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Get Dirty! - The Driver’s Seat

Best Off-Road Memories

Jun 25, 2015
Photographers: Jason Gonderman
If you haven’t figured it out by now, there are really only two things that you need to know about me: my passion is trucks and my hobby is going off-road with them. It’s an interest that I’ve had for a long time but didn’t really come on strong until the end of high school. My first car was a ’68 Ford Mustang Fastback, which I still have, and it served me well until my friends got the urge to build a Baja Bug and take it to the sand dunes of Glamis. So what’s a responsible teenage to do in a situation like this? The answer was purchase a truck and start modifying it. I haven’t stopped since.
Over the years I have been a lot of places and covered a lot of miles on dirt, but there are a few big adventures that really stand out in my mind as awesome. The first one also happened to coincide with the first story I ever wrote for Truck Trend.
Photo 2/4   |   Although I never took my truck on an Ultimate Adventure trip, I did get to wheel some cool stuff. One of the more interesting years found me on the trail behind the wheel of our ’09 Ram 1500 support truck. The rocker panels never looked the same again.
In November 2007 I was given the opportunity to co-drive a leg of the 40th anniversary SCORE Baja 1000. The call came from Dan Fresh to team up with the DXR Racing Mitsubishi Raider, which was competing in the Stock Mini class. Naturally I jumped at the opportunity. Once the race started, I jumped in the truck sometime after midnight near the small Baja town of Guayaquil, Mexico, at about race mile 360. Dan and I watched the sun rise the next morning before I jumped out at the Bay of LA, near race mile 520. After a grueling 41 hours and 48 minutes, the DXR team finished the race Third in their class.
The second memory involves my truck and the 2011 SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge (you’re probably starting to see a theme here). This was always one of my favorite races to attend. It had four full days of racing action, the Colorado River, cheap hotel rooms, and cheaper drinks. After several years of watching, I finally got the chance to take a run at the course with my own truck. No, I didn’t race it—That gets expensive in a hurry, and let’s face it, none of us are doing this for the fame or fortune. Instead, I got to go out with the big dogs during the open course pre-run. I ran the truck hard and had a blast doing it. Getting passed by the elite Trophy Truck racers is an adrenaline rush that I can’t describe. One of my favorite photos, albeit a bit grainy, has me driving in the infield between two of the top racers, Tim Herbst and Robbie Pierce. That was a good day.
Photo 3/4   |   While pre-running the 2011 SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge, I found myself the meat in a Trophy Truck sandwich. Tim Herbst, driving the McBeath Racing #91, had just passed me through the corner and Robbie Pierce in the #31 was coming up quick!
Finally, since I’m out of space anyway, one of the defining moments of my time spent off-road wasn’t a single moment at all. Working in this industry has afforded me many opportunities I wouldn’t otherwise have, one of which was being able to attend our sister magazine 4-Wheel & Off-Road’s Ultimate Adventure. From 2008 to 2012, I spent the first few weeks of July with a group of amazing people wheeling all across the country. We spent seven days and 1,000 miles hitting different trails and parks each day. It really is the trip of a lifetime. This is one adventure that I would do every year if I could. The trails were hardcore and days long, but the trips were amazing. I highly suggest you look it up. I’m totally not doing the trip justice.
Whatever your hobby may be, I hope you get to enjoy it frequently. And even more, I hope it involves four wheels.
Photo 4/4   |   The 40th SCORE Baja 1000 ran from Ensenada to Cabo San Lucas, and I was there racing it with the DXR team and their Stock Mini class Mitsubishi Raider. Driver Dan Fresh was in the left seat for all but two hours of the race and brought the truck in for a Third Place class finish.

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