Mega Run 2002 - Texans Battle to Be the Best

Mega Fun

Ken BrubakerPhotographer, Writer

Last year a good-natured war of words regarding whose truck was “best” escalated among the members of the TX 4x4 Cyber Club. It resulted in the first-ever 2001 Mega Run competition, which we told you about in the August ’01 issue of Four Wheeler. Because of the wild success of this inaugural four-wheeling event, members of the TX 4x4 Cyber Club considered it a no-brainer to conclude that the Mega Run must become an annual event. For 2002, the event returned to the 1,000-acre Shiloh Ridge Off Road Park in Alto, Texas. Thomas Perdue opened this park in 1997 in response to rapidly closing public land, and its popularity has soared year by year. On Labor Day weekend in 2000, more than 2,500 ORV enthusiasts funneled into the park to challenge the more than 50 miles of intertwining trails of varying difficulty levels. Today, the park is a hot gathering place for 4x4s, ATVs, and dirt bikes, and it regularly draws folks from central Texas, southern Oklahoma, and western Arkansas and Louisiana. Perdue is an integral part of the Mega Run’s success, and he graciously offers numerous discounts to competitors. In addition, he closes off a section of the park for the exclusive use of the event.

The Mega Run is a one-day event that kicked off with a driver’s meeting at the event headquarters in the camping area of the park. The 2001 tally of competitors was impressive, and this year’s was purely stunning. There were more than 60 vehicles lined up to begin competition, and they ran the gamut of makes, models, and sizes of trucks. As Mega Run creator Gary Lambert stood in the bed of his V-10-powered Dodge Ram and welcomed everyone, more than 200 people were jumping up and down and spinning around in an effort to keep warm as east Texas endured record-breaking cold temperatures. The frosty temps did nothing to quell the excitement of the participants however, as everyone was itching to begin competition.

The Mega Run featured three different competitions this year. The timed sand drags were held on Shiloh Ridge Off Road Park’s dual-lane sand drag strip, there was a gnarly mud pit competition, and also a lengthy and challenging obstacle course. Competition vehicles were assigned to the Stock, Mild, or Wild classes, depending on their modifications. Trophies and prizes were awarded to the top three finishers in each competition in each class. Additionally, trophies and prizes were awarded to the top three finishers who had the highest combined score from the three competitions. The overall event winner was the truck with the fastest combined times from each of the three competitions.

As events got underway, the three classes were divided between the three events so there was always something going on throughout the day. After an entire class had finished one event, they would simply rotate to the next. This ensured that all of the competitions were completed in a timely fashion. The mud pit was deep and gooey, and at first it was thought that no one would actually be able to make it through. Some did, however, albeit slowly, and with a bit of creative steering and throttle control. The sand drag course was standard stuff, and was all about good hook off the line and lots of horsepower. The wooded obstacle course was pure evil. It consisted of deceivingly slippery mud, tight turns, and a very challenging creek crossing that stopped many competitors cold.

As it was designed to be, the competition was a good-natured, grassroots opportunity for drivers to show what their rigs could do. The big surprise of the event came when the overall event winner was announced at the awards ceremony, because it wasn’t a heavily modified, bad-to-the-bone machine. Instead, it was an almost bone-stock 2000 Jeep Wrangler equipped with a Dana 35 rearend, open diffs, a 3 ½-inch suspension lift and 33-inch tires. It belonged to a very happy Eric Crager from Diboll, Texas.

Many companies helped make the Mega Run a success by donating products and services. That list includes KC Hilites, Mike’s Offroad, ’Ol Spot Offroad, 4Wheel Parts Wholesalers, ProHome of North Texas, Buck ’n Loons in Arlington, Texas, ARB 4x4 Accessories, Creative Engineering, Bass Pro Shops of Grapevine, Texas, Lyons Design, Offroad Design, Pull-Pal/Premier Power Welder, 4x4 Unlimited of Texas, EZ.net, TK Sliders, Weston Inn and Suites of Rusk, Texas, HoneyBee Grafix and Screenprinting, and Johnson Aircraft Services.

If you’d like to compete in this fun, growing event, you can get info on the 2003 3rd Annual Mega Run by visiting the TX 4x4 Cyber Club Web site at www.arlington.tx4x4.org.