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Meet the UA2020 Invited Readers #UA2020

And one pair of returning readers from UA2019!

Christian HazelWriterHarry WagnerWriterDave EisenbeilPhotographerRachel SpeirPhotographer

Like the old saying goes, you can't win if you don't play. Most people we talk with always say, "Man, I'd love to do Ultimate Adventure," but have never visited fourwheeler.com/ultimate-adventure to find the application. And unless you submit an official application, you ain't coming. But here are six people for whom that most definitely didn't apply.

We always say that without our sponsors this event doesn't get off the ground, but without readers and an audience who gives a darn about Ultimate Adventure, there isn't even an event to sell sponsorship into. Even though this is the 20th time we've kicked an Ultimate Adventure event into gear, it's still an event that resonates soundly, not only with the audience who read about it online and in print and who watch the videos, but with those lucky participants who get a chance to come join us on a trip of a lifetime. Sometimes, more than once. Here's the five lucky invited readers who were selected to be a part of UA2020 for the first time and the returning reader who got a rare chance to come on UA not once, but twice.

 

The SideChick

Brody Botts and his co-driver, Mark Clyde, drove Brody's Suzuki Sidekick, affectionately named "SideChick" all the way from San Diego to Spokane, then on to the start of UA in Kalispell, Montana. Before the end of UA and their ultimate return to San Diego, the little pastel-colored trail tamer would log more than 4,000 miles in under two weeks. As an off-road fabricator, Brody is no stranger to building well-functioning 4x4s out of his shop, Idle Hands Fabrication. Although the mechanicals and fabrication were pretty well sorted prior to UA, the paintjob was applied just prior to leaving with the designed intention of standing out from the UA crowd. We think that's a bullseye.

1994 Suzuki Sidekick

DRIVER: Brody Botts

CO-DRIVER: Mark Clyde

>DRIVETRAIN

ENGINE: Chevy 4.3L Vortec V-6

TRANSMISSION: Built TH350, reverse manual valve body

TRANSFER CASE(S): Twin Toyota stock gearing and triple-stick shifters.

FRONT AXLE: CUCV GM Dana 60, 5.38s, TJM air locker

REAR AXLE: Shaved GM 14-bolt, 5.38s, Detroit Locker

>SUSPENSION

SPRINGS & SUCH: 250-lb/in front and 200-lb/in rear Viper 2.0 coils with Skyjacker shocks

TIRES & WHEELS: Falken 38x13.50R17 Wild Peak M/T on Raceline beadlock

STEERING: Toyota IFS box, PSC pump, 8-inch PSC ram

WINCH: Warn M8000

OTHER: Voodoo recovery rope and soft shackles

WHAT BROKE: A rear chromoly axle welded itself to the inside of the housing on the first day, and we had to return to home after we had beaten it out for around six hours. The fuel pump died in Oregon. Steering return line fitting failed. Vapor lock, minor brake issues on the third day, and finally on the last road day we were getting warm and decided to pull over and let her cool down. When we preceded to carry on up the grade we made it to the top, she decided to vapor lock again rite in front of Fred and Tube Sock. Totally awesome.

FAVORITE PART OF THE TRIP: All of it.

HOW MANY TIMES HAVE YOU APPLIED TO UA: I have applied for a few years now, and I try to build something different each time. I started with a crew-cab GMC Canyon on 1-tons, but the Crawldorado beat me to it.

WHY DID YOU WANT TO ATTEND: Not only for the wheeling opportunities, but the experience alone building a rig driving it the whole way, wheeling it, driving the piss out of it, and knowing whatever happens we would not throw in the towel. fFx whatever needed to be fixed, have an amazing time, and then drive it home, which we did.

MODS BETWEEN GETTING SELECTED AND ATTENDING UA: The mods that I was completing before UA—literally three weeks before—were finishing the 1-ton swap, hydraulic assist, new steering box, new rear gearset, chromoly axles, new U-joints, hardcore hubs in the front axle, and I can't leave out my homeboys in National City who painted it two weeks before we left, finished all the sheet metal work in the fender wells, mounted a false floor, and made sure we could fit all we needed in a very small space. (My co-driver, Mark, is BIG!)

ADVICE FOR NEXT YEAR'S READERS: Go out of your comfort zone, and don't do the norm. Build something that will definitely grab their attention—the crazier the better. If you think that your average everyday rig, Jeep, Toyota, or full-size [will get in], you better do something different with it. These guys have seen and probably done it before, so throw in a curve ball, and keep applying.

DID YOU TOW TO UA 2020: Drove all the way!

 

Work Play Truck

It seems Ryan Broome knew Crony Keith Bailey back home in Pinson, Alabama. It also seems Ryan tends to go by his nickname, Roscoe, more than he does "Ryan." So after about two days of hearing "Roscoe" called out over the radio, we finally asked who the heck they were talking about. But whatever you call him, Ryan "Roscoe" Broome is one heck of a nice guy, always willing to lend a hand or cook you a burger at camp, and always with a smile on his face. It's almost like he was enjoying himself on UA!

2003 Ford F-150

DRIVER: Ryan "Roscoe" Broome

CO-DRIVER: N/A

>DRIVETRAIN

ENGINE: Factory 4.6L Triton V-8

TRANSMISSION: Factory 4R70W

TRANSFER CASE(S): Factory BW4406

FRONT AXLE: Ford high-pinion Dana 60, 4.10s, Lock-Right

REAR AXLE: Ford 10.24 Sterling, 4.10s, Lock-Right

>SUSPENSION

SPRINGS & SUCH: Front: Four-link with Fox 2.5 air shocks and Pro Comp air bumps, Rear: 5-inch Skyjacker leaf springs with M-95 shocks

TIRES & WHEELS: 38x13.50R17 Falken Wildpeak M/T, Rockathon beadlock

STEERING: F-250 PSC box and hydro assist, 1.5-inch DOM drag link and tie rod with rod ends

WINCH: Warn x8000i

OTHER: Warn snatch block and VooDoo recovery rope and soft shackles

WHAT BROKE: Came down on a rock and twisted the rear driveshaft out

FAVORITE PART OF THE TRIP: My favorite part of the trip was having the opportunity to walk through an old abandoned mining town and then traveling over a mountain only to drive through the middle of that same mountain in an old abandoned train tunnel!

HOW MANY TIMES HAVE YOU APPLIED TO UA: One

WHY DID YOU WANT TO ATTEND: To be a part of the most adventurous group of the entire off-road world.

MODS BETWEEN GETTING SELECTED AND ATTENDING UA: After I applied, I took the leaf springs off the front and did the four-link setup with air shocks and air bumps. I also added a Lock-Right to the front axle to match the rear. I added a PSC steering box and assist cylinder to the new 1.5-inch drag link and tie rod. I also replaced the factory rear springs and blocks with new skyjacker 5-inch lift springs and M95 shocks. Then I finished the rear bed rack over the cab, added the lights, and tied it all into the frame. I built the rock sliders, skid plate, and front tube brush guard at the last minute along with adding the Decked bed drawer system.

ADVICE FOR NEXT YEAR'S READERS: Know your rig's capabilities and limitations before the event. You don't want to figure that out along the way. Also, people like to eat, so if you bring good food, bring lots of it.

DID YOU TOW TO UA 2020: Towed it to where the event would end and then drove it about 900 miles to the starting point.

 

Squared Away Silverado

If there's one word to describe the way Derek Lasini has his Chevy Silverado set up, it's "organized." Derek carries all the spares you could possibly think of needing: tools, gear, and recovery and test equipment, and it's all stowed neatly and organized, so it's accessible at a moment's notice. Additionally, Derek has been wheeling this rig in its current state for a long time, so he really knows its ins and outs and understands how it will react on the trail in all sorts of situations. It's a driver, it's a wheeler, and we're betting if need be, a reliable workhorse. It's an Ultimate Adventure rig tried and true.

DRIVER: Derek Lasini

CO-DRIVER: Trevor Johnson

>DRIVETRAIN

ENGINE: Factory GM 5.3L V-8

TRANSMISSION: Swapped-in 4L80E

TRANSFER CASE(S): EcoBox planetary underdrive with NP205

FRONT AXLE: 1979 Ford HP Dana 60 with 35-spline chromoly axleshafts, 5.13s, Spicer SPL U-Joints, 35-spline hardcore hubs, air-selectable Ox Locker, GM 2500HD brake conversion

REAR AXLE: 2001-up GM 14-bolt 10.5-inch with factory disc brakes, 5.13s, shaved housing, Yukon Grizzly Locker

>SUSPENSION

SPRINGS & SUCH: GM 52-inch springs (front), GM 2500 63-inch springs w/ anti-wrap bar & Offroad Design shackle flip (rear), Offroad Design Super Shackles, Skyjacker M95 Shocks

TIRES & WHEELS: 40X13.50R17 Mickey Thompson Baja Boss, Hummer H2 wheels

STEERING: Crossover steering with 1-ton tie-rod ends, factory steering box tapped for hydraulic assist, Hydroboost pump, PSC 1.75-inch Ram

WINCH: Warn Zeon 12-S

OTHER: Voodoo recovery rope & soft shackles, 60-inch Hi-Lift jack, Quigley 2-piece 1410 rear driveshaft, long-travel 1410 front driveshaft, shortened wheelbase/bed (133-inch wheelbase), full flat belly skid plates, homebrew rock sliders/rear bumper, spare axle shafts & drive shafts, spare main leaf spring, bed drawers with tools and recovery gear storage, 34-inch Radiator and GM E-Fan Swap, 2-inch DOM integrated interior roll cage.

WHAT BROKE: Nothing.

FAVORITE PART OF THE TRIP: Hardcore rock crawling on Bikini Trail in Black Hills, South Dakota. The traction was incredible with amazing views surrounding us. Close second: Wheeling up to Caruthers Lake in Montana at night and waking up to the beautiful view the next morning. Finally, I also really enjoyed building relationships with everyone on the trip, including the other invited readers, cronies, and magazine crew.

HOW MANY TIMES HAVE YOU APPLIED TO UA: Two.

WHY DID YOU WANT TO ATTEND: I've been a fan of Ultimate Adventure for years, and once I saw the 2008 UAZ71, I hoped to one day get invited with a GM full-size truck. What has always resonated with me about UA is that it rewards self-sufficiency, resourcefulness, responsibility, and camaraderie. Having the opportunity to wheel with industry pillars on a 'blind' route over some of the most scenic, unique, and hardcore terrain this country has to offer is what drew me to apply. Ultimate Adventure is aptly named because it truly is ultimate, and I am honored to have been a part of it this year.

MODS BETWEEN GETTING SELECTED AND ATTENDING UA: Warn Zeon 12-S, VHF radio, Skyjacker M95 shocks, ORD Super Shackles, improved organization in the cab, bed, and spare axle shaft storage, routine maintenance.

ADVICE FOR NEXT YEAR'S READERS: Build something unique, figure out your rig's weak points, pack spare parts & tools, then drive it across the country to wheel it. Repeat. I highly recommend going wheeling with the same equipment you'd bring on UA, so you know how your rig performs and holds up with the additional weight.

DID YOU TOW TO UA 2020: Drove it! (4,394 miles total)

 

River Vancer

Travis Farmer definitely isn't afraid of doing things differently. His '85 G10 Van is proof of that. With a pair of 1-ton axles slung under the van frame rails and sitting atop simple leaf springs front and rear, the level of build is more in depth than meets the eye. The wheezy small-block was yanked in favor of a modern 5.3L and a 4L60 fronting a 3.8:1 Atlas, and the body was copiously massaged to cleanly fit 40-inch tires. Despite all the intricate build nuances, there's still time for a lot of fun with custom candy and treat stickers made up by Chris Durham and added sporadically throughout the event, a PA system that broadcasts ice cream truck music, and an arsenal of camping and sleeping equipment inside.

DRIVER: Travis Farmer

CO-DRIVER: Cole Conner

>DRIVETRAIN

ENGINE: 2002 GM 5.3L V-8

TRANSMISSION: 4L60E

TRANSFER CASE(S): Atlas, 3.8:1

FRONT AXLE: 1999-2004 Ford Super Duty Dana 60, 5.38s, Powertrax Grip Lok, Ten-Factory chromoly 35-spline axleshafts, Yukon hardcore 35-spline hubs

REAR AXLE: GM 14-bolt, 5.38s, Powertrax Grip Lok, shaved by Chris Durham Motorsports, stock axleshafts

>SUSPENSION

SPRINGS & SUCH: Front: Skyjacker 1973 Chevy 6-inch-lift pickup leaf springs, Daystar bump stops. Rear: stock Chevy Tahoe leaf springs with shackle flip, Skyjacker M95 montube shocks all around, Offroad Design 64-inch traction bar

TIRES & WHEELS: 40x13.50R17 Milestar Patagonia M/T, Raceline Monster beadlock

STEERING: Chris Durham Motorsports custom aluminum drag link and tie rod with Barnes 4WD 1-ton offset tie-rod ends.

WINCH: Warn ZEON 10S with Spydura synthetic rope

OTHER: Chris Durham Motorsports front bumper and winch plate, Barnes 4WD leaf spring hangers, diff covers, spring plates, and shock brackets.

WHAT BROKE: On the last day, I hit the rear driveshaft and exhaust on a few rocks before the steering box blew out an O-ring internally causing it to bypass and not provide power for right turns. I was still able to drive back to the hotel at the end of the day.

FAVORITE PART OF THE TRIP: Four-wheeling of course was my favorite part, but the diversity of on-road, off-road, scenic roads, dusty roads, National Parks, geology lessons, history of the places we visited and meeting and getting to know everyone made the entire trip an unbeatable experience!

HOW MANY TIMES HAVE YOU APPLIED TO UA: One.

WHY DID YOU WANT TO ATTEND: This was a bucket list adventure and the inspiration for building my van. I have followed Ultimate Adventure for years and always knew I wanted to be a part of it, but I also knew I needed a unique vehicle to apply. I have always enjoyed hitting the trails in my Jeep and meeting people out there on the trails. I have hardly ever met an unfriendly person out four-wheeling and UA is no different. I was excited to meet everyone and make new friends and join a pretty exclusive group of people who have had the opportunity to participate in the Ultimate Adventure.

MODS BETWEEN GETTING SELECTED AND ATTENDING UA: When I applied, I didn't even have a running and driving vehicle. We spent a lot of late nights and weekends wrenching and beating our heads against the wall to get the van finished in time for the trip.

ADVICE FOR NEXT YEAR'S READERS: Build your rig to handle everything from hardcore rock-crawling to driving 80 mph down the interstate, and be prepared to fix it at any time and always have fun!

DID YOU TOW TO UA 2020: I towed from Pickens, South Carolina, to Piedmont, South Dakota, then drove to Kalispell, Montana.

 

Scoutaliscious

Joe Grieshop's 1970 IH Scout 800a ticks most of our boxes when it comes to the ideal 4x4 build. From the 1-ton axles, deceptively intricate suspension, low-slung stands, solid fabrication, reliable and powerful drivetrain, and trail-polished exterior; it's a machine that obviously gets used regularly by somebody who knows what they're doing behind the wheel. Joe and Codey wheeled all week on UA, and with the exception of welding up a rear shock tab on which he noticed a small crack developing, Joe hardly did any work on the little tractor.

DRIVER: Joe Grieshop

CO-DRIVER: Codey Welker

>DRIVETRAIN

ENGINE: GM 6.2L L92 V-8

TRANSMISSION: 6L80E six-speed automatic

TRANSFER CASE(S): NP203/NP205 Offroad Design Doubler

FRONT AXLE: Chevy Dana 60, 4.56s, Grizzly Locker, RCV axleshafts

REAR AXLE: GM 14-bolt, 4.56s, Detroit Locker Yukon axleshafts

>SUSPENSION

SPRINGS & SUCH: Skyjacker 4-inch-lift TJ coils with Fox shocks

TIRES & WHEELS: 37x12.50-16 Maxxis Trepador on Hutchinson double beadlock

STEERING: Scout II box with PSC hydro-assist

WINCH: Warn 8274 (probably older than I am)

OTHER: VooDoo recovery rope and soft shackles, Factor 55 thimble, JB Fab triple-stick shifters, Radesigns tap shifter for Winters transmission shifter, Quigley front and rear driveshafts, Vintage Air A/C, MasterCraft seats, Dynatrac hubs, ARB onboar air

WHAT BROKE: Cracked an upper shock mount in the rear but found it and welded it up before it grew

FAVORITE PART OF THE TRIP: Ice cream in the middle of nowhere on a 90-degree day! (thank you Travis and ARB 'Fridge Freezer) But also the people.

HOW MANY TIMES HAVE YOU APPLIED TO UA: Two, but last year I submitted my application after the deadline.

WHY DID YOU WANT TO ATTEND: I have always wanted to go because of the awesome locations. They are places I probably could not go or find or just wouldn't normally go to.

MODS BETWEEN GETTING SELECTED AND ATTENDING UA: Added onboard air, A/C, cruise, engine and transmission (they were sitting in the vehicle when I got the call but nothing was plumbed). Also, chromoly rear axleshafts, Quigley front and rear driveshafts, Skyjacker springs, and an in-tank fuel pump instead of frame-mounted.

ADVICE FOR NEXT YEAR'S READERS: Make sure you can run highway speeds (not just 60 mph). The speed limits are higher out west. I felt bad for the guys running three-speed transmissions with their engines screaming down the interstate! Pack light ,and get a 'fridge cooler if you can. They're worth it. Oh, and have fun!

DID YOU TOW TO UA 2020: Towed to South Dakota and drove to Kalispell.

 

Fabulous FJ

Dave Tucker was our invited reader after having been selected for UA2019. After mucking his way through Alaska with nary an issue, Dave loaded his gear once again, tapped his son, Ian, to serve as co-driver and hit the road, driving the distance to and from the event. Despite a wheel bearing issue that the pair diagnosed quickly and got resolved in short order, the GM-powered Toyota reliably motored through every dust-laden mile of UA2020 without worry.

1965 Toyota FJ40

DRIVER: Dave Tucker

CO-DRIVER: Ian Tucker

>DRIVETRAIN

ENGINE: Chevy TBI 350 V-8

TRANSMISSION: TH350

TRANSFER CASE(S): Advance Adapters Orion HD 4:1

FRONT AXLE: Widened FJ62, Longfield axles, six shooter knuckles, ARB, 4:10s, RBF truss

REAR AXLE: FZJ80, ARB, 4:10s, RBF truss

>SUSPENSION

SPRINGS & SUCH: Custom RBF three-link front with 14-inch ORI struts, Custom RBF four-link rear with 16-inch ORI struts

TIRES & WHEELS: 38x13.50R17 Falken Wildpeak M/T on Allied Rockathon beadlock with custom fitted OEM FJ40 hubcaps

STEERING: PSC system w/ram assist

WINCH: Warn 9.5

OTHER: Shackles at all four corners, snatch block, tree saver, VooDoo recovery rope & soft shackle, race radio, first aid kit

WHAT BROKE: We had a cooling issue five miles from the house. We replaced the water pump, had a fuel pressure issue, replaced fuel pump and filter. We also had rear wheel bearings loosened up, so they had to be replaced in a parking lot, and the link joint loosened up, so we pulled the link and tightened.

FAVORITE PART OF THE TRIP: That's a tough one, but our favorite thing we did/saw was the abandoned train tunnel—favorite wheeling was the Bikini trail for sure!

HOW MANY TIMES HAVE YOU APPLIED TO UA: Three.

WHY DID YOU WANT TO ATTEND: I had such a great time in Alaska last year that I couldn't turn down the opportunity to attend again with my son!

MODS BETWEEN GETTING SELECTED AND ATTENDING UA: Installed a new crate engine, skinned the roof in aluminum, mounted a factory 4Runner bottle jack, mounted some Dirt Bagz storage bags for tools, and so on, installed a stereo for some trail tunes, installed a couple electric cooling fans, retrofitted OEM hubcaps on the beadlock wheels, moved up from 37- to 38-inch tires.

ADVICE FOR NEXT YEAR'S READERS: Build something different, and don't give up; it's worth all the effort!

DID YOU TOW TO UA 2020: Drove it, roughly 3,400 miles.

Source:

Sponsors:
Cummins, 800.286.6467, www.cummins.com/engines/repower
Dana, 800.621.8084, spicerparts.com/applications/crateaxle
Falken Tire, www.falkentire.com/
IH Parts America, 530.274.1795, www.ihpartsamerica.com/
Offroad Design, 970.945.7777, www.offroaddesign.com/
onX Offroad, onxmaps.com/offroad-app
Quick Draw Brand, 513.446.9654, quickdrawbrand.com/
Quigley Motor Company, 800.233.9358, quigley4x4.com/
Skyjacker Suspension, 318.388.0816, skyjacker.com/
VooDoo Offroad, 844.866.3661, www.voodoooffroad.com/
Warn Winch, 800.543.9276, www.warn.com/