- By David Bouthillie­r

It’s expensive. It’s countless hours of wrenching in your shop. Long nights. Broken parts and busted knuckles. It’s friends telling you that you’re crazy - wasting your time! Big tow rigs and long hauls. All for what? Why would anyone want to smash a truck through terrain like that! LOL... how much did you win?? Blah, blah, blah.

It’s been said that if you need to ask, you just don’t get it. What am I talking about? The TMR Customs Off Road Racing Series and some serious rock buggies.

I was introduced to the racing series by a good friend of ours last season. She was doing media coverage and racing in a bright pink Jeep (@that.pink.xj) and reached out to me for help with the media coverage while she was racing. Being an avid ATVer and gear-head for most of my life, it was an easy decision for me... I’M IN! As I rolled into Trudeau Park, Tweed, for CRAWLfest late Friday night back in 2018, I can still remember the feeling of excitement seeing the big trucks for the first time. These are the machines you’d play with as a child in your sand box, dreaming of the day you could see one in person and maybe even drive one.

Fast forward a year, and here we are again in Tweed for CRAWLfest 2019, cameras in hand and ready for action. A familiar face greets us at the registrati­on booth. Ken, the organizer of the race and a racer himself, talks about his modified Toyota pickup truck and the improvemen­ts he’s made over the winter.

“The only mod I’ve done over the winter is this steering quickener," said Ken. "It was difficult last year trying to stay on the shifter while steering in the corners - this should help a lot this season.” Ken is an easy-going guy and very friendly to talk with, which is a common personalit­y trait for all the racers we encountere­d throughout the day. Everyone is relaxed, everyone is lending a hand helping their competitio­n with last minute adjustment­s or trying to fix a broken rig between heats. It’s a big family all gathered to enjoy the competitio­n of racing the machines they have built. Ken had a strong start but suffered a broken leaf spring half way through the first lap, but as luck would have it, he still managed to pull off a first-place victory in the Modified class.

Pete Hamann is one of those personalit­ies that really make up the heart and soul of the racing community within the series. “I’ve been wheeling for over 25 years now, ever since I got my license," said Pete. "About 15 years ago I got into Jeeps and I built a Cherokee with removable doors and cut off top. I’ve been racing in the TMR Off-Road racing series for

as long as it’s been around now.” Pete is a huge advocate for the off-road racing community and has a burning passion to see it flourish and expand here in Canada. Together with his wife, Sharon Sauer, they race as Heinz57Rac­ing (@ heinz57rac­ing). Heinz, being Pete’s middle name, reached back into his hot-rodding days for the team name, where a “Heinz 57” hot rod was known as a car made from multiple brands.

“With Heinz being my middle name and the patch work of parts used for our racing rigs, it was a name that just kind of stuck, so we went with it!”

Competing in the unlimited class, Pete is rocking a new TMR Customs Tube Chassis Kit with exterior panels modeled after his old ratrod Jeep CJ, while Sharon is competing in the Stock class with a Jeep Grand Cherokee. The competitio­n in Unlimited class was fierce, but Pete knocked out two solid heats and landed a second-place overall finish. Sharon was one of the few Stock racers that managed to survive the carnage that claimed many of the other machines, and after knocking 20 seconds off on her second heat, she claimed first place, killing the competitio­n by four minutes!

Second year racer Brian Cain was itching to get his red Jeep Cherokee 4 door off the trailer and lay down some practice laps. A noise ban until 4 pm was in effect on Friday night due to a wedding on the other side of Trudeau Park. Brian purchased the “Hoist Wagon” from a previous racer in the TMR Off Road Racing Series back in 2018.

As you’ve probably guessed it, the nickname was earned by spending more time up in the air on a hoist being repaired between races than actual time on the ground. This year around, the “Hoist Wagon” was upgraded with Fox shocks and bump stops, new tires, and beefier suspension mounts. Brian and his wife Amy originally started their off-road adventures on ATV’s and then five years ago made the jump to a Jeep Cherokee. Recreation­al riding eventually evolved into racing the “Hoist Wagon”, and now there is talk about building a second vehicle so Amy can compete. Brian and Amy placed second in the Modified class and managed to avoid any serious damage in the process. No time on the lift for the “Hoist Wagon” this time.

 ??  ??
 ??  ?? Ken limping home with a broken front right leaf spring and shock.
Ken limping home with a broken front right leaf spring and shock.
 ??  ?? Adam Bullock blasting up the hill climb.
Adam Bullock blasting up the hill climb.
 ??  ?? Just a big green turtle on its back.
Just a big green turtle on its back.
 ??  ?? TMR flexing “Priorities” down the shortcut to the finish line.
TMR flexing “Priorities” down the shortcut to the finish line.

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