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20th Anniversary: 20 Best Whoops!

Posted in Whoops on March 1, 1998
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Photographers: The Readers of 4-Wheel & Off-Road

The Whoops! column pretty much began as a caption contest in Tailgate (later changed to Drivelines). We'd shoot a stuck or twisted photo at a race or a trail ride, or someone would send us a shot of himself or another driver. Then we'd ask you to rub it in his face some more. In June '86 we made the first official demand for more blunders, and in August of that year Whoops! debuted, stadium style. We figured no one would ever admit to making a faux pas, so we had to offer a hundred bucks as a bribe to humiliate yourself. Now our mailbox overflows with the darndest predicaments-and for no pay! Here's the most curious and laughable.

"The Best Of Tailgate" July '86
Martin Loshniowsky has no idea how much joy this photo has brought to everyone at 4-Wheel through the years. It ran with the caption: "Jeez, I'm getting tired of all this 'Run, Fido, get help' crap." Don't overlook Fido's friend tasting it behind him. Oh, yeah, there's a Jeep really stuck in the background.

Cover May '95
This month we featured the best Whoops!, and what better way to kick off the issue than with Jim Forbes on (well, actually, off) Potato Salad Hill in Moab. Dr. James P. Rhodes II captured Jim's CJ-5 as it rolled all the way down the hill and again as it switched directions and continued down the gully. In Sept. '94's best of Whoops!, there's a shot of where it was laid to rest.

"Best Whoops! Of All Time" May '95
Never do a good deed. Jason Deederly of Port Alberni, British Columbia, Canada, and his friend tried to yank out someone's stuck truck, but they took a wrong turn and rolled their '90 Ford into this "puddle."

Whoops! May '94
Rather than human error, this Whoops! was caused by mechanical problems. Colorado's Todd Larson and his 8-year-old son were testing their race Jeep with a new Chevy mill when a steering knuckle loosened and tossed them in a river. The Jeep (and the Larsons) suffered only minor injuries.

Tailgate May '88
Tim McCarthy of Potomac, Maryland, captured his friend's Jeep but gave no explanation of what in corn hill had happened, so we had to use our imagination. Since only the radio and the console could be salvaged, we'd say what happened was not good.

"Best Whoops! Of All Time" May '95
Not much information accompanied Robert Blazevich's photo of his vehicle at the bottom of a hill. He did provide the following info, however: "For sale: International Harvester, needs some bodywork."

Tailgate Mar. '92
No, it's not a failed stupid-human trick. Rene Roberge's brother-in-law was piloting his Toyota Land Cruiser along a 15-mile stretch of abandoned railroad tracks when a sudden washout removed 10 feet of gravel from below. It took three days to figure out how to get the 'Cruiser off the tracks, then another six hours to lay down planks to drive it off.

Tailgate Oct. '93
Gary Schiefelbein of Berea, Ohio, said a pleasant drive home from a Monday night football game turned into a no-brakes situation. He blew through a stop sign just before his four-wheel-drive VW plowed right into the bedroom of a condominium.

Whoops! February '96
Latham and Nikki Tiver of New Jersey provided this winner of a Whoops!. They were four-wheeling with a group when this driver misjudged a turn in the trail and landed his truck on its lid. No one was hurt. Well, except for the Toyota.

Whoops! Feb. '97
Celebrating the holidays shouldn't be this much fun, but we guess Jerry Stratton had to make his Memorial Day, uh, memorable. He was in Basse Falls, California, when this happened, and he retrieved it the old fashioned way: manpower. He says minor damage was the only souvenir.

"Rolls, Restarts, Rick, Roger: Riverside!" Dec. '79
One of the first races the magazine covered was the seventh SCORE Off-Road Championship. We captured Steve Kelley in lap nine of the pickup race going about winning the hard way. He and his codriver went home unscathed.

Whoops! Mar. '95
He signed it, "Glad to be here," and here's why: A truck was coming downhill, lost control, and then went into a full skid before pinning Billy C. Wade and his Blazer against the embankment. That smarts!

ParagraphImage Photo 31133815

Tailgate March '91
OK, before you say, "Wrong!" we know, we know. Blame it on a poor filing system or thieves, but this isn't the actual photo that appeared in the issue. What ran was the same Whoops!, but shot from the front. But the rear is just as dramatic, and what Clifford Merrick of Sterling, Virginia, did was worth another look. Let this be a lesson: Don't drive into a hole when you're four-wheeling at night.

"Crash & Burn" Sept. '94
Robert Trent of Buena Park, California, snapped a sequence of his pals Chris and Louisa going the fast way down a tough spot in the Los Coyotes area in California. The Jeep was toast, but Chris and Louisa did fine.

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