Goodyear Extreme Rock Crawling Championship
Day 3: The Dirty Dozen in the Finals

The Dirty Dozen started the final trail with zero points, instead of carrying forward their scores from the previous day's competition. This meant that competitors had to perform in the finals, and couldn't rest on accrued point standings - the result was heated competition throughout the final day.

The "red shirts," trail officials, members of the local clubs, built 6 of the 7 obstacles just for this final trail. Calling it a trail might be overly generous. Not a single tire had ever graced these insane hurdles, making it even tougher to visualize the correct lines.

After a random drawing to determine the order of the competitors, Ken Shupe made a great effort at the Stage 1. He barely eeked his Scrambler through without pointing out, finishing with a 39. Las Cruces champ Jeff Waggoner rolled up to the obstacle next, spotted by John Currie. Jeff's Jeep slid sideways on the first monster ledge, and John, not seeing how bad the angle was, instructed Jeff to simply back down. Jeff said, "Just back up?" Conscious of the clock, John motioned with hand signals to back up, so he did.

Photo by Joshua Lowenstein Photo by Joshua Lowenstein Photo by Joshua Lowenstein Photo by Joshua Lowenstein Photo by Joshua Lowenstein
Jeff "Rookie" Wagonner of team Currie takes an unplanned roll at the start of Stage 1.
Joshua Lowenstein

Whoops! After a quick 360-degree roll over, calm and unhurt, Jeff ended up on his wheels at the bottom of the hill, in the brush. Jeff drove the dented, windshield-less CJ7 back out and to face that hill again, and winched over it to get to Stage 2.

Photo by Big Rock Video
Above, Ned Bacon looks skyward. Below, Shannon Campbell peeks through "The Tunnel"
Big Rock Film & Video
Photo by Big Rock Film & Video

Other contestants saw the flattened bushes at the start of Stage 1 and all elected to winch over, that is, until the Sniper rock buggy wheeled up to the base of the hill. In a flash, Steve and his 2-ton Rockwell-axled beast walked right up, scoring a perfect zero.

Steve drove the Sniper up Stage 2 with similar ease, netting only 4 points along the way. It looked easier for the Sniper than it did for the Killer Bee, though...

Photo by Joshua Lowenstein
Ned Bacon rolls
Joshua Lowenstein

Ned Bacon's assault on Stage 2 led to a wild flip over backwards, followed by a big "I'm OK" wave to the thousands of cheering spectators... all while Ned was still hanging upside down. Turtled topside-down in a hole, it took four winches and some careful engineering to get Ned and the Bee right side up and back in the competition. Note: While others that rolled left some traces of doing so, Ned's Killer Bee was sealed up tight and left no evidence of being upside-down, even though the recovery took more than thirty minutes. Tools, coolers, and vital engine fluids all stayed in place - a real testament to detailed preparation. Nice job!

The next big thrill came when Ken Shupe made a throttle-attempt at the first ledge of Stage 4. Ken's green Scrambler launched straight up rolled on its corner before flipping back up on its wheels. Ken even had enough time left to get it winched over the top before the clock ran out. He scored 35 points, but provided obvious satisfaction to the cheering crowd.

Photo by Joshua Lowenstein
The Sniper
Joshua Lowenstein

Stage 4 was a tough one for the Avalanche crew's Sniper. This stage started with a ledge that required a big bump of throttle. Steve Rumore gave a great wheels-up show, but unfortunately, the snap, clang, clang, clang was the upper link on the drivers side folding in half, followed by the front drive shaft hitting where it shouldn't. Spotter and co-builder of the Sniper, Drew Barber, whipped out the Premier Power Welder and added a piece of strap steel and welded it to the folded link. This provided a place to anchor the winch cable, and pulling under the axle, Team Avalanche winched the link back into alignment, then welded several more pieces of strap steel in place to reinforce the arm. They were able to continue the event, but this delay cost him 45 points, 40 for pointing out and 5 for a vehicle passing him in position.

Photo by Joshua LowensteinPhoto by Joshua Lowenstein
The Sniper's crew get busy
Joshua Lowenstein

Steve proclaimed at the start that he would not winch, except where needed to prevent an ugly roll-over. Steve held true to his word: He kept attacking the hill until the clock ran out on Stage 3, then broke and timed out on Stage 4, and finally, winched to avoid a roll on Stage 5. Team Avalanche drove four of the seven final stages, and finished third with 118 points. The crowd loved this strategy-out-the-window full-on attack on the obstacles -- great show, guys!

Photo by Joshua Lowenstein
Dan Dunaway shows how it's done in his Toyota
Joshua Lowenstein

Dan Dunaway did the best of all the finalists in completing the most stages with perfect zero scores. He drove his Toyota pickup through Stages 2, 5, and 7 with perfect scores. Stage 6 was the only stage that gave Dan significant trouble. The wedge at Beaver Falls reached inside the truck and latched on where the passenger door would have been. This rock led to a 40 point penalty for timing out, and that took Dan out of first place. The truck's body definitely suffered, but Dan scored an impressively low 115 and took second place overall.

Photo by Joshua Lowenstein
Shannon Campbell
Joshua Lowenstein
Photo by Joshua Lowenstein
Photo by Joshua Lowenstein
The humble winners
Joshua Lowenstein
The Winners...

Out of seven stages who ever could drive, without winching or breaking, more ended up winning it all. Shannon Campbell did exactly that, posting the following scores (in order, Stage 1-7): 21, 3, 4, 25, 2, 13, for a total of only 95 points, a full 20 points better than his closest competitor. A talented fabricator and driver, Shannon also proved to be gracious at the awards ceremony, when he gave all the credit for the win to his spotter and copilot, Mike Flores.