Saturday, October 4, 2008

Off-Road Expo

Randy and I went to the Off-Road Expo earlier today at the Pomona Fairplex. We went to check out some of the vendor exhibits and to see other people's trucks to get ideas on building our JeepSpeed race car. We've scheduled October 18th to strip down our truck so we can send it out to have the roll cage built.

It was a pretty good learning experience for me. I don't know too much about off-road racing so a lot of the technology was new to me. I did see a few shows on HD Theater about the Baja races but they don't go into the truck technology too much. Since we in the JeepSpeed class, the trucks are pretty stock; the most important modification is probably the suspension/shocks.

Booth for King Shock Technology, Inc. They seem to be in a lot of the racing trucks. I also saw Fox which also made the rear shock for my mountain bike.

Competitor truck. It has won a lot of races recently so it's the truck to beat.

An off-road racing truck that is street legal in Arizona. California has pretty strict road rules so almost all racing trucks are not street legal. We filed PNO (Planned Non-Operation) for our Cherokee so we can't legally drive it on the street anymore. Randy just bought a trailer so we can tow the truck around.

A recent model Jeep Grand Cherokee on display.

Another JeepSpeed competitor. The driver rolled his own truck recently. To maintain his points in the race series, he bought this one to keep racing.

Front suspension setup. Our suspension mods will probably look very similar.

Rear suspension. We have to keep the stock suspension geometry which means leaf springs in the back.

Driver seat. The truck owner installed a PVC tube in the back for ice water. He rigged a windshield wiper pump to a switch on the steering wheel. I think we'll stick with a Camelback for now.

Toyota was the primary sponsor of the expo. They set up a dirt driving area in the horse track to demo the FJ Cruiser and some 4x4 trucks. We lined up and got to drive the FJ Cruiser over hills and bumps. Here the truck is up on three wheels over some rough terrain.

The initial hill climb. Since I only have 2WD in my 4Runner, I have not driven it off-road and definitely not steep inclines. It was a bit freaky to drive up the hill without being able to see where you're going. I think the course had +/- 30 degree inclines. We drove at crawling speed around the course; I can't imaging going up that hill at racing speeds.

Overall, it was a pretty productive day for me. Now I have a basic idea of what needs to be done to our truck and what a completed race truck looks like. The only disappointment was the lack of cute car models at the expo; most were blond with fake boobs. I went to a JGTC race a few years ago at California Speedway. The import models and race queens were much better looking. From Randy's previous comments and from my observations today, most of the people involved in off-road racing are white. I hardly saw any ethnic minorities today, both exhibitor and attendee. We'll probably be the only non-white team in JeepSpeed. I need to make sure our team name has the word rice in it.

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