TRD Tacoma Off-Road Concept
Of the several Tacoma-based project trucks Toyota had at SEMA, the most intriguing was TRD's Off-Road Concept, an '09 Access Cab 4x4 with a wide-body styling treatment covering a track width that was increased by 7 inches. Underhood was a supercharged 4.0L V-6, but a mirror on the floor tipped us off to the truck's big surprise: an independent rearend with inboard disc brakes, titanium coil springs, Bilstein shocks, and control arms good for 14 inches of travel. Another pair of long-travel arms provides 13 inches of travel in front. There was no word as to production intent for this truck, but it looks like it would be very, very fun.
Spied! '10 Ram 2500
Eagle-eyed (and camera-ready) reader Matt from Brighton, Michigan, spotted on the road what is most likely the '10 Ram 2500 Heavy Duty and snapped a couple photos for us. "All I could really tell was that it was a Dodge (from the front end, the mirrors, and the Mega Cab), 3/4-ton (from the wheels and eight-lug bolt pattern), and gas (from the exhaust)." The new Rams, without camo, should debut at the upcoming North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
Raptor R Tackles Baja
An R model of the Raptor has been prepped to race in this year's Baja 1000. The race truck is based on the production Raptor, though it has been upgraded with a 500hp version of the upcoming 6.2L V-8, longer-travel suspension, a racing rollcage, and other safety equipment. Steve Olliges, with co-drivers Randy Merritt, Greg Foutz, and Bud Brutsman, will drive the truck in Class 8. And we plan to be there, too, for the real inside scoop.
KOPL: Not Just Another Volunteer Program
The Kids on Public Land (KOPL) program, developed and run by off-road volunteers, is funded by off-road groups and local Southern California businesses. KOPL's objective is to bring underprivileged, 8- to 12-year-old urban kids to the forest for an out-of-city experience. Even the three-hour mountain-road bus ride gives most of the kids an experience they've never had, since only about 5 of the 100 kids who participate in the annual KOPL program have ever been to a forest, much less gone off-roading.
The kids who attended our '08 KOPL program represented a cross section of inner-city life and were selected through the Anaheim YMCA and Anaheim Police Activities League (PAL) after-school programs.
Once the kids stepped off the bus at the Discovery Center in Big Bear, volunteers coordinated all activities, which included gold panning, watching a motorcycle demonstration, trying on protective safety equipment, and having a picture taken while sitting on a motorcycle. The highlight of the day was a trail ride in the front seat of a 4x4. Between the front-seat chatter and talking to their friends on the CB, the kids asked questions like, "Who planted all these trees?" and, "Who waters them?" Just the thought of these kids returning to an inner-city life with a positive experience is enough reward for most of the 100-plus volunteers and sponsors to return next year.
To learn more about KOPL, visit www.sidekickoffroad.com. To learn more about becoming an OHV volunteer in the San Bernardino National Forest, visit sbnfa.org.
This Just In
* At the SEMA Show, General Tire announced a $170,000 contingency program for racers using Grabber tires in the Baja 1000. According to General, this is the largest posted contingency for a single race in the history of SCORE. And the prizes are pretty sweet: If a Grabber-shod truck wins First overall, the contingency payout is $30,000, and that's on top of the contingency money awarded for the class win.
* General also announced that it was sponsoring Baja Pits at the 1000. Baja Pits A.C. is a nonprofit corporation that provides contract pit services to privateer racers at Southwest desert races. General also said it would offer free pit support to any racer running Grabbers.
* In one more bit of Baja news, Volkswagen announced it would enter a clean-diesel-powered race Touareg in the Trophy Truck class at this year's 1000. The VW is the first turbodiesel to contest the Trophy Truck class in the 1000, and it will be piloted by Baja veterans Mark Miller and Ryan Arciero.
* As of this writing in mid-November, the news out of the automotive industry is uniformly bad. We're going to spare you the gory details. (You want to be entertained, not depressed, right?) But we thought this would make you feel better: After the GM/Chrysler merger talks ended with no deal, Hyundai announced that it was not interested in buying the Jeep brand from Chrysler.
* BFGoodrich has recognized two more off-roading areas as part of its Outstanding Trails program. Working with Tread Lightly! and United Four Wheel Drive Associations, BFG has added to its program the Pritchett Canyon Trail southwest of Moab and the Beasley Knob OHV area in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest in Georgia. Local 4WD clubs-in this case the Moab Friends-for-Wheelin' and the Georgia Bounty Runners-will receive grants from BFG to help preserve the areas for future use. Since the Outstanding Trails program began two years ago, it has recognized 11 off-road trails in nine states and two in Canada and has given $42,000 in grants to clubs.