|Aztec, New Mexico, September 22-23, 2001||Short Cuts|
Article and Photos by: Joshua "Superdawg" Lowenstein
Edited by: Randy L. Wheeler - 10/2001
Crazy Woman Drivers!!
Skyjacker Woman's Rockcrawling Champion!
The first ever women's battle for "Queen of the Rocks" rocked into the history books on the weekend of September 22-23 2001 with the 1st annual Skyjacker Sports in the Rough, Woman's National Rockcrawling Championship held in Aztec, New Mexico. With no less axle snapping, wide open throttling, sheet metal smashing than any of the men's competitions, nearly 40 woman drove their way into the history books. 4x4Wire's photo gallery shows proof that these women can really 'wheel!
With the sky over the "Rock Garden" near the little town of Aztec looking a perfect electric blue, the skills of some of the more nervous drivers was far from perfect. Early on, gates were missed, and miscues between spotters and drivers lead to a few mild layovers and broken axles. As the day wore on, the jitters gave way to cool headed, skill-full driving/listening that continued thru the completion of the event on Sunday.
Many of the 37 drivers could attest, while their driving skills were darn good, the spotting they were getting from some of the best of the best in WRCC/ARCA drivers was great.
Team Lisa Linker/Jon Bundrant driving the "All Pro" Toyota pick-up had the lion's share of sheet metal damage, piloting the truck to 3 layovers (on one stage) and two near 360 rollovers. Throttling the truck on day two led to a fourth layover. A broken rear axle on upper stage 7 ended competition for the California truck.
Michelle Gilleland has her priorities, and I have to admire her for them. On day one, driving the Avalanche CJ7, she placed 4th overall and was very well positioned for a run at the top, but, rather than battling for trophies on day two, she opted to go home and teach her Sunday-school class in Durango, CO. Right on!
|Amy Heggestad from Kansas "had" a clean 78' Cj7, here she is proudly showing off her roll over damages.||Team Linker/Bundrant had the most sheet metal damage of all the contestants.||The team of Michelle and John Gilleland completed day one in 4th place. Michelle chose to teach her Sunday School class instead of competing on day two. Gotta admire the "family first" attitude!|
8 stages per day, 7 per day were scored. Teams could choose to either skip one stage per day, or drop one lower score per day. The dropped scores would then be used as tiebreakers, if needed.
Heather Charles with spotter (Johnson Valley ARCA winner) Tracy Jordan drove the Twisted Customs built FJ40 to near perfection by only scoring one reversal penalty, tying Jody Weaver driving an Avalanche "Sniper". The tiebreaker came to the dropped scores and gave Heather 2nd place and moved Jody to 3rd.
|Heather Charles driving the rear steering Twisted Customs FJ40, found herself in second place because of taking only one back-up penalty point. Awesome team work by Heather and spotter Tracy Jordan.||Becky Gremillion with spotter Steve Fotion are demonstrating how to drive on Dad's (Pat) new paint. Some found the "Line" on this stage to be nearly impossible to find. Even with the trouble seen here, the Gremillion/Fotion team still managed a 12th place finish.||The only all female team Kathy Crook and Renee LeBaron from JP Aluminum Bodies from California, hung on to finish in 7th place. Great Job Gals!|
|Queen of the Rocks: With a Perfect Score!|
Nadine Barber driving the Avalanche "Assassin" started out with flawless scores and finished perfect overall. Her husband/spotter Drew Barber who built and co-designed the "Assassin", spotted Nadine with the same cool confident techniques that he has for the mastermind Avalanche "Sniper" designer Steve Rumore. Nadine Barber with spotter Drew Barber from Bayfield CO. drove the Avalanche built Assassin all 16 stages with ZERO penalty points. The Barber team rear steered and crawled to a perfect score and the victory. Now that's impressive!
|Nadine Barber maneuvering the Avalanche Assassin through the gates on her way to a 1st place finish.||Looking right at home in the Extremely Off Again Tube buggy CJ8, Kara Ryan from Farmington, NM throttled her way to a 5th place finish.||Heather Charles is all smiles after an impressive 2nd place finish.|
It is hard not to make comparisons to the men's competitions, so this is what I have to say...A few male spectators commented to event organizer Bob Hazel that "The scenery was vastly improved over watching the men's events" They also noted, "I have never seen kissing between teammates before".
Personally I noted much improved listening and following of instructions of the woman drivers from the competition savvy spotters.
I also would note that, while many of the stages were less difficult than stages in men's events, there were quite a few that the best male drives would have had trouble with. Only one rule that was very different (and it could easily cross over to other competitions), was there were no penalty points assigned for stopping. Bob Hazel felt that judges yelling "One-one thousand, two-one thousand... was sure to make the drivers more nervous than they already were.
All in all, this event was run very cleanly, with very little bickering about scoring, favoritism or anything. Bob Hazel had to make a couple of "marshal" calls that gave a couple of teams "Mulligans" or do-overs to correct scoring errors.
Skyjacker also held a benefit raffle for the September 11, 2001 relief efforts. Great job guys!
Give a big hand to those crazy women drivers who put on a great show!
The Dirty Dozen:
#1 Nadine Barber (Avalanche Assassin) Spotter Drew Barber
#2 Heather Charles (Twisted Customs FJ40) Spotter Tracy Jordan
#3 Jody Weaver (Avalanche Sniper) Spotter Russ Weaver
#4 Dana Dearien (FJ40) Spotter Don Robbins
#5 Kara Ryan (Extremely Off Again CJ8) Spotter Craig Cresswell
#6 Kristen Randall (TJ- yeah right) Spotter Joel Randall
#7 Kathy Crook (JP Aluminum CJ8) Spotter Renee LaBaron
#8 Amy Bulloch ("All Wheel Drive" TJ) Spotter "Sadistic" Phil Collard
#9 Kelly Clifford (Tubed FJ40) Spotter Lance Clifford
#10 Cathy Baucom (RJ-Joe Brown TJ) Spotter Joe Brown
#11 Patty Dick (Four Runner) Spotter Bob Arnett
#12 Becky Gremillion (Dad's Bronco) Spotter Steve Fotion
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