Sponsors of Ultimate Adventure 2018

The Companies That Put the Ultimate in This Adventure

Harry WagnerPhotographer, Writer4 Wheel & Off-Road StaffPhotographer

A week of off-roading is a daunting task. Add in hotel reservations for 50 people, prerunning the route (at least twice), carting along a full video crew, permits, side trips, fuel, and more and the costs add up quickly. As Joe Cocker said, we get by with a little help from our friends. We had 10 official sponsors for the 2018 Ultimate Adventure, ranging from first-time Premier Power Welder to Warn, who has been with the Ultimate Adventure ever since 2001 when the event opened to official sponsorships.

In this day and age of marketing partners and brand ambassadors, UA sponsors don’t just send some stickers and product and call it a day. These companies are all run and staffed by legit wheelers and build premium products, the type that can handle a week of hardcore wheeling and hundreds of nonstop road miles. And since the people behind those products are wheelers, UA sponsors are excited to join us each year. They build special project vehicles for the trip, sleep on the ground and eat dinner out of a can, and don’t know the route ahead of time, just like the rest of the participants.

Here’s a meet and greet of the UA 2018 sponsors we were proud to have onboard as official supporters of our flagship event.

You have probably seen Fred Williams and his Jeep TJ, Tube Sock, on the TV show Dirt Every Day. Williams was one of the first people to swap in a Cummins R2.8 Turbo Diesel when he famously drove Tube Sock under water, and this year on the UA he and the Jeep were back with Stephen Sanders, the program leader for Cummins Repower. Cummins Repower has a year of R2.8 repowers under its belt and is eyeing similar programs for the Cummins 5.0L V-8 and inline-six 6.7L turbodiesel engines. Sanders is a hands-on gearhead and quite a crack-up. We never saw these two without grins on their faces all week long.

1997 Jeep Wrangler

Driver: Fred Williams
Co-Driver: Stephen Sanders
How Many UAs Have You Been On? 16 (Williams), 1.3 (Sanders)
Favorite Part of Trip: Seeing how prepared everyone was for everything and the comradery between everyone. Watching people work together to spot, throw rocks, pull winch line, do trail repairs, and most importantly feed each other! Decompression at the Williams family farm at the end was also a highlight.
Engine: Cummins R2.8 Turbo Diesel
Transmission: NV3550 5-speed manual
Transfer Case: Advance Adapters Atlas II
Front Axle: Currie Dana 44 with 5.38 gears and ARB Air Locker
Rear Axle: Currie RockJock 60 with 5.38 gears and ARB Air Locker
Springs & Such: BDS long-arm and Fox shocks (front and rear)
Tires & Wheels: 38x13.50R17 Falken Wildpeak M/T on 17x8.5 TrailReady HD beadlock
Steering: PSC steering box and ram, Chris Durham Motorsports flat pitman arm, Currie tie rod and drag link, Synergy steering box brace
Winch: Warn Zeon 10-S
Other: Chris Durham Motorsports hood; Currie AntiRock sway bars; Poison Spyder Customs front bumper, cage, and sliders; GenRight fuel tank; Swag Off Road rear bumper; Tom Wood’s driveshafts; MasterCraft Safety seats; Rugged Radios intercom; JW Speaker headlights; Synergy Baja Basket; ARB Fridge Freezer
What Broke? Suspension joint

After bringing a Hemi-powered JK on the last two Ultimate Adventures, Skyjacker outdid itself with this beautiful Bronco that the company built for the SEMA Show. This isn’t just another show truck—the Bronco has some new dents and scratches after the UA. Every part of this Bronco is drool worthy, from the 427-cube Windsor stroker with massive horsepower under the hood (we conservatively estimate 600) to the assortment of coilover and bypass shocks to the Dynatrac axles. And man, Lonnie McCurry Jr. and Dillard DeLaSalle are anything but afraid to wheel this rig hard, proving that this Bronco is anything but a shiny show pony.

1966 Ford Bronco

Driver: Lonnie McCurry Jr
Co-Driver: Dillard DeLaSalle
How Many UAs Have You Been On? 4 each
Favorite Part of Trip: Camaraderie of the attendees. Off-road parks and campgrounds visited during UA 2018. Most of the stories I have retold since UA stem from Day 1 in Wilton, Maine, at Rocky Mountain Terrain Park.
Engine: 427ci stroked Windsor V-8
Transmission: Monster Transmission 4R70W
Transfer Case: Advance Adapters Atlas II
Front Axle: Dynatrac ProRock 60 with RCV axles, 5.38 gears and ARB Air Locker
Rear Axle: Dynatrac ProRock 60 with 5.38 gears and ARB Air Locker
Springs & Such: Skyjacker custom LeDuc Series with coilovers and bypass shocks
Tires & Wheels: 39x13.50R17 BFGoodrich Krawler KX on custom 17x9 Raceline beadlock
Steering: PSC hydraulic assist
Winch: Warn 9.0Rc
Other: HID projectors; Rigid LED lights; MasterCraft Safety seats; modified Hanson front bumper; Rugged Radios intercom; JE Reel driveshafts; Fuel Safe fuel cell; CBR Performance radiator; Painless Wiring; oh, and it has its own Matchbox car!
What Broke? Radiator leak, oil accumulator leak, brake line torn

Who is crazy enough to bring a brand-new Wrangler JL on the Ultimate Adventure? Dana is, but only after installing its own AdvanTEK axles under this Sahara model. Randall Speir was back again this year. He brought his gearhead wife, Rachel, along to shoot photos, serve as trail spotter, and ensure that both he and the Jeep made it through the week in one piece. Speir more than earned the nickname Whiskey Throttle last year piloting the company’s 525hp LS3-powered JK on UA 2017. After getting comfortable in the more mild-mannered JL, he was up to his old throttle-down driving style for UA 2018, prompting some onlookers to assume there was way more under the hood than just a factory 3.6L Pentastar.

2018 Jeep Wrangler JL

Driver: Randall Speir
Co-Driver: Rachel Speir
How Many UAs Have You Been On? 2 (Randall), 1 (Rachel)
Favorite Part of Trip: Wheeling the Northeast was a first for me, and I loved the very challenging off-road parks. I already want to go back! The historical stops were great too. It’s awesome to see the innovation and ingenuity of American culture that brought us to where we are today.
Engine: 3.6L V-6
Transmission: 850RE 8-speed automatic
Transfer Case: Magna MP241
Front Axle: AdvanTEK Dana 44 with 4.88 gears and electric locker
Rear Axle: AdvanTEK Dana 44 with 4.88 gears and electric locker
Springs & Such: Skyjacker 2-inch dual-rate suspension
Tires & Wheels: 37x12.50R17 BFGoodrich All-Terrain KO2 on 17x8.5 Walker Evans beadlock
Steering: Synergy Manufacturing drag link
Winch: Warn Zeon Platinum 12-S
Other: Spicer Performance nodular iron diff covers, front driveline, and heavy-duty rear driveline; ARB twin air compressor and freezer-fridge
What Broke? Fender clips, foglight cover

Falken sent King of the Hammers veteran and Savvy Offroad head honcho Gerald Lee to represent the company on the UA this year. Lee and his friend John Butler borrowed a Jeep from Jeremy Purick in New York and proceeded to wheel the snot out of it all week, but the Jeep never missed a beat.

2016 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited

Driver: Gerald Lee
Co-Driver: John Butler
How Many UAs Have You Been On? 1
Favorite Part of Trip: Getting to sit around the fire pit with everyone socializing. Discussing the day and getting to meet new friends. I love seeing areas of the USA that I have not been to before.
Engine: 3.6L V-6
Transmission: WA580
Transfer Case: NP241
Axles: Ultimate Dana 60 with 5.38 gears and Eaton ELocker (front and rear)
Springs & Such: Rock Krawler longarm with coilovers and bypass shocks
Tires & Wheels: 38x13.50R17 Falken Wildpeak M/T on 17x9 Method beadlock
Steering: Rock Krawler aluminum tie rod
Winch: Warn VR10-S
Other: Savvy aluminum bumpers; Rugged Radios intercom
What Broke? Power steering pump, driver (Lee’s big toe got even bigger!)

The Watson family arguably spends more time on the trail than anyone else on UA, and it shows with just how skilled and prepared they are. Their rigs are always incredibly well sorted, and the guys from Offroad Design just flat out know how to wheel, camp, and find leftovers. In fact, Stephen Watson’s constant grazing of snacks and leftovers from every rig on the UA earned him the good-natured nickname Trash Panda. But for every snack he helped himself to, Stephen doubly paid back in spare parts, advice, spotting, and on-trail help. The Watsons are the team you want on your trip with you, that’s for sure. Next year Stephen and James are toying with the idea of bringing an IFS truck to the UA, but it is hard to imagine it working as well as the old tan square-body.

1985 Chevy K30

Driver: Stephen Watson
Co-Driver: James Watson
How Many UAs Have You Been On? 13
Favorite Part of Trip: The people were great this year. UA is like a family reunion for us, and this year was particularly memorable with Verne and Christian’s wacky outfits and great readers like Johnny and Amber, who rescued us when our tow rig broke down on the way home.
Engine: Tilden L92/LS3
Transmission: Rancho Drivetrain TH400 3-speed automatic
Transfer Case: Offroad Design Magnum Doubler
Front Axle: Ford Dana 60 with 4.88 gears and ARB Air Locker
Rear Axle: GM 14-bolt with 4.88 gears and ARB Air Locker
Springs & Such: Offroad Design 3-link with King coilovers and air bumps (front); Offroad Design 4-link with King coilovers and air bumps (rear)
Tires & Wheels: 40x13.50R17 Nitto Trail Grappler on 17x8.5 TrailReady HD17 beadlock
Steering: PSC steering box, hydraulic ram, pump, and reservoir
Winch: Warn Zeon 10-S
Other: Custom step-side bed
What Broke? Tranny cooler line, tow rig injector

Offroad Power Products builds some of the coolest vehicles ever brought on the UA, and Howitzer might be the coolest of all. A 3/4-ton diesel Ram regular cab with a short-bed conversion and coils all around, this truck is a beast. While the weight worked against Cooper Rasmussen on many of the slick, steep obstacles, that never stopped him from trying everything in his path and skillfully piloting the 10,000-pound behemoth through some of the tightest, trickiest trails in recent UA history.

2016 Ram 2500

Driver: Cooper Rasmussen
Co-Driver: Kyle Bickley
How Many UAs Have You Been On? 7 (Cooper), 1 (Kyle)
Favorite Part of Trip: I enjoyed every aspect of the trip this year. It was in my opinion one of the best overall groups of people we have ever had. From a wheeling standpoint, the Crazy 8s and AOAA trails were my favorites. Both were extremely tight and had great obstacles. I felt like the truck’s really good turn radius helped it survive pummeling the whole body.
Engine: 6.7L Cummins turbodiesel
Transmission: 68RFE 6-speed automatic
Transfer Case: Stock Borg Warner 44-46
Front Axle: AAM 9 1/4 with Carli truss, RCV axleshafts, 5.13 Nitro gears, and ARB Air Locker
Rear Axle: AAM 11 1/2 with 5.13 Nitro gears and ARB Air Locker
Springs & Such: AEV Dual Sport 3-inch with custom OPP 3-link (front); Carli 1-inch progressive-rate coils and Pure Performance links (rear)
Tires & Wheels: 42x14.50-17LT Maxxis Trepador on 17x9 KMC Machete beadlock
Steering: PSC steering box and hydraulic ram, AEV high-steer draglink
Winch: Warn 16.5Ti-S (front), Warn Zeon 12-S Platinum (rear)
Other: Dynatrac Free-Spin kit; AEV front bumper; Mercenary Off Road rear bumper; Tom Wood’s driveshafts; Crown brake lines; AEV heat-reduction hood; AEV HighMark flares; Baja Designs LED lights; Nemesis Industries ram box half-height bed rack with James Barroud Discovery rooftop tent; Rugged Radios 60-watt remote-mount radio unit; MasterCraft 3G seats; DPP rock sliders; ARB twin air compressor; CW Wraps
What Broke? Front ring and pinion, flat tire, fuel sender

Corby Phillips didn’t have a lot of time to put together a Jeep for the UA, but you couldn’t tell from the finished product. He worked with Chris Durham to build one of Durham’s signature low-slung, big-tire Jeeps. Actually an LJ (TJ Unlimited), a Durham hood and CJ grille were used to create a retro Golden Eagle tribute. Phillips wheeled the absolute dog snot out of this rig, despite it being on its inaugural run.

2005 Jeep Wrangler LJ

Driver: Corby Phillips
Co-Driver: Fred Perry
How Many UAs Have You Been On? 5 (Phillips), 17 (Perry)
Favorite Part of Trip: Trails were great, and of course the people are what make it each year.
Engine: 4.0L
Transmission: 42RLE
Transfer Case: Advance Adapters Atlas II
Axles: Ultimate Dana 60 with 5.38 gears and Eaton ELocker (front and rear)
Springs & Such: Durham Motorsports long-arm suspension with 2 1/2-inch Skyjacker JL coil springs and M95 monotube shocks
Tires & Wheels: 39x13.50R17 BFGoodrich Krawler KX on 17x9 Raceline Monster beadlock
Steering: PSC hydraulic assist and Durham Motorsports aluminum tie rod
Winch: Warn 70th anniversary 8274
Other: Durham Motorsports hood, CJ grille, and Golden Eagle graphics; Softopper
What Broke? Sent fan through radiator. Had to trim engine skid to clear front driveline. Rollover-damaged windshield frame. Windshield, grille, hood, driver’s door, and top.

Who would have thought that we would ever see the former host of Xtreme 4x4 on the UA? This year Mike Ruzicka of Rugged Radios made it happen, and Ian Johnson was just as entertaining in person as he is on TV. This wasn’t an act—Johnson is a legit wheeler and was always as generous around the campfire with a story as he was with his whiskey.

1991 Jeep Wrangler YJ

Driver: Ian Johnson
Co-Driver: Mike Ruzicka
How Many UAs Have You Been On? 1 (Johnson), 2 (Ruzicka)
Favorite Part of Trip: Johnson: Couldn’t pick just one part. Getting to spend a week with great friends wheeling every single day was awesome! Ruzicka: UA 2018 was great because we had plenty of activities each and every day. We went from 4-wheeling in the morning to driving backroads to visiting historical bridges or museums. It made the days very entertaining and also allowed the group to get to know each other even more.
Engine: 5.3L V-8
Transmission: TH400 3-speed auto
Transfer Case: Dana 300 with 4:1
Front Axle: 14-bolt with Dana 50 outers, Yukon chromoly axleshafts, 5.38 gears, Yukon Grizzly Locker, Crane High Clearance diff cover
Rear Axle: 14-bolt with 5.38 gears, Yukon Grizzly Locker, Crane High Clearance diff cover
Springs & Such: MetalCloak Lock N Load radius arms and TJ coils (front); springover (rear)
Tires & Wheels: 38x13.50R17 Falken Wildpeak M/T on 17x9 Raceline Monster beadlock
Steering: PSC TJ steering box and hydraulic assist
Winch: Warn VR10
Other: Rugged Radios 60-watt VHF radio and a RRP660Plus Bluetooth intercom with Ultimate Headsets; Aqualu aluminum body and bed; Gr8Tops Scrambler top; MetalCloak fenders; Savvy aluminum doors with awesome Rugged Radios Pinup Art
What Broke? Trac bar bracket

Chris Durham is a crony but he has often represented sponsors in the past. This year he was on UA for Premier Power Welder. It is a completely natural fit since Durham is the first person to offer to help weld, grind, or reassemble anything that breaks on the Ultimate Adventure. When he wasn’t making sparks he was driving up anything and everything in his distinctive JK with a Gladiator front end conversion of his own design.

2007 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited

Driver: Chris Durham
How Many UAs Have You Been On? 12
Favorite Part of Trip: Welding. Lots of welding.
Engine: 3.8L V-6
Transmission: 42RLE 4-speed automatic
Transfer Case: NP241
Front Axle: J8 Dana 44 with 5.38 gears and Detroit Locker
Rear Axle: JK Dana 44 with Ten Factory 35-spline axleshafts, 5.38 gears, and spool
Springs & Such: Skyjacker 3 1/2-inch Curt LeDuc long-arm suspension with LeDuc Series coilover conversion
Tires & Wheels: 37x12.50R17 Milestar Patagonia M/T on 17x8.5 Walker Evans beadlock
Steering: Chris Durham Motorsports 7075 aluminum tie rod
Winch: Warn Zeon 10-S
Other: Chris Durham Motorsports Gladiator conversion; 7-Slot Customs body armor; Barnes 4WD axle trusses; Premier Power Welder; Paint by Nick’s Customs
What Broke? Front axleshaft and U-joint