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Drivelines - October 2014

The Latest News From The Industry

Hall of Fame Inductees Announced
The Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame (ORMHOF) will induct five new members at a ceremony to be held just prior to the SEMA Show in Las Vegas. Each year an 18-member voting panel chooses candidates it feels are worthy of induction based on “significant contributions to off-road motorsports—beyond wins and sport affiliation,” says the group. Each inductee is to have made a significant contribution to off-road motorsports in at least one of the following aspects: business, history, design, engineering, prestige of the sport, and/or growth of the sport. (You may recall that our own Rick Péwé, former editor of this magazine who has worked his way up the chain of command to be our group content director, was inducted in 2010.)

This year’s inductees include Del Albright, land-use activist and ambassador for the BlueRibbon Coalition; Dave Ashley, off-road racer and now R&D consultant to Ford (for, among other things, the Raptor); Marty Fiolka, who has chronicled off-roading’s legacy through books, film, and events like the NORRA Mexican 1000 rally; the late Nye Frank, an innovator in race truck design, particularly their suspensions; and Bill Sanders, one of the original editors of Four Wheeler magazine who also raced in the desert and earned Toyota its first Baja win in 1973.

Brazilian Bronco II?
A recent internet search tipped us off to what could be a cool new 4x4 coming from Ford—to Brazil, that is. It’s called the Troller T4, and a preproduction model was shown at the recent Motor Show in Sao Paulo. The short-wheelbase Troller is powered by a 3.2L diesel engine backed by a six-speed manual. As best as we can translate the Portuguese press release, the truck sits on 17-inch rims with “mixed-use tires” and has “air intake in high position prepared for the installation of snorkel and winch are integrated basis for other equipment that contribute to its versatility.”

We’ve seen earlier versions of the Troller in Brazil, and honestly, they looked sort of like Jeep kit cars. From this photo the T4 looks more substantial, and it could be a lot of fun, judging by the healthy amount of ground clearance under the rockers and what could be a solid axle (or maybe a version of Ford’s old Twin-Traction Beam) up front. Hey Ford, other than the Raptor, you’ve all but abandoned the enthusiast 4x4 market. How about giving Jeep a run for its money with a U.S.-spec Troller?

This Just In
Now that Fiat owns Chrysler, there’s a new sign in front of Chrysler’s headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan, with the name Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA). Recently FCA laid out a five-year plan at an Investor Day meeting that included some aggressive sales growth targets and news about future model changes. We found no official mention of the plan on the media website, but the reporters at Autoweek were either there at the meeting or got some inside scoop. According to AW:

Jeep: Look for a new Wrangler and a redesigned Grand Cherokee in 2017, followed by the high-end Grand Wagoneer in 2018. Prior to these changes, Jeep will unveil a new SUV model in 2016 that will take its place in the lineup between the Cherokee and Renegade.

Ram: The 1500 pickups are scheduled for a light makeover next year and a major revamp in 2017. Heavy-duty models are on the same sort of schedule, just a year later: minor changes for 2016, major changes for 2018.

Heavy-Duty All Terrain
When we heard about the introduction of a Sierra All Terrain HD we wondered if this truck would compete with the Power Wagon. Turns out , not so much. The '15 Sierra All Terrain HD does have 4-wheel drive and GMs Z71 off-road package (with Rancho twin tube shocks, hill decent control, and a skid plate), but otherwise it's essentially a styling package for the Sierra 2500 and 3500 HD models. Chrome trim, LED headlamps, and special graphics decorate the outside, while carbon fiber accents and "the latest connectivity technology" are featured inside. Look for it on sale in the fall.

Mark Smith (1926-2014)
Just before this issue went to press we learned of the passing of Mark Smith, a true icon in the world of Jeeps and 4-wheeling. Smith had his first hands-on experience with a Jeep while serving in the Marine Corps in 1944, and he bought his first Jeep in 1952 to explore the area around Georgetown, the small northern California town where he and his wife, Irene, lived. Running local trails in the Sierra Nevadas gave Smith the idea to put on the first Jeep Jamboree as a way of bringing tourism to Georgetown. There were 155 people on that first Jamboree across the Rubicon Trail. Since then countless Jeep owners have made that trek, plus participated in other Jamborees that Smith’s company, Jeep Jamboree USA, now stages across the U.S.

Smith was inducted into the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1980, soon after he led the 1978-1979 Expedicion de las Americas, a 20,000-mile, 120-day adventure from the bottom of South America to the top of North America, crossing the infamous Darien Gap. During an interview we did with Smith in 2006, he told us his favorite Jeep of all time was the CJ-7 he drove on that adventure, and that the Darien Gap was the toughest trail he’d ever driven—“10 times longer and 10 times tougher than the Rubicon.”

Numerous organizations benefitted from Smith’s 4-wheeling experiences and expertise. Not only was he a longtime consultant for Jeep, but he also worked with Land Rover on a Camel Trophy event in Madagascar, helped design an off-road training course at Quantico for the Marine Corps, and he was actively involved with Tread Lightly! and various efforts over the years to keep the Rubicon Trail open for 4x4 enthusiasts of all kinds. His is a legacy rich in adventure, many, many friends, and a lifelong love of that gnarly stretch of trail between Georgetown and Lake Tahoe.

Earth Watch
• We’ve told you before about the SEMA Action Network (SAN). It’s a free online enthusiast community that informs hobbyists about legislative and regulatory issues that impact our hobby and provides ways to get involved to keep those threats at bay. Recently SAN created a webpage—semasan.com/offroad—dedicated to the laws and regulations affecting the off-roading community. This is a great resource to help you stay on top of land-use issues, while the main SAN site also monitors things like exhaust-noise and bumper-height regulations.

• Speaking of which, SEMA informed us about a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) issued by the National Park Service (NPS) for managing OHV activity at Cape Lookout National Seashore, North Carolina. The DEIS Plan considers four alternatives for OHV management, along with a fifth alternative that would prohibit OHV activity altogether. The OHV management plans would range from continuing the current activities to designating specific routes and establishing permitting requirements. The NPS supports an alternative to designate specific OHV routes and areas, establish a permit program that would maintain OHV use at historical levels, phase out high-performance sport model and two-stroke ATVs and UTVs with seasonal use restrictions, and establish seasonal night-driving restrictions.

Have a Driven Experience
Ever wanted to race in the desert but don’t have the funds—or the race truck—to make it happen? An outfit called Driven Experiences offers an “arrive and drive” program that not only teaches you how to pilot a Pro-Baja truck but also lets you field a team so you can use those skills in a real desert race. There’s a team supported by Driven Experiences racing in this year’s Baja 500 (Team Badoink, Trophy Spec No. 869) consisting of two guys who came from London and San Francisco to train at the Driven Experiences facility in Colorado, and then went on to more training in Southern California’s deserts before prerunning in Baja.

Driven Experiences recently announced the addition of Chuck Dempsey (pictured) as race director. Dempsey brings some 20 years of Baja racing experience to the job, having raced in Trophy Trucks, Pro Trucks, and Class 1 buggies. Find out more at drivenexperiences.com.

GM Production Snags
Waiting for one of the all-new GM fullsize SUVs? Sounds like you’ll need to be patient. According to a report in Automotive News, a shortage of 4WD systems, V-8 engines, and other components is delaying production of the ’15 Chevy Tahoe and Suburban, and their GMC stablemates, the Yukon and Yukon XL. Apparently the shortages are most affecting high-end models and those ordered with the max trailering package. Half-ton Silverado pickups ordered with the diesel engine option have also been delayed due to availability issues. A GM spokesman would not give AN an answer as to when production would ramp up to full capacity.

• Aug. 28–Sept. 1: Hot Springs ORV Park 4xAdventure Hot Springs ORV Park, Hot Springs, AR.
Info: orvpark.com

• Aug. 29–Sept. 1: High Sierra Poker Run by California Association of 4WD Clubs, near Shaver Lake, CA.
Info: cal4wheel.com

• Aug. 30–Sept. 1: Kansas Rocks open for Labor Day Weekend, Kansas Rocks Recreation Park, Mapleton, KS.
Info: ksrockspark.com

• Sept. 6: Mines of Long Valley, Rose Valley, and Tip Top Mountain trail rides by Backcountry 4x4 Adventure School, Big Bear Lake area, CA.
Info: jeep4x4school.com

• Sept. 6: Off-Road 101 Course, Kansas Rocks Recreation Park, Mapleton, KS.
Info: ksrockspark.com

• Sept. 6: Getting Started Off-Road Driving Clinic by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Hungry Valley SVRA, Gorman, CA.
Info: 310.374.8047, 4x4training.com

• Sept. 7: Rattlesnake Canyon, Blackhawk Mountain, and New Dixie Mine Adventure by Backcountry 4x4 Adventure School, Big Bear Lake area, CA.
Info: jeep4x4school.com

• Sept. 11-13: Laurel Highlands Jeep Jamboree, Farmington, PA.
Info: jeepjamboreeusa.com

• Sept. 11-13: Ouray Jeep Jamboree, Ouray, CO.
Info: jeepjamboreeusa.com

• Sept. 12-14: Total 4x4 Adventure Class by Backcountry 4x4 Adventure School, Big Bear Lake, CA. Info: jeep4x4school.com

• Sept. 13: Jeep Owner Orientation Class by Backcountry 4x4 Adventure School, Big Bear Lake, CA.
Info: jeep4x4school.com

• Sept. 13-14: W.E. Rock Grand Nationals, Cedar City, UT.
Info: werocklive.com

• Sept. 18-20: Catskill Mountains Jeep Jamboree, Monticello, NY.
Info: jeepjamboreeusa.com

• Sept. 19-21: 4 Wheel Jamboree, Indiana State Fairgrounds, Indianapolis, IN.
Info: 4wheeljamboree.com

• Sept. 20: Adopt-a-Trail work day, Kansas Rocks Recreation Park, Mapleton, KS.
Info: ksrockspark.com

• Sept. 20: Advanced Black Diamond Class by Backcountry 4x4 Adventure School, Big Bear Lake, CA.
Info: jeep4x4school.com

• Sept. 21: Getting Unstuck Vehicle Recovery Class by Backcountry 4x4 Adventure School, Big Bear Lake, CA.
Info: jeep4x4school.com

• Sept. 22: SPEED Energy Stadium Super Trucks, San Diego, CA.
Info: stadiumsupertrucks.com

• Sept. 25-27: Black Hills Jeep Jamboree, Deadwood, SD.
Info: jeepjamboreeusa.com

• Sept. 25-28: Inaugural SCORE Desert Challenge, Southern California location TBD.
Info: SCORE, score-international.com

• Sept. 27: Dirt Riot National Rampage, Bridgeport, TX.
Info: werocklive.com

• Sept. 27: Sand Driving Clinic by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Oceano Dunes, Pismo Beach, CA.
Info: 310.374.8047, 4x4training.com

• Sept. 27-28: Off-road driving school, Iron Range OHV Park near Minneapolis–St. Paul, MN.
Info: ironrangeoffroad.com

• Note: If you have a 4WD event you want us to publicize, please send the date, location, a description of the event, and contact info—phone numbers and/or email/website address—to Calendar, 4-Wheel & Off-Road magazine, 831 S. Douglas St., El Segundo, CA 90245; fax 818.566.8501; email 4wheeloffroad@sorc.com. Please submit your info at least four months in advance of the event due to our press lead times.