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Letters of the Month
Everyone who wrote in really took some time to recall how they came to be off-road junkies. Therefore, we’re hooking up our published letter writers not only with some genuine OFF-ROAD shirts, license plates, and stickers, but also with a DVD copy of Mud, Trucks, & Beer: Story of the Yankee Rebels to get you in the mood to go and get down and dirty. You can find the DVD at www.trucknight.com or you can write into OFFROAD for stickers and plates at Jerrod.email@example.com
In the July 2011 issue, we asked you to tell us how you got into off-roading. Funnily enough, a lot of the stories weren’t too different. Sure, everyone had his own tale to tell, but it seems that most of us got bit by the 4x4 bug early on and were never quite able to shake it—no matter how much time, money, jobs, or women it cost us!
START ’EM YOUNG
My love for off-roading comes
from my childhood. I distinctly
remember driving to local state and
national parks in my dad’s bright red
’86 F-150 4x4 on the way to camping
weekends. While listening to cassette
tapes of Judas Priest and Autograph,
Dad would drive us down the dirt
roads and trails to our destination.
Even though we were going camping
and fishing, my favorite part was
always getting there. Getting out to
engage the hubs in shin-deep mud
became a memorable past time.
In high school I worked with a
man from California who introduced
me to prerunners. Being in Wyoming,
it was something I had never heard
of but quickly began to love. I soon
bought my fi rst truck, and started
driving off-road as fast as it would go.
After Dust to Glory came out (which
I watched alone in the theater), I
started making random trips after
school or on my days off to anywhere
with trails or dirt roads where I could
quench my thirst for dirty speed.
Off-roading is a wonderful sport.
I hope more people can enjoy it in the
future. Thanks guys for doing such
great work on an incredible magazine.
I love reading it every month!
IN THE SANDBOX
Some of my earliest memories
are of playing with Hot Wheels, being
fascinated with monster trucks,
hauling loads of sand with my Tonka
Trucks, and helping my dad work on
his F-150. I remember as a small boy
going out to work on my dad’s truck
and thinking it was just the coolest
thing to hand him wrenches and to
get my hands dirty.
This, of course, all culminated
when I was turning 16 and had saved
up enough money to buy my dad’s
old truck. It was at this very moment
that I felt proud and excited to be an
owner of a 4x4. The fi rst thing I did
(well, just after I purchased my fi rst
set of 31x10.50R15 mud-terrain tires)
was hit the local seasonal roads and
two tracks of my native northern
As we have all experienced, one
stuck and broken part lead to another;
the fi nal result being a continuous
build-up of lift, rims, bigger tires,
engine/trans rebuilds, and of course
the most important thing of all—
knowing that this was something
more than just a hobby. It was in my
I read all of my OFF-ROAD magazines
front to back, always thinking
about what I want to do next to my offroad
truck (’91 K5), my wife’s Jeep (’04
WJ), or my daily driver (’06 Mega Cab).
Off-roading is something that is
just a part of me. I honestly cannot
explain it. If I am having a bad day all
it takes is a quick spin in my K5, slinging
some mud, to settle me down and
make realize again that it is the small
things in life that mean the most.
As for what got me into off-roading,
nothing specifi cally stands out.
Off-roading was in me even before I
knew what it was, and the fact is that
I love working with my hands and am
a tried and true gear-head who cannot
get enough of the off-road lifestyle!
VEHICLE PERFORMANCE ENGINEER
My experience with four-wheeldrive
trucks started in 1984. I grew up
in the Chicago suburbs, so off-road
adventures were few and far between.
Anything with 4WD in that area did
(and still does) command a premium
price. In order for a “po-boy” like myself
to be able to afford one of these
trucks, I had to get creative.
I was on the bid list for buying
vehicles from Commonwealth Edison
(our electric supplier) for some time
when I fi nally won a ’73 Chevy K20
with a pair of the heaviest-duty axles
I have ever owned. The truck was little
more than junk, but I was now in the
four-wheeling family. Not fully realizing
what I had, I regretfully sold the
truck two years later!
A year after (1987), I bought a ’69
F-100 with factory 4WD. With its Armstrong
steering, and four-wheel (nonpower)
drum brakes, you had better
have your “A game” on to drive this
truck. After 24 years of misadventures
(I’ve nearly died twice in this truck), I
am still proud to have it in my fleet.
Now I live in the foothills of the
Ozark mountains where I have hundreds
of miles of gravels roads at my
disposal. Because of where I live, my
list has grown to include more Fords,
Chevys, 19 FSJs (including parts cars),
and one CJ5. So, as you can tell, once
the bug has bitten, it’s hard to cure (if
you would ever want to).
RONALD A. POKRACKI
MARBLE HILL, MISSOURI
For me, it was the summer of ’83
in small-town Wisconsin. While a
buddy and I were working our high
school jobs, we talked about what
would be a cool fi rst car. We both
agreed that a Jeep would be killer
transportation. The following week
we decided to take a road trip to
search for Jeeps. We got on Honda
Nighthawks and hit the road. We
came across a few prospects, but
neither of us could touch the asking
prices. We didn’t come home with
any Jeeps that day, but we got the bug.
By the time school started in the
fall, we both had Jeeps. We tinkered
with our CJs and explored local logging
roads that senior year. Snow
wheeling at night was probably the
most fun we had. I sold my ole’ ’56
when I left for college, but since then
I’ve owned three more CJ-5s, an ’86
Toyota P/U, a ’93 Toyota rockcrawler
(which I took on the Petersen’s
Ultimate Adventure in ’05), and now I
own a Toyota-based rock buggy.
I think we love off-roading
because of the total package. The rigs,
the trails, the off-road community,
the exploring, the obstacles, and even
sometimes the carnage all make it
appealing. I don’t think you decide to
become an off-roader. It just happens.
COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO
Was it the exploration aspect of it?
Yep. Truck camping is the best.
Trips like snow wheeling near Caliente,
Nevada, for a bachelor party/
camping trip, or doing the Mojave
Trail with my wife and a couple buddies—
fi nding our own little camping
spot near Las Vegas—have been some
of the best times of my life.
Was it the mechanical side of
things and the way you can modify
Yep. I have a degree in mechanical
engineering. My brother, buddies,
and I have all modifi ed our trucks for
Maybe your dad was into it?
Kinda. My dad was into muscle
cars, street rods, and Harleys. He recently
bought a Jeep Rubicon to wheel
with us—someone’s gotta bring up
the rear! My uncle has been into dune
buggies for about 30 years. Learning
to handle a dune buggy with a
manual transmission long before
turning 16 years old was awesome!
The rest of the story . . .
I got a ’65 Mustang Fastback GT
(Shelby look-a-like) when I was 15
years old. My brother got a ’69 Camaro
at 16. We both still have our cars, but
I actually walk past the Mustang to
work on my truck most weekends.
Pavement simply cannot compete. My
new son has also been off-road and
even tent camped at 8 months old!
Tread lightly, keep it rubber side
down, pack out more than you pack
in, and keep our public lands open!
As a 23-year-old Arizona transplant
via Colorado farm-raising, I am
completely immersed in off-roading.
Everything from dirtbikes, ATVs, rockcrawlers,
and even R/C wheeling.
I wheel a typically-built ’79 ’Yota,
and I’m building an ’88 XJ that won’t
be quite the normal XJ. I’ve got a
garage full of bikes and quads and all
the tools necessary to build and fi x
pretty much everything I want.
I never really grew up around
off-roading or building cool cars or
any of that. My parents worked a
lot and I spent a lot of time growing
up around my grandparents’ farm. I
really look up to my granddad. Us kids
started out driving when we were
real young, on Grandma’s old snapper
lawn tractor. I always enjoyed riding
with Granddad in the tractors, and it
always seemed like we would have to
go through a ditch to get to a fi eld at
least once. When you’re young, that’s
When we started getting a little
bigger we got some dirtbikes and
ripped up the dirt roads, ditches, and
fields every day. Not to mention the
mud we’d get into in the pickups
when irrigating time came along.
My first truck was a big lifted
GMC 4x4 that I took everywhere (even
though I was supposed to “keep it
out of the river” and “not be screwin’
around”). From then on I was pretty
much hooked. I’m not sure there is
any one particular reason I love offroading.
It feels more like it’s just in
my blood. I want it and crave it and do
anything I can to get it. From the thrill
of building something with my hands
and seeing it come to fruition, to the
challenge of pushing the limits of my
creation, I enjoy it all.
Thank you for bringing up a lot of
great memories in writing this.
IN THE DIRT
Growing up in neighborhoods
with houses being built left plenty of
varied terrain to ride and learn. As I
went to college, I would even take my
’78 Oldsmobile 88 off-road, but usually
in winter when I had the lugger-style
snow tires on.
My first 4x4 was an ’84 Bronco,
with an inline-six—plenty of grunt
in low range, and decent mileage on
the highway. Next I bought a ’96 Ram
on 33-inch Swampers. I even became
president of a small 4x4 club. Yellow
Creek and Wellsville, Ohio, was my
favorite place. I loved seeing people’s
faces when I drove that big Dodge up
hills and through places they never
thought it would go. Long live Jinxy!
My current ride is an ’07 suburban,
but it has been on some cool logging
roads and dirt roads in Maine, New
Hampshire, and Vermont—and with
the family this time!
Thanks for a great magazine!