Come Get Ya Some’s Duane Garretson lights up the podcast this week with some great stories. Learn how Duane got to be the ultimate competitor at WE Rock, Dirt Riot and Ultra4. Good man to know, with great friends.
3:56 – I gained a lot of independence just by having transportation
12:42 – I was really happy he was spending $6/hour when he could have been spending $3.15
18:10 – I was like, I need me one of these four wheel drives
24:33 – hey man, where’s the biggest salvage yard?
28:55 – how the hell are we going to do this with $2,500?
38:16 – wouldn’t it be funny if we put this blow-up doll in this Jeep and drive it from Arkansas to Tennessee?
50:04 – “I want to build you a race car.” That’s great man, but I’m poor as Sh*t
1:06:50 – Dan Fresh is standing there in his street clothes, what is he doing that we’re not doing?
1:16:50 – I’m Ricky Bobby from Talladega, Alabama!
Special thanks to 4low Magazine and Maxxis Tires for support and sponsorship of this podcast.
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[00:00:05.090] - Big Rich Klein
Welcome to conversations with Big Rich. This is an Interview style podcast. Those interviewed are all involved in the offroad industry. Being involved, like all of my guests are, is a lifestyle, not just a job. I talk to past, present, and future legends, as well as business owners, employees, media, and land use warriors. Men and women who have found their way into this exciting and addictive lifestyle we call offroad. We discuss their personal history, struggles, successes, and reboots. We dive into what drives them to stay active and offroad. We all hope to shed some light on how to find a path into this world that we live and love and call offroad.
Whether you're crawling the red rocks 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.
Have you seen 4Low Magazine yet? 4Low Magazine is a high quality, well written, four wheel drive focused magazine for the enthusiast market. If you still love the idea of a printed magazine, something to save and read at any time, 4Low is the magazine for you. 4Low cannot be found in stores, but you can have it delivered to your home or place of business. Visit 4lowmagazine.com to order your subscription today
[00:01:39.160] - Big Rich Klein
on today's episode of Conversations with Big Rich, I'll be talking with Duane Garretson. Duane, is a family man. He's an off road event promoter. He's actually a racer. He owns a shop owner. He's been around off road for a long time. We're going to dive into all of that. Duane, thank you for spending the time and coming on Conversations.
[00:02:05.820] - Duane Garretson
Yes, sir, absolutely. Very glad to have to be on the show. Thanks for asking me. Excited to get started.
[00:02:13.470] - Big Rich Klein
Okay, great. Let's do that. And I know that you live in Arkansas now. Is that where you were born and raised?
[00:02:20.640] - Duane Garretson
I was actually born in Omaha, Nebraska. Don't remember much. We moved from Omaha when I was three, so I've lived in Arkansas since I was three.
[00:02:30.250] - Big Rich Klein
Okay. All right, that's fair enough. And you've always been in that Fort Smith area?
[00:02:37.560] - Duane Garretson
Yeah, pretty much. When we first moved to Arkansas, we were probably about 35 miles north, and then we moved to Fort Smith, and then we moved about 15 miles back north again. And I've been in a little town called Alma since 1984.
[00:02:55.020] - Big Rich Klein
Okay. Been there quite a while.
[00:02:57.100] - Duane Garretson
[00:02:58.060] - Big Rich Klein
And the last time I was there, it's urban, but it has a rural feel to it. And I don't know if that's because the woods are so thick in that area. Is that a good description?
[00:03:13.120] - Duane Garretson
Yeah, I mean, the woods are really thick. They do some controlled burns and stuff to try to thin some of that stuff out, but it is pretty thick as far as when you get into the mountains. Fort Smith is probably the largest city, obviously, that the metropolis is surrounded around, so there's not a lot to do in Fort Smith as far as Offroading because it's pretty much just a city, but 20 minutes in almost any direction from Fort Smith and you're in some pretty good wheeling whether you're in Oklahoma or Arkansas.
[00:03:45.080] - Big Rich Klein
Okay, excellent. And what was it like growing up there? Was there always something to do or did you find life boring at first?
[00:03:56.320] - Duane Garretson
Well, I guess when I was a little kid, you always find stuff to do when you're little. But when I kind of moved into my preteen years, maybe when I was around ten, my parents were able to get me a moped. So I was able to ride my moped probably five or 6 miles from the house, like with their permission, and ten to 15 miles without their permission. So I guess I grew up pretty free spirited. I had that moped and it sounds crazy, but that just gave me a whole bunch of independence. My parents both worked six to six, seemed like six, seven days a week to try to make all the ends meet. So me having my own transportation as a young kid, I was able to drive to the Boy Scouts, or I was able to go to baseball practice, or when I got probably twelve, they let me ride it back and forth to school. So I gained a lot of independence just by having transportation, I feel like.
[00:04:55.300] - Big Rich Klein
Are you an only child?
[00:04:57.620] - Duane Garretson
No, I've actually got two older sisters. One that actually grew up in Omaha, half sister, and then my sister that I grew up with my whole life that lived here in Alma with me. Now she lives in Russellville, which is.
[00:05:10.940] - Big Rich Klein
Still pretty close, but being the youngest, how much older is your closest sister?
[00:05:19.240] - Duane Garretson
My closest sister is three years older than me. When I was a boy, I was a baby, I was the young one, so I probably got away with a little bit more than she did.
[00:05:30.060] - Big Rich Klein
The youngest always does, and if it's a boy, you get a little bit more independence, I think.
[00:05:37.200] - Duane Garretson
Yeah. I mean, I felt like my parents gave me a lot of leave room. They would let me do whatever I kind of wanted to do more. So then if I got in trouble, then they'd pull the leash a little tighter and they kind of let me learn from my own mistakes. So I felt like that really helped turn me into who I am.
[00:05:54.440] - Big Rich Klein
Excellent. So you mentioned playing baseball. Did you do a lot of sports as a youth?
[00:06:02.200] - Duane Garretson
When I was a young child, baseball was really about the only sport that I played as far as on the team. When I was little, we still had pretty much neighborhood gangs that ran around and played all summer together. And after school together we played kickball and soccer and baseball and football and stuff, but organized sports, I pretty much stuck to baseball until 7th grade. And then in 7th grade I signed up for the football team. First time I'd ever played football, and I kind of got hooked on that. In 7th grade, you basically enter what we considered the academy, which would be you play for the school that you go to versus the Little League format. So when I got in 7th grade, I played for the Alma Airdale Junior High football team and also signed up for the track team. And then baseball just kind of just fell off the plate. I started working in the summers when I was 13, so it was hard for me to play baseball and go to work. So I pretty much just focused on track and football all the way through high school.
[00:07:02.540] - Big Rich Klein
And what did you run in track?
[00:07:06.940] - Duane Garretson
In track, I don't know how, but I ran the 100, the 220, and then I would run the 440 relay. Every now and then they would let me do like the long jump or the shot put or whatever we needed an extra guy for. So I was pretty athletic as a young person, so I was pretty well rounded, did a lot of stuff in track in the football area, I was a running back and outside linebacker.
[00:07:30.080] - Big Rich Klein
Nice. Very good. And at what point did you go from the moped to something a little more substantial?
[00:07:45.240] - Duane Garretson
Well, I think I got the Moped around ten, and I actually got Yamaha 50 Special motorcycle when I was probably about twelve, so that was a lot faster bike. I can take it on the highways because it would do like 50 do 51 miles an hour wide open, and the Moped will only do like 28. So I was about twelve and I had that 50 Special. I'd worked all summer to buy it. My parents pitched in, some money helped me get it, and I actually rode that thing until I turned 16.
[00:08:14.600] - Big Rich Klein
Okay, and at 16 you jumped into a car or a truck?
[00:08:19.220] - Duane Garretson
Well, like I said, I started working when I was 13, so I just turned 14 and I wanted an old Chevy, so my dad found me a 68 Chevy truck and I'd been working, so I had some money saved up and for $1,100 we bought a 68 Chevy Stepside and it had a six cylinder. It needed some work, but when I was 14, I was reading Mini Trucking and Trucking magazine and all the hot stuff at that time, and I totally disassembled this truck and me and my dad totally put it back together in my front yard.
[00:08:54.880] - Big Rich Klein
Very good. And how long a project was that?
[00:09:02.720] - Duane Garretson
Well, actually I was really trying to get it ready by my 16th birthday, but at that point in my life, my dad was a truck driver, and I was just a stupid youth that didn't know much, so I kind of relied on him for everything. So I didn't really get to drive that truck until about three weeks after I turned 16.
[00:09:19.980] - Big Rich Klein
Oh, that's not too bad.
[00:09:21.450] - Duane Garretson
Yeah, but it was pretty close to mine. We did a good job.
[00:09:25.080] - Big Rich Klein
What were the jobs that you had when you said you started working at 1314?
[00:09:31.740] - Duane Garretson
Like, the first real job I had my mom has always been a server my whole life, and she worked at a place called Ginger Tree, which no longer exists, but Ginger Tree Restaurant. So my first job was they were super busy on Sundays, and I would go in there on Sundays and be the bus boy. And after a few months of being the bus boy, then I turned into the bus boy dishwasher. And then I started working Saturdays and Sundays as just a dishwasher. And then I picked up, like, a Monday night, and then I would do Saturday and Sunday and Monday, and it just kind of evolved into a job to where I was working there for probably three to five days a week, just depending on the scheduling and what I had going on at school. I was just a dishwasher, pretty much. I got to do some short order cook stuff from time to time, but just restaurant industry.
[00:10:22.920] - Big Rich Klein
Okay. And at what point was it in high school that you moved away from that, or how did things progress from the restaurant?
[00:10:38.160] - Duane Garretson
Well, it sounds super crazy, but when I was 15, I was still working at the Ginger Tree restaurant. I'd been working there about two years and had a really good grip on the restaurant industry, I felt like at a young age. And I was making $2.85 an hour. Nice. And my birthday was in October, so I was going to turn 16 in October, and I knew that I was going to be able to get minimum wage anywhere I went. So this was September, minimum wage was changing. And I asked my boss, I said, hey, man, minimum wage is going to 315 here this month, and I'm turning 16, or are you going to bump me up to 315? And he said, you're out of your mind. And I was really taken back because I felt like I was really putting a lot of energy into this guy's restaurant, and he wasn't going to give me $0.30 an hour at the time, and I'm working 20 hours a week, so I was going to get, like, a six or $7 raise, and he turned me down. So I was super pissed. And I told my mom because she had worked there maybe ten years at this point, and I told her I was going to look for another job, and I was quitting, and I couldn't believe he wasn't going to pay me minimum wage.
[00:11:45.310] - Duane Garretson
So I went to this place called Pizza parlor, and it was about two blocks from my house, so it was super close to my house, and the job that I did have was about 8 miles from my house. So I was like, I'm going to go to this pizza place and see if I can get a job. And I filled out an application, and the guy looked at it and he said, man, you've been in the restaurant industry for almost three years and you're not even 16. I said, yeah, that's right. And he said, man, when can you start? So I was like, awesome. So I went back and told my old boss, Bill, I said, hey, man, I found a new job. I'm quitting. They're going to pay me minimum wage, so good luck. And he's like, good luck to me. He said, good luck to you. So anyhow, I was like, well, it's strange, but whatever. So I go work at this pizza probably place. A couple of weeks later, I had to give him a two week notice that was mandated by my parents. So anyhow maybe a month or six weeks go by, and I go to see my mom on Sunday.
[00:12:42.270] - Duane Garretson
I wasn't working at Pizza Park that Sunday. So I go by to see my mom, and I see two guys doing my job, and I'm like, what's going on here? I did all this by myself and my mom's like, they can't find somebody to keep up. Bill had to hire two guys, so I was really happy that he was spending five or $6 an hour when he could have been spending 315. So I just laughed and went about it.
[00:13:07.680] - Big Rich Klein
That's always good when karma hits.
[00:13:11.120] - Duane Garretson
Oh, yeah. It was a good feeling for me at a young age. I felt like I had a lot of work at that time in the industry. So I started at this pizza parlor a couple of weeks after I turned 16. And inside a year I was the assistant manager because I had just had a lot of restaurant experience, and I knew it was a fast paced industry and I was good at cleaning stuff and paying attention. Anyhow, I ended up working at that pizza parlor for ten years. I worked there until I was almost 26, and then I got a different job.
[00:13:42.460] - Big Rich Klein
Okay, and what's that?
[00:13:46.540] - Duane Garretson
Actually, I went to work, and my uncle was a pipe fitter, and he did sprinkler systems. So I went to work for the sprinkler system company, putting in sprinkler systems and factories and warehouses and stuff like that. And I was still pretty young, and I had these two guys that were just pressing me every single day to go to college, go to college, go to college, blah, blah, blah. You shouldn't be working here. And these dudes are making like $16 an hour, I guess maybe 1996. And I was just like, man, I can't make this kind of money working for somebody else if I just go get a college degree. So this is a good job, it's a union job. I'm like, man, this is great. But actually, ultimately those two old dudes, man, just drove me crazy. Because I was young and they were both they were in their late 50s, early sixty s. And no matter what we had to do, I had to do it. And I just felt like they didn't do anything. I just didn't really have a real good grasp with the seniority in the union style atmosphere and it just drove me crazy.
[00:15:02.050] - Duane Garretson
So anyway, I ended up getting out of that job and just doing a couple of other miscellaneous jobs here and there. And then I got a pretty good job working at a factory at Highland Dairy, working for a dairy processing plant that pasteurized and homogenized the milk, turned it into actual drinkable product, chocolate milk, whatever. And I worked there for a few years and about the same time that I started working at Highland Dairy, me and my business partner at the time started come get you some. So I was working at come get you some from 730 in the morning until about noon and then we'd go eat lunch. And then I had to go to Highalnd Dairy from one to nine and then I'd work it, come get you some on my days off and on the weekends and stuff like that. And then my business partner, he worked pretty much eight to five. So we tried to start the business, kind of got it going. We rented another shop, or not another shop, but we rented a shop with another person that was trying to start a business so all of our overhead would be a lot less.
[00:16:08.360] - Duane Garretson
And he had a few tools that we needed and we had a few tools that he needed. So we kind of leaned on each other and we kind of relied on each other to help pay the bills and help get things done. And after the three years, I guess about midway through, we started that business in Alma pretty close to my house and both of our businesses really started to grow a little bit and we both needed all the space and we were both ready to take all the overhead. So we decided, hey, if we're going to pay this much overhead and we need this much all the space, we really need to move to a little bit more populated area. Alma's roughly 6000 people at the time and Fort Smith probably 85 or 90,000 at the time. So I was like, man, we just really need to find a building in Fort Smith and try to take this thing to the next level. And we left on good terms. He ended up staying in the building and renting the building himself for several months until he moved to somewhere actually bigger. His business really blew up and we moved over here to the exact same building that I am now, but we were leasing at the time.
[00:17:14.610] - Duane Garretson
Okay, so that kind of went on for probably maybe another year and a half and then come get you some. It started to get so busy that I actually felt comfortable enough to leave my really good job and just come to work here full time. So that was probably around three 2003. I'd actually quit my full time job, day to day job, and just went to work for myself full time, just relying on me and my partner to make the deals.
[00:17:51.760] - Big Rich Klein
So the start of Come get you some your shop, how did that come about? You were working other jobs at the time and you just became interested in offroad or what was that transition?
[00:18:10.160] - Duane Garretson
Well, I actually had a good friend of mine, I'd worked with his wife at Pizza Parlor for almost a full ten years that I was there. She worked there too. And he was kind of in off road and he had a 1980 International Scout with a diesel motor. So it was kind of a unique vehicle and it was pretty cool. And I did a lot of hunting with this guy. We did a lot of bow hunting. We did a lot of just regular hunting, deer hunt and crow hunting and just random stuff turkey hunt. So anyway, we would always take his Scout almost anywhere that we'd go hunting. And I was like, man, I need to give me one of these four wheel drives. This would be pretty cool. I like doing this. So somewhere along the road there, I bought a 78 K-5 Blazer, probably around 95, 96. I got this. K five. And the very first day I got it, it snowed and it really doesn't snow much here. So I got off work about midnight or whatever, and me and a few of my buddies loaded up in this K Five and just went back roading in the snow.
[00:19:07.870] - Duane Garretson
And I was like, man, this is awesome. I could really get into this. Man, this is cool. So a little bit of time went by and then me and that guy is actually his name is Kenneth Rossen. Me and Kenneth Rossen actually started a four wheel drive club called the Four X Club. So we would meet up twice a month and we had maybe ten or twelve other buddies that had Jeeps and different stuff. We would meet up and we'd be like, okay, we're going to run this trail. Kenneth is going to be the trail leader and I'm going to be the tail gunner. And we all had CBS and so we were really doing a lot of wheeling. Every two weeks we'd go on a trip somewhere and make it a public event. Social media wasn't available at that time, so it was all just flyers and telling our buddies and going to car shows and different stuff, trying to build our club into something cool. And the club started growing at that point in time. So I was making some contacts, primarily with a guy named Ray Sanchez that worked at four parts.
[00:20:14.360] - Duane Garretson
And I talked to him, and he got me fixed up with a club discount. He's like, hey, man, if you buy all your parts through us, we can give you 5% off or 10% off or whatever kind of room they had on whatever kind of product we needed. So at every meeting, I would be like, hey, guys, I got this guy named Ray, and he's a super cool guy, and he's giving us good deals on tires and wheels and lockers and post traps, whatever we need. So after maybe six or eight months of this, here I am, like once a week making an order on four wheel drive parts. So I was like I kind of was known as the guy to call if you needed some four wheel drive parts in the area. So I was like, man, this is pretty cool. I'm making a little bit of money. I was given 95% of the discount to the guys in the club. I wasn't really trying to make money. We're just all trying to save money and have a good time. But anyway, so that just kind of transitioned into me making maybe five or 10% on the parts to maybe trying to make ten or 15% on the parts.
[00:21:19.080] - Duane Garretson
And my business partner at the time, he wasn't my business partner, he was working at actually about the only four wheel drive shop in the area, and they had just opened up. And that guy, my ex business partner, his name is Cody Keller. He had his own, I guess you would call, shop. He didn't really have a shop, but he was working on four wheel drive stuff at his house, so he was pretty mechanical. His dad really helped him a lot, and he was a really good fabricator. And welder he taught Cody a lot of stuff about four wheel and about fixing things, about welding, about fabricating, just about all sorts of stuff that was on and off road oriented. So anyway, when this new four wheel drive stopped started up, the shop started up, they had called Cody and they said, hey, man, we want you to be our guy. We want you to work here. So Cody is like, oh, yeah, he's super excited. He was actually going to get to work at a real four wheel drive shop and do what he loved to do. So he started working at the shop, and it wasn't maybe a week or two before he started working there.
[00:22:30.260] - Duane Garretson
He called me up and he said, hey, man, I'm working over here for this guy now at this shop. And I was like, yeah, I heard. And he's like, man, we don't really have a good parts supplier. If I can get some parts sold, would you be interested in selling us parts? I said absolutely. And I'd already sold Cody and some of his customers parts previously to him working at the shop. So anyhow, we had a pretty good relationship going on. And he would call me in the morning or I would swing by their shop before I would go to my day job. And he'd be like, hey man, I need a price this 456 ring opinion, or I need a price of Lock ride, or I need to price some Yukon gears or just whatever. So I would call my guy at four wheel parts and I was like, hey man, we're looking at these kind of parts or this lift kit or these tires or just whatever it was and he'd give me a price. And then I'd call down there to the shop and be like, hey man, I can get it for you for this much.
[00:23:27.400] - Duane Garretson
And he's like, okay, yeah, get it. So at that point in time I had maybe 40 or 50 club members buying parts on a pretty regular basis. And then I had this shop and then I had a couple of other little shops that were buying stuff. So I started to have a pretty good network of people that was buying a lot of parts from me. So I started to check into some different avenues and see what other types of parts that I could get associated with and be able to provide to my customer base at the time and maybe make a little bit more money. So anyhow, this kind of lingered on for maybe close to a year and also during this year I was off on Wednesdays. So it just so happened that we'd be looking for back in the time, maybe like a throttle body motor, turbo 400 or 205 or maybe some kind of select front axle housing. And I would get in my car and I would just drive to Missouri or Kansas or Iowa or Southern Arkansas. I would drive to these little weird towns and I'd go to the gas station.
[00:24:33.730] - Duane Garretson
I'd be like, hey man, where's the biggest salvage yard? Or where's the closest salvage yard or who's got 50 cars in their yard that you know of? And I would go to these places just randomly and I'd be like, hey man, I'm looking for this and I'm looking for this. And I've got some customers looking for this. And I was able to create a pretty cool network of salvage yards to where I could just go around and pick all these parts up for all these customers that need them. And anyhow a few weeks of that, maybe a few months of that, whatever was going pretty good. And Cody had decided that he wanted to go with me one day. He's like, hey man, I've got a customer that needs this. I know you're going and getting all this stuff, do you mind if I ride with you? And I was like, no man, that'd be cool. At the time I had my son, he was about three, so he wasn't in daycare or anything at the time. And I would just take him with me. So me and Drake would load up and then Cody started going with us and we go around salvage salvage yard every Wednesday and get as much stuff rounded up as we could.
[00:25:34.710] - Duane Garretson
And sometimes we would buy stuff that we didn't necessarily have a buyer for, but we knew it was going to be sellable. So we just started collecting parts and rounding up stuff and building a bigger customer base and meeting more people and getting more connected. And things were just going really good. That went along for maybe another two or three months, four months, I don't even know. And then Cody's boss at the time was like, hey man, you called in sick like every Wednesday for the past two months. What's going on? I don't know the conversation they had, but it basically turned into the guy's like, okay, cool, I'm cool with that. But I need you guys to get me these parts. So like, I want you to find me this motor. I want you to find me this transfer case. I want you to find me this. And we were like, okay, cool. He knows what we're doing. This is awesome. He's cool with it. We'll get him some parts and we'll get our parts and we'll all make money and it'll all be awesome. So anyhow maybe two or three months of this going on and that shop is still buying the week to week ringing pinions or tires or lockers or lift kits or whatever they needed that I could provide for them.
[00:26:49.980] - Duane Garretson
Plus we were going out and buying all these used parts and at first the guy was giving us money and we were buying the parts and it was good. And then as things went on, he stopped giving us money. We were using our own money and then we would give him parts and then he would owe me, say maybe he would owe me $1,000 for the week's worth of parts and then he'd owe me another $1,500 for used parts. And then it just kind of progressed into now the dude owes me $3,000. Now this week the dude owes me $4,000. It was kind of weird and I don't know if I looked at Cody or Cody looked at me, but I was like, hey man, what are we doing? We're using all our own money and this guy's making all the money. Sure, we're making a little bit, but we're barely paying for our gas and our lunch. And this guy's making all the money. He's making all the money on the install, he's making all the money on the parts and we're using our money. Like, this is crazy. So anyhow, he had a good deal going.
[00:27:55.180] - Duane Garretson
Yeah, he had an awesome deal going. And roughly at that point in time, that's when me and Cody decided that we were going to start our own business, and it was going to become get you some. And we had a good enough network and a good enough customer base and a good enough name in the area that we thought we could make it work. But at that point in time, I had three kids. I guess Drake must have been four or five. But anyway, so I had three kids. And my partner at the time, he was single. So I kept my regular job for insurance and benefits and to make sure I could pay my house payment and all that kind of stuff. And we said, hey, man, we're going to go to the bank. We're going to get a loan. We're going to buy some equipment. We're going to start this business. It's going to be awesome. And we go to the bank, and we're sitting there, and I've got a loan officer that I've dealt with for a long time, and his family was tied into the ginger tree. That was my first job.
[00:28:55.360] - Duane Garretson
So I've known this dude maybe 15 years at this point in time, and like, hey, man, we want to get a loan. We're going to start this business. And he's like, what do you got for collateral? And we're like, man, we ain't got shit. I've got some personal things. I own a house at this point in time, and I've got some cars and stuff. And he's like, well, what does your partner have? I was like, well, you don't have anything. He still lives at home with his parents. He's probably five years younger than me, so anyhow pretty big slap in the face. But at that point in time, they said, man, all we can really do with no collateral is give you a signature loan for $2,500. And at that point in time, I didn't want to risk my house or my vehicles or any of the things that I'd worked hard for to start this business with a partner that really didn't have a lot to bring to the table at that time, other than knowledge and resources, but no financial backing. So I was like, man, how the hell are we going to do this with $2,500?
[00:30:03.620] - Duane Garretson
We're going to be able to buy a welder and no inventory, maybe an air compressor. So anyway, it's pretty big shocker, man. And at that point in time, that's when we kind of decided to team up with our buddy. His name was Chancy Cochrane, and he was starting Cochrane's Welding. And that's when we both rented the same building, and we can make this $2,500 work perfect. That was around 2001. And fortunately, man, I bought my partner out in 2016. So it worked good for both of us for a long time. And then when it didn't start working so well, I was able to secure the business by myself, and we're still rocking and rolling.
[00:30:47.480] - Big Rich Klein
Excellent. And when did you guys start doing the madness event?
[00:30:58.920] - Duane Garretson
Well, actually when we started the Forex Club, probably around 96, we had a bunch of stuff going on and we did little things, and we actually had what we considered madness in May. The first year that we had Madison May was as a club. The Forex Club. Put it on. It wasn't as a business, and I believe it was in 2000.
[00:31:22.880] - Big Rich Klein
[00:31:24.640] - Duane Garretson
And around that time frame is when I had started my own business. And obviously I wanted all the people in the club to buy all their parts from me. And I knew that if they didn't, then I would have some my attitude might not be so good because I felt like, we built this. We got this club, you're part of this club, you should support us. So really just kind of stepped back and looked at the overall picture. And I was like, man, I really shouldn't be the president of this four wheel drive club and own this company, because I know there's going to be a lot of friction between the club members and me, just based on what I feel like they should do and what they're probably really going to do. So that was good insight for me to actually step back and be like, hey, man, I need somebody else to run this four wheel drive club because I'm starting this business. And at that point in time, we did get a new president. I helped with all the stuff. I still filled the role of the president as much as I could, but I didn't make the decisions and I took a lot of pressure off myself.
[00:32:38.460] - Duane Garretson
So the first year was 2000. We did madison may at a place called birds adventure center. And then that next year, the club pretty much just fell apart. Nobody wanted to do anything. Nobody wanted to be in charge. When there was a decision to be made that might hurt somebody's feelings, nobody wanted to say anything to anyone or whatever, and it was just a disaster.
[00:33:05.200] - Big Rich Klein
That sounds pretty typical.
[00:33:07.440] - Duane Garretson
Yeah. I mean, of a club. And we had a really good thing going for four or five years, but without somebody really being in charge and basically having to be like the boss, being the bad guy when somebody needed to be the bad guy, it just didn't work so well. The current president wanted to be friends with everyone, and everyone does, but when something wasn't going so good, he didn't want to say anything about it. Of course, other members would get mad and then they wouldn't say anything. And then a group of members would kind of separate from the club and kind of try to start their own thing, and it was just a disaster as far as the club goes. But the good thing is that I went to the next meeting and I asked the guys that were in charge of it like, hey, man, this is falling apart. Me and come get you some. We want to take Madness in May, and we want to make it our own event. We want to make it like a customer appreciation event, where we can have our own event every year, and we can have our customers come out.
[00:34:07.610] - Duane Garretson
We can do competitions. We can do cool stuff, but I don't want to just take this. Even though I started it, everyone helped me start it. I didn't start it by myself. Can come get you some. Take Madison May and make it our own event. And at that point in time, they're like, yeah, that's great, because we're done. We're done with it. We don't want to mess with it. In 2001 was the first year that Come get you some. Did Madison May as an event, as a business?
[00:34:36.220] - Big Rich Klein
Very good. Okay, and when did you get to the point where you thought, okay, now I want to start competing? And where did you compete first?
[00:34:48.640] - Duane Garretson
Well, yeah, it all kind of started at the same time, around 96, when we started the four wheel drive club. It's just like, we're all competing against each other. Who can make this hill climb? Who can go through this mud hole? Who can do this and who can't do this? So it was definitely a friendly competition amongst peers, and that led to spending more money on bigger tires and more lift kits and better lockers and different winches and different stuff like that, which is just kind of the progression of four wheeling in general. But in 2001, we actually had a competition to where we had set up maybe like a creek crawl or a woods course. And whoever the fastest team could drive through this would win a winch or some free T shirts or whatever the prizes were for the competitions. And at that point in time, I really wasn't getting to compete because we were trying to run it out of business. And I didn't want people to be like, oh, well, he's winning, or he's doing well, but he owns it. He's cheating. I really didn't get to compete at Madison May until probably around five or six to where we had pretty capable rigs.
[00:36:06.370] - Duane Garretson
And we're like, man, and there's another event up there at the same place called Rocktober Fest. And that had competitions. And we've been competing in the competitions at Rocktoberfest since probably 2002. So maybe 2004, 2005. The base of competitors in the area are like, man, why don't you compete at your event? I'm like, well, because I want you guys to cry. I'll beat you, or whatever. Oh, no, man, anything like that. We want you to compete. So we were kind of competing in our own event as much as we could. We were competing at rocktober fest. Several other little off road things in the area had popped up here and there and I can't remember that guy's name. Sports on the rough. Bob Hazel.
[00:36:51.310] - Big Rich Klein
[00:36:52.030] - Duane Garretson
Yes. Bob Hazel came to town with his big promotion and the Ramsay Winch stuff, and he had a few competitions and we went to those and we had competing those, and he had one maybe around 2007 or eight called Ozark Mountain Adventure Games, which was invite only. So we actually got invited to this. So we're competing against the ten best guys in the area. And being a kid, that was actually working for me at the time, derek Davis I had a 70 motor bronco on 42s. We went and entered this thing with this bronco, man, and somehow we come out on top and kicked all their asses and was like, yeah, man, this is awesome. We can actually do this, man. So bunch of local stuff since probably 97, 98 for sure, starting in 2001 in a competition setting. But as far as really competing, like competing with people that are very like minded and wanting to spend money and wanting to really step up their game, that's when in 2007, we had built the We Rock mod stock car. And we decided that we were going to compete in We Rock, and we were going to compete in our Rock in Hannibal, Missouri.
[00:38:10.420] - Big Rich Klein
Right, okay. And that's when we did the all stock nationals.
[00:38:16.740] - Duane Garretson
Yeah, we did all stock nationals. I can't remember, I'm pretty sure was either Hannibal. Yeah, I think that was in Hannibal. It was, yeah, I think it was an eight. I think Hannibal allstock Nationals was in 2008. But I want to say I'm 99% sure my first we rock ever was in Dayton, Tennessee. And I think it was an seven because at the time I had a young kid that works for me, and he's still a really good friend of mine, jeff Spear, he was my spotter. And I had a good buddy, Justin Lawson, he had built a pro mod car. So Justin and Cody were going to run the pro mod class, and me and Jeff were going to run the mod stock class. I don't even know how it came up, but a buddy of mine has sent me a blow up doll. So we're like, man, it'd be funny if we put this blow up doll in this jeep and drive it from Arkansas to Tennessee. How many people are going to laugh at us and look at us and stuff? So we thought that was really cool. We were just young and dumb.
[00:39:17.970] - Duane Garretson
So we strapo Roxanne in the passenger seat as a modesty car drive to Dayton, Tennessee, and we get lost. We don't even really know where we're at. We find this motel about two in the morning where we're supposed to be staying, and we check in and we go in and we crash out and we're like, man, we're going to start competing in the morning. We got to wake up early. And Dayton, you've been there hundreds of times. It's 1520 minutes outside of town.
[00:39:44.900] - Big Rich Klein
[00:39:46.320] - Duane Garretson
Yeah, we get up early, man, and we were like all geared up, ready to go. And we're walking down the hallway and we see this maintenance guy and he just starts laughing at us. We're kind of shocked. We're running on about 4 hours sleep. And we're like, dude, what's so funny? He's like, man, I'm sorry, man, I'm sorry. He comes up to us, he starts apologizing. We're like, dude, what are you sorry about? And he's like, man, I had to cover your doll up. He said, we got a group of church parishioners that came into town and they are pissed. So they are freaking out because you got this doll out there, he said. And the management made me go put a sheet on it. And we're like, oh man, that's cool. No problem. We're not really trying to fit anybody. We're just trying to be funny. And anyway, he's like, oh man, it's funny. It's super funny. These guys are mad. So anyhow, we make it through breakfast without getting cast into hell and make our way up to Dayton. And that was the first time that I met you in Dayton, Tennessee in 2007.
[00:40:42.520] - Big Rich Klein
[00:40:45.140] - Duane Garretson
Super cool place, man. Super cool.
[00:40:47.270] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, it's a really nice venue for spectators to watch. They get to sit on the grass and watch everybody on the rocks and they don't even have to move around. You can just about see everything.
[00:41:01.480] - Duane Garretson
Yeah. Spectator wise, and even from a competitive standpoint, man, it's one of the coolest places that you can actually go to. We rob.
[00:41:10.110] - Big Rich Klein
Excellent. Glad to hear that. And then you competed at Hannibal Rocks as well?
[00:41:15.900] - Duane Garretson
Yeah, we signed up for Hannibal Rocks just because it was about 6 hours from the house and that seemed like it was I felt like a lot of the guys that were running We Rock that we were going to compete against were running our rock. And like I said, it was pretty close. So we signed up for Ruck and we got up there and we met Tom and Debbie, which are still lifelong friends of mine and great people. We started competing in that course. We had a local guy, Cal Brusso, that had already been running We Rock and his YJ. So he was running our rock too. So we're like we knew a few people. We could learn some stuff. We could go up here, get some experience. We spent a lot of time at Hannibal, Missouri, doing the R Rocks, man, and had just a great time.
[00:42:00.300] - Big Rich Klein
And did you ever compete with Mo Rock?
[00:42:04.860] - Duane Garretson
Yeah, we did run some mo rock. It wasn't really the technical rock crawling stuff when we started competing with them, but I don't know if it ever was, but the Mo Rock was kind of like what I would maybe say when we started at least like the beginner level, XRA.
[00:42:24.580] - Big Rich Klein
[00:42:25.860] - Duane Garretson
It was short, fast courses to where everything was not necessarily We Rock. You have a time limit and you're trying to navigate a course through the cones and stuff and be real technical, and the technical was pretty much gone, and it was pretty much smash the gas and go as fast as you can and try not to die. So we did run some Mo Rock, man, and it was super fun. And I think that maybe was similar to the stuff that we had been doing at Madness and Man Rocktober Fest, where everything was pretty much based on fastest time.
[00:43:01.980] - Big Rich Klein
[00:43:02.380] - Duane Garretson
But we ran mo rock. They had a couple of events, and they had one in Texas, Arcana, Arkansas. They had one in Garland County around Hot Springs, Arkansas. But the majority of the Mo Rock we ran was up at S'more, which.
[00:43:18.820] - Big Rich Klein
Is a good place to go fast.
[00:43:20.980] - Duane Garretson
Yeah, it was excellent, man. And then at that point in time, I had another buddy that I met through Justin Lawson with the We Rock car. They went to high school together, matt Allen, who actually ended up being one of my We Rock spotters for a long time, too. Well, Matt had a pretty nice YJ on 42s with the Hemi. Well, he started racing the Mo Rock with us, and yeah, we did it's a Mo Rock, man. It was a good time. I don't know what happened to that series. I don't know if it was financial or medical or they just got bored or maybe park restrictions, but they just kind of dropped out. I never heard really?
[00:43:56.370] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, I think it was a combination of a lot of work and if you're not doing it as a primary, as your job, event promotions when you're trying to put together a series, can be very difficult, and you got to buy in all the way to it to really make it work. And I think that's been the downfall of a lot of event promoters, is that they're trying to do their regular job or business, and then they want to put on events as well. And one event a year is not bad. But all of a sudden, when you start getting into a series, especially if you're moving it around, there's just so many details that will have to come together to make it work and travel and everything else that it's really hard to do both.
[00:44:48.400] - Duane Garretson
Oh, yeah. I can't imagine from a competitor standpoint, we want to bitch and whine and cry about what didn't go our way or how come we're driving so far, but yeah, I totally cannot imagine trying to navigate the possibilities of setting up ten or 15 events throughout the country at different parks with different people on different time frames. I definitely give you guys credit for that, man. That's got to be an enduring task.
[00:45:16.000] - Big Rich Klein
Well, it is, but it's a labor of love for those that buy into the lifestyle, that's for sure. So, yeah, I remember when Jesse Haynes put on his first Silver State Rock Crawl, and he came to me afterwards and I said so at one of our events, and I said, So, how was it? And he goes, I don't know how you do more than one event, because I live 15 minutes away from the event site and it took me all year to get ready. And I'm like, yes, absolutely. So it's not it's you know, it's just like going into business, you know? I mean, you just you go full steam and, you know, you have goals and you you drive to it, so so let's talk about the transition into you know, we we ran you guys ran the We Rock Mod Stock class for quite a while, and I thought that you guys were doing really well. The Mod Stock class has gone gone away. Nobody really competes in it anymore, and I think it's because of the full body restrictions and all that kind of stuff. It's hard for people to go out and try to keep a full body vehicle going all year long, you might say.
[00:46:34.500] - Big Rich Klein
But did you ever step up into the pro Mod class yourself?
[00:46:42.900] - Duane Garretson
No, we ran We Rocking in the same Mod stock car. We started in seven, and we ran until the 2015 season. In 2015, me and Matt Allen won the championship, and I think it was in Cedar City, Utah. Right. But really moving, probably, I would say maybe around 13 2013, the Mudstock class really just started dying, so there wasn't a lot of competitors. So we ended up racing or competing. I guess you may still have it, the Sportsman class.
[00:47:17.120] - Big Rich Klein
[00:47:17.650] - Duane Garretson
So we would get there on 35 in a full body rig, and we'd be competing against a single seat car with forty S and rear steer, and we were just beating our head against the wall. We were still doing pretty good, but we weren't dominating like we wanted to be with like minded people and like minded same class style cars.
[00:47:39.460] - Big Rich Klein
[00:47:39.720] - Duane Garretson
So it just really started getting more and more difficult. But at the same time that the We Rock started getting kind of funky for us in the Mod Stock class, I want to say maybe you started Dirt Riot in around 2014 or 15, maybe a little earlier.
[00:47:57.970] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, it was before that, but yeah, we did. And you transitioned over to Dirt Riot?
[00:48:05.040] - Duane Garretson
Yeah, so we put some bypass shocks on the rear of our car that we could take off and put the We Rock stuff back on. So we were using the car basically dual purpose. We were running whatever classes we could. And a lot of times in Dirt Ride, we'd run two classes, but we'd run as many classes as we could in Dirt Ride, and then we'd change the car just very minimal. And we'd go to we rob. So we were racing the car as fast as we could and we were still technically crawling the car. And at that point in time, probably around 2000, maybe the end of 14, the beginning of 15, I started looking at the Ultra Four series because we were doing decent in the dirt ride with the We Rock car and thought, man, if we could get a real race car, we could probably do this. We could be competitive, we could do some stuff and have a lot of fun. So started looking around. Pirate was still relatively popular in 20, 14, 15. It was starting to fade away. Some on social media was really starting to gain a lot of traction.
[00:49:11.450] - Duane Garretson
So we started looking everywhere we could. And I seen some spider tracks axles. I think it was on Pirate in this guy named Randy Rod. So I'm like, okay cool man, I'm going to contact this dude. And I contact this guy and I'm like, hey man, I see you got these axles for sale. And he's like, yeah. He said. We're up here at Jimmy's Four X Four. I was like, oh yeah man, I heard of you guys. I'd met Derek West through We Rock and he's still a good friend of mine. And he had had some Jimmy's cars. So I'd heard of Jimmy's Four X Four and Randy's like, man, what's your name? And I said, Dwayne Garrison. He's like, man I'm super busy right now. Let me call you back. So I was like, well that was weird but okay. So anyhow dude hangs up and I'm like, well I wonder what he wants for his axles. I didn't really get to talk to him. He calls me back about 2 hours later and he's like, man, you say your name is Dwayne Gertson? I said yeah. And he said, man, I want to build you a car.
[00:50:04.790] - Duane Garretson
I want to build you a race car. I was like, man that sounds great, but I'm poor shit and I can't feel I've seen what you got. I just can't even fathom you guys building me a race car, man. Like I can't afford it. It's just not happening. That's why I'm looking at these busted spider tracks axles on Pirate, see if I can put something together. And he's like man, he's like, man, we're going to talk about this man, we're going to talk about this. I'm going to send you an email. So he gets my email and he's like, man, what kind of parts can you provide for this car? Like talk to all your sponsors or your marketing partners. Tell them you're building this car and you want the most help you can get the best discounts or free parts or let's put a list together man, let's see what we can do. So I'm like, man, Randy is an excellent salesman. So he gets me all pumped up and I'm like, shit, we'll be on the race car. This is going to be awesome. So I'm all pumped up, and I'm hitting up all of our marketing partners at the time, and I'm like, hey, man, we've been doing pretty good, and it's dirt, right?
[00:51:06.220] - Duane Garretson
We've won some national championships and some We Rock, and we've been in rock sports for a while. We feel like we can do this. And the support was really just super good, man. The economy was doing good in 15 and 16, so I had really good support from a lot of our marketing partners, and I talked to Randy multiple times on the phone, and we kind of got this thing dialed in. And at that point in time, we decided we wanted to race a 4500 car because we knew we were never going to be able to afford a 4400 car and maintain the competitiveness that I would like to maintain. I've got this weird mindset. If I don't feel like I can win, I don't want to be there, right? But I mean, if there's a 4% chance that we can win, I want to be in. I'm all in. Let's do this. Let's do it. But the 4400 class was growing so fast, and the amount of dollars that were being spent on those cars was just I just couldn't wrap my head around it. So anyway, we had decided on a 4500 car.
[00:52:09.690] - Duane Garretson
At that point in time, the 4800 class was still considerably slower as a group than the 4500 class, right? So I was like, this is the fastest car that we can build that we can afford to race and afford to build. So let's build a 4500. So anyway, I guess maybe in the end of 15, we were there in Cedar City, Utah, and we won the We Rock Championship, and Randy was there, and he come over, and that's the first time I really got to meet him in person. So we discussed a bunch of stuff, man, and it wasn't very long after that, man, I started shipping parts to Jimmy's four x four, and we were on the lake bed for 2016. Koh.
[00:52:54.140] - Big Rich Klein
Excellent. And how did that race go for you?
[00:52:57.280] - Duane Garretson
Man, at that point in time, I had a buddy of mine, Grounie Carter, that was actually riding in the dirt ride races with me, and he was all in for helping me build the car and getting it ready. So Groundy was my co driver, and the race, man, really went super good. I mean, like, super good because we were doing great. We had broke a steering box early on, which we didn't realize it was going to be such a nemesis, but we broke that box and we finally got it repaired. We didn't know what we're going to do, and I had a spare box, but we couldn't get the pitman arm off, and we just didn't have all the right tools, man. We were just ill prepared. But we ended up taking the spare box apart and putting the parts in the new box that we needed in the box. And we were trying to put this oring in the top cap. And we couldn't figure out how to get it in there because it was like 16th too big. And it kept popping out. And it kept popping out. I was like, man, this is driving me crazy.
[00:53:50.290] - Duane Garretson
Like, I go and get this oring in here. I'd reached in my pocket and I pulled out a tube of raceline chapstick and I was like, man, this is it. So I smeared all that chapstick in the top of that cap and that oring set down in there just perfect. And we were able to put it together and actually get out of there. But we were about finishing that up or whatever. We were about 2 miles from the finish. And the injectors were so plugged up that the car would only run for like 16 or 18ft and it would die. And I'd have to let it cool off for a little bit and then it runs 16 or 18ft. So we actually finished our first king of the hammers. But we finished like, I don't even really remember. I want to say it was like 28 minutes after the time limit. But we did finish. So we were like, man, we did it. We can do this. We're only going to improve. We're going to keep pushing.
[00:54:46.160] - Big Rich Klein
The best stories are those not necessarily of the winners. Because that means you probably had a really good day. Nothing probably went wrong and you just cruised to the win. The best stories come out of those hardships of trying to finish.
[00:55:08.920] - Duane Garretson
Oh, yeah, absolutely. It sounds crazy, but a lot of times the guys that have been to the races with me, they know what they're going to hear. But when we got a new guy, he's like, man, what am I going to do? What I do? I'm going to be in the pits. Like, what I do? And I'm like, dude, I hope you don't do a damn thing. I hope you sit over there and suck on that water bottle on until we finish. Because you're right. The uneventful stories are the ones where actually everything goes super smooth.
[00:55:36.580] - Big Rich Klein
Yes, so true. That's why it's hard to write like an article for the magazine about a race event and talk about the winners because their race there's very little that went wrong or was drama or anything like that. You know, maybe they were changing the, you know, back and forth in the lead. But, you know, ultimately, you know, there's not the the in depth story of survival, of trying to preserve, to finish when everything is against you. And it makes for a better story to listen to the people that didn't win.
[00:56:24.640] - Duane Garretson
Oh, yeah, I totally agree. Most of your memories and stories are definitely like, you. Said going to be part of the hardship. That's what makes the story, the things that you did endure and the things that you did come back from and how you made lemons at a lemonade. That's definitely the story people want to hear, right?
[00:56:46.510] - Big Rich Klein
So let's step into this year's. Koh, you had one of those days that you were able to pull off the win and be at the top of the podium. What was that day like? Was there drama?
[00:57:05.980] - Duane Garretson
Man, we really didn't have hardly any drama at all. Just like you said, we had a really good qualifier. We decided that we didn't want to really push as hard as we could to qualify, but we wanted to be maybe top 25 in between the two classes. Now they mix the 48 and the 45 together based on your time. So we're like, man, if we can be top 25, we'll be pretty happy. So we didn't really try to kill it in qualifying, but we finished third in class and 13th overall. So we're like, okay, cool. We have some cars to catch. But there's still a lot of fast guys behind us, man, that we're hoping don't catch us. So we start the race 13th, we get the whole shot. And then we come around the second turn and we're next to Justin Barth. And man, he's pushing. And I was like, man, we're just going to let this guy go. There's no sense in crashing this car in the first quarter mile. So we let Justin go, and then we get off the short course and we're running through the wash on the backside of King Mountain.
[00:58:05.350] - Duane Garretson
And the dust is just crazy. And I'm like, man, that was a bad decision. We really should have pushed a little harder to get in front of him because now we got 13 miles of this shit. So anyhow, we come over the Baldwin Jump or whatever they call it, and we're heading down out into the desert, and we're still behind Justin. He's pushing hard. We're just staying on his tail, trying not to crash. We get out into the closer to the marine base, and the dust is so thick and so crazy that you can realistically only see probably 15ft in front of your car, if that. So we're driving 65 miles an hour, possibly looking for nothing but tail lights. And I'm like, man, this is crazy. And there's no wind at this point in time. And then the wind picks up just a little bit, and the wind is blowing from right to left. So Jeremy's like, man, get over here on the right. Get on the right. So at Koh, you got 150ft from the center line. So we pull out on the right and we're in clean air for the first time.
[00:59:08.290] - Duane Garretson
We're probably 3 miles, 4 miles from the start, and we're in clean air. And I'm like, man, this is awesome. And I can see a car up there maybe 2 miles in front of us on the left hand side. And I know based on where that car started, that there's probably four more cars in the middle of that dust. Yeah. And why they're not breaking out, I don't know. Maybe they broke out on the left and we couldn't see them or whatever, but we just outmoded this guy in the front and we passed like, four cars in the first 6 miles and we got clean air and we're like, man, this is awesome. So the biggest thing that we didn't know was we didn't know our fuel economy. When we pre ran our fuel consumption was about twice of what it normally was. So we were scared to death that we weren't going to be able to make it back to Maine. So we decided we're going to stop in pit one, we're going to get some fuel and we're going to do a race calculation. Like balls out, what are we really getting? So anyhow, we're sitting really good.
[01:00:12.390] - Duane Garretson
We pull into pit one. We're still sitting good. We had already passed the leader in our class and the guy in second place. So at this point we're in first place, but we're about to pit and lose our position. So we're kind of down, but we got a full day of racing. So we pull into the pits and we get some fuel and we roll out and they tell us how much fuel we use. I'm like, okay, cool, we're going to skip main pit. We can get to two. Now we know kind of where we're at. We get back in the groove. We just start picking off cars, man, just one by one. A couple of 4800 cars do pass us. They're driving insanely fast. At this point in time, I feel like I'm a Koh veteran. I've been there about eight times and I'm like, man, those dudes aren't going to finish. There's no way that car is going to be going to take that much abuse. It's just not so against what I believe in. All out, we're running the car about 75 or 80%, trying to be cool. We just keep passing cars, keep passing cars.
[01:01:14.620] - Duane Garretson
We get to the rock sections, doing really well. Jeremy's helping me pick lines and we're picking really good lines and the car is just working good and we're not having any problems. Things are just going great, man. We get to I don't even remember what trail we get to, but anyway, out of limits. I think we're out of limits and we see another 4800 car all stuck and winch, man. And we pick a great line, go right around and we're like, man, this is awesome. Get up in there and we get all kind of stuck. We're super bellied up. The car is turtling around. Five years ago, I'd have been like, just hang on. But I'm like, I stopped the car I'm like, Jeremy, get out, winch the car. We're not breaking the car. Get out. So he gets out, he hooks up the strap. We get out of there. We get to the pit, we pinch the sidewall. And at that point in time, I didn't even know we had a flag because it was on the left rear, I believe, and I never really felt it. So that was super cool. The pit's like, man, you got a flat.
[01:02:19.430] - Duane Garretson
So we change a flat. Like, okay, cool. Everything else looks good. We take off. We're just driving, Miss Daisy. Man It sounds super crazy, but we're just taking it easy. We're running hard in the desert, as hard as we feel like we can and keep the car together. All the rock trails are just really coming together good, man. We come back through main pit, everything's good. We get to Sledge and everybody's winching on Sledge. And we have decided because this year our option was to go up Jack Hammer and then you had a few options there or to go up Sledgehammer. And I tell Jeremy we make a team decision. If we're in the top ten cars, we're going to go up Sledgehammer. And if we got to wait and we got a winch, then that's fine. That's going to definitely be the fastest route. So we feel like even if we have to wait a minute or two, jackhammer is pretty rough and it's a lot longer trail. So anyhow, we get on Sledgehammer and we navigate that thing, man, super good. And we get to the big climb and I just kind of look at Jeremy and he kind of looks at me and I was like, man, when we pre ran this, there was like 25 people in this canyon.
[01:03:31.650] - Duane Garretson
So we just winched to save the car and be smart. Pull the front tires up on it, man. Just give it a little throttle. Car jumps right up the ledge. Like, we are super stoked. Jeremy's, like, really stoked because he don't got to get out. So we just kind of navigate the rest of the way through Sledgehammer and get to the mailbox. And I was like, man, we are sitting really good. Man, we've got to be, like, in the top ten of this race. Like, no doubt, man. I know a couple of 4800 passes, but we had passed a lot of those guys, too, just stuck on the side of the trail, broke or stuck in the rock canyons or whatever. I'm like, man, hell, we might be like, in the top five. We were killing it, man. So every time that we could stop in the pits, we did. And I'm sure that cost us some time, but I've pulled out of the pits so many times and been a mile further down the track and blow a drive line or lose a steering time or something, just like, man, we're sitting really good.
[01:04:32.270] - Duane Garretson
Let's not blow this. So we roll into the pits. Our pit crew did an amazing job, man, and making sure everything on the car was good, and we take back off and get back on track. We might lose a position or two to a 4800 car, but I don't think we ever really got past about 4500 car in the pits beyond pit one. So our confidence was good. We just kept the car moving forward. I tried to slow down in some of the rock trails just to save the tires, because in previous years, we went through two tires, four tires, maybe six tires. Just really feeling like there is so much pressure to hurry up. And really, I feel like all that pressure you're putting on yourself to hurry up ends up costing you more time because you have all these problems. So really just dialing it back. And then anyhow, we get to, I guess, right before main pits, we pass Dan fresh. Dan Fresh, I'm not going to say he's my idol, but he's been the 4500 icon since we started. So when we passed Dan fresh in his 4800 car, man, I'm like, this is it, man, we're doing something today.
[01:05:47.380] - Duane Garretson
We got fresh, man, we got to be doing good. So anyhow, we just kind of carried that confidence throughout the rest of the race. Our picker did an amazing job. At every stop, we kept the tires under the car. The yokohama tires are probably not even probably they are the Yokohama tires. They're the best tires that we've had on this 4500 car since we started racing it. So that's a huge deal, too, man. Anytime you have a flat, it's just like a mechanical issue. I mean, you're having to get out, you're having to fix it, and then you're having to get back in, and you're having to get back on track. When you eliminate all those getting out, getting in, getting back on track, you're just going to have a way better day. It's going to be way faster, and everything's going to be way smoother. You're going to have more energy. It's just going to be better. So after years of beating our head against the wall, we finally ran through Turkey Claw, and our pit never really told us what position we were in, but I knew, yeah, I was like, man, we got to be in the top two.
[01:06:50.440] - Duane Garretson
If we're not winning this thing, we're getting back on the podium. I think in 2020, we'd finished second place. And even though that was a great feeling, it really just pissed me off because I'm like, man, we came so far, and Dan fresh is standing here in his street clothes. Like, he'd been here for an hour. What is he doing that we're not doing? Like, man, come on. But anyway, so we ran through Turkey claw, and we knew everything was going good. We made the backwash, and I would say from Turkey claw to the finish line is probably, in my opinion, the roughest part of the entire course. Like just little whoops and canyons and twisty turn things, man, where you really can't get a rhythm. You really can't go real fast, but you don't want to be going slow. So anyway, I just told Jeremy, I was like, man, we're just going to go as fast as we can comfortably, and not tear this car up. So we made it through that section, came around back through the short course, took the checkered flag, man. And I was like, we were kind of looking around and everybody's all super excited.
[01:07:56.680] - Duane Garretson
I'm like, man, we did something today, man. We're probably like in the top five. And we got up there and they said that we'd finished third place overall in first in class, man. It was just amazing.
[01:08:08.240] - Big Rich Klein
Pretty good feeling.
[01:08:10.320] - Duane Garretson
Oh, yeah. I told several people since we'd won that I felt like it's a long time coming, but I hate to say that because there's so many people that have been out there to the desert having finished.
[01:08:24.910] - Big Rich Klein
[01:08:26.020] - Duane Garretson
So, I mean, we're fortunate. Long time coming or not, man. A lot of luck was on our side. A lot of excellent marketing partners, a lot of excellent pick crew. Just tons of knowledge and experience going into it and knowing the car, knowing what the car can take and what the car can't take, and not pushing the car beyond its limits.
[01:08:49.040] - Big Rich Klein
And it's still that Jimmy's chassis.
[01:08:52.080] - Duane Garretson
Yeah, still the same chassis.
[01:08:53.640] - Big Rich Klein
[01:08:54.960] - Duane Garretson
We've modified the steering a little bit because we've had so many problems early on. It has a really unique can of lever, bell crank style steering on it, which makes it drive at high speeds. Really good, really stable, no bump steer. It doesn't really have a lot of flex steer when you're in the rocks and doing stuff like that, it stays on track really good. But the canilever, even though we thought it'd be really good and we thought it'd take a lot of pressure off the gearbox, I feel like it puts twice as much pressure on the gearbox.
[01:09:33.000] - Big Rich Klein
[01:09:33.730] - Duane Garretson
And the first couple of seasons, man, we were breaking box after box after box. And Tom at PSE was super great. He helped us out and he did as much as he could to get our car where it was. But ultimately we ended up hooking up with Sean and John and Kevin rance right. And we had them guys build us basically a power steering box that could take the kind of abuse that we needed it to take. But at the same time, we had switched to what they call a servo. And it's real similar to an orbital valve, but it actually has an output shaft. And if the output shaft doesn't feel any resistance, then it doesn't work. So, like with the orbital valve, you don't have the output shaft and it doesn't need any kind of resistance at all except for the input. When you turn the input, it diverts hydraulic pressure and the wheels turn well, with the servo, you still have to maintain the mechanical linkage because the output of the box has to feel some type of restriction or tension before it'll actually turn the wheels. Okay, so going through a servo and going to a box that was built by Mud Nut Racing and the Ranch Boys, man, which those dudes are super awesome, man.
[01:10:53.880] - Duane Garretson
They're some of my best friends that we had met through racing, but I really got our car back on track maybe probably around 20, 20, 20, 19, 20 20. We'd switched over to that steering platform, and that's when we really started to be able to push the car and not worry about it breaking so much.
[01:11:14.160] - Big Rich Klein
Right, cool. So let's talk about this is going to be a funny one. I remember one time you got red carded at a Dirt Riot race in Bridgeport. Have you ever been red carded before or after that?
[01:11:35.780] - Duane Garretson
No, that was the first time that we ever had been red carded, and fortunately, we've never been red carded after that.
[01:11:44.680] - Big Rich Klein
You won the red card.
[01:11:47.560] - Duane Garretson
Yeah. It actually was a guy by the name of Jason, and I don't even know what kind of GP had. I think he had maybe a YJ, and he was relatively competitive. But I feel like we beat him probably like 98% of the time. And anytime that we would show up, you could just see it in his face, man. He's just like, oh, man, these guys are here. And multiple times throughout racing Dirt Ride with that guy, he had actually tried to run us off the course. Like, tried to go tire to tire. Of course, you don't want to go tire to tire at any speed. It's going to be bad for both parties. So anyway, we had always avoided any kind of confrontation, but out of respect for you and the series and mostly being banned, we didn't punch that guy in the face. But I've never really disliked a fellow racer as much as that guy. And Jason is probably a really good guy, man, but he just knew every button to push. It's like he got inside my Psych, man, and he just knew, like, it's going to piss him off. This is going to make him mad.
[01:13:04.470] - Duane Garretson
Let's do this. Let's do that. And same with my co driver. I read Time Groundy, like, you know, I had to throttle Groundy back so many times. He's like, I'm beating that guy's ass. No, man, we won't be able to come back, man. We'll get it. But anyway, I don't even remember exactly why he red carded us. I think he said we cut course because we passed them somewhere. But we went through the entire red card process, and you guys got the three people, the drivers to come up and make a decision, and we won the red card. And actually, at that point in time, if you filed a red card, you had to pay $100. And if you won, you got your $100 back. And if you didn't win, then the person that you filed the card on got the $100. So we got the $100. So we were super happy. We had to deal with all the BS, but we got the $100. And later that night, we were all like, at a Pizza Hut, and him and his team were in there at the Pizza Hut, and they're mad because we beat them and they lost $100.
[01:14:07.140] - Duane Garretson
Anyway, of course, we were probably drinking, and somebody with us was like, what are we going to get? What are we going to get? And I was like, shit, we got $100. We can get where we want. Of course, we said it loud enough. Make sure their team knew that they heard it. We're kind of a rowdy group to be around, so they really didn't want to take it beyond that. They just kind of sit over there and look down at their food and just let us be boisterous and arrogant and all that.
[01:14:39.760] - Big Rich Klein
Awesome. So give me the story about how you became popular in China.
[01:14:48.880] - Duane Garretson
Oh, yeah. Well, Dave Cole had hit me up, man, and I really just kind of started racing for Ultra Four. So Dave Cole, he calls me up, and he's like, hey, man, you want to go to China? I'm like, China? We may want to go to China. And I knew some of the people that we had competed with, like Justin Hall and Jesse Haynes, they had been to Japan with We Rock. And I'm like, we're going to China. He's like, no, we're not going to China. He said, I've got a deal worked out. We went to China last year, and they want us to come back. And I've got some cars over there. We're going to go over there. We're going to race these cars, and we're going to put on some shows. But you need two weeks off work, and I'll call you back. I'll let you know details. I'll call you back. But are you interested in going? I was like, well, yeah, I'm interested in going, but it's really open ended at this point. You don't have any time frame. Yes, okay. Yes. Anyway, he's like, okay, I'll call you back. So I tell my wife.
[01:15:47.310] - Duane Garretson
He's like, hey, I might be going to China. And she's like, you're not going to China. And anyway, I was like, yeah, maybe I am. Anyway, maybe two or three weeks go by, and Dave Cole calls me up after church on Sunday. He's like, hey, man, I got all the details. We want you to go. So anyhow, it all worked out, and I got to go to China with a bunch of great guys from Ultra Four and a bunch of guys from King of Hammers. So we get there and basically we're racing each other because we're competitive but we're all Micked up and it's kind of an orchestrated race. Like Dave's going to pick who wins and he's going to pick who hits the wall and who spins out and who does what. So we're all out there driving around as fast as we can and he's like, okay man, slow down. And we're like fucking slowing down. Anyhow, it's a bunch of egos out there and Dave's trying to corral us all in and make sure we're not killing each other tearing the cars up because we really don't have good parts supply over there for the vehicles that we're driving.
[01:16:50.690] - Duane Garretson
So anyhow, we're basically going from province to province putting on what I would consider like maybe a monster truck show. Except we're racing these ultra four cars. So anyhow, we're all standing there and I don't even know man, there's 25,000 people or maybe 100, I don't even know man. This is this huge facility that we're racing at and it's packed and they're like, okay man, they're going to come over and they're going to ask your name and where you're from. And anyway we're sitting there just kind of talking amongst drivers and I was like, they're going to come ask us what our name is and where we're from. And they're like, yeah. Well earlier that day or maybe the day before, my buddy Stan Hayes, he had actually ramped the car off in this pond, more or less. It was kind of a rock rolling course but it was just full of water. So anyway, he ramped the car off in there and blew a motor up. So we were down a car and Dave was in a really terrible mood. He was super pissed at the world. So anyway, I was like, man, I'm going to tell him I'm Ricky Bobby from Talladega.
[01:18:01.360] - Duane Garretson
And anyway we all start laughing and Matt How is like, no man, you can't do that. You can't say that man. Dave's pissed. Like he's going to freak out. And I'm like, dude, we're 2000 miles away from home. Is he going to send me home? Whatever dude, I'm here to have a good time. So anyhow, they're asking people, none of these people in China or I say none, a very small percentage of the Chinese speak English. And at the same time I'm like, man, they don't even understand what we're saying, you know what I mean? They're here for the entertainment. They're having a good time. So this beautiful Chinese lady that's putting the show on, she comes over and she's like speaking to me in English and she's speaking to the translator in Chinese and she's like, so what's your name? And I was like, Ricky Bobby. And she kind of smiles. She don't really know who Ricky Bobby is and she sure as hell don't know who I am. So anyway she just kind of smiles, and she's like, Where are you from? I was like, Talladeg, Alabama. Anyway, every single person that was with our group just totally lost it.
[01:19:03.430] - Duane Garretson
It was just a really funny time to say something like that. And Dave just busted up laughing. He's like, man, you come over afterward. He's like, man, you really kind of pushed my button there for a second. He said, But I really needed that, man, that was funny as hell. This is funny. But it was a super cool experience, man. It was super cool.
[01:19:27.290] - Big Rich Klein
I understand they were really amazed at your beard.
[01:19:32.140] - Duane Garretson
Yeah, I had lots of people wanting to touch me, and I'm not like a touchy feely kind of guy, but, yeah, it was super cool, man. We were taking pictures and hugging babies and shaking hands, and it was one of the coolest ultra four experiences by far that I've been able to take place or take part in.
[01:19:53.080] - Big Rich Klein
Awesome. So what's on the horizon for Dwayne family? Come get you some. Your racing career, what do you think?
[01:20:04.200] - Duane Garretson
Man, I really don't know. I just take it day by day, I guess. First off, family would be the most important thing. Been married to my wife Bethany, for 27 years.
[01:20:17.420] - Big Rich Klein
[01:20:18.940] - Duane Garretson
Thank you. Have three grown up kids now. They all graduated college. They've all got their own jobs and careers. Wow. So my youngest daughter was in high school. She was a senior. She was about to graduate and move to college. And at that point in time, me and my wife had actually gotten custody of two of my nephews. Their parents were in a bad way and things just weren't going good. So we decided to step in and try to help this family out, which was our family. So we got my two nephews that moved in with us right around 2016 and May of 16. So now fast forward to 2023. I still have the boys. They're basically my kids now. They're six and eight. They're active in all kinds of different sports and hip hop, dance, and a bunch of different stuff that they like to do. So family life is really good. Just kind of hit reset on growing up. Some kids, my adult kids are doing great. My young kids are doing good. My wife's still doing great. I feel like we've got an awesome relationship. I feel like we're going to be hopefully married until we part this Earth.
[01:21:32.180] - Duane Garretson
Nothing weird there. It's all cool. Come get you some. Yeah, come get you some. Still going strong. I've got probably the best set of coworkers that I have had since we've had the business, so, man, the guys that I got in here, working side by side with me every day are super good, man. Super talented, super well rounded. We do a lot of stuff. So business is going really good. We're really busy text time. Stuff seems kind of weird since COVID but Springtime is always busy, so business is doing good. Super happy, super proud of all that and all the guys. Whole crew. My wife gives me a pretty good leash on racing. Lets me kind of do what I want, when I want. So got super excited about the EV program. We were one of the guys that got an EV package to build a car. I got hooked up with a really talented guy named Ross Pilgreen that has a natural state racecraft down here in Little Rock, Arkansas. Started getting a really good game plan on the EV stuff so we could build this cool car. Still two years later, still waiting.
[01:22:46.900] - Duane Garretson
Haven't actually started construction of the car because we haven't got the 100% battery configuration and all the parts. Don't really know where that's headed because can't really get no replies. Feel like, unfortunately, may not ever come to fruition, but we're hoping it does, right? We still got the 4500 car. It's still doing great. We still plan on racing at this point in time, we plan on racing every single Ultra Four race that they have this year, with the exception of the event in Pennsylvania. And if something we're going to the West Coast race first in Montana. If something happens there really catastrophic, then we might look at Pennsylvania. But we just didn't plan on racing all three of the East Coast this year because we've only got to have two to be in for the series. Then I don't know. I definitely plan on going back to Koh next year. And right now, I think we plan on racing the Ultra Four series again next year. Don't really plan on moving into a different class at this point. I wish the 4500 class would grow a little bit. I feel like it has shrunk a little bit since we started.
[01:23:59.490] - Duane Garretson
Like, I think our first Koh, I think there was 42 competitors, and this year I think there was 31. So that's relatively 25% decline at Koh. So we don't want that. We want to be into something that's definitely growing, but I don't want to spend $150,000 on a car just to change classes. Right. Me and the other 4500 guys what I would call the core 4500 guys that have been racing the series and racing Koh and really been into it, are really trying to push to change the rulebook just a little. Bit to eliminate any kind of orbital valves. Because so many people have a weird misconception about the 4500 class and what's legal and what's not legal and what can you have? And what can you not have? And I feel like we got a couple of gray rules in the book that are hopefully or possibly prohibiting people from building 4500 cars. They just feel like it's easier to build a 4800 car, and it probably is not that shocks are cheap, but they only got to buy one shock per corner versus. Two that we can't have. I guess there's some 4500 cars that still have one, but most of them have two.
[01:25:15.640] - Duane Garretson
And I almost feel like I'm in the same kind of thing where I was with We Rock at this point. No one wants to spend $50,000 on a full bodied car right when they can build a Buggy. So that same kind of thought runs through my mind when I think, man, nobody wants to build $100,000 race car when they know it's going to have a gearbox on it. So that's why, in my opinion, the 4800 class is a little more enticing. And I feel like that's why that class is actually growing a little bit, because you can build the same kind of car for just a little bit less money. Not much less, maybe not even any less, based on some of those platforms that I'm seeing coming out. And they can take that car and don't have a steering box, and they can do whatever they want to do. So I feel like if we don't get a rule change that it's going to really solidify our rules and clear them up. Or we've even discussed maybe allowing orbital valves, but then I think if we allow orbital valves and that's going to put us virtually almost on the same platform as a 4800 car, and one of the classes is going to get eliminated.
[01:26:28.580] - Big Rich Klein
[01:26:29.760] - Duane Garretson
So, I don't know. I would really love to see the numbers in the 4500 class grow. Me and the other core 4500 guys. The only way that we can foresee this happening is to get a couple of rule changes to solidify the rules so people aren't so scared or so nervous. They know exactly what they can use. They know exactly what they can't use. In this year at Koh, we actually did, we made a little bit of progress. Everybody had to go take their cars to detect tent and unhook your steering ram. And if you couldn't drive your car without your Ram on it, it wasn't a 4500 legal car. I don't know. Obviously, I don't know. But I think that's why a few of the cars dropped off this year, because they knew they couldn't steer their car without the Ram. They knew that they had basically what we would consider a cheater car and they weren't going to get called out on it. So they either took it all off and moved classes or they just didn't show up.
[01:27:27.700] - Big Rich Klein
Well, hopefully they fix them so that they are within the rules.
[01:27:33.620] - Duane Garretson
Well, yeah, hopefully they do. You know what I mean? That way our numbers will continue to grow. And the good thing and the bad thing is dave has been in control of the real book since it began. It's his series. But now that Ultra Four, USA has purchased the series and USAC is running the races and Dave is in charge of Hammer King Productions now from a racer standpoint that's a little bit better, because now anything that takes place has to go through basically three organizations. Right. Not to say anything bad about Dave. I love Dave. We all have our faults, for sure, but everything with Dave is black and white. It's like, no, it's my way. We're doing it this way. That's the way it's going to be. We're not changing it. And super hard to get him to change that mentality on certain things. On some things, he's super open, but on the rulebook stuff especially, it's super hard for him to even want to buckle a little bit. But now that he doesn't have 100% say, I feel like we're going to make some progress and hopefully grow the 4500 class back to what I would love to say, comparable numbers to 48.
[01:28:51.790] - Big Rich Klein
Cool. Excellent. So I think we've covered just about everything I can think of. Is there anything that you can think of we haven't covered, man?
[01:29:06.010] - Duane Garretson
Not really. We just kind of went through the whole timeline. Nothing I can think of, man. Just still keeping on. I definitely wanted to say thank you. Probably two years ago, I think maybe when we got second place, you and Shelley sent me actual, like, a postcard congratulating me, and I never actually got to personally catch up with you and tell you thank you, man. That really meant a lot coming from you guys.
[01:29:36.620] - Big Rich Klein
Well, you're welcome. That's something that's near and dear to Shelley's heart to do that, so yeah.
[01:29:42.990] - Duane Garretson
Man, that's that's super awesome. I mean, when I got that, I was really felt it.
[01:29:47.760] - Big Rich Klein
Excellent. Well, Dwayne, thank you so much for spending the time and having the conversation with us and letting people know more about Dwayne Garretson.
[01:29:58.920] - Duane Garretson
Yeah, man, I appreciate the opportunity very much.
[01:30:01.560] - Big Rich Klein
Excellent. I'll be in touch and let you know when this thing is going to air. Thank you.
[01:30:06.410] - Duane Garretson
That sounds awesome. Thank you, sir.
[01:30:07.930] - Big Rich Klein
All right, you take care.
[01:30:09.420] - Duane Garretson
All right, have a good night. Bye bye.
[01:30:12.540] - Big Rich Klein
Well, that's another episode of Conversations with Big Rich. I'd like to thank you all for listening. If you could do us a favor and leave us a review on any podcast service that you happen to be listening on or send us an email or text message or a Facebook message and let me know any. Ideas that you have or if there's anybody that you have that you think would be a great guest, please forward the contact information to me so that we can try to get them on. And always remember, live life to the fullest. Enjoying life is a must. Follow your dreams and live life with all the gusto you can. Thank you.