This is a reprint of the review I wrote the night we got back before I went to bed completely drained---------------
Just back from KOH...
What can I say about KOH that hasn't already been said? I can tell you that for the second year in a row it was the best run 4x4 event I have ever been to and I am sure attendance was through the roof again. I can try and tell you all about every car we saw and all the new ideas generated.
I will give you a synopsis of my 8 days at KOH this year.
Friday: We finally got out of Sacramento at 10:30pm and started our drive. It was long to us (10 hours) but not really that long by most team standards. The only real problem was the trailer brakes locking up pulling out from a fuel stop but it was a simple electrical problem easily repaired.
Saturday: Our late start meant no sleep for any of us with a 9am arrival and setup. Another pit had been setup in the area we had reserved but a simple swap of tents made it work out fine and we had the first 250' of the Hammertown area. Before we had completely setup we had repair business to attend to with the 1st being a major rock encounter that damaged an axle and tore the lower links off. It was a good thing it was pre-running the course a week prior to the race so we had all day to make the repair the right way and honestly we did very little besides having the tools and tabs/bracketry available for the job.
Work really began to flow in after we got 250' of banners up and teams knew where to find us.
Sunday: I woke up feeling surprisingly good after a long night being entertained by the Bigelow team. They are a great group of guys but be very careful when drinking with them and they start mixing the drinks! Everything seems mixed with 50% vodka...They fed me after getting my drink on and I really did feel good in the morning and right away learned all about a champipple (Champaign, OJ, ' 50% Vodka).
The morning started quickly with my guys (Jay, Andrew, ' Jim) welding and working on rig after rig. Our inventory of course came up short and Ramsey started a series of trips into whichever town nearby had whatever we had left behind in our rush to leave town Friday night. At the same time Brad, JD, ' Laif from FOA got to work tuning car after cars suspension. The race was still 6 days off but everyone was working 24/7... The other teams started arriving throughout the day and nearly every team had vehicle problems crossing the country, the Bigelow car wasn't there yet and Tim Diekmans car was lagging the team due to more tow rig problems but it gave them all a day to wind down from the drive anyway.
For my second night I got caught up in the with the Diekman team this time. In the end we acted responsibly and did not have the first rental car jump challenge (there is always next year)!
Monday: The six teams residing with us had all arrived over the weekend and all were pre-running between adjusting and tuning pretty much all day. The team of Joe Silva ' 16 HS students had transfer case problems and then transmission problems throughout the first 3 days (Saturday-Monday) but those students of his were as fast and skilled as anyone on the lakebed in teardown and repair and got the problems all worked out.
I was running all over the lakebed chasing parts for anybody ' everybody but the boys were holding down the fort and kept very busy. Throughout the day and early evening we worked on cars that needed small things done to pass the LCQ tech, every car we worked on got through without a hitch!
That night we had a pretty damned good BBQ and I think we had about 300 people show up lasting right up til the big wind. All I am sure of is the next day we added more beer to our list for Ramsey to pick up in town!
Monday night: I am a little fuzzy on this one because after 8 days out there the days kind of ran together but it got pretty ugly... I am of course referring to the windstorm. It seems that one of our 3 tents wasn't very well put together (4 stakes for a 20'x40' tent). That night we tied everything we had that weighed anything to that tent and after struggling with it for 5 hours all we could do was go bed and hope for the best. Dave Cole came by around midnight (I don't think he sleeps) taking inventory of tents that needed help and got a crew out to tie it down correctly around 7am but I heard at least one blew away during the night.
Tuesday: The first day of the LCQ. Don't quote me on the numbers but as best as I can remember it only 11 teams completed it the first day, it was brutal. Again the day was long doing repairs from LCQ ' pre-running damage and chasing parts. I got to sleep around 11 Tuesday but at least the wind had died down after an early warning of even more severe winds expected for the night didn't happen.
By this time it was pretty well known we had a plasma, torches, some bigger welders, a tubing bender, spare tubing, Plate, and all the rest available so going to bed all night was not an option as people knocked on the door all night and we started taking turns helping so the rest could sleep.
Wednesday: The second day of the LCQ went easier because most of the teams had watched the first day and had more time to prepare. Faster times were the result and more teams finishing. The work in the pits went on and on and I was caught up in the vender Bigtop tent most of the day while Ramsey made his third trip into town.
Again this year in the bigtop we gave away 600 Ruffstuff t-shirts and the turnout was great! We were able to show many of our new products with double the booth size we had last year and sharing the booth with FOA was eye opening with the new shocks and the adjust on the fly bypasses they were showing! I am sorry I was not able to spend all my time in the booth but we always had someone there that could explain how things worked!
I am going to share a bit about one problem we encountered that really brought out the spirit of KOH to me. Jeremy Henzel(sp?) of the Rock Zombies had done well in the LCQ but had split his D60 casting in half finishing. He went searching and came to me to see if we could help, we found several alternatives from shops in the local area and a yard in Hesperia but the best option was in the vender booth next to ours in the bigtop. Artie from Artec (one of my competitors) had a prototype D60 truss on an empty housing and the tubes were only 3/16" and just tacked on so it was light enough for a display. Artie was going to let him use his display so he could still be in the big race, in the end it wasn't needed but that's the kind of help that was going on at KOH!
Thursday: Tech ' Contingency kept me busy and out in the sun pretty much all day but repairs and tuning were still in full speed ahead mode in the FOA/Ruffstuff Open Pit. Setting up the Remote pit took half of the day and the day ran very long with a very early start coming the next morning... We tried to get to sleep early but had one wake up with a cracked cross member repair.
Friday/Raceday: Everyone up and at it by 5am! Cleared the pit line and setup the tents for any major repairs... The main pit was only to be visited one time so we had most of our forces concentrated in the remote that the teams would pass four times. It was amazing to see how fast the leaders got to us and Shannon had gained 55 or 57 spots before he got to us at mile 60, he was really unbeatable Friday! At our main pit we had only six to fuel and 2 were out before they got to us so we were pretty casual but kept the crews at full alert for any other teams' major repairs. Of the cars fueling half had brake problems but were fairly quick fixes, none had any major repairs needed. At the remote pit that was a different story with a lot of help being passed about between the different crews out there...
Saturday: We all slept in with no interruptions for the first time all week! After a casual morning we loaded up and started the long drive home. The only thing I was really bothered by was that many people took a very casual approach to clean-up before they left. My team collected at least 30 bags of trash that were abandoned on the spot they camped. They were from both racers and venders, I did not get out into the general camping area at all but I hope it was better.
Our last count of vehicle repairs were 93 repairs involving welding, 9 involving brakes, and another dozen varied jobs. We were also able to lend tools wherever they were needed and about $2000 worth of parts were used from heims to tabs. We did not accept payment for anything, we were not there to profit, we were there to see that everyone could race when their time came. Our work was split about 50/50 between racers and spectators rigs.
I would like to thank the entire KOH crew for allowing us to participate in the way we did, we could not have been there if they weren't there in the first place. I would also like to thanks our co-sponsor FOA for all of their hard work both before and during the event and the many other sponsors that helped us tie this all together like Rugged Radios, Powertank, Harris Welding, Team Tube, Baja Designs, ' Norcal Rock Racing. I hope I didn't miss anyone and I will edit this if I did when I am awake enough to check it again but finally I would like to really thank my crew.
Ramsey is our sales manager but he can't weld so he became the errand boy with no complaint, Andrew is our welding manager but he was able to step aside and let others outperform, Jay who never seemed to sleep and performed about 70% of the welding, Jim who was always doing something.
And back in the shop while we were working our butts off 8 other people were holding down the fort and getting orders shipped so we could get filthy in the dust (did I mention our shower broke the 2nd day)...
All in all we had a great time, we worked hard but made alot of friends and we will be back in whatever capacity we can...