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Sponsors: West Coast British 
Nevada Trophy 2006 - The 10th Year Anniversary


Adam Walker (driver LWB Range Rover)
Jason Walker (navigator LWB Range Rover)
Doug Walker (driver 110 Defender)
Beamer Hodge (navigator 110 Defender)

Official Sponsors:
West Coast British,
Southdown USA.

Lovelock, NV; Team Walker of Los Angeles, California; comprising of Doug Walker and his navigator Deakin Hodges, in their 5.0L TVR powered LAND-ROVER Defender-110; and team-mates Adam Walker & Jason Walker  in a 1995 Range Rover Classic, were, for the second time, victorious in this years NEVADA TROPHY. This isn’t Team Walker’s first NVTR win, for they won overall in 2004, and once in NVTR-in miniature 2003, the single day event. 

NVTR was conceived in 1995 and first ran in December 1996 near Reno, Nevada. The creation of Michael Green and John Gulliford of OffRoadExperience.com The one-of-a-kind event has endured and become an annual challenge. Like the original, the 2006 version would again run on December 8-10. This event is unlike any other in North America and is, in fact, a number of events in one… A navigational adventure, Geocaching (which NVTR pre-dates!), and an off-road adventure all wrapped up into one.  Ideas taken from the famed Camel Trophy and Europe’s Warn Challenge have also made their way into NVTR, such as some of the Special Tasks. Each vehicle is required to have a Driver & Navigator, a GPS, compass, Nevada Atlas by DeLorme, plus safety equipment as listed in the NVTR Rules.  Laptops are once again permitted, but not required. Scoring is based on Points earned and points lost (penalties), reading/listen to instructions is paramount, and the ability to stick to a time schedule is also very important, as being late can cost you 200-points per minute. This year cars will be teamed up again for safety. Scoring will be done individually, then the scores of the two team cars will be combined, the highest scoring team will then be deemed the Winners of NVTR2006.  The Winning team will be announced at Sunday morning awards breakfast.

Special Tasks are always a part of NVTR, this year the Crew had some new and old tasks awaiting participants. Some will bring back smiles to those who participated in the past, while new twists will either hamper their progress, or gain them valuable points.  NVTR is normally a two-day event; Day-1 starts on a Friday, the general area will again be near Fernley. This year the staging/start location isn’t really what or where they think it is.  After receiving their navigation material, and punching same into their lap tops & GPS’, participants must choose a route that best suits them. The finish? This year the location will be listed in Longitude/Latitude form on the cover of their book.  This year participants will be required to carry all of their gear & equipment on board, thus the cars were packed. 


Since 1996, LAND-ROVER’s have won every NVTR event, but this doesn’t mean the event is limited to these vehicles, NVTR is open to all makes of 4WD vehicles, and they need not be modified either, as stock 4WD’s have won more times than not.

Thursday, December 7th was Registration and Tech Inspection. As always the case with NVTR, everything is the same, but nothing is the same!  This year the drivers-meeting was held on Thursday evening, during which the Navigation books were handed out early. In years past the books were given out 1-hour before a participants “out-time”, but in these days of laptops, we opted for something different. 

Another change was the start time of Day-1, for the first time ever NVTR would begin at O-Dawn-Stupid. Friday, December 8th, began dark and cold, cars were lined up ready to go at 6:00am. During the night teams had punched in the GPS coordinates and made grand plans of the route they had chosen to follow…  

Bummer is officials would throw a monkey wrench into their plans! 22 cars entered NVTR2006, but only 18 lined up this morning, and a wide variety at that, including LAND-ROVERs, Toyota’s and now for the first time, two Hummers. Chief of Scoring, John Gulliford, along with Woody Godfrey, would start the first car a 6:22am, others would follow at 1-minute intervals. Unbeknownst to the participants they were beginning a Special Task. With only 15-seconds before their start time, said car was given a map, instructions, and a target average speed of 52-mph. At 6:22am the LAND-ROVER Defender-90 of Chien Liew and David Juricic were off…  followed a minute later by Todd & Lorie Rueppel in their Defender-110 Wagon.  32 miles up the road Michael & Danielle Green waited to check in cars as they arrived. Michael later commented, “The morning started out very cold and dark. Before the cars began to arrive we had a breathtaking sunrise east-south-east of us, dawning bright and clear of weather.  The first car to arrive wasn’t the one expected, but like sheep, they all made their way to the finish area, and a large portion of them were only seconds off  the target time.” The idea of the task was to keep their road speed in check, and that it did.

NVTR2006 would now begin from this new location, found Northeast of Pyramid Lake on Hwy-447. From here participants would have to take a moment to rethink their strategy and which way they would attack the course. Waypoints and Geocaches abound, but where to start was the question. In quick order, the now reassembled teams (2 cars teamed together for the winter 2-day event) roared off into the northern Nevada high desert.

With the first task complete, workers departed the area and head for School Bus Canyon, where two more tasks awaited unsuspecting participants.  Always a favorite is the infamous Trophy Course, a “fastest time wins” sort of off-road obstacle course, and this years twist was the navigator had to get out of the car and record the LON/LAT of a particular yellow cone on the course, then get back in and speed to the finish.

The first team to stumble in was Team Walker. Rob Whitaker gave Doug instructions, both written and verbal, one being that the car must be in low-range. 5-4-3-2-1-GO! And the Defender 110 was away… all you could hear was that 5-litre TVR V8 howling through the chilly Nevada countryside! Doug had an impressive time of 4:10.4   Next up was Adam Walker in the Ranger Rover, who scorched off a 4:01 to take the lead. Soon thereafter, Ewen Utting/Jeff Heuer in a 1997 Range Rover ripped off a time of 3:48.7 to take the outright win.  The Hummer’s must have had a terrible time making the u-turn in the wash due to their size, while the Dodge pickup of  Marker Turner/Phil Turner (Walnut Creek, CA) and the Chevy PU of Ray Maderos/Laura Turner had trouble getting the tires to hook-up, though both made a gallant effort.

While one team car tackled the Trophy Course, the other was taking part in a navigational task run by April & Robert Loui. Instructions were; “You will be looking for a Green tag on a stake, I will give a red tag with the Longitude & Latitude location on it, you can not enter the #s into your GPS, nor can you use the GO TO feature, fastest time wins.” It was interesting watching, some hit it quickly, while others struggled to box off the coordinates, but all had fun.

At 7:00pm the task crew broke camp and headed east across country to meet up with John Gulliford and crew, there more tasks awaited participants. There JG had two navigational tasks, having set up a number of courses, one set for GPS’, and another set for compass only use.  In addition, they had a pie throwing contest set up, and believe me, this isn’t like the county fair type pies either, these were cow pies!   Team Hummer were the first to arrive, and when they heard about the pie throwing contest, figured it had been set up just for them! It was not the case, but a good laugh all the same. In addition, the finish for Day-1 was the same location as the pies, thus things got rather busy just after 9:00pm in that chilly canyon.   And the pie contest? It was great fun, the winning pie flew 138 feet! 

Team Walker’s weekend started out on a high note with the Average Speed Task, where they were within 25 seconds of the target time & speed. Soon thereafter, the Range Rover suffered from a non-genuine rear upper shock mount failure. By Saturday night it looked like defeat; Doug saying, “Lost a front axle shaft on the Defender, trying to get unstuck in a river wash about two hours after the time trial on day one. Then 110s winch failed on the ‘mud climb’ up in the mountains, so we had to jerk the LWB up the hill, pulling with the one-wheel drive 110. A few other broken bits, but carried on for the win.

At the end of Day-1 scoring showed Team Walker leading, with second overall being that of Chien Liew/David Juricic (San Francisco, CA) and Todd & Lorie Rueppel (Oakdale, CA).


Day-2, Saturday December 9th; the re-start was somewhat different than Day-1, John Gulliford now imposed a blanket out-time, meaning; it is the same for everyone. Unlike Day-1s course, which had a huge oval in the west, with a single spike running east, which lead participants to a number of canyons and a valley floor with numerous waypoints, Day-2 would have numerous possibilities for routes. In this case, it is all about time management, and not being late.

The most chosen route with up through the canyon from Lovelock, then up and over the Trinities Mountain range where they found some snow on the north faces.  Progressing north they would bump into the all important booby-trap at Weber Canyon. On the map and the laptop it looked as though it was a through road, in reality is was a dead-end canyon of overgrown sagebrush, the only way out with out retracing ones steps was a detour of nearly 30-miles via Poker Brown Road. The course crew got a great laugh out of this, and it wasn’t the first time they used it either, as Todd & Lorie Rueppel remembered the trick from ’98.

With no special tasks on Day-2, the crews were mobile and hoping to get some photos of teams in action. Near Lava Bed they had a Tick-Tack-Toe game set up, but first you had to locate the LON/LAT coordinates, then make your way to the game board, where you had to uncover the three X’s, as “X’s win.”  NVTR crew were on had when the first team arrived, that of former NVTR runner-up Chris Walker/Jacob Skibba of San Diego, CA.,  in a D90 and Brian Sompayrac (from Colorado) and navigator Chris Solecki (from Texas) in their Lexus 450.  They stopped when they say officials, and said, “We wasted over half an hour searching for #102 and #103 waypoints, we couldn’t find them.”  After being instructed to tackle #101, the game board, officials set off to check the status on 102 & 103.   Rob Whitaker was quickly up on the rocks and found both tags still in place where he’d left them weeks before and soon caught up to the participants to inform them of his findings. Walker & Sompayrac were later seen on the same rocks, where this time they found what they were looking for.  The second team encountered in the middle of nowhere was John Blomeyer, another past participant, with new navigator Donna Burke in a ’97 D90 Wagon. There team-mate, driving a Toyota FJ40 Land Cruiser for their second NVTR, was Michael Schalinski & Walter Braden of Sacramento, CA.

Nearby in Dead Horse Canyon, the Hummer team had run into trouble… it’s called ice. It didn’t help matters any that the H1 is so wide and sliding off the edge into an abyss with two wheels in the air can sure raise the old blood pressure to say the least. But after two hours, and using all of their recovery equipment, the H1 was finally freed from its confines.  They latter seen heading north to Lava Bed, while moments later the Disco-II of Vincent Leferve/Tomas Zachar and the Range Rover of  Ewen Utting/Jeff Heuer were seen heading into Death Horse Canyon.   As the officials made their way to the hard road, still dirt, they spotted the two pick ups in the rock-n-roll canyon Earl Minkler had set up. Seems they too had a few encounters with ice and old snow on the north faces, getting the Dodge momentarily stuck.

Heading south the officials found tracks in the snow near Eagle Picher and the Trinities, but no cars, thus headed for the barn and await the competitors arrival.

 The first cars to arrive where the Hummers, they were exhausted! During dinner they were full of laughs and stories of their adventures during the past two days.  About 11:00pm the other cars began to trickle in, all beating feet for the scoring room to turn in their Nav books without penalty.

Vincent Lefevre rolled in and later said; "The 2006 courses were amazing, with a great mix of technical trails and magnificent landscapes. After two participations, I'm definitively hooked and I'm looking forward to the next edition!"

Sunday morning dawned to find the final results posted, and after thirty minutes no protests were filed, the results became official, once again Team Walker being the overall Winners of NVRT2006.  This years awards had been handcrafted by West Coast British & Valley Machine, made up of an assortment of aluminum and old Land Rover parts… they were well received!


Here are a few words from the winning team:A lot of advance planning went into our win this year.   We upgraded our GPS software and navigational equipment, and went through the trucks in detail, making sure all systems were ‘go’ and we wouldn’t have failures (we hoped) like we had in the past.   We upgraded shocks and added heavy duty front shock towers to both trucks.


All systems were green-lighted when we rolled out early Friday morning to begin the event.   We opted to take ‘the path less traveled’, preferring to run the course counter to the way we expected most competitors would run.   (In the NVTR, there is no required route or order required to reach the multiple waypoints spread out over the Nevada badlands.)   


After an hour or more of blacktop, we reached to the most northerly point of Friday’s course, and turned onto the dirt.   Within 30 minutes of rough trail however, our long wheel base 95 Range Rover broke a rear shock mount.  There was no possibility of repair, so we amputated the shock.   (Adam and Jason were forced to drive the remainder of the event on three shocks.)  


We were the first to arrive at the time trial event, since it was on the northern end of the course.   The event was a 4 minute timed course up a river wash and back, with a navigational task at the top.  My 110 Defender was fast, but not fast enough – Adam driving the Rangie beat us by 10 seconds – even with the missing shock!   (We thought we had a lock on first and second in that event -- one which we had locked up in earlier NVTR -- but after Day One was finished, we discovered that another Range Rover beat both our times!  But we still “podiumed” in 2nd and 3rd.)


About 2 hrs later, working up a dead-end wash, we pinned the 110 in a gully, and despite working it back and forth, digging with shovels and filling ruts with rocks and debris, she would come up and out.   The Rangie finally tugged her out with a tow strap and we were on our way, but not without damage to the 110.   I first noticed that the handling characteristics were different, but couldn’t detect what was causing the change until later.


At ‘Cardboard Hill’ the damage became apparent.  The road that approached the steep sandy hillside was soft, and as the pitch increased the 110 started falling back, finally burying her rear wheels while the Rangie kept charging away.   As our two navigators charged up the hill on foot (we later discovered that there was a road at the top we could have used to access the waypoint), Adam watched the 110’s wheels as I tried to move the truck forward.  With the center diff locked, only the rear wheels would spin!   Broken axle -- and no spare.


We pushed on however, with the rear-wheel-drive 110 behaving more like a sand rail.  Although the 110 got through most of the difficulties we were to encounter over the next day and a half, the Rangie would have to pull the 110 up some snow-covered climbs.   After the first ‘assist’, the team got this drill down to only a couple of moments delay each time the 110 failed to make a crest.


Apart from the 110s winch failing, an intermittent starter motor that was a bit scary on top of the broken front axle, and the Rangie’s spring unseating a few times (no shock to hold the axle from dropping too low), we managed to keep the show on the road and bring home the trophy.


Our win was built on a combination of preparedness, knowledge of our equipment, a strong all-or-nothing commitment to winning, and clearly defined roles among the four of us.   Gone were the days of long-winded discussions about route decisions, and pouring over maps spread out over the bonnet.   With Jason as our lead navigator and Beamer in command of extra-vehicular waypointing, navigation tasks were clearly delineated.  It was truly a team win!


Thanks to Mike and his team of organizers and volunteers for laying out a terrific and challenging course, and delivering a really well-executed event!”


See you next year!


Doug Walker


Adam Walker (driver LWB Range Rover)
Jason Walker (navigator LWB Range Rover)
Doug Walker (driver 110 Defender)
Beamer Hodge (navigator 110 Defender)


NEVADA TROPHY 2006  by  OffRoadExperience.com

Sponsored by West Coast British, ABRUSA, Southdown USA.

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