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
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
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
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!
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.
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.)
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
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
‘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.
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
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
Adam Walker (driver LWB
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.