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Top Truck Challenge 2014

4Runner FlexLocal Iowan in the Running to Compete in Four Wheeler Magazine’s Top Truck Challenge 2014

Luke Graham, a resident of Chariton Iowa will be featured this month, along with 50 other off-road enthusiasts from across the country, in the April issue of Four Wheeler Magazine. 10 of the drivers will be voted in by readers to compete in the Magazine’s annual Top Truck Challenge in Hollister California this June.

Luke has been around off roading his whole life and has been building rock crawlers for years. In fact, he’s made a career out of the sport. As owner and operator of Chariton based Frontier 4×4, Luke provides expert advice, fabrication, and parts sales to customers all across the US. His vehicles are nationally recognized and his work has been a source of inspiration for fellow fabricators.

Luke’s latest project, the 97 Toyota 4Runner featured in April’s Four Wheeler Magazine, now has a list of upgraded parts. A Vortec 6.0L LQ9 V8 engine, Trail-Gear 9 axles , Artec suspension, and PSC Motorsports steering will handle the rugged terrain. Suspension seats and harnesses are installed for safety, and a full roll cage will protect the occupants and vehicle from roll overs.

But, the vehicle won’t be in the competition if readers don’t go out, buy Four Wheeler Magazine, and vote  with the official ballot for number 36, Luke Graham, in the Frontier 4×4 Toyota 4Runner! On newsstands soon, voting deadline is March 31.

 

Son’s Creek UTV Challenge, Lockwood, MO

A Rookie’s Perspective – Son’s Creek UTV Challenge – Midwest UTV Racing

In the weeks before the Son’s Creek UTV endurance race in Lockwood Missouri, I had what seemed endless worries about how my side-by-side would stack up to the competition. I have been wanting to get into racing my SxS in the midwest. I trail ride hard but have never raced. My Polaris RZR XP 900 is bone stock with some aftermarket reinforcement to handle my driving style. I’ve added a roll cage, doors, 5 point harness, chassis stiffeners, rear chassis struts, upper control arm mount brace, and a last minute lowered seat base to clear my full face helmet. I’ve punctured tires, lost beads, broken wheels, and taken out both front and rear axles.

I worried about parts I hadn’t upgraded yet. I had no bead locks and still had the stock ball joints, tie rod ends and rear radius arms. Were the stock seats going to jostle us around too much and cause unnecessary fatigue? Would my stock axle shafts hold up? I’d already broken both front and rear CV joints trail riding at and around the Frontier 4×4 ranch.

Then there was the strategizing about the endurance aspect of the race. How were we going to ensure that we finish in one piece? Should it be slow and steady wins the race, as the old adage goes, or should we go all out and hope for the best?  What about the other competitors who had  more seat time and experience? Some had RZR 1000′s which have higher horsepower, better suspension, bigger tires, and power steering. How could I compete with them? All of our questions were about to be answered. We showed up to the race and pulled into the pits past a few toy haulers and guys that had pit crews, power tools, and spare rims and tires. We had none of these, Alison could barely handle the 5 gallon jug of fuel when we needed to top off.

SAM_0640I started feeling better about our chances during the hot laps. We saw other guys nearly go end over end coming over some of the jumps and had rear tires coming off the ground around tight turns. After the hot laps, I knew much better how the RZR would handle. I was used to running hard by myself but it handles a lot different with my co-driver, Scott Risius, on board.

In the qualifying round, we ended up placing 7th out of the 19 UTV’s. It was a pretty good place to be. It would put us in the middle of the pack with enough drivers in front of us so we could watch their mistakes, but still not put us last out on the long course. At the start of the race, they lined us up by two’s and sent us out in thirty second intervals. We could have made a much more impressive start had we been in four wheel drive but it got overlooked in the chaos of getting lined up for the start. It was a surprise and the number eight guy pulled away from us as we slowed down to put it into four wheel drive.

A quarter way out on the first five mile lap through the woods, we came to a narrow off camber left turn. My co-driver and I were focused on the upcoming obstacles and misjudged the gap to the tree that our right front tire ended up climbing. It put us over on our driver’s side pretty quickly. We hit hard enough on a boulder to dent the cage. We got out to assess the situation. In an endurance race like this, no one was going to stop and help and we didn’t have a winch. Meanwhile, other racers were passing by us as the seconds passed. We couldn’t help but think we were losing this race. We couldn’t roll the machine back up the hill, so we decided to push it the other way and let it roll the rest of the way down. Luckily it landed on its tires, so we got back in and continued on.

During the rest of that first lap, we noticed it pulling and driving funny so we pulled into the pits. After a few seconds of inspection, we discovered the left rear axle shaft was broken. There wasn’t much we could do about it, so we got back in and took off, hoping this wasn’t it for us. I had to quickly learn how to drive in three-wheel drive. The first time we let off the gas at 60 mph on the straightaway sent us sideways from the engine braking. Somehow I got it straightened out and kept moving forward. More difficult were the hill climbs. Each time I gassed it to get up a hill, the RZR would pull violently to the left. My sore muscles later that night would attest to how much effort I was putting into keeping the tires pointed where I wanted them. My stock and worn out tires weren’t doing us any justice through the mixed terrain either. Some aftermarket nobbies will be in my future.

Meanwhile in the pits, vehicles with carnage slowly rolled in. Some just had flats and needed to swap on a spare. One had a shock tower sticking up through the hood. Several others were broken down out on the trail. We knew that as long as we finished, our chances of placing were getting better and better by the minute. One Can-Am owner made his way to the pits angry and sore about his lost potential when he broke his steering trying to maneuver around a little red RZR who had rolled in the first lap. He could be heard lamenting during lap five or six that the little red RZR was still going.

On the last lap, we came up out of the woods with the setting sun blinding us on our way in. We didn’t know where we stood or how many rigs came in before us. All we knew was we were relieved to be done and amazed that we finished under the circumstances. After all the UTV’s that were going to make it came in, the times were compared. Somehow after all the problems, we came in 3rd out of the 19 who entered!

After two hours of brutal racing, we were pumped to come in third. Would we have won if we hadn’t rolled and broken an axle? Who knows? Maybe something else would have happened. Nevertheless, we ironed out a lot of rookie mistakes and now we know what to expect.

 

-Luke Graham, with Alison Graham

 

Taming The Humps

Drivers from all over the Midwest gathered at “The Humps” on October 19 at Good Time 4-Wheeler’s annual Fall Crawl. The event started on the cold morning with the 39″ and above tire class conquering the rock garden and the small tire class taking on the log run. After the times were tallied, the two classes swapped places.
The third and final event was the creek run, which brought new meaning to the word obstacle! Participants were required to drive up the banks to hit orange balls suspended from above. Each ball missed added a minute onto the driver’s time! No driver escaped being soaked by the creek’s cold muddy water!
I was able to finish first in my class in the creek run and take second overall. At the end of the day they had crowned first, second, and third place finishers in both classes. It was a great end to a great day for everyone involved!

-Tyler Menninga
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MIOBI’s Toys For Tots

For just the price of one $20 unwrapped toy, you can wheel all weekend and help a family get a toy for their kid this Christmas. MIOBI (Make It or Break It) offroaders are inviting the public to their annual Toys For Tots event on November 2nd and 3rd. Their wheeling grounds near Hamilton Iowa have obstacles for every skill level. For more information check out their website.

Good Times 4-Wheeler’s Fall Crawl 2013

FallCrawl2013

 

Winters fast approach won’t stop the good times to be had this fall at the Humps! What are the Humps you ask? It’s Good Times 4-Wheeler’s  wheeling grounds, and they are inviting you to their annual Fall Crawl!

Where are the Humps?  A short distance north of Harlan Iowa. The land promises multiple creek runs, hill climbs and crock crawling.  The event also features a muddy creek race that is always a crowd pleaser. View Map.

Registrations are limited, so pre-register by emailing  rburchett@windstream.net.

 

 

 


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