ProROCK 2002 Season Finale in Reno

By: Harry Wagner - November 2002

Holding a rockcrawling event in Nevada in November is a risky affair, but luckily for event organizer Sports in the Rough, the ProROCK season finale did not turn into a snowcrawling competition. The weather was clear and cool, with only the occasional gusts of wind requiring spectators to wear jackets. Eleven Trophy and eleven Modified Stock competitors showed up at the Fernley Raceway outside Reno to battle for the Superlift ProROCK event title and season championship.

The Fernley-Reno Raceway offers plenty of motorsports options.
Bob Hazel addressing the competitors at the drivers' meeting.

Fernley Raceway proved to be a great event location, providing port-a-potties and food and drinks from concession stands. There was even an ice cream truck at the event! In addition to the rock courses, Fernley Raceway boasts a dirt oval for quad and sprint car racing, a skateboard ramp, paintball course, motocross jumps, and BMX course. The raceway is also in the process of adding a drag strip to compete with Fallon and an autocross course, so if you are in the Reno/Tahoe area and you like motorsports, Fernley is the place to be. Fernley Raceway is located approximately 35 miles east of Reno off Interstate 80 on Alternate Highway 50.

Although Superlift was the title sponsor, BFGoodrich, Randy's Ring and Pinion, Tractech, and Black Diamond also sponsor the ProROCK series. BFGoodrich even paid out contingency money for competitors who placed well on their tires. Considering the popularity of the yet-to-be-released Krawler T/A, the decision of which tires to run was an easy one for many competitors. Top names such as Tracy Jordan and Jon Bundrant were driving rigs shod with Krawler T/As. Not to be outdone, Goodyear provided Jason Paule with a set of yet-to-be-released 40 inch MT/Rs to dwarf the Krawlers.

Scoring for the ProROCK series is somewhat different than other popular rockcrawling series, in that competitors start each course with 20 points and lose points for infractions. Also, if a competitor hits a cone, they automatically point out on that entire course. Another distinction from other competitions is that the spotter is not allowed to physically assist the vehicle on a course. This increases the demand on the driver and limits the risk for injury to the spotter.

Close courses provided spectators with plenty of action.
Vehicle extraction was unique to say the least!

Speaking of courses, this event was a rather significant one for ProROCK, as it was the first competition run on man made obstacles. Sports in the Rough collaborated with the management of Fernley Raceway to bring in tons of rock and organize them with a backhoe. This arrangement worked wonderfully, affording spectators the opportunity to view a number of obstacles from one location. The layout of the courses also provided a high degree of difficulty without the imminent danger of multiple rollovers that can wreak havoc on competitors and equipment.

Other rockcrawling competitions have a reputation for turning into roll-a-thons, but only two rollovers occurred all weekend at the ProROCK event. When competitors did roll, the manmade courses offer the luxury of having the vehicles removed from the course with a huge forklift! The breakage toll was still high though, as numerous axle shafts, pinions, and tie rods lost their battles with the rocks.

All of the courses were manned by volunteers from CA4WDC's Bakersfield Trailblazers and Visalia Lock and Low. Course One was unconquered on Saturday, showing competitors what they were in for right off the bat. Course Three consisted of telephone pole and concrete steps up an incline. This course took its toll on more than one competitor. The course that made the difference in the results however, was Course Four. Course Four was a horseshoe shaped course up and then back down the side of a hill. The entrance to this course was very difficult and gave nearly the whole Trophy Class fits. In a cunning piece of strategy, Tracy Jordan looped around the hillside to the right of the course entrance in order to start with a better line. Tracy ended the course with a score of 22; the next closest competitor received 6 points on Course Four.

Course One was unconquered on day one, despite efforts by Ken Blume, Tracy Jordan, Jon Bundrant, and Jason Paule (respectively).

This maneuver gave Tracy a lead that he was able to maintain all weekend, despite breaking both axles and ripping a knuckle off his rear axle on Sunday. Tracy won the event behind the wheel of his new Twisted Customs Matrix buggy and secured the overall ProROCK season championship. Tracy had only driven this new vehicle in one event prior to the ProROCK finale, but he made it obvious to all that the driver is more important than the vehicle in these competitions.

Second place finisher Jon Bundrant was also driving a vehicle that was new to him. Jon piloted the Nelson and Nelson tube buggy, which is powered by a drivetrain featuring a Volkswagen motor mated to a Powerglide transmission and Atlas transfer case mounted backwards and offset in the chassis. This vehicle is pushing design of rock buggies to the next level and was by far the most innovative rig at the event.

Too much throttle puts Tommy Martin's Jeep on its lid.
The Nelson and Nelson buggy seemed to defy the laws of physics at times.

Modified Stock competitors battled different courses from the Trophy Class, but they were far from easy. The Mod Stock courses did not climb as much as the Trophy courses, and coupled with their tight turns, favored short wheelbase rigs. Cody Wagoneer was able to use these courses to his advantage and took first in Modified Stock in a CJ-5 with narrow track axles and a spring under suspension. Even more impressive was that he placed ahead of Team Mello, who still captured the season title and is making a name for itself as the team to be in various Modified Stock events.

Although this season is over, ProROCK is already planning events for 2003 in California, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, and Nevada.

Fernley Results:


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Overall Season Results:


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