Wood’s Dodge Ram 1500
DRIVER: Johnny Wood CO-DRIVER: Amber Medrano HOMETOWN: San Marcos, CA
Johnny Wood and Amber Medrano had the longest drive of anyone at UA, traveling from the southwest corner of the country to the northeast corner. And even when the rest of the group was staying in hotels they camped on most nights in the back of their Ram truck. Wood bought the truck new and it has been a work in progress ever since. Medrano has a rig of her own as well, and the couple brought them both to Moab earlier this year for the Fullsize Invasion, demonstrating to our staff that they have no issue going on wheeling trips far from home.
ENGINE: 360ci V-8 TRANSMISSION: 46RE 4-speed automatic
TRANSFER CASE: Offroad Design Magnum and NP205
FRONT AXLE: Dana 60 with 4.56 gears and ARB Air Locker
REAR AXLE: Dana 60 with 4.56 gears and Detroit Locker >SUSPENSION
SPRINGS & SUCH: Custom 3-link with King coilovers (front); Skyjacker 5-inch leaf springs and Bilstein shocks (rear)
TIRES & WHEELS: 38x13.50R17 Falken Wildpeak M/T on 17x8.5 Raceline Monster beadlock STEERING: PSC hydraulic assist WINCH: Warn XP9.5
OTHER: Custom rollcage, York air compressor, dual batteries, ARB Elements freezer-fridge
WHAT BROKE?: Fried ECU, dented driveline, dented gas tank
HOW MANY TIMES HAVE YOU
APPLIED FOR UA?: 4
WHY DID YOU WANT TO ATTEND?: As a longtime reader I looked up to the people and the rigs they built. I made it a goal of mine to build a capable, roadworthy, and reliable vehicle. I wanted something different. At the same time, I built what I had. Daily driven, driven to and from the trail, shop rig, and even a tow rig.
MODIFICATIONS AFTER BEING SELECTED: When I found out I was selected my rig was almost there. I knew wheel speed was necessary on the East Coast so I upgraded all the axleshafts to 35-spline chromoly units. New winch line, setting up recovery gear, and planning the load-out were also included. Knowing the east has unpredictable weather and I sleep in my truck, maintaining a dry sleeping area and gear was at the top of the list.
ADVICE FOR NEXT YEAR’S READERS: Don’t give up. Wait to apply when you and the rig are good and ready. Don’t rush it—there will always be another trip. Lastly, keep applying! You never know what kind of vehicle the staff will be looking for next year. Don’t modify what you don’t need to. It’s hard to find custom parts on the quick. I left my engine stock. Lack of power keeps the drivetrain alive. I can find any sensor at nearly any auto parts store. Also, beat your rig at home so you find the shortcomings and weak parts. Carry spares or upgrade. If you have a unique vehicle, carry spare parts that others won’t have, as well as the tools to get the job done. The cronies are there to help you, not fix your rig for you. Having knowledge of your rig and mechanical ability are both important.
“This is the trip of a lifetime ”