Conversations with Big Rich

Jokester extraordinaire, Eric Filar, on Episode 44

February 04, 2021 Guest Eric Filar Season 1 Episode 44
Conversations with Big Rich
Jokester extraordinaire, Eric Filar, on Episode 44
Conversations with Big Rich
Jokester extraordinaire, Eric Filar, on Episode 44
Feb 04, 2021 Season 1 Episode 44
Guest Eric Filar

Join us for a few laughs with Eric Filar, jokester extraordinaire. Rich and Eric talk about so much history, building Sniper, racing Baja, working at Motive Gear.  All good stuff with a lot of insight and history. We thought it was a great time to release this episode with KOH going on.  Eric is the master behind these two masterpieces: Average LCQ competitor talking with his wife  Hitler hears the Results of KOH 2013

3:18 – It’s just in the my blood 

7:08 – Oh, that’s TMI on the Chevy Love

11:02 –Two-ball sports vs. one-ball sports

14:43 – those g*ddamn big tires

16:39 – Cherry Bomb

28:31 – I’m building such garbage

32:21 – building the Scorpion

35:33 – Eyebrows on cars? 

51:15 – You gotta have boggers

52:44 – when in doubt, throttle out

56:51 – where did John Reynolds come in?

1:06:52 – We decided to send it!

1:09:20 – Ron starts talking smack with Lance and Camo

1:18:12 – Take all the stickers off!

We want to thank our sponsors Maxxis Tires and 4Low Magazine. 

Be sure to listen on your favorite podcast app.


Support the show (

Show Notes Transcript

Join us for a few laughs with Eric Filar, jokester extraordinaire. Rich and Eric talk about so much history, building Sniper, racing Baja, working at Motive Gear.  All good stuff with a lot of insight and history. We thought it was a great time to release this episode with KOH going on.  Eric is the master behind these two masterpieces: Average LCQ competitor talking with his wife  Hitler hears the Results of KOH 2013

3:18 – It’s just in the my blood 

7:08 – Oh, that’s TMI on the Chevy Love

11:02 –Two-ball sports vs. one-ball sports

14:43 – those g*ddamn big tires

16:39 – Cherry Bomb

28:31 – I’m building such garbage

32:21 – building the Scorpion

35:33 – Eyebrows on cars? 

51:15 – You gotta have boggers

52:44 – when in doubt, throttle out

56:51 – where did John Reynolds come in?

1:06:52 – We decided to send it!

1:09:20 – Ron starts talking smack with Lance and Camo

1:18:12 – Take all the stickers off!

We want to thank our sponsors Maxxis Tires and 4Low Magazine. 

Be sure to listen on your favorite podcast app.


Support the show (


Welcome to the Big Rich show, this podcast will focus on conversations with friends and acquaintances within the four wheel 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's the time to sit back, grab a cold one and enjoy our conversation. 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.



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 a newsstand rack. So subscribe today and have it delivered to you. All right.



On today's edition of Conversations with Big Rich, we have Eric Filar, one of the famous Filarski Brothers. Eric has been around in the off road 4x4 industry for a really long time, the builder of a couple of really bad ass rigs that we'll talk about. And then also raced Jeep Speed is a comedian at heart. And let's get started. So thank you so much for coming on board this morning, Eric. Hopefully you're healthy and and happy.



And are you still the mayor?


[00:01:56.370] - Eric Filar

Thanks for thanks for having me on, Rich.



I mean, I don't know how you must really be grasping at straws to bring me on, but I am still the mayor and very I'm still super active in my little local community here with excellent all very happy and healthy and and happy. I'll put an exclamation point on it. So I'm always, always super stoked to be just out and about having a good time and love what I do and love then I love being me, man. Awesome.


[00:02:26.160] - Big Rich Klein

Let's get jump right into it with both feet. Where did you grow up. Well, well, I'm still growing up. What do you mean? OK, where were you born and where did you go to school?


[00:02:38.560] - Eric Filar

I was I was born and raised in tiny little beach community called Ventura, California in Southern California there. I grew up and my my dad owned an auto parts store, a Big A auto parts store. In fact, my whole family from my great uncle and every and great aunt were all came from kind of auto parts. And here I am still working for Motive Gear, still in auto parts, essentially. My my great aunt and uncle had a big part of AC Delco way back in the day before that sold to a to a conglomerate and and then eventually had a chain or owned part or bought into the chain of Big A auto parts.



Then one day my dad also followed suit and owned his own Big A auto parts. And that's where I grew up, crawling around on diapers, sweeping floors and and stocking shelves in an auto parts store. So at the I just I don't know if it's in the blood or you just can't get out of the industry.



I think you can't get out of the industry. The. I spent some time in auto parts, but, oh, yeah, yeah, that's a I, I think it's fun. It's a it's ever changing. And, you know, you stick with it long enough. You get to do all the fun stuff that I do these days, you know. Yeah. Yeah.


[00:03:53.520] - Big Rich Klein

I walked away from auto parts when I started. I retired from a real job. When when I left CSK Auto Parts, which is now part of O'Reilly's to start, CalRocs back.


[00:04:09.600] - Eric Filar

So you're kind of you're kind of what put us out of business because. Well, I was only there a year.



I was there a year and like four days. They didn't either.


[00:04:20.140] - Eric Filar

I mean, I did my share of working at a couple of days and I think I did in O'Reilly's or maybe it was a Checker's back then, but I think they're the same. Yeah, but that was what eventually kind of put us the my dad's business eventually under is an O'Reilly's opened up directly across the street and a real auto parts guy kinda wasn't necessary anymore. You could hire any, any joker kid off the street and he could ask you the color of his car and that kind of thing and get you the wrong part.



And then you just go back and return it. Exactly.



With the grease in school and you figure it out, figured out that it's wrong. Yeah.



So how long did you spend in Ventura?



I actually grew up, so I grew up in Ventura all the way through high school and eventually moved to Phoenix, Arizona, when I was almost 18, I think, or at least right at eighteen to go to school, I went to a universal technical institute, which was the only I think the only one they had back then. Now there's a bunch of those school. And then and then from there I went to Colorado and then moved back to Ventura.



And here I am and still in Southern California, 150 miles away from there, out here in the desert. So I could go so I could be closer to all the rock crawling and desert stuff. So, yeah, absolutely.



And Southern California has it, that's for sure. Yeah.



Yes, that's everyone can complain about Southern California. I don't mind paying the taxes for three hundred fifty. Well I mean, I do mind paying the taxes. I don't mind paying my share of the taxes for three hundred and fifty days of sunshine.



And I can be, I can be at the Hammer's, I can go from my house, I can be at the Hammer's in the morning, go surfing in the afternoon, skiing later that day and down in Baja before, you know, before sunset. So I, I love that little Wildomar, California that I live in too. It's it's the best out here.


[00:06:17.800] - Big Rich Klein

Yeah I, I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. I went to college in Santa Barbara. Spent a lot of time, you know, three and a half, four years down in that Ventura, Oxnard, Santa Barbara area. And then. When I worked in San Francisco for a little bit and then went up into the foothills to Placerville, so I understand the whole at least three of those surf in the morning water ski. Snow ski.



Yeah. The only thing I could, you know, hit the Rubicon, the only thing I could not do was get the nine hours in the bar.



Yeah, exactly. Yeah, it's a rough life, too bad, too bad politics have gone the way they have in that state, otherwise. Yeah, it's a total bummer. Yeah.



Anyhow, so what was your first exposure to to off road?



I'm literally born into it and I'll take that one step further. I was I was my brother, my twin brother and I, Ryan were conceived in the you know, mom and dad's like the party.



They were conceived and I we were conceived in the back of a Chevy Love truck on Pismo Beach, which is if anybody knows Pismo Beach is right now, within the next five years, it'll be gone.



But it was the only beach in California that you can still drive on and go round the dunes and that kind of stuff. But, yeah, literally conceived. And I won't tell my mom I told you this, but like I I got three brothers and sisters that were on a sheet of plywood on top of the bed while they were underneath that, you know, making Whoopie and.



But, yes. And the reason we went to the dunes because we had my dad was big into Volkswagen Bajas, Baja Bugs, right. And so we'd flattow you know, the kids would sit in the back of the car, you know, drive two hours from Ventura or Oxnard and in the back of a Chevy Love flat towing a Baja bug and we'd go ripping shit up and in the dunes. That's and that's how we grew up. We grew up on ATCs and dirt bikes and that kind of stuff going everywhere from like San Francisco Canyon or like the Canyonlands area that was close to Ventura.



And then, you know, I remember spending a ton of time at Pismo, that was like our go to it was always fun to just go blasted dunes. Now, back then, the dunes were big. Now they're only like a couple of miles long. Back then, they were you know, it was a long, long stretch of the beach.


[00:08:50.150] - Big Rich Klein

You still got to drive on right now. I can remember my first one of my first trips down to Santa Barbara to drop my all my stuff off when I was going to college down there. I had a 54 Volkswagen Bug, it was a streetcar, but I decided to take it on the sand dunes on the way down, I had the passenger seat out and the backseat was already decked out. And it it was full of all of my stuff, my stereo system and everything else.



And I went and played on the on the beaches down there.



And, yeah, it was lingering on this long drive. Yeah. Yeah, I think so.


[00:09:25.110] - Eric Filar

And the small stuff, you could probably take, you know, a street bug down there and and have a great time bouncing it across that one water crossing.



Yeah, that was a surprise. I got across it twice but it was quite the surprise. The first time I hit it didn't realize it was as deep as it was.


[00:09:44.270] - Eric Filar

Totally. But yeah, that's how we that's how I was introduced, was probably, you know, besides Volkswagen bugs and ATCs, man, we had those ATCs.



It was like a one fifteen or one eighty five. I don't know what it was, but I didn't have the front suspension. We didn't, we didn't have anything fancy. But those things I kind of still wish I had one so I could put my kids on there and let them beat themselves up. But without a front suspension, this big bubble tires and they just beat that the teeth out of you.


[00:10:15.230] - Big Rich Klein

Right. So you grew up and you survived that. I'll bet you drank out of garden hoses, too.



Yeah. Riding in the back of a pickup truck without  a seatbelt, yeah I love all of those memes.



Yeah. Yeah. We grew up in the back of a pickup truck. Absolutely. That's awesome.



So when you were going to school, did you participate in any sports or any school activities or was it all about work we're going to do now?


[00:10:41.090] - Eric Filar

I should say, I was definitely not a scholar student. I was kind of a poor student. I like to I want to stay just in high school, but I'm pretty sure it was my entire school career. I like to screw in off more than I liked going to school. And I don't tell my kids that. I always tell them what a great student I was. But I, in high school. I was a I was not a sports guy.



I could always me and my buddy Ron always joke about, you know, one ball sports versus two ball sports. And I'm a two-ball sports guy. Yeah. Yeah. You know, Ron. Yeah, I'm a two-ball sports guy. You know, if you got a sport that takes two balls to do it, like off road racing, count me in. But one ball sports isn't enough for me. Yeah. So I was just a big , I was a Jeep dork, you know, as in as a freshman, I couldn't wait to get my driver's license and probably before that always cracks me up when I think about it.



But I've seen and everybody has seen the movie back to the future. Right. And when I saw I think it was his name, but when I saw Marty McFly, Black Toyota. Yeah, I had biggest boner for that thing, man. A shiny black Toyota. I'm probably thirty threes or something. And I that was my that was going to be my car when I got here. I was going to do that, I was going to get a Toyota and lift it.



And my dad luckily saved me from that because he goes, he says You can do whatever you want son, but I won't help you buy a foreign car. But if you get a domestic car like a Jeep or a Chevy, then I'll front the money and you can pay me back. So I was like, well, that answers that question. Sounds like we're getting a jeep. Yeah. Your dad saved you. Yeah. Yeah, exactly.



I'll be running around in first gear screaming off the RPF, the rev limiter and thousand to one ratios right now, probably if it wasn't for that.



Exactly. But yeah, they're not. And I mean, in high school, no sports, just Jeep stuff. Once I finally got a jeep, all I did was, you know, I wasn't a very good student. So I drove jeeps and chased, you know, tail and. Probably did some recreational other things, it was all fun, but my dad used to always tell me, you know, if you ever knock. He said if you fall over and crack your head open, I've got a bunch of pussies would run out.



And I said, yeah, that's right. So was Ryan there right there with you doing all this or.



Yeah. Yeah. We both had in high school back then, we kind of ran in different crowds. I was a little more rough around the edges or I don't know what the wild child that. Yeah, yeah, exactly. I would probably get never got in like go to jail, crazy trouble or anything but but I wasn't afraid to go out and party and figure things out. And Ryan was a little more mellow like that. But we still had Jeeps



So on the weekends when dad and dad had a jeep. Yeah, we would all go Jeeping together. And then come Monday morning, I'd be figuring out how to write my, you know, dismissal from class and sign my dad's name so I could go out and do whatever it was that I was doing in those days to see what I did in high school.


[00:13:49.900] - Big Rich Klein

So I joined yearbook staff. And so as a photographer and I was able to write passes for me and my friends to go do whatever we wanted because I just put on there that were, you know, we're going out to do yearbook stuff.



And the teachers were all like, go ahead and do it.



Plus it it it got me all four years of my English requirement.



But that's probably why I speak the way I do and write the way I do.


[00:14:16.510] - Eric Filar

I see you're a lot smarter than I was because I would try and be home around the time I knew that the attendance lady would call.



And I can only imagine back then when I would answer the phone and be like, hello, probably sounded like a eight year old answering the phone. Hello? Yeah, no, I'm his dad.


[00:14:37.230] - Big Rich Klein

Too funny. So then what was your first vehicle then? You said Jeeps.


[00:14:43.260] - Eric Filar

Yeah, my first vehicle was a 1981 Jeep CJ seven that I think we bought for like thirty two hundred dollars, which is hilarious because you can't touch a CJ seven for less than half of that now, even if it's barely running. Yeah. So it's CJ7 and. I want to say it already had. Like a lift and tires on it, I think it already had a lift and 33 inch tires and like I said, I had that boner for 33 inch tires, which was, you know, those were monster truck tires back then.



Yeah. And I remember my dad would always complain anything that happened to that jeep of like, oh, man, I'm burning the clutch out because probably I wasn't very good at driving clutches back then. I think, like, it's those goddamn big tires and I'm like, whatever dad.



And then, you know, you'd run out of gas.



We go on family vacations. We drive all the way to Colorado. When we were 16, I'd be in my jeep, my brother be in his jeep, my mom and dad, in their Jee, I heard it. We're up to heading off to go do like the Telluride Tour and Telluride tour. There was some other rotary thing, but anyway, we would go up there and we'd camp for two weeks and that was our family vacation. Three three goofballs in a jeep or three and mom, three goofballs in a jeep and mom, they had well, they had five speeds.



I only had a four speed. So top it all off. I'm like burning way more fuel. But the second I would run out of fuel would be like those goddamn big tires.



I told you, I heard it, but whatever.



I only had that for like a couple of years and then when I was seventeen, so probably not less than a couple of years really when I was 17. And I'll tell you, if anyone's listening and can remember this magazine article, it really do me a solid, which is funny because I know no one's going to listen to this one. Rich, sorry.


[00:16:37.130] - Big Rich Klein

Oh, that's not correct.


[00:16:39.800] - Eric Filar

But yeah, there was a magazine article, the Cherokee chief back in that would have been this would have been like 90. Three ish or somewhere around there, so 1993, there was an article in one of the Off-Road magazines, probably like Petersens or something, and it was a an all desert race. Cherokee chief. So like a seven late 70s Cherokee chief. And it was all red. And I remember I mean, I can it's in my it's burned in my soul.



It's a it was called the article is called Cherry Bomb because everything was red and it was the centerfold was this red, you know, bright red Cherokee chief just cutting off of this lip and sending it. And when I read that and saw that, I was like, that's that's what I want to do. I want I want to go to desert racing. I want to do it with this Cherokee because this thing is awesome.



And then so I ended up trading my eighty one CJ7 straight across with another guy that had a seventy seven Cherokee Chief. And then it turned out that I was only 16 or 17 and didn't have the money to do any of that stuff. So now I'm now I'm back to Jeeping and rockcrawling in this big, you know, junky Cherokee chief. But if anybody can find that article I would love to see it. And because I still want to build that exact vehicle.



And now now I've got the money to do it.



So I'll bet we I'll bet somebody will find it.



Now, please, somebody contact me with the race. Cherokee from the 90s. Awesome cherry bomb.



So that would be article. So that's probably the vehicle that you took to Phoenix. Yes, yes, they did have AC working. No, it absolutely did not.



And I say I have such like fond memories of of living in Phoenix for that few years and all the people that I've met and all the people that I still have such great friends with. But while I was there, I could not have been more disappointed because it was so hot. And, you know, I'm driving this big, dopey Jeep Cherokee that didn't I don't even know if it ever had air conditioning or I might have been dumb enough to turn it into an air compressor pump at that point.



And, you know, yes, that's it.



18 years. I'm driving around a gas hog. And although gas was good back then and it's one hundred and twenty, which is something a beach kid has never experienced in his life. Yes, but it's a dry heat.



Yeah. Well, see, and I live where it's hot now.



And I'll tell I tell people that it's a dry heat, don't worry. And they they don't get it now. I get it. Yeah.



What I always say about a dry heat. So is my oven. You know where I live now. I you know, it'll be one hundred and fourteen at the worst. It'll get to like one hundred and one hundred and teens here and only for like a week. But as long as you're not working on a car, everything's awesome. And you can drink beer in the shade all day at one hundred and fourteen. And it's really not that bad, especially if you if you're married, you have all that time.



Yeah. Yeah.


[00:19:58.740] - Big Rich Klein

So then what was your your major you were at a universal technical institute there. So what was, did you have a direction. You went with that.


[00:20:13.050] - Eric Filar

I mean so like I said, I grew up in auto parts. I grew up as a car dork. My dad was a car dork. He kind of like I probably could have skipped going there in hindsight. But, you know, I think I I like to think I still used that degree. It was automotive and diesel technology, which is still like I still sell, you know, automotive drivetrain parts for Motive Gear. And we have a heavy duty side called Trans American, and we sell trans Transamerica, heavy duty drivetrain parts.



So I still use both of those on my daily routine because I when I'm not in the office, I'm usually inside this office talking on the phone and doing tech calls and sales and that kind of stuff. One week and then the next week I'm out on the road, you know, shaking hands and kissing babies and that kind of stuff. But I still got to go and use all that heavy duty lingo. And I still always enjoy the light duty side because that's my that's still my passion as far as not only in sales, but also in, you know, and that's what I do on weekends.



I go out and I try and break light duty parts.


[00:21:19.890] - Big Rich Klein

Perfect. Because you got to do destruction testing, right? Yeah.


[00:21:24.990] - Eric Filar

Yeah. It's exactly what I thought you and that's a big part of my of my position here at Motive Gear. And that's one thing I always like about Motive Gear is like they're they're big on on developing and they're very pro development, very pro like go out and test it, see what we can do, where can we can make it better and that kind of thing. And I'm like, yeah, that's exactly what I want to do.



I want to go out and do donuts and jump and see what I can break and bend and how hard I can push this stuff. So if you guys are cool with it, I'll see you next week.


[00:21:57.240] - Big Rich Klein

So then from. Out of Phoenix, what was your next stop


[00:22:03.240] - Eric Filar

so from out of Phoenix? I moved on these when I was when we were growing up. Like I said, my dad owned an auto parts store and we would go on because it was a small, Big A store. He can only really split for, you know, two weeks. He would have had his right hand man and he could only leave for two weeks. And he couldn't take a week this this month and maybe a week and a couple of months.



That had to be really well planned. So we would always vacation for two weeks straight. And that vacation consisted of of getting in the back of a single cab Toyota pickup with a camper shell. And we drove and camped across the country. I mean, we would we would we spent more time driving. And I my parents, I know they they had a, you know, good intentions. They wanted to show us that the country so they took us to all the monuments and we went to we camped in near DC one time and saw all those monuments.



But at that age, I could not have given the less of a shit about the monuments. Right. So my favorite part about all those vacations of driving all from the West Coast to the East Coast and back, as we would always stop in a little town called Durango, Colorado, and that was where we at least spent two or three days. So my fondest memories was that was that was like I like Durango, Colorado now, because that's where we would at least stop when we weren't driving in this Toyota or or Jeep or whatever we were.



And this is our our time to, you know, hang out by the river and pretend to fish because we're terrible fish or persons.



And so when I got done with Universal UTI, I my intention was, I'm moving to Colorado. I'm going to pack it up and go straight to Durango and start my life jeep in there and that kind of thing. So so, yeah, after I graduated, I moved to Durango, Colorado and actually know back up. Before I moved to Durango, I was a. So we were Jeep guys and we would go in Phoenix, we would go to we'd go to all the Jeep events, so there was like the association run and spook rally and all these all these Arizona events that we would still go to on weekends.



And that was actually where I've met. That's where I met Shannon Campbell and eventually got to know Randy Ellis really well. And after watching, you know, I don't think I met Shannon until after I met Randy. I met Randy at FST back when he was working for FST. And I had read a magazine article that had, I think, Shannon's old pinkie.



No, no. It was before Pinky, his old at the time, I think it was the bronze or like a chorus colored three quarter elliptic.



I think it was still flatlander, if I remember right. It was a flat fender and it had a two by three tube frame and a cage and, you know, just junkyard axles and that kind of stuff. And when I read that article, I was like, oh my God. Like, I, I have to build something like this. You know, I've I've been trying to rockcrawl this stupid Cherokee chief. I need to build something small and fun.



And, you know, when I was young and dumb and didn't realize how much money was going to cost me, even with junkyard parts.



Yeah, well, not even junkyard parts. I already had a Cherokee chief which had forty fours and a V8 and that kind of stuff. And I was like, well I'm going to tear this Cherokee chief apart, build a frame. So I'm working at a truck shop and every night it was literally like I would go to school at 7:00 in the morning and you'd get off, you know, be done with school four or five hours later. So around 1:00 or 2:00 or something.



And then from two, I would drive across town in Arizona and Phoenix, which used to be an enormous pain because there was only one or two, two freeways, the ten and the seventeen back then. Now there's loop's 101's and 202's and 303's and fifty ones and all that stuff. But I would go to work, work a full eight hour shift on these big rigs, but changing up either on transmission or clutches and that kind of stuff and and adjusting, you know, all this.



But then I would get off at. You know, nine or 10 and I would work till three or four in the morning cutting metal and making my frame and tearing apart this Cherokee chief and building, I was building a CJ5 like an older CJ5, but with a tube frame. And I was sold on Quarter Elliptic. So I was doing link systems and and that always I didn't know I didn't know what I was doing, but it was fun to do so, you know, that was I built my first four-link and custom chassis and everything when I was still 18 years old.



And I got a you know, I can't remember names, but the guys that own that truck shop must have just had I don't know I don't know how they could have possibly trusted me that much. But like, I was just there. I had the keys to the shop. I lived there to make this jeep. And then I would sleep two hours and go to school and then start that over again. And and that was my old yeah.



My old junky CJ5 rockcrawler way back in the day, which I sold to a guy named. Sergei,Ahora I think certain Serge, really nice guy.



Yeah, I think it's part of the Sacramento San Francisco area. Yeah, the Russians. Is that what that is. Yeah. Yeah, yeah.



Sergie Yeah. Cool. Yeah. Then I know that rig.



Yeah. I think he painted it. He might have painted it green and black. It was orange and black when I had it and sold it to him and, and it was, he really liked it and I really liked it until you know, but when I think back of how I did things like I did it all with a torch and a welder, that was it. So when I really got to know, like Randy and Shannon and saw how they would do things and like, oh my God, what am I doing?



This is I'm building such garbage. And I always give credit to Randy because the first time he saw my garbage, he was like, no, I think that's good. You know, at least, you know, it's absolute dog shit. But, you know, you were thinking out of the box, you figured out how to do this.



And I was like, oh, thanks, dude. Exactly. So when you were up in Durango, what were you doing? Workwise up in that area?



So when I first moved to Durango, you know, I was still only 18 and a half or 19, maybe I was 19. And I put together a resume and my resume consisted of me going to school and being a know it all. And with some pictures of this jeep that I had built and and I got picked up by a place in Durango called Durango Truck and off Road Outfitters or something like that, and worked for a guy named Andy.



And and like I said, I was a total know-it-all. All I knew and I still am. I just know how to suppress it now.



So I worked for him for, I don't know, the better part of a year. And then we got into a fuck-you competition and the owner of the company always wins those. So I, I ended up our competition was a company called a tiny little offroad company called Avalanche Engineering, owned by Steve Remore. Yeah. And I'd been Wheelin was, you know, as they were competition. You know, I, I'd gotten to know Steve just in passings and kind of started going wheeling with him every once in a while because he had this round tube chassis CJ six that he built.



So I've got this rectangular tube chassis thinking I'm all fucking hot shit. And he's got this round tube chassis CJ six with, like, big tires. And but when I would look at it, I'd be like, yeah, that's not how I would do it.



So when I, when I got fired or I can't remember, I was pretty sure I probably got fired or asked to leave anyway from Durango truck. I went to Steve and Steve was like, oh yeah, OK, I give you a job right now. So I went to work for Steve and actually lived in the it lived in the shop. There was a really crummy little like upstairs apartment that had more rats than than I had cans of food because I didn't have any money.



But so then I yeah, I started working for avalanche engineering.



And so there's so much more to that story. But I'd met my good buddy Drew Drew Barber. Right. Who worked at a auto and auto shop, an auto repair shop right next to that Durango truck place I knew true really well and eventually got Drew to come over to Avalanche. I forget how that all went down, but eventually he came over and that was when we started making we made all kinds of things, actually. But the one that people might remember is when we started making the sniper, which in in hindsight, I always think an ugly, ugly car.



But the let me know if I'm getting too far ahead of you.



No, no, no, not at all.



The sniper I'm trying to remember the guy's name that that we built the very first one for, um, he owned the Badlands off Road Park. And I think he may have passed away a handful of years ago now from cancer.



Troy Myers. Troy Myers, yes. Troy Myers. So Troy Myers had seen Sonny Hanager's scorpion.






So he had seen Troy Myers Scorpion and Sonny Hanager's Scorpion. And he liked a lot of things about it, but he liked. Some of the like the quarter we were doing quarter back in the day, kind of just following Shannon's footsteps, really, but quarter elliptic. So we were doing what we had to experiment with air bags. We were doing all kinds of stuff back then. We didn't know what we were doing. We were just looking for something that would work.



And, you know, you'd watch you watch what Shannon would do or Sunny or, you know, Randy Ellis was always a I don't know if you know Randy, but yes, I still hang out Randy all the time. And it's just such a such a legitimate dude. But like, back in that day, he was for, you know, he was starting to mix Jeeps and Desert Race and and so Shannon actually. So I was watching like I had a keen eye for all that stuff I wanted to see.



Randy was the one that showed me how to. And it's still the same way I do. The two today know twenty five years later how to design a four-link system. And I remember back in, like the pirate four by four days when everybody was dorking out on anti squats and this and that. And it's all important stuff. But man, they were really nerdin out on that. And I'm like, well, this is how I do it.



And it still works really good. But then when I watch how your guys stuff is doing, it is working like it's it's super unpredictable. So I'm just going to stay with my dad. I learned from Randy and I stole from Randy. Right.



But it was really just desert. It was a desert link system that still work if you go slow. But it works really well going fast and the cars reacted well.



And so I think it was back to the sniper. Troy Myers comes comes to avalanche from wherever they were like he was way back east and wants to build something similar to Sonny's scorpion and but didn't want the suspension and all that stuff. So we came up with the sniper and I said, I still don't I still don't like I like Sonny.



I just don't like the look of that scorpion or our sniper, the me and Drew me and Drew just doing what we kind of what we were asked to do, but with our own little flare. So we we tried to give it, we tried to give it some appearance. The story I want to tell you real quick, was it and it carried on and I don't know if anybody. This could just be me patting myself on the back here, if anybody knows, so if you remember the sniper back in the day, it had like those eyebrows.



It had that look right. And that carried on through a handful of different cars that I built in the future after that. And and it seemed like every car. In Northern California, where all the new buggy builder guys started doing that, where they put the little eyebrow's in it right there over that center section of the.



Yeah, and it kind of gave it a cool look. It did kind of make some things a pain in the ass. But the reason we did that is my old C.J. five that I built in Phoenix, I. I had a tire on the roof.



Another idea I think I stole from Shannon, but I had a tire on the roof and I was in New Mexico, we were crawling rocks and I'd rolled it over backwards. Maybe it was in Moab I forget I'd rolled it over backwards and that tire on the roof turns out to be a really bad idea because what it does is it pushes the center of the cage down. Right. And so when it bent the cage, it bent it down with a set of eyebrows, let me being a stupid kid with no money, I couldn't really afford to go by any.



Any like a bunch of tubing to go build a new cage for a long time, I did it anyway, but I can't have this. This rollcage looks very unsafe. So I just stuck a tube in between the bend and the dash bar. So now it had this had this eyebrow's with a tube that came down. And when we were building the sniper, like, we always kind of laughed at how like it looked angry.



Your C.J five looks angry. So what you're saying is you're the one to blame for for the angry grilles. Oh, oh, man, I hope not. I really, really hope not.



Well, I'm going to stick to that. That's my story now.



But, you know, I am as long as we're talking about, like, super bad taste was, I always blame what eventually I think became known as the boner bar or what I always called it, those big, goofy, stupid loops that everybody puts on the front of their bumpers.



Yeah, on Shannon Campbell. Because when Shannon would show up at E, I always had that. He had like the front bumper would ramp up and it was about as high as the grill or maybe a little bit lower.



And it was always a smooth transition. And then I don't know who, but someone I'm going to call him, let's just call him asshole decided that that should be a bigger loop.



And then the next guy was like, Oh, yeah, you're big. Well, mine's going to be this big until they were like six foot boner bars, just big loops. And I mean, how long did that trend last? Like ten years. It's still out there. It's still mess.



But Shannon, I'm surprised he doesn't have one on his KOH cars, uh, yeah.



Yeah, I think I think he looked around. I was like, what are you idiots doing? I'm not going to do this anymore.



Yeah, that's that's how the sniper kind of came around me and Drew. And I know Steve gets a lot of credit for it and he should because he owned the company and he had he did have input on it for sure. And I'm sure plenty of it. I just don't you know, it was just me. It was me and Drew building it. So I don't really remember how much I do remember the start of the chassis because Steve was an engineer and he liked drag racing.



So I remember he read a like drag racing chassis building guide or something. And I remember he was like, this is how the chassis needs to build their start. We've got to build a square. Which is kind of how they do it these days, too. Yeah, and then was not how we did it. So it's like we built a square, so we built a square. And I remember like, no, that's stupid. But in hindsight, it actually was not a terrible idea.



And then we just cut the, you know, cut the middle of the square out for the drivetrain to come through and build the rest of the car. In those good days, we were just we were just doing whatever we could to kind of.



We're really just having fun building stuff, I think it was kind of exciting back then. Yeah, because everything was brand new. I mean, everything that you guys produce there or Shannon or Randy did with the the Red Racer, with the the four wheel independent, you know, all that stuff was was just so new and all experimental. Nobody there was nobody was copying really anybody because everybody was doing something different or or new.



I definitely had a I definitely had a keen eye on like what Shannon was doing and what Randy was doing and what the other some of the top guys were doing and that actually so that was actually all after, like, rock crawling competitions. It started already. I remember our first crawling competition, like we read about it in a magazine, like it was before the Internet. So it was like a one third page about this rockcrawling competition that was going to take place in, I think, Las Cruces, in Las Cruces.



And we used to go to Las Cruces a lot because we were we were only like six hours from there. And so I wanted to do it in my little Cj five buggie.



But again, like I was a broke kid and Steve, who really wasn't that much older than I was and probably five to seven years older maybe he had his CJ6.



And I was like, well, let's go do this. Let's enter this thing. So Steve and I took his little white CJ or little big monstrous white CJ six stretched six to that competition.



And that was the very first one. I forget who put it on that?



It was Hazel. Was it Bob? Hazel. I was thinking it was a Phil Howell, but maybe Phil Howell started it and Bob took it from there.



Well, Phil started the concept of ARCA and he was talking to it was it was a combination of him and Phil and Hazel. They didn't Phil didn't like the way the rules were set up. And so they parted ways after that first one. So, yeah, it was a it was a combination of the two.



OK, I kind of remember it like it switched hands before it even happened. So that would that would kind of make sense, I think.



Yeah, I'm not really sure, but I, I just remember it cracks me up that it was before the Internet. You had to literally probably peel the entry, like cut it out of the magazine and send in your entry. And then I knew those were those were good times.



So like we we drove all the way to Las Cruces and like, we, you know, Shannon's already there and Randy's there. And we we were all just goofballs back then and still are really bad. So, you know, we're going to essentially party till 3:00 in the morning and we got to be there at seven or four and it might have been six in the morning until we get there.



And then you loaded coolers and put them in the back of these jeeps and went rock, you know, rock competition. And I remember there is one picture and I think it went into the magazine of Shannon like standing it straight up on end and it's cooler fell out and there was beers everywhere in the picture and that and that's when the rules changed.



Now we can't we can't we can't be having so many beers in these pictures.



So good. I always get a kick out of how much fun we had back then.



Things definitely changed over the years from, you know, people hanging onto the vehicles, standing on their outrigger, like on a sailboat.



You know, I mean, I don't know if you remember, because I think it was I think it was before you started we rock and that kind of stuff. But back when Chris Durham still had moose spotting for him. Oh, yeah. And he, like Moose, pushed that whole front of the jeep, like back down on the ground, like it rolled over almost backwards, but it stood there and Moose pushed that whole jeep because that guy was a monster and ended up like hanging onto the jeep as it fell back onto its tires and just slammed him up against the hood.



And I mean, it was painful to watch, but also amazing at the same time. Yeah, yeah. That was that stuff doesn't fly anymore. No, I can remember.



Who is it, Cedar City, the first Cedar City, ARCA that which Phil Howell started ARCA and then Ranch Pratt bought it from him before the first event.



As a good way to advertise for Teleflex, and so then he ranch put that on, but I was the club president in Cedar City, Utah, and we helped Ranch get there and all that kind of stuff. And Lance Clifford and Bob Roggy were competing. Bob was driving. Lance stepped on the fire extinguisher while outriggers and got, you know, got shot in the face with a fire extinguisher. No helmets, just, you know, a lap belt.



Just crazy, crazy, crazy stuff.



I mean, that's how I got out of that guy. That's how I first met him, was in the rock. I think I want to say the first time I remember meeting him was that one of the ones in Chokecherry and in Farmington, New Mexico. And I've known him ever since. Yeah, great. Greg, I've met so many fantastic people through not only just this industry, but, you know, from those Rockcrawling days and my, you know, my desert race and stuff that I've done in the last, you know, 15 years or whatever it is.



And it's just so many fantastic people that are like in this industry that it's that I can't talk. I can't talk right now. Back when we were competing, I would have talked to all kinds of shit like that guy doesn't know what he's doing. He's an asshole rancher. He's you know, he's got more time or he's cheating or he's cheering or whatever. But now and I look back and I'm like, oh, man, I love all those guys.



It was great to, you know, and I still do. It's great to see him every time, every time we all come together, whether it's a similar offroad expo or an event or desert or whatever it is.



Yeah, it's what I missed about this last year. 2020 was no Easter Jeep, you know, no SEMA, no off road eXPO. None of the none of the big shows, the big organized trail rides, it really sucked. I was surprised that we were able to get our season done with and. Yeah. And the same thing with, with, with Ultra four. Yeah totally.



I've been watching all you guys and I've been surprised that anything was happening. And even with the big one coming up with a KOH, you know, I'm. After they screwed the the SNORE race or whichever one that was in Laughlin that just happened a few weeks ago, I'm like, you know, if they can do that, what's next?



It's it's a bunch of B.S. But yeah, that's interesting how they sent the. They're gaming the state sent the gaming commission in and said, OK, we can't stop them because but you can because you can threaten to pull their license. You know, that was some shady stuff going on there.



Gayety super shady. But we'll see what happens.



I hope Dave's able to pull it off. You know, the way they're doing the testing and everything. It's the only those that are going in to hammer town and buying a wristband to get in there have to test. So, yeah, everybody else should be on their own. And we'll see how that how that flies with the state.



But, yeah, I got to go check the mail because I preordered mine so I could do it at home, but. Oh, perfect. We'll see.



And then let's let's move on to after those avalanche days.



Oh, when did I know that you're friends with Ron Stobaugh. You mentioned him earlier.



You guys raced got into well before Jeep speed. Let's get into into the whole Bronco thing and.



Oh yeah. So again, I can't stress enough how much smarter I am these days and being able to hold my opinions back. So when I work that avalanche, you know, we're all headstrong people.



And Steve Steve was that he was a headstrong person as well. And so if the you know, we would we would talk about, you know, I built John Glenn's first his first rock buggy before before the carnivore, that he drew a veil. And I think it debuted at like the first one was the Phoenix. The first time we for maybe the only time we ever did it, that there was a rock crawling championship in Phoenix.



But like through that whole time, I had John Gilliland on, like on my side, he knew where he felt, whether he knew it or not, he felt I knew what I was doing. So if I had an idea, he'd be like, yeah, let's do that. And then Steve would run in and he'd be like, oh, I can I don't know about that.



Or I got this is this the customer wants, you know, wants to side with me. We should do it. And so I got kind of tired of that. And my my not yet wife was going to school in Durango and she was about to graduate. And I was like, let's move back to Ventura and open. I want to open a fab shop.



I'm a smart young man and I can open a fab shop, as we know many people have done in the past.



I always admire the ones that were successful. That's amazing.



So I moved back to Ventura with my with my I actually got married right before we moved back to Ventura, go back to Ventura. And I opened up my shop, which was Fat City off Road Enterprises and no fat city offered engineering. That's right. And we my first order of business was I'm going to build a rock. I need something. I need a show piece. So I built a rock crawler similar to kind of like John Gillands as far as I could,  it had a CJ.



Five, tub, I think the Glass-CJ5 tub and it was a two by three. And or two by four, I forget tube chassis and and a good looking cage and and I didn't have like a ton of money, although I did put good shocks on it. I forget I built a it was. Should you call it it was a dual shackle four link dual shackles, so it's still used like back then it was a wrangler leaf spring over that we would use a lot.



Right, because they would flex well and they were soft. And but I had a shackle on each in the front and the rear of the spring and that a falling in that same front and rear as a shackled leaf, spring front rear and four legs front runner and started taking that. I actually ended up halfway through building it. I sold it to a guy and he was always super supportive. Tom Millen was his name. Is his name still.



And so Tom Millen bought it and fund it, finishing it. So then we finished it. We would use it at all. The shows we go to, I think we went to the very first offroad expo that when Bob Bauer just started that and we got about TDS and that was our that was my show piece He'd Let me take that. It was let me take it anywhere I took it. The association runs and, you know, the Arizona Association ran that kind of stuff.



That's always a good friend and customer. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. I still to this day, I still ran the I was young dumb, so I would I would still run the shit out, but I knew what it was capable of and it was on like thirty nine inch boggers.



Boggers was the you know, the go to you had to have boggers back then for a while anyway till we grew up.



Yeah. Yeah. I'll tell you the very first rock I think it was probably the second rock like I forget which one it was that happened in in chokecherry. If I remember I was in New Mexico for sure. I'm pretty sure it was Chokecherry or Farmington and we all showed up and we're doing our same thing that we we just party our party, our asses off in the parking lot. And Shannon was there.



Shannon pulls up in Pinki and BFG like takes all his wheels and tires off, takes his boggers off and puts on these clothes. Obviously it was a good year. So it's a the Goodyear and they put those Goodyear wranglers on. And I remember thinking to myself, those aren't going to get you anywhere, man. You got to have boggers. And I'm sure as shit, I think I think he won it. I remember.



But apparently you didn't have to have boggers, apparently.



So I. I digress. So I had this CJ5 buggy that I built for Tom and he let me take all the shows and use it if I needed to. And he was always having a good time with it and it was a good showpiece and we eventually got. I think I started running an ad, it's funny, I was talking to Mike Schafer a month or two ago, I'd swing into his shop. I was up in that area and he goes, he said.



I forget how he worded it, but he was like I was reading through the magazine and you had all these like for lack of a better explanation, like professional ads, all these nice, like well-designed ads. And then I came across your ad for Fat City, and it was just as it was my jeep, like hanging a tire eight feet in the air, just about to roll. I think a guy was actually pushing me back over and I just said, Fat City Offroad, you know, custom chassis, roll cages, this and that.



And then it like it had a little tag that said, when in doubt, throttle out. That was all a little tagline all the time, because the second I saw that ad, I thought, that is so cool.



And he says that's when I decided I'm going to start my fab shop and and here's Shaffer 20 something years later. And he's one of the guys making money at it now.



I took a long time to do that, but he survived. He survived. He kept with it for him. So, yeah. So after that I got from that I think from that ad I ended up bringing in a guy named Kevin and I can't remember his name, his last name, Kevin. I'm drawing a blank on his last name for whatever reason.



But he went by Rammstein on oh yes, four by four forums, which at the time I didn't know what a forum was. So he had picked up this ad and he wanted a four link in his head, like a brand new dodge, like twenty five hundred or maybe a half ton. I forget the branding four wheel drive Dodge and we did like coil overs and the four Link Solid Axle like a Dana sixty or something up front. I forget what it was and it was, it was a cool, cool dodge and it was a daily driver that he would tow stuff with.



And after seeing the jeep we built for Tom, Kevin wanted he wanted a similar jeep, but he wanted coil overs. And, you know, for like a bigger. Bigger, better Chevy and that kind of stuff. So we ended up building a jeep and I hate naming Jeeps, I'm super anti naming anything, but he called it great and he's like, it's got to have a name.



He's like, I want to call it. I'm going to paint it purple. I want to call it grape nuts, like, all right, that sounds stupid, but you're the one building that you have something you say.



But it was a cool jeep and it went through a few hands until it finally it got rolled it over. The last guy, I don't know who owned it last, but it went from Kevin to a guy named Peter Premo. And then Pete sold it to another guy.



And that guy was at a truck haven or tier where Tierra Del Sol is held a handful of years ago or more, and he rolled it. He like stuck it into a notch and rolled it almost all the way over. And the transmission leaked onto the exhaust and lit that thing up and burned to the ground, which was a shame because it was it was kind of a cool jeep. But even funnier, though, not funnier. Nobody's gonna laugh at this. But me was that I was out there on, like, my dirt bike.



I was just we were camped 30 miles away and I was out on my dual sport just, you know, tearing ass around the desert. And in the in the distance, I saw a big cloud of black smoke. And I'm going to go see who's having a bad day. And I rolled up on it and like, oh, no kidding. I know that I know that Jeep. I said and I said I just happened.



I got to be there when it was born and I got to be there on a death day. So convenient. I mean, I could have been anywhere, but I ended up going to that black cloud of smoke and see that poor guy wtch his life, burned to the ground.



Yeah. Yeah, that's that would suck. So then at what point did John Reynolds come in?



Oh, so so while I was actually still building Kevin's jeep, I think and I don't I think it came from that ad too, so that those magazine ads did pay off, I guess because they were expensive and you had to commit to a like a 12 month deal or whatever back. Right.



John Reynolds had called me. He had competed in I think it was like the twenty four hours at the Hammer's when they were doing that or one of those kinds of events in his Bronco. Yeah, he had the he had like a big just modified Bronco. And I want to say it was on like thirty nine or something, but it's still a full bodied full frame Bronco. And he came, he wanted to build a new Bronco like a rectangular tube chassis with coil overs and that kind of stuff, and at the time I was building another tube chassis for myself, which was like a it was a I was trying to I was trying so hard to mix this this rock crawling and desert stuff together.



So it's building what essentially like appeared to be like a class one, but was a class one buggy that was still with solid axles, a little 60 and a forty four and that kind of stuff while he was there. I'm like, well. What I'd like to do is we should do you know, we're going to build a full chassis, let's build a round tube Chassis, I think I can I can't remember exactly. But, you know, he was a he was a horn player.



So a little history on John. He he played the French horn. I hope I hope I'm getting that right. But he played the French horn and he did like movie music, you know, so the music that plays at any given time during will be at the end, at the beginning, whatever it was. And maybe he did very well for himself doing that. And he didn't know, like fabrication was not his his game, which is, you know, further down the road.



He became such an impressive fabricator. I think that's the coolest one of the coolest stories ever is from a horn player to horn players like really professional fabricator. Right. So he wanted to build a Bronco. We talked him into a tube chassis and full body. You know, he had like we all had lots of ideas and luckily he kind of let us run with it. There was probably some that he wasn't keen on, like he wanted to he wanted to be easy to get in and out.



I'm like, no, I want chassis stiffness. So we need to you know, it needs to be rigid and we can't have these goofy doors that all these people are doing it. Yeah, I just had a lot of strong opinions, I guess. And he had that. He had you know, he wanted to put a huge motor in it. And I forget what it was, but it was like a five hundred horse back in the back of those days.



That was that was more power. So huge for the stroke thing.



I don't know what I forget with all the specs on it, but it was a bunch of power. And he had these this idea to use shoot what kind of Mercedes shoot what kind of portal's look know universal Unimog portal's. Yeah.



So he had this guy that he'd somehow come in contact named Jack that worked at CTM, which is I think it's like central tool machine and so axle Jack. So he has and he always talked about axle Jack says he's going to do this and he's like they're they're working on these axles and and.



He would always call them Axle Jack, which would lead you to believe that, like Jack just built Axle's, but after while after it was all said and done, you know, he took this nine inch housing and, you know, and mounted these UniMog portal's on it and built this huge strap because the UniMog portal's had like a weak housing. So he built this like one inch strap that he TIG welded around the portal itself so that it wouldn't explode the housing, couldn't explode the housing.



And when I finally got to meet Jack, which I think was at the hammer, I think we all went wheelin together. And Jack's like, he's like, yeah, don't tell, don't tell Jack or John this. But like, I've never built an axle in my life until he came to me.



Like your Axle Jack. How have you never done that? Because I didn't feel like I could do anything. So yeah.



So we built this. We wanted to keep it low and on big tires, but with tons of clearance with these portals. And we were going to have to run the the nine inch third member upside down, which is going to be like this is a lot of oil. I don't think we knew anyone that had done that yet. So John being, you know, pretty OCD, like went home and. Probably spent, you know, 80 hours figuring out how to oil a nine inch upside down by, you know, he would he would I think we had to weld a little things in, but he would find a little thin.



And he like, I want to thin right here, inside here, inside the third member so that it throws oil at this outer pinion bearing kind of thing. And I mean, he he was super. Super good at engineering and figuring that stuff out, and I can like I I'm good at figuring things out, but I can't put that kind of time into it sometimes. And he was like he was going to get it right. And he did.



I don't think there was ever a failure. We welded everything in for him and it threw oil where it needed to run in upside down. And and I think it had so much clearance back in those days. It was so I was always so surprised because you'd have like a five gallon jerrycan, which you can't buy in California, more five gallon jerrycan that sits on two and a half feet tall or whatever, and with thirty nine inch tires, this this portale axle with just clear the differential is clear right over it without even touching like man that would be back in those days considered a very big rock and you just drove right over it.



Without touching, no diff dragging again, Oudeh and touching, and then you'll really want to rear steer, which was, you know, I wasn't totally new at that time because we've done rear steer on one of the snipers on that Stephen ReMoore sniper, to be exact. Right. And but he had the money to buy like the right parts. So Steve's rear steer would work, but it was so agonizingly slow and. John had figured out John Reynolds had figured out like, well, we need this much pressure through this PSC or whatever it was, but super high pressure pump and to this size RAM and we put it on.



I forget what kind of valve we use. It was really like a log splitter valve or something. But and that thing would go for lock to lock in like a second. So it would it was super, super fast. And it really made all the difference in the world, especially like a top truck challenge. He won top truck challenge with that Bronco. And there was one hill on those like those mud bog things that you do. And and he he set like a record time going through the tank trap.



That's what was called back then. But there is one hill that you came out of the mud bog and you had to, like most people, couldn't even make the hill. But if you looked at the tire tracks, the rear was go unlocked, the lock to lock the lock the lock.



And it did it like 10 times and eight feet and just buzzed him right up over that thing.



And that's like, oh, man, that's that's a good thing. John is right. We need a bunch of a bunch of power going to that thing. That was a really cool Bronco, and that was the same thing, I was always trying to mix a little bit of desert with a little bit of that, with a lot of rock crawling I guess back then, it's awesome. And again, still just following the footsteps that I'd been watching, like from Shannon and Randy Ellis and that kind of stuff.



So I might not not make anything new. I'm just doing it in a different way, I guess.



All right. So now let's let's jump in to. Transition from that Bronco into Ron Stobaugh and your Jeep speed efforts and the competitions and met with pirate with lance. Yeah, everybody.



Yeah, Ron Ron Stobaugh was good at gettin me in a bunch of trouble.



So in. Two thousand four somewhere around there. I moved down to this area and went to work for at the time it was like superior axle and gear and drive, train direct. And that's where I met Ron and Chris Durham was actually involved in that a little bit at the time. So I actually I knew Danny Grymes for so long because he was originally from Santa Paula, which is right next to Ventura. Yep. And Danny hooked me up with Chris Durham.



And Durham was like, we're looking for Drivetrain Guy. So I went down and interviewed and got that job. And after a while, I think I'd always wanted to go desert racing. And that was about the time, like Jeep speed speed. It actually popped up a few years before that, but it was super small at the time. And he speed for anyone that doesn't know, is just a class four. At the time, it was just a class for XJ Cherokee's.



It was super limited, but it was super affordable. So it was something I could do. So I built this Jeep Cherokee and now now I'm a desert racer and I'm spending every dime I ever made on desert racing, which I always tell. I've got some neighbor kids that race their side by side and I'm like, you've got to stop doing that. You save your money, you idiots.



So now I'm desert racing and eventually I go to work. Ron Ron started Alloy USA and I go to work for Ron and the like a few weeks before Sema of I don't know,  2005 I think.



A few weeks before SEMA, we had raced. Shoot some some like MORE race or I think it was a there was another one where the accident had MDR, obviously, and there was the infamous wall jump, which is part of it, part of the race course. And it's basically just like a three or four foot ledge. But when you hit that thing, it's sends ya. And I had picked up, I think either I think I picked up Ron and sponsored me before I went to work for him.



So anyway, so I don't know where that all gets jumbled together, but we hit. I had broken. I stripped out of spool. So I was running in two wheel Drive, but one wheel drive and I could barely keep the damn jeep going. It got stuck twice already in the sand. And so I was basically pissed and I was driving the wheels of this jeep. Either I was going to kill it or it was going to kill me.



And I hit I hit that wall at full speed. And it's the jeep, probably, even if it had to actual to drive, if the school hadn't broken, I don't think that she would have gone any faster because I never lifted for miles. And the thing was just carrying speed the whole time. And I hit that thing and it sends this stupid Jeep Cherokee, I mean, like, I don't know, 12 feet in the air or something like that.



It the photo looks like it. Yeah.



Yeah. It was I actually when I was in it, I think I was just tunnel vision and just so pissed off.



But my co-driver Luke Weir when we finally landed finally landed and he's like, dude, I was looking at the top like looking down at the tops of people's heads and I really didn't feel that bad to me.



I think we actually just landed right. Because we landed into another set of whoop. So we kind of landed on the downhill side of a whoop and then it shot us back up again. But I think if we have flat landed that we'd we'd both be in wheelchairs right now, unfortunately. But so it's after that that that stupid little jump got a bunch of attention because it was super cool pictures. And we're at SEMA that seems broken, is only meant like another mile.



And it just broke all the all the mounts right out of the motor, broke all the the bolts sheared off and then the motor dropped on the actual. So you can't you're not supposed to jump Cherokee's 12 feet in the air.






At SEMA it's like a week before. But I've never even been to Mexico. And Ron Stobaugh starts smack talking Lance and Eric Linko camo because they had recently bought a. They bought Jason Lafortunes Jeep, I think so they bought a jeep or they've been racing it for a little while maybe. And so Ron starts smack talk in these guys, and that's where he came up with the Baja beer bet. And, you know, we would run. That is kind of a it was kind of a marketing ploy.



But at the same time, you pirate four by four, had a lot of following back then. So and everybody was still active. But like, I think I had three or four days to prep that jeep. And then put it on a trailer and cross the border to Mexico, which I'd never done before, and we're going to go race Lance and Camo in this in this Baja one thousands of things by 1000. And I'd always dreamt about I just didn't dream it would be three days later.



And, man, I'll tell you, that was such a learning experience I had. Brad Lovell was my co-driver. He'd never been the I don't know if you'd ever been the Baja, he'd never raced Baja before that. And we took off. And I remember like the first 30 miles also the first time I got to meet Bob Bower that I love that guy. That guy's awesome. Is awesome. Yeah. He's a guy. He's a wealth of knowledge. And and I you you could write a book about that guy or he could write a book about him.



I mean, it's just an impressive character.



But, uh, so the first thirty miles I remember talking to Bob for the first time ever, met him because he goes well here. And Ron brought me over to say, you know, Eric, this is Bob Bauer. He's got a couple of things he wants to say. He's a really smart guy. I said, all right, hey, about it. He goes, well, here's what you want to do. I know you're all, like, hot to trot.



So when you take off of that and you take off on that start line, like just shut it down, you know, take off like a bat out of hell, give him a show right there and then shut it down. He says, get yourself a good thirty miles under your belt, settle down, tighten your belt up on when you get to Ojos Negroes. Yeah. So then you can open it up and and go man, give yourself thirty, thirty miles to really settle in.



And I still think of that every time because every time I take the start I'll, I will, I'll just, I'll take it easy. It's you know, you don't win that race between START and others. So you just get your belt, you get comfortable, you get used to all those sounds that you think you're hearing and and haven't been detrimental yet. You just get over it. And I think that's that's so I've got I now have and I, I credit Bob's wisdom to that.



I've got five different Baja one thousand wins by one thousand wins in four different classes. That that particular Baja beer bet though we lost to Eric and Cammo or Lance and Camo. But but yeah man those are all I love reflecting on those times. It's not only I learned so much, but it was just such a good time. And I got a lot of people to thank for that too. And I was a big part of it. I don't think I'd ever gotten I would probably never have gotten a chance or as many other chances as that got us.



I think I've raised a thousand like fifteen times now. If it wasn't for Ron Stobaugh sticking his neck out there and helping sponsor the the very first race, there's a lot of us that can say that about Ron.



Ron was one of our one of our first sponsors with Cal Rocks. With well, let's say it was superior to an alloy and then we bought precision later on. Yeah. And so, you know, he got me down there with. With because of all that on pirate, I ended up down there with with Pirate, with Lance and Cammo and Roggy and all those guys and then the four men with Pistol Pete and, you know, some great times down there.






And so and it's an anniversary for me. Two years now that he passed away. On Tuesday, it's just a few days away from now as it starts in. Yeah, two years already. We'll talk about him. I love the pistol man, so armed with such a fucking solid guy man, everybody. Everybody realized they like them after you passed, which is always unfortunate, but, yes, just such and such a terrific person.



Exactly. Let's go into real quick the cartoons, the cartoon video for Ultra for. Oh, and the Hitler video.



I don't know.



It's one of my favorite I, I don't either. I think I enjoy them both.



They're so different with the whole thing. But, you know, the I don't know how you came up with that. I don't know. I know you have a great sense of humor. Yeah.



It's basically just me smack talking through a cartoon, but it's it's so appropriate. Yeah.



I would laugh out everybody and it still is, but it's how everyone always remembers just how still accurate it is to this day. And that what that had to be ten years ago or I don't know, a long, long time ago, whatever it was.



Yeah. And it's it's amazing. It's the first time I'd ever seen anything like that. And then the Hitler one, which what came the next year.



No, no, no. Just like a month later. A month later. Yeah.



We figured that you were drinking a lot of margaritas when you did those.



My favorite part of the Hitler one is, was when he was talking about whoever whoever it was that threw a rock at Randy was a Randy ad. So whoever it was, it threw a rock. And he says. He says, you know, if we didn't look dumb enough, you threw that rock like a pussy or something like that, and then it cuts to the two girls and she puts her hand on the other girl and goes, It's OK.



You threw it as hard as you could. I'm still cracking myself up, but mostly just for that one part.



Oh, Lord. So, yeah, I do appreciate seeing those pop back up.



And it's always right around this time, right before the race. And it's still true to this day. Is a bunch of them still, you know, putting motors in and you've got to be on a lake bed in a week. Exactly.



And and it's it's almost like, you know, Bob Bower's, you know, being careful in Baja, you know, and taking precautions and stuff. It's it's there is famous is that.



Yeah. At least the rock donkeys. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. So let's go ahead. Well I would say that the Bob hours, if I still follow suit I think and in the average, you know, no one no one wins in that first two miles. But a lot of them try to correct the thing.



The difference in it. KOH is a. Racing down in Baja is that the pit crews are a lot safer at KOH than they are oh involved a lot more.



I mean, technically, I mean, there are rules, but really there's no rules.



I know that that racing with pistol, we had a rule and it was never to drive over 55.



Yes. Which he you know, he would end up with some donkeys a lot of the time that, you know, because he was always trying to scrape together a crew. And I mean, he lost a lot of chase trucks down in Baja.



Yeah, I only lost that mirror one time. The Honda, that's that's not bad.



And you get you get you get asked to come back.



If you only go somewhere in the Honda team, their van going the opposite direction in road construction. I went down to San Felipe.



You had to drop off and get off the highway because they were building it. It was all dirt road. Got to this real narrow spot and I'm completely dead stopped. And they come by me going the other direction at probably twenty five in their van, 30 miles an hour and smacked the mirror.



Oh, and if I could have gotten turned around, I would have chased them down because I was so pissed and I remember I guess it's been long enough to tell the tale.



Stobaugh was racing our Jeep. I think it was the five. It was it was definitely the five hundred. We were racing my Jeep and Ron was driving and he had.



I think he just kissed it or just clicked something like a spectator car or something, and he came into the pit yelling at everybody, get your stickers off the windows, stickers off the window. You don't want any you whatever. Our number was 17 to one or something like that. Get them off. Get all your stickers out the window. They're going to I clicked the car back there.



I can't wait to get Stobaugh on this. I've been I've been asking him since last April and just have not found the time to do it. So next time you talk to him, tell him he's got to get on here, OK?



You're gonna have to make it like a four hour long thing. Oh, guys, guys, guys.



Oh, yeah. So then your gig now is with Motive Gear. We talked about a little bit about that. And what is what is the position that you hold with them. I would say I where every week there's a couple of us or a handful of us that are that are pretty key players anyway. I mean, we have we have our VPs. I mean, everybody's everybody's a key player. That's me being politically correct. But as far as like brand management and product development, that kind of stuff, there's there's maybe there's five or six of us that are really not only in charge of that, but we're also like enthusiasts is we've got a couple of drag racers, car radio routers.



I'm a desert guy. My buddy Jeff Belnap is a desert guy and rock crawlers and that kind of stuff. So we always say that wherever we have from product development to like marketing, we do all the shows we handle, all the sponsorships I do inside sales and outside sales and still handle when I'm in the office, I'm like on the tech line nonstop because differential work is and it's not rocket science, but a lot of people think it is.



You're going to walk a lot of people off the cliff. But so we do. We do it all. But we've got we've got our VPs and that kind of stuff. I, I don't even know what my title is.



I like not having the title, but I really do like you know, we're one of the only true manufacturers in the business.



There's lots of other brands, but they're all just buying like third party. And we're we're the only ones that are technically motive here is really the only ones technically vested in our manufacturing plants. So we can we can actually control our quality control, our quality control, as opposed to bring it in whatever the other guy's sold us. And then we check it and move it into a box. Yeah, we make our parts awesome. Yeah.



And then, like, you'll see me in all the shows because I'm on the road guy and the desert is dirty and I like that stuff and it's, you know, it's not everybody's cup of tea. So right away I can I always always tell people I've got the best job in the world, you know, I've got no complaints. It's like the people I work with super loyal to the brand because I know what kind of quality we put out there.



And this is where real if I don't if I die before I retire, this is either real die or retire. Excellent.



So, yeah, you're the last couple of times I've seen you, you've been wheeling a flat fender.



Oh yeah. Yeah, I've got well I've got everything so I've got I mean what I have is everything which is too many, too many things I've got, I've got my free runner and I've got you know, I've got my I've got a little tje for rock Ron.



I've got my flat fender for rock roll but I've got a bone stock nineteen forty six flatlander s.j to a and it's still got a flat head four cylinder in it and stock axles, stock translocate stock stock everything except I put Laborites in it from the rear and I just tear gas and I think it's so much fun because like every year at the Hammers I usually bring it down for KOH and well there's every Toyota goofball and a JK on Forty's that can't get through chocolate thunder.



I take this stupid little stock flatfender on twenty eight inch tires and I mean I got at work. It's not easy that's for sure, but I'll run it up chocolate thunder and and then honk the horn at the top and you get the cheers and that's, that's what makes me smile.



That's awesome.



I guess if everybody booed I like this thing.



Well is there anything that we've talked that we haven't talked about that that you'd like to share? Boy, that is a great question. Got builds that you're you're looking at doing or. No, you know what, I'm well, so I'm all grown up these days, you know, I'm I'm in my mid forties now and I've got a six year old and a six year old boy and a 12 year old daughter that I'd like to just poke fun of.



And I'm trying to just essentially bring them up most of my stuff when it's not work, it's family anymore. So it's good. I've got a motor home and a million way too many dirt bikes and too many jeeps. And, you know, let's let the kids drive those things and ride the wheels off their dirt bikes. And it's just a it's it's a different you know, in reflection, when I was younger, everything was was kind of about, you know, this kind of about me or or or being, you know, or competing or, you know, that kind of thing and any more.



I really do focus on telling. My wife disagrees. She'll say that I don't spend enough time with them. But she's she does know what she's talking about.



She won't listen to this. That's OK.



Well, yeah, let's yeah. I spend more time out in the desert with my kids and we go camping almost every weekend and that's that's kind of my gig now. I still like rock on. When I was a I was just at the Hammer's back in September or October and I was just out there and I remember I had I used to drive a j7 when I was in my early twenties. I drive a seven, I'm thirty three and we go run on the hammers.



We'd run all the trails and it was on the TI five with a Tarullo on the transfer case and we just eat up those trails and had such a good time. And then I just went back and ran. I think it is either Jack or Sledge, it's the one on the left. OK, and I ran that in my TJ. At like 2:00 in the morning, because I'm an idiot, and about halfway through I was like, oh my God, I forgot how big these goddamn rocks.



I mean, these rocks are so big these days. And I was like, why can't we turn around right now? It's going to take this just as long to get out. Does it go for it? But if we break something, man, we are we're screwed. I was like, how how come I haven't grown out of this yet? Dammit, Eric, you're a grown up now.



I like to tell everybody I'm a scenic, Wheeler.



Yeah, I see that joke around with Brad Lovell. I'm a professional prerunner. Leave me alone.



It's safer and less expensive that way.



Only you know who else you should get on this one day would be my buddy Ian Liljinblad with his.



He's got you know, I'm sure you've seen the two to two scale or whatever you want to call it to the one scale flatlander. Right? I mean, I used to codawg or a spot for him back in the back in the ARCA and that kind of stuff. Even now if I have all the same stories, but either way just told in a different way, they're always fun.



Well, why don't you shoot me his contact information and I'll. Yeah, and I'll look at putting him on, that's for sure. Getting him on the list at least.



Yeah, he's one of my and he's I mean, we've got a big group of flatlander dorks now because now we've got to we're like a always laugh when somebody calls us elitist flatlanders because nobody ever said elitist and flatlander in the same sentence sentence only when they were talking about Pewe back in the day.



Yeah. Yeah, well yeah. OK, he's one of our one of our flatlander talks. We do a lot of fun, runs something. Occasionally Fareway comes out and even Randy Ellis has one now or he's having Thriller.



Yeah Miller's got one. There's until we did that Ian Liljenblad actually put it all together but it was the what he calls the go devil run and it's Flathead Flat Fender only and it's like all stockers and basically just party our way through the desert and go do some fun obstacles and that kind of stuff. But it's the intention was like to take a picture if you took a picture at any given time and then just turned it black and white, it should technically look like we were in the forties.



And so I didn't I don't I don't have any cowboy wear because that's when I think of the 40s. I just my mind goes straight to cowboys. But all those Arizona guys have cowboy wear because they're all shitkickers, but not so any pictures with those guys in it?



It does, man. It looks you know, it's just a bunch of stock flatlanders with dorks driving home and cowboy hats and stuff.



Actually, we did the we did an article we ran an article in 4Low  that Ryan Miller put together on the go, go, run.



Yeah, that's right. Yeah. So, you know, I read that. Yeah, yeah.



The other one was read from 4Low and kudos for bringing back and putting on such a high quality magazine.



Rich. Oh thank you.



But the other one I ran and I just I just ran part of it and I was thinking flattener in my head the whole time. But was you guys did the piece trail, the Arizona piece trail. Yeah, we did.



From sixty back around to Yuma. Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, we started we just did it in New Years. We were trying to get out of California because it got all all the all the camping shut down in California for covid. But we wanted to get out of California, so we headed to Quartsite. Arizona, went from Quartsite, ran the Peace Trail all the way to Parker Desert Bar. And just that trail system is super cool.



It is. It is. I want to do that. That's the next the next part I want to do. Except my Raptor was nice and had just a few little pinstripes. It's now going to get wrapped.



I tell you, it's my prerunner is probably a little bit wider than your than your raptor. And I was on the outside of those trails the whole time or the my tires were on the outside of the trail the whole time. And that's where all the chope was from the side by side and stuff that go through there. And it is literally like it was shaking my prerunner pieces. It broke two of it, basically the same part of the bedsides basically broke off and it was done with it.



Wow. Still a great trail. And the only reason I'd read about it in your magazine, I was like, oh, that's where I'm going. We're going to go run those trails.



Well, I'm glad that was some motivation for you. Yeah. So see it working. Yeah, I'd love to hear that. So ever since we had Fred Williams on, he asked me a question.



Uh, so I throw it out there now to my guests. Is there a question that you want to ask me? What do you think? Like, where do you think the actual technical rock crawling technology will go next as far as like I mean, there's there's like Cody's cars and and I don't know if Jesse made his last one.



That's stuff that Jesse Haines is doing is really, really super cool for Rockcrawling and the new portals and everything and the balance he's getting and stuff like how do you how do you advance on that?



Where is the next thing I feel like? I mean, there's always smarter people than I am for sure. So there's got to be a next level.



Where do you think it's at? Like, what's the and you're seeing it up front. So and I'm sure paying very close attention to it. How are these cars going to get better without giving anyone ideas?



I think that what guys are doing now is with the portal technology that they're able to go to lighter and lighter drive trains. So, yes, there's actually somebody out there, Kevin Reimer, that has built his unlimited buggy using Suzuki axles and using all Suzuki drivetrain, from what I understand. OK, so he's going super lightweight. I think you're going to see a lot of that happening, you know, just to get lighter and lighter and lighter and they're going to make qualifying weight by, you know, what what's in the tires, kind of like Tiny did originally.



But, yeah, I think you're going to see the next big thing will be. EV electric vehicle. Oh, I think you're going to see guys come out with kind of like what Tony Kaye did originally. You know, he was the first one to build an electric vehicle, but it was it was way too early. The technology for EV is so much advanced, farther advanced now that somebody is going to cough up the money and put something together that that will be not only form, but function properly.



All right. That'll be interesting to see, because I like that I assume you can actually keep a small enough battery if you have enough batteries and swapping out between, like, courses. So you don't have to add a ton of weight.



Yeah, because all you need is all you need is about 10, 12 minute runtime. Yeah, exactly. And then have the batteries on a quick connect tray or something and just slide them in and out. I, you know, I see it happening.



You know, one thing I am always really curious about and it falls right into my wheelhouse here. There's a guy named Brennan Metcalf out of. So we got a drink in Colorado and he always kicks. He's an Indian engineered and he always kicks around. Really nice guy. I say that with love, but he always kicks around the the theory of super deep gearing and the differential or even the autres as opposed to in the transfer case for for the way the suspension reacts.



And I think that is something he always wants us to gear to make like a crazy, crazy deep, you know, eight to one or high or lower gear for like a day and a 60 and that kind of thing, which, you know, of loves. We love to like to be the innovators on that kind of stuff. But I also when I bring that to him, I've got to be like and we're going to sell two hundred of them or 400 of them.



Yeah, I feel like we should make this and give it to Brendan.



But it always leads me to believe, like Jason, the two words to come up with something really good or even Brendan with something really good would be like an under drive that mounts on the, you know, the front of the housing, the front of the Yellowcard European front of opinion, and then comes out with the OK. And that would be one way to the deep in that gear. Right. And my affordably. But I, I always appreciate seeing what Brandon throws out there.



It's just sometimes it's not cost effective right now.



I've been following his stuff too. And yeah, he's he is a super nice guy and very, very knowledgeable, very smart. Way beyond, way beyond me. I'm not an an engineer type. Luckily I married an accountant. That is really good with books, because that's one reason fab shops never, never make it all those hundreds again.



Yes, it started off shops because grain fabricators, but they don't know how to run a business. Yeah, absolutely. I want to say thank you so much for coming on board this morning and spending some time and getting this done, and I think you got some we got a really killer interview here, and I think people are going to enjoy it. Oh, right.



I really appreciate you asking me or having me on now and have fun at the Hammer's. Oh, I don't see out there at all. Nope. I'm not making it this year because you're way back east right now, huh? Yeah. We're in Texas.



We have we have a couple of photographers that'll be covering the event for us and then we'll we'll see everybody hopefully at Easter. They're still planning that.



And we are going yeah, we are planning on that's that's everything day by day work. But I always assume they were planning to be at Easter. So hopefully everything stays on a on a good course for all of us. And all this stuff, you know, goes back to normalises normalises itself again.



Yeah. I don't want to think about any other possibilities. Yeah, exactly. All right. Well, Eric, take care. I really appreciate it, man.



And you have a fantastic morning and we will see you out on the trail hopefully soon, man.



All right. Sounds good, Eric. Thank you. Take a life. 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. OK, you enjoyed it. We'll catch you next week with conversations with Big Rich. Thank you very much.