Disco Derek West spills on family, racing, opportunities, and why he’s retired now. A twenty-year career with over 100 wins in all elements of off-road, Derek has always been a wheelman. He can drive anything and podium.
3:54 – Four wheelers started the driving bug
9:03 –my very first race is a holeshot race and everyone’s wrecking!
14:07 – John Lloyd was the one who got me into off-road
16:12 –Camp Jeep in Branson is where I met Ritchie
20:17 – Ashley was driving my comp rig to college
24:18 – I learned you have to trust your rig and trust your spotter
28:00 – the sponsors weren’t interested, nobody was interested
30:48 – I am just the monkey behind the wheel
33:32 – I hated optional lines
37:58 – got invited to KOH in 2009
43:40 – I got second place, and somebody said “What happened?” I was proud of that second place
51:39 –that was the hardest race
58:11 – the solid axle is actually doing extremely well
1:02:05 – the origin of “disco”
1:05:03 – if you can swing it, pay for it yourself, sponsorship is a job.
We want to thank our sponsors Maxxis Tires and 4Low Magazine.
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Support the show (https://www.buymeacoffee.com/BigRich)
[00:00:01.050] - Big Rich Klein
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.
[00:00:29.500] - Speaker 2
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 delivers. Choose Maxxis tread victoriously.
[00:00:56.040] - Big Rich Klein
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.
On today's episode of Conversations with Big Rich, we have Derek West. Yes, that's right, Disco Derek West. First time I met him, he wasn't going by Disco.
[00:01:31.830] - Big Rich Klein
We met in Oklahoma at a rockcrawl event. We'll get into that. But, Derek, thank you for coming on board with conversations and talking to me and our listeners.
[00:01:44.130] - Derek West
Yeah. Thanks for having me.
[00:01:45.600] - Big Rich Klein
Let's let's get right down to the nitty gritty like we always do. Where were you born and raised?
[00:01:50.370] - Derek West
I was born and raised in Springfield, Missouri. And I'm still here.
[00:01:54.990] - Big Rich Klein
That's correct. I knew that's where you're at. I didn't realize that that's where you were born and raised as well. So let's talk about those early years. Do you have I never found out if you have any brothers or sisters.
[00:02:06.810] - Derek West
I have three stepsisters. I've got one that's younger than me and two that are older, but none that I necessarily grew up with or OK. So I kind of grew up as an only child. My two older sisters lived in another household and then my younger sister lived with me. But she's 12 years younger than I am.
[00:02:32.340] - Derek West
So, you know, she was pretty young at the time I was leaving the house.
[00:02:37.260] - Big Rich Klein
OK, so let's talk about your early years and growing up. I'm an only child. I always wished I had brothers and sisters. But what it did is it I had a lot of really good friends growing up since I didn't have brothers and sisters. Did you find that same thing?
[00:02:58.830] - Derek West
Yeah, I suppose so. And so the funny thing is, since I didn't have any close siblings close to my age anyway, know, so I thought that I wanted to have multiple kids because of that.
[00:03:15.030] - Derek West
And then I ended up just having one myself. But yeah. You know, so you can find good friends. And I think siblings just fight in their younger years and then, you know, maybe become better friends later in life. But yeah, I mean, I guess I kind of miss that. But, you know, I didn't know any better wasn't a big deal to me.
[00:03:35.640] - Derek West
[00:03:37.680] - Big Rich Klein
So what was your your interest as a kid? Did you did you get into music? Did you get into scouts sports? What kind of things what kind of things floated your boat?
[00:03:54.210] - Derek West
Yes, I got it.
[00:03:54.990] - Derek West
You know, I enjoyed listening to music. I started to find an interest to play guitar, and that didn't last very long at all. I got into skateboarding, so I like to skateboard. That was pretty fun. Um, some biking. But in that so my dad, uh, you know, got us some four wheelers. So I did a fair amount of four wheeler riding, which kind of probably started all of my interests and in racing, um, and then we'll talk some more into that so, you know, kind of work is.
[00:04:34.920] - Derek West
He also helped me get a jeep when I was actually fifteen, I guess. But but early on I was I was riding four wheelers and I really like and enjoyed that.
[00:04:45.840] - Big Rich Klein
OK, from the four wheelers. What about what what age was that?
[00:04:52.710] - Derek West
And so I actually had a little mini bike I think I got for my seventh birthday, OK, which was a motorcycle, and I rode it around, but I was never big into dirt bikes when I was little. You know, I had that and it was fun to ride for some reason. I like the four wheelers and so oh, I'm going to say around ten ish. I'm not exactly for sure. We got a two fifty Honda TRX, four wheeler.
[00:05:23.970] - Derek West
We had one of those and then a year or two later ended up with a one twenty five as well. You know what, they were just kind of more utility type of four wheelers.
[00:05:34.800] - Derek West
Right. Um and then somewhere.
[00:05:41.220] - Derek West
Oh probably by the time I guess I was. I guess 13 maybe we ended up with a Yamaha warrior, which was a bit more sporty, right?
[00:05:57.180] - Derek West
So I had that. But then later on I bought my own four wheeler. I got a Honda four hundred EX kind of when they first came out and were popular.
[00:06:06.820] - Big Rich Klein
OK, did you grow up rural or suburban or city?
[00:06:13.080] - Derek West
Well, so I lived in the city, Springfield. I'm trying to think of what our metropolitan area is, its quarter million just guessing or.
[00:06:26.700] - Derek West
Yeah, probably something like that.
[00:06:28.240] - Derek West
Right. There's about one hundred fifty thousand in the city limits and then and we've got some surrounding areas. So not a huge city, but not a small town either.
[00:06:37.860] - Derek West
[00:06:39.510] - Big Rich Klein
So then but where I lived, I had I lived in the city limits, but we had oh, my guess, 40 plus acres directly behind our house. That wasn't ours, but it was belonged to a car lot actually there. And so I could actually ride four wheelers right there at my house. And then also we would go on trips and go down camping in Arkansas where my dad was from and ride them out in the conservation areas there.
[00:07:06.340] - Big Rich Klein
OK, that's handy having a car lot with that kind of acreage, I would imagine it was probably pretty much dirt because the car lot surely doesn't need that many acres.
[00:07:18.570] - Derek West
Well, the car lot wasn't using it, so it was a field that they would mow. It was grass area. And then there was a section of it had some woods and some hills. And so I kind of made my own little trails and just messed around as a kid, pretty much.
[00:07:30.660] - Big Rich Klein
OK, let's talk about that transition then into the sportier four wheelers. And then that probably happened by high school.
[00:07:43.180] - Derek West
Yeah, so road the Yamaha, 350, we had it for a long time, and I guess I was a little older than what I was thinking when we got it, but so I rode it through through high school and then I was twenty one. I think by the time I got that Yamaha or excuse me, the Honda four hundred EX.
[00:08:08.830] - Derek West
So so the Yamaha Warrior, we've got a place called Chadwick, that's an ATV riding area that's forty five minutes from my house and it's, I don't know how many miles of trails that they have, but it's a lot and it's, it's pretty neat place for an ATV. So I used I used to go down there, it had a pickup truck. I throw that back in my pickup truck and go down there and ride by myself, you know, and I decided that that Yamaha was outdated and it's heavy.
[00:08:40.750] - Derek West
And so I got the four hundred EX, which is a lot lighter and was riding that, you know, this is sometime down the road. But that's also when I started meet some other people and ended up doing some racing with my ATV.
[00:08:58.900] - Big Rich Klein
OK, and was that some woods type racing or.
[00:09:03.190] - Derek West
It was, yeah. So I never got into the motocross type of stuff, you know, or jumping in the dirt courses. So I was doing the cross-country endurance type of races, which is through the woods. So I did that. I really enjoyed it. But by this time I have bought my first house and you know, I'm working a job and I'm living paycheck to paycheck and kind of figure in the world out. And then I realized, you know, I guess my my very first race and stuff, I'll never forget this.
[00:09:42.970] - Derek West
We go to the first corner. It's a holeshot race. You go the first corner and half the field wrecks right there. Yeah. And, you know, there's these wrecks all the time. And, you know, and I have never wrecked, like, you know what? So I'm going to wreck this thing and I'm going to break my leg or break my arm and I'm going to go bankrupt because I can't go to work.
[00:10:02.350] - Derek West
[00:10:03.210] - Derek West
So, you know, by this time I'm old enough now. I already had Jeeps and I've been doing off roading. And that's where it made sense to me to make the transition to something a little more safer. So, you know, I had seatbelts, roll cages, and so something happened. I can maybe stay a little safer. It's just conserving my body, I guess. And, you know, I just knew as a matter of time before I got hurt.
[00:10:27.970] - Big Rich Klein
That's smart thinking. Most of us wait too long. So let's let's talk about your first vehicle then. What was what was the first automotive truck or car that you, uh, that you drove so that the first the first real vehicle that I had was my dad's Bronco. So it's a nineteen seventy nine Bronco that he bought in nineteen eighty. And so that was my first vehicle that I was was driving around when, when I was 16 and during high school.
[00:11:05.110] - Big Rich Klein
Nice. We actually had a jeep at that time but it was kind of a junker and it was off getting worked on. So I was painting it and it took oh my gosh, it took like like almost two years to even get a paint and get the body work done on it.
[00:11:25.750] - Big Rich Klein
That was pretty typical.
[00:11:27.970] - Derek West
It well, it was just a slow deal. You know, we weren't in a hurry and, you know, it's probably a deal or he'd do a little work. We came a little bit and that sort of thing that but I love that Bronco and I still have that Bronco to this day. Wow, that's awesome. I've I've sold it twice and I've bought it back twice on about both times. I've made deals like, OK, if you sell this, you give me a call and I don't really do anything with that.
[00:11:55.210] - Derek West
I drive it some.
[00:11:55.960] - Derek West
But it's just, you know, I kind of grew up in the thing, so.
[00:12:00.250] - Big Rich Klein
And the seventy nine KOH, that's the that's the the bigger Bronco.
[00:12:04.420] - Derek West
That's, that's the full body. Yeah. Yeah.
[00:12:06.790] - Derek West
OK, but I've just heard so many stories from older gentlemen. You say, oh I wish, I wish I had that car back, I should have never let that go. And so I kept this one, you know, and it wasn't it wasn't anything for the longest time. It's just now really kind of starting to become desirable. And I'm considered maybe a collector, you know, because five, ten years ago, nobody cared about those. They were just, you know, one of the the small Broncos, which is seventy seven and and older and but they just so the Bronco that I have, they just.
[00:12:41.590] - Derek West
Made seventy and seventy nine and then an 80, I think when I went to kind of the O.J. style Bronco, right.
[00:12:48.810] - Big Rich Klein
So then you had your dad had the Jeep that was being painted. You had the Bronco. Did you did you wheel it or was it more of a street street now?
[00:12:59.920] - Derek West
Yeah, that was the street.
[00:13:00.940] - Derek West
And I've never wheeled it off road, you know that.
[00:13:06.520] - Derek West
What was the that kind of happened in the Jeep?
[00:13:08.770] - Big Rich Klein
That in a jeep.
[00:13:09.490] - Derek West
OK, so and we had several jeeps.
[00:13:12.750] - Derek West
So so the first jeep, we actually kind of did a trade for we bartered for it. It was like eight hundred bucks. I mean, it was it was a seventy six five and the floorboards were arrested out and the rear quarter panels were rusted out and it was the straight six with the three speed.
[00:13:32.890] - Derek West
So we took that off to get painted black. So that was a was a long project. Well, in the meantime, we ran across another jeep, another seventy five that we ended up buying. And I say we my dad got me and it had a vate, so I started driving that around and that was just, just a street jeep to play that. Still really one wheeling in the park. But we had that. So then the, the vehicle I remember you competing in was a YJ, is that correct?
[00:14:07.180] - Derek West
Yes. So after the S.J five got painted, we took the engine out of the VA Jeep. We bought and we swapped them. We put six cylinder and put the VA in that. When we were doing this, my dad made a deal with the shop that was doing it, which is John's four by four and more, which is John Lloyd at Billings, Missouri. And he made a deal that, you know, while we're doing this work, he wanted me to come down and help and have John kind of teach me how to do some of this stuff.
[00:14:39.790] - Derek West
And he's the one that got me into off roading. So we started doing this stuff and they had groups of people that go out on trail rides. And I started going and then I started I mean, we switched the swap, the transmission after that five speed and then three hundred and further down the road we did a forty fours with a spring overhead on it. And I was we along with these guys and we did a Arby's and you know, so then then that's where I'm starting to, to do trail riding and get into off roading and watching these guys do hard obstacles 17 18 around that time.
[00:15:21.520] - Big Rich Klein
Is that the same time period that you met Ritchie?
[00:15:26.500] - Derek West
No. So I didn't meet Ritchie.
[00:15:29.710] - Derek West
I was probably twenty two when I met Ritchie.
[00:15:32.830] - Derek West
OK, so by this time I'm starting to wheel enough and do hard enough stuff. So unwellness, carbonated, VA and decided I wanted more wheelbase and fuel injection. So I bought a the it was as a ninety six Ringler YJ. So I took the axle's the drive train out of my S.J five and swopped under it and did the spring over on it. And so this one I did all by myself. So now I'm starting to do some fabrication stuff.
[00:16:12.850] - Derek West
This would have been when I was twenty two, so I did all that right after, shortly after I got that finished and that jeep going effectives right at the time I got got it go. In fact I wasn't even fully done with it. There was a jeep was having Camp Jeep in Branson, Missouri, which is very close to me.
[00:16:32.530] - Derek West
[00:16:33.520] - Derek West
Somehow I don't remember how I got hooked up with these guys, but there was a Jeep club that was formed to help build the trails and put all this together. And that's where I met Matt Ritchie. So I went out now with all these guys for this club. And we're we're hosting this event and doing the tailgating. And I met Ritchie and his brother Kyle there.
[00:16:57.460] - Big Rich Klein
And was Lloyd still around at that point?
[00:17:00.370] - Derek West
He was so he he didn't really do a whole lot with the Jeep, but I was still doing a lot with him. OK, you know, he was he in the camp jeep stuff was just messing around and trail right now and a whole lot of hard stuff. We had some you know, he was he had a scrambler and by now I think it's on forty four inch tires and he he's doing a lot harder stuff. Right. Did when I was at that time.
[00:17:26.290] - Big Rich Klein
OK, so just for time reference, when did you meet Ashley.
[00:17:32.410] - Derek West
So right at the same time. OK, I'll call when I'm twenty two. Everything's happening. So that's why I started ATV racing. That's when I had the YJ, so when I bought my first house and all this is happening right all at the same time, that's a lot to take on as a twenty two year old.
[00:17:53.460] - Derek West
Yeah, I was. And so she she came along right before I bought the the YJ.
[00:17:58.950] - Big Rich Klein
OK, and how do you how did you guys before that.
[00:18:03.570] - Derek West
Through a mutual friend.
[00:18:05.310] - Derek West
So I was young, I had a house, I had two roommates, lived with me. So we'd have people over quite a bit.
[00:18:11.190] - Derek West
And a friend of ours that was a girl brought her over to my house. So I knew her for six months or whatever before we started dating.
[00:18:19.380] - Derek West
And that's been almost 20 years ago or 20 years now. OK.
[00:18:28.860] - Big Rich Klein
And then from Camp Geep and the YJ. The YJ is what you started competing. Did you compete in that before we did our Oklahoma event up there, Grand Lakes or whatever it's called.
[00:18:47.280] - Derek West
Did you go? Yeah, well, so I was starting to do harder and harder stuff. And now, you know, we've got through Camp Geep and we're starting to do more trail writing and doing events.
[00:19:00.720] - Derek West
And I was doing the ATV racing and. Richie and his brother Kyle had been down to an event in Cass, Arkansas, and they came back, said, hey, you've got to go do this. You could you could beat these guys. You know, none of them could climb this hill and all this.
[00:19:17.450] - Derek West
And so they kind of sparked my interest and got me thinking, you know, this is all the same time. ATV racing, I think. OK, I need to try try this. I didn't have a full roll cage in my jeep. I still had the factory cage. And so Bill Bailey also lived nearby and I met him through the club, you know, who's also competed quite a bit. And I did my first competition with him because he got he had the floor cage.
[00:19:46.800] - Derek West
And I went down and we kind of did did that together. And then I came back and put my roll cage in and started doing some events down in Hot Springs, Arkansas. It was the Israelis Rock and Roll Challenge, which John Lloyd was actually helping put on because he was part owner of that park. So he kind of put that on. It's doing some events down at Carse. They had much stock and Rocktober fast and just some different events down there.
[00:20:17.070] - Derek West
So I'd done a few things, quite a few events, really. All woods racing type of stuff, possibly some more rock. I don't remember who came first or what was after, OK, because I don't remember the Times, but I've done a lot of woods racing. So I had my YJ Wrangler was all fixed up that I had done all new paint on it and had it, you know, really nice. And Ashley was daily driving it to college.
[00:20:48.090] - Derek West
And so when we'd go to compete down in Hot Springs, Arkansas, Bill had a pickup truck and a trailer. And so then I had some thirty six and swampers. Well, he would haul the Swampers on his trailer and I would drive my jeep down there, I think at some thirty seven inch good years where my street tires and I drive it down there and then we'd swap the tires out and I'd compete and then have to drive it back. I went down the hot springs and my transfer case was slipping.
[00:21:19.380] - Derek West
You know, something to do with the shift forks. And I had hit on the drivers rocker so hard that the door wouldn't close. So I've got a bungee cord on the the transfer case. I was holding it in gear and I've got a bungee cord on the door holding it close. And so that's when she decided that she needed a different car. And that's kind of where I got the green light to make it into account.
[00:21:44.550] - Derek West
And so then I did that changed up color scheme sometime shortly after that is when I did my first rock crawling event, which was your Clorox event at Disney, Oklahoma. Right. That so I'd done a lot of racing, but never really nothing technical.
[00:22:04.540] - Derek West
You know, I didn't know what I was doing pretty much, but that was the first one I went to. Was was that one at Disney OK?
[00:22:13.290] - Derek West
Yeah. Well, good old Russ Hogan.
[00:22:16.740] - Derek West
[00:22:18.480] - Derek West
That's Hogan. And then Russ, who was the Russ from Texas that had the four wheel drive shop?
[00:22:25.110] - Derek West
Russ Bear. Yes.
[00:22:27.240] - Derek West
So he was there. So I met him and he kicked my butt there at that competition.
[00:22:32.820] - Derek West
I remember who else was there, but there was a guy there that had street, drove his rig in, competed, broke, and at first he wasn't going to compete. He was going to watch. And his girlfriend or wife said, no, go ahead and compete. They broke. They were able to get the parts and be able to drive home. But I remember he was just sweating because he, like, had no money. Do you remember that guy?
[00:22:59.870] - Derek West
I don't know. OK, but it sounds like me. Yeah, that's what I was wondering.
[00:23:03.840] - Big Rich Klein
If it was you if that was one of those that you had street driven there.
[00:23:08.460] - Derek West
Now, I know by then I was trailing it, OK?
[00:23:11.850] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, I was a young guy like yourself and it was I'm pretty sure I don't remember if his wife or girlfriend, but you know, she goes, yeah, go ahead and go for it. And he broke all sorts of stuff and, you know, toward the front end up in a drive, lying and other stuff. And he was he was all bummed out because he couldn't get out of there. And then there was a bunch of people helped him out and got him the parts he needed so that at least he could drive home.
[00:23:40.110] - Big Rich Klein
I don't know whatever happened to the guy. I don't even know who the guy is. But, dude, if you're listening to conversations with Big Rich, send me a message. I want to see whatever happened to you.
[00:23:51.690] - Derek West
Yeah, but then I was trailering and I remember specifically learning some patience, you know, because I so, you know, I had learned all about momentum from my ATV racing. You know, I had a two drive ATV. We've got these slick long hills, and I learned about momentum, right? Well, so now I'm trying to apply that to rock crawling, which works sometimes. But other times, you know, I learned you've got to be patient.
[00:24:18.710] - Derek West
So there was the there was a stair step leads there and there was a crack and we had to go up the stairs. Step led to go on the crack. I wasn't patient and I dropped off down in that crack and got stuck. And I did not that course. And that's where I really learned is that you can't you can't push this and just cross your fingers. Hope it works. You just you know, you got to learn to trust your rig, trust your spotter.
[00:24:41.390] - Derek West
So that was a huge learning experience for me. That car accident.
[00:24:45.440] - Derek West
[00:24:46.670] - Big Rich Klein
And then and then you started competing with us in the master class, if I remember. Right. Or did you go to the Hannibal Rock events first?
[00:25:03.790] - Derek West
As far as time to came first, I have no idea on that, so that that was one of the last cowpox events. So shortly after that, we started up WE Rock.
[00:25:15.520] - Derek West
[00:25:16.710] - Derek West
But yeah, so I was I was doing the Hannibal Roc's. I don't know that I went to their first events that that part I can't remember. But I was doing that in the WE Rock when WE Rock started.
[00:25:31.560] - Derek West
So I was I learned of the events and all that. But I you know, I didn't have any money. And my now Richie is my spotter. His brother Kyle is one that's helping us build the vehicles. You know, he was he's just a craftsman of what he does. And he was always helping us do lab work and do everything. He go with us.
[00:25:53.520] - Derek West
But, you know, in the in the very beginning, you know, we started going these WE Rock events as well as actually, you know, we don't win. You know, I don't have enough money to go to the desert.
[00:26:06.910] - Big Rich Klein
But if I remember right, you won a lot.
[00:26:10.020] - Derek West
We did good then. Yeah, we did good. And I don't know if it I don't I don't know how we did so good. I don't know if it was the the drive because we had to win, you know, because that was you know, I wasn't paying for this with my own money and I got started and then we'd win money and now we'd have enough money to go to another.
[00:26:29.940] - Derek West
[00:26:31.470] - Big Rich Klein
Well, I remember a lot of people, especially those guys that had two jobs that were just upset because you could beat them with Leaf Springs. They couldn't figure out how your rig was so stable on the Leaf Springs.
[00:26:48.570] - Derek West
[00:26:49.240] - Derek West
Know, I never liked the Coral Springs. I never liked how the taste felt. They just felt squirmy underneath. Yeah. And there was nothing about it. The same predictable and I don't know the least rain just worked for me. I liked it. The spring overdesign and it was all I knew. Right.
[00:27:05.880] - Big Rich Klein
You did well. You and Richie really laid the smack down for quite a few years, so.
[00:27:12.900] - Derek West
Yeah. So I think we went three years in the stock modified class on the East Coast. So the East Coast regular season, I think we went three years and never, never lost. Right. We've got first on in everything and then we'd go to the Nationals and Dan Patterson and Bob Ruggie kept kicking out but at the Nationals four for two years in a row or and then we finally pulled one out and one one.
[00:27:45.330] - Derek West
That's awesome. And it may have been four years. I did that in the stock modified.
[00:27:49.740] - Big Rich Klein
Right. And then then you move to promote, correct.
[00:27:55.440] - Derek West
[00:27:57.390] - Big Rich Klein
Talk about how that car came about.
[00:28:00.060] - Derek West
Well, so I really like the stock modified class. I enjoyed it. And and I like the difficulty of it and the limitation. You know, you deal with a lot of factory parts and limited on your tire size and but, you know, just when it came down to it, the sponsors weren't interested. Nobody was interested.
[00:28:21.060] - Derek West
[00:28:21.960] - Derek West
So I was like, you know? And so by now, the pro modified was where everything was going. So, you know, unlimited no longer, you know, kind of the top class it was going to pro modified was the class to be in.
[00:28:37.650] - Derek West
And so I just decided I'm just going to go ahead and do this.
[00:28:42.540] - Derek West
You know, I don't I'm scared of what it's going to cost and if I could afford it.
[00:28:47.310] - Derek West
But you know what the heck, we'll give it a shot. So we so so and I had no connections. I called up Randy Rod Jimmy's four before and talked to him a little bit. And we kind of struck up a deal and he was interested. He had some cars on an X-ray, but nothing and WE Rock.
[00:29:04.470] - Derek West
And so we built the chassis and for me, we got test for him. Me and Kyle again built it all up and went out, started doing pro modified.
[00:29:19.380] - Big Rich Klein
And what kind of success did you have?
[00:29:21.270] - Derek West
They're good. So, I mean, we did I wasn't sure for sure what to think. And everybody out there thought we were going to get our butts kicked because we had been doing stock modifying. There wasn't any competition there. And this KOH modified the deal and blah, bla, blah. And so we went out and won. I don't remember how many events we won, but I know at least two of the four East Coast. I think we did.
[00:29:49.950] - Derek West
And then we won the national championship that year, the pro modified two. And then also that same year I started doing some extra stuff and WE Rock. Won the series in Tsara. In fact, I won the very first event, I took that car too, so that car was brand new, took it to an extra event and won it.
[00:30:12.270] - Derek West
And then we ended up winning that series that year as well.
[00:30:16.900] - Big Rich Klein
That's pretty good track record.
[00:30:19.590] - Derek West
It was fun, you know, and I think it's still it's all back to to drive. You know, I'd heard everybody thinking we're going to get smacked around by everybody. And I think that made me want to want to do good.
[00:30:33.690] - Big Rich Klein
That that is that's motivation. I've always thought you were pretty damn good wheelman. And I think you proved that when you jumped in to from the rock crawling and then you went racing.
[00:30:48.300] - Derek West
Right. Because I was laughed and said, I'm just a monkey behind the wheel. And Ritchie just tells me what to do. And I said, he is he's really the guy here.
[00:30:57.300] - Big Rich Klein
Well, you know, I've always said there's three parts to a team. You have the car, you have the driver, you have the spotter. And I think this I've always said the spotter is the most important because the spotter has to know the capabilities of the vehicle, but the limitations of the driver.
[00:31:17.500] - Derek West
Right. And that's why we worked well, because I trusted Ritchie and he would just tell me what to do and I would do it, you know, and then there were spots that, hey, maybe he'll climb that that I had to negotiate. And there was times we were to go. Derek, I don't know what to tell you. What do you know? That's when you start banging around and start trying to figure something out. But, yeah, I mean, we just we had a relationship for driver and spotter that was just was just excellent.
[00:31:46.350] - Derek West
And we both trusted each other. We both had very good communication. And I felt like I had excellent time management skills of watching the clock. So once I figured that out, you know, that that was a huge part of that is watching the clock. And I think I think that's probably one of the biggest mistakes that I saw people make was they did not know how to do time management.
[00:32:08.460] - Big Rich Klein
Jacob Afeared would not do well or when to take a gate.
[00:32:12.750] - Big Rich Klein
Correct. And just move on. They time out because, you know, so we would have strategies, you know, going this is super hard. We're going to you know, we always said we're going to well, not always, but most of the time we said we're going to give this a good effort. If we can't make it, we're going to take it. And then there were some that we would just say we're just taking that one just due to time.
[00:32:33.150] - Big Rich Klein
[00:32:33.810] - Derek West
It was just time management. So that was I think that was one of the key things that that I feel I was good at as a driver was time management, you know, and conveying that to Richie. We don't have time for this. We were at times and just always watching that clock.
[00:32:48.240] - Big Rich Klein
Right. That I've always I've always tried, you know, especially the new teams that when they come out for that first time and I have a lot of like this weekend, we're going we're in Rangeley, Colorado, and there's a lot of new drivers that are showing up to this Western event. And one of the things I'm going to talk about in the drivers meeting is that, you know, a backup is better than a cone. A cone is better than a timeout or roll over.
[00:33:18.060] - Big Rich Klein
So, you know, it's better than the forty. So think about what you got to do.
[00:33:23.990] - Derek West
And right. So the only thing that I hated rock crawling was optional lines.
[00:33:32.730] - Derek West
So so bonuses. I hated the bonus stuff or an option, anything optional, because now you've got a decision that you've got to live with and it's really going to turn out good or it's not. And I just I hated that, you know, because I never knew what to do. You do the option on the bonus line because I mean, they're hard, you know. So, you know, for people that that have never been to a rock crawling event or don't understand what it's like to be in the driver's seat, a lot of these people, if you've been to them.
[00:34:02.700] - Derek West
But so when I look at the bonus line, so back in the early days, Little Red is setting up the courses and we're looking for what does he think in the car? We are you know, our vehicles can go up this. We can't do this. This is ridiculous. And so you didn't know what to do. And then so, I mean, they would always get climb. So and and this isn't even something I ever got over, you know.
[00:34:30.720] - Derek West
So twenty events in like, oh my gosh, what do they do it you and people would still climate.
[00:34:36.090] - Derek West
And so it's you know, even as a driver, as a team, you know, these obstacles are extremely hard, you know, and it it's difficult to understand what you what your own vehicle is capable of doing. And that's what the course designers, you and little Rich.
[00:34:57.830] - Derek West
Um, Josh and Josh.
[00:35:01.640] - Derek West
And, you know, designing these courses that did really just a great job was really I can't really think of many times where they really screwed up too bad, you know, but they they pushed us doable things that we didn't necessarily know were doable until we could do that stuff. That was part of what made it fun and made it gratifying was to go out and do things that you didn't think you could do.
[00:35:28.970] - Big Rich Klein
I love when I have to. I can work with. It's that way. I love putting putting a bonus up there, figuring out, you know, looking at all the angles, you know, playing that chess game, you know, is anybody going to try this? Is anybody going to make it? You know, if they if they try this, they should be able to make it. And, you know, occasionally I'm wrong. But, you know, for the most part is long as it's not brand new terrain, most of the time the stuff gets gets climbed or done.
[00:36:00.140] - Big Rich Klein
We were just in Oklahoma on a brand new in a brand new spot outside of Glencoe and which is about Stillwater. And it was it was sandstone. It was slick. It rained on Friday night, dried up on Sunday. So Sunday the courses were much not much easier, but more drivable. So guys were able to complete courses, maybe not perfectly, but at least they were able to complete courses where the day before very few courses got completed.
[00:36:33.650] - Big Rich Klein
So that's that's why I hate new sites. But, you know, it's still it's a chess game for me against, you know, using the the terrain and working against, you know, the the teams trying to figure out what they can do and what they can't.
[00:36:51.260] - Derek West
[00:36:52.460] - Derek West
We're all up here trying to figure it out ourselves.
[00:36:55.020] - Big Rich Klein
Exactly. So let's, uh, let's move in to let's move into your career and alter four or King of the Hammers, because it didn't start off as ultra four, but you raced extra, you did WE Rock. Were there anything else that you did? Merauke, those were the primary ones and then indicate. Which is that correct?
[00:37:22.730] - Derek West
[00:37:23.270] - Derek West
Yeah. Handleable rocks for two or three years, however long they had that going.
[00:37:28.220] - Big Rich Klein
OK, was that the pro mod car that you turned into a racer.
[00:37:34.190] - Derek West
It was, yep.
[00:37:35.390] - Big Rich Klein
OK, and what was the big difference. Well, you know, and I guess I did start modified with with Aníbal Rocks and Aurochs.
[00:37:44.990] - Derek West
Right. As well.
[00:37:46.820] - Derek West
But yeah. Then the, the pro modified. OK, but yeah. So it was I guess two thousand eight.
[00:37:58.010] - Derek West
So I think two thousand eight is maybe the first year I had the my pro modified when I did really good and was winning the next three and one and WE Rock and Dave Cole called me up and invited me to be King Hamer's for twenty nine. And you know I've been watching it go on but I didn't know a whole lot about it and there's a long way way and I just never had for whatever reason, never had been doing anything really out west.
[00:38:30.560] - Derek West
I kind of like the East Coast and I didn't mind when it rained and sloppy and it was wet. That was kind of what I was good at. And I just never thought I was as good at the technical stuff out west of of the rock crawling. But anyway, he invited me out there and so we slept on some bypass air shocks, upgraded our fuel cell from, oh, I think like eight gallons to eighteen or something and went out and gave it a shot.
[00:39:04.910] - Big Rich Klein
And how did did you finish that first year.
[00:39:07.700] - Derek West
I did not. OK, so I got to the first pit, put gas in and made it about a mile and died.
[00:39:16.220] - Derek West
So that's when I learned you don't buy fuel in California. Uh, so my gas was full of water, which I think Chevron.
[00:39:26.590] - Derek West
Yeah. So I bought it right there in Yucca Valley because, you know, I thought I didn't want to drive across the country with gas.
[00:39:34.520] - Big Rich Klein
All those old gas stations with old old tanks.
[00:39:38.720] - Derek West
We're doing great. Got a good taste of it. It was fun. You know, something like I'd never done before experience. I'd never been to the Hamer's. I've never been to public land that was that large, had that much rain and that much diversity.
[00:39:53.600] - Derek West
And, um, so it's fun.
[00:39:57.830] - Big Rich Klein
And so you went how so since. Nine. How many years straight did you go?
[00:40:05.390] - Derek West
So I went from 09 to 20, so I did not go to King Mahatma's this year, so I did like 11 years.
[00:40:13.520] - Big Rich Klein
OK, and what was your what was your best result?
[00:40:21.270] - Derek West
Uh, so I got a second one time they got called back because I missed them course. So I got dropped a fifth on that. But a third was my my best.
[00:40:32.420] - Derek West
I think I had five or six top ten finishes and the time when I got third is was my best chance or closest at winning had. That was in 2010.
[00:40:46.790] - Derek West
I took a brand new car out there and had a bolt that came out of the fuel rail. So I just assume it wasn't there was just never tied, I guess. And so my funeral popped off, so I stopped to fix it and pinch the opening when I put it back in. And so I had to stop two more times and finally Paule feel well back off plans of global warming, put it all back together. And I got third place.
[00:41:13.940] - Derek West
And this first by a minute and a half, I think.
[00:41:17.870] - Derek West
Wow. OK, so so that was that was the close one.
[00:41:23.750] - Derek West
After that, it's you know, it's just it's just difficult race to win. There's so many things you can do to screw up, you know, most of which are in the in your shop, you know, something you don't do.
[00:41:35.990] - Derek West
Right. That takes you out. So that's that was the thing that I loved about rock crawling and I loved about Zaara. So, you know, with with WE Rock you had a ten minute course. All you had to do is make your car run four to ten minutes, you know, and if you couldn't make it run for ten minutes you'd get a DNF on that one. Course you've got the opportunity to go fix whatever is wrong and go again on the next course.
[00:42:01.730] - Derek West
[00:42:02.690] - Derek West
And so I like that so that you know, and so now you raised a little bit and then you relaxed and did stuff.
[00:42:10.100] - Derek West
And, you know, with King Hammers style of racing, you your car had to work flawlessly, pretty much for eight hours or six and a half hours is the winning time, you know, in general.
[00:42:26.330] - Derek West
So, you know, you had to be almost you could have some problems, but, you know, your stuff had to stay together. Right.
[00:42:36.790] - Big Rich Klein
And I think that's the case with most of the courses that especially at King the Hammers, because there's always somebody that is going to run nearly a perfect day.
[00:42:49.290] - Derek West
[00:42:50.750] - Big Rich Klein
So what was the what would be the defining moment in your career where you knew everything was just right?
[00:43:05.030] - Derek West
Oh, I'd have to go back to the WE Rock days.
[00:43:08.630] - Derek West
OK, that's good to hear.
[00:43:12.940] - Derek West
Thank you. Well, you know, it's I mean, we were winning a lot. You know, I've got over one hundred just event wins. I think over like 15 different series titles, so, you know, back in those days, we were doing a lot of racing, a lot of different places and winning a lot of stuff.
[00:43:33.030] - Derek West
And, you know, when you win, you're happy and you feel good. And it was a good time. And we won a lot.
[00:43:40.410] - Derek West
You know, Rich and I just we won one on one stuff. And after that, when you start doing some of this other racing and you're not winning as much and I mean, not like I'll never forget this one event that I don't I don't remember the I remember what race it was, but we did something. I got second place. So somebody said, well, what happened? And I was like, oh, my gosh, we got second place.
[00:44:07.980] - Derek West
And they're asking what happened? And I was proud of the second place. I mean, I earned it. I worked hard for it because there's times when, you know, you do what you think is really good and somebody beat you, you know, and I don't have a problem with that. I felt really good about that second place win. So that's what happened because I didn't get first.
[00:44:26.310] - Derek West
So that so after a time that became a pressure, you know, that I had to win. And, you know, then when I started losing more, that pressure kind of went away. And I was I was almost glad about that kind of weird thing.
[00:44:42.150] - Big Rich Klein
But so was the pressure because it was you that put the pressure on you or was it the responsibility you felt you had to your marketing partners?
[00:44:54.960] - Derek West
Oh, probably more just my peers. You know, the people that are, you know, that I'm talking to or, you know, that's online, you know, Facebook or pirate or whatever.
[00:45:06.100] - Derek West
And, you know, you know, you can only be good for so long. So, you know, it's coming to an end. I guess this is part of it. OK, so, you know, you're going to be in your prime and you're going to have a streak and things are going to go good. But at some point that's that's going to be over.
[00:45:24.120] - Derek West
[00:45:25.680] - Big Rich Klein
So you started when you're racing Alter before you started to do the woods, racing again with one of the heel killer groups is what I like to call them. But it was the pro rock, right? Is that correct?
[00:45:45.330] - Derek West
Yes. I've done Pro Rock and outlaw if I've done any other ones. But yeah, I started doing some of the Hilco and stuff and right out of the gate. Your first event and you win.
[00:46:01.290] - Derek West
[00:46:02.400] - Derek West
Yeah. So when uh, there are some smaller ones.
[00:46:06.180] - Derek West
I did, but then I got got invited to the race to riches, which was the second one that they'd had and the same, that same deal I hear, you know, I can't do it, whatever.
[00:46:24.070] - Derek West
And so I won that event. So that was exciting. That was fun. And then the next year I went back and I won it again. So I won that event two years in a row.
[00:46:37.560] - Big Rich Klein
Was that one that giving away a UTD?
[00:46:40.680] - Derek West
That's correct, yeah.
[00:46:43.140] - Derek West
So I want to Can-Am the first year and then uh, Lárus um one thousand ferbos second year. Oh nice.
[00:46:51.750] - Big Rich Klein
And are you doing any racing now.
[00:46:55.500] - Derek West
[00:46:56.280] - Big Rich Klein
You're not. Do you still have.
[00:46:57.850] - Derek West
I've got to race cars. So you do in pieces in my shop that I've got new engines transmission a whole bunch of new parts. I just need to put it back together and uh just plan to sell out.
[00:47:10.110] - Big Rich Klein
OK, so you're you're off road racing. Four wheel drive career is at this point come to an end.
[00:47:20.010] - Derek West
[00:47:21.270] - Big Rich Klein
All right. Let's discuss now the items that you that you are doing. I know that you're business wise, you have a solar company, is that correct?
[00:47:35.430] - Derek West
Yes, it is.
[00:47:36.960] - Big Rich Klein
And what kind of what kind of work are you doing there?
[00:47:41.460] - Derek West
[00:47:42.090] - Derek West
We do everything. Yeah, houses. We do residential stuff and commercial stuff, some off grid stuff around here.
[00:47:51.000] - Derek West
And, you know, for and that was really the strain on me for the past three to four years, probably was had a business. And, you know, it's difficult to focus on the business when I'm spending so much time away racing or in the shop renting and, you know, so that was part of my decision to kind of hang it up.
[00:48:15.900] - Derek West
But yeah. So I've been I've been doing solar for. 13 or 14 years, and then I've had my own company for six now, I think excellent.
[00:48:31.020] - Big Rich Klein
And out in that Missouri area, you have a lot of off grid stuff.
[00:48:36.390] - Derek West
Uh, a fair amount. A fair amount.
[00:48:38.520] - Big Rich Klein
OK, so you're there's are they are they just because there's nothing around or they like preppers.
[00:48:45.720] - Derek West
Well, so there's different, different things.
[00:48:47.460] - Derek West
So some of them are preppers, some of them because it costs a whole bunch to get utility power to where they built their place. So I'm reminded of the utility company. So I just do battery backup. They have grid power, but I believe they've got a system where they could run off grid if something happened.
[00:49:04.860] - Derek West
[00:49:07.110] - Big Rich Klein
And you have one child now with that. And how old is that child? And it's a girl, correct?
[00:49:18.210] - Derek West
[00:49:18.750] - Derek West
So she's 14 and a half.
[00:49:21.150] - Big Rich Klein
14 and a half now.
[00:49:23.280] - Derek West
[00:49:24.300] - Big Rich Klein
Oh my God. You just made me feel really, really old. Oh, Lord.
[00:49:32.100] - Derek West
Yeah, yeah. I mean, I used to bring her out to these events and, you know, so I can remember the Grand Nationals' up in Aníbal and we've, you know, because I can I can see the photo in my head and, you know, she's in a baby stroller.
[00:49:49.680] - Derek West
Right. You know, up there for that event.
[00:49:53.520] - Big Rich Klein
Wow. Yeah, thanks. I shouldn't have asked that question. I'm finding out after doing this for twenty one years now that I am getting a lot older because the kids that were at events are now having kids. And it's it's rough, so I think I was twenty three at that Clorox event and I'm going to be forty three here in a month and a half. Wow.
[00:50:28.910] - Big Rich Klein
I started doing all this when I was 40 to start a class. Yeah.
[00:50:36.560] - Big Rich Klein
Let's talk about some specifics, events or things that happened. I remember one dirt right. Race that you competed in that was probably one of the nastiest races that I've put on and it was out there at copper mines with a torrential downpour and lots of mud. And I remember there was I think there was like our medical crew out there ran out of eyewash. Everybody that had any kind of eyedrops or eyewash ran out. And a bunch of you ended up going to like the emergency room.
[00:51:17.750] - Big Rich Klein
I believe that was what you were one of those. Is that correct?
[00:51:22.430] - Derek West
That's not correct. Oh, OK.
[00:51:24.950] - Derek West
I want I won that race.
[00:51:26.390] - Big Rich Klein
You won that race.
[00:51:28.090] - Derek West
And then I went to the went to the onsite bar afterwards and went, which was really cool.
[00:51:33.830] - Derek West
Yeah. I think belabored got flown out somewhere to for I. Yep. Yeah.
[00:51:39.350] - Derek West
But, but, but know that that was probably the hardest race I have ever done. So it was you know, the mud, uh you had the mud flying in your eyes but it just stuck and so it just kept coming and kept coming on, you know, my car, you know, it was five inches lower than when we started because there's so much weight.
[00:52:04.010] - Derek West
But the worst thing was the temperature. So we were wet and it was cold. Right. And so when I got done, we were just so muddy we had to get rinsed off with the hose, you know, freezing cold. And I thought, oh, my gosh, this is going to be terrible misplacement, this water. So they start hosing us off and the water feels warm and it's cold water just coming out of the ground. And that was warming me up.
[00:52:31.880] - Derek West
Yeah, that that was a tough race.
[00:52:34.310] - Big Rich Klein
That's right. I remember now that you guys did finish and there was you couldn't you couldn't actually see your guys with fire suits except for your arms because you were hanging onto the steering wheel. But you guys were just packed in there. Just crazy.
[00:52:52.430] - Derek West
Yep. No, there was I mean, I was probably at three inches of mud or whatever, sitting on my lap and on me. And yeah, it was not I couldn't, you know, so I'd be careful. I can't really jump the car because it bottom it out so hard because it's so heavy, you know. So it was all it was on the hood and on the roof, up in the belly pan and just mud everywhere.
[00:53:13.400] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah. That was, that was a crazy race. But that was that was the most difficult race, do you think?
[00:53:20.380] - Derek West
[00:53:23.230] - Big Rich Klein
I remember asking or asking Dave Cole out at Moab when he raced at Area BFE, he raced the first heat. He came up and, um, Ross Sanford from Spyder Tracks was racing the second he. And he came up and I said, so what do you think of that? And he goes, you know, that was the most stupidest and I'm not going to use all the swear words. And he said that that course was just designed to destroy cars.
[00:53:58.640] - Big Rich Klein
And so I started thinking about it because he'd always said, you know, King of the Hammers was the the hardest one day race in America or the toughest or the most difficult. So at the drivers meeting, I thought he had left because the only race to the first heat and I said, so when everybody sees Dave Cole, ask him who really has the rough, the toughest one day race? And and everybody starts laughing. And I hear from the back, I'm still here, Rich.
[00:54:27.920] - Big Rich Klein
And it was Dave. But, you know, I'm never one to to leave an opportunity to to get a dig in, if I can be.
[00:54:41.360] - Derek West
If he was rough to yell, I will agree with him.
[00:54:44.300] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, that's it was just it was relentless. It didn't stop.
[00:54:49.130] - Derek West
So fact BFE I don't know if it was that race in particular, but that the my wife KOH drove with me at a race at BFE. OK, so, so the first time that she had been in the race and set the pole qualifying and then we took off the race, I went down and smacked a big rock which which broke a hydraulic line and sprayed hydraulic oil on heter and it caught on fire.
[00:55:21.440] - Derek West
So, you know, and this is all happened within like the first half mile.
[00:55:25.790] - Big Rich Klein
You weren't even on the way down the hill, so.
[00:55:29.360] - Derek West
Well, I went down and went down the hill and right at the bottom, OK? And so I'm jumping out and it's on fire and was like, it's OK. I got this. I got this. You know, she's belted in and didn't know how to get out and her and all that.
[00:55:44.590] - Derek West
That was memorable.
[00:55:45.830] - Big Rich Klein
So did she did she race again with you after that?
[00:55:50.810] - Derek West
Yeah. So I ended up getting it all fixed and we took off and and raced. I did that so she'd race with me. She's also raced with Weland, Campbell, and he had a two seater. Oh, nice. So after that she was told, man, even if eschar chicken wings.
[00:56:08.960] - Big Rich Klein
Yep. But you didn't build one. You still stayed straight axle.
[00:56:14.930] - Derek West
Yeah, I like the straight axle.
[00:56:17.570] - Big Rich Klein
Kind of like the leaks out of Springs.
[00:56:20.570] - Derek West
Uh, I, yeah. I guess I'm just I don't know the the AFC stuff scared me, the maintenance of it.
[00:56:27.680] - Derek West
[00:56:28.220] - Derek West
So there was the cost and then the time and I thought now I'm going to rip off an arm and there's nowhere close to me to get this stuff fixed. And now we're getting beyond the capabilities. What I can do, you know, all this take welding and CAD drawings and, you know, and an arm is pretty labor intensive rebuild or you rip your brackets off your chassis. That's the kind of stuff I was thinking about.
[00:56:52.400] - Derek West
And, you know, could I cobble something together? Yes. Know, so I can farb stuff, but I can't Fab's stuff like that, that's you know, when you're talking about stuff, you're talking about high end stuff that, you know, somebody that's a really good, bad person builds in. And, you know, really between yourself, Randy and Eric, you know, you guys proved that well. And then now, Byler that you know, that straight Axle's can still compete or win at KOKH.
[00:57:27.890] - Derek West
Yeah. And I think it's it's it's either came back around with the courses or I've changed my mind about it. But, you know, there for a while I thought you had to have IFRS to really compete. You had to have single seed. And, you know, they're doing all the short course stuff.
[00:57:42.020] - Derek West
And but for king hammers, I don't think it matters, you know, and I don't you know, I don't know if it's just a fifty fifty deal or, um, what I think there. But, you know, the solid it does very well there.
[00:57:57.410] - Derek West
You know, the you know, as far as winning the race, if you look at the top twenty people or whatever, there's a lot of cars in there, but it's because there's a whole lot of good drivers that want to assess.
[00:58:10.070] - Derek West
[00:58:11.210] - Derek West
So for the amount of good drivers that are in effect versus solid axle, the solid axle is actually doing extremely well.
[00:58:18.660] - Big Rich Klein
I, I agree. The it's I see that in the rock crawling over the years when, like, BFG did a really good job of coming out and getting everybody on bags and then keeping the top drivers that were winners. So everybody continued to say, well, to beat that. I got to have BJ's, whether they were truly a better tire in all situations or not, it was the Tracy Jordans and some of those guys were on those tires.
[00:58:52.260] - Big Rich Klein
So they were in you know, you felt that if whatever class you were in, you know, ProMED with you and Lovel, you know, bodgies, you had to be on bags to beat everybody. And I think ifs became the same way at KOKH because there was so many of the top drivers went to it that the odds were that one of those guys was going to have a flawless day. You know, and then Randy would stick his nose in there, Miller would stick his nose in there, then Byler But you were always, like you said, you know how many top 10.
[00:59:29.180] - Big Rich Klein
You have quite a few right now.
[00:59:32.810] - Derek West
And then you know where I lived for all the East Coast events.
[00:59:39.170] - Derek West
I just decided that I wanted solid axel for all the stuff that we're doing now. And they were doing stuff, some sort core stuff out here. And that kind of went away. And we're back to what's racing and what the world racing. I like the straight axle. You could do whatever whether you want to do the ifs. You know, builders want to go wide so they can get their suspension trapped in there. Well, that doesn't work well when you're racing, you know, on the East Coast.
[01:00:07.280] - Derek West
Right. Well, so I'm I'm still a solid actual guy. Still still what I like.
[01:00:13.070] - Big Rich Klein
And in the woods, you know, you need to be able to turn titer, right? Don't have that. You don't you don't have that that ability to get that 50 close to 50 degree steering that you can in straight axle.
[01:00:31.680] - Derek West
Yep. So. Absolutely.
[01:00:35.060] - Big Rich Klein
So what what's on the horizon for Derrick and family?
[01:00:40.220] - Derek West
Um, so it's family. So, you know, another part of my decision to kind of step out of the race is I've got a 14 year old daughter.
[01:00:48.190] - Derek West
I only have one.
[01:00:49.340] - Big Rich Klein
So you want to keep an eye on her because she's dating age now?
[01:00:53.360] - Derek West
Well, and she's at the age where either I can just keep running all over the country, doing what I want to do, or I can kind of step back and start doing what she wants to do and do it with her.
[01:01:02.630] - Derek West
[01:01:03.920] - Derek West
And so I just kind of made the decision to, um, to do that. So we've thought about so we do a lot of time at the lake, do some hiking. She does volleyball. So we do a lot of volleyball tournaments. We're traveling around and just trying to spend more time with my family because, you know, with running a business and then going off racing, it's just, um, you know, there just weren't enough of me.
[01:01:35.240] - Derek West
[01:01:36.890] - Big Rich Klein
No, I agree it's a good move, family first, always, so let's one thing I want to hit on is the nickname. Just go, yep. So how did that come about?
[01:01:53.190] - Derek West
Oh, from the. And what is it out of malice in Pennsylvania called O'Malley's?
[01:02:02.530] - Big Rich Klein
[01:02:04.370] - Derek West
[01:02:05.250] - Derek West
So we were there for an ultra for race goofing around. They had a jukebox in there and we were dancing around and Lance Clifford and I did a had a warm race and which which he kicked my butt and we did a race and I got to the stairs and stuff, thought we were done. He went up the stairs while doing the work. It was impressive. But so we were just goofing off. And and Lauren Healy started calling me disco, just kind of stuck.
[01:02:41.250] - Big Rich Klein
OK, awesome. So is there anything in your storied career of racing that we haven't touched on that you would like to share any partners that really stand out that helped you get to the next level at any point?
[01:03:01.260] - Derek West
I mean, everybody helped along the way. So, you know, without Jimmy's on it never had cars to race.
[01:03:09.780] - Derek West
And, you know, they really helped me meet all my sponsors. So, you know, what I learned along the way is you can do great and win races, but that doesn't mean you're going to get sponsors. You got to have the right connections and know the right people. And so, Randy Rod really helped me introduce me to a lot of people that helped me along the way. And then there was a few that I had from from the beginning that the smaller places that I really appreciated that, you know, didn't have huge budgets.
[01:03:48.510] - Derek West
And I always respect the little people that wanted to help and wanted to be involved. And, you know, the right sponsor, I always said, is the person that wants to help, that likes you, likes what you do, and they want to be involved. You know, they want to help you succeed.
[01:04:04.260] - Big Rich Klein
Right. It's about you and them. Not necessarily what the races.
[01:04:10.110] - Derek West
[01:04:10.950] - Derek West
So, you know, the sponsors that are results driven are are tough because, you know, you can't always perform at the top. I mean, you can be good and be good consistently. I'm not saying that. But that's where all that pressure comes from.
[01:04:28.440] - Derek West
You know that, you know, certain sponsors, you know, you have to do good, keep them or or they're going to shoot you.
[01:04:35.910] - Derek West
But I appreciate it all my sponsors, rad 4Low.
[01:04:40.980] - Derek West
You know, they helped me since I bought my pro modified car and stayed with me the whole time. And Spyder tracks, they were with me from the very beginning.
[01:04:53.310] - Derek West
John Ford, four by four, John Lloyd. He helped me the whole time, you know. So even when I went off and somebody else's chassis, I was doing that. He was still helping me. But as far as go on the next level and finally getting some funding to do some stuff was when I got on with with Nitto and KMC.
[01:05:12.810] - Derek West
And, you know, that did open the door to get some nicer stuff. You know, up until that point, I'd just been running junkyard parts, junkyard engines and just kind of putting stuff together myself.
[01:05:26.340] - Derek West
And then I was able to start doing some extra things and motor work and just, you know, build more high end cars, taking it to the next level. So what would you what would your advice be to somebody that is looking to getting into rock crawling or racing at some level? What would you what would your advice to them be?
[01:05:53.010] - Derek West
So people always ask me about sponsorships and how do you get sponsorships. So my advice is, if you can swing it and do it without the sponsorships, do that. That that keeps it fun. Sponsorships turns it into work, you know, so I took a great hobby that I loved and I turned it into a job and at times a stressful job. And there was all this pressure and I had to be here and I had to be there.
[01:06:22.110] - Derek West
And, you know, if there was a problem, I was worried about and we got to figure out how to fix it. And oh, my gosh, if we can't fix it, what are they going to say? And, you know, so they can take the fun out of it.
[01:06:31.770] - Derek West
Right. You know, and people get into this because it's fun and they think that sponsorship is glorious somehow. And it's just it's not what it's cracked up to be. So it's a fuckin. And just pay for you, I always tell people if you can pay for it, that's way easier, because if you're working with a company, I mean, you're working for them. They're not just giving you a product or giving you a discount on product just because it's because they expect you to perform in whatever capacity that is, which is either results or social media appearances, whatever.
[01:07:14.480] - Derek West
So there's some sort of tradeoff there that can take away from the experience.
[01:07:19.840] - Big Rich Klein
So what you're saying is if you if you want to play the game with the sponsorships, expect expected that you're turning it into work and that there's going to be a responsibility, big responsibility that comes with that sponsorship.
[01:07:33.970] - Derek West
[01:07:34.420] - Derek West
And on the flip side, people get these sponsorships and then they burn the companies, which makes it more difficult for everybody to get sponsorships.
[01:07:43.240] - Big Rich Klein
Yes, I can remember a time when we went through the rock crawling phase where guys would build a car, compete in it maybe once, and then turn around and sell the car. And they may have gotten almost every single part on that car, either donated or for, you know, a lot less than cost. And that really, because I heard from a lot of the the companies that were going, hey, what is going on here? I was like, man, you know, and it was always a handful of guys, you know, that did it each time.
[01:08:17.500] - Derek West
[01:08:18.930] - Derek West
And sponsorship was easy in the beginning. So, you know, that was part of how I got into the sponsorship game was a we were doing super good and the sport was due I mean, it was in its infancy. So there wasn't a lot of people asking for sponsorships. Nowadays these companies are getting hit so hard because everybody's on sponsorships.
[01:08:41.120] - Derek West
And, you know, it's just it's difficult to get sponsors and keep sponsors. And, you know, that was part of what brought me out to as a part of how I ended was, you know, I just I didn't have the time to just chase the sponsorships.
[01:08:58.180] - Derek West
Right. And that that's just that part of things. If you're really going to be on that, that's a full time job, is just making connections and keeping connections and making proposals and just doing that all the time.
[01:09:15.310] - Big Rich Klein
Right. I find that that connections, getting to know somebody at the business that you want to work with or you're hoping to work with goes a lot farther than cold calling in. And you're on the podium all the time.
[01:09:33.490] - Derek West
[01:09:33.880] - Derek West
Now it's all about well, even if you're on the podium all the time, doesn't mean they know who you are. True doesn't mean that company is paying any attention to that.
[01:09:43.690] - Derek West
[01:09:44.380] - Derek West
So but you know, so to be doing that, you need to be at whatever events that is all the time showing your face, getting name recognition, because cold calling is, you know, they're going to adjust their sponsorship department and then the sponsorship department's going to say, OK, what's your social media number? You know what your impressions for blah, blah, blah. And they're going to ask you all this stuff. And if you're not on your game and you don't have any that information, you know, so it's it's difficult.
[01:10:18.670] - Derek West
And nowadays it's it's and it's so difficult because you have all these. Oh, they're not even they're just social media. Content providers, I guess you'd call them, that are becoming, you know, have these great followings, but they really, you know, they're not doing anything except for maybe being a pretty face or doing some maybe some cool trips or something. But they they bring so many people with them that companies go, well, why should I get into racing when this person over here is, you know, got three million followers, you know, but I always say, are those three million followers actually buying?
[01:11:09.150] - Derek West
Yeah, but that's what they do. I mean, all these all these marketing guys and girls that are coming into these businesses now, all have been told that social media, that's where it's at. It's all digital. That's where you got to be. And I see a lot of companies getting away from the the contact end of our sport, which is huge because we're still a family sport. A family industry off road is. And, yes, you know, these people that are coming into it with just college degrees in marketing and it's all digital that they don't they don't have that contact.
[01:11:48.540] - Derek West
They don't understand family.
[01:11:51.600] - Derek West
Now, I had a good relationship with the, uh, my company that was helping me out. And I think they maybe got burned by some people that, you know, they helped out that sold the product or didn't do what they said, whatever. So the they turn it over to a marketing agency to handle all the sponsorship stuff. So this is a company I've been working with for five years or something. And, uh, you know, I lost my sponsorship because they had a set criteria of what they needed for social media and all this.
[01:12:24.150] - Derek West
And, you know, I didn't meet it, know. So here I was ahead.
[01:12:28.170] - Derek West
Um, you know, we had something that I thought worked well.
[01:12:31.050] - Derek West
And then and all of a sudden things changed a bit. Right.
[01:12:36.410] - Big Rich Klein
So what happens when you get out of that that personal contact realm to shame? Well, Derek, I want to say thank you so much for coming on board with conversations with Big Rich, I hope that that our listeners have learned something about Desco Derek West. I know I have. And I've known you for quite a while, and we've had some really good conversations in the past. But I want to say thank you for coming out and sharing, coming on and sharing your, uh, your history and and your family and your business and everything else about you.
[01:13:10.260] - Big Rich Klein
So thank you.
[01:13:12.780] - Derek West
[01:13:13.340] - Derek West
So thank you for having me on the talk, but also thank you for providing the platform for me that got me going into everything that I ended up doing. So it was your Paule rocks then turned into WE Rock and dirt riet that got me into all these other things that I did so well. Thanks for putting all that together.
[01:13:37.730] - Derek West
And, you know, you made a lot of great times and memories for me and a whole lot of other people. So I appreciate it.
[01:13:44.180] - Big Rich Klein
Well, and I appreciate hearing that now that we're getting into the twilight of of my my years here, you might say it's like I tell everybody, you know, I've been doing this for 21 years. I'm 63. Don't expect me to be doing this for another twenty one years. You know, it's like. Anyway, Derek, thank you so much. Say hello to the family for me and I'll let you know. This podcast will air this week and it'll be available on all of the services come Thursday morning.
[01:14:19.580] - Derek West
[01:14:20.540] - Big Rich Klein
All right. Take care. And I hope to come across and maybe swing by through Springfield and maybe come for a visit sometime.
[01:14:29.480] - Derek West
Yeah. All right. Be around. Let me know.
[01:14:32.780] - Big Rich Klein
OK, will do. Thanks, buddy.
[01:14:34.940] - Derek West
OK, good talk to you Rick.
[01:14:36.500] - Big Rich Klein
OK, take care. Bye bye.
[01:14:39.520] - Big Rich Klein
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. We enjoyed it. We'll catch you next week with conversations with Big Rich. Thank you very much.