Conversations with Big Rich

Episode 73 with Don Alexander: Trainer, Racer, Journalist

August 26, 2021 Guest Don Alexander Season 2 Episode 73
Conversations with Big Rich
Episode 73 with Don Alexander: Trainer, Racer, Journalist
Show Notes Transcript

Sometimes you meet people in the industry and “think” you know their story. This one surprised me. Fifty years of hotrods, over 20 published books, training at the highest levels and all this before off-road became what we knew him for.  Don Alexander has a storied past, listen in and enjoy.

3:34 – go carts at age 11l

5:52 – always pushing the RPM limits

13:57 – professor changed my trajectory – not in the way you’d think

28:36 – connecting off-road guys through our industry

34:47 – it’s all about the wheel spin

39:03 – “had the aerodynamics o a Walmart store”

46:20 – I made some good maps

51:48 – that sums up the three mile an hour adrenaline rush

55:00 – let’s talk roof top tents

1:11:28 – the problem is convincing people they need to be trained

1:34:17 – you’re an off-roader, right?

 

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

www.maxxis.com

www.4lowmagazine.com 

Be sure to listen on your favorite podcast app.

 

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THIS TRANSCRIPT IS PREPARED WITH AI SOFTWARE - THERE WILL BE WORDS MISSPELLED, CONCEPTS NOT FULLY DEVELOPED, BUT IT'S BETTER THAN NOTHING AT ALL.

[00:00:00.500] - Speaker 1

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 is the time to sit back.

 


[00:00:23.730] - Big Rich Klein

Grab a cold one.

 


[00:00:25.140] - Speaker 1

And enjoy our conversation.

 


[00:00:28.550] - Don Alexander

Whether you're are 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 champion because they know that whether for work or play, for fun, for competition, Maxxis Tires deliver. Choose Maxxis Tread Victoriously.

 


[00:00:55.220] - Speaker 2

Why should you read 4Low magazine? Because  4Low Magazine is about your lifestyle, the four wheel drive adventure lifestyle that we all enjoy, rock crawling, trail riding, event coverage, vehicle builds and do it yourself tech all in a beautifully presented package you won't find 4Low on the newstand rack.

 


[00:01:16.580] - Big Rich Klein

So subscribe today and have it delivered to you.

 


[00:01:19.930] - Big Rich Klein

On today's conversation with Big Rich. We have Don Alexander. Don Alexander has a long history in off road. We're going to talk all about that. We're also going to talk about his SAE publications, the Car Tech Performance modifications of the YJ-JK and JL, which will be out in October this year. So Don, thank you very much for coming on board. And I know we're going to have a good conversation about your long history and off road.

 


[00:01:56.560] - Don Alexander

Well, thank you, Rich. It's a pleasure to be with you and speak with you and looking forward to it. And I have a long history, part of its off road, part of it. I actually started racing go carts when I was a kid and had a 50 year plus racing career before I really got into offroading.

 


[00:02:16.020] 

Okay.

 


[00:02:16.560] - Big Rich Klein

Well, great. Let's talk all about that. In fact, let's get started at the very beginning. Were you born and raised?

 


[00:02:23.540] - Don Alexander

Is that Southern California? I grew up in the San Gabriel Valley that was Mecca for hot rodding, fifties and Sixties. So I was I got caught up as a kid and that whole thing, in addition to sports, I was a decent baseball player. But there was a local TV show probably in the mid late fifties called Jalopy Derby. And it was at the old Ascot dirt track. And they were old 30s and 40s, basically hot rods that raced on a dirt track. And it was televised, like on Friday nights.

 


[00:03:03.580] - Don Alexander

And that is really what kind of got me hooked on the whole thing. Plus, growing up in the hot Rod culture of Southern California and things kind of progress from there.

 


[00:03:12.180] - Big Rich Klein

So you said 50 years of racing? Yes. And you grew up in San Gabriel Valley. So you raced in Southern California primarily, I would say. And then. So let's talk about those early years, maybe even before the racing, unless it started really young.

 


[00:03:34.440] - Don Alexander

Well, I was 11 young. I started racing go carts. I grew up about 3 miles from actually a couple of iconic facilities, the old San Gabriel Valley drag strip. I could walk to that track as a kid from my home. And a couple of miles further away was where a guy named Duffy Livingston created the go cart, the original one. And he had a factory and a little race track in Irwindale, if you're familiar with the area. It was right across the street from the Miller Brewing Company is now right off the 210 Freeway.

 


[00:04:12.440] - Don Alexander

Where the Miller Brewing Company was was where the old Irwindale Drag strip was, which was built when I was in high school. And that's where I started drag racing. I started racing go carts at the go cart track when I was eleven years old. And I did that for a while. When I was old enough to start drag racing, I would bracket race at by the San Gabriel was closed. But Irwindale opened, I think in 1965. I was there for, I don't know, maybe eight or ten years, pretty much.

 


[00:04:43.260] - Don Alexander

Every Saturday night, I'd be there bracket racing, or at least watching. That was my neighborhood. That's where I grew up and started racing career doing that.

 


[00:04:54.960] - Big Rich Klein

It's great that you were so close to all that action. I'm sure that really helped spike your interest.

 


[00:05:03.530] - Don Alexander

Yeah. And Southern California at the time, we had, like, six drag strips within an hour of where I grew up. So you could go to different tracks with no problem. That was Lions in Long Beach, San Fernando, Fontana Pomona at the Pomona Fair grounds, which is still in operation. So that really led me down the path of racing. And then I did that through high school and early in College. And then when I was in College watching TV, watching the Indy 500. Back in the day, we will go to a theater to watch the Indy 500.

 


[00:05:42.650] - Don Alexander

It wasn't televised. So you bought a ticket and went into a theater or some kind of a theater and watched the Indy 500.

 


[00:05:51.770] 

Wow.

 


[00:05:52.230] - Don Alexander

So I got hooked on that type of racing. So I had to be 21 at the time to get an SCCA racing license. But when I was 19, I actually went to racing school at WillowSprings. Jim Russel racing school went through that got into trouble because I was always pushing the Rpm limit past what I was supposed to. I guess that was my nature and kind of led to mentality and just the way I ended up racing. And that started a career that lasted up till about, I think my last official race was in 2008.

 


[00:06:35.290] - Don Alexander

And then by that time, I was starting to get into off roading, and that kind of took over at that point. But I raised all kinds of stuff from drag racing. I got a SSCA licensing raced in SSCA for years and IMSA the International Motor Sports Association. And then towards the end of my career with NASA, the National Auto Sport Association, won quite a few races over the years and a few Championships, probably in the course of that, I did some short track stock car racing, a little bit on dirt, mostly on asphalt.

 


[00:07:14.580] - Don Alexander

Was a journalist. This did all kinds of stuff. It is almost all car related. I had a few years where I did other stuff. I raced catamarans for a while, and I was a bicycle magazine editor. Thrown in the mix of all the car stuff that I did, which led to some interesting things, too.

 


[00:07:34.310] - Big Rich Klein

So let's talk about the racing of IMSA because that's something I'm familiar with. I used to go out in Monterey there. Oh, yeah. Laguna Seca. Oh, nice. And photograph the Grand Prix racing there with the motorcycles and then the IMSA races, especially when Paul Newman Newman Freeman Racing was real strong down there with Nissan.

 


[00:08:00.810] - Don Alexander

Oh, yeah.

 


[00:08:01.920] - Big Rich Klein

What class of cars did you race at that point?

 


[00:08:05.110] - Don Alexander

I started out they had a class called International Sedan. I raced in that. And then they had a class called Racing Stock, and that was actually my first experience with IMSA. Later, I co drove with a friend and the GT series. Actually. Yeah. It was fun. We didn't have a competitive car, although the car was pretty historic. This was in the mid Seventies and in the late Sixties. This car was raised by Penske and driven by Mark Donahue, in the TransAm series. So it was a really cool car, but ten years out, it was just not competitive with the BMWs and Porsches that were racing on is at the time a funny story about that car.

 


[00:08:52.200] - Don Alexander

And my co driver who owned the car, ran it at a club race at Riverside an SCCA club race and had a fairly minor crash and tore up the front sheet metal. You went to a Chevy dealer to get a replacement Fender and hood set and nothing fit because everything had been reduced in size by about 10% which was Penske is one of those people that was known for doing that same kind of thing, that smoky unit would you right.

 


[00:09:22.640] - Big Rich Klein

If you're not cheating, you're not racing.

 


[00:09:25.640] - Don Alexander

Yeah, exactly. You're certainly not winning. True. So that was a pretty interesting experience. But I raced mostly production cars but also raised some open wheel cars. Formula cars go back to Ms. I raised in the Firefox series as well, drove a fairly competitive Camaro, but we raced the year that the 944 Porsches were totally dominant. So it's almost like we were in a different class because the top six or seven spots will all be Porsches and then the Camaros and Fire Birds and Mustangs to be basically racing for six or 7th or 8th place.

 


[00:10:05.490] - Don Alexander

But yeah. I love Laguna Seca. I raced there a few times. The corkscrew was just an iconic corner. That was just great challenge.

 


[00:10:13.080] - Big Rich Klein

Yeah, I love the corkscrew. I used to love to sit at the bottom on the outside of that corner.

 


[00:10:19.380] - Don Alexander

Oh, yeah.

 


[00:10:20.140] - Big Rich Klein

With a long lens and shoot and one of the craziest photographs. And I still wish I had all that stuff, but I lost in a house flood that we had. It was the side car racing, and the guy is hanging on the what you would call a sidecar. They're coming down through there. And, I mean, he's doing everything he can to keep that bike planted. And so he just inches off the pavement and they're just flying. And this guy, all of a sudden they got a wobble.

 


[00:10:55.780] - Big Rich Klein

The bike comes way up the platform that he's leaning, hanging on. And then the driver corrected brought it back down and just pummeled the ride, the trapeze guy onto the pavement. And I mean, I don't even think he slid or anything. It was just like taking a pancake and flipping it over and smacking it down on a hot griddle because he just hit the ground. And that was it. That was pretty gnarly spots in that corkscrew.

 


[00:11:30.150] - Don Alexander

Oh, yeah. And side cars. I never raced motorcycles, road, but never raced. And a lot of people say I'm crazy. And one of the things I can do is point a sidecar side hacks say, no, that's crazy.

 


[00:11:43.880] - Big Rich Klein

Yeah, that is absolutely crazy. You're putting your life in somebody else's hands and you better trust them with everything you have.

 


[00:11:52.160] - Don Alexander

Absolutely. Yeah. That's a step beyond.

 


[00:11:59.440] - Big Rich Klein

That. In those years, the Porsche were dominating. Was it just the cars were that much better, or were they just should have been in a different class by themselves?

 


[00:12:13.360] - Don Alexander

They really should have been in a different class. Or the rules should have been modified to allow bigger engines or something because they had way more power than Camaros and other muscle cars did. And they were pretty well funded teams, which always helps.

 


[00:12:32.790] - Big Rich Klein

Yeah, that's true.

 


[00:12:34.440] - Don Alexander

But they had a rule advantage that lasted for a season. And and it got equalized again. And Ironically, the car that I was racing. I did series of books for Motor Books International, and the first one was called Performance Handling. And that came out. This was in the 1980's I wrote the book and provided all the photography except for the cover shot. So when they sent me a proof of the cover in the book, the photo on the front wasn't me driving, but the photo on the cover was a Camaro that I raced.

 


[00:13:05.840] - Big Rich Klein

Oh, that's cool.

 


[00:13:07.310] - Don Alexander

It was a different driver. It was actually the year before I had driven it. But that was a big surprise of his started laughing when I saw that, because it was so ironic.

 


[00:13:16.420] - Big Rich Klein

Yeah. I mean, what's the chance of that? I mean, they could have used so many different vehicles or pictures?

 


[00:13:22.680] - Don Alexander

Oh, yeah, definitely. That was one of actually, now I'm working on, I think, my 22nd or 23rd book. So that's been a big part of my career and all but a couple of those were car and racing related.

 


[00:13:40.050] - Big Rich Klein

So how did you come about getting into the publishing end of books like that? Did you take your College courses to help with that or.

 


[00:13:51.460] - Don Alexander

No.

 


[00:13:51.970] - Big Rich Klein

What was your College courses?

 


[00:13:54.020] - Don Alexander

I was in mechanical engineering.

 


[00:13:56.360] - Big Rich Klein

Okay.

 


[00:13:57.700] - Don Alexander

And from high school, I did pretty good in high school, like a 3.2 GPA, went to Cal Poly Pomona in their mechanical engineering program. And my first semester at Mechanical Engine, I really enjoyed that. And I was pretty decent at math. I had a math teacher who for some reason, we just didn't hit it off. And I ended up getting a D in that class. And I went and challenged him because I had I got the final test and I had 19 out of 20 answers, correct.

 


[00:14:32.360] - Don Alexander

And I got a D. And basically when I went and met with a professor, he told me how to take his classes. So I put me a year behind. And the mechanical engineering program. It turned out the textbook that he was using was the same one I had in high school as a senior in high school. And so he took points off because I didn't get the answers his way. I got them the way I learned in high school. And it was crazy to me to think, Why should I change how I learn to do this just because this professor thinks it's better even though I get the right answers?

 


[00:15:08.210] - Don Alexander

So I didn't get a degree. And that was a big part of why I went to work and started at that point, I was 19 or 20. I started building my first SCCA car and went racing and just had a series of different jobs. And actually, in 1970, Bob Bondurant had moved from Orange County International Raceway with his driving school to Ontario Motor Speedway right after it opened. And I went to work for him pretty much as a rookie. But I learned to be an instructor, had some great people to work with there, and that led to my career as an instructor.

 


[00:15:51.340] - Don Alexander

I ended up going to work after that for a school at Riverside Raceway, which wasn't real busy. So we got a lot of track time, which was really fun and very valuable, and a really funny story. A guy from La County had a meeting set up with Bonderant at Ontario and got the tracks confused and ended up walking into the office at Riverside International Raceway. Less Rictor, who owned the track at the time I was the President, overheard the conversation. This guy was looking for the Bonderant school.

 


[00:16:26.350] - Don Alexander

So Les walked out, introduced himself to the guy, and said, Would you excuse me for a minute and went back into his office called us at the racing school and said, hey, can you guys teach ambulance drivers? Because La County was looking at doing a defensive driving training program for ambulance drivers, and this was before paramedics were common. So ambulance drivers were want to be race drivers. So we ended up getting the deals to train the county drivers in La County. So did that for a while, the school wasn't doing well closed down.

 


[00:16:56.050] - Don Alexander

So I started my own school at the Irwindale Drag Strip close to where I lived, did that for a couple of years until the gas crisis hit and the county rescinded the requirement for ambulance drivers to be trained. So naturally, none of the ambulance companies wanted to spend the money. But that was a great gig. And that's actually what kind of started my writing career because I wrote a training manual for the ambulance drivers turned out pretty good. And one thing led to another. So those two careers kind of started off in the same direction.

 


[00:17:27.130] - Big Rich Klein

All because I was involved in racing and because you had a an instructor in College, that was kind of a jackwad yeah, exactly. I have a very similar story. I had an art teacher and a JC. I was trying to pick up my AA credit because before I went to photography school in Santa Barbara, so I took a art appreciation class and thinking, okay, this will be an easy, you know, credits. How hard can it be? Well, the guy started off saying photography was not an art form.

 


[00:18:05.490] - Big Rich Klein

It was a commercial form. And there was no true art in photography. And we clashed. Every time we had an assignment, I'd write about something and go to San Francisco Museum of Fine Art, which had always had photography displays. And so I'd write on the photography displays and then he'd give me an F or a D. It was just same thing. So I had to take a massage class once I got to Santa Barbara to fulfill an elective, but I didn't become a masseause Well.

 


[00:18:44.350] - Don Alexander

That was probably a good thing yes so at the time, it was kind of devastating that that happened. You look back at it 56 years later. Koh, I think I actually did me a big favor because it set me off on a totally different path and I probably would have gone down and a much more interesting one, maybe not as financially rewarding, but no complaints. It all worked out.

 


[00:19:04.160] - Big Rich Klein

And my grandfather always said, Figure out how to make a living, doing what you love. He Didn't mean how much money you make, but how you got to live your life. And that's why you're on conversations so that we can talk about that interesting life. You said you did 26 publications.

 


[00:19:26.500] - Don Alexander

I think I'm on the 22nd or 23rd on the JL and JK book is finished. And I'm just starting on an Overlanding book, which is that's where the whole conversation in itself, the whole Overlanding thing, which maybe later we can talk a little bit about.

 


[00:19:43.430] 

Absolutely.

 


[00:19:44.350] - Don Alexander

But I'm also self publishing three or four shorter books that we're using for the off road school, the Trails, four one one school. And that's a lot of material that I've already created, but we're packaging it mostly to have to hand out to students when we do classes for okay. But I've also done got hundreds and hundreds of magazine articles. And I was the editor of several magazines over the years. And actually, I'm typical of how I've done things in my life. I started in the magazine business publishing my own magazine.

 


[00:20:20.440] - Don Alexander

It was Racing magazine. I was racing Formula for it at the time and got talking to some of the local shops that we're selling and building Formula Fords. And he said we need a publication. So I kind of put a newsletter together, and it grew from there within six months or so. One of the companies asked that they could buy it from me, and I was kind of in over my head, and it was way more work and money than I anticipated. So I sold it to him.

 


[00:20:49.410] - Don Alexander

And it actually they hired a guy, a young guy who would actually he was helping me as an art director, 19 year old, very skilled guy named Paul Fanner. And he stayed in the publishing business and did some racing. But he's now and has been for the last 25 or 30 years the creator of Racer magazine and their whole online network. So he turned out to be extremely successful, have a long road to get there. But it was kind of interesting to give you the start with this little newsletter magazine that we put together.

 


[00:21:24.640] - Don Alexander

And then it just kind of led into other things and went to work for. My first magazine editor job was in the early Eighties. I was actually right after Christie and I got married, I was doing a lot of freelancing. We went to Yellowstone and Bryce and Zion for our honeymoon, driving her Pinto. That had been her some stock race car, which is how we met through racing. And funny story. She had its service. We lived in South Pasadena at the time. She had it service at the local mobile station, which we've been going to for years.

 


[00:22:02.200] - Don Alexander

She had the oil change and had all the A trans gear lube and everything checked and breaks and everything. So we take off on our honeymoon and we get to Jackson, Wyoming, and it starts making noise. The transmission was making noise. And so we took it to a shop and the checked it and there was no trans fluid in the trans. No, your loop.

 


[00:22:27.150] - Big Rich Klein

Oh, wow.

 


[00:22:27.850] - Don Alexander

They forgot to refill it. So we made it all the way from Southern California to Jackson, Wyoming was just the residual gear loop in the transmission.

 


[00:22:37.010] - Big Rich Klein

What brand for being used?

 


[00:22:39.500] - Don Alexander

Boy, that was a long time ago. I don't remember that it was probably before synthetic, so I was pretty amazed that we made it that far. So we taken bikes with this. So at least we had transportation while the guy had to go 150 miles away to find a used Peno transmission. So we got it put in, we went to pick it up, we were headed for Yellowstone, and we're going to stay at my old faith on the old Faithful End, which is a beautiful place. It was a great trip.

 


[00:23:06.920] - Don Alexander

So about 04:00 in the afternoon we go pick the car up to drive into Yellowstone, and I get in to back it out of the guys shop. And I made it about 10ft stop out of the car and said, you put the throwout bearing in backwards. Koh, no way. So he get some car in Tri, you see his head drop, and he's just saying, oh, crap. So he said, Give me an hour and a half. There's a white bar in restaurant right around the corner. Go have dinner.

 


[00:23:35.360] - Don Alexander

And I'll get this fixed for what he did. And we drove away and had no more problems the rest of the trip. But it was a pretty funny way to start our marriage.

 


[00:23:47.410] - Big Rich Klein

Being able to sell it the throter NGS in backwards and then be right exactly with the guy. That's awesome.

 


[00:23:54.740] - Don Alexander

Yeah, well, my dad was an auto mechanic, and one of the skills I learned was being a decent Ranch working for my dad when I was a kid, did that all through high school and a little bit into College. And then I moved on doing other jobs. I was never really a good enough mechanic or liked it enough to make a living at it. But certainly developing those skills was hugely helpful throughout my entire career.

 


[00:24:24.750] - Big Rich Klein

Absolutely. Especially as a racer. If you're racing and you can and if you have crew and you can actually explain what the car is doing while you're on the track so that the mechanics, the crew can work on it and maybe tune it, make adjustments, whatever. It's a lot better than saying, well, you know, it just kind of rides weird or it's making a funny noise if you can help locate or pinpoint the problem.

 


[00:24:52.460] - Don Alexander

Oh, absolutely.

 


[00:24:54.230] - Big Rich Klein

Long ways.

 


[00:24:54.880] - Don Alexander

Well, especially when it comes to handling and getting a car set up. Driver is a critical part of that. And not a lot of drivers are really good at that. And now, with data acquisition and computers and everything, it's much more an engineering exercise and driver exercise. But back in the Sixties and Seventies, that was a whole different ballgame. I know the very first I built an L for a mail as my first SCCA car and had virtually no budget to build the car. So we did some weird things.

 


[00:25:28.610] - Don Alexander

And I knew being a newcomer to this, I had a very basic understanding of certain things that needed to be done so I went and bought some bar stock because I knew we needed stiffer and I roll bar sway bars. So I went and bought some bar stock and got a torch and bent them and put them on A-A-A big one in the front and three in the rear. So I could adjust the handling balance and actually got that car handling really well. And it was with a stock engine.

 


[00:25:56.040] - Don Alexander

It was actually fairly competitive. And that's what I got my SCCA license and race for a couple of years. And then at that point actually started most often driving for other people. But those experiences were priceless and the overall scheme of things. And I ended up writing three handling books for Motor Books International, all of which did fairly well. And that led all kinds of stuff, including doing seminars and instructing consulting for teams and individuals, helping them get their car set up. And most of the time, when somebody would ask me to help them set up the car, it was more teaching them how to drive the car better than having a setup issue.

 


[00:26:44.010] - Don Alexander

They would complain that the car is doing something, and it would turn out that they weren't really going fast enough for the car to have that handling problem. So that was a real challenge, trying to be politically correct, which I'm not very good at saying. Well, I'm really sorry, but it's not the car. It's actually some things we can work on with your driving with.

 


[00:27:08.020] - Big Rich Klein

Whether it's off road or pavement or dirt. You still have to be able to handle the car to get the car to perform to its utmost.

 


[00:27:18.360] - Don Alexander

Yeah. I had a guy one time sent him out to do some preliminary lapse just to take some tire temperatures and see how the car was working. And he came in it was a warm day. And this was up at Willow Springs, but not super hot. And typically you'd see tire temperatures in 160 to 220 degree range. And he came in with tire temperatures around 100 degrees, which was just a little bit hotter than the track temperature at the time. And you're not going fast enough to have a handling problem with those kind of tire temperatures.

 


[00:27:52.450] - Don Alexander

So that's when you really have to start getting them up to speed before you can even figure out what's going on with your car. So I love those kinds of challenges. That was just great fun and such a joy to really connect with people and get them to improve whether it was a car they're driving or both. It's just a real pleasure to see people see that light bulb come on, that people got it and they've improved it, and they're just thrilled to death. That's a great thing.

 


[00:28:23.040] - Big Rich Klein

So before we started recording, we were talking about Bob Bauer, and you said you had a relationship with him and talk about that a little bit.

 


[00:28:36.900] - Don Alexander

Sure. Well, there's in the middle of all of this. This was in the well, the first thing that happened, I was the editor of Circle Track magazine, and we got invited up to Mason in Race way up in Bakersfield for kind of a secret launch of what became the NASCAR trucks. The guy had a shot there, his dad on the track, and he had a shot there. He raced in the Winston West series, which is like the West Coast version of the Cop cars. And he built this truck for four off road racers, John Nelson, Scoop Vessels and a couple of other guys.

 


[00:29:26.550] - Don Alexander

And they got a hold of me a Circle Track and said, hey, can you come up and do an article on this? Well, yeah, of course. So we went up and had the sneak preview of what became Craftsman Truck Series, and I was just really taken with that. And that led to getting involved in that series a little bit. And we actually built a truck. I had a friend who pitched Craftsman for sponsorship for our truck. Well, they loved the whole idea so much. They ended up sponsoring the series, but not our truck.

 


[00:29:59.900] - Don Alexander

So we built the truck and never really got to race it, because by then I just got so ungodly expensive, we just didn't have a budget for it, but got to drive the truck a couple of times. That the success of that series led to a short track series called Spec Track, and that was created by a guy named John Nelson, who was an off road racer. I'm very connected with BFG, so I ended up with one of those trucks. I did a whole PR campaign for Spec Truck about some great publicity through the magazines, and then started doing training for some of the drivers because a lot of them were coming from offroad racing.

 


[00:30:42.050] - Don Alexander

A couple of guys came from road racing and didn't have any old track experience. So we go down to Alkahon or, like, Havasu to the short tracks there and do classes for these people. And one of the students was Bob Bauer. Again, that was a publicity thing. But John's connection with BFG invited to come out. We invited Bob to come out, and that's how I met Bob.

 


[00:31:07.800] - Big Rich Klein

Excellent. John Nelson has a storied past as well. He designed him in Vanderan. John Vondra designed Tiny, which was truly the first of many, of course, now standard moon buggies. We'll call it rear engine, totally built, functional rock crawler, not designed for anything else. And it was pretty cool that everybody intertwined in this business.

 


[00:31:40.540] - Don Alexander

Yeah. It's incredible relationships that I developed from stock car racing when I was at Circle Track have translated into incredible not just relationships, but real friendships, the current family being among them. I knew Frank way back back in the 80s, when I was into the 90s when I was at Circle Track, and even before that, doing some old track racing. And that's translated into John and Ray becoming really close friends.

 


[00:32:12.010] - Big Rich Klein

That's awesome. I did an interview with John as well, raised on my list to do as well. So I'm looking forward to that. It's just great how we're how this industry is intertwined. So let's go to the fact that you went and and was doing the training after the training while you were doing books and racing. How did offroad become part of your life?

 


[00:32:40.730] - Don Alexander

Moving to Big Bear actually was what triggered that because we started exploring some of, as you know, we have an extensive trail system in our backyard here, right? 600 miles of trail, some world class street legal rock calling trails, which you've experienced a little bit of. Mostly what we did was down in COOGER, buts in Johnson Valley, but we have some great trails up here. So that's really what started. It was just some casual exploring. My first real major offroad experience was actually at Bonneville in the course of doing suspension design and consulting for companies.

 


[00:33:20.280] - Don Alexander

An old friend of mine, an ext Chevy engineer who is just brilliant guy named Paul Van Valkenburgh. He wrote a book called Race Car Engineering, which is iconic Super Intel. And he's a rocket scientist level guy. And Gal Banks from Gail. Banks Engineering contacted Paule to design a suspension system for a pickup truck use building to take the Bonneville. Well, Paul was too busy, Koh said. He told Gail to contact me what he did. So I went and met with Gail about designing a suspension for this Dakota pickup truck that was going to have a common diesel built into it.

 


[00:34:05.350] - Don Alexander

We ended up using pretty simple stuff. We took a front clip and a rear clip from a NASCAR stock car, and basically we fabricated that into the stock frame, put a roll cage in it, and she horned this huge engine into a Dakota extended cab pickup with 5.9 liter Commons diesel. That was shockingly stock at some head work and a variable geometry prototype turbo charger. In the course of talking to Gail, find out about my racing background, and I give him a copy of one of the handling books.

 


[00:34:47.480] - Don Alexander

And I think there was one thing in that book that he jumped on, and that was when you're accelerating, how much wheel spin is optimum for maximum acceleration. It turns out it's about the wheel spin. So if the engine is spending 5000 rpm, the tires would be spending more than that. So he looked at that and goes, this guy probably actually knows how to drive. So he said, Are you interested in driving the truck a pool? Well, that had been a dream since I was a kid, but I never pursued it.

 


[00:35:20.560] - Don Alexander

So I obviously I said yes. So I went to Bonneville and we missed the first year. And actually, Bonneville is going on. The Nationals are going on right now. We missed the national the first year. And the second year and made it to the world finals in October of 2001. Never been there. So I had to go through licensing when they waived a couple of the runs because of my racing experience. So the first time I sat in the truck because they finished it, towed it to Bonneville, and I met them there.

 


[00:35:55.850] - Don Alexander

The plan was to tow a small trailer behind the truck, the race truck, because it was street legal to Bonneville. Well, they couldn't quite do that. So Gale got in it. They hooked up the small trailer to was called the Sidewinder and towed it from the border to Bonneville behind the Sidewinder, which got a lot of interest. I had not been in the truck yet. I hadn't even sat in it other than a seat fitting. So you have to do a bailout in tech inspection. So the first time I'm really in the truck, I'm strapped into do this bail out, and it's up on Jack Stan.

 


[00:36:33.910] - Don Alexander

So there were a couple of crew guys there that kind of caught me as I got out of the truck because it was 2ft off the ground. And then I had to do 175 miles an hour pass and a 200 miles an hour pass to get my license. And we went 177 on the first run and 198 on the second run and ran out of injectors. They forgot to bring the bigger fuel injectors. So somebody flew them over from Southern California. They put them in. We went out and did our first record run that morning.

 


[00:37:06.570] - Don Alexander

And in depth, I think our top speed on that one was 217 miles an hour.

 


[00:37:12.370] 

Wow.

 


[00:37:13.060] - Don Alexander

So and we back that up and we ended up sending seven records breaking our own records. The national record, which we set at 212, was 159 miles an hour. So we kind of blew that record away. And then we set some international records. The last run we did to back up to back up our national record was real early on a Sunday morning because they couldn't get everybody through Saturday. So it's actually in the morning after the meat was finished. And they had, like, three vehicles that needed to do back up runs.

 


[00:37:47.520] - Don Alexander

So we did our backup run. It was about 08:00 in the morning in October. It was cold. It was probably in the 40s, which is great for making horsepower. So as I'm getting in the truck, banks came over and said, if eggs get over 700 degrees, you might as well shut the engine off because it's going to blow up. So we're making this run and it's making a ton of power. And at about the three quarter mile Mark through the first time marker, I'm looking at watching the EGT gauge, and the rpm is about and you were only running 4000 rpm red line.

 


[00:38:23.620] - Don Alexander

We're about 200 rpm higher than we'd been at that point. And I'm watching that EGT engagement. It's bouncing around 1650 1675, and I'm ready to shut it off. And all of a sudden there's this huge bang. And we had a quick change so we could change the gearing. It was based on a data 70, so it's pretty beefy stuff. And so I was so ready to put the clutch in in case it was an engine problem. I got to clutch in, realized it wasn't the engine because it was still running and coasted for a quarter mile.

 


[00:38:56.750] - Don Alexander

And we had a 208 miles an hour mile coasting for a quarter mile in a pickup truck.

 


[00:39:02.820] 

Wow.

 


[00:39:03.510] - Don Alexander

What happened is it was making so much torque it twisted the pinion gear off the shaft, spit it through the case and into the back of the truck, which is what made all the noise. I just made a huge racket and then left a nice trail of gear lube until I got it slowed down and stopped. But one of my best quote ever, which I didn't actually make, but somebody did in the magazine article was that the Sidewinder being a pickup truck had the aerodynamics of a Walmart store, which is about true from 220 miles an hour.

 


[00:39:40.760] - Don Alexander

Just lifting off the gas was like making a panic stop. We didn't need a parachute. We had one. We had to have one. And I used it a couple of times, which was an experience in itself because I never driven something parachute. But that whole experience was incredible. The one thing I would do at this point in my life, racing wise, I would go back to Bonneville in a heartbeat if I had a good ride.

 


[00:40:03.600] 

Nice.

 


[00:40:04.650] - Don Alexander

Yeah. That was a great people great experience. And just everybody was so helpful. And it was like Arca club racing back in the Sixties and early Seventies, just great camaraderie and just a great group of people. But later, I mean, that wasn't really offroading, but just a casual offroading in Big Bear. And then but Nissan Xterra off road. And this is where I actually was working at Banks for a while for two or three years, and I was commuting every day from Big Bear down to Banks, but we had this really nice off road vehicle.

 


[00:40:48.070] - Don Alexander

So I started doing more offroading meta guy. We ran the off road tour company here in Big Bear, and we started shooting some videos for him. It was the other thing I got into around that time was video. We actually done a lot with onboard video with racing towards the end of my racing career. So I started working with him, started learning the trail, starting doing more difficult trails. And that led into doing a local cable TV show, which was a whole new experience and actually had a lot of fun with that.

 


[00:41:22.410] - Don Alexander

And I had been invited to FAM Trip, a familiarization trip for Toyo Tires to Japan to go to their test track. And that's why I met Bill Bainbridge. He was at Toyo Tires. And he was the guy who actually was the marketing guy at BFG when the first all train tire was created, the first purpose built back in the ultra entire Bill had quite a background. And off roading on on this fan trip, Bill and I became close friends. We still are to this day. He's back in Pennsylvania.

 


[00:42:03.410] - Don Alexander

Actually, we're back there a couple of years ago and had a chance to visit with him. But when we're doing this TV show, Bill had moved to Hong Cook Tire, which is based back in, I believe, in New Jersey. And I called him one day and said, hey, he want us to do something on the Hong Cook off road tires on the TV show. And he happened to be in Korea at the time because he cooks a Korean company. He was gone for about three or four weeks.

 


[00:42:34.390] - Don Alexander

And he got back called me and said, Can we still do this? And I said, yeah. And a few days later, he called me. He said, Can you do entire media launch for us? I said, sure. Event some media stuff in the past. That's not a problem. So he sent me the proposal from their PR company, which was for twelve vehicles, all stock, all rented, doing an off road event up in Santa Barbara on Raffia Road, which is where the Reagan Western White House was located.

 


[00:43:06.860] 

Right.

 


[00:43:07.630] - Don Alexander

So that road, that's better than 90% of our Pave roads the way it's maintained. It's like a dirt Super Highway. Right. And I looked at this proposal and they were charging and on coffee amount of money. And they're going to take people up to Santa Barbara and put them up at the Fest Parker in for and a $400 a night hotel and a $100 dinner. So you got the highway drive driving these vehicles up there. And then they were going to do Raffi Road and come back to La.

 


[00:43:37.500] - Don Alexander

And I looked at that. I called Bell and said, Is this thing for real? And I said, first of all, it's ungodly expensive. Koh, yeah. And I said, plus, this isn't going to showcase you could do this in a Prius on terrible tires and not learn anything. So this is not going to showcase the tires are yeah. Can you get me a proposal in two days, which I did, we ended up doing that event for them. It was a great tie. It was the Hair ten.

 


[00:44:09.270] - Don Alexander

They've got a newer version now, but that was a really good altering tire. So after that, we did. And I had an extra, as I mentioned earlier. So after that, we ended up they wanted to put it in SEMA. So we ended up modifying it in a little bit, putting a Winch bumper skid plate. And it turned out to be a really nice off road vehicle, not great on the more difficult black diamond trails up here. But for everything else. It was great. So we ended up putting down in SEMA.

 


[00:44:38.780] - Don Alexander

After that, we started doing we did a comparison tire test for them. And we ended up when we did the media event, a friend of mine who he had a little repair business for Land Rover for Land Rovers and Jaguars. So we have not started a business to do this under a corporate umbrella. And then he was into Land Rover. So we did this comparison testing using a Land Rover. And we had a crew. And rather than using multiple vehicles, we did about 20 different tests using the same vehicle survey.

 


[00:45:17.310] - Don Alexander

We could try to gain two or three tests together, like a Hill climb and decent. But we have a crew. And we tested against three other tires. We were doing four tire changes every time we would change it. It was in March. So we still had some snow up here. So we did some snow testing. We went down to Johnson Valley and did a little section of Jackhammer and some areas around there in the sand, basically all over. It took us about two weeks to do this.

 


[00:45:46.440] - Don Alexander

And it was really a great experience. And what a way to learn about tires and the differences in tires. So then we did a media event, which was a comparison test that one used three different vehicles because changing tires would have been crazy with media. So that's what really got me started. And then the last media that we did, that's when I decided, you know, I have a bunch of friends that I could pay to use their Jeeps. And I said, we really need to be in the JEE market.

 


[00:46:20.360] - Don Alexander

That's when I bought my first Jeep that was in 2012. So that's when I really got into it. And it's funny how things work, because one of the things I did when I started this as I realized there weren't good maps of the local Big Bear area that showed the trails and the difficulty. So I created a map, got great industry support and some local advertising. And I ended up doing about ten of these maps over the years. And that was really a lot of fun.

 


[00:46:50.020] - Don Alexander

And my first Advertiser was Ray Curry from Curry Enterprises. And we had been out shock testing for county as he had a really nice Land Rover shock on John Bowl. And we got to a section and the vehicle was capable, but I just didn't have enough ground front. So we got to the Middle Rock Garden, which is the most difficult part of the trail. And we're having to stack some rocks to get over this one section. And here comes Ray Curry with a magazine guy and somebody else in a second Jeep.

 


[00:47:23.040] - Don Alexander

So I went over and talked to Ray for a while. Turned out I forget which magazine it was because there were several of them back in the day. And he was an experienced authority. He's getting carsick, which was really interesting. But what was funny about it is a couple of years later, I'm doing this map. And I told Ray, Well, if you've got a good cover shot, we'll put that on the cover. The first map because they were folded up maps. And he gave me this photo that was taken that day at that spot by the photographer.

 


[00:47:55.150] - Don Alexander

Those cars. So it's another one of those funny coincidences. So between doing the maps and developing even more relationships in the off road industry, I bought a Jeep, and my original plan was I'm going to put 35 on it and do a little lift and not be able to do any trail up here. One day I got a call from Ray and talk about opening the floodgates. I got a call from a Curry, and he said, We're going to come out with the Rock job 44 aftermarket excellence for the JCS.

 


[00:48:28.570] - Don Alexander

And we want you to test them for us. Okay. So I got the axles, full axles, 488 gearing, air lockers. And this was when they was all one company. And we put a rock Jock suspension on it with any rock sway bars and all that. All of a sudden, I've gone from this mile 35 inch, two inch lift build to a four inch lift with all this cool stuff on. I waited up with PSE power steering and all the goodies. And then I started really getting a rock one.

 


[00:49:05.110] - Don Alexander

We put 37 inch tires on it. We had the first Falcon offroad tires. And then I done some stuff with Mickey Thompson. So it just kind of snowballed. And then I got a call from Paule, who you met, who had worked at Hong Koh. That's where I met him. Now at Next entire great guy. We become really close friends. I got a call from Paule saying, Can you do some comparison testing for Nixon's all train tire? So we started doing that. And when we used my Jeep and what was really fun was going from a 37 inch tire.

 


[00:49:41.160] - Don Alexander

And we did the same routine. We did about 24 different tests. And I think we did it in six days. We went to a 33 inch all train tire from 37 inch Med train tires. As a driver, that was a real challenge. It's like, wow, this is really fun. I love the big tires. But boy, when you go back down to a smaller tire, it really teaches you how to drive, remind you you need to be a driver. So that was great fun, plus a great learning experience.

 


[00:50:11.340] - Don Alexander

Then we did the same thing with it when they came out with the Herodian MTX me train tires. And we're still doing well. Last year was horrible for the Pandemic. We didn't do anything, but we'll be starting again, probably later in the fall, doing events for Next. And like the one you attended, that all led to becoming so involved in offroading, especially in the Jeep market, that there was no reason to do other stuff. And one example that was just hysterical. My wife, because of the recorded Bonneville, my wife is always saying, how can Mr Speed Demon have fun rock calling at 3 miles an hour.

 


[00:51:00.360] - Don Alexander

So we did an old friend of mine, Rick Titis radio talk show called Drivers Talk Radio for years. And I had been on the show a few times, and he said, let's come up and do something on their school. So they did. And one of the Steve Selene from the Sleen Mustangs, the Sleen Supercar, had actually bought the rights to the show and was funding it from his factory in Corona, real close to where Curry is. One of the people that was on the show was Molly Selene, Steve's daughter, who was racing racing what was similar to Lamberg in aspects.

 


[00:51:48.280] - Don Alexander

He has seven series. So she came up. She was driving my Jeep on John Doll. The night before. At dinner, my wife told the story about Mr Speed Demon having fun. That's 3 miles an hour. And she thought, Well, that was kind of weird. So on John Bull, she's driving, I'm riding shotgun. Rick is in the back seat, and we get up to a pretty Rocky section where you have to climb up on rock and you get real Tilty. And she got up a little higher than she should have.

 


[00:52:16.470] - Don Alexander

So it got even more Tilty, and she just went into a total panic mode. So I got her calm down and off the rock. And one of my favorite lines, It's just a rock. I'll get over it. So she stopped and got her breathing under control. And I'm just kind of Chuck client and said, yeah, she goes, no, I know exactly what your wife was talking about. She said, I've never been so scared in a race car. I was doing that. So that kind of sums up the three mile an hour adrenaline rush you can get.

 


[00:52:49.200] - Don Alexander

Absolutely. That was a pretty cool experience. So back after I built a JK, I guess one of the Editors from Motor Books on the handling books that I didn't also did a driving book for them, a stock Car driving techniques. In a previous to that, I'd done a driving book for Robert Bentley in Massachusetts called Thing to Win. So anyway, this guy got a hold of me and he's been an editor at Motor Books. He was now at SA Designs and got a hold of me and said, we want to do a Jeep JK book.

 


[00:53:25.770] - Don Alexander

Are you interested, right? Yeah, sure. That's how that whole relationship started. And after we did that, we were supposed to do a TJ book, but in the intern, they gave it to somebody else. So we got to do the YJ book. So we built Y that you saw down in Johnson Valley. Then at Sea, we talked about the next project, so we decided to do a jail and Gladiator book.

 


[00:53:51.320] 

So.

 


[00:53:53.390] - Don Alexander

I decided, well, this is an opportunity to build a JL, but it's got to be better than the JK or it's not worth doing. Now. I've got a full built jail. We started with a sports because all the stuff was going to come off of it. That makes it a Rubicon, except for the transfer case. So we ended up with Curry 60 extreme axles and rock Jock suspension and the Bull steam bit 8100 shocks and PSE power steering and Jerel drive house and a bunch of other stuff that makes it a super vehicle.

 


[00:54:27.820] - Don Alexander

I've had it for 15 minutes and it's only about 5000 miles on, but that we can do pretty extreme stuff.

 


[00:54:37.140] - Big Rich Klein

That's awesome.

 


[00:54:38.570] - Don Alexander

Yeah. So it's been a bit of a roller coaster ride, but thrill and just really satisfying.

 


[00:54:48.460] - Big Rich Klein

What do you see? Are you going to continue the trying to put together the Say books for? Is that who you're doing the Overlanding for?

 


[00:55:00.550] - Don Alexander

Yeah. The Overlanding book? Yeah. Kind of a can of worms, actually. It's honestly not something I'm well versed in. So it's a pretty steep learning curve, which isn't surprising. But boy is such a huge market, and it's attracting a whole new level of participants, which in itself is really interesting and challenging. And there's some interesting phenomenon. I'm still not sure I have a good way to deal with it in a book, but a couple of examples. One is rooftop tent. They're immensely popular there's. I think when I last looked, there's something like a hundred companies selling rooftop tens.

 


[00:55:54.730] - Don Alexander

And the downside to me is higher center gravity and just a lot of weight. But what I don't get and this kind of leads to some of the other problems. What I don't get is you have a roof top ten. You have it set up. Now, your vehicle is not usable as a vehicle. You're kind of stuck unless you break camp. So if you want to camp someplace for more than a day or night and you want to explore, you got to pack everything up and then reset it up again the next night.

 


[00:56:29.170] - Don Alexander

So that's one of the things about roof top tens I don't get. But the center of gravity to me is a bigger issue. If you're doing mild trails, it's no big deal. But if you get into more extreme trails or even moderately extreme trails, that's an issue. And we're getting some serious running because of lack of maintenance and a different market, just different types of vehicles and different ways that people are driving. The other thing I'm concerned about with Overlanding is it's attracting people, which is great, but they're not really dialed in to the outdoor environment and the ethics.

 


[00:57:09.800] - Don Alexander

There are very specific dispersed camping rules, and it changes from forest to forest or BLM land districts, too. Between them and them is probably a lot easier to deal with. But in the forest, especially on the West Coast, the rules are similar, but a little bit different. You can camp any place, but that doesn't mean you can drive in place.

 


[00:57:35.500] 

Right.

 


[00:57:36.130] - Don Alexander

And the rules basically, if it's undisturbed ground, you cannot driver park there pretty simple. But we're seeing people constantly driving off of the designated routes and the areas that have never been driven on. And now they've been driven on to the next group that comes along. They think, okay, that's been disturbed. I can go there. And the Forest Service is very aware of it. And it's frankly, here in the San Moradino National Forest, I'm kind of surprised that they haven't close to dispersed camping, at least for the next three or four months because of the fire danger.

 


[00:58:16.210] - Don Alexander

Right. Because I know that's definitely a consideration that they're making out totally different set of problems. They can go much faster than typical four by four, especially street legal. In our area, they're only allowed on certain non street legal trails, but they're basically going every place. And that is causing a very different set of circumstances on the road surfaces. So what we've seen happening, and we saw this on the 25 Hours event we did a couple of months ago, a different kind of damage to the road surface.

 


[00:59:03.510] - Don Alexander

We've got out in the desert, you get the big loops that if you're in a street old vehicle, you just go through fairly slowly, you're going up and down, but there's a rhythm to it, and it's annoying, but not bad. And then a lot of places, you get washboard. If you got decent suspension, you can go across washboard at 20 miles an hour. And it's not a big deal. But now we're seeing something in between that it's more like big, more distance apart washboard sections that if you go over five or 6 miles an hour, it just kind of beat you to death.

 


[00:59:41.860] 

Right.

 


[00:59:42.520] - Don Alexander

And that's happening on a lot of trails, and it's really making it kind of miserable. And that's almost entirely from UTVs, because you're the frequencies are different. Tires are smaller and a much lighter, and they go much faster. So the frequency of the chop in the road has become very different. So we'll see what happens with those. But with the overlanding, we're actually seeing more. And in our local area, we're seeing which we've got some great camping spots for the spurs camping. We're seeing actually more Overlanders than we are just Jeeps and basic equipped four by fours.

 


[01:00:29.450] - Don Alexander

And most of them are Toyotas.

 


[01:00:31.040] 

Okay.

 


[01:00:31.770] - Don Alexander

So it's a significant change. Some of the concerns I have, we see a lot of people it's not just Toyotas or Overlanders, but we see a lot of new people coming into the market that don't have the driving experience or the skills to drive safely. And we're seeing a lot more, especially when you get into really rated he'll climb in descent, which we have on some of our trails. We're seeing a lot of rollovers, and it's from a lack of experience. The roads aren't that difficult, but they're getting into places they shouldn't be.

 


[01:01:08.590] - Don Alexander

And they don't have a spotter or a spotter that doesn't know what they're doing, and they haven't experienced it before, so they get into trouble on it's not that difficult to roll a vehicle over.

 


[01:01:19.560] - Big Rich Klein

Especially when it's got all that weight up above. And then they pack them with everything they own in the bed. Anyhow when we do our adventuring overlanding, you might say we toe with either the Jeep or our pick up, but we have a trailer and adventure trailer that the rooftop tent sits on. That and it's got it's set up for doing difficult trails with everything from the type of hitch it has on it, which is the rock and roll, I think it's called. And then we have they're 30 513 5017 with a wide offset and the suspension and the spring set up and everything.

 


[01:02:16.690] - Big Rich Klein

It's basically like a Samurai underneath it. And I can to I've towed it over 80 miles an hour, testing the trailer with weight. And and I've done rock trails with it, and it's the way to go. I mean, it's I like it because we can park it, especially when we're doing, like the Rebel Rally. If we are in a base camp where we're going to be for a couple of nights, I can just set it up and be done with it. And then we go out, come back, go out, come back, go out, come back.

 


[01:02:53.960] - Big Rich Klein

And then it's easy enough to break down and set up every day for when we're doing that as well.

 


[01:03:01.770] - Don Alexander

Yeah, that's so much better way to go. It's a little costly, but still, it's such a great way to go. And by the time you get a good roof top ten, you're spending a fair amount of money. One of the things I've noticed just in the last few months that I've been looking into this is the number of really easy to set up ground tens. And that, to me, is kind of a game changer, because to go over landing, you don't really need a big four by four vehicle you can use.

 


[01:03:36.260] - Don Alexander

I know there's a lot of Subarus and smaller SUVs that really probably shouldn't have a rooftop ten on them, especially when you put a couple of people in there and gear. Koh, you get £300 on the roof of a small sedan or SUV. That's probably not the best thing for the vehicle, but carrying gear inside or even having a roof rack for some year, it's no big deal. And with the ground tents that are available now, easy to set up and take down. And if you have a card and a good sleeping bag, that works pretty well.

 


[01:04:13.000] - Don Alexander

And I know one of the concerns, which I find kind of interesting is wild animal attacks that happens, but they're extremely rare to me. I would rather risk a wild animal attack and a rollover from having a real high center of gravity with a bunch of weight on the roof.

 


[01:04:31.280] - Big Rich Klein

Right. Especially with the vehicle not designed to be where they're going, but they don't know that better.

 


[01:04:38.050] - Don Alexander

Yeah. And that's a big part of it. And that leaves the whole education side of things. And that's why we do the classes we do this Saturday. There's an Overlanding group. There's a big chunk of private property up in Hulcon Valley that used to be owned by the Boy Scouts. And they went bankrupt and sold the property. So now it's an event facility, including camping. So there's this overlanding group that's putting on event. They're expecting four to 500 vehicles and 1500 people for this event. And I remember Bill and Wendy Stevens, who work with me, great instructors.

 


[01:05:19.680] - Don Alexander

We're doing Winching on Vehicle Recovery Clinic for a couple of hours on Saturday. For this group, the education process is extremely important, and we're actually looking at more opportunities to do that kind of education. For example, the last three or four months we were supposed to do this. Last year, it was a pandemic. I got delayed a full year, but we've been doing runs for Redlands Jeep, which is located right at the base of our mountains. And we're ten minutes away from a trail from their dealership.

 


[01:05:50.210] - Don Alexander

We've been doing runs for their customers that are buying new Jeeps. And that's gone extremely well because we have a couple of little challenging spots that push the envelope of most people that have never been off roading or never known to.

 


[01:06:03.380] 

Right.

 


[01:06:04.170] - Don Alexander

And it really gets their attention. We even had Wendy is so great working with people, especially with women. We had one woman who was so afraid she did this whole Hill climb, and it's real easy Hill climb. But if you've never done it, it's got a little bit of running and fairly gentle slope, maybe 15 degrees. So it gets your attention. If you've never done it, she made it up fine. But then there's a U turn at the top when you come back down. And Wendy was stationed up there and helping spot people up.

 


[01:06:36.050] - Don Alexander

And then she would talk to people to get them come down, and either Bill or I would be at the bottom to spot them down. And this woman asked Wendy to drive the Jeep down for her because she was too afraid to do it. So when you kind of talked through it, and the smile on that woman's face when she got to the bottom was priceless, one of the reasons we do this, and that not only gave her the confidence to do more offroading energy, it's going to give her the confidence in her life to do other things that she might be a little afraid to do.

 


[01:07:07.500] - Big Rich Klein

Agreed.

 


[01:07:08.320] - Don Alexander

Yeah. That's something to me, that's priceless and worth way more than whatever money we make doing this stuff.

 


[01:07:17.840] - Big Rich Klein

That's one of the reasons I like the Rebel Koh.

 


[01:07:21.650] - Don Alexander

That's a great event.

 


[01:07:22.910] - Big Rich Klein

It's phenomenal. It really is.

 


[01:07:26.210] - Don Alexander

Yeah. It's pretty interesting. And watching people like Nina Barlow do so well, people who have a lot of experience, but the people who have no experience, the stories are great. And Charlene Power has done that. And I've worked some with Charlene. We've known each other for a few years, and she actually did an event a few months ago in Big Bear didn't know the area, so we took her out and showed her some trails that she could do it, which went really well. And it was so funny.

 


[01:08:02.370] - Don Alexander

I had a student. And why Jeep is putting 20 inch wheels on a Wrangler Sahara with a four X by hybrid is beyond me. I had a student with one of those, and we're making a two or three point turn from one trail to another, and I get out to help spot them through there. And I hear this puncture the tire. So we got to pull over to the side, we're going to change the tire. And I noticed this was the right front. The right rear tire is also flat in the exact same place.

 


[01:08:40.250] - Don Alexander

Little pinhole. And they were the Bridgestone dealers, but we couldn't hear down very much because it's on a 20 inch wheel.

 


[01:08:48.130] 

Right.

 


[01:08:49.390] - Don Alexander

So we ended up. I didn't have my good catch kit with me, which now I do transferring from one Jeep to another. I got left behind, but I had a small patch kid. So we got one tire change and got the other one past enough. It was still leaking, but it would hold air long enough. We stop a couple of times and got him off the trail. And I knew Charlene was doing a part of her training was plugging tires, and I was in the parking lot right down the street from my house.

 


[01:09:18.340] - Don Alexander

So we got these people off the trail, came over to this overflow parking lot for Snow Summit. Charlene was just finishing doing her tire plugging clinic. So I pulled up and said, hey, do you want to practice in a real flat tire? Yeah. It was about a dozen women, so they all jumped in and plugged both of these tires. The flat that was in the spare position and the one that was still leaking and had a great time. So it really worked out. So I had a great time with Charlene, so that was really a lot of fun.

 


[01:09:49.620] - Big Rich Klein

That's great. So the Overlanding and the training is going to continue.

 


[01:09:57.250] - Don Alexander

Yeah, definitely. We're probably going to reach out to more dealers. We were a friend of mine, works for a four dealership in Las Vegas, and we are old racing friends. In fact, as Titus, who had been up to one of our classes, his radio show, and he asked if we could do some training like we do for cheap or lead some runs for Bronco customers. Well, this is before anybody knew about the Bronco Off Rodeo program. So now that they're doing that, we probably won't end up doing that.

 


[01:10:35.980] - Don Alexander

But in watching how they're doing the training on those events, some of the videos that I've seen, they're really not showcasing the Bronco. I think the way it should be, because the Bronco is way more capable than it looks like in some of those videos.

 


[01:10:50.610] 

Right.

 


[01:10:53.060] - Don Alexander

It was really just in the last day, Kevin and Brittany Williams posted a light bright video on the Rubicon with Lauren Healey in a modified Bronco on 37. And it did great. I don't think it's going to be quite as comfortable to drive as a Wrangler modified a similar way because of the independent front suspension. And it was interesting because Lauren was picking lines to try to keep that vehicle as fast as possible. And he's a great driver, so he was going to have no issues with that.

 


[01:11:28.280] - Don Alexander

But there's going to be a whole new group of people that are getting involved and offroading, whether it's overlanding or crawling or just going out for fun with a Bronco coming on board. And it's nice to see some competition. So there's a lot of opportunities. And, you know, with the Chevy R two and the Nissan and the Toyota, that's a huge market. The problem is convincing people to actually need to be trained. And that's always been a challenge. When I was a racing instructor, I, which I did for a long time, people would come to a racing school because it was the only way they were ever going to get to drive a race car so you could spend time with them, and they would become better drivers for that reason, even if they ever raised it's a little bit different with Offroading.

 


[01:12:19.650] - Don Alexander

One of the things about the Bronco Off Rodeo, that's a great program. It's great for people who get that exposure. But I find it curious that they don't let you bring your own vehicle, that you have to use one of the Ford vehicles, because what I found in my training, it's far better if you're training people in your own vehicle. It also means we don't have to have an inventory of vehicles, which is a big plus on our side. Right. But it's so much better if somebody learns in their own vehicle.

 


[01:12:49.080] - Don Alexander

And over the years, we've done a lot with a couple of Jeep dealers where they would send their new customers to a class and they pay for it. So it's really nice for the customer, a nice perk. And again, it's one of those things. We have a training area. It's gotten pretty Reddit over the years. But there was one Hill climb that was actually really easy, about a 20 to 25 degree slope. And it's a typical thing when you start going up at all you can see is sky and maybe a couple of tree tops.

 


[01:13:18.120] - Don Alexander

And before we would start out, we drive out to that training area. Before we start going around our whole training course, which is about a half a mile, people would look at that. Hey, we're going to go up that Hill. Yeah, no big deal. So what we would do is give them a ride in one of our vehicles and then ride with them. And by by the time they made it up that Helen would do it, even a stock sport with Mediocre tires, it was no problem to climb this Hill.

 


[01:13:47.490] - Don Alexander

People will get to the top of that Hill and the smiles on their faces. Koh, My God, I had no idea I could do that or that the vehicle could do that. By the end of the day, they're blown away and usually cost them a lot of money because now they're going to start modifying their vehicles.

 


[01:14:02.730] - Big Rich Klein

Right. Which leads to another thing. I mean, I've been in been to Moab enough times and been on the Rubicon enough times. Those are the major places that that I wheel Besides parks out east or in the Midwest, is that people buy the Jeep per se. And then they they modify it because their friends have modified theirs. And then they go out to the park or go out to these trails. And they really they don't know how to use lockers. They don't know when to use lockers.

 


[01:14:43.320] - Big Rich Klein

They automatically just everything, push all the buttons and make it work so that when they do get stuck, they have no tools left in the toolbox, you might say exactly. And when I learned to go wheeling, we drove open open small tires, manual steering. And it was all about learning to drive the trail by placing the tire in the correct spot. And when I learned to drive it on the trail, it was 31 inch tires or 30 inch or the the old Armstrong True tracks that goes back way.

 


[01:15:31.200] - Big Rich Klein

Yes, you didn't have all those tools. You had a winch on the front, so you could if you did, you know, get in over your head, you could get out. But I don't see that nowadays. And I see these guys with and women with you say the JK or JLS 37 40 inch tires, whatever they've built their rig up to be, because it's like their friend is done and they're flipping switches right away. Everybody errs down to the same same pressure, no matter what the condition calls for, because they don't know any better.

 


[01:16:12.930] - Big Rich Klein

And then they get stuck. And then there's somebody like me with an old Beater XJ that pulls up and has to pull them out or get them unstuck or spot them through the spot. And there's just if I could say anything to anybody that's buying a new vehicle to go out and and learn to drive it from somebody that has lots of experience. Koh, It's not just because you have the tools, doesn't mean you know how to use them. Nobody becomes a mechanic by buying $30,000 with the tools, that's for sure.

 


[01:16:50.220] - Big Rich Klein

Just because you have that your dad had that killer toolbox doesn't mean that you know how to use all the tools in it.

 


[01:16:56.060] - Don Alexander

Correct? That's very true yeah. It's pretty interesting. When we teach a vehicle recovery class, the first thing we teach people or talk about and demonstrate is how not to get stuck, right? It's far easier to not do a recovery than they do one. And people go through request like that, and nine out of ten times they end up helping other people, not helping themselves.

 


[01:17:20.990] - Big Rich Klein

And that's good. That's the way it should be.

 


[01:17:25.440] - Don Alexander

Absolutely. You talked about tire placement and well, like I mentioned earlier, talking about doing tire testing on 33 inch tires when you're used to big tires, that's an enlightenment. Everybody should do that at some point, because you now have to think about perfect tire placement. And where a lot of people and a lot of spotters make mistakes is they're only focusing on the front tires, where the rear tires are probably even more important in the front tires Absolutely. And one of the first things we teach people in our basic class is the rear tires track inside the front tires.

 


[01:18:01.360] - Don Alexander

And how can I JK or Jail Unlimited four door if you make a full lock turn, and we have a video of this, if you make a full lock turn, the rear tires are full half width of the vehicle inside the front tires. And if you're making a sharp turn in the rocks or through ruts, you can get into a lot of trouble because those rear tires are not going to be where they need to be. So you plan as much for the rear tires at least as much as you do for the front tires, right?

 


[01:18:31.900] - Big Rich Klein

Yeah. And then you come across, like when we did the next and run with you guys. You know, I got to drive. It was the first time I'd driven a JK off road like that. I've driven them on the street, but I had never than any rock crawling, any trails or anything like that. Sure, I'm of that old school. You don't use the weapons until you need them. Don't use the tools until you need them. And, you know, I tried to drive everything first in just rear wheel drive.

 


[01:19:06.610] - Big Rich Klein

And then I would go into four wheel drive, and then I would use a rear locker. Then I would use a front locker if I ever needed it. And I don't even think I ever turned a front locker on probably not. But it's the way I learned.

 


[01:19:19.840] - Don Alexander

Koh, and that's the right way.

 


[01:19:21.840] - Big Rich Klein

And there's times that I've been out in Moab. We wintered out there one time, one year for 90 days and especially snow wheeling. If you're starting off using all the tools, you can guarantee that shortly you're going to be having to pull the shovel to get yourself unstuck. And yeah, I don't like shoveling that's way too much manual labor.

 


[01:19:48.140] - Don Alexander

Yeah. I'm getting way too old for that.

 


[01:19:51.400] - Big Rich Klein

Exactly.

 


[01:19:53.420] - Don Alexander

Same with the rooftop tent climbing up and down that ladder in the middle of the. Yeah, not good.

 


[01:19:58.140] - Big Rich Klein

True. We make sure that we have the annex room on ours because you never know what's going to be outside watching you climb out.

 


[01:20:06.890] - Don Alexander

That's right.

 


[01:20:08.200] - Big Rich Klein

So we always make sure the annex room is on so that we get down in Privacy.

 


[01:20:13.810] - Don Alexander

Yeah. Perfect. Yeah. That's one of the great things about overwhelming. When I did the JK book, which was the first Jeep book, I did, I done an offroading book before that, but that was the first Jeep only book. I was astounded how much stuff was available in the aftermarket. I I kind of do that. But until you really start researching it and realize there is more aftermarket product for a Jeep Wrangler than any vehicle in history, until you get into Overlanding. Oh, my God. It's just out of control.

 


[01:20:43.950] - Don Alexander

There's some look on Amazon and the different things from cooking supplies to sleeping back everything. It's mind boggling. And they even went so far. The first two books I did were 144 pages. And because we did the Wrangler and the Gladiator and the Jail JT book, they added a 16 page signature to that book. Now they've added another 16 page signature and the specs for the Overlanding book, because there's so much stuff. We could fill four books like that if we wanted to include all of the year that's available.

 


[01:21:16.530] - Don Alexander

True. Yeah. It's crazy. I'm spending a couple of days next month at Overland Expo and Flagstaff, mostly just to see what's new and available and hopefully get a lot of photography. But I've been there several times three or four times in the past, and it's already crazy. It was crazy two years ago. I can't even imagine what it's going to be like after a year as well.

 


[01:21:41.220] - Big Rich Klein

You know, Overlanding has turned into for a lot of people. It's like and I've seen this because I travel so much cross country RV parks or campgrounds. They're not necessarily exploring and out in the in the wild, but they're in these campgrounds, whether they're national parks or private campgrounds, and they set up and it looks like they're the show room for an Overlanding store. There's like a code that you have to wear certain shoes. You got to have the right hat, the right pants, the right shirt.

 


[01:22:27.120] - Big Rich Klein

Koh, there's all these little things going with it that the guys, the people like myself that have been doing the off roading, whether it's four by four or, you know, trails or just camp grounding or just camping and getting using your four by four to get to your favorite fishing spot or camping spot with the family? It's like, why leave the house if you're bringing everything possible? And the RV campground where there's people camped 10ft away from you anyhow and there's a lot of them. And it's like car shows where hot Rod shows and everybody's parked in the park.

 


[01:23:16.220] - Big Rich Klein

But now you've got all this stuff that you're setting up at the same time yeah. And it it boggles my mind how many people actually get out and really use this stuff outside of that kind of environment.

 


[01:23:33.320] - Don Alexander

Yeah, that's the Overlanding equipment of Mall crawlers yes, there you go. And I don't get that Jeeps and other four by fours are cool vehicles. Overlanding year is cool, but you're missing the point of getting out there when you have that approach and that attitude. And all you have to do is ask Rick Pay way about footwear. I started when I bought my jail. I just started cracking up because on the passenger side, there's a little plastic piece in the shroud in front of the wood shield.

 


[01:24:11.930] - Don Alexander

And there's a pair of flip flops molded into that just a little tiny Easter egg flip flops. And it has to be because of Rick Pay way. When I worked in Peterson Publishing, Rick was was the editor of Four Wheel An Off Road when I was the editor of Circle Track. So I've known Rickson, I don't know, 25 years, I guess. And he would when they would do four by four of the year, they used to occasionally most of the time, they come to Big Bear to do rock on John Bull.

 


[01:24:43.990] - Don Alexander

And I get these kind of odd texts from Rick saying there's a rumor that there's some four wheeling going on John Bull, so they weren't supposed to have any of the public come out there. So I knew where they were. So I go out and hook up with them and hang out. And it was always fun to watch Rick, especially on the John Bull gatekeeper. He was fearless with the equipment because it was all stock. I remember one year the new Cherokee had come out, and I've known Scott Brown, who's the West Coast PR guy for FCA or whatever they are now.

 


[01:25:25.350] - Don Alexander

And he was smart enough to equip he wouldn't let Rick have a Cherokee unless he could put rock sliders on it, even though they weren't stock. And that paid off because they had Alexis that God rockers and fenders bashed in pretty good, but a Cherokee came through on skates. It was great fun. Rick's a great guy, and it's really enjoyable to hang out with Absolutely.

 


[01:25:53.690] - Big Rich Klein

She is fun. One of these days I'm going to get him, get him to come on and do a conversation with him.

 


[01:26:03.010] - Don Alexander

Koh, That'll be a long, very interesting conversation yes.

 


[01:26:07.520] - Big Rich Klein

So true.

 


[01:26:09.620] - Don Alexander

Awesome.

 


[01:26:10.850] - Big Rich Klein

Is there anything that we haven't talked about that you would like to share? Can you think of anything there's probably a lot of stuff.

 


[01:26:19.760] - Don Alexander

Yeah. I think. Well, one of the things that I got involved in and has been one of the big frustrations. In fact, at the last team show a couple of years ago, I ran into you and Shelley and I mentioned our doctor Trail program, our nonprofit that supports that program, was we had a meeting with the For Service when we're supposed to have an MoU for running our nonprofit as a partner with a Forest Service. And I mentioned to you and Shelley that do an article on that.

 


[01:26:52.250] - Don Alexander

As soon as we got the MoU and things were up and running. Right. Well, we still don't have it.

 


[01:26:57.120] 

Wow.

 


[01:26:59.420] - Don Alexander

I got involved in the adopted trail program about ten or eleven years ago, and before that, I was involved in there's a nonprofit up here now called the Southern California Mountain Foundation, which runs a bunch of different programs. But one of them is there always free volunteer program, which is an education program, and it's mediocre at best. They really don't do a lot of education, and they're really only supposed to do it on green sticker trails here in California, which means Koh Trails, not street legal four by four trails, because all of their funding comes from the state.

 


[01:27:35.990] - Don Alexander

Oh, division California state of division grants. So you can only really do stuff with on green sticker trails. So when I got involved and adopt the trail, great program. At one time, we had 53 clubs, and we were averaging way over 20,000 volunteer an hours a year doing maintenance on the trails in the Sand International Forest. And the program was hunting along. And then there were some changes, and the guy that created the program and ran it for 20 some years ended up retiring. He's kind of forced to because he did stuff that the Forest Service wasn't happy about, but it got the work done.

 


[01:28:19.900] - Don Alexander

So the program has been in kind of limbo. It still operates, but not very effectively for three years now. And I got so frustrated with I resigned from the board of our non profit because the board wasn't doing anything and the Forest Service wasn't doing anything. And now we're on we've had the previous forest supervisor retired, and we've had two intern for supervisors. And a week ago, the full time for supervisor started. So I'm hoping I get to meet with this person and some of the other four service people and trying to get this program up and running again the way it used to be.

 


[01:29:01.110] - Don Alexander

But talk about frustrating. For an example, we got permission to build a gatekeeper on the bottom of Golden Mountain with a plan of putting a gate across the trail, and it would force people to go up the gatekeeper, which wasn't quite as difficult as other obstacles on the trail. But if you couldn't make it up a gatekeeper, you should be on the trail. Right. So we put the gatekeeper, we had verbal permission to do it. And then we were trying to get the specs for the gate, and the district Ranger said, you really shouldn't have put the gatekeeper in without written permission.

 


[01:29:37.480] - Don Alexander

So I know he got in trouble. So now we're stalled putting the gate up, and we did spend six months since the gatekeeper, maybe more since the gatekeeper win.

 


[01:29:50.330] - Big Rich Klein

Now the Enterprise has changed because people are going around it.

 


[01:29:54.650] - Don Alexander

Well, they're using the road. This was built adjacent to the road. So the fire equipment one right next to the road, right at the bottom. So a lot of people are using it, but people can still go up and they're going off trail into a sensitive area, which is why we were doing this in the first place, to protect, to keep people on the trail and out of the sensitive areas, because that will get that trail closed someday if that keeps up. Fortunately, it hasn't been too bad because of for some reason, people.

 


[01:30:25.720] - Don Alexander

I think the big problem had been wood cutters, because there's some iron wood up there, and wood cutters were going up there and decimating this little Grove of Ironwood, and we pretty much did that. So now we're not seeing nearly the off route travel that we used to from the wood cutters. But the reason and this is where it gets just weird. We were told the reason we can't put the date up is we can put it up, but we have to have an archaeologist on site for digging the post holes to put the gate up.

 


[01:30:56.650] - Don Alexander

And it's because of the Serrano Indians. Gold Mountain turns out to be a sacred creation spot for the Toronto Indians. So now we're in the process of contacting the Toronto Indians to see if we can get their support to help protect the land, because if they push for it, they'll either make an archaeologist available or wave that for putting in a couple of fence posts. They can't even do one at their own discovery center without having a post, without having an archaeologist there to make sure there's no artifacts that they're digging up.

 


[01:31:36.420] - Don Alexander

And I know it's frustrating for the Forest Service, too, but we get so crippled by that kind of stuff, and we're trying to protect the trail. Now, the trail, we're trying to protect all the land around the trail. It keeps the trail open insane. And there's so many stumbling blocks that you kind of get tired of beating your head against a wall.

 


[01:31:55.980] - Big Rich Klein

I know exactly what you mean.

 


[01:31:57.660] - Don Alexander

And getting permits before service is so overwhelmed with permits for all kinds of stuff that the process is extremely difficult.

 


[01:32:07.500] - Big Rich Klein

I would imagine in your district is especially being so close to La.

 


[01:32:13.080] - Don Alexander

Yeah, I know some friends from Inter Empire, four Wheelers, they put on Forest Fest, which is a great event, and they missed last year and this year because of COVID. But in the past, they would apply. Their event is on Father's Day in June. They would apply for a permit, usually in October, maybe September as early as August for that event. And there were years that they would have to push the Forest Service to issue the permit. That baby event started. I guess that's how the government works.

 


[01:32:48.450] - Don Alexander

It's unfortunate, but it's amazing we get anything done.

 


[01:32:51.220] - Big Rich Klein

Yes, it is.

 


[01:32:52.280] - Don Alexander

It's a shame. And when I was on the board of Core of the California Offroad Vehicle Association, and just before I got on the board, I did a study for them, and it was kind of a strange set of circumstances. I met a guy actually a 4 July party to friend from our Jeep Club, and sky is a civil engineer, and they have their Association. They give out awards and all kinds of stuff, and you can submit different projects for recognition. And talking to this guy, we were talking about off roading and sustainability.

 


[01:33:33.760] - Don Alexander

And I said have been doing this report for Corvo off road Sustainability in California. And he goes, wow, that would qualify for this. So I actually submitted this to them and made it way farther than I ever thought I would in the process with this group. But what was interesting about doing that report was and this is eight years ago or so. Now, before the boom and Overlanding and UTVs, there are million offroaders in California about of the population, and the average number of days people would be off roading was something like seven or eight.

 


[01:34:17.980] - Don Alexander

So the number of user days is phenomenal, right? That's huge. And, you know, that's probably close to double in the last eight years. So maybe from 7 million, it might be 1011 12 million by now. So it's a huge activity. But what was really interesting about this? And going back to Overlanders for a second, you talked about that culture. When you ask an Overlander, you're an off roader, right? They'll say, oh, no, we're not offroaders. We're Overlanders. They draw a distinction. Well, that's fine if you're an RV campground, but you're an off roader if you're going on public lands.

 


[01:34:57.260] 

True.

 


[01:34:59.260] - Don Alexander

Just like if your nature photographer or a rock climber driving on public lands to access areas you want to recreate in, you're an off roader, whether you like it or not, whether you're a Serio club member or anything else, you're still an off roader because you're off roading. What was interesting was just that fact that when you look at some of the statistics, like the same national forest used to do surveys, they hire College kids to survey how people use the forest. And obviously, being at a ski area, snow sports was by far the biggest use of the forest.

 


[01:35:37.620] - Don Alexander

But they broke it down into street legal off roading or four by four. And OHV, which referred at the time motorcycles and ATVs. And they were about equal just over ten percentage. So the total was about 21% of the usage. What they didn't take into account. They only asked the question of your primary reason for using the forest. Well, there's a lot of skiers that are offroaders a lot of snowboarders that are off rotors. You're going to say, well, I'm here for the skiing or snowboarding.

 


[01:36:10.160] - Don Alexander

There's a lot of people that are taking their Subarus out in the forest for a picnic, for nature photography or exploring old mines or whatever.

 


[01:36:19.200] - Big Rich Klein

Getting their mountain bikes out there. Whatever.

 


[01:36:21.530] - Don Alexander

Yeah. Exactly. Or hiking or whatever. But they're still using the roads. So if you really look at that, it's probably more like 50% to 60% of the people using the forests are going off road and motorized vehicles. So it's way, way bigger than people realize. And that isn't taken into account. It's not taken into account like the state. The state OHV fund comes from green sticker fees, and they have a formula for California gas tax. Some of that gas tax goes into the OHV funds, but they don't take into account the street legal vehicles.

 


[01:37:03.100] - Don Alexander

It's only green sticker vehicles. If they took into account green sticker vehicles, we have probably four or five times more money in that in that program, which would be a huge help for nonprofits and for the land managers to actually get work done on the forest and educate people and do road maintenance and all of that. But they won't budge on that. I've actually gotten in trouble in meetings by even bringing it up. The state people will just no, we're not going to talk about that.

 


[01:37:34.860] - Don Alexander

It's never going to happen. And that's it. And they won't talk about it. So those are some of the kind of governmental road blocks that get put up and are unbelievably frustrating.

 


[01:37:47.820] - Big Rich Klein

Or you use the term MoU? Yes.

 


[01:37:52.720] - Don Alexander

Memorandum of understanding.

 


[01:37:54.460] - Big Rich Klein

Okay.

 


[01:37:55.170] - Don Alexander

As the first step into having an actual contract to operate as a partner, and that could be with anything. But with the Forest Service, we have an MoU. And from that will come an actual agreement partnership agreement, which is like a contract to work with for service as participating partner.

 


[01:38:18.910] - Big Rich Klein

Okay.

 


[01:38:19.400] - Don Alexander

Which gives the non profit a lot more input into how the program is operated.

 


[01:38:25.930] - Big Rich Klein

Hence the reason you haven't gotten one.

 


[01:38:28.860] - Don Alexander

Yeah. Now the latest reason we actually have the document in hand. And I was supposed to be signed about two months ago. And the latest reason is that all the people in Washington that have to do the final approval on the MoU are too busy with some outdoor recreation bill that they can't spend five minutes signing a document.

 


[01:38:52.660] - Big Rich Klein

A frustrating.

 


[01:38:56.050] - Don Alexander

Yeah, it is.

 


[01:38:57.960] - Big Rich Klein

Well, do I want to say thank you so much for coming on board with conversations with big, rich and sharing your rich history in motor sports and off road. And I'm hoping that people have gleaned a lot of information, and we'll check out your books. I'm looking forward to the Overland one. I'd love to see that. And of course, we'll include it in the magazine as well. But and also the JL and the Gladiator book coming out. Looking forward to that as well.

 


[01:39:34.620] - Don Alexander

Yeah. So am I. It's been awesome speaking with you, Richard. It's always a pleasure to hook up with you and Shelley. And I love four little magazine. Thank you guys. Do a great job with that. And with you one of these days, I got to make it out to one of you, one of your rock calling events.

 


[01:39:52.680] - Big Rich Klein

We're still doing them. So you'll have time.

 


[01:39:56.420] - Don Alexander

Oh, yeah. Well, that's great. And we got to get you back up to Big Bear one of these days and do some fun wheeling.

 


[01:40:03.580] - Big Rich Klein

Absolutely. Love to.

 


[01:40:05.260] - Don Alexander

Cool. Well, thank you so much. This has been a privilege and a great fun.

 


[01:40:09.700] - Big Rich Klein

Alright.

 


[01:40:10.190] - Speaker 2

Thank you.

 


[01:40:10.610] - Big Rich Klein

Don and take care.

 


[01:40:11.820] - Don Alexander

Thank you, Rich.

 


[01:40:12.870] - Big Rich Klein

Bye bye. Bye.

 


[01:40:14.790] - Speaker 2

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. Hope you enjoyed it. We'll catch you next week with conversations with Big Rich. Thank you very much.