Conversations with Big Rich

Maintaining control of the outcome, Kevin Yoder joins us for Episode 115

June 16, 2022 Guest Kevin Yoder Season 3 Episode 115
Conversations with Big Rich
Maintaining control of the outcome, Kevin Yoder joins us for Episode 115
Show Notes Transcript

Knowing your limits sounds like good advice, but Kevin Yoder tests them anyway!  Episode 115 has Kevin and Rich talking about the early days of rockcrawling and KOH, life lessons in football and rugby, and everything in between.  Join us on your favorite podcast app.

4:30 – My problem with rugby is I kept getting concussions because I couldn't unlearn the football out of it.

12:30 – I learned to camp out in a tent

20:16 – the railroad has such versatility

28:09 – after that, it seemed like the rolls started, it just opened the floodgate

36:15 – I don’t go cheap on safety stuff now

44:11 – I’ve done an off-road competition every year since 98

58:09 – you put on a helmet, you’re driving as hard as you can

1:05:11 – The key is to know your limits

We want to thank our sponsors Maxxis Tires and 4Low Magazine. 

Be sure to listen on your favorite podcast app.

Support the show

00:00:06.370] - Big Rich Klein

Welcome to Conversations with Big Rich. This is an interview style podcast. Those interviews are all involved in the offroad industry. Being involved, like all of my guests are, is a lifestyle, not just a job. I talk to competitive teams, racers, rock crawlers, business owners, employees, media and private park owners, men and women who have found their way into this exciting and addictive lifestyle. We discuss their personal history, struggles, successes, and reboots. We dive into what drives them to stay active and offroad. We all hope to shed some light on how to find a path into this world we live and love and call offroad.


[00:00:53.790] - Kevin Yoder

Whether you're crawling the red rocks of Moab or hauling your toys to the trail, Maxxis has the tires you can trust for performance and durability. Four wheels or two. Maxxis tires are the choice of Champions because they know that whether for work or play, for fun or competition, Maxxis tires deliver. Choose Maxxis tread victoriously.


[00:01:20.110] - Big Rich Klein

On today's episode of Conversations with Big Rich, we have Kevin Yoder. If you've been around the ultra four racing or the early days of rock crawling, Kevin is a name that you'll recognize. Kevin was at my first event that I put on at CalRocs, Put Up or Shut Up Shootout in Lake Amador in 2001. He was also first time competitor driver at our first VORRA Four X Four Buggy race in Prairie City. This was back in probably 2002, 2003, and he's got quite the extensive time in competition and he's from Northern California. And I want to say, Kevin, thank you for coming on board and talking to with us and sharing your history.


[00:02:05.050] - Kevin Yoder

Thank you, Rich. Good to join you.


[00:02:06.980] - Big Rich Klein

Excellent. So let's jump in with both feet. And where were you born and raised?


[00:02:14.290] - Kevin Yoder

I was born, actually in Sacramento, California. Basically spent my entire life in Northern California, San, I moved to Reno and went to school up there, worked and played off road up there for a couple of years, and then I ended up coming back to California in 95. I lived in Loomis where I grew up and then moved up the Hill about 19 years ago up to Grass between Grass Valley and Auburn. So this is where I've had my residence last 19 years.


[00:02:49.020] - Big Rich Klein

Okay. And what age did you move to Reno?


[00:02:54.830] - Kevin Yoder

I think it would have been.


[00:02:58.890] - Big Rich Klein



[00:02:59.530] - Kevin Yoder

I was there for just a couple of years. Yeah, 22. 23 is right in there.


[00:03:05.700] - Big Rich Klein

All right. So then that means that you spend a lot of your time in the Loomis area, Sacramento, is that where you said you grew up?


[00:03:12.170] - Kevin Yoder

Yeah. Spent majority of my time in Loomis. So growing up as a kid, that's pretty rural.


[00:03:19.960] - Big Rich Klein

Or it was back then.


[00:03:21.690] - Kevin Yoder

It was back then. Lommis has changed so much. It was one of those places that was the other side of the tracks that you probably wouldn't brag about being from and how the place has grown so far out of control. I had to move up the Hill because I couldn't afford to live there. It's a beautiful place. My parents still live down there. I do like Loomis. We wanted a little bit more property so we moved up the Hill to where it was a little more affordable.


[00:03:47.670] - Big Rich Klein

So did you grow up near the schools that you went to or did you have to bus in or what was that?


[00:03:55.470] - Kevin Yoder

The grammar school days. I ride the bikes. We rode the bike to school every day and then went for the Loomis'grammar school and then on to Del Oro High School. To where? Freshman, sophomore year. I walked a lot to school through the back woods or through the back pastures, getting there. And then obviously once we could drive, I drove really close and it was a great community. Lots of fun around there.


[00:04:23.670] - Big Rich Klein

Well, Del Oro, if I remember right, had some pretty good football teams back in the day. Did you play sports in high school?


[00:04:30.830] - Kevin Yoder

Yes. Del Oro was a powerhouse in football. My class was 89. So we were kind of on the front end when they made their huge run and were dominant for so many years. So yeah, we won the Championship and also ran track and wrestled. So I had a pretty successful sports career at Del Oro. I went to play football after Del Oro. I went to play ball at Butte College and ended up not finishing it out because I started playing rugby and never looked at football again.


[00:05:05.970] - Big Rich Klein

Oh really? Why was that? Was it just because of its more movement or what was the I think.


[00:05:14.230] - Kevin Yoder

The rugby has the appeal because it was more camaraderie than when in high school. Football is the best thing ever, man. You have your friends and your group of guys in. There are 50 people on the team where you know everybody, when you get to a very competitive JC and there's 125 people going for however they're going to keep and the competition, it wasn't the same feeling. And there are some other things that just took place that I wasn't. It just was a different environment. And then I rolled my ankle so I got sidelined and then while I was a sore ankle, I was watching rugby and like, oh, this is cool. And then like I said, I went out on the field hobbling while on a break from football and never came back to football. Interesting. Okay. And rugby was something that I liked because it's nonstop action versus football has a burst of a bunch of plays. My problem with rugby is I still kept getting concussions because I couldn't unlearn the football out of it. In rugby you don't go for the big hit, but it's just a different game. But rugby was such a good experience because there's very few things where you can compete against somebody for whatever the duration as hard as you can go, ready to throw blows at any time.


[00:06:45.010] - Kevin Yoder

And then the minute the whistle blows, it's over and everybody gets along. That was just such a departure from what football was, especially at a College level where everybody thinks they're going to go to the pros and all that. So it's just the camaraderie is unbeatable and we got to do a lot of good things and we go down to the seven tournaments down in Palo Alto, down there at Stanford, which is a prestigious rugby team and everything, and the rugby teams would put you up the host teams. And so it's a great community and a lot of fun. And then the physical competitiveness is pretty intense too. But like I say, once the whistle blows and it's over, drinking beer with the guys just beat up against yeah.


[00:07:37.950] - Big Rich Klein

I can't figure that out. Why a sport like football I played a bit in high school was never very good. I think I didn't get the right attitude until after high school, but coached it in the Pop Warners when Rich was young, before he got into high school ball. And it always seemed like there was a lot of contention from team to team to team with like you said afterwards, it wasn't necessarily handshake. Now when he played football up in Cedar City, it was a different story because like the 8th grade ball up there, when we moved up there, everybody was from the same town. There was one town, Parowan, that was nearby that had a team, but all the rest of the teams came out of Cedar City themselves. So everybody went to grade school together and then they split and went to high school after that. So there was more camaraderie there than at any point that I can remember.


[00:08:42.750] - Kevin Yoder

Right. The other big thing is Del Oro has always had outstanding coaches and the coaches were extended. The coaches were life coaches too, at Del Oro, and they kept us out of trouble. And if we did have problems, things got settled in house within that group. And so it's such a team sport and a family. And then when you get to College, it's an individual. Pretty much everybody's there for themselves and how good they can do and shine because like I said, everybody out there thinks they're going with the pros, right.


[00:09:17.310] - Big Rich Klein

So then in those early years before high school, was it most time spent, like you said, riding your bike to school and out and about, or did you play sports at that age as well?


[00:09:33.870] - Kevin Yoder

Played soccer at a young age, didn't run football, didn't play football, grammar school, ran track. So only played soccer actually in baseball too, but it was just local Rec stuff. I did play on a competitive team where I got put on a bus and would go down to the Bay Area when I was 13/14 or so to play with some in an under 18 League. So that was pretty competitive. I did almost choose soccer over football. I'm glad I did not do that. But it's fun when you're a kid. But football outshines it.


[00:10:25.140] - Big Rich Klein



[00:10:27.490] - Kevin Yoder

So just local sports, things around Loomis and then. Yeah, riding bikes. I never like I did a BMX race a couple times, but it just wasn't really in the cards or the timing to do that. And just started wrenching on stuff. And we always had a little junkie dirt bike to go ride around on and work on.


[00:10:50.230] - Big Rich Klein

So let's talk about those early years wrenching then. Was your dad into automotive at all? Motorcycles or cars?


[00:11:03.290] - Kevin Yoder

What got me started with off roading is my parents always basically had an off road vehicle back to like a Wagoner that we spent tons of time in. And we did lots of offroading, not necessarily hardcore wheeling. But before I was ten, I'd probably touched almost every state on the west. We're Loading up the wagon there. I had a younger brother, two years younger than me and my mom and dad. And we would go do a lot of camping, a lot of ghost Towning, a lot of rural traveling on back roads and back in the day where you could go through pasture to pasture across Nevada and just close the gate behind you. That wasn't an issue. So I spent a lot of time off road in that way. Went to some of the famous trails just in that Wagoner, and they would go with a club and there would be more capable wheel rigs also. So we climb out of the Wagoneer and then ride with the guys in the CJ Five that could go more places than the Wagoner. And that's kind of how I got started. We'd spend a week in Mojave Desert, goes two weeks in Nevada, Utah.


[00:12:30.410] - Kevin Yoder

So really got involved. I don't think I ever stayed in a camper or a camp trailer until I was in my late 20s maybe.


[00:12:40.690] - Big Rich Klein



[00:12:41.540] - Kevin Yoder

It was a tent. So, yeah, I learned to camp out of a tent.


[00:12:50.870] - Big Rich Klein

So you didn't do scouting then or anything like that, did you?


[00:12:55.490] - Kevin Yoder

Scouting boy Scouts? Actually, I did. Boy Scouts. Cub Scouts. Then went up to Boy Scouts. I think I made life, went up to Life Scout, the one behind one under Eagle. And then high school and sports took over.


[00:13:12.290] - Big Rich Klein

Right. That's a pretty prevalent answer for most people is that they get to life and then high school, girls, cars, something. Typically it's high school and all those other things. And that's when scouting stops. But I get it in school. What kind of classes did you have? An opportunity to take? Shop classes, that kind of thing?


[00:13:45.110] - Kevin Yoder

Yeah. So high school started with I can't remember if I took it, the auto shop one and then went through that, and I enjoyed that. I didn't get into the welding classes until maybe like the last year. Yeah. I don't think I took welding or wood shop till the last year. But I like the auto shop. So did the first year. And then I don't remember if there was an auto shop too, or I just was the teacher's assistant to remain in the auto shop. And basically I liked it because it was a free lab to work on stuff.


[00:14:24.290] - Big Rich Klein

Okay, so what was the first car that you had that you got to drive?


[00:14:33.290] - Kevin Yoder

Well, I got to drive the Jeeps in the wagon ears when, I don't know, very young, sitting on dad's lap. So when did I drive my own first car? I was going to say I convinced my parents that I could buy a truck when I was 14 or maybe 15 and started working on it. And so, yeah, there was maybe some underage driving happening around, rumors.


[00:15:01.230] - Big Rich Klein

That's the nice thing about being rural, right.


[00:15:04.820] - Kevin Yoder

So now if we learn to wrench on cars, just while the auto shop gave you some of the basics. My dad did have a place. We had a dirt floor barn. And so I was able to figure out how to strike an arc with the arc. Welder and start building things. So I built the first. My first vehicle was 1960 Ford that pick up that didn't have an engine. And then neighbor had an old, late 60s station wagon with a 300 and 9390 in it. And a few months after that, I had the station wagon stripped and that 390 in my Ford truck.


[00:15:53.670] - Big Rich Klein

On your own, that's pretty good.


[00:15:55.720] - Kevin Yoder

Yeah. I like figuring out how to do things on your own. I had it going and my dad did help with something. I think I got a loan from my grandma to go through the get the engine rebuilt. And so, yeah, that was my first vehicle. I never had great success keeping it on the road, keeping it running. But that was my first car.


[00:16:24.560] - Big Rich Klein

Okay. I think a lot of us went through that, especially with things that we built ourselves. I had a 54 Volkswagen Bug, and I swear to God that I had that thing apart, like at least once a month for a week fixing something, whether it was the tranny front end, the motor. We rebuilt the motor on the side of the highway between South San Francisco and San Francisco, where I could see Candlestick Park. My dad brought me the parts and I had to replace one of the cylinders on the highway. A tow truck was not an option.


[00:17:09.950] - Kevin Yoder

Right. I hear you.


[00:17:11.930] - Big Rich Klein

So then get through high school. You went to play ball in College at Butte. Did you have a major or an idea where you wanted to take your schooling?


[00:17:24.710] - Kevin Yoder

No, other than construction management was always in the back of my mind to do construction management or some type of engineering. But I was not the most studious person I knew. I didn't want to be a peer engineer. I always just had it in my mind I was going to be a construction manager. I was in there right at the tail end of high school. I had a mentor that was a project manager. So I'd work with him and see how things worked and then really cemented the idea that construction management was where I wanted to go. But then I also had such a love for the automotive side. So in College, I was a full time student and a full time worker, basically. So I always had to have the job, pay the bills, and then to go to school. So I did I work for probably remember the old Super Shop stores. So I worked there and then did SteelFab to pay the bills. But yeah, I just had it in my mind I was going to do construction management. When I went to Nevada, it was partially for the reason of going to school.


[00:18:40.170] - Kevin Yoder

And then they were going to tab a construction management program, but they didn't bring it online. And there was only civil engineering. And then I came to a point when I was living up there that I was having a blast playing rugby for the club team up there in the school. But we were spending all of my girlfriend and I were at that time, we're spending all our time driving back over the Hill every weekend to go to the Rubicon in Fordyce and go play down here. So we ended up coming back and I never finished that school.


[00:19:17.610] - Big Rich Klein

Okay. And so now you're in construction now.


[00:19:21.870] - Kevin Yoder

So right now I started working on the railroad for the Southern Pacific road and 95 Union Pacific purchase. Southern Pacific. Not too long after, I worked for the Union Pacific Railroad for almost 25 years. And then I got caught in the corporate downsizing and was released. And within a week, I was hired as a consultant to do the same exact work that I was doing as a up employee. For the last three and a half years, I have been working for an engineering firm doing construction management for the railroad at the same role I had when I was at the railroad employee, essentially.


[00:20:07.310] - Big Rich Klein

Okay, so you weren't like the train engineer, the fireman, or whatever they call it, you were on the construction end of the railroad.


[00:20:16.770] - Kevin Yoder

I did a number of various things to the railroad. The one awesome thing about the railroad has such versatility and you can change jobs relatively easy to do different things. So at the railroad, I was brought in as a composite mechanic or basically a pipe fitter. So I did a lot of welding for the railroad or did underground installation, operated lowboys operated cranes. Then I got moved into the operating side and actually probably for 10/12 years, I was the guy that coordinated all the rock used on the railroad on the west. So the rock underneath the tracks is called ballast. And I coordinated the Loading and unloading of that for 10/12 years. So we coordinated about 600,000 tons of rock material a year. So move a lot of rock with big trains. Yeah. So I was involved with that. So I was involved with the operating group. I've spent a lot of time on the front of the locomotive, just like a little kid. Like, I can't believe they're paying me to ride a love of motive. And that was the fascination with the train, of staying there is just the railroad.


[00:21:40.940] - Big Rich Klein



[00:21:43.070] - Kevin Yoder

Who doesn't want to be around trains, and I'm still a little kid around them at times.


[00:21:49.070] - Big Rich Klein

So then you probably ended up at some point in Portola for railroad days. Have you ever done that?


[00:21:57.830] - Kevin Yoder

I have been up there. I haven't been part of the railroad days, but yeah, I've been up there and seen it and helped move equipment for it and various things like that.


[00:22:09.110] - Big Rich Klein

That's a pretty cool event if anybody Northern California, Nevada are into trains at all. Portola, California has a railroad days, and it's kind of like a county fair type situation set up, but it's tied in with the railroads. I would imagine that's the Union Pacific there, isn't it?


[00:22:32.860] - Kevin Yoder

That is the Union Pacific. Yes. And actually, I think they used to have there's a Museum up the Museum. I believe it's open probably pretty much most of the year. But you could actually drive a locomotive or operate a locomotive up there.


[00:22:47.470] - Big Rich Klein

Oh, wow.


[00:22:48.250] - Kevin Yoder

Okay. That's something they used to do. My dad is a huge rail fan, so he's been up there. I know he's done that before.


[00:22:57.890] - Big Rich Klein

I robbed the train up there in Portola. I used to be for a few years here in Placerville, there's a group called the Apple Hill Gang, and it's a Western theatrics group. And we go all over the different county fairs and things like that and special days like Portola Railroad Days. They hired us to come up and do skits and that kind of stuff. But one of the things that we did was Rob the train when they had I think it was the President of Union Pacific on the train. So we shot blanks, dressed up in authentic Western gear. We robbed the train and then went on our way. But Michael Gross, the father family ties, I think it might have been with Michael J. Fox, the guy who played the dad, is a big train enthusiast, and he was up there that year, and we ended up eating lunch with him, and he was on the train when we robbed it and stuff. And it's always interesting to go up and do acting work in front of professionals and then have them say, hey, you guys did a really good job. You never know if they're just pulling your leg or if they mean it or not, but it was pretty cool.


[00:24:16.460] - Big Rich Klein

But I always get to say, at least I got a chance to Rob a train.


[00:24:20.490] - Kevin Yoder



[00:24:21.990] - Big Rich Klein

So then you're overseeing the construction management for them now as a contractor, then consultant?


[00:24:29.170] - Kevin Yoder

Yes. Essentially, I'm a contractor who works exclusively for the railroad, Union Pacific Railroad, and manage public projects. So where a public project, road authority like Caltrans has a project to build something over the up or under the up, then I'm the one that manages those projects, coordinates the work, and I have that responsibility.


[00:24:54.460] - Big Rich Klein

Awesome. That's got to be a lot better than actually working for the railroad.


[00:25:03.550] - Kevin Yoder

It has some advantages. And I'm basically kind of like a loyal dog. So it's still a little different. It still takes getting used to. I still, like sometimes shake my head that I don't work for the railroad directly for the railroad. I know there's a lot of the world we live in. There's not many 30, 40 or 50 year pins that give out from companies anymore. No. I realized that and it's the railroad. And I could never see myself as miserable as I was at times. I would never quit. And so they kind of made my decision for me. But then I had an opportunity to come back and be involved with it. And rather than depart to go do other stuff, I still wanted to stay with that type of work and be around it. I have been and I've been fortunate there because I'm still around it. And I went to Omaha a couple of weeks ago, got to have dinner on the Heritage train as part of my job. And I'm involved with a lot of cool projects around California. So I'm still involved with the railroad. But yeah, it has advantages and disadvantages, right?


[00:26:23.090] - Big Rich Klein

Cool. So let's get into some of the wheeling stuff. You said that driving the Wagoneer and then going on family trips and stuff like that. You had a Ford pickup.


[00:26:38.650] - Kevin Yoder



[00:26:39.160] - Big Rich Klein

And then when did you get your first four wheel drive?


[00:26:43.300] - Kevin Yoder

So the Ford pickup I ended up getting. What led me to the Jeep having the Jeep is I bought a wreck Nissan truck that was going to be cheap. I fixed the body and then I traded it for a Mustang. And then the Mustang was just going to be a headache and tickets or I would crash. And it had a stereo system in it. And another high school friend, his dad, had a Jeep they had taken apart five years earlier. And so I ended up trading that Mustang for a Jeep parts that was a complete Jeep that needed to be put together. And I ended up getting trading them for it. And then I took the Jeep over to the auto shop class at the high school and basically kind of put it together there for my project when I was a Ta. So I built the Jeep in auto shop in high school, which was incredible. While the frame was a 79, it had a fiberglass Jeep tub that had never been mounted from village lot in Lincoln. Wow. And so it was basically relatively stock parts. It had a straight six, four, two liter straight six and a 20.


[00:28:09.720] - Kevin Yoder

And I put it together, and that's where it all started. So I don't think it was running very long before. I think I maybe went a year before it rolled it the first time. And then it was like opening the fountain.


[00:28:25.490] - Big Rich Klein

So when you rolled it that first time, was it street or trail?


[00:28:29.480] - Kevin Yoder



[00:28:30.140] - Big Rich Klein

Trail. Okay, good.


[00:28:32.950] - Kevin Yoder

I was beside myself when I rolled it. It rolled it doing something dumb. Of course, my buddy had a Baja bug that got stuck. And then I went down there to try, and when I pulled him up, and then one of the tires came up and he panicked, slammed on the brake, which slingshoted me over backwards. And then after that, it seemed like the rolls start. So I probably went a year without rolling it, and then after that, it just opened the floodgate.


[00:29:03.140] - Big Rich Klein

What trail were you on when you did that?


[00:29:05.600] - Kevin Yoder

Oh, just up on the Hill out of Loomis between Loomis and Pendron. I mean, I can't tell you how many hours that I have up there. That's where a lot of us learned to go wheel and drive. And there was rock crawling up there. There was an old mining equipment and a Flume, and some areas they stacked rocks kind of in a goalie. So we learned a rock crawl in there, literally.


[00:29:34.870] - Big Rich Klein

Okay. And then the rest of that is all like dirt roads and Oak trees and wash outs and that kind of thing.


[00:29:42.670] - Kevin Yoder

And then there's a Lake up there where we can see how deep we could go in and all that fun stuff. And then a lot of wheeling out at Folsom Lake. I don't know if you still can. I imagine if the water is low enough. But one of the big things we do in high school is wheel from Rattlesnake Bar all the way out to Granite Bay and then back. And whether it was at midnight or on the weekend, that's what we do. So being local, you have advantage of being local. You know, people everywhere. So we had keys to the gates all around the Lake so we could go in when we wanted never got worried about being locked in.


[00:30:22.790] - Big Rich Klein

I did that with SMUD. I had a set of keys to the Sacramento Municipal Utility District. A friend of mine worked for them and gave me a set of keys so I could get through all the gates in that Crystal Basin area around the base of the Rubicon. That was handy.


[00:30:43.800] - Kevin Yoder

Yeah. Up on the Hill in Tannon and Loomis. The railroad runs through there. And so obviously, we are probably trespassing on someone's property wheeling up there. And one of the landowners up there that I think leased property from the railroad came out and gave us a key so that we didn't break down his gate to go wheeling. He just says, open it, shut it behind you, lock it. So literally, I've had a railroad key since I was 17 years old.


[00:31:11.370] - Big Rich Klein

Awesome. So let's talk about that first Jeep. Then. You said it was a 79 frame. Was that a CJ seven or a five?


[00:31:22.320] - Kevin Yoder

Cj five.


[00:31:23.260] - Big Rich Klein

Cj five.


[00:31:24.040] - Kevin Yoder

Okay, so 79 frame. It had the typical stock back cage. And then I built the cage at the school. We put the cage in it. I got to put the old.


[00:31:41.550] - Big Rich Klein



[00:31:41.860] - Kevin Yoder

Think it had some Norsemen true tracks that were unbelievably wobbly. But I came out, yeah, they needed air every other day. But I had a blast at that thing. I mean, I can't imagine life was good until now. It's in that Jeep.


[00:32:05.970] - Big Rich Klein

That's awesome. And then how long did you keep that with a fiberglass body? If you rolled it a few times, did you get good at patching fiberglass?


[00:32:17.550] - Kevin Yoder

That body held up very good. So that Jeep was started when I was about 17, I think. And then it held up great. Let's just say that it wasn't too much longer before I actually started racing that Jeep out at Prairie City. Prairie City used to have a lot of club events out there. I can't remember another Sacramento Sand Champions. There was a club out there that used to put on a play day, and I can't remember the name of it. And that's when I think I drove my dad's Jeep out there around a course once when I was 13 or 14, and they were out there working it or covering the radio side of it. So I've been racing out there. That Jeep raced to Prairie City for years. They had the muddrags. And one of the most fun things to do at Prairie City was they had the barrel racing. I don't know if you remember that or not, where it was basically the same as horse barrel racing, but in vehicles.


[00:33:25.180] - Big Rich Klein



[00:33:25.990] - Kevin Yoder

And it was just go send it. I had a jet for the carburetor that I drilled to an 8th inch hole so the thing would not idle or run under, like 2500 rpm. But as soon as I put that jet in for the barrel racing, it would just stay pinned the entire time.


[00:33:51.370] - Big Rich Klein

So you raced it Prairie City before the Vora race then? Awesome.


[00:33:55.630] - Kevin Yoder

Yes. I've literally been racing at Prairie City for more than 35 years.


[00:34:01.600] - Big Rich Klein

That's pretty good. That's cool. So then with that rolled it, you said you started modifying it. What were some of the first modifications you did?


[00:34:13.210] - Kevin Yoder

I think we probably did spring over, spring over, tweaked around with the Springs to make them flex better, started beefing it up. And then I actually started tough trucking that Jeep. When I moved to Reno, we took the Jeep up there, and I was having fun playing in the desert and would go to the local Coral Drive shops and looking for things to do. And they told me there was an event coming up. It was too much trouble to go back over the Hill to go race at Prairie City, didn't really have the funds to go back and forth. So then they told me about a tough truck event that was going to be at the Livestock Event Center. And so that kind of started me racing that Little CJ, and I ended up wrecking it hard enough to where I kind of took myself out and kind of destroyed the Jeep. But I want to say I won three or four tough truck events in that Little CJ.


[00:35:20.640] - Big Rich Klein

Wow, that's pretty good. So you said you took yourself out.


[00:35:25.130] - Kevin Yoder

So Grass Valley Fair, I want to say 95 ish I rolled it pretty good. And Spider web the helmet on the ground. So I had a good fuzzy head for quite some time after that.


[00:35:43.390] - Big Rich Klein

So one of those concussions you talked about.


[00:35:45.920] - Kevin Yoder

Yeah. And the problem was I had had several within a short time, and so it set me back a little ways.


[00:35:57.830] - Big Rich Klein

So now jumping forward a little bit, you know, you have a history of some concussions when you're racing like a King of the Hammers. Are you doing anything special for that Besides, like a Hans of ice or something?


[00:36:15.050] - Kevin Yoder

I don't go cheap on safety stuff now, so I've spent a ton of time I have had a handful of injuries in the offroading world, the concussions being more of the significant side of it. It's one of those things where I may be cheap on the rest of the vehicle, but I'm not going to cheap out on safety gear. So I've always kind of been on the forefront or tried to be on the forefront of what's, the best equipment, knowing that the only way that I'm going to be able to keep doing it is to kind of protect myself there. So I've always done my homework. I've never raced, even back on the first Koh. I did have an R three, then head and neck restraint and the very first Koh. Okay. So I've never raced a Koh without a head neck restraint. And I have been in some significant crashes, as some of you guys probably know. I mean, the wrecked at 95 miles an hour. Prairie City went for a 200 yard tumble and broke the head and neck restraint in that wreck. But was I shooking up? Did I rattled? Yes. Did I take some time off?


[00:37:26.940] - Kevin Yoder

Yes. But I literally walked away from it.


[00:37:31.170] - Big Rich Klein

That's amazing.


[00:37:34.290] - Kevin Yoder

I looked a little drunk and Swain when I walked away. And Bird had to help me from keeping walking on the track when I climbed out of the vehicle. But nonetheless, I'm a big believer in the safety stuff. I had a back injury in a suspension seat, and I've never raced in a suspension seat again. I've used a tub seat. Yes, they're expensive. But I'm just a big believer in looking into things like that. And when you're out there racing, it's just an insane feeling. And so I want to protect my ability to do that in the future.


[00:38:13.230] - Big Rich Klein

And what kind of tub seat are you using?


[00:38:16.290] - Kevin Yoder

Omp is what I use.


[00:38:18.990] - Big Rich Klein

So that's a carbon fiber type seat?


[00:38:23.190] - Kevin Yoder

No, it's fiberglass. Yeah, carbon fiber. I don't know if there's a carbon fiber is just lighter and more money.


[00:38:35.270] - Big Rich Klein

Right. Well, that's cool. And then, of course, that has a padded cover that goes that you actually sit within or between you and the fiberglass, correct?


[00:38:49.760] - Kevin Yoder

Yes. And there is a difference. I know people say that suspension seats can protect your back, but that's wrong. I don't know anybody that switched from a suspension seat to a tub seat and gone back to a suspension seat in a race vehicle. Our suspension seats great on the trail. Oh, yeah. Absolutely. They more comfortable. Absolutely. Are they going to compress your back? Yup. In a big hit. Yup.


[00:39:22.670] - Big Rich Klein

I I know that there's a couple of schools of thought, and I'm not a safety expert by any means. I know that when I had drivers come to me that got hurt at rock crawling events in suspension seats or in solid seats and said, you need to outlaw the solid seats, especially like the aluminum ones. And I'm like, I can't do that. And they were like, Why? And I said, well, because if I require somebody to use one thing and they get hurt in that one thing and they wanted to use something else, I can become liable at that point.


[00:40:04.150] - Kevin Yoder

Yeah, absolutely.


[00:40:04.940] - Big Rich Klein

I always said that they needed to be a high the seat has to be a high standard of some type.


[00:40:15.530] - Kevin Yoder

Just as important as what the CPU is, how it's mounted and understanding the application. While the tub seat feels rigid, they have built in give to them. They have a life to them. Just like seatbelts. If you take a big hit with the seatbelt, they're made to stretch not all seatbelts, but good seat belts. You take a big impact. You need, you're done. Same thing with the helmet. I have crashed enough on dirt bikes and vehicles to actually be able to witness and feel like the foam that has been crushed inside the, you know.


[00:40:55.310] - Big Rich Klein

Well, if you Spider the helmet, you probably did some damage to the interior of that helmet as well, correct? Yeah. So then rock crawling. When you came out to start rock crawling, your first event was the Las Cruces event, which was Bob Hazel, I believe.


[00:41:20.760] - Kevin Yoder

Yes. So the first rock crawling event at a big competitive level was the Bob Hazel's event in Las Cruces.


[00:41:32.390] - Big Rich Klein

Okay. I think that was the BFG event.


[00:41:35.930] - Kevin Yoder

Yes, that was the BFG event. You're correct.


[00:41:38.970] - Big Rich Klein

Okay. And how did you guys do down there? Who was your spotter?


[00:41:43.550] - Kevin Yoder

Joel Swanson. He was a longtime buddy. It was just an unbelievable experience. So yeah, Joel Swanson was my spotter. We went down there with just expectations to go have a fun. So we borrowed my in laws truck, loaded five of us in it with a shell on the back, and then drove out there. The event was awesome. We wheeled. I can't remember all the trails down there, but it's in Las Cruces. It was a two day event. There was two days and then what they called the Dirty Dozen on the last day for the final. So basically I think they maybe started at 50 60 and whittled it down to either twelve or 13 people. And we went into it. We actually went into the last day or in the Dirty Dozen, I think in second or third place. And I had never driven a lot of those ledges before. Northern California, we don't really have those ledges. It's all low gear, rock crawling. A lot of the stuff back there. It wasn't launching up stuff, but they were a little bit different terrain than what we were used to. But it was a great event.


[00:43:06.110] - Kevin Yoder

I actually ended up breaking the second day, but we fixed it in the parking lot and we are still in good enough position. I think we went into the final second or third place during the finals. I flipped it and I think we got six overall.


[00:43:26.850] - Big Rich Klein

Not bad. Very good.


[00:43:28.550] - Kevin Yoder

No, it was great at that time. You're not in awe of everybody that's there, but it's all the guys that you saw in the magazine and you're like, okay, cool. I'm doortodoor with these guys. Like, this is cool. Hey, I got to talk to someone and not star struck. But it was just cool like being around that group, realizing that you're competing against these people. It's a great experience.


[00:44:03.370] - Big Rich Klein

And then after that, did you do the next one? He did, which was Johnson Valley. Johnson Valley.


[00:44:11.770] - Kevin Yoder

Oh, yeah. No, I was hooked on it. I have not missed an off road competition since that 1st 98 year. So I have not missed a competition since that year. I've competed at least once every year in whatever you want to call the Premier group. So whether it was Bora off road racing or your Cow Rocks events or URock or King of the Hammers or all the other XRA, I have not missed a competition a year of competition since that 1st 98.


[00:44:51.950] - Big Rich Klein

Wow, that's pretty good.


[00:44:54.670] - Kevin Yoder

I've always been hooked from it. So I haven't always been able to go to obviously I haven't done every event and every series competed at the level that it'd be awesome to be able to do. But yeah. So to carry on, what you're asking is I competed in Las Cruces and then every year after that, I think it turned out Pro Rock and I competed them for a while, but I've been involved with it ever since.


[00:45:23.710] - Big Rich Klein

Excellent. And I know you ran with Cow Rocks a lot because I remember you being up at Donner a number of times with us.


[00:45:33.470] - Kevin Yoder

So, yeah, I ended up competing with Jeff Mello's and being on his team, which was another awesome experience. And I learned a lot from Jeff as far as being a competitor. And actually the level that Jeff puts in it on competition day is pretty good. I know for a fact if I would have had his mentality and some of the earlier things, I would have finished better because he really focuses on things. He pays attention to detail. So I did learn from that. I think I had the mentality so often that I probably still carry over a little bit of being prepared. But also there's a limit on OK, I'm going to show up and I'm going to do what I can do. So is it kind of like running? What you run is I take that a little extreme sometimes.


[00:46:37.230] - Big Rich Klein

Have you done this all on your own dime or have you had marketing partners that have helped you along the way or sponsors, as many drivers call?


[00:46:46.610] - Kevin Yoder

Well, with the early rock crawling stuff I was associated with back to the Super Shop days when I worked at Super Shops, I got tied in with BFG and the Rough Riders. So way, way back in, I got tied in with the Rough Riders and BFG through Super Shops. So I ended up getting, I think, the first Moab edition tires, which were supposed to be a sticky tire before they had stickies. And I put those on the CJ. And then I ended up getting to go out and drive with the Rough Riders out in the desert when I lived in Nevada. So I got tied in with BFG then. And so I was able to get tires hooked up with BFG and getting tires for the tough truck events and stuff like that. And BFG, as you probably remember, had unbelievable contingencies. And then they carried that into the rock crawling days. And so when I was with Jeff Mello and he's the BFG guy, like BFG, they put it out there like they paid good if you ran BFG for winning. And so I carried that BFG stuff up to basically Koh. When Koh started, I ended up being meeting Mike Green with Pitbull, and then I've been on pit Bull ever since.


[00:48:14.590] - Big Rich Klein

Mike Green el Diablo.


[00:48:16.990] - Kevin Yoder

Yes. As far as the sponsorship. So without pit bull, I would not have been able to race all the racing I've done in the last what was the first Koh seven, right?


[00:48:31.040] - Big Rich Klein



[00:48:31.820] - Kevin Yoder

So I've been with pit Bull since then. He's been my biggest supporter. I've had a number I've been fortunate to be part of a few other companies out there like Reed Racing, that have provided me support and Jamar brakes. And I have a set of trophy truck brakes. So Don I met Don at Sima ten plus years ago. And so he supported me with equipment there, and so I haven't been a full sponsor, but I've got enough industry support to keep me in the game is the best way to say it. Okay. At one time, when we're racing Koh and racing Bora and doing the rock racing and everything we could, there was a time where there was an opportunity for more sponsorship at basically a full time level. But I could not consciously make that jump because I had a full time job that worked 50, 60 hours a week at the railroad, so the railroad wouldn't let me take any more days off than I was already taking off to go to do these events. And be careful what you wish for with sponsorships, because you may be given an opportunity to do it full time, but that's a decision you have to realize impacts you.


[00:49:57.180] - Kevin Yoder

It's not just racing you're impacting. It's not covering your racing. You have to make that switch to that. It's a career move and give up what you're doing in your day job. Sure. And I was not willing to do that. What the racing did for me is it led to a lot of other avenues of income to support the racing. So when you're out there and you're making a name for yourself, people want what you have. Being that I fabricate everything myself, I've built a number of things for other races out there, and so that was kind of while I wasn't fully sponsored, racing led to other income is the best way to say it. So if you're in the industry, it's great. But my day job isn't in the industry, which it's good and bad. Right. So if you're in the industry, it could lead to more sponsorship. But if you're outside the industry, it's difficult. And so my day job has always been outside of the off road industry, with the exception of the small things that I have been paid to do, fabricate and stuff like that.


[00:51:10.750] - Big Rich Klein

Is there a certain product that you have that people purchase that you're fabricating, or is it just doing Fab work for people?


[00:51:21.490] - Kevin Yoder

I've done a lot of one off stuff for people. Machining, adapters. I've fabricated a handful or a number of housing from scratch. So I love fabricating. I don't like repairing the housing on my ultra four car. The rear uses a super 14, and I have the original. I had no less than 80 hours into building the original housing in that, and I'll do another one. I like doing that. What I don't like is building a new one after I trashed it. And unfortunately, when I've taken the time to build something right, it's lasted. I've done a number of things. I've helped a few. There's a number of people out there of the top guys that have helped give some behind the scenes help, too, with building things for them.


[00:52:21.190] - Big Rich Klein

Cool. Excellent. So then let's talk about those early days. And the rock crawling and the racing Xray and that kind of stuff was it? What was the Camaraderie like out there?


[00:52:39.910] - Kevin Yoder

Awesome. You go to see people, like I said, the racing is there. And again, it's similar to rugby where you can just send it. A lot of that stuff wasn't door to door, but you're not sharing information with everybody ahead of the race and you see a line, you're not going to give it up. That information. And like rock crawling, you see a line. The only time you'd ever see a line is if you'd hit somebody. Hey, what do you think about that? And you just want to see us? They'll do it just to see because they're ahead of you again. Other tricks for Mellow is there's a thing called pit racing and you get in people's heads. And I enjoyed that part of the competition, too. But the Camaraderie is great. Not everybody's going to get along. People are going to complain all that. But the core of off road is a big family and that part is cool. It's flattering when people come up and that you remember you and maybe I used to compete against you in the Cow Rock days, or I met you in Colorado at one of those old events, stuff like that.


[00:54:00.150] - Kevin Yoder

So the Camaraderie is awesome. I mean, I've made some lifelong friends out of it.


[00:54:06.770] - Big Rich Klein

Do you still wheel Fordyce in the Rubicon?


[00:54:10.970] - Kevin Yoder

I do. I didn't get out of it. Didn't make the opportunity to go like I should have. I put racing and life ahead of wreck wheeling a little too much for a while and now I look forward to those wreck trips as much as I do. The racing excellent. So, yeah, my older daughter is 21 and after one of the Koh events, she was absolutely insatiable about it. She had to have a Jeep. Wouldn't stop thinking about a Jeep until we got it. And we end up getting a salvage JK. And then we got a salvage JK. And Trevor from WFO sold us some take off Rubicon axles and he provided some tremendous support to us also over the years. So we built my daughter a Jeep. And now it's one of the highlights of the years to go on my daughter's birthday trip to the Rubicon. So we've started making more annual trips again, just like we did when we were young. There was a year I think I went to the Rubicon. I probably went 25 times in one year up to the River Con. So those days aren't available. Those are not going to be repeated again while you have to work.


[00:55:43.730] - Kevin Yoder

But the wreck wheeling is something that we're definitely making an effort to do more of.


[00:55:52.950] - Big Rich Klein

Is it just like you and your daughter, or is Joel still into it and some of the other guys you used to hang with?


[00:55:59.480] - Kevin Yoder

I still see a lot of those guys. I think Joel is doing the side by side thing. They bought property up in Nevada, so they go rip town to town with the side by side. He's still around a lot of the like Daniel Gutenberg and those guys. Yeah. We're still wheeling, so still willing with a lot of the same people we did from high school.


[00:56:26.710] - Big Rich Klein

Excellent. And you're just racing Koh now? Well, you raised at Prairie City the other day. Did you or were you just.


[00:56:37.030] - Kevin Yoder

No, I hanging out. Yeah, I was out hanging out, so I raced Koh. We race John. Goodbye, NorCal races. Periodically, I want to go do another desert race. I really love the desert racing, even though it's kind of in the rock crawler, it's fun. The thing I like about desert racing is point to point. I love Koh, I love Koh, but I'm not a fan of laps. I like to go point to point so lapse make it easier for teams to pit and all that. But I think the idea of point to point is getting from A to B, and that's the mission. And a lot of the desert racing, like Vegas2Reno, we've done that before. It feels like you're accomplishing getting from point A to point B, right?


[00:57:39.170] - Big Rich Klein

Yeah. When I owned Vora, my goal was to have the laps absolutely, as long as possible. But I could never get, like, a 250 miles lap. I'd always have to do at least two or three laps to get that. But you're still out in the Nevada desert. There wasn't a whole lot of pit opportunities.


[00:58:00.530] - Kevin Yoder

No. The land use and what it takes and the permitting and the coordination is tremendous to do a point to point.


[00:58:09.070] - Big Rich Klein



[00:58:09.390] - Kevin Yoder

I get that. So while I like point to point, the lap races have so many advantages, too, especially for the guys that you've begged to go out there and help you because it makes it a lot easier for them. I'll live with either. I think a lot of racers feel the same way I do. You put on a helmet, whether in the ultra four car doing Koh, or you do a race at Prairie City or you put a helmet on a goat cart track. A lot of times it feels the same, like you're competing against somebody and whatever you're driving, you're driving as hard as you can get. The most you can get out of it. So it's just that it's a feeling that's hard to describe.


[00:59:00.730] - Big Rich Klein

I always try to remind the drivers that not being on the competitive side myself, I mean, I'm very competitive. That's why I've not competed in events, and my wife can attest to why I shouldn't. But being a promoter, you talk to all the drivers and everything. And one of the things that we notice, especially not so much with the rock crawling, but with the racing, is that it seemed like as soon as you drop the visor down, that it's like a fog comes over your brain and it becomes more mechanical. The body's just doing what the body's doing, and the brains may not be all involved in it. And so I always tell everybody, you lose 50% of your IQ as soon as you close that visor. Yeah, because everybody thinks they become Superman and saw it out in the desert with Vora a lot where guys would just be. I know they pre ran. They came through an area that maybe the top speed was just 45 miles an hour, and they would try to come through at 65 or 70.


[01:00:25.530] - Kevin Yoder



[01:00:26.410] - Big Rich Klein

And then all of a sudden there'd be a big cloud of dust, and I'd be untangling cars.


[01:00:31.770] - Kevin Yoder

No, I understand exactly what you're saying. Some of the mentality, the emotions you go through before a race, and especially when you're door to door with somebody. The races, John's races and, like, the stampedes and stuff. The stuff at Prairie City where you're door to door, there are so many times when you're lining up and you're getting ready and you're like, oh, this is ridiculous. I can't afford this. These cars are fast and blah, blah, blah. And you're like, what am I doing? What am I doing? All the way up until that flag drop, and then everything goes out the window and it's just pure fun. You don't think about any of that when you're going. All you're thinking about is, Can I outbreak them to the corner? Can I get around them? Who's coming up on me at 100 miles an hour? Because I can't do the same speed through here that some of the other guys can do. You're nervous, butterflies, whatever. It's just that feeling that you can't describe. But then the minute that flag goes, it's gone, and it's just, oh, my God, I can't believe I'm doing this. This is awesome.


[01:01:39.550] - Big Rich Klein

I get a chance being that I'm not in a car, that I get a chance to see everyone's significant others. So I'm watching girlfriends and wives or mothers. It's not so much the dads, but the mothers and watching the emotions that they're going through on the sideline while the racers are out there rubbing paint, bouncing off each other's tires, getting locked up, whatever is absolutely phenomenal. I mean, I'm surprised anybody is still married after a race, having their significant other watch them.


[01:02:21.850] - Kevin Yoder



[01:02:24.730] - Big Rich Klein

It used to be like in Prairie City when we raced Vora there. You'd come up the big Stadium jump in front of the grandstands there in the scoring tower, and then you either had to make that sharp Uturn hair pin there, or you would go off into the hot pit area and then have to come back out. But you remember all the wrecks that used to happen right there every weekend? One of the classes especially, it'd always be one of the buggy classes, the four wheel drives. I remember you guys. It looked like a demolition Derby somebody would slow down and guys would just drive over each other.


[01:03:06.350] - Kevin Yoder

Right. The one thing about race cars and ultra fours and four wheel drives in general, it doesn't take any talent to go fast with four wheel drive. It takes talent to deal with what you come up to at speed. And I know you remember the Boras when we had the land rush starts.


[01:03:26.990] - Big Rich Klein

Oh, yeah.


[01:03:28.230] - Kevin Yoder

So having cars 1012, 15 wide at the start, I can't imagine if you did that now with ultra four, everybody would be wrecked except for the car that cleared. But that intensity again, it's hard to describe. And when I talk about, like when you're lined up in your stage and you get nervous when you do the land rush starts, you can't see anybody else. All you're looking out there. So you don't think about those things. All you're doing is okay. Just wait for him to try to time it. Try to time it go. I get what you're saying about the wives and everything. So my family, unfortunately, has had to watch a few ugly crashes with me, and I can't thank them enough for giving me the support. So I couldn't watch it, put it that way.


[01:04:36.130] - Big Rich Klein

So if your daughter came to you and said, dad, I want to get into the ultra four car and race at Prairie City, are you saying yes or no?


[01:04:49.510] - Kevin Yoder

She wants to do it. I mean, she does horses and radio type things. So pick your poison.


[01:04:59.830] - Big Rich Klein

At least in the car you're belted in and a helmet and all the safety gear on a horse, you might have a helmet and some leathers on, but.


[01:05:11.510] - Kevin Yoder

We'Ve had injuries on the horses too. So pick your poison. I think that the key is to know your limits. So even though, even though now and then you get nutty in the car, I still think I try to keep it like I've never been the driver that closes their eyes and just sends it. I will send it with my eyes open. I will take chances. But I'm not someone that's going to purely rely on fate or luck. I don't believe in luck because I think I don't like the idea of something else. I don't like the idea of I don't have control over my outcome. But while there's fortune and misfortune, I don't like to think of it as luck. So I've never been someone that just closes their eyes and just I'm going to put it to the floor, I'm going to turn my wheel. I'm going to go for that one little six inch gap ledge. And that's where I'm aiming for my tires. I know a lot of people say I just closed my eyes and centered across the rocks, but I actually do like whether I'm falsely believing I have control over it.


[01:06:26.660] - Kevin Yoder

There is a tactic that I am going across the rocks with. It doesn't look like it. And maybe I'm living my own life, but I'm still going to believe that I'm driving. I have somewhat control.


[01:06:42.130] - Big Rich Klein

So like Chris Durham, there's always that clip of him up at Donner Ski Ranch trying to get up that, I don't know, it's like a ten foot wall or something like that with a crack line in it and bouncing off the Rev limiter. And the car is just flip. I mean, it's not flipping, but it's just bouncing all over the place. And then all of a sudden, boom, he pops up on top. I think that was probably one of the original rock bouncer moments.


[01:07:15.310] - Kevin Yoder



[01:07:16.240] - Big Rich Klein

And then when he went up the first rock crawl that we did down in Lacern Valley at the shooting range, it was the Lions Pride Park. He had a run up that Canyon that Walker goes, all right, I've got to beat Chris's time up that. And I'm like, why do you have to beat his time? And he goes, Because he went so fast. And I'm like, okay, here we go. Everybody became a racer that day instead of a rock crawler.


[01:07:54.510] - Kevin Yoder



[01:07:56.050] - Big Rich Klein

But it's pretty crazy.


[01:07:59.530] - Kevin Yoder

Chris was amazing to watch. So he's another guy that I'm not going to believe for a second. He just closed his eyes either. Like he had reasons for what he was doing. He had such good throttle control. He was talented driver. So I got the wheel with him a couple of times in Johnson Valley, outside of a competition. Well, actually, we were there for a competition, but a handful of guys that really love the wheel would go out and wheel at night outside of the competition in the competition vehicles. Right. So just to get the trail wheel and he drove like that on the trail, he'd give it a try or two, and then he'd square up and go and light the fuse. A lot of it was that his vehicle. That's how his vehicle work. So it was wide, long and stable. So he's not going to be able to crawl over things because he's going to hang up and he had to launch it over things. But he had skills.


[01:09:03.130] - Big Rich Klein

Yeah, I don't know. He'd be so on that wheel back and forth, and it was like, okay, I just saw that. It was almost like I just started to feel that traction. So he'd go back at it and just a little bit different throttle. And then boom, he'd be up and you'd be wondering, looking at it going, does he even realize what he's doing? But he did. He was successful with it.


[01:09:28.060] - Kevin Yoder

Yeah, absolutely.


[01:09:30.070] - Big Rich Klein

So then racing Koh, the goal of that race, of course, is not only just to finish, but to survive the desert, because most rock crawling cars, at least in the very early days, they didn't die on the rock trails. They died out in the desert. Is that correct?


[01:09:56.390] - Kevin Yoder

I think that's probably true.


[01:09:58.850] - Big Rich Klein

So what did you do to overcome those kind of heating issues because that all came down to heat, whether it was in the tranny, the axles, or the engine itself.


[01:10:10.950] - Kevin Yoder

I don't think I never really experienced those issues. I've always tried to overbuild my vehicles. So when the first vehicle I raced at Koh was a few months removed from actually one of the cow rocks events, and I didn't personally have those issues. The issue I had the first Koh was on the rocks. Hitting a rock hard enough to blow the hydraulic line was my first DNF at Koh. That was my demise is just that what worked for rock crawling. Going slow doesn't work for going fast against things. Right. And I don't think that anybody has to build a vehicle to survive all that. You're going to build something that's so massive and so heavy, it may not be a winning vehicle. So I think that what everybody is discovering is that there is at least the top teams know there's substantial maintenance between races because if you overbuilt your car so much, it would not it's not built to win. There is some of that that you have to have a car that will survive. But I think the competition is so fierce now that you cannot overbuild your car. I think that's why that so many people are going to exotic materials to get every advantage because if one team does it, everybody has to.


[01:11:44.370] - Kevin Yoder

Everybody's looking for that extra 5% to be ahead of the game. Who's willing to do that? So back in the early days, I do think that there were a lot of cars that were underbuilt. I didn't necessarily experience those types of failures as far as fabrication things that broke. I was fortunate there. And I've always been big on cooling, like oversized coolers. I've always had oversized coolers.


[01:12:13.550] - Big Rich Klein

So it makes sense.


[01:12:19.330] - Kevin Yoder

When I built the car that I first competed in Koh with, I wanted an athletic buggy. So it was before kind of Koh existed. But I knew I wanted something more athletic than just a rock collar. So I kind of built it knowing that's where I want to go with it. And plus, that's when the XRA rock races were coming in, I'd hoped to go do those. So when I put the last buggy together, I wanted to do everything car, and that turned out to be pretty good.


[01:12:48.190] - Big Rich Klein

Excellent. So what's in the future for Kevin Yoder?


[01:12:53.710] - Kevin Yoder

I don't plan on stopping anytime soon. I'm not going to run ten races a year. My thoughts are that Koh is not even a question. I'm going. So I'm raising Koh as long as they let me be. In the past, I have started doubting if it's the right thing to do. And unfortunately, some very big people in the industry stepped up and said, you're got to run this. What are you doing? And they helped me out to get me back to Koh. Those people I'm ever grateful for and the support of Jeff Mello and Trevor from WFO and Dave Cole. They've always been super strong supporters in what I do, and, of course, my family. So my plan for the rest of the year is to get out and go race, maybe a war race or one of John's nor cows, and then to make that I want to give a bigger effort to Koh. Again, I'm guilty of just not being satisfied with getting to the race, but getting to the race is always just the first the first hurdle I have to go through. I think there's more people like me that are just challenged to get to the race Than there are the top teams that are really all in, working out the minute details on what their best chance is to win.


[01:14:28.870] - Kevin Yoder

I think there's more people like me then more people like they're just going doing every little thing they can to win their challenge. Getting there, just like me. So what my plan is to start prepping for Koh now, to get the car out there, to get it down there ahead of Koh. I had new shocks a few years ago. Wayne from Altech helped me tune them, and then they came back and the car sat, and I ended up getting air on the oil side. And that's what kind of caused me an issue this year. So my front shocks were basically vacuum locked down. So my plan is to be as prepared as I can, Like I've never been before for Koh.


[01:15:24.810] - Big Rich Klein



[01:15:25.980] - Kevin Yoder

That's my plan.


[01:15:26.990] - Big Rich Klein

That's a good plan.


[01:15:29.610] - Kevin Yoder

My buggy. It is a buggy. It's still more of a buggy than a race car. It's just a rough buggy. I try to drive fast. It has stayed more like a buggy than a race car for the reason that it still goes out on the trails now and then. When my daughter was learning to do the offroad, we put her and her boyfriend in it and went to the Rubicon on it Because I figured that's the safest place you could be. If you're in that car, you can drive anywhere you want and you can't get hurt. Right. So we do take the buggy on the trail now and then. I'm not saying the car is not going to go out before Koh, But I want to get another race or two in, but my main focus is just kind of putting myself in position to do better at Koh next year.


[01:16:25.230] - Big Rich Klein

Awesome. Now I have Brian Butcher, who used to race when he was a kid. Him and his wife, Laura are doing a really good job with Laura. That's a good opportunity to get out there and do longer lapse than, say, Prairie city. So I think that's a good test for a vehicle. You know what it's going to do in the rocks?


[01:16:57.310] - Kevin Yoder

Yes. Laura means a lot to me. I had such a great time, such a great experience going way back and racing through it and when you had it, I do know, BJ and I've been wanting to get out there to go race one of them. I hope and I haven't missed them all, but I had it on my mind that both a couple of us want to take our rock buggies out and go race them again.


[01:17:26.170] - Big Rich Klein

Well, that's good to hear. So I think we've touched on everything. Is there anything that you can think of that we haven't touched on?


[01:17:36.470] - Kevin Yoder

No, I think I can't take everything off the top of my head.


[01:17:40.590] - Big Rich Klein

Okay. Well, awesome. Well, Kevin, I want to say thank you for jumping on board and making the time in your busy life to sit down and talk for the hour and a half, 2 hours that we've been talking and sharing your history with us and sharing your history with me coming out to our events. I've really appreciated that. And as I wind down my rock crawling career as a promoter, I get to look back on all those people that I got to meet and that I figure I can still call friends and you're one of those, so I appreciate it.


[01:18:22.360] - Kevin Yoder

Appreciate that, rich. Thank you.


[01:18:24.190] - Big Rich Klein

All right, well, you take care of the day and have fun with the family.


[01:18:27.950] - Kevin Yoder

All right. Thanks, man. Have a good one.


[01:18:29.710] - Big Rich Klein

Talk to you later.


[01:18:30.320] - Kevin Yoder

Bye bye.


[01:18:32.150] - Big Rich Klein

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