|Farmington, New Mexico - Chokecherry Canyon||Short Cuts|
Farmington, NM. Chokecherry-Canyon
The final event of the four competition 2001 American Rock Crawlers Association series wound up in similar style as the 2000 series.
|Team Currie: Jeff Waggoner and John Currie.
2001 ARCA Series Champions!
Team Currie with Jeff Waggoner and John Currie found themselves at the top of the scoring coming into the final event with only a four-point lead over Shannon Campbell. Jeff and John were once again in a spot where they were firmly in charge of their own destiny.
The course designer Phil Collard, otherwise known as the "Sadistic Bastard," was in top form for the final event of the series. Course A was a tight technical course that favored rear steer and short wheel-based narrow rigs. On A, the penalty points rung up like cash register at a fire sale, for the longer wider rigs. Two choices were apparent on course A; one- hit the flags and live with the 10 point penalties or two- roll over trying not to hit the flags.
Course B was typical of Farmington competitions; straight up wall climbs and straight up wall climbs that had 90 degree off-camber turns in the middle. The longer wheel-based, high horsepower rigs proved to be the dominant rig on this nutty course. With no lack of tires leaving the relative comfort of earths gravity, this course left its share of rigs with all 4 tires pointing helplessly skyward.
The reigning champion Chris Durham came into the final in tenth place overall, driving a new lighter CJ10 with a built AMC 360and JP Aluminum body. Chris lit up course B with his typical high revving "When in doubt, Throttle out" crowd pleasing style. But Chris had a couple of drive shaft failures that knocked him out of contention. On stage B7 "Blitzkrieg," Chris demonstrated why he is the defending champ. After having the crowd moved farther back for safety. Chris tried the "Wall of Death" line up B7, this line was not attempted previously because of the incredible steepness. As Chris approached the 20' high wall the throttle opened and his front tires leapt onto the menacing wall. As his 360 spooled up, it quickly became an obvious that the front tires were trying to go back to the starting point; backward over!
In a flash Chris did the patented "slap save," a maneuver that involves grabbing reverse gear and throttling backward, bringing the front tires back down to earth.
2000 ARCA defending champion Chris Durham on B7 Blitzkrieg.
This year Chris placed 4th for the event and 11th for the series.
After a second and third try, Chris tried the wall a little longer before letting off the "go pedal." This resulted in a loud bang that gave way to a huge sigh throughout the crowd. With the front drive shaft hanging from the transfer case, Chris and spotter Ronny Barton quickly slid on a new slip-yoke and bolted it in. With time running out, Chris tried the more common line up the left side of the wall and made it up and through the finish gates with only seconds to spare.
During the day on Friday, rumor was spreading through the crowd that someone was working on a perfect score for B course. That someone was Mike Weaver, and up until he drove B2 (split staging) he had accumulated zero penalty points. Mike Scored a 4 on the last stage of day one. His performance in the Epic 4x4 Avalanche "Sniper" made Mike the one to beat for the event. (Not the series). However, the tight turns and narrow gates of course A on day two, (123 points) knocked him out of contention for a top ten finish.
Jeff Waggoner and John Currie had the best score of day one on the A course with an impressive 30. On their first stage of day one A1, the rays of hope flickered for a moment as the championship may have come down to this one stage, and the fading traction under Jeff's Goodyear MTR tires. A1 had three lines- a loose dusty climb that led drivers to a turn at the top leaving them backing up thru the finish gates. Line two was attempted by only a few crazies, it involved a steep loose climb on to a sideways very narrow and off camber ledge with a tight right turn thru the end gates. Line three was straight up a 20' wall that had an under-cut hole at its base.
Once the rear tires cleared the hole, little thought of backing down could enter the drivers mind. Jeff revved the cobs out of the Fireants engine and gave line three a try. He cleared the hole and stayed in the gas pedal only to have the rig start hopping and sliding backward. John yelled, "STOP" and knowing that stopping on such a steep face could lead to an endo backward, Jeff stayed the revving course and managed to gain a little ground up the even steeper face. John yelled again for Jeff to stop, and with a glance over his shoulder, (to see where he was going to land) he eased off the gas. If by a fateful miracle of sorts, as Jeff let off the gas, the tough little "Fireant" stayed glued to that rock face. John said, "Crawl it" and with a slight cracking of the throttle plates the TJ slowly finished the climb and thru the end gates with zero penalty points.
The Currie team had a fantastic day two finishing with score of 27 for B and a 57 total that gave the team third place for the event, a 22-point series lead and victory. Congrats from 4x4wire.com for a job well done! Jeff Waggoner and John Currie National Champions!
|Winners of the Farmington event|
Ken Shupe driving the Ultra-light CJ8 from South Carolina with Brandon Gillen from Utah spotting, worked together as a great team turning in scores of 22 on A and 12 on B finishing in first place over Jason Bunch who turned in an impressive 39 to take second place. For Ken Shupe, the win in the final event of the season moved him to 12th place overall. Jason Bunch stayed in 13th for the season.
Now, the battle for rest of the top ten spots in the series.
Shannon Campbell, who came into the Farmington series final nipping at the heels of team Currie, had a rough time keeping the penalties to a minimum. He found his 4 points that he trailed Team Currie was slipping away with every flag hit and reversal.
Stage 1A proved to be a fantastic stage for the crowd to view Shannon at his best.
|Don Robbins and his rear
This obstacle showed the metal that makes him the top "shoe" that he is! Shannon lined up his ultra-light single seater tube buggy at the "A1-Wall" and throttled up for a one shot run to a zero score for the stage. On the approach, Shannon waited until his front tires were climbing the 20' face and with a quick stab of the go pedal he found the rig launching straight up into the air. With nothing but air under the front tires and a backward endo a certainty, Shannon the master, tried grabbing reverse and began to accelerate rearward.
As the rig began moving backward at near warp speeds the front end remained pointing skyward and was clearly dragging the rear of the rig on the ground, Shannon rapped the mighty mouse to its max and the front end finally came back to earth. While the crowd was still cheering his skill-full save, Shannon made another run at the looming face, this time with an even faster approach. He cleared the top in a blink and through the end gates, scoring only one point for his impressive reversal. Shannon the showman, while visibly shaken by his near endo wipe out, happily signed shaky autographs for his fans waiting at the top.
The rough times continued for both days, as Shannon racked up 143 points and effectively knock him back to 8th place for the season.
The run for second place came down to a tie between Don Robbins and his rear steer FJ40 and Jason Paule with his brand new Twisted Customs tube chassis CJ7 buggy. The tie was broken by an arbitrary stage picked before the event for breaking all ties, stage A7. Don Robbins had the best score on the stage, giving Don 2nd place for the series.
|Mike Palmer on the "Wall of Death"
The "Wall of Death" on B7 was conquered by only one rig, that being Michael Palmer from Denver. I was talking with Mike before the attempt at the B7 stage and with the encouragement of his team from A&B Builders, he decided to give it a no holds barred, "I will make it" go for the top. Nearly an hour passed while Mike and spotter Greg Noss waited for the other rigs in front of them to make their attempt at the left side of B7. Mike had time to really examine the line he was to take, during which stage marshals were told of the right side attempt and were waiting for Mike so as to move the crowds back.
When the crowd heard the sound of the 650 Hp all aluminum small block firing up they knew they were in for a treat, and let out a huge roar of cheers. Mike in his Campbell/Palmer Enterprises built tube framed jeep, leapt up the lower rock face leading to the base of the "Wall of Death" and waited patiently for Greg to stack a few small rocks into the holes on the solid rock face. As Mike approached the wall his look of determination was evident. With a focused and calculated mash of the throttle, the front tires hopped onto the wall, then, with increasing revs the jeep clawed its way up. In the very few seconds it took for the rig to make the wall, the buggy took a slight list to the left and the crowd gasped, Mike turned the wheel slightly to the right and stayed into the throttle completing the climb. The spectators went wild as Mike cleared the top and around the final turn of the stage, scoring a perfect zero!
|Jeepwire's own Terry Howe was by
far the shortest wheelbased rig to drive up B7. Tthe little SUA flatty
proved that it could!
4x4wire.com's Jeep Editor Terry Howe made his first ARCA debut as a driver and while Terry had a bit of crappy luck to start day one with, the one spare part he brought (a M18 t-case) he needed. His luck shined brightly on day two by ringing in an excellent score of 13. Great job Terry!! Bart Jacobs, the ARCA vet, broke also, but a Dana 44 rear ring and pinion was beyond a quick field repair. Hey Bart, got that Dana 60 yet?
All in all, the Farmington series final was a model of how to run a rock-crawling competition- great stages and obstacles, no life threatening cliffs, crowd control was tops, and stage judges with lots of patients and consistent integrity.
My hats off to Ranch Pratt, Phil Collard and the rest of the ARCA officials and all of the drivers/spotters who dedicate so much of their time/money/ingenuity to help grow this sport.
Event top ten:
1) Ken Shupe/Brandon Gillen
2) Jason Bunch/Steve Hastings
3) Jeff Waggoner/John Currie
4) Chris Durham/Ronny Barton
5) Ian Lilljeblad/Eric Filar
6) Tracy Jordan/Jerry Watson
7) Jason Paule/Travis Wadeson
8) Rich Hudson Steve "Jeepman" Jones
9) Don Robbins/Dave Gore
10) John Gilleland/Kip Gilleland
1) Jeff Waggoner/John Currie
2) Don Robbins/ Dave Gore
3) Jason Paule/ravis Wadeson
4) Joel Randall/Mike Vo..
5) John Gilleland/Kip Gilleland
6) Mike Shaffer/Dave Gibson
7) Walker Evans/Randy Anderson
8) Shannon Campbell/Mike Flores
9) Rich Hudson/Steve Jones
Randy Ellis/Rob Bonny
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