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Adventure

On the Ground: Phillip and Emily Soelter

Editor's note: We talked with experienced and inexperienced off-roaders alike at the Texas Unlimited Off-Road Expo and Show after they experienced the BFGoodrich obstacle course on KO2s. Here’s what Phillip and Emily Soelter had to say about the experience and what it means to be Driver Enough.

 


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Emily: It was very cool [going on the obstacle course]. It was a little scary a couple of times going up, but it was a lot of fun. I learned that…we’re going to be doing this again. [Laughs]

Phillip: It’s hard to find a place to rock crawl around here, but up through Kansas, there’s this place near Manhattan with a fun off-road park.

E: I feel like “Are You Driver Enough” means, are you confident enough to challenge the tires? Are you willing to let them work for you?

P: To me, it means it’s important to have good quality tires for every day use. BFGoodrich has gone above and beyond, and that’s why they are here today.

 

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Adventure

On the Ground: Kai Huang

Editor's note: We talked with experienced and inexperienced off-roaders alike at the Texas Unlimited Off-Road Expo and Show after they experienced the BFGoodrich obstacle course on KO2s. Here's what Kai Huang had to say.








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We already have a Wrangler at home, but we’ve never done an off-road course like this, so we’re here for the experience.

My Wrangler is just my hobby. I do some modifications myself, and I really enjoy it.

I like doing it because it’s something to keep myself peaceful and soulful after a whole week at work. It’s good to have some personal time.

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Adventure

On the Ground: Keith Shelley

Editor's note: We talked with experienced and inexperienced off-roaders alike at the Texas Unlimited Off-Road Expo and Show after they experienced the BFGoodrich obstacle course on KO2s. Here's what Keith Shelly had to say. 






I’ve always been an off-road guy, but nothing extreme. Just regular Jeep trails and stuff up in the mountains. I’ve got a Toyota Tundra and a RZR 1000. I had an older Jeep, but it got totaled a few months ago. I’m looking for a two-door Unlimited. That’s my next Jeep.

[While doing the obstacle course] what you realize is you really can’t see. You need a spotter, so it was pretty cool to have a BFGoodrich instructor sitting beside me. At those angles, you’re not seeing anything.

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Beauty totally drives my passion for off-roading. The backcountry of anywhere from Moab, UT, to Silverton, CO, it’s all about the beauty. It’s just a bonus to get to have the toys. My kids love it, and I’ve been doing it since I was a kid.

I’m just a plain old Jeep trail driver, so I’m not anywhere near professional, but I believe in good tires. I’ve had several sets of BFGoodrich tires. Just got a set of new KO2s for my Tundra, and they do great.

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Adventure

On the Ground: Jacob Buckley

Editor's note: We talked with experienced and inexperienced off-roaders alike at the Texas Unlimited Off-Road Expo and Show after they experienced the BFGoodrich obstacle course on KO2s. Here's what Jacob Buckley had to say.






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It’s just unreal, the traction you get with these tires. You don’t have any concern with slippage. You don’t have to worry about traction. Even from a passenger perspective, I’m really impressed. The KO2s just grip.

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Adventure

On the Ground: Cesar Garcia

Editor's note: We talked with experienced and inexperienced off-roaders alike at the Texas Unlimited Off-Road Expo and Show after they experienced the BFGoodrich obstacle course on KO2s. Here's what Cesar Garcia, a tire dealer with D.H. Tire, had to say.






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To me, [doing the off-road course] is more scary than anything. I’ve never done off-roading before. It’s a very intense experience. I thought the KO2s handled very well, and we learned a lot about them. The curved embankment on the course — we were practically riding on the sidewall over there. I think that was the most impressive part. The instructor said we were pretty much 90% on the sidewall — not even on the tread at that point — so that was like, wow.

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Adventure

Recap: Performance Team Summit 2017

The BFGoodrich Performance Team — our Pit Crew — is full of accomplished drivers, racers, engineers, and builders. You could call it a veritable who’s who list of legends, and you wouldn’t be wrong.

But for a team to be a team, individuals — no matter how accomplished they are — must be able to work together. Given how so many of our performance team members are scattered throughout the country, it’s rare our full roster can come together with BFGoodrich Tires to celebrate successes, enjoy each others’ company, and look towards the future.

Which is why BFGoodrich invited them all to Utah Motorsports Campus and the Ford Performance Racing School for a two-day Performance Team summit on March 14-15.




Of course, there were meetings and planning sessions, but there’s a reason why the summit was held at UMC. After all, you can’t expect to bring together 30 of the most talented and accomplished drivers on the planet without spending any time behind the wheel. 

And that’s exactly what happened. Performance Team members Dan McKeever and John Williams — president of the Ford Performance Racing School and instructor at the Raptor school, respectively — facilitated a number of driving activities.

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From demos in the new Ford Raptor, to autocross comparisons of tires, to track sessions on UMC’s road course, everyone had their fill of speed. It didn’t hurt that the Ford Performance Racing School’s Fiesta STs, Focus STs, Raptors, and Mustang GTs are all shod in BFGoodrich rubber.

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For off-road drivers like Rob MacCachren, Casey Currie, RJ Anderson, and Justin Smith, the track driving and autocross were unfamiliar but rewarding experiences. For everyone else, the Raptor was a revelation in capability, with everyone marveling at its capabilities: staying planted on 30º lateral inclines; automatic downhill assists; and the ability to catch air and absorb landing forces at UMC’s short course off-road track.

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Naturally, with such a competitive and close-knit group, it only took a matter of minutes before the good-natured ribbing started. RJ Anderson’s youth became a reference point for all the old hands; Brad Lovell couldn’t seem to escape his brother’s shadow even though Roger was absent; and Bud Brutsman—the brazen showman that he is—took each and every opportunity to rile up his companions. Even newcomers Cameron Steele and Shelby Hall got in on the action.

Logically, the trash talking could only end one way: trial by driving. Each day concluded with a competitive autocross session. The first day was an informal team competition featuring equal amounts of driving and friendly pranking.

The second day’s individual autocross competition, on the other hand, was a more serious affair. As could be expected, road and rally drivers swept the podium, with Mike “Junior” Johnson turning in the fastest time (26.359 seconds), Andrew Comrie-Picard second, and Brian Finch third. However, off-road racer RJ Anderson impressed with a time of 26.978 seconds, edging out Kyle Tucker.

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But at the end of the day, our Pit Crew was all smiles, laughter, and mutual respect. As they say, teamwork makes the dream work.

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Adventure

Golden Ticket

Editor’s note: You always remember your firsts. Although Josh Bertschy has been an off-roader all his life — he worked in an off-road shop after high school, owned BaerTrax off-road shop, now owns AGR Performance Steering, and has also run numerous SCORE races — 2017 was the first year he raced in the King of the Hammers. Although Bertschy didn’t finish the race, the journey from build to race day created more than a few memories.




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I've always been in the industry and I've been recreationally rock crawling for years, so King of the Hammers wasn't completely new to me. Now, I've been racing in the desert for years, so it's really just a combination of both and I really didn't feel like I struggled with either one. I never really felt out of my comfort zone.

I had been building the car off and on for about a year and a half. The plan was for me to debut the car at this King of the Hammers, and I wanted three weeks or so to shake the car down before going out there. Of course, I was running behind, but I thought I had roughly two weeks.

I put the car in the trailer, took it to the dyno, and while it was on the dyno getting the engine tuned, I blew up the transmission. This is two weeks before leaving for Hammers. Because it's a rear-engine car, the transmission comes up and through the window rather than down and through the belly pan like most cars. I had to take out my seats, my belts — all my interior — to get the transmission out, so it wasn’t a simple operation.

“It was a combination of BFGoodrich helping and Bart Dixon and his OG-13 golden ticket — that’s what I call it. Everything just kind of came together. It was that Cinderella, grassroots racing story that you always hear about.”

It wasn’t my transmission builder’s fault. It was mine — I did not engage the torque converter into the transmission pump as well as I should, and that's what got damaged. It wasn't a lot, but I had to find a transmission shop to repair it. That took roughly a week.  When I got it back, I was in a scurry to try and get the car put back together because I only had a week left.

I left for the Hammers on Friday. The four days leading up to that, I did not sleep at all. I didn't even take a cat nap. I had a friend who knew I was kind of in trouble with the timeline, so he took some time off to help me. We got the car all put together Friday morning, a week before the race. I backed it out of the shop and put it on the trailer, and I drove all the way out to the Hammers. I hadn’t even really driven the car yet.

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When I get to the Hammers, the first thing I do is tear off from camp as soon as I unload the car and unpack the trailer. I went up to Chocolate Thunder as hard as I could and made a big circle up on the sand hill and then came down and went across the desert and drove over to Back Door. Right before I got there, I started hearing a little bit of noise and I couldn't figure it out, so we kind of idled back to camp. We were shaking stuff around and checking stuff but we never could figure out what this noise was. But the car ran smooth, and it ran fast.

Now, I've got seven years in Baja. I race at least once or twice a year, and I've always had the opinion that you are a blooming idiot if you go to Baja and think that you're going to do well and not run BFGoodrich tires. I mean, the support that BFGoodrich gives — pre-running, chase notes, pit support, all that kind of stuff — is so beneficial that you can't replace it with anything else, especially if you're not a fully sponsored, high-dollar team. It's stupid to go without BFGoodrich tires, so I’ve been on BFGoodrich tires for years. So when BFGoodrich approached me about sponsoring me for King of the Hammers, it just made sense.

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The day before my last chance qualifier, I'm at the BFGoodrich trailer swapping tires and one of the guys says, "Hey, your right front wheel hub is about to fall off." I look and I realize I left my mock-up bolts in there. I never put the big bolts in there. It was kind of embarrassing. After we got the tires on there, I took it back over to the pit, fixed that, and went later that day to do my LCQ run. And that’s when I blew up the transmission again.

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I got towed back in. Luckily, a real good friend of mine who’s a trophy truck driver lives nearby, and while he didn’t have a transmission, he gave me the number of his trophy truck guy. So I got the transmission fixed, but I blew my chance at racing King of the Hammers because I didn’t qualify.

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Well, the BFGoodrich guys, they got ahold of Bart Dixon, who’s been a BFGoodrich sponsored driver for a long time, plus he’s an OG-13. The OG-13 are the original 13 guys who created King of the Hammers, and the rules state that any time an OG-13 member wants to race, they automatically qualify. They can also give that qualifying spot away to somebody as long as they start the race or they finish the race. I called Bart, and soon he and I were cutting up like we were best friends and hadn't spoken in ten years. We hit it off, and he said, "You know what, I'll be there tomorrow morning. Let's go race."

And that's how I got into the race. It was a combination of BFGoodrich helping and Bart Dixon and his OG-13 golden ticket — that’s what I call it. Everything just kind of came together. It was that Cinderella, grassroots racing story that you always hear about.

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Photographs courtesy of Josh Bertschy & Sharkbyte Photography

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Build

Sticky Business

Editor’s note: Nick Relampagos’ love of cars dates back to when he was just four years old and saw the cat-eye tail lights and fins on the back of his uncle’s 1959 Chevy Impala. Now it’s Nick’s vehicle that’s turning heads, a 1970 Camaro that mixes power, beauty, and attitude.




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I found this car under a cover in the back lot of my friend’s body shop. He was planning on building it but had lost interest. Even though it was just an empty shell, I fell in love with it. I bought it and immediately went to work. 

I had attended a few Optima Ultimate Street Car events as a spectator and really wanted to compete, so I built this car around what I had seen at the events. I wanted a car I could take to shows but also race. And now I love the fact that I can drive this car to a show and win trophies and also race it and be competitive. But you know, sometimes it’s nice to just take a leisurely road drive through the mountains around Castro Valley, California.

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I think it’s the carbon fiber panels and the contrasting orange paint that gives this car a special look. The supercharged LSA engine and six-speed transmission don’t hurt, either. I’ve just upgraded the front sub-frame and rear end and suspension to all Speedtech Suspension. And now I love the way this Camaro handles. All the suspension improvements make the car really stick.

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