Talk to any long time 4 wheeler, especially one with a long involvement with club activity about Teams Recovery, and they’ve all got a story to tell about pre-winch interclub competition, where TR dominance was something to be celebrated.
These days, with Winch Challenges and Trials dominating the competitive side of off-roading, interclub competition has taken a bit of a back seat, except in the case of some long held, fiercely contested interclub closed trials weekends.
This is the situation a group of North Island clubs are starting to change with an interclub Teams Recovery series that has been developing over the last couple of years.
“Back in the day” claims Kurt Johnson, “All the old boys were the TR gurus, and us young guys couldn’t break into the team, so we formed a B-Team.”
“Problem was, we kept beating them, and we have just grown into the sport from there. Now we have all these new young guys starting to do the same to us!”
Driven largely by a small group comprised of “Good Bastard” Kurt Johnson, long time buddy, Full Send Fabrication’s Shane Hazledean, and Matamata National Trials stalwarts Kaye and Phil Hobart, the series involves a round robin winter competiton hosted, and competed for by teams representing the BOP, Eastern Bays, South Waikato and Rodney clubs.
“The idea is to get away from the big money, big horsepower of the National Series”, says Kurt, “where the smaller classes are almost forgotten about.”
The first ever winner of the huge “Mini Stocks in Paradise” junior speedway event, Kurt was at one stage flying between Rotorua and Christchurch to compete in Ministocks before discovering offroading, starting back in 2013, in the old 350 Chev powered “Dirty Lorax” trials Truck.
Kurt and Shane now compete in self built D-Class LS powered buggies, while Phil Hobart leaves his V6 Chev powered D-Class buggy, at home to give his old V8 Chev powered 40 series Toyota that competed in the trials series right up till 2016 a workout.
Talking to Phil and Kaye they are attracted by the fun atmosphere around the events. “Its just so great to see the enthusiasm some of these young guys bring to the rounds.”
At a shake down “Summer TR” shake down competition held recently, as well as the buggies entries included Dean Curry’s winch challenge truck, a couple of club “Bush Trucks” Andrew Gardner’s full-out Ultra 4 buggy, a pair of home built specials, and Caleb Thompson’s Ultra4 Polaris side by side.
Working on the “Winches are for Pussies” philosophy, teams return to reels of steel cable, Keto Clips, and Pulley blocks as recovery equipment, and geometry and inertias as motive forces.
Rules are pretty simple, the lead truck has to stay in front for the whole hazard, and can only be pulled on a steel cable.
This means the cable must go forward from the truck, around a pulley block or three and back to a team mate, who then drives in a totally different direction to pull the immobile truck forward.
Sounds easy right? On one stage the teams had close to 100 meters of wire run out to manoeuvre around trees and banks.
Drivers and Crew must wear full harnesses and helmets when in a moving truck: each team is made up of 3 trucks, with 6 drivers and wire runners, who work together (sometimes) to get all 3 trucks through the course.
Each course is completed by all teams before moving on to the next one, and “Helpful Advice” is offered by members of other teams who may be watching on. Banter is all part of the atmosphere.
This makes the events really spectator friendly, and are usually no charge, or gold coin donation to attend. “Spectators are good’ says Kurt, “ we want to keep it as a fun sport”
What we haven’t covered so far is the difficulty level of the stages, with cliffs, drop-offs, and man made challenges that have to be seen to be appreciated. On some of the more difficult traverses, vehicles have to be held upright, and on line by cables attached to roll cages and bull bars, and attached to team mates, who control the fate of the truck in the stage.
Although the stages are targeted at 30 minutes per team, with about 6 stages making up the day, one legendary event a couple of years ago took the whole day to get through one “angrier than usual” course.
Each course is timed, and points for placings are compiled to determine the overall winner, so there is some fierce competitiveness at times, but it has to be very friendly competition, as truck damage is pretty common with the high degree of difficulty of the stages.
Truck substitution within teams is a common occurrence, and at times trucks and drivers from one team will be needed to substitute into another.
We think the Eastern Bays team won the “Summer Fun TR” but don’t quote us on that as we think Shane Hazledean did duty in three teams over the course of the day.
Following “Offroad Addictions” U-Tube coverage of the summer event, the series has already picked up new teams from guys who have seen it, and “Just have to be in among that!”
In a world where motorsports events are often struggling to attract increasing numbers, it’s refreshing to see one that’s bucking the trend.