight Rider
Our omnipresent spy photographer was on hand when Kitt tried to take on Bear Foot and Little Bear Foot during the filming of Knight Rider on a southern California road. There was a crash for the on-screen sequence, but we were told that was handled with models.
4-Wheel & Off-Road staff, Jan. '85

Border Crossing Gone Bad
I do my four-wheeling in Utah. Unfortunately, a lot of drivers such as this one also use the area. I snapped this photo near the Wyoming border in the northwest part of the state. I've heard of people trying to avoid Wyoming, but this is ridiculous.
John Miles, Vernal, UT, Jan. '87

These two firemen are not in the army but through a friend got their hands on a tank. This picture proves that tank tracks don't always help!
Ken, June '88

More Like Underwater View, Arkansas
The scene was Mountain View, Arkansas, at a local four-wheeling spot. The temptation was to make a U-turn in the creek at about 50 mph. The '79 F-250 Ford driven by a friend almost made it. The truck was winched over and driven home.
Terry M. Stewart,
Mountain View, AR, Apr. '87

Dirty Words: River Bottom
My friends and I drove to the Brazos River bottom to do some four-wheeling, and since my truck was the lightest, I led the way. First, I buried it to the axles. My friend has a Blazer equipped with an 8,000-pound-capacity winch, so we tried to pull my Toyota out. Big mistake! The shale underneath the waist-deep gumbo slanted down toward the river at about a 30-degree angle, and as the winch pulled straight back, my truck slid down the slope into the river. When we stopped winching, the truck kept sliding. We quickly chained my Toyota's rear axle to the frame of my friend's older Toyota to keep my truck from sliding into the river. It took five hours of digging and winching with two snatch blocks to get the rear end out, then another hour of pulling with the old Toyota to get my truck onto hard ground. By that time, we had burned up the winch after getting the Blazer stuck once and the old Toyota stuck twice. This river bottom is a bogger's dream!
Shannon Seaback, College Station, TX, Sept. '91

Government-Issued Whoops!
Beginning September 1, 1984, manufacturers will have to place a permanent sticker or label on the windshield, frame, dashboard or some other prominent location of the vehicle to alert operators to the handling differences between utility vehicles and passenger cars. The sticker will inform owners that the design characteristics of utility vehicles can cause them to operate differently than passenger cars under certain driving conditions. Sharp turns or abrupt maneuvers in such vehicles could result in loss of vehicle control or rollover, both on paved roads and in off-road use.
NHTSA Regulation 49 CRF Part 575, July '86

What a Drag(ster)
This big-time double Whoops! occurred in the A/FD finals at Sandblast '87, which was staged in November outside of Indio, California. Larry Mann's blown V-6 sand dragster broke a wheelie bar just as he shifted into high, sending the front end up. The engine torque helped twist the rail over on its left side. Since it was going 120 mph at the time, Mann's dragster had enough momentum to airmail itself over the finish line. Then Bud Martin's dragster came into the picture. He overcorrected while trying to avoid Mann, then barrel rolled through the lights. There was no collision but both sandrails were totaled. Martin was declared the winner since Mann crossed the center line. Both dragsters hold the national speed record for their class at just over 121 mph.
4-Wheel & Off-Road staff, Mar. '88

PhotosView Slideshow

Best Breakage
Trying to fly don't work.
Jay Shoemaker, Garden City, MI, Apr. '88

Ohhh, Now I Get It
After much explaining, I finally convinced my friend Alan Cason that the idea was to launch the boat into deep water, not the truck.
Steve Parmer, Bossier City, LA, Apr. '91

I Caught One This Big
Some friends and I were out four-wheeling at the Verde River, and a few of us had already crossed the river when a guy in his Toyota 4x4 pickup came along. He hesitated at crossing, but when a Suzuki Samurai made it, he decided that he could too. Well, something went wrong and the engine stopped, bringing the Toyota to a halt mid-river. Whoops, he didn't make it!
Blake Savage, Peoria, AZ, Aug. '91

Last Call?
"Jeez, Ansen, you've gotten us into a fine emergency. It'll be at least 20 minutes before the beer settles down enough to open!"
Photo by Don Byrd, July '86

What the Puck?
This picture was taken at Lake Zurich, Illinois. A four-wheeler was attempting to plow snow off the frozen lake to clear the way for a hockey game when the truck's nose fell through the ice. It took two semi-truck wreckers and the local fire department about six hours to free the rig.
Matt Finley, McHenry, IL, Apr. '91

Poor Run
This is not a picture of my truck, but I thought you would find it interesting. I was at the annual mudbogs held in Brazil, Indiana. The truck in the photograph rolled onto its side when the owner exited the mudbog after a poor run. He gave it just a little too much on the ol' gas pedal while turning around at the end of the bog, and over the truck went. I must add that once the truck was pulled back up on its wheels, the owner's wife drove it in the women's class. She took first place.
Todd Cochran, Greencastle, IN, Feb. '91

That Sinkin' Feeling
Jeff Bolomey from Clark, New Jersey, sent in these photos, which ran in July '88. As 4-Wheel & Off-Road retold it: As you can see from the photos, Jeff's story flows with the tide. He and his buddy, Rob, who owns a Dodge truck, got stuck offshore during low tide. Two other trucks tried unsuccessfully to pull them out. A call to the police on the CB brought a tow truck, which also got stuck. Another call brought a four-wheel-drive tow truck three hours later. Jeff's Blazer was pulled out, but by that time the 40-degree water was up to the windows in Rob's truck. Rob tried to swim underwater to hook up the tow line but the water was too cold. As the sun went down, all that could be seen of the truck was the CB antenna and the four lights on the rollbar. The next afternoon the tide was low enough that the truck could be towed out. Like they say: If you get stuck you get wet.

PhotosView Slideshow

River Dance
It's in times like these that owning your own tow-truck service comes in handy! After winching the Jeep out of the river, we put it on a hill to let all the water drain out. We went off to enjoy a great day of boating. When we returned, we dried the distributor cap, put in some fresh gas and used it to tow the boat home. Only in a Jeep....
Jack Brady, Paoli, PA, June '90

Man of Few Words, Part 1
To hell with the Jeep; save the beer!
Mike Burnett, Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada, Apr. '91

He's Learning
This happened in the gravel pits near my home the second night I owned my Bronco II. I tried to drive it through a mudhole but didn't get very far. We had to leave my truck until the next day. We tried to pull it out with two other trucks, but it didn't work. Luckily there was a bulldozer nearby, and the operator was nice enough to pull my Bronco out.
Jason Anderson, Highland,
MI, Apr. '91

King of the Inlet-Not
This past Thanksgiving holiday, some friends and I ventured to the Oregon Inlet on the outer banks of North Carolina for a little four-wheel-drive action on the beach. We came upon this CJ-7 and its owner, who must have thought he was king of the inlet. Up until then, so did we, but Mother Nature proved that she was still top dog no matter what kind of off-highway vehicle you drive. It took two tow trucks and a Chevy 1-ton 4x4 with a 12,000-pound-capacity winch about an hour and 45 minutes to get this CJ that thought it was a fish out of the drink. After witnessing this, we became three dethroned kings making our way back to Baltimore, treading as lightly as possible. By the way, no one was hurt.
Tim Tracey, Baltimore, MD, Apr. '91

Man of Few Words, Part 2
Alaskan Highway during spring runoff.
Mike Burnett, Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada, Apr. '91

Monster Truck 15 Minutes of Television Fame
During a recent filming for Return of the Battle of the Monster Trucks, Spikers All American, Eagle and Lil All American were entering the water of Lake Eloise at Cypress Gardens to line up for a race. All American and Eagle went first with no problem and everything was looking pretty good, but when poor Lil All American tried to follow, it somehow drove off an underwater ridge. The front right side of the truck shifted downward and the weight of the truck came forward causing the driver side of the truck sank. Driver Jeff Dease went down with his ship.
4-Wheel & Off-Road staff, Feb. '87

Get Bent
"Jeez, it feels good to stretch after that ride."
Photo by Bob Flink, July '86

If at First You Don't Succeed
Here are some pictures from the great Pacific Northwest. They were taken in the Cascade Mountains, Washington, where there's mud year-round. This is my '86 Samurai. I've always wanted my truck in your magazine, not in the shined-up and show-truck section but all muddy in the Whoops! section, since off-roaders spend their quality time there!
Brian Gwaltney, Puyallup, WA, Dec. '88

PhotosView Slideshow

...Try, Try Again
Please tell me where I can get some outriggers for my Samurai! In December 1988 you featured my Samurai in Whoops!, thank you. I have since moved to Indiana. This happened in the hills of Brown County near the small town of Beanblossom, while four-wheeling with the 4 Wheels to Freedom club. There were no injuries and only minor damage was done to the truck. The funny thing was, I installed the skidplate the night before. Heck of a way to use it, huh! It took an hour to right it. I drove it out of the creekbed and went four-wheeling for two more hours!
Brian Gwaltney, Anderson, IN, Aug. '90

PhotosView Slideshow

Worst Caption Ever
"Only three more weeks together, darling, then it's back to civilization and my wife."
Photo by Ron Cirigliano, July '86

Are They Biting?
My boyfriend, John Duball, and I wanted to spend a leisurely Saturday afternoon in the country, four-wheeling down Brush Run Creek near Claysville, Pennsylvania. Our '79 Chevy Scottsdale seemed ideal until the creek proved deeper and the bottom softer than we thought. The truck became immovable, and a nearby farmer's tractor had to be borrowed to drag the Chevy to solid ground. While waiting for the tractor, John took advantage of the situation by pulling out his fishing pole and trying his luck in the hole that "caught" the truck.
Cheri Simms, Washington, PA, Dec. '90

"Nothin' wrong. She's just resting."
Photo by Giles Berrier, July '86

Geometry Lesson
We were traveling along a nice, peaceful little cutline, minding our own business, when we suddenly came to an abrupt halt. Now I know what they meant all those years in school about 45-degree angles. It must have taken us about two hours to winch, dig and prod our way out, but we wouldn't have changed it for the world.
Roger Hopkins & friends, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Apr. '91

PhotosView Slideshow

Nice Try
On a nice Sunday afternoon, Ron (the owner of the Nissan) found out that there are places that my '76 K5 Blazer will go, and there are places that his truck will not go. I do have to give him credit, though. He'll try any trail I take my Blazer on, whether he makes it or not.
Richard S. Roger,
Vancouver, WA, Apr. '91

We Called It "Big-Time Whoops"
Mike Elder took this wild photo of a mud bogger doing a headstand at a stadium event. It ran in our Aug. '86 issue.

New to Stunt Driving
I'm a new four-wheel-drive owner. This scene is three miles west of Garden City, Kansas, on the Arkansas River. Any hints on how to cross a river? I have yet to make it into the water.
Steve Elam, Garden City, KS, Jan. '88

I Spy a Whoops!
This photo of my '84 Toyota 4x4 was shot by my brother, who was riding in the bed just before it happened. Since no one there would give us a hand, it took me five hours to find help and get out of the canyon. It cost $270 for the tow truck to put the 4x4 on all fours again, but then I couldn't get it off the dirt mound under its own power. I paid another guy $20 to pull me off backward. All in all, a very expensive day.
Randy Lindsay, Fountain Valley, CA, Nov. '91

Stuck, Yank, Stuck
This is my friend Dave's Suzuki. He's got 27-inch snow tires on it, and he goes nuts. This time he got stuck in some goo. The second picture is my friend Mike's new Dodge. Mike got it stuck after pulling Dave's Suzuki out of the mud. We got the Dodge out with manpower and lumber.
Alan Abbett, Groton, CT, Apr. '91

We Don't Know Why We Do it, Either
This is the result of four-wheeling at night while the ground was still very wet. I got stuck in a rut that led to a canyon. My wife, Jeanette, stood in the truck bed wondering why her husband does the things he does. We pulled it out 1 1/2 weeks later when the ground dried.
Tony Smith, Tipp City, OH, Apr. '91

We Dig It
"Hell, Fillmore, dig up another six-pack for us while you're at it."
Photo by Marty Waters, July '86

Ice, Ice, Baby
My '83 Nissan fell through the ice of this small creek in Alamosa, Colorado. It took a couple of 8,000-pound winches and 1 1/2 hours of breaking ice to finally free it. The truck's front end was totally submerged at one point, but the engine started up right away. The only damage was a broken window and a couple of crinkled fenders. Now I have an excuse to repaint it!
Marcus Richardson, Alamosa, CO, July '90

Not Quite Anything
Here's what happens when you put a set of 4.56:1 gears, a limited-slip in the rear, a set of 35-inch tires and a 6-inch lift on a truck, then decide you can make it through anything. Thanks to my buddy's winch, we finally did make it through.
Mike Zebrowski, Parlin, NJ, Apr. '91

Some Friends
I backed into a flooded creek once and returned safely. My so-called friends advised me to try it again. After 50 bucks and a complete oil change, my truck was ready again.
Aron Mendenhall, Kokomo, IN, Apr. '91

A Shattered Bug Guard? Oh, the Humanity!
This is a photo of my worst nightmare-my pride and joy, my '78 Ford Bronco. I was out with my 4WD club, the Peninsula Mudd Dawgs, at Johnson's Creek in Rainier, Washington. While taking it easy following Jeeps along narrow trails, I thought I had cleared the last bend until my rig lost its footing on a muddy bank and tipped over. It took almost everyone there to put her back on all fours. My truck suffered a broken windshield, a shattered bug guard and chrome and body damage from one end to the other. Now the major renovation begins!
Charles Bucher, Gig Harbor,
WA, May '90

Monster of a Whoops!
"So that's why they call it 'Rolling Thunder'."
Photo by Roy Ito, July '86

Right Place, Right Time
This monster truck rollover wasn't exactly a Whoops! entry, but we felt it deserved a place here anyway. A hobbyist photographer named Eric Stern of Zion, Illinois, happened to be perfectly situated during a monster truck freestyle show at Great Lakes Dragaway in Wisconsin when Bearfoot went ass-over-teakettle. No one was injured in the crash, but Stern got his 15 minutes on the Tailgate page of the May '91 issue.

PhotosView Slideshow

Murph in the Turf
This '86 CJ-7 belongs to Rod Murphy (Murph to his friends). We were out on a club run in the very rugged mountains above Devore, California, when this incident occurred. As you can see, it's a steep slope and could have been disastrous. Luckily, the only fatality was one manicured fingernail belonging to Murph's wife, Liz. It took three winches, three anchor vehicles and about three hours to pull him back up to the road. He was able to drive the jeep home, and it had only minor damage.
Bob Shumaker, Fallbrook, CA, Feb. '90

You Might Want to Move, Dude
"'Also-rans' at Pomona included...".
Photo by Al Behary, July '86

What a Hole
I don't know if this classifies as muck, but my Toyota is as buried up to the headlights as I've ever had it. Yes, it was an accident. What the photos don't show is the hill behind the truck. After I cleared the top, it was too late...even if I could have seen the hole. But you know how it goes when you own and drive a 4x4.
Todd Nelson, Clarksville, TN, May '87

PhotosView Slideshow

Never Say Never
My friend Randy Prow of Evansville, Indiana, can no longer say, "I've never been stuck." Randy wanted to try out his new tires, so we both took our Toyotas down to the river for a day of mud slinging. After about four hours, we found an as-yet-unexplored mudhole. Randy went first-right into a drop and up to his frame. I had to call a tow truck, and it almost got stuck getting to the site.
Bill Major, Cincinnati, OH, Oct. '89

When Things Don't Seem Better in the Morning
Four years ago, I lost control on a Friday night and this is what my Chevy looked like in the morning. The accident occurred on the north side of Sheboygan, Wisconsin, in the Pigeon River. There were no injuries. A Toyota Land Cruiser took a beating pulling out my Chevy, but it did such a fine job that I sold my truck and bought one.
Jim Moll, Sheboygan, WI, Feb. '87

Good(?) Night
When you're four-wheeling at night and you drive straight into a hole, there's nothing to say but "Whoops!"
Clifford Merrick, Sterling, VA, Mar. '91

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