Offroad for Hope III
Wells, CA Feb 2001
the beating off-roaders have been getting from the government and in the
media lately it's great to see events like this one. This is was the third
year for the event and it's growing every year. They were expecting around
1,000 vehicle to be registered and I'd say that was a safe estimate. The
location was the Main Street Campground in the Ocotillo Wells OHV area out
in sunny So. Cal. What a great location for a February event. There is
varied terrain from sand to rocks, hill climbs to desert washes. Something
for every type of 4x4 and every type of driver. They even had plenty of
stuff for the bikes and quads. The other great thing is the weather. While
much of the nation is still in a the dead of winter, California was
basking in the sun. Good people, good trails, good weather and all for a
great cause. We need more events like this one all over the country, a
lot more. This is a fun event and is getting better every year. This year
was the first time they had a Rock Crawling Challenge, sponsored by ARB
and Goodyear. It was a lot of fun and had the spectators really cheering.
If you can, try to attend next years event. You'll be glad you did and the
MDA kids will be glad too.
||While the obvious vehicle of choice for
most in attendance was a Jeep of some sort, we decided to go in Project
Powerwagon. That meant that we were limited to one of the two full-size
runs. One was a sight seeing tour and the other was a little more
challenging. Which one do you think we chose? This took us out to a few
springs, bubbling mud pots and other interesting features but did so
on some fun roads. Nothing too crazy but it wasn't altogether boring
We snaked through the washes and around
the hills all day and saw some pretty interesting sights. One of the more
interesting sights out there was our trail leader, Frenchie La Chance
(pointing at the camera). He brought us to all the good spots and dished
out a wealth of knowledge about the area. It's never boring with Frenchie
around. He's also one of the organizers of the event. His personal brand
of humor was not lost on this group and we all had a great time. Thanks
||While the full-size run was fairly tame
there were the occasional offshoots that allowed for a bit more fun for
those that dared. The sand was soft and the hill was steep. That always
makes for good photos and this was no exception.
This Superduty was more than up for
the challenge of this little hill. That massive Powerstroke diesel made
quick work of the hill but the quick right hander at the top made it
pretty tight for a crewcab. Most tried, almost all succeeded and everyone
had fun. That's what it's all about!
||Here's the other big play area on the
Saturday full-size run. you had two options with this hill, up or down. Up
was more challenging but down was just as scary. Loose sand and deep hole
made it fun to watch these big trucks hit it either way.
||If you spent enough time in the desert
you'll see just about anything. Some say you might even run into yourself
out there. Let's just hope you aren't driving a 4x4 Pinto.
||Sunday was all about the rocks! ARB and
Goodyear teamed up for the Rock Crawling Challenge. It was a short course
but challenging. There were three distinct driving techniques employed on
the course, the full out boogie, slow and methodical and both eyes closed.
All were fun to watch and no one made it out without some rock rash.
||Big tires, big motors and big cajones are
the key to success on a rock course. There were only bragging rights on
the line here but that didn't stop most from throwing all caution to the
wind and going full out. It really kept the officials on their toes as
they tallied penalties for gates missed, hit and fully stomped!
||So much for the big cajones factor. This is
the winner of the whole thing, a woman! All the ladies really cleaned up
out there and ended up beating most of the men. The winning time was just
over 1 minute while the longest time was over 30.
||There were even a few daring souls that
brought full-sizes into the canyon. This was no ordinary Blazer though. he
made quick work of the course and actually left a few of the gates still
standing when he was done. Sure was fun to watch too!
||And the loser is... This poor Jeep Comando
got a flat just before the top of the canyon. After spending nearly 20
minutes changing the tire (always carry your own spare!) they finally got
it back on track, only to blow two more tires in the next 10 feet. When
Murphy's out to get you there's just no getting around it. Sometimes you
bite the hill, sometimes the hill bites you.
||Who knew that Ocotillo Wells had such great
rocks? Here's our Jeep editor Chris Baffico running the Rock Challenge
course after everyone had left. While his '92 YJ made it look easy for the
most part, the rock under the skidplate had it's own agenda. Too bad he
didn't enter into the event or he just might have won. Maybe next year.
A huge thanks has to go out the
the whole crew that set this event up. If you get a chance to make next years
event, by all means do. It's a great event for a great cause. The money helps
the kids and the exposure helps the off-road community. It's a win-win
situation! Speaking of winning, the raffle was out of this world this year. With
over 50 prize groups valued from $350 to $1,200 and 80% of them worth over $850
there was a good chance you were coming out with something great. If that isn't
reason enough to make the next one I don't know what is. See you there in 2002!