Tuff Trucks - Extreme Off-Road
Motocross is not just for motorcycles anymore. Watch as extreme off-roaders bring their trucks to the tracks. Trucks were never meant for things like this, but somehow these extreme experts pull it off and at times even make it seem easy.
Male: What happens when you take three tablespoons of muddy motocross, a cup of sandy desert
racing and a pound and a half of pure insanity? One big batch of tuff truck goulash is sure to
turn your stomach. That’s right folks, they’re big, they’re mean, they’re ugly and the schwag’s
all about big mean and ugly so buckle up and get ready to break stuff. We’re rough riding with
tuff trucks. That’s right folks, the big schwag road rage and I’m talking trucks, beautiful trucks
but sometimes trucks have a hard life, tuff trucks, trucks that do motocross. I know it sounds
freaky but we’re going to check it out. It’s road rage, get with it.
Male: If you are kind of an adrenaline junkie, it’s a fantastic fix.
Male: All you see when you’re driving is hood in the sky, hood in the sky, hood in the sky. You can't
look around, you’re strapped in tight. It’s the trip.
Male: It’s an experience you can't really even explain. It’s adrenaline rush and a half like I’d rather do
this than any type of sky diving or anything like that. You’ve got 500 horsepower connected to
your feet and your hands and you’re just flying over jumps and trying to pass people and getting
into each other sometimes. It’s just an adrenaline rush like no other.
Male: And the big schwag likes adrenaline rushes. Heck, we just like the name. Tuff trucks. So what’s
this tuff truck really about anyway? Now, you’re probably thinking that a bunch of guys were
sitting around having a few tasty beverages, got bored and decided to take their 4x4s out racing.
Actually, the tuff truck class is a cousin of the Baja racing you get in the southwest and Mexico.
Now out in the desert, you’ve got natural whoopty bumps, sand washes, tight turns and big air.
There’s plenty of natural obstacles and endless stretches of wild off road. Of course back east,
you don’t get deserts so here the best place to get desert terrain is where the motorcycles come
to play. You see unlike desert off road, motocross is huge throughout the country. Somewhere
every weekend thousands of riders converge on tracks like this and one of the most popular
amateur events out there.
Now motocross tracks are designed for fast starts, hard turns and most of all big air. The
Southwick track here in Connecticut is on the national motocross circuit and the AMA considers
it to be one of the more extreme tracks in America. Now that hasn’t stopped the truck and
buggy boys from bumping and banging in their own backyard Baja. The Southwick tuff truck
race. Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re saying schwag motocross tracks are made for
motorcycles. How are a bunch of trucks supposed to fit? You know what, they kind of don’t fit
but that’s what makes it fun to watch.
Male: Basically, it’s motocross for trucks. You’ll see the trucks flying over the same tabletops clearing
them like the motorcycles. Side by side racing with trucks versus motorcycles. It’s extremely
Male: Which makes you wonder what the motocross people think about having trucks trying to do
what they do.
Male: The motocross guys, when they actually show up and they come to watch a race, they’re like
wow we can't believe you guys do this.
Male: They think we’re crazy actually. They’re thinking I’m crazy for sending it off like a 20 foot
tabletop jump and clearing it. I look at them, I’m like yes, but I’m strapped in with everything.
You guys are crazy for jumping out without any protection on. You guys fall right off of it. I’m
strapped in there, I ain’t going nowhere unless I want to go somewhere.
Male: Now in motocross, you’ve got a land rush start. The hove shot, where a whole herd of riders
stampede into a bottleneck. The key here is getting out front fast and keeping ahead of the
mess. Same deal with tuff trucks folks.
Male: That first turn is probably the highlight of the day. When that turn happens, it goes from about
100 feet wide down to about 25 feet wide. You’re going from 10 vehicles wide down to maybe
Male: When you go from wide to narrow, something’s got to give somehow, someway, that first turn
will usually get these guys into some kind of order. Watch this start folks. A small phalanx of
jeeps. It’s only four of them but it gets wild in the corner. It doesn’t take too long to sort it out
though. Check it out. By the first hill, they’re going single file. Now the tuff truck boys only do
about eight races a year but that’s enough. With all the stuff that breaks, it takes a lot of garage
time to get back to being race ready. Last night, a lot of the guys were working until the wee
hours of the morning. Some of the guys are still working on them.
Male: This carburetor, we got about 9:00 last night. With a flashlight, after breaking into a guy’s yard,
when he called us up and said go steal the carburetor off my other jeep, that’s the Smith crew
over there because I wanted to race today and I had not carburetor, they said go take one off
my other street vehicle. So, that’s what we do. We’re friends, we help.
Male: Now the Smith crew that this guy is talking about, they’re kind of the petty family of tuff trucks.
The Smith boys, they’ve been racing here for three generations since it all started back in ’71.
The latest Smith to tear up the track is young Chris. He races alongside his dad and his uncle
Scott. Folks, the Smiths are the boys to beat. Chris drives a 1990 jeep wrangler with a chevy
327 and turbo 4 train. He’s been racing for 10 years and he’s picked up a few dings along the
Male: Sure mine ain’t pretty but it’s all about having fun, doing a little bumping and banging. Pretty
boys usually are in the back of the pack. I’m not really in the back.
Male: Another guy that’s not too pretty and usually not in the back is Bill Williams. Bill’s the founder
of team Ziptie. Although I don’t think they’re the official sponsor.
Male: Anything can be fixed with Zipties.
Male: Especially his F150 which pretty much looks like it was held together with them. Now one thing
Bill didn’t use the Zipties for was moving his engine back a couple of feet. You see the regular
trucks are a little too front heavy to really handle jumps properly. They like to come down on
their nose just like this. So most of these guys move the engine back. Move the front end
forward or both. Since Bill runs in the experimental class, he can do all of this stuff. Pretty much
anything goes, any engine, anybody and frame and any wheel base so what you get folks is a lot
of Frankentrucks. After market shocks, rears, whatever. This beast started life as a jeep
Male: We’ve got through I don’t even know how many different bodies, jeep commando bodies,
chevy, pickup bodies and now we just decided to make our own homebuilt body, give the
madmax look. Come out there and give the people a little intimidation there. Trying to make it
tough, make it look tough, try to run tough.
Male: Speaking of Madmax trucks, today there’s a wild newcomer that’s turning some heads. Kevin
Sweeney came all the way from Long Island with a truck that will be making it’s Southwick
debut. It actually started life as a ’73 jeep --. At some point, it was converted to an ice dragster
which explains why it’s a center seater. Now Kevin’s reconfigured it to some kind of big block
Male: We gutted the entire truck and started over. Everything underneath the truck is a ’78 Ford
Bronco. That was the donor vehicle. Gave its life so the jeep could live.
Male: And live large. The new motor’s a 460 big block Ford with 600 horses. This makes Kevin’s
Franken Ford one of the most powerful trucks out here. Now, this should make him a shoe in on
the track. After all, what’s more important than a whole lot of power.
Male: Suspension, suspension is the biggest thing. You don’t need to have a ton of motor which we
figured out. Suspension is huge. If you can go over some of these jumps and bumps without
upsetting the truck, then you could keep two hands on the wheel, that’s what’s it’s all about,
putting a ton of horsepower to it means that you need better axles, better --, better transfer
cases and that’s the stuff you end up breaking.
Male: Now for the guys who don’t want to get quite so crazy, there’s a modified class and a stock class.
Now like desert racing, there’s also a buggy class. The old Baja Volkswagen type with the 1600
cc engines in the back. Now, the buggies might have the low wide wheel base but that doesn’t
mean they won't get upside down. Check this out folks. Nice roll. If you look at it again, you
can see he got a little help from the guy behind him. Comes with the territory I guess.
Male: That’s bound to happen. If you’re afraid of rolling over, you just can't come here, that’s all there
is to it.
Male: Are you alright?
Male: I’m good.
Male: Now watching these guys all day, the schwag thinks it’s amazing they don’t roll more often.
How some of these jeeps aren’t flipping, I have no idea. Check out the jeep ahead of us here.
Taking the turn pretty hard folks. Now, most of these guys run automatic trammies but they do
downshift, watch here. Sometimes, they’ll gear down to third for corners and uphills and then
gear back up for downhills and straights. Getting the time to shift is a challenge folks because
there’s hardly time to get your hands off the wheel.
Male: Your hands never stop moving in that truck. Even in the long straight aways, there’s bumps and
jumps and humps that you have to have your hands on the wheel at all times so you’re
constantly looking ahead at the next corner. You’re in one corner, you’re looking at the next
corner trying to set the truck up to go through. So by the end of the day, you’re tired.
Male: To make matters worse, the track gets uglier and the ruts get deeper throughout the day.
Male: We’ll go out there for how laps at the qualifying and the track will be nice and smooth, you get
around people easier. And then as the day goes on, near the main multis and everything,
there’s ruts going up to the top of our wheels where we just sink into the ruts and we just follow
the line of the ruts until you get out and then you could try passing but a track is completely
different from the beginning of the day to the end of the day.
Male: As the day goes on and the groves get deeper, passing is tough but it is possible. Watch the
orange and white truck here. Check out how he uses the corner to grab the inside. Now some
guys try to pass on the uphill but you’ve got to be careful folks, check out the 65 try to make a
move, he ends up moving some hay bales. Here you can see how hard it is once you get out of
the main groves. Watch the Toyota behind us. It will come up and give us a nudge then get
squirrely in the deep dirt and loses a bunch of ground. Now believe it or not, tuff truck racing
really isn’t supposed to be a contact sport but it is, like in desert racing, if a guy’s a little slower
than you and there’s no room to pass, you give him a little nudge and if he doesn’t move, the
next nudge isn’t so little. This is one mean Toyota folks look how mangled his bumper is. Now,
to some guys rubbing is just part of racing. Other guys quietly plan revenge.
Male: One good shot deserves another so never complain about it, you just get even when no one’s
Male: But we’re not going to need to get even with that Toyota. No, revenge is most sweet when
viewed through the rearview mirror. Watch the top of the screen and over he goes folks. Now
after all the classes have raced, there’s one last race of the day, it’s called the iron man and any
class can go for it, buggies, trucks, whatever, it’s a free for all folks.
Male: And we call it iron man because it’s really the last man standing. What happens is you see a lot
of breakage. You see people that just overdrove and blow a tire, blow an axle, dry shaft so it’s a
Male: And one of the things that makes it so tough is the track has already been through 12 races. By
now, the ruts are huge.
Male: There’s a little thank you right there in the middle of the start finish line. It’s getting a little on
the aggressive side and you see everybody, bouncing their rear wheels off the ground so.
Male: Which is scaring the heck out of the camera guy, the first turn is chaos folks. You’ve got to be
kidding me. Now here we’re riding along with Chris Smith. Check out how many trucks he
passes on the first hill. He stays to the right, one two three spots in one. Like we said, it’s just
about keeping out of the mess. Not all veterans survive the iron man start. Remember Bill
Williams of team Ziptie, getting a little crowded Billy and off he goes. Now Ziptie Bill will still
manage to get back in the race. Not everybody’s quite so lucky.
Male: Normally, you’ll go home with something broken. It’s wheel to wheel race and you’ll go home,
you’ll have to fix something and that’s pretty much eats up the winnings. Either that or your gas
for the day and your food but like you said, we do it for fun.
Male: And it better be fun because there sure is a lot of breakage. As the casualties mount, the iron
man lives up to its reputation. And by the end of this iron man, there’s only two trucks in
control of the race. And go figure folks, they’re both Smith boys. In the end Chris Smith holds
off his uncle Scott for the victory. It’s a familiar feeling for the petties of tuff trucks who
apparently over three generations of racing have fully embraced the notion that in order to win,
you must first survive.
We hope you had a good time, we hope you understand what tuff trucks are all about now
because we dig it. It’s road rage, we’ll check you out next time.
Tuff Trucks - Extreme Off-Road
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