Alan Woodson of Axis Fabrication, an OG rockcrawler, dishes dirt with Rich on Episode 99. A true east coast competitor, Alan shares his love of travel and building with all of us.
3:13– growing up in a big, little city
11:17 – Scott bailed me out
19:14 – Full Disclosure: I did something to deserve the ability to not have my license
39:13 – let me tell you about how I met Charlie
48:07 – anything west of Tennessee is just a different mentality
56:12 – I’m definitely doing Axis Fab
59:42 – I think people that build and break barriers in the off-road world, it’s a lot like being an artist
1:05:17 – I didn’t come to that conversation with an open mind
We want to thank our sponsors Maxxis Tires and 4Low Magazine.
Be sure to listen on your favorite podcast app.Support the show
[00:00:01.150] - Speaker 1
Welcome to The Big Rich Show. This podcast will focus on conversations with friends and acquaintances within the fourwheel drive industry. Many of the people that I will be interviewing, you may know the name, you may know some of the history, but let's get in depth with these people and find out what truly makes them a four wheel drive enthusiast. So now is the time to sit back, grab a cold one and enjoy our conversation.
[00:00:29.430] - Speaker 2
Whether you're crawling the red rock of Moab or hauling your toys to the trail, Maxxis has the tires you can trust for performance and durability. Four wheels or two, Maxxis tires are the choice of Champions because they know that whether for work or play, for fun or competition, Maxxis tires deliver. Choose Maxxis Tread victoriously.
[00:00:55.990] - Speaker 3
Why should you read 4Low Magazine? Because 4Low Magazine is about your lifestyle. The four wheel drive adventure lifestyle that we all enjoy. Rock crawling, trail riding, event coverage, vehicle builds, and do it yourself tech all in a beautifully presented package. You won't find 4low on the newsstand rack, so subscribe today and have it delivered to you.
[00:01:20.110] - Big Rich Klein
On today's episode of Conversations with Big Rich, we have Alan Woodson. Alan is Axis Fab out of Virginia, I believe, and we are going to talk to Alan about his days of rock crawling. He's one of the OGs, his fabrication skills and everything that he's doing. So, Alan, thank you very much for coming on board and discussing your life with us.
[00:01:46.270] - Alan Woodson
Thanks for having me.
[00:01:47.360] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, no worries. So let's jump right in. And where were you born and raised?
[00:01:53.050] - Alan Woodson
I was born and raised in Charlottesville, Virginia.
[00:01:56.240] - Big Rich Klein
How close is that to where you're at now?
[00:01:59.110] - Alan Woodson
Right now, I'm about 45 minutes from that kind of Southeast in an area called Columbia, Virginia.
[00:02:08.770] - Big Rich Klein
And you're in a kind of rural setting now, aren't you?
[00:02:12.450] - Alan Woodson
Yes, sir. I kind of moved my business and my personal space into one on a large farm. Well, I shouldn't say large farm. Large enough for me. And my daughter perfect.
[00:02:28.390] - Big Rich Klein
And teaching her the good life.
[00:02:30.970] - Alan Woodson
Yeah, I think she's teaching me.
[00:02:32.720] - Big Rich Klein
Really? That's awesome. Excellent. So let's go to those early years. Was the Charlottesville that sounds like it's a little less rural.
[00:02:45.790] - Alan Woodson
Yeah. Charlottesville, I guess, you know, smaller, more quaint than Richmond, Virginia, being the capital, but it's mostly dominated by University of Virginia College.
[00:03:01.990] - Big Rich Klein
So that's probably got some pretty good population to it then, because most colleges like that or universities are going to be in the neighborhood of 40,000 people or so.
[00:03:13.690] - Alan Woodson
Yeah, I would say it's much a big little city.
[00:03:18.390] - Big Rich Klein
Big little city. There you go. And what was it like growing up there?
[00:03:23.830] - Alan Woodson
It was very family oriented for me. I have a lot of cousins and brothers and sisters. It's very family oriented for me. So my family all around me growing up. So we got in trouble together and experienced a lot of stuff together. As a family. So I would say that would be the emphasis. Family. That's what it was like having a lot of family room.
[00:03:49.630] - Big Rich Klein
That's always good. So you said getting in trouble, I'm assuming you mean more like finding things to get into.
[00:04:00.850] - Alan Woodson
Well, it was a big little city, so it was rural on the outskirts of it. So we would explore a lot and find ourselves doing some pretty interesting things, both offroading where you shouldn't be and that sort of thing.
[00:04:17.170] - Big Rich Klein
So when you were growing up, what did you start with, like, Tonka trucks? Bicycles. Did you get into ATVs early or motorcycles?
[00:04:29.530] - Alan Woodson
Oh, man, all of the above. I actually just having this conversation the other day with somebody like, where does this come from? How do you grow a love for what it is that you do? Well, you know, I never thought of it that way, but funny enough, my mom used to keep scrapbooks of our childhood. Each one of my siblings have it. Have one. And, you know, funny you look back from like the second grade, third grade, fourth grade of monster trucks. Just drawing monster trucks. Everything you could figure out with monster truck. The thing back then and then. Fast forward to I was old enough to get a paper route and start saving some money and buying the bicycles and stuff that you could offroad with and then advancing into motorcycles and ATVs. Of course, I couldn't leave them alone. I started figuring out I wanted them to modify, modified a certain way. And whether it worked out or not, I started learning a lot of stuff that's kind of where it started from there. And eventually you become the age of driving and probably wasn't interested in a vehicle unless it has four wheel drive, kind of went from there.
[00:05:44.300] - Big Rich Klein
Right. And Virginia gets snow, correct?
[00:05:48.850] - Alan Woodson
Yeah, definitely. It seems like it snowed a lot more. When I was younger, at least, it seemed like the cycle was we'd get two or three big snows a year, and for us, big snow might be 2ft to 3ft of snow every couple of years. Yeah, we definitely get snow. Not like out in the Northeast.
[00:06:10.870] - Big Rich Klein
Right. So then you're saying bicycles, was it like a BMX type bicycle? I know you're younger than me. Bmx were available.
[00:06:26.030] - Alan Woodson
That's right. Bmx bikes. Let's see, what else? Skateboards. We did a lot of skateboarding when I was younger. Of course, there was no skateboard park zero around us. So that's the other thing. We got in trouble with skateboarding places you shouldn't be.
[00:06:41.510] - Big Rich Klein
Parking lots and entryways to stores, you name it.
[00:06:46.720] - Alan Woodson
If it was dual looked sketchy, we were on it.
[00:06:50.310] - Big Rich Klein
That's awesome. Do you remember the first motorcycle?
[00:06:55.670] - Alan Woodson
Yes, actually, my first motorcycle was an XR 80. I kind of borrowed it from my cousin that lived about a mile and a half 2 miles away and never returned it. Anyway, I got quite a bit of trouble with that again, riding places you shouldn't be in the inner city, then out in the parks and stuff when nobody's looking.
[00:07:24.330] - Big Rich Klein
In trouble because you were not licensed.
[00:07:28.230] - Alan Woodson
Well, it's an XR 80. It's an off road bike. And it's not like out west or some of the places I've experienced since, where dirt bikes and offroading is more a part of life. And everybody's got access trails or something in their backyard. Out here on the east, especially in Charlottesville, there's little to nothing to do unless you go out into the county, which for me when I was growing up wasn't really much of a resource to do that. So I found my way. Finding trails in the outskirts of the city, you might say.
[00:08:06.810] - Big Rich Klein
Did you stay off golf courses?
[00:08:09.510] - Alan Woodson
No, they were all fair games. Golf courses.
[00:08:13.350] - Big Rich Klein
Okay. That makes a little more sense then. Okay.
[00:08:19.830] - Alan Woodson
[00:08:20.710] - Big Rich Klein
And what kind of tinkering did you do?
[00:08:25.170] - Alan Woodson
Well, in dirt bikes? Basically, it was suspension, learning about just trial and error, figuring out how to make them work better for me, limited experience. It spent more time apart than together. Once I figured it out, usually I made them go faster and get better traction. I don't know. Come to think of it, I think we're always tinkering with exhaust and carburetors, trying to get more horsepower out of them and doing that sort of thing. The two strokes. When we got into the two strokes, of course, my first view were four strokes. Two strokes were a lot of fun figuring out how to get those tuned. And then I kind of just stayed. Once I got a little older and I was able to get out and about, we did find ourselves trail riding a whole lot. I don't know if you've ever heard of the George Washington National Park out here. We take our dirt bikes up there, ATV up there, and spend almost the whole weekend exploring trails and having a lot of fun up there.
[00:09:40.840] - Big Rich Klein
And who did you do that with?
[00:09:43.370] - Alan Woodson
Oh, man, that's a good question. So when I was younger, I had a friend that I went to school with, Roger no, him and I would go explore a bit. And then as I got older, some of my friends that are still friends today, it's like Scott Jones, Carl Shortridge. I don't know if you know that guy or not. Oh, wow. Yes. Kenny Thacker, just a whole bunch of friends that I had in my mid to late teens, kind of all still friends now, kind of all advanced together into the off road world related to full wheel drive stuff.
[00:10:21.640] - Big Rich Klein
So if you guys were friends at that age, I'm assuming that you went to school together.
[00:10:29.970] - Alan Woodson
No. As a matter of fact, just one or two of my friends that I went to school with were included in that group. I got started young. I had a full time job from 16. I guess I might say about 15 and a half, 16 years old. I had a full time job. Most of my friends were two, three, four years older than me.
[00:10:55.600] - Big Rich Klein
[00:10:56.320] - Alan Woodson
And that's kind of how that.
[00:10:58.280] - Big Rich Klein
So you're saying Carl is an old man?
[00:11:01.190] - Alan Woodson
He's a bit older than me. Yeah. I wouldn't call him an old man, but if he's not listening, he's starting to look like an old man.
[00:11:11.150] - Big Rich Klein
And Scott Jones, I've met him because he had one of your buggies and or was spotting for you, correct?
[00:11:17.570] - Alan Woodson
Yeah. Scott spotted for me a couple of times. He goes all the way back. You know, it's funny. Scott bailed us out. Our whole group kind of went with me the first time I went and did my very first rock crawl up at competitive rock crawl at Paragrant. Remember that park up there that went up there for the very first car that I built to get into the unlimited class the day before? I was practicing on the comp course and just wasn't wearing my seat belt. Correct. And new car Blues. And ended up rolling the car and knocking myself out and breaking three ribs because I wasn't wearing my seatbelt correctly or the harness correctly. And Scott. And let's see. Do you remember Mark Smith too, right?
[00:12:04.410] - Big Rich Klein
[00:12:06.410] - Alan Woodson
Mark Smith was my Spider.
[00:12:17.490] - Big Rich Klein
No worries. This is why I edit everything.
[00:12:21.090] - Alan Woodson
Yeah. So Mark Smith and Scott, who just came to spectate, Scott got in as a spotter and drove the car because I was in so much pain from the broken ribs. I actually had one of the ribs that it broke and then overlapped itself. You know how they kind of pushed down out? Damn, it was rough. And so they had fun working with the car. And of course, Paragon has got some really awesome terrain up there.
[00:12:58.810] - Big Rich Klein
You built that car from scratch?
[00:13:01.030] - Alan Woodson
I did, yeah, I sure did. I built that car, actually. That first car that I put together, I bought a bear chassis from. Oh, man. What was his name? Grady. I can't remember. Grady offroad out west.
[00:13:16.090] - Big Rich Klein
[00:13:16.940] - Alan Woodson
Okay. Yeah. So I bought that car from him, or should I say a bear chassis.
[00:13:21.280] - Big Rich Klein
[00:13:21.690] - Alan Woodson
And then I built it out myself. And not that he builds an inferior product or anything, but I found a lot of things that weren't useful to me and figured out I need to learn how to build these things myself. That's awesome. Yeah.
[00:13:36.970] - Big Rich Klein
So let's backtrack. I got you going too soon. We'll get back to that chassis. You said you were working full time. What kind of job were you working?
[00:13:50.650] - Alan Woodson
Let's see. When I left school and started my first full time job, I think I was doing construction with a laborer on construction. I'm trying to remember the name of the contract, but it was a contractor. Local contractor hired me to do basic laborer stuff, and I did that for about a year. And then from there, actually, I went from there to a local, like, lumber Yard build Supply Company and started there doing, like, yard work where you load trucks for the day and to carry lumber out to job sites. And it's funny enough, one day I didn't have a driver's license right out of school. So one guy came up to me and asked me to get in a truck. One of the big trucks, I guess we call them boom trucks, the ones that pick the lumber up and set them on site, up on roofs and stuff. And I was like, I didn't dare tell them I don't have a driver's license. I didn't want to get fired or whatever. So I ended up taking the truck that day and doing this thing. And then it just kind of turned into, well, you did it yesterday, so you're doing it today.
[00:15:05.970] - Alan Woodson
And I wasn't able to keep that job much longer because that didn't work out. I should have just told them the truth.
[00:15:15.310] - Big Rich Klein
When you were working for the contractor, I'm assuming you're building houses and stuff like that.
[00:15:21.730] - Alan Woodson
Yeah, I was building well, I should say I was a part of the process of building we were doing, I guess, more or less my duties were keeping the job site organized, picking up material and gophering, yeah, that's it exactly what it is. Basic labor is what I call it. And then towards the end of working at that, I was doing light framing and learning how to, I guess the best way to say I wasn't a frame or anything, I was just more filling in for help with different people as they needed it, the different crews. And so I got to do everything from framing to putting roofs on, putting siding on, just basic all of it. I was working for the contractor, so I wasn't working for the sub contractor, okay? I just did whatever the guy who ran the job wanted to do. So anything that came in, he wanted to speed it up. And me and a few other guys were the ones that were on site, make sure that those things would happen at a rapid pace.
[00:16:28.880] - Big Rich Klein
So out in that area, did the guys pounding the nails, they'd send you for something they needed? Did they ever mess with you guys?
[00:16:38.050] - Alan Woodson
Oh, man, it seems like a daily hazing. Yeah.
[00:16:42.200] - Big Rich Klein
Because I can remember as a contractor, I was on site one day and I was out there for talking to my Foreman for probably an hour. And I said, So what's the new kid doing? He's running around in the stock trailer. And he goes, oh, he's looking for a box of toenails. I went, Jesus Christ, that's my money he's making for digging around in the trailer. Get him out of there.
[00:17:09.110] - Alan Woodson
Well, I definitely remember a lot of that going on, especially like some of the outhouse shenanigans.
[00:17:15.730] - Big Rich Klein
[00:17:17.330] - Alan Woodson
So I don't recall some of the things that were done, but I'm certain that as the other new guys behind me came through, I'm certainly passed the torch to them as well.
[00:17:26.960] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, it was board stretchers and toenails.
[00:17:30.410] - Alan Woodson
Yeah. Sky hooks and board stretchers. Yeah, absolutely.
[00:17:34.910] - Big Rich Klein
So then you're working at the lumberyard, you're driving the boom truck for deliveries. Did you tell them or did they find out you didn't have a driver's license?
[00:17:49.190] - Alan Woodson
I don't know. I'd probably end up doing that for like six months, off and on. Yeah, it's bad, really. You don't have a driver's license. You're driving these CDL trucks. Anyway, so the owner of the company came down to see me one day. My main duty was I was supposed to keep track of managing the yard. Who comes in and out of it and verifying what they're picking up is on it. I forget what they call that. Maybe it's called a gate guard or something like that. So that's what I did in the meantime and then just filled in otherwise when I needed. So the owner of the company come down and say, hey, we don't have a copy of your driving record on file. Maybe we should have that. I need that for insurance stuff and whatever. I said, yeah, no problem. I'll go get that for you. And a couple of days goes by. Of course I can't do it. And I'm thinking I'm probably going to be in trouble. And I didn't get fired from there. I kind of just gracefully said, I'm going to put my two weeks notice in. And then I didn't show up the next day type of thing and got lucky.
[00:18:51.590] - Alan Woodson
I had a guy that had been talking to me about getting into electrical work or helping with those electrical business. So I went right from that job right to the next. So it all seems like it was meant to be. So are they supposed to flow this way? That's when I started doing electrical and learning some trades. That was a fault.
[00:19:13.190] - Big Rich Klein
When did you get your driver's license?
[00:19:14.880] - Alan Woodson
Finally, you know, I think I didn't get my driver's license until I was 18. It's funny. Up until that point, I probably own ten cars vehicles, and I'm kind of ashamed of it now, thinking about paying it out loud, but I drove several years with no driver's license. Full disclosure, I did something to deserve the ability not to have my privileges.
[00:19:40.250] - Big Rich Klein
Okay, understood. We won't get into that. Bad boys. Bad boys. What are you going to do?
[00:19:48.330] - Alan Woodson
It was an innocent mistake. Nothing funny. I'll tell you about it. It is kind of funny. Okay, so one of my cousins and I, when my parents were out of town, thought it was a great idea to hang out all day and do things that kids do when they're unsupervised experiment with alcohol and stuff. And then we got kind of distracted and forgot that we had responsibilities. We are supposed to take some keys and drop them off at his place of work. And that evening, things should be normal. But we're still making bad decisions. We jump on Mopad and we were going down a one way street the wrong way, speeding while doubled up on one of those, and we've got in trouble. And that led me to having to explain that to my dad. That was a pretty colorful moment. And of course, I got a summons to court, and the judge thought it would be best if somebody with that colorful of. What would you call that infractions from that event? Maybe they shouldn't have their driver's license for a while.
[00:21:07.650] - Big Rich Klein
That kind of sucks for driving a Moped backwards. Come on.
[00:21:12.100] - Alan Woodson
Yeah, they said I was driving one way street the wrong way, speeding, doubled up. You only supposed to have one vehicle or one person on the vehicle. And I was technically underage. I wasn't a driving age for one of those on the streets.
[00:21:23.440] - Big Rich Klein
Okay, but you didn't get Duced?
[00:21:27.450] - Alan Woodson
No, I just got tagged so I couldn't get my license. I was 18.
[00:21:33.810] - Big Rich Klein
That's not too bad.
[00:21:35.670] - Alan Woodson
No, not really. Just doing kid stuff and making silly decisions.
[00:21:39.390] - Big Rich Klein
It wasn't like you were the getaway driver in an armed robbery or something.
[00:21:43.110] - Alan Woodson
No, that came much later on.
[00:21:45.140] - Big Rich Klein
There you go. So what was the first car you had?
[00:21:50.250] - Alan Woodson
Man, the first car I had was a Honda CRX.
[00:21:53.130] - Big Rich Klein
[00:21:54.930] - Alan Woodson
I hated it.
[00:21:56.970] - Big Rich Klein
Did you push it beyond its capabilities?
[00:22:03.250] - Alan Woodson
No. I drove it for a few weeks and decided it was gross and I needed a four wheel drive. Ended up buying my first Jeep. I bought a CJ Seven from Carl Shortridge, actually.
[00:22:19.600] - Big Rich Klein
[00:22:21.250] - Alan Woodson
Cj Seven was my first full wheel drive, and I drove it to work just about every day again, Unfortunately, I guess we already covered that.
[00:22:33.130] - Big Rich Klein
So how long did you have that? Is it something that you wish you had?
[00:22:36.950] - Alan Woodson
Now that CJ Seven was a huge piece of jump, and I'm probably going to hurt his feelings because it was real sentimental to him. But I spent more time working on it than it ran again. I drove it every day, but I was always working on it. It's just one of those Jeep projects. If you ever come across one, you know exactly what I'm talking about. Oh, yeah. They don't move until you rub on them for 1520 minutes every day. And you're buying at least a couple of $100 for the parks every few weeks.
[00:23:09.070] - Big Rich Klein
Isn't that every Jeep project anymore?
[00:23:12.250] - Alan Woodson
You know, I got lucky. I did come across a few Jeeps that were a lot more reliable than that. But that first one, maybe it's because I was young and money was hard to come by. It felt so painful. But that particular one, I remember being a huge headache. But then the few after that had a good relationship with excellent.
[00:23:32.590] - Big Rich Klein
And did you ever get into the full size, like, square box Chevy or anything.
[00:23:38.650] - Alan Woodson
Oh, man, did I. So I would say by the time I was 18, I should say when I was 18 or so, I ended up buying my first square body. I had an 87. What do they call it? A customer lock. Which meant no AC, no radio, just eight foot bed.
[00:24:00.690] - Big Rich Klein
Two door truck, vinyl and plastic.
[00:24:03.730] - Alan Woodson
That's it, man. As a manual force feed with a granny gear. I call it the low first gear. And I love that truck. It has a 305 in it when I bought it, which has no power, no gut.
[00:24:21.470] - Big Rich Klein
[00:24:21.940] - Alan Woodson
And I drove it from. I don't know. I'd just be guessing 40, 50,000 miles like that until it was just wore out. And it was already high mileage when I bought it. But I built my first engine in my kitchen. My first house I bought. I bought my first house at 18 years.
[00:24:42.180] - Big Rich Klein
Your parents allowed that?
[00:24:43.970] - Alan Woodson
No, I bought my first house 1718 years old, and my shed was too damp. And so when I got my engine blocked back from the machine shop, it was starting to flash rough. I said, no, I can't do that. I put it on the kitchen table and built my first small block 350 and put it in that truck. And that's when I started learning about gear ratios. It was forced upon me. I put an engine in there that should have been creating about four or 500 HP. And it had even less. Well, I shouldn't say even less. It was barely a marginal bump in noticeable Haines over the 305. And I just couldn't figure it out why it was like that. And then I often talk to people that said, well, what are you getting for fuel mileage with your truck? And that truck with the 305 was amazing. It would average maybe 22 miles a gallon, which is unheard of with a truck with 35 on it. And we checked the gear ratio. A friend of record. Hey, man, maybe the gear ratio is something you should look at. And I had never, ever seen one before or sent that thing had a 273 ring gear in it.
[00:25:58.370] - Alan Woodson
Wow. Can you imagine that? Yeah. I don't know how that happened, but the truck was all original other than what I did to it. So we swapped the gears out in it. Well, big difference. That's why I learned the value of gear ratio, of understanding that.
[00:26:16.960] - Big Rich Klein
So what gears did you go to? Do you remember?
[00:26:19.990] - Alan Woodson
Surprisingly, yeah. Looking back now, it wasn't huge. We went with 410.
[00:26:28.260] - Big Rich Klein
[00:26:28.690] - Alan Woodson
Which was pretty run of the mill stuff. Or Chevy stuff back then, right? 410, 411, whatever. And that made a big difference.
[00:26:36.050] - Big Rich Klein
And what size tires were you running?
[00:26:39.290] - Alan Woodson
By the time I sold that truck, we had 38 on it. But when I was doing the gear swap, we had 35 on it. Okay. We love to burn tires up as I drove it to work every day. And you got these super swappers on there, and you're burning them up like when you're smiling about it. Young and dumb.
[00:26:58.790] - Big Rich Klein
So you're a typical East Coaster running Intercos.
[00:27:04.010] - Alan Woodson
[00:27:05.040] - Big Rich Klein
Those huge tires.
[00:27:07.430] - Alan Woodson
I was poor, too. So they're bias ply.
[00:27:10.020] - Big Rich Klein
Bias ply. So they were square blocks of rubber in the winter.
[00:27:16.370] - Alan Woodson
Yeah. Any kind of rust in the road, you better be ready to yank that through left and right.
[00:27:24.390] - Big Rich Klein
So what kind of modifications did you do to that 87?
[00:27:30.370] - Alan Woodson
That poor girl got everything you can imagine. I think by the time I was done lifting that truck, which was big for me, I know a lot of other people. Keep in mind, I'm driving to work every day. I think it had eight inches of lift. Of course, we had headers going back to Flowmasters and pretty much minimal exhaust from there. Pretty loud and obnoxious. I told you I built a motor to put in there. High performance clutch. Because I never drove it like a sensible person would. I couldn't tell you how many set the tires I went through on it. Quite a few. Swap the wheels on it. Like people swap their shoes.
[00:28:16.520] - Big Rich Klein
[00:28:17.130] - Alan Woodson
Just always have a different look. Yeah, I really do. A lot. That truck was fire engine red. Just real bright red. Never really was in love with it, but I kind of missed that. That's one of my top favorite trucks. That particular first square body I had.
[00:28:32.330] - Big Rich Klein
I can understand that. I had an 86 Chevy, one ton short bed, four speed that. I just absolutely loved that truck. It probably helped that it had 49 or colors. It was red and gold. When you were in school, you said you got out, like at 16 or so.
[00:28:59.430] - Alan Woodson
[00:29:00.220] - Big Rich Klein
You didn't play sports then you were probably doing your own thing.
[00:29:04.470] - Alan Woodson
Yeah, I was playing sport. Football was the only thing I was into. Kind of went through that phase, kind of short. I didn't get to play football a whole lot before I moved on, but I did football. I was actually doing really well in school. I was doing honorable most of the time. Stay pretty busy.
[00:29:32.930] - Big Rich Klein
And you just made that decision. It was time to go to work?
[00:29:37.070] - Alan Woodson
No, I think I mentioned I got in some trouble.
[00:29:40.080] - Big Rich Klein
[00:29:42.510] - Alan Woodson
I got in some trouble with some cool things. And I don't remember how one thing led to the other, but they felt I was a little too mature for school. I should move on. So I did that. I took their advice and got my diploma and moved on and started my life.
[00:30:04.730] - Big Rich Klein
Okay, fair enough. So then you're working at the lumber yard and then an electrician. How long were you working for the electrician?
[00:30:18.930] - Alan Woodson
That was the start of a pretty long career. I definitely learned a lot from that first guy. He was a good friend. The company that I worked for was a small company. They did electrical work, heating and air, and I learned how to install heating and cooling equipment at just a helper level, if you will, from there, but enough to see that I was interested in it. So moved on to a few other places I work. I learned more, and I ended up going back to trade school and got my, I guess, what do they call it? Apprenticeship program. All the way to the Masters and electrical, heating and air, mechanical, plumbing and gosh. I ended up working in that field or career for 25 years or somewhere between 2025 years. I wouldn't say I always did that in the early years of electrical work. That was probably a four or five year process, learning everything I wanted to learn about a career. And I didn't really choose it. It chose me. So I just tend to try to excel at whatever is in front of me. And so in that process, one of my favorite jobs I had was sign work.
[00:31:46.770] - Alan Woodson
I actually did electrical maintenance and repair and installed. And then it moved to manufacturing, which is where I learned a little bit about fabricating. We used to build signs and install them, travel around all around the Virginia area, working on high rise signs, storefront signs, neon signs, fluorescent signs, and that was probably one of them.
[00:32:12.870] - Big Rich Klein
So a lot of sheet metal.
[00:32:14.990] - Alan Woodson
Yeah, a lot of sheet metal work. Framework, tag welding, Meg welding, aluminum. We ran a CNC machine, cut our own, I guess we call them letter backing, the traditional signs you see on a storefront when they're individual neon signs, we would make each letter and form and fit them, have a neon glass made. Fit them with that Transformers. It was really fun. I enjoyed that. That company ran into some trouble and I moved on. Actually ended up doing something real short that was interesting with well drilling. I ended up doing working for an EPA contractor well drilling company. They do monitoring Wells for groundwater at different places. The most popular one was gas stations monitoring gas leaks. That's when I learned a lot of sketchy stuff goes on at gas stations and how much they're allowed to leak before there are problems. Yeah, I did that for about, I'll just say a short term. And we also drilled well water for residential, commercial drinking water. What else did I do after that? That was probably the most horrible job I learned a lot, but it was just a terrible job.
[00:33:41.490] - Big Rich Klein
Why was that? Was it because of the style of work or just something you really weren't that interested in?
[00:33:47.910] - Alan Woodson
Well, I definitely wasn't interested in it, but anything mechanical with engines or welding. I was also keeping the equipment running and stuff. Just in general, any kind of well drilling period is pretty rough work. It's pretty intense. You usually don't work at a slow pace. If you're wide open and drilling 4500 foot is nothing like drilling the thousands of feet they do with oil rig. But it's still similar process, so it's pretty labor intensive and I don't mind it, but it was just hard work, dirty work, and wasn't my thing.
[00:34:32.180] - Big Rich Klein
Right. What came after the Weld ruling.
[00:34:36.630] - Alan Woodson
I went back into that electrical and heating and air career. Ended up that's when I didn't leave it no more for a long time and advanced pretty far somewhere in there. I started going to work for a company where I was supervising and running ten and eleven crews and divided up into HVAC, electrical, plumbing and mechanical stuff as well. For commercial, mostly residential. That was a fun job. I was a family owned business. We have a good relationship with them, but ultimately, in the meantime, I was also doing this off road stuff behind the scenes and working full time during the week. For me, I was averaging 40 to 60 hours a week there. And then also when I wasn't doing that, I was working in my own shop at home, building these offered cars and figuring things out and competing. Everything was kind of going on all at once.
[00:35:42.600] - Big Rich Klein
And at that point were you calling it access Fab?
[00:35:46.450] - Alan Woodson
You know, it's funny, I didn't call it anything for the longest time. I was just doing what I needed to do to keep competitive and advanced to get to the next hardest obstacle and ultimately competing, which I guess you have experience. That's why I met you. We went straight into the unlimited class and was running as competitive as we could. So I think then there was no name. It was just me. And some of my friends would have me do mods for them and some other people along the way build things for them. I don't think I turned it into access fabrication until Gosh. It was probably in 2008 or 2010 when I start the access fabrication and built a few cars built John Born a car, the race Ultra four. That's about the time it started getting into branding territory. They were trying to brand everything, right.
[00:36:55.050] - Big Rich Klein
The times that you guys spent younger with Carl and Scott and some of the others were obviously four wheeling at that point as well. That was your like interest.
[00:37:11.250] - Alan Woodson
It seemed like that was the number one connection between us Besides Scott Jones and Paul Shortridge and Kenny Stacker and man, the list is we all just kind of always found ourselves in full wheel drive, doing full drive stuff or hanging out as a family. We're close, much like family would be, and eating dinner together, going out all the time. It was a pretty tight relationship growing up.
[00:37:45.490] - Big Rich Klein
Do you remember the date or the approximate year of that new rock event up at Paragon?
[00:37:56.230] - Alan Woodson
I would say that was 2023 maybe. Yeah.
[00:38:01.760] - Big Rich Klein
I think their first event was 2003.
[00:38:05.170] - Alan Woodson
Yes, we got started towards the end. So I would say end of a year or fall when we finally got that new car, first car, if you will, ready to go. So maybe it's into three.
[00:38:23.320] - Big Rich Klein
Okay. And at that time, that's what Charlie was kind of like, the big dog. Is that correct, Charlie?
[00:38:36.230] - Alan Woodson
I don't even know who you're talking about.
[00:38:40.710] - Big Rich Klein
So from competing at Paragon and having that Grady chassis, where else did you compete at?
[00:38:51.990] - Alan Woodson
Wait a minute. I think you're talking about that short New Yorker. I think I know who you're talking about now.
[00:38:59.840] - Big Rich Klein
The guy that can't stop talking.
[00:39:03.270] - Alan Woodson
Yeah. Basically, you say Hi and he gets dehydrated talking to you.
[00:39:09.990] - Big Rich Klein
You only get to talk when he passes out from Dehydration.
[00:39:13.830] - Alan Woodson
Let me tell you about how I met Charlie. Would you like to hear about that?
[00:39:16.490] - Big Rich Klein
[00:39:18.270] - Alan Woodson
So you remember at the Paragon, what was that? You had to go down a couple of access to get to some hotels. And my first time going up there, I had an 87 Toyota Four Runner with bloggers on it and otherwise fairly installed, axle swapped and the run of the mill Toyota Four Runner. And I was in the parking lot, 600 in the morning, getting ready to head over to Paragon and discovered my truck was leaking oil coming, 99 coming. That's what it was. And it was my baby back then. Diesel trucks still are extremely expensive. Something's wrong? You get scared, right?
[00:40:03.240] - Alan Woodson
And so I'm in the parking lot looking at this oil drip, one on the ground. It's about the size of. I don't know, about the size of a melon in diameter. And that's a lot of oil to me. I'm scared, right. And he comes over walking across the parking lot, sees me on the ground. What are you doing? I said, man, there's oil leaking out of my truck, trying to figure out coming from. And he notices I got the off road truck on the trailer. Where are you going? I said, man, we're going to the park called Paragon. Never been there before or whatever. So he's looking at the oil on the ground. Oh, man, that's not a big deal. Just get the truck started up, head on over and have some fun. Don't worry about trucks. Old diesel is legal. Don't worry about it. Okay. So he disappears into the darkness, and I just didn't think nothing of it. Later, halfway through that day, I'm over on a trail, me and a couple of buddies having a good old time with their dual cases going really slow. And he comes with two chassis monstrosity thing that I don't know, I think he built it himself or something.
[00:41:06.700] - Alan Woodson
But either way, it was pretty cool to me. I've never been around one of those before. And Lo and behold, there's the same guy Charlie met in the parking lot. And he's like, hey, you want to go wheeling with us down some of these trails? I didn't think that through. At the time, I realized I became his support truck. And we ended up wheeling together the whole weekend. Basically destroyed my forerunner. It was no longer. I think we burned the clutch out of it that evening. Had put a clutch in the parking lot, went back for it the next day. Still trying to keep pace with these guys and these built tube chassis and stuff, and burnt the clutch out again. And I think that was the last time I took that vehicle anywhere. I think that's when I realized I needed to be doing something. I was really attracted to the hardcore stuff, and that's how I met Charlie. Listen to him all day. And Charlie is actually a really nice guy. Very helpful, really a good advocate for off road community. I think as I look back, he really makes sure everybody's a part of the experience.
[00:42:15.010] - Alan Woodson
As much as he talks about that big bravado attitude, whatever you want to call it, he's a real good guy.
[00:42:21.150] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, he was pretty instrumental in the first new Rock event. It was myself and Bob Rogey went out there to help the Kyles put that event on and kind of show them the ropes. And the competitors all thought that we were just trying to make them look foolish. And that we had set up courses that were completely undoable and that we were. And we were telling them, no, these are the kind of courses that you'll see out west. In fact, probably not as tough as we do out west. And they were not happy with it. Vic Carroll from Advanced Adapter had talked to somebody that night in the restaurant there at that exit that you were talking about one of the hotels. And a couple of the guys were like, yeah, those guys are just trying to destroy our rigs and stuff. And Vic told them, no, this is how the courses are set back west, too. And so I had a driver's meeting again on Sunday, which I rarely ever do. But I had to explain to everybody that we weren't trying to damage them. We're just trying to give them the experience. And Charlie spoke up and said, you guys need to quit bitching.
[00:43:42.790] - Big Rich Klein
You just need to get out there and wheel. This is stuff that they do all the time. And everybody got the hang of it after that. The second day was much smoother than the first, but it was pretty brutal the first day.
[00:43:56.170] - Alan Woodson
Yeah, I definitely remember the learning curve. And maybe that's what these guys were experiencing. You can go drive these trails all you want to. And you can say that you ran an obstacle a certain way and you completed it just as good as the next guy behind you, the whole thing. But the moment you set cone and you have to go a very specific way or else everything changes. And that's probably what sets a lot of people apart in both a frustrated category and the ones who are really rise to the challenge and figure out how to become a better driver. Stay in between those cones. And I don't know, that's kind of my take on it. I can see how those guys would get upset and figure out how to take it easy, line around something versus no, you got to stay right here. Learn how to drive between these cars.
[00:44:42.640] - Big Rich Klein
Exactly. Yeah. I think that the competitive scene really did for the ability of a lot of drivers out there, not only just the technology and the vehicles themselves, because look at what you guys are all building now compared to what was being built back then, but also being able to look at the terrain and then realize figuring out a way to get through there. Because I know that a lot of people have told me when they first come out to an event and they look at the cones even in areas that they've wheeled before, and they may have competed before, but they look at it and like, what are you doing? Are you on drugs or something? How did you come up with that? It's a little different, like out at Rush, where everything is concrete and you're pretty limited on what you can you can't really have anything you haven't done before. You just got to tie them together differently, basically.
[00:45:45.850] - Alan Woodson
Well, that's a really interesting way to point out the difference between man made courses and natural courses. Man made, the concrete courses that they have up there are super. I mean, it's great. I think someone and all my experiences there have been great. I like the traction, I like the lap attraction, occasionally the seat inclines and off camera stuff. But nothing compares to having a comp on natural terrain, especially the East Coast terrain that you might find reminiscent of Paragon and some of the other trails that we had access to up there. Rouse Creek, their comp course is awesome. It's really hard to raise the bar for what these cars can do until you get on some of the natural terrain that we.
[00:46:35.210] - Big Rich Klein
Agree. While the concrete courses are typically easier for us to set up and deal with recovery and all that kind of stuff, because you have the access, you don't pick, and it's not in an area where you can't get to a car. I still prefer the natural courses over the manmade myself. We try to avoid the manmade now.
[00:47:01.890] - Alan Woodson
Yeah. I definitely have an appreciation for the concrete, having lived that evolution. I feel like when I was still figuring it out that Rouse Creek was instrumental to just figuring out angles and really dialing the car in. So I still think that Rouse Creek, the comp course and other concrete courses are very useful for tuning a card, someone who just built a car and you need to work it out in short order close to the trailer. I love actually going. That's my go to place for getting those things sorted out. But man, nothing compares to getting out there and on the natural rocks and figuring it out, especially New Haines. We really like breaking new trails, too, finding some big gnarly stuff to run.
[00:47:48.860] - Big Rich Klein
Right. And it appears that there's more stuff becoming available to the guys out east. There's more private property owners that are finally figuring it out that they have the property. They might as well have it open.
[00:48:07.590] - Alan Woodson
That's funny. The difference, being able to experience the West Coast, anything from when I say West Coast, anything west of Tennessee, just a different mentality. And off road in general, it's a way of life. It's more access, there's more state parks, there's more things that allow offroading, whereas the denser you get into the East Coast, it just seems like it's frowned upon and restricted heavily. So it's harder on the East Coast, at least in our close proxy the places we run.
[00:48:43.290] - Big Rich Klein
No, I agree 100%. I typically think that once you get out of Colorado and New Mexico, you're hitting much more restricted areas.
[00:48:59.650] - Alan Woodson
[00:49:00.290] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah. You're finding less open lands.
[00:49:08.270] - Alan Woodson
[00:49:09.010] - Big Rich Klein
So it's people having to build those parks on the West Coast. If you take the west of the Rockies, everything is there's open. Ohv, areas that are controlled by Bureau of Land Management, like what we have up in Rangely, Colorado, or down at the Hammers or the state parks in California. There's all sorts of those areas west of the Rockies and east of the Rockies, that stuff definitely disappears. And we're all on private property where somebody's talked their friend and some rancher dude or something like that that says, hey, you got this Canyon, you got this set. We rock back here. That no good for running cattle on or doing anything with let us go wheel it. And then eventually it turns into a park. And it's really fortunate that people are okay with that.
[00:50:09.230] - Alan Woodson
Yeah. I remember my first time out to the Hammers and actually I went out there the first time with my buddy Jeff Stopper. Not sure if you remember him. He's been to a few events with us. But Jeff is a six foot, 350 pound, extremely enthusiastic guy. And we went out to the Hammers one time and we were running trails and we're used to like everything. These trees, these trees kind of tell you where the trail or where the trail exists. And the Hammers, with a few people out there, it's hard to know where the good stuff is. But we were like, as soon as you got off the trailer, it's like good stuff here, good stuff there. We were running what we thought with the trail. Guys come over and say, listen, man, there's actually a trail right here that you need to try. Anyway. That's when we learned about the maps and knowing the area and all these amazing rock trails out there at the Hammers. Yeah.
[00:51:07.180] - Big Rich Klein
I mean, you're talking 180,000 acres or something like that out there.
[00:51:11.690] - Alan Woodson
[00:51:12.330] - Big Rich Klein
It's easy to get lost out there.
[00:51:14.690] - Alan Woodson
I love it. I got a top five places in the country that I like to wheel, and the Hammers is one of my favorite. I guess my second favorite, actually. You know what my first favorite would be? Sand Hollow Off Road Park. That place is pretty awesome. Hurricane.
[00:51:35.310] - Big Rich Klein
[00:51:36.770] - Alan Woodson
I love it there. And then all the others, Moab and the Hammers. When you had that event at Mason, Texas, I kind of fell in love with that place. I haven't been back for recreational wheel yet, but that place is pretty awesome.
[00:51:49.740] - Big Rich Klein
Well, you ought to come at the end of March.
[00:51:53.630] - Alan Woodson
I'm going to try. I'm going to try to get back. I'm still rebuilding and getting things in order, but I'm really hoping that one day I'll be able to do the theme like I used to.
[00:52:03.650] - Big Rich Klein
So you're saying that your favorite places, it sounded like most of them were West Coast.
[00:52:12.710] - Alan Woodson
[00:52:13.110] - Big Rich Klein
Is that because it's just the vastness? Because most of the places that we compete or we wheel out here, they're just vast. They're huge, right.
[00:52:22.900] - Alan Woodson
Well, I think the focus could be put on that for sure. When I was younger, I remember everybody always debating traction of diverse the difference between East Coast and West Coast. Always had this thing I needed to sort out. Let's go see what this attraction is like. And Lo and behold, it's not as cut and dry as people say it is. It's not a ton of attraction out west. It's just every terrain is different. And I think I like Hurricane so much because it's just beautiful out there. And the vastness is definitely awesome. The people there are great. And then The Hammers also. Yeah. So you got some merit there. There's definitely some merit there. I like the East Coast. And in my top five, I think Paragon, what used to be Paragon is a pretty awesome place. Roche Creek. And then there's a few places down like in Kentucky. That's awesome. You got the wind rock, right, man. My mind just went blank on some of the others. But you remember Telco? Teleco was a lot of fun. I don't know if you can still get access to that, but lots of places we don't have access to anymore.
[00:53:39.440] - Alan Woodson
I don't remember. I haven't been to Teleco in a while. I think I heard they shut that place down.
[00:53:43.360] - Big Rich Klein
They did. They used the pretense that it was harming the fish population because of the runoff and everything erosion down into the Rivers.
[00:53:57.960] - Alan Woodson
Yeah. I was just trying to think there was another park. Harland's. A good one. I remember racing there, too, as well as doing some rock crawling. There's some ultra force out there.
[00:54:08.870] - Big Rich Klein
I'll be in Harlem here in middle of March, less than just a couple of weeks.
[00:54:13.840] - Alan Woodson
Away. Yeah, that place is. I like Harley. That's really a steep mountain, though. Lots of really steep, muddy trails.
[00:54:24.470] - Big Rich Klein
Well, it'll be my first time there.
[00:54:28.250] - Alan Woodson
You'll love it.
[00:54:30.590] - Big Rich Klein
I hate mud.
[00:54:32.690] - Alan Woodson
What do you remember? What's that event you had us out to in Tennessee started with an S. I think you only went there once many years ago, Clotchy. Yeah, man, that was just a real shit show.
[00:54:45.650] - Big Rich Klein
Brand new location. We just cut all the trees. That was all exposed soils for the first time. And it rained like nine inches on Friday night. We were winching cars. Cars were having to winch to get to the start gates.
[00:55:05.070] - Alan Woodson
Yeah, I remember that. I was in the Moon Buggy winching myself up the access trail for the first course. It was great. I had a great time.
[00:55:14.010] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, I'm sure you did like everybody else. Are you ever going to go back to the Sakachi? No, probably not.
[00:55:22.530] - Alan Woodson
Good. Yeah, that one was pretty costly. Oh, man, it was terrible.
[00:55:29.710] - Big Rich Klein
And then we didn't have very many spectators show because it was so muddy.
[00:55:33.570] - Alan Woodson
[00:55:34.640] - Big Rich Klein
It was a mess.
[00:55:36.330] - Alan Woodson
Yeah, it was something. So the reason I point that out is Harlen. Kind of reminds me of that steep, muddy, slippery terrain like that. Even though they'll have developed trails, if there's any moisture over there, that place can be challenging, right?
[00:55:53.610] - Big Rich Klein
Well, I guess I'll find that out. Hopefully it's dry, right?
[00:55:57.710] - Alan Woodson
Yeah, it's fine, though. You'll like it.
[00:56:00.330] - Big Rich Klein
So let's talk about your buggy building. What are you doing now? Are you just doing access Fab or do you have another job that you do?
[00:56:12.870] - Alan Woodson
No, I'm definitely doing access Fab. And I'm in a rebuilding phase for the past, I don't know, three, four years. I originally started by doing what I loved, which was building and modifying and fabrication work. And that naturally went into the need for retail to build these cars. And you need to have accounts with advanced adapters, Fox, you name it, Warren or places to get winches from, I should say. And so I kind of started accruing all these places, some most with buy in to get the good prices. And that naturally led me to retail sales. And so started doing retail sales. Had several employees. Over the years, I figured out retail sales. It's hard to make a living in retail sales. The margins get tight. There's always somebody selling it cheaper. And I stopped putting the emphasis on building these cars because I was trying to make this retail and thing work and website work. I don't know. I think from 20, 13, 14, when I really ramped that up to about 17 and realizing it just didn't work for me. It wasn't something I was passionate about. So I was wearing myself then as a business owner, would we're modifying people's Jeeps and off road cars and stayed busy in the shop with that sort of project.
[00:57:51.640] - Alan Woodson
And you probably remember, I actually went cold on the competition scene for a long time, just trying to keep things focused when I went 100% into my previous career into this other one where I'm doing this full time. So there was a time where I realized I probably put too much investment into the low returns or low margins of retail sales. And I know there's some companies that do really well at it, but they probably have a much better recipe than I did. So that was a little destructive investing so much into that time frame. So it kind of took me back a little bit to why am I doing it? So I've gotten rid of all that when I got out of the commercial space that we were leasing, moved everything back to my own personal property. There's some other personal things going on behind the scenes that made that more difficult than it needed to be. So I'm just kind of in a rebuilding phase and focusing on what I want to do for the past three years. And what I want to do is get back to folks on how to build these cars, these unlimited cars and the like to go further and grow my knowledge and push the limits of what these cars can do.
[00:59:13.650] - Alan Woodson
And that's what I've been working on and while trying to develop my new property that I'm at about 5000 square foot. Some people call it a barndominium, but I live where I work now, so that's fine.
[00:59:31.110] - Big Rich Klein
Do you find that it allows you to have more time to work or is it at times where you just go, man, I just don't want to go out to the shop.
[00:59:42.750] - Alan Woodson
Well, that definitely has been a transition for quite a while. Being a single dad for quite a few years now and my daughter needing a lot of time, it's hard to find a balance between trying to get a business refocused in the right direction. And I think the people that build and break barriers in the off road world, it's a lot like an artist. They really need a lot of time, private time to get immersed in what they're doing and try different things and experience different for the experience to know how to apply it to these cars and the terrain that we work in. And so it's just kind of tough. So I'm getting some balance these days where on a limited budget, being able to get the resources and I should say equipment up and running and everything back like I used to have it. It's coming around. It's taken a lot longer than I wanted it to. In the meantime, I've had some really cool customers that seemingly patient at times and I hope they still are, but still doing some pretty cool projects here and there while having things moving a healthy, good direction as far as stability.
[01:01:03.330] - Alan Woodson
And I think the next year to two years is going to be well actually the past two years and the next three years, I think, is going to be going to be just spectacular.
[01:01:18.070] - Big Rich Klein
And your daughter seems to be doing well. I mean, I follow all of the competitors, the guys that have run in our series, as long as that's the greatest thing about social media, if you don't get caught up in all the politics and the religion and all the noise, but you get a chance to watch people that you know and like and love do their thing and grow and be able to survive. And I've been paying attention, even though we don't talk much on the phone, we only saw each other at comps and stuff. I keep an eye on you and shortage and guys like that. And it always makes me smile when I see you do things with the family and you're working on the building and having the help and spending time with your daughter. Yeah, that's important.
[01:02:17.870] - Alan Woodson
Olivia definitely taught me. I've learned a lot. I have one daughter. She's 16. And yeah, she's pretty busy in horses. And she's picked her career for the future against others, saying that it won't work for her. But she's into horses, as you know, and she's really trying to grow in that direction. She just got her driver's license and she's driving herself to school for the past three or four weeks now. Three weeks. I think that's pretty scary when you put them behind the wheel.
[01:02:53.030] - Big Rich Klein
[01:02:56.130] - Alan Woodson
She has to drive 40 minutes to school, 40 minutes home. And I'll tell you what, it was a long 40 minutes, but don't tell her I said so. I'm pretty nervous about it sometimes, so she's doing pretty good. Oh, man. I'm going to tell you what it becomes menacing how much that clock mocks you.
[01:03:18.270] - Big Rich Klein
So when she leaves in the morning, you know, when she's leaving, and then do you have her text me when you get to school?
[01:03:27.150] - Alan Woodson
That's right. Yeah. I get her to some mornings rarely, but some mornings I can't be here when she takes off. So she feeds the horse and animals and stuff, and then she takes off. Yeah. It's almost an instinctual thing, like, all right. I don't know about this much time. She should be on the road, and then she's really good at it, though. She hits it right on point. She texts me right away and lets me know. But if, you know, you know these kids, you can't let them know how much worrying you do. But we do.
[01:04:00.210] - Big Rich Klein
You better not let her hear this then.
[01:04:03.390] - Alan Woodson
Probably not. She knows better. She's pretty short.
[01:04:07.090] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah. So then the plans are to keep the access Fab going and getting are you? I know that you have a chassis that you the single seat chassis, the rear steer that you and David Book were driving. Is that your focus or are you doing?
[01:04:29.940] - Alan Woodson
Yeah, I think I definitely want to see that through. Fruition. It's pretty funny. Back in what 1314 Chelsea, Haines and I were talking about how the unlimited class is dead Promod is where it's at. And he's talking on the phone occasionally like he's telling me you should build a promise, you shouldn't build an unlimited car. And I was pretty busy running the business. So I was working on my own car in the evenings and on weekends building new memory. I think you laid it or dubbed the Unicorn when it came out. But that Volkswagen aircooled drag axle. And as soon as I brought that one out, you did away with the rear steer point, which was great.
[01:05:14.430] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, I remember that conversation too.
[01:05:17.610] - Alan Woodson
Yeah. I didn't come to that conversation with an open mind for the first five minutes. As usual, you did a great job of reminding me of my manner and it went pretty good from there. I think you've improved me wrong and complimented me at the same time. And Lo and behold, I'm pretty sure we went to beat everybody even with his point. So anyway, that car was something I started originally to try to drive more interest and help grow the sport on the East Coast and specifically in the Unlimited, because that's what I like. I started in the unlimited class competing and I just love it. There's been some bumps in the road over the years, but got another version of that car coming. It's been a little slower than we like, but it's another version coming. I got a couple of other cars coming. That Volkswagen car, I don't know if you remember, the engine gave us some trouble and towards the end there was becoming unreliable. But I still have a Volkswagen engine to put back together and I think my next car that I built for myself will have version 2.0 aircooled, Volkswagen rear steer, 50 degree.
[01:06:44.250] - Alan Woodson
I'm not sure about the what we call them axles. I think we're going to stick with the traditional axles for a bit longer.
[01:06:51.500] - Big Rich Klein
No high heels.
[01:06:53.010] - Alan Woodson
I was just thinking that's what it was. I think we were joking around about high heels once upon time. Yeah.
[01:06:57.820] - Big Rich Klein
Everybody on the West Coast is wearing high heels.
[01:07:01.290] - Alan Woodson
I might try on parole myself one day, but right now I think we're going to stick with what I've got sitting here on the current car. And then when I build a new one, I might consider doing that. I think they got an advantage in certain areas and disadvantage in others. But lots and lots of things, man, about having adversity in cars and different aspects. I think you put the right driver behind any car and they're successful, right? Correct. So I don't know that one design over the other is going to win the day. I think you got excellent drivers and strategists know how to be on top. There's a lot of great ones out there.
[01:07:49.850] - Big Rich Klein
Absolutely. The top drivers, once they've learned how to play chess against me because I think I look at the competition as a chess match. We got it with the board being the terrain and then me setting the courses and you guys driving them. And I never look at it as you know, I want to stop you guys. I want to challenge, challenge you guys, where you look at it and say, what was he thinking? We'll never be able to drive that. And then you guys figure it out.
[01:08:24.780] - Alan Woodson
It's funny you mentioned that. I think Dave, Brooke and I would have probably talked the most out of all of my friends. And I told him once upon a time when he was first getting his feet wet into the competition scene, I said, you're really not competing against these other guys. You really just need to master what's going on in the head of Rich Pine there and figure out what lines are doable. He knows it's terrains and he knows at some extent to what these cars can do and can't do. We got dummy lines and you got totally doable lines. You just got to figure out how to do it and use the rule book as the resource to stay within the parameters of what he's thinking. And it's funny to hear you say the same thing, what I said to him.
[01:09:14.140] - Big Rich Klein
Basically, yeah, that's how I look at it. And somebody goes, do you ever drive the courses? Well, no, but after doing this for 20 plus years of setting courses and watching the vehicles drive competition courses, I mean, back from when Arca started, it's a science as well as building the car as it is, setting proper courses.
[01:09:48.190] - Alan Woodson
That's exactly right. So you look at the perspective of a driver, he's going to know how to get in the car and understand exactly. And translate what it is. What you're seeing, like your perspective, is you wouldn't know how to get in the seat and do the same thing in this chess game as it were, not your Jeep or anything like that. But this chess game, you get into the geometry that's involved. Right. And the other things. And from your perspective, you're masterful by watching these cars go through and succeed or not succeed. So you would have a better advantage. That's my take over the years, you can see what's going on better than most from the outside, almost as if you were to take a driver and put them on their feet. They'll most likely say, I think that's doable you put them behind the wheel and they just they're going to make it happen, right?
[01:10:38.400] - Big Rich Klein
[01:10:38.790] - Alan Woodson
So I think it's just a matter of perspective. And your perspective is just as you described. You know how to do it from your feet and build these cars from your imagination based on experience. Right?
[01:10:49.900] - Big Rich Klein
Right. I'd be a much better spotter than a driver.
[01:10:52.900] - Alan Woodson
That's another way to put it, too. You know what, I tried spotting over the past few years, you might remember. And at first I don't know, I felt like, man, what the hell am I doing? I don't know what to do. Try turning left or something. Anyway, I figured it out. I like doing it. As a matter of fact, I might try to do more of it in the future. I don't know.
[01:11:12.910] - Big Rich Klein
I think if you know the vehicle and you know the tools and how to how to get the car to do certain things using those tools. And even though that I'm not a driver, I watch everybody use their tools. So I know when somebody is turning uphill with the rear steer and I look at it go, oh, that's the wrong direction. And then they get a Caddy whompus in there and can't move whether I can do it from the inside, but I can do it from the outside.
[01:11:44.710] - Alan Woodson
Yeah, it's funny. That's exactly what I'm saying. Sometimes as a driver, you get caught up on my wheels are turning that way. But I really want the car to go that way and trying to explain that from the outside as a driver to another driver and you're like, I don't know what to say. You got to use your field at this point. Yes. You need your tires that way, but the car needs to go that way. By turning this way, it's going to get it to happen. I think at least that's what I think from the driver's seat. But, you know, when it comes to communication, having a good connection. I think one of my struggles was having the ability to connect with spotters and listening to what they see and work with versus knowing what the car needs to get what they want. I'm going to tell you what spiders are the most undervalued, overlooked resource that's required to do what we've been doing on the previous formats, right?
[01:12:39.520] - Big Rich Klein
[01:12:39.860] - Alan Woodson
So these guys are you take like Mike Fox. Mike Fox started out rock calling with us in the beginning. He was, as you know, marathon runner and just otherwise, I got to just make stuff happen. And as it turns out, over the years, he turned into one of what I think is the premiere spotters out there. Just a couple of years ago, he was spotted for like four or five cars at the same time.
[01:13:08.300] - Big Rich Klein
Oh, I remember.
[01:13:09.810] - Alan Woodson
Yeah. I think he put two or three on the podium between the different classes. Don't quote me on that. I know out here on the east we were running some events and man, I will tell you what working with that guy was his is just phenomenal. Watching the way he works with you through the course and understands the respect that the car needs through the driver's perspective and gelling well with what he sees, stay on your strategy. Right. Because at the end of the day, if you're doing something against your strategy, just trying to make the card get from point A to point B. That just doesn't work. Haines down.
[01:13:50.480] - Big Rich Klein
You have to have flow. Because when I set the courses, first of all, I walk through everything and I look at the terrain and I say, okay, this area here is really cool. This area here is really cool. And I kind of group up those areas, and then I have to figure out how to get people to those areas and what order to do it in, and so that it becomes challenging. But also, sometimes it's really easy to get from gate one to gate two. But sometimes what I really prefer to do is to put the set of cones, like the gold post, and it's all about getting to those gold posts. Not necessarily getting through the gold post.
[01:14:36.070] - Alan Woodson
Exactly. I know that strategy well.
[01:14:38.750] - Big Rich Klein
So people look at those cones, they're always looking at the cones. How am I going to get through the cones? And they look at the cones, this will be easy. And then so they walk off to the next set, and they didn't realize that what I did to them to get to those cones is where they needed to study. And I'll watch people get through the first gate, and they're thinking, oh, I'm just going to drive over to get this easy set of cones. And then they're all boogered up there, and they're in there for six or seven minutes trying to get situated to where they can get through those easy codes. Yeah, it's quite enjoyable sometimes.
[01:15:15.170] - Alan Woodson
Yeah, definitely something I enjoy a lot.
[01:15:21.590] - Big Rich Klein
So you're hopefully going to come out pretty soon and start crawling with us again, I hope. I know that there's a comp scene on the East Coast that Hans is doing, and I congratulate him on being able to do that and keep it going. We see that a lot where people try to do it and, you know, after an event or a season, it kind of goes by the wayside. I'm hoping that he can continue that east and build it. I know that it's really difficult for one promoter to get to everywhere.
[01:16:06.930] - Alan Woodson
I think you're right. I think Hans has got a strategy that he's working on, and I think this particular year coming up will be instrumental, whether his strategy is viable or not. I think he's a great guy, very talented, very smart, very. I don't know if I know many people as enthusiastic and passionate about offroading the slides into the role, like trying to put these events on. So I'll applaud him for it. I think he's got a new format that he's working on for this year. Based on his experiences from the past few years, at least I've heard. I haven't talked to him in a while now, but some of the stuff I've heard is it should be pretty exciting to see some of the changes. One of the things I got to say is it's pretty disappointing seeing that we rock isn't as prevalent out here on the true east or Far East, I should say. But I think maybe as a sport grows, I got a question for you. You think you'll bring it back further or what?
[01:17:17.830] - Big Rich Klein
I think eventually that it will come that direction. We've brought Jake Good in as a partner and eventually he'll be taking it over completely and that's going to be his decision. We quit going that Far East because of the car counts.
[01:17:39.450] - Alan Woodson
Exactly. We've had that conversation for years now.
[01:17:42.360] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah. And I just couldn't make it work. And if I can't make it work, if I can't afford to make it work, I can't do it. I can't make everything else suffer to push through when we just weren't getting the participation.
[01:17:58.230] - Alan Woodson
That's exactly right. Any business got the same constraints.
[01:18:02.380] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah. And I hate that because I love you guys on the East Coast and I love a lot of the locations that we've used. I couldn't make it work financially to drive out there and do it all and then have that long drive back and not have enough cars show up to make it viable. So I'm hoping that Hans can build it out there and then maybe at some point that Hans and Jake can work it out where they're working in coordination and so that guys can either run one series or the other and then come to a National Championship. That's what I was hoping for at some point and scheduling has to work to make that work and hopefully something like that can all work in the future. I mean, kind of like how Super Crawl was to begin with. Stump was able to get all the promoters to say, okay, we'll back off of this going this late, as long as that's going to be Super Crawls date and we'll have all of our stuff done so that everybody can go to one big event at the end of the year. And that worked well, especially at the very beginning, at the end, once everybody was under one banner, so to say, except for maybe us, we still try to stay off the date and let them do that, but it has to work that way to make something like that work.
[01:19:39.970] - Alan Woodson
Yeah. It's funny you mentioned Super Crawl. I remember heading out to Phoenix, Arizona for my first Supercar event and was at six maybe when I did that one. What was it? Ranch Pratt owns that, didn't he?
[01:19:56.480] - Big Rich Klein
Yes. It started off with Craig Stump and then from Craig Stump it went to the payees and then Ranch Pratt came over. Craig Stump stepped aside and then Ranch stopped Arca and was running Euroc and URock. Was the super crawl competition at the end of the year?
[01:20:20.350] - Alan Woodson
Yeah, I remember that one in Phoenix was pretty fun.
[01:20:24.970] - Big Rich Klein
It was. It was a heck of a party at Campbell's one of those nights. Did you make it over there?
[01:20:30.270] - Alan Woodson
Oh, man. I'm going to tell you what that was a blast. Yes, that was a good time. I remember the monster energy drinks by the pallet.
[01:20:43.590] - Big Rich Klein
Yes. And then the girls behind the bar.
[01:20:48.370] - Alan Woodson
Yeah, there was that, too. Sure.
[01:20:53.090] - Big Rich Klein
And then they ended up. I don't know if you were there that late or not, but there ended up being a confrontation. Some guys were getting out of hand, and actually it was the Browns had to. And then Nick Campbell stepped in and straightened out the attitudes. It was pretty funny. It was pretty crazy.
[01:21:16.030] - Alan Woodson
Yeah, I don't remember. I remember there being some kind of extracurricular activities going on over in one area, but I think I was preoccupied with what I was working on. And yeah, it was a good night. I don't remember that specifically. I do remember some kind of commotion.
[01:21:34.830] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, there was a commotion. But those Browns, they were taking care of it, that's for sure.
[01:21:41.450] - Alan Woodson
I think that's the night we made a transaction on one of Shannon's cars we bought. Carl and I worked something out. But what became his car, the Wild Nut Express. That's the night or the party that we got that Campbell car.
[01:21:59.190] - Big Rich Klein
[01:22:00.470] - Alan Woodson
Yeah, I remember that.
[01:22:02.070] - Big Rich Klein
So there was some real good that came out of that.
[01:22:05.030] - Alan Woodson
Yeah, it was a lot. It was a tough weekend for me back home. My daughter was sick and in the emergency room for some kind of stomach virus or something. That was a pretty big deal. And so that was pretty disappointing. And I was getting ready to just drop everything Saturday night and fly home. And Carl flew out to hang out with us at the Supercar. And when he landed that morning, I said, man, my daughter is not feeling well and she's sick, and I might have to go home. Would you drive the car in the event? And he was considering it, and I'm glad he didn't. Everybody talked about finishing that event. But anyway, so that night, it was overwhelming to go back to the hotel and just sit there. Right. And so we ended up doing some other things. We went to that with a party with Saturday night, too, right?
[01:22:56.930] - Alan Woodson
So that distracted me. But she ended up being okay. But it's still nerve wracking, right. So he was willing to drop everything and forego his plane ticket and drive my rig home with Mark Smith. And I'll tell you what, he's a really good friend, and then he also with everybody else's, and she's in good hands. She'll be all right. And everything's looking good. And you should just stay in focus. And then the next morning, one of my uncles died. That was a real rough weekend. Mark and I, they got me to finish the weekend out. I think we slipped from, like, fourth place. We finished that weekend out in 6th place. Or maybe it was third place. And we finished it out in 6th. My head just wasn't in it on Sunday. But I remember the most memorable drive from out west to home was from that event. We literally drained every bit of weight we put off the trailer and I was giving stuff away to make it as light as possible and I was going to try to set the record going home not knowing. I'll say that after the fact. I just wanted to get home as quick as I could to make the funeral and see what's up with my daughter and make sure everything's okay.
[01:24:09.170] - Alan Woodson
We left out of Phoenix that night or that Sunday, right. Because we didn't make the shoot out. I think I forget what top place they were taking. We didn't make the shoot out or we were just dropped out. Maybe it wasn't 6th place. I don't remember what happened but maybe they took the top four or something.
[01:24:25.070] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah. I forget how they did that.
[01:24:28.010] - Alan Woodson
Yeah. We didn't make the shoot out like your format did. So I'm pretty sure we finished in 6th place as soon as we were done and we left out of there and went to Southern out of Phoenix. Right. Where you go down by what is that? You go down through ten, go by warehouse and man, that truck was running 80, I'm sorry. 90 to 95 all the way through the Southern route through Texas. And Mark was driving while I was sleeping and he kept that truck had straight exhausted so you couldn't let off the throttle without somebody being under dead sleep. Recognizing the exhaust tone change. Right. So I kept hearing him trying to slow down and one point in the middle of the night like two or. 03:00 and I looked him and I said, man, what do you keep slowing down for? He said, man, I can't do it no more. I can't do it no more. So it's like roulette every time we pass one of these turnouts where cops would be, man, I can't do it. And I think somewhere just in the beginning of Texas I got behind the wheel and never got back out of the seat other than for fuel.
[01:25:33.210] - Alan Woodson
And that truck stayed right under 95 miles an hour all the way home.
[01:25:37.090] - Big Rich Klein
[01:25:40.830] - Alan Woodson
I hate to say it but it was stressful and a quick trip home and I was very fortunate to make it just in time to jump in my best clothes and go to the funeral and check on my daughter as well. So that's what I really remember from that weekend. Supercall was great. It was a good experience but overshadowed by what we leave at home.
[01:26:06.870] - Big Rich Klein
Right. Especially when you're going that distance. That's a long way.
[01:26:12.570] - Alan Woodson
I think we got home from Phoenix to home was just over 30 hours, which I think it took us 36 37 before or is either just under which at the time I didn't care about the stats that came up later talking to somebody else. Well, how fast can you get from here to there? Well, I have to know. If you stop for nothing but fuel and you drive 90 to 95 miles an hour the whole way, this is as good as it gets.
[01:26:38.010] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, I made that trip.
[01:26:40.650] - Alan Woodson
Yeah. You know what? My daughter ended up that triggered an autoimmune deficiency which is pretty I learned a lot about it since then. But that sickness that she got on vicious stomach virus. They say a lot of people have this DNA or this gene that can be awakened by certain traumatic events or sicknesses. But she developed Celiac disease. From that point forward the rest of her life, she has to eat a very specific diet related to wheat free and gluten free. So it's pretty impactful weekend.
[01:27:19.510] - Big Rich Klein
Well, I'm glad it turned out okay and that you guys made it home safely and you're able to take care of business. Well, Alan, I want to say thank you so much for coming on board and sharing your life. I mean, we talked about a lot.
[01:27:39.420] - Alan Woodson
Yeah, well, thanks for having me. I enjoy talking to you as usual. I can keep on going if you wanted to, but we got work to do. I bet.
[01:27:45.240] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, we both do. I'm sure. So we can catch up again. I'm sure we miss each other and we'll discuss some more. And thank you so much for coming on board and sharing your stories with us and what's happening in your life. I appreciate it.
[01:28:04.610] - Alan Woodson
Thank you, sir.
[01:28:05.590] - Big Rich Klein
All right. Well, you take care.
[01:28:07.550] - Alan Woodson
Yes. Bye. Okay.
[01:28:08.600] - Big Rich Klein
[01:28:09.890] - Speaker 3
If you enjoy these podcasts, please give us a rating, share some feedback with us via Facebook or Instagram and share our link among your friends who might be like minded. Well, that brings this episode to an end.
[01:28:22.460] - Big Rich Klein
Hope you enjoyed it.
[01:28:23.430] - Speaker 3
We'll catch you next week with conversations with big Rich.
[01:28:26.580] - Big Rich Klein
Thank you very much.