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SubieFest 2018

Editor’s note: Thomas Kruger’s WRX has already made an appearance on the Garage before, but he’s not limiting his passion to the tarmac. Kruger tapped into the burgeoning off-road Subaru community when he built his overland Outback and helped organize one of the largest Subaru gatherings the West Coast has ever seen.






SubieFest is the biggest Subaru event of the year for me and the Subaru community west of the Rockies. This event brings together all walks of life from across the community, from off-roaders who have tweaked their machines for the high desert; to the unsuspecting, safe, family car; to the rally-inspired, boxer-powered supercars that we’re all familiar with.

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This year was so big for the Subaru off-road community that we had to set up an independent location outside of the event for those traveling from as far as Washington to meet up and prepare! Organizing this part of the event was a tremendous amount of fun for me, as it provided a chance for a lot of us who have only known each other from forums, Facebook, and Instagram to finally meet in person.

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I found myself talking to some of the most humble and down-to-earth enthusiasts who have taken budget builds to a whole other level. They live and breathe for the experience of dust in their face, and the challenge of ripping out and replacing a torn axle in the middle of a desert convoy.

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This gathering of off-road Subarus created our own corridor through Gorman OHV Hungry Valley. We spent days looking for mud and water to splash in when we weren't exploring the trails. I brought my overland Subaru Outback (complete with rooftop tent, awning, and BFGoodrich® Mud-Terrain T/A KM2 tires on VTX wheels) to help represent MtnRoo, which is the leading off-road Subaru community.

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Leading a mile-and-a-half-long convoy of MtnRoo Subarus down Interstate 5 South to SubieFest was one of the greatest moments of my life, and staging my Outback and inviting spectators to join me for refreshments is what made the day truly special. I got to hear about unique adventures that each person’s Subaru has taken them on, or how they want to build their Subarus to join us on trails only Jeeps and Toyotas dare travel. 

For this event, I also got to help bridge the Crawford Performance debut their GK2 Gymkhana Exhaust on my built “RexSTi.” Even with the performance gains from their platform, I still wasn't able to break traction from the BFGoodrich® g-Force Rival S tires that are on my STi.

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My heart rate never dropped during the entire weekend. It was packed with so much of what I love and live for. I was living my dream of being a part of something greater than myself, and sharing it with those who traveled far and wide. That’s what makes me so passionate: the Subaru community is so rich in culture and its commitment to share with those around them. To be a part of that is truly a blessing worth paying forward.

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Follow Thomas's Subaru builds on Instagram at @tkruger7.

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Build

Alex's 2018 Jeep Wrangler JLU Rubicon

Editor’s note: Alexander Gallagher is still learning what he and his Jeep can accomplish, but one thing’s for sure: with BFGoodrich® Mud-Terrain T/A KM2 tires, his Jeep already has the right shoes for the job.

 


 

I’ve been into cars since I was a kid and collected model cars when I was young. As soon as I got my driver’s license, I started buying and selling cars, looking for the right one to suit my needs and personality. When I got the Wrangler, my life was changed. It was the perfect vehicle, and I hope to have her until the wheels fall off. 

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The JL was the perfect platform for me. The capability out of the box is amazing. I remember climbing a steep hill with jagged rocks and slippery boulders days after getting her, and I thought, How could this get even better?

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But I love tinkering with things, and the JL was a blank slate and an opportunity for me to really take my hobby to the next level. It’s been fun learning what works and what doesn’t. I’ve got a 2.5” Enforcer Stage 4 lift from EVO; adjustable King Shocks; adjustable track bars; and lights and accessories from SPOD and Diode Dynamics.

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The modifications so far have been for the capability of the vehicle, and I’m still figuring that out, but at least I know the right tires for her: 37” BFGoodrich® Mud-Terrain T/A KM2s. 

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My reason for going with BFGoodrich® Tires? Well, I was in a remote part of California on a long on- and off-road journey with my dog and my girlfriend. We pulled into a grocery store to get some food, and we parked next to a lady in a beat up Toyota FJ40 and started talking about off-roading. She told us she was a tow truck driver, and she owned one of the few companies that will tow people off the more difficult trails in the area.

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I immediately looked at the tires on her vehicle and saw she was running KM2s. My old tires had worn down prematurely, and I was in the market for a new set. I immediately thought, If she’s running them in the line of work she’s in, then they must be the best. When I got home from that trip, I sat down and ordered a set immediately. 

 


 

See more of Alex’s adventures on Instagram at @thatwhitejl.

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Build

Aislinn’s 1995 Subaru Legacy

Editor’s note: Aislinn Misener’s Subaru Legacy wasn’t much to look at when she bought it. In addition to mismatched body panels, it had bad head gaskets. But slowly — and on a college student’s budget — she’s built the car into something she’s happy to push on autocross courses.

 


 

I grew up in a small town on the central coast of California. My mom's best friend helped raise me. He was like a dad to me, and he was passionate about American stock car racing. I spent almost every weekend with him at our local dirt circle track watching street stocks, modifieds, sprints, World of Outlaws, midgets, and other small-time dirt racing until I was 11. I loved every minute of it, and knew I would grow up to race in some way. But when I was 11 years old, I moved to Seattle, away from any connection with cars or racing. 

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When I turned 18, I finally got my first car, a 1992 Subaru Loyale sedan, and while it was a gutless old beater, it refueled my love and passion for cars. After a year of owning it, I got tired of the underwhelming 90 horsepower that the engine produced, so I began looking for a better platform. I knew I wanted to stick with a Subaru, and upon searching, fell in love with the second generation Legacy sedan. I loved their sleek body lines, simple but tasteful interiors, compact size and weight, the handling of the all-wheel drive system, and the fact that Subarus are like Legos: you can bolt on parts from many different models and years.

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In Washington, Subarus are extremely popular for their all-weather capabilities, which can make it hard to find exactly what you want. It had to be manual and it had to be a sedan, but I didn't care about mechanical problems. I wanted a project car. A couple months into my search, a friend told me about his buddy who had a car for sale that fit my requirements: a 1995 Subaru Legacy L sedan with mismatched panels and bad head gaskets. It wasn't exactly pretty, and it was as base model as a sedan could get, but I saw potential in it. So, I met with the guy, test drove it, and decided to buy it. I even decided that I liked the seller enough to get his number and go on dates with him. Six years later, we are engaged, and I haven't regretted the purchase once. 

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Since I have owned it, I've used this car as a tool to learn about mechanics. I've slowly, on a college student budget, modified or worked on almost every part of the car, turning it from a mostly stock '95 Legacy into an autocross-ready machine with a handful of JDM goodies. Almost every bit of the work was done in our home shop, with the exception of alignments, mounting and balancing tires, paint work, and window tint. With the help of my fiancé and friends, I've swapped in a turbocharged engine, upgraded the suspension, and changed the interior and exterior styling to my liking. Through all of the modifications, I daily drove it to work and school, I drove it all over Washington and Oregon — I even did a fair share of off-roading and snow driving with it.

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After swapping the engine and installing coilovers, I felt like the car and I were both ready to try our hand at auto sports. I had previously heard of local autocross events and thought that would be a good place to start, so I signed up for my first competition in the fall of 2016. 

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The local autocross events at Evergreen Speedway are more like open track days with a hint of competition. There are all different classes of vehicles, so it is mostly to go have fun in your car in a track environment, while improving on your own skills and beating your own times. I have done — and will continue to do — many track days with them, and have seen major improvements in my skills as well as found many of my car's weak points that I need to fix or change. Now that I have more experience, I have been looking into doing more serious, competitive events such as SCCA autocross and ultimately, I'd love to get into hill climb racing. 

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I’m currently running BFGoodrich® g-Force Sport COMP-2 tires, but it’s because of my previous experience with the KDW tires. When I saw them for the first time, I thought the tread design was beautiful. I bought a full set of KDWs in 225/45R17 for my 17x7.5" wheels and they performed better than I could ever expect a tire to perform. They gripped like my life depended on it, in sun or rain, highway driving or track driving — basically every situation except snow or ice, which is to be expected of a summer performance tire. I was sold. Other name brands hadn't impressed me like that set of KDWs did. I drove on them for almost 80,000 hard miles before needing to replace them.

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Unfortunately, by that point, that design had been discontinued, so I had to choose another set that would meet my needs. Reviews led me to the Sport COMP-2 tires, saying they performed better than the KDWs in most situations, and for a reasonable price. This time around, though, I had new wheels. Enkei TFR's in 17×9" with +45 offset, for as much tire grip as I could possibly get under my Legacy body. When the new wheels came in, I ordered 255/40R17 Sport COMP-2s, and while I have less than 2000 miles on them, I am extremely impressed. Even with more power driving them, it takes some work to break them loose, in rain or shine. I’m definitely looking forward to getting some real use out of them.

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See more of Aislinn’s Legacy on Instagram at @aciefacie.

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Adventure

Race Report: Jack Olliges

Editor’s note: Jack Olliges is all of ten years old, but he’s got racing in his blood. His father, Steve Olliges, has over 30 class wins and seven championship titles across the SCORE International and Best in the Desert racing series. It was only natural that Jack would want to get in on the action when an opportunity to race with his dad came up at the Laughlin Desert Classic.

 


 

My race started at the Off Road Expo. Donald with Best in the Desert told my dad about a new class for UTVs. I did not think that my dad was actually going to let me race, but when we got back from the Expo, he started calling everybody to see if we could get all the parts here in time: new 32” BFGoodrich® tires — the first things to show up!; lights; a clutch; the shocks back from Fox; window nets; and a race suit.  We only had about 10 days. That’s when I realized this might actually happen!

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We left for Laughlin on Wednesday, and that’s when the last of the parts showed up. We went down and I saw my RZR for the first time all put together. I think it’s the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. Then, it was the drivers meeting a couple hours before the race. It started sinking in that I was actually going to do this, and it made me nervous.

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We got back to the pits and we got pictures, had a team meeting, and then we got into the car to drive over to the staging area. We got in line for the race — I was really nervous at that point. When we went to the start line, I almost couldn’t breathe because of how nervous I was. But when I started, all that went away. The first lap was really slow because our GPS was not really working. We stopped in the pit after the first lap to inspect the car. It was all good and we went back out and my dad was still in the car. We went way faster the second lap because I knew the course better. We got back to the pits and did a co-driver change and headed back into the infield.

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There was a bad whoop section, and I was all the way on the right to go slower and not break the car. Someone from behind got squirrelly and went over my back tire and broke my trailing arm and took us out of the race. I was kind of bummed that happened, as I was really looking forward to hitting that gravity cavity again and driving in the rain.  I was just getting comfortable!  But I was still so happy that I got to race. That was the most fun thing I have ever done. We had no problems at all with any of the parts we put on, just my broken trailing arm.  I hope that we can race the next race and go for the finish.

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Photographs courtesy Team Ford / Bink Designs.

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Build

Trevor’s 2012 Jeep Wrangler

Editor’s note: When Trevor Campbell traded his Audi S4 for a lifted Jeep, he thought he had it made. Little did he know that his new off-roader would live up to the old Jeep adage: Just Empty Every Pocket.






I have always had an obsession with lifted, off-road vehicles. When I moved to Colorado from Nebraska, a Jeep became a must-have to explore the backcountry and get off the beaten path. I found my Jeep when I was cruising through the dealership to kill some time. I stumbled upon a new JK with a lift, 35" tires, and a winch. That was the only Jeep on the lot that was decked out, and I ended up trading my Audi S4 for it. At the time, I knew I was never going to have to change anything about this Jeep.

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But one two-track trail led to another, that led to a rock pile, that led to a depleted pocket book. I started modifying it after my first Moab experience, and now it has nothing original from the frame down.

There have been multiple iterations of my Jeep in the few years I have owned it. It currently has one-ton axles that I built last winter. The front axle came out of a 2008 Ford F-250, and the rear came out of a 2004 GM Duramax. I run ARB air lockers, front and rear with 5.38 gears. I installed a 3.5-inch Rock Krawler suspension with 12-inch coilovers in the front and Fox Shocks in the rear. I have full Rock Hard skid plates, JCR Offroad front and rear bumpers along with their rock sliders, and 1350 Adams Driveshafts. I also chose to run 39.5-inch BFGoodrich® Krawler T/A KX (Blue Label) tires because it is my favorite rock crawling tread pattern out there. The large lugs and sidewall pattern provide very good traction when you need it most. They’re installed on 17x9 KMC Machete wheels powder-coated a bright orange.

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I have been on many adventures across the States with my Jeep. I have wheeled at Rausch Creek in Pennsylvania, the Smokey Mountains in Tennessee, Hawk Pride in Alabama, the South Dakota Black Hills, all over Colorado, and I frequent Moab as I live four hours away. If I was asked to pick a favorite place it would be tough because they all provide something different, but the way tires stick to the Moab rocks is pretty incredible.

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But my favorite thing about my Jeep has got to be the amazing friends that I have made through those adventures. There really is a true tight-knit Jeep community out there, and everyone is willing to work together and help out when needed.






Keep up with Trevor’s rock crawler on Instagram at @crawlincampbell

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