Goodyear Extreme Rock Crawling Championship

Course Two Phoenix 2000 ARCA

Course One had the very short and often horsepower-craving obstacles, but Course Two was almost nothing but technical, tight crawling.

Photo by Joshua Lowenstein
Seems like Pat Gremillion always catches big air...
Joshua Lowenstein

Stage 1

Stage 1 was about 60-70 feet in length, winding up and around a rocky -- OK, boulder-strewn -- hillside, all through very narrow gates. Many drivers opted to start the stage in reverse, entering backwards to save the ten-point cost of hitting a gate and also leaving themselves better lined up to weave between the rocks. For some longer wheelbase competitors, this choice proved to be the difference between success and failure. The stage exited through a V-notch that nearly swallowed Pat Gremillion's Bronco. If drivers took the points for a reversal just above the notch, they could split the wedge and avoid a major rear tire air shot. Many rigs timed out before getting that far, simply from getting high-centered on the opening rocks. CLICK HERE for more pictures from Stage 1.

Photo by Joshua Lowenstein
High Country Wrangler "Ronny" prepares for the BANG drop-off.
Joshua Lowenstein

Stage 2

Stage 2 began directly at the exit of Stage 1. The starting-in-reverse technique was again a major factor for long wheelbase rigs here. Although almost every rig made it through Stage 2, scores varied due to reversals and stops. This stage followed the same rock formation as Stage 1, but on the opposite side of the wash. CLICK HERE for more pictures from Stage 2.

Photo by Joshua Lowenstein
RJ Brown and Pure Adrenaline get high-centered.
Joshua Lowenstein

Stage 3

Stage 3 had some added difficulty due to the 3 days of rain before this event. The rainwater had collected in holes that passed right in between the gates. Some rigs pointed out even before getting through the water holes because they slid sideways into the gates or simply ran out of time. To make it through the final rock ledge of Stage 3 clean required placing the right front tire very high on a rock with a straight drop-off edge on the other side. The result was always a good bang of sheet metal when the rocker slammed on the rock. CLICK HERE for more pictures from Stage 3.

Stage 4

Photo by Joshua Lowenstein
Randy Ellis tries hard to roll for his fans.
Joshua Lowenstein

Stage 4 was another winding technical series of gates that were placed to guarantee big air at the exit of the rocks. Drivers exiting Stage 4 had little choice but to throttle through that spot or face a slow layover roll to the driver's side. Randy Ellis' olive drab Suzuki gave a great show of how to drive with a tire WAY in the air but still pulled it out on all four.

Photos by Joshua Lowenstein
Joe Shaff gets a bit too much air!
Joshua Lowenstein

Joe Shaff was not as lucky. He tried to ease his Wrangler through the hole, only to have it flop onto its side. With two minutes remaining, he and his spotter, Steve Fotion, attempted to dead-lift the Jeep back onto its wheels. Brute strength failed, and time was down to 90 seconds, so the spotter quickly began to unwind winch line. With nearly 30 feet of line out, he remembered that the line needed to be wound through the cage, and quickly ran back to feed the cable through the top of the roll cage. Joe, the driver, could see that the cable had too much friction as it passed through the cage for Steve to pull out, so he began pulling line out of the winch to help.

Photo by Joshua Lowenstein
Joe Shaff and Steve Fotion try to get righted in a hurry.
Joshua Lowenstein

Now down to 55 seconds, the spotter ran for the biggest boulder he could find, only to fall face first onto the ground -- twice -- before getting the cable hooked to itself. The spotter yelled, "GO GO GO," but when Joe pulled the remote switch nothing happened. Joe yelled back "Auugh, it came unplugged!" Joe jammed the remote plug back into the connector and immediately began winching. Five seconds ticked helplessly as the winch took up slack... and the official yelled "30 seconds." As Joe's winch cable began tightening up, it started cutting a groove in the hood. With 20 seconds left, the jeep began to lift off the ground.

Joe started it and jammed into first gear, with the left front tire still six feet in the air. He drove it forward with only the winch line holding it up, but still pulling it over, leveling the jeep. With the tires all on the ground and 15 seconds remaining Steve started yelling, "SLACK SLACK," because Joe only had about 4 feet to get to the end gate and was now being held from getting through by the same winch cable that saved him. Joe quickly reversed the winch and passed the nose of his rig through the end gate with only eight seconds to spare. This effort won Joe and Steve the best team effort award. CLICK HERE for more pictures from Stage 4.

CLICK HERE for coverage of Stages 5-7.