James Schofield dishes on racing, and tuning, and the stories are awesome. Join us to listen in on the fun and danger of off-road racing and more. Listen in on your favorite podcast app. Tune in and share Conversations with Big Rich with others.
7:43 – if you didn’t play football, you’re nobody in the south
9:45 – the thing I learned in team sports is never quit
17:51 – you just had to have 4 wheels and a tank of gas
28:52 – that peace of mind to know that those parts are good
34:04 – don’t tie up a lot of people’s effort if you just want to be a participant
44:32 – that’s when you start bringing everything in house
47:17 – you’re basically treating it like a rental car with full coverage
52:06 – I was very clear, “this dude doesn’t need to know anything!”
56:20 – that’s the style of racing I try to do, where you just leave every single thing on the table
1:10:25 – it’s great to be able to shake people’s hands and tell them thank you and stuff like that
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[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 off-road.
[00:00:53.790] - Advertisement
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[00:01:20.290] - Big Rich Klein
Have you seen 4low magazine yet? 4low magazine is a high quality, well written, four wheel drive focused magazine for the enthusiast market. If you still love the idea of a printed magazine, something to save and read at any time, 4Low is the magazine for you. 4Low cannot be found in stores, but you can have it delivered to your home or place of business. Visit 4lowmagazine.com to order your subscription.
[00:01:45.690] - Big Rich Klein
Today on today's episode of conversations with big rich, we have James Schofield. James has been around the off road industry for quite a while. We'll get into his long history. He's been all over east coast, west coast, and actually he was a participant or actually witnessed one of the funniest moments in my off road career. And we'll discuss that that happened in Alabama at a race. James, thank you for coming on and spending some time with us and talking about yourself.
[00:02:20.050] - James Schofield
Man, I appreciate you having me on the show.
[00:02:23.170] - Big Rich Klein
So let's just jump right in and get started. And where were you born and raised?
[00:02:30.430] - James Schofield
I was born in Annapolis, Maryland. Grew up in a little town outside of that called Gambrells, Maryland. Went to grade school there up to fourth grade. And then my parents divorced and my mom moved to Alabama and my two older sisters and I ended up living with my mother. So we moved to Alabama in like 91 or something like that and grew up through the rest of elementary school and middle school and high school in Alabama. And then the real world hit when you have to get a job.
[00:03:12.790] - Big Rich Klein
Well, before we get into all that, let's explore your childhood a bit, okay? You said Maryland outside of Annapolis. Was it rural or was it more suburban?
[00:03:27.790] - James Schofield
I would say back then it was probably pretty. I would say that town back then probably didn't have that many people in it. But today it's probably the same size as Annapolis and everything. The way the world is right now with growth. But back then I would say it was kind of a small town for sure.
[00:03:52.790] - Big Rich Klein
And did you have to walk to school? Did you get a ride to school?
[00:03:56.850] - James Schofield
Well, part about that neighborhood that my parents lived in, the school was like behind the neighborhood so you could walk to school. They didn't have the bus. Like we live so close that you didn't have to take a bus or your parents drop you off. My parents would go to work before we left to go to school, and then my parents would just assume that we made it to school every day.
[00:04:23.410] - Big Rich Klein
So more like when I grew up, I guess what we call it now is latchkey kids. You'd get yourself off to school and then get back and get home and hopefully have your homework done before you went out and played with your friends and your parents got home.
[00:04:42.350] - James Schofield
That's right. And then if the street lights came on and you weren't home, that was it.
[00:04:47.990] - Big Rich Klein
You knew what your timing was.
[00:04:50.330] - James Schofield
[00:04:51.890] - Big Rich Klein
So what about Alabama, who was that? Rural as well?
[00:04:58.190] - James Schofield
So we moved to a small town called Ufala, which is not a very big town, it's more of like a three or four red light type town and very farmland type, I guess like industry. There would be more like paper mill farm type stuff or building buildings, like prefab buildings for metal building shops and stuff like that. But not a very big town.
[00:05:32.370] - Big Rich Klein
So rural again. And what did you same thing there? Walk to school bus.
[00:05:39.690] - James Schofield
So in elementary school I had to take a bus which we could walk to the middle school and then the bus that dropped off middle school kids would take you to the elementary school. So and then once I finished fifth grade and we went to six, 7th and 8th was middle school down here. So you could just walk to school and then walk home. And then the high school was kind of directly across the street from the middle school. So not a very big drive or walk to school either way. Okay, but once I got to high school, I drove.
[00:06:18.700] - Big Rich Klein
Excellent. So then what kind of things did you do as a kid besides school? How did you occupy your time?
[00:06:29.910] - James Schofield
So I guess like in middle school was just playing outside because my mother didn't allow you to kind of come in and out of the house a million times in one day or she would just kind of lock the door after you walked outside. You're out until your time to come in and just hanging out with friends. A lot of that doesn't seem to happen nowadays, but you could tell whose house to go to on your way home from school just by where the bikes were and stuff like that in certain people's yards. So a lot of that is kind of gone by the wayside but that's what we did. You would walk home and you would pass through your certain yards or whatnot, and then you would stop and hang out for a little bit. But when you got back to your house, you have to do your school work or whatnot. And then once I got to high school so middle school, I played football 7th and 8th grade. And then once I got to high school man, you were just trying to figure out what you were doing with yourself. And football was the only thing that's really big down here as far as sports go.
[00:07:43.470] - James Schofield
If you didn't play football, basically, you're nobody in the south as bad as it is, but that's kind of how it is. And lucky enough, I got to play football. So when there wasn't football going on, like, the coach would make you do like track and field just to keep you doing something, or soccer, just trying to keep you in shape to where you're not starting over from scratch at the spring training when it comes around.
[00:08:09.760] - Big Rich Klein
And what position did you play?
[00:08:12.210] - James Schofield
I played nose guard and defensive tackle and then did long snapper for field goals and punts.
[00:08:19.770] - Big Rich Klein
Nice. You can make a career just out of being a long snapper.
[00:08:24.450] - James Schofield
100%, man, 100%.
[00:08:28.230] - Big Rich Klein
And how did you guys do as a school or team in your conference or division?
[00:08:34.290] - James Schofield
So in my high school, we were between what they call a five A and a six A school for the majority of my high school year. I think we started out when I first got into high school. I was like a six A school. And then once I got to like a 10th grader, I want to say we went down to a five A, and then we finished out five A school based on size. But we ended up finishing we got down to the semi finals in the state, which was doing pretty good back then, in my opinion. We were doing it. We went into regionals and stuff like that. But then when you had to play the bigger schools from out of town, it was kind of you're playing against teams that are basically all they do is football.
[00:09:24.330] - Big Rich Klein
Well, they have a lot bigger draw, so the chance for them having premier athletes is better when they have a larger draw to pull a team from.
[00:09:35.490] - James Schofield
[00:09:37.590] - Big Rich Klein
That's good, though. So what did you learn about life when you look back on your football days and say grade school and high school?
[00:09:49.770] - James Schofield
I would say the biggest thing that I kind of got out of football and stuff like that is being a team sport is you can't quit. So you can apply that to just about anything, whether it is building parts or building a buggy or working on something. Like you're going to go through every emotion you can possibly have in any kind of challenge that you're doing, but don't quit just keep going just because you're down a couple of touchdowns or points or whatever, the game's not over until it's over. And I've been a part of many race teams that have had that kind of bad luck. If you feel like you can't do anything and then you come out on the other end as a winner because you don't quit. Right.
[00:10:43.520] - Big Rich Klein
Once you commit. No quit.
[00:10:45.390] - James Schofield
[00:10:47.670] - Big Rich Klein
And how were you as a student?
[00:10:50.370] - James Schofield
I was terrible, really? Just being honest with you. Like, I hated school as much as anybody else that was looking forward to after school activities of some sort or chasing a girlfriend or whatnot. I didn't excel in really anything except for math. Like, that, to me, is weird because out of everything else, I figured math would be like, the worst thing I would be good at. But I use that everyday, figuring calculations out and stuff like that. That's what I use the most everyday, which is surprising. And looking back, I just never really paid attention. I was too busy just having a good time instead of trying to focus. That was being the class clown or whatever you want to call it, was way more fun than paying attention.
[00:11:47.720] - Big Rich Klein
Right. A lot of us suffered that.
[00:11:51.790] - James Schofield
Exactly. I guess you could say I have what they call ADD like crazy. But to me, I just grew up with it, so I would rather have everybody laughing than have to have a study class where you can hear a pin drop. Yeah, exactly.
[00:12:10.870] - Big Rich Klein
Right on. So back in those early days, what was your mode of transportation before you got a car?
[00:12:22.790] - James Schofield
Yeah, bicycles. Just bicycles and skateboards and stuff like that. But the roads in Alabama are very rocky, asphalt not real smooth, so there's not even a skateboard on the roads. Isn't the best. Bicycles is what we use the majority of the time. It's a decent sized neighborhood that we lived in, so you could kind of bike from one person's house in one side of the neighborhood to the other, all the way back to your house, and it wasn't too bad.
[00:12:55.710] - Big Rich Klein
And do you still carry friends from that era, from, say, high school?
[00:13:02.310] - James Schofield
Yeah, I think it was like 177 people in my graduating class. I would say that I'm probably still pretty decent friends with about 40 of them, but everybody's kind of grown up and gone into something else or moved off or doesn't even look like they used to look, so I wouldn't be able to pick them out in the crowd.
[00:13:26.680] - Big Rich Klein
Right, so you've not gone back to a high school reunion?
[00:13:31.990] - James Schofield
I went to my 10th year reunion, and it wasn't terrible, but there's a lot of people that should have, by the social standards, should have been successful in high school, right out of high school. And now they work at Walmart. I'm not knocking that. But they were on the bigger and better things and then they ended up working at a Walmart. So kind of like interesting in my opinion, on how people end up, what life choices they made and how they ended up where they end up.
[00:14:08.310] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, that's true. It's been interesting. It's been a long time since I've been in high school, but it's very interesting to see. I still got my two closest friends from high school that I communicate with all the time and then one guy from college, people that I didn't communicate with in high school because of social media, have now become extended friends.
[00:14:43.240] - Big Rich Klein
And some of them I met, we reintroduced each other to each other and we weren't even friends in high school. But because of having the 49 or season tickets and selling those, that people would come in from the school because most of us were niner fans having grown up in that area and guys buying tickets so they can go to the games. And it's interesting to see what people are doing for sure. One of the things that blew me away is how many of the kids that I went to high school with had passed away within probably the first ten years.
[00:15:29.210] - James Schofield
[00:15:29.850] - Big Rich Klein
It was kind of crazy.
[00:15:31.430] - James Schofield
[00:15:33.350] - Big Rich Klein
So what did you do after high school?
[00:15:41.730] - James Schofield
After high school I went to work at more or less like a mom and pop style trucking company and just trying to learn the ropes of working on big trucks and stuff like that. And then I worked there for like two years and then went to Kenworth and went through their kind of program to get you into being able to work on them, basically on the line doing truck work. And I did that for a while and the whole Bluetorch thing came about and then it was just like after hours, after your day job and a couple of nights a week we were doing something under the Bluetorch name and then once it got sustainable to support myself and Dan, we both kind of quit our day jobs and did that.
[00:16:39.270] - Big Rich Klein
So did you and Dan go to school together or did you live in the same neighborhood?
[00:16:46.290] - James Schofield
No, I met Dan in Dothan, which is like an hour or so south of Ufollo. That's the town I grew up in. And I had a Jeep Cherokee that had a big lift on it and 35 and all that kind of good stuff and he was doing a bunch of trail Jeeps and stuff like that and rode by. Saw a shop one day and kind of hit it off and then started doing odds and in jobs for him on the projects that he was doing before it was even a business. And then it kind of turned into, if we make this bracket as a sellable item, it would be you basically hit print at a laser shop and then the next guy would want the same cage or the same truss or the same tabs, and then kind of the rest is history from there.
[00:17:37.530] - Big Rich Klein
Okay, let's talk about your first vehicle.
[00:17:41.250] - James Schofield
[00:17:42.630] - Big Rich Klein
What was the first vehicle you got to drive?
[00:17:45.450] - James Schofield
81 Chevy Malibu.
[00:17:48.040] - Big Rich Klein
81 Chevy Malibu. Now there's a cheap hitter.
[00:17:51.640] - James Schofield
I'm telling you, man. So the cool part is I was 16 long before a few of my buddies were. So that was the car we got to get around in. And looking back, the car was nothing to write home about, but it served its purpose, man. And it kind of brought everybody together where you didn't have to have some high end car to be a cool kid. Basically, you just had to have four wheels and tank of gas, and everybody would get along. And I treated that car terrible. For what it's worth, it did many dirt roads at 80 miles an hour and wonder it stayed together. But then I got into a Jeep Cherokee. So, like a 93 Jeep Cherokee, four door, and it was nice, good change, had AC and all that kind of stuff and wasn't carbureted. So it would run kind of any day of the week no matter what you did, and started putting a lift on it and stuff like that. I want to say I probably put two or three different lifts on it. And then I ended up with a Rock Crawler long arm kit when they first came out and put 35s on it and stuff like that.
[00:19:07.560] - James Schofield
And then got into the lock rights and stuff. And you start figuring out how weak a 30 and a 35 actually are and kind of got some back to driving style a little bit, but especially when you got to driving on the street every day after you're done wheeling it.
[00:19:24.700] - Big Rich Klein
And what was your wheeling like in that area?
[00:19:29.290] - James Schofield
For a Jeep Cherokee, there was very minimal that you could do without just trying to yard sale your Jeep to get to where you're going. But there was a couple of groups that we had. Like, some guys were on 39s or 38 back in the day and cut boggers and stuff like that that you would ride with, but you could take the more bypass trails where you can actually go to the trail, watch them do their thing while you took the leaf look or bypass trail. But some of those are even pretty stout. But down here in the south, once it's wet, you have to stay kind of committed. You're willing to yard sale this thing just to get out of certain spots because of the mud that's here, there's not that much traction. So you got to have some behind whatever you're driving and willing to dent body panels just to get out.
[00:20:23.670] - Big Rich Klein
So after Kenworth, you got hooked up with Dan and started working there. And it wasn't a gas station. It was like an old car dealership or something, wasn't it?
[00:20:38.150] - James Schofield
No. So the first shop was the back of a forklift shop. So they sold forklifts and they did like forklift repairs on the front side and we ran it, I want to say it was maybe 1800 sqft or 2000 sqft if that, from the Back of the sky shop. And it was perfect for like two vehicles and you had room to work kind of, but everything had to be put inside every night type of situation. So if you had something to apart everything else that you moved in and out had to be able to be brought back in. But we built this, I want to say we probably did five or six buggies out of that shop and then we moved to a more legit shop which was, I want to say it was probably 15,000ft or 12,000ft and we rocked that for a few years in like the early I would say like three, four or five. And then we moved to another shop which was across from the high school in Dothan so we could get kids from high school that would like intern after school cutting tube or cleaning up, doing odds and in jobs being more of a helper.
[00:21:55.530] - James Schofield
Right, we did that until like seven. I ended up leaving and going drag racing full time. I always had a kind of a passion for drag racing because my parents raced as a kid and I kind of wanted to get back in it, but not at a level like a bracket racer style racing. I would rather try to do like the big show stuff and ended up getting picked up and got a full deal with a guy out of California and I ended up leaving Bluetorch and did a full solid year. I want to say it was like 22 or 23 races we did that year. And you kind of have no life because you're chasing the next race track every day you're going somewhere to the next track or you're servicing after a race on the weekend to go to the next race that you got to be at by Tuesday afternoon or something.
[00:22:57.530] - Big Rich Klein
So everything was either shop or race track, correct?
[00:23:02.140] - James Schofield
[00:23:03.170] - Big Rich Klein
And where was that at in California?
[00:23:05.930] - James Schofield
That was out of Ontario. Okay, so east of Pomona by like 15 minutes. So the guy I went to work for, his father in law is like one of the lead manufacturers in the drag racing world for making cylinder heads and engine blocks and rocker arms and stuff like that. So took a job with him as a, like you're going to learn something instead of you're just going to take this off and put this on only and nobody's ever going to show you anything else. And I took it and I worked with him until about 2018 is 19 and just flying help after a couple of years of full time work and it worked out really well. I ended up coming back to Bluetorch when Jason Carver bought it and came back to Bluetorch and he and I kind of ran it from I would say it's probably 2008. I went to Trail Gear in 2011 or twelve, something like that. And just trying to make sure that you're not leaving something on the table where you're working for somebody for something, but you're not getting ahead. And we didn't disagree on anything, Dan and myself or Jason and myself.
[00:24:33.240] - James Schofield
It was just more like, see what else is out there, what other opportunities there were.
[00:24:37.580] - Big Rich Klein
Right. When opportunities are presented yeah.
[00:24:41.210] - James Schofield
When it makes sense and they check all the boxes that you require, then you kind of have to make that decision. And luckily, April and I, my wife and we had our one son at the time and our only son, but he was young enough to where it was not a big deal to move because he wasn't in school or anything. So it wouldn't be a bad idea to try it. Everything made sense. She found us a place to live out there and we moved out there and quickly realized that Fresno, California is not for me. And I didn't do my due diligence on everything in regards to Fresno, but like a pre checklist of what am I getting myself into with this move? And it worked out for the year. We did a bunch of racing and kind of got Matt More squared away on his race program. And then I moved back to Birmingham. Once Bluetoorch moved to Birmingham and Jason had gotten a big building and I moved back into Bluetooth like I never left and ran it until it was sold to Peter Bazler. And then I guess, like in 2019 or 20, it ended up shutting down or whatnot.
[00:26:15.850] - James Schofield
But that's kind of the history of the Bluetooth situation.
[00:26:21.770] - Big Rich Klein
Okay, and so when did you meet your wife?
[00:26:27.770] - James Schofield
[00:26:28.950] - Big Rich Klein
20 08. So after school?
[00:26:32.630] - James Schofield
[00:26:33.460] - Big Rich Klein
And you met or where and how?
[00:26:36.110] - James Schofield
Here in Birmingham. She worked at a Logan's Roadhouse. I used to be like a big gym rat and had a really clean diet and all that kind of crap. So I would splurge on Sundays and I would go eat at her at that steakhouse on Sundays. And she was a waitress and kind of the rest is history on that point.
[00:27:04.450] - Big Rich Klein
Trying to make it so you didn't have to pay a tip, huh?
[00:27:07.970] - James Schofield
Exactly. I've been paying her bills forever now.
[00:27:14.490] - Big Rich Klein
Well, that's awesome. So then let's explore the racing aspect of your life. Let's jump into that drag racing time.
[00:27:30.090] - James Schofield
Okay. So, in high school, I worked at a Jiffy Lube, if you want to call it like an oil change shop. And that company had a drag boat team that they raised two different style drag boats, a jet boat and a V drive boat, which run like a traditional big block chevrolet 5600. They had another one that had it was probably a 1000 HP boat, but that was fun for a little while. And then when I got to working at that truck shop right out of high school, the guy that was kind of the foreman had a buddy that raised an alcohol funny car. And growing up, when I grew up, those were like the next best thing to top fuel car. And same kind of body, same power plant, just a different type of fuel and not as much horsepower, but still an ungodly amount of power for what you're trying to do. So we got hooked up with this guy and we would go match racing, which used to be a really big thing, and you would go to a race and it would be a quick eight show or something like that, where they take the top eight qualifiers.
[00:28:52.350] - James Schofield
The fastest guys this weekend are going to race together tonight and just kind of picking up a ranch where you can and doing whatever somebody asks you to do. Just kind of getting your foot in the door to where you can kind of come back next race and do the same job without somebody having to explain to you what you're doing or how to do what you're doing and move my way up from that. And then this guy started racing a little bit more serious and would race more of the divisional races with the NHRA, and we would go to the division races and we would qualify really well. We would probably lose second round normally, and it kind of sucked. But the guy that we would normally lose to was like, the man in the class. And later on down the line, that's the guy I ended up going to work for forever. And basically I met him in Vegas at a national event and told him, I want to go do this for real and not kind of just play at it. And he's like, well, good, because I'm looking for a guy next year.
[00:30:06.400] - James Schofield
I know you're from back east and Southeast, and I'd like to maybe put something together and you work on my car. So working with him, he showed me a bunch of stuff and the right ways of doing things, and then everything I learned, just leave it in your bag, don't use it. Just kind of do it the way we do it, and then I'll explain to you why you do it the way you do it the way we do it. So if there is an issue, you'll find it before it becomes a problem. At 270 miles an hour, there's issues that happen, but you don't want it to happen on the track. So you're kind of a one and done deal. Whatever job you're doing, if there is an issue with it and it comes apart, it wrecks the car, totals the car out, or you blow up something. Things happen at a crazy speed, and a lot of that stuff is fixable before it ever becomes a problem. And a lot of that is just prep. And we would tear the car down to the chassis every weekend and pull all the wires loose, look at every single thing, put it all the way back together, and kind of nothing ever went down the track without it ever being inspected.
[00:31:19.290] - James Schofield
Whether it was a new part or not, you would tear it all the way apart and put it all the way back together and say, yes, everything is good. And then all it is, is that peace of mind to know that those parts are good.
[00:31:31.930] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah. That was an alcohol funny car.
[00:31:35.500] - James Schofield
[00:31:36.210] - Big Rich Klein
So you're running 220 miles an hour plus.
[00:31:42.070] - James Schofield
Yeah. 260 to 270, normally.
[00:31:47.050] - Big Rich Klein
One of the things I always tell people is that rock crawling compared to racing, when things go bad, they go bad in a much smaller way. Like, you break a link bolt, you broke the bolt, we can get you off course, fix the bolt or fix the link or the mount or whatever happened to go. And you don't tear everything else up. You get into racing, you break a link bolt, and the next thing you know, you've destroyed a shock and maybe the corner of the car. But at 260 miles an hour, something breaks. Yeah. It's carnage.
[00:32:25.810] - James Schofield
Yeah. That's kind of like it's a really good practice for prepping cars because, like, the way I prep cars, even to today, it's like you should start at the front end and tear it all the way apart and then look at every single thing and magnify every single moving part that has a stress part to it. And then if everything is good, when you put it in, you know, the date that you put it in. And then at the end of this date life that this part has that you're going to make up, it's trash. Like, you don't put it in the trailer as a spare. You put it in a garbage and you start over because the second you pull it off the shelf, it's only got the hammers on it, man. That's what a lot of people say. It's only got 80 miles at the hammers. Well, that tells you it has been beat like crazy. It's not okay. I only went to this trail ride and we didn't do anything. Well, I started the front end and moved to the back end. And if you can find somebody that will actually prep a car like that, you don't have failures as often.
[00:33:34.540] - James Schofield
Yes, you have failures, but they're either overlooked or they were looked at and decided they were good. Instead of something catching you completely off guard.
[00:33:45.620] - Big Rich Klein
Right. And it's amazing how small of an item can ruin somebody's race, especially like, Koh.
[00:33:54.370] - James Schofield
[00:33:58.850] - Big Rich Klein
A $3 part can ruin a $50,000 effort.
[00:34:04.670] - James Schofield
Yeah. That's what a lot of people don't understand. That's what kind of drives me crazy about a lot of. The rates and stuff is like there is absolutely nothing wrong with being a participant, but don't tie up a lot of people's effort if you just want to be a participant and not actually try to give it everything you got. You know what I mean? Like it's one thing if you and your buddy want to go to the Hammers and race it or try to do a series. But don't involve people that also strive to be the best or want to be the best and put in all the effort to do it only for somebody to go. It's not a big deal. We called it or we're going to fix it down the road. That's my part of it. I suck as a spectator and I don't like people that quit right. If it's there, you can fix it. You might have to do some low down dirty stuff to make it work, but you have to know how to do that.
[00:35:08.070] - Big Rich Klein
Let's go through the phases of what you've done from the first days at Bluetorch to what you're doing now with each one of the not year by year. But I know you've had your hands in racing and fabrication for a long time and a lot of different levels and stuff. So give all of us an idea of the things that you have done.
[00:35:39.750] - James Schofield
Well, I guess the beginning would say like the very beginning of Bluetorch was a lot of trail rigs that we built. Quarter elliptical suspension, four link with quarter elliptical. And then when Bluetorch became a real business. The parts design and building some of that stuff. Everybody that worked there basically had a hand in that and then we would still do a lot of trail rigs or taking a jeep or an LJ and building it to one times and the object was to build like say you brought in a Jeep to build. We would build it. But at the same time we would build a parts list that would be sold off the website or whatnot. And that's kind of what Bluetorch was. We were always building something to make parts for the next guy or the website or whatnot. But then we got into when Bender came to work day in Rob Park, he came and when he came to Bluetorch, he brought the Websters like rock crawling stuff to the shop and as an idea or possibility of building in the car. So we built one car for her, for Becca to drive and that got us into the rock crawling world which you just kind of opened up avenues of new people and we got in with the Websters and then we met Nicole Johnson and then that kind of planted a seed to where accelerate that down a little bit.
[00:37:22.940] - James Schofield
You get to King of Hammers and Mount Nicole's driving a bluetorch car. It just kind of opens your doors to where you're doing other things. But the whole Red Bull. I think it was the Rock Her Gray when we built. And we loaded it up and took it to Boyd, Texas and did one of your events. Right. Man, that was pretty eye opening for a lot of us that never got to see the real side of Wheeling. This is back when you had, like, you get the DVDs off of hauling or crawling videos and stuff like that, and it was like, man, these guys are crazy. Like the Pirates of Rubicon videos. Like, man, these guys are crazy. But that was like the next closest thing that you could see that, like, in real life is very eye opening. That you could drive a vehicle in these certain situations and you're shooting guys out of that bowl. That's basically straight up and pretty eye opening. But I think we ended up popping a motor at that race, and we found a junkyard motor. And then I think you might even hooked us up with a barn to use at some farmers place.
[00:38:41.680] - James Schofield
And we went there and swapped a motor out and came back to race the next day. Of course, the next day. A whole lot of stuff goes on in the background of these things that not too many people know about.
[00:38:55.750] - Big Rich Klein
It is so true.
[00:38:58.810] - James Schofield
How did this happen? These guys work till this morning to get it together.
[00:39:03.690] - Big Rich Klein
And that's one of the things that's always driven me nuts about trying to get television for rock crawling. Yeah, everybody goes, oh, live coverage. Live coverage. So you can see the guy run on the course. Okay, that's cool if you're if you're another Rock Crawler competitor that can't make that event because you're on the other side of the country or whatever, but trying to get the television producers to know that it's more than just scores and results, but the drama that goes on the week leading into an event, the event itself. I mean, there's so much happening that has nothing to do with what's on course except trying to get there.
[00:39:49.690] - James Schofield
Yeah, 100%, man. That would be its own TV show, and then the Extra would be the actual event.
[00:39:58.710] - Big Rich Klein
Right. That's what we tried to produce. And then Harvey Weinstein gets busted for at the beginning of that Me Too movement stuff. And the company we thought we were going to get that could really put it together and had the same mind as us. It all dissolved. And then since then, I haven't been able to get that kind of group together again. So no TV because I wasn't willing to sell out and be part of the fatality stuff.
[00:40:29.440] - James Schofield
[00:40:30.340] - Big Rich Klein
I didn't want to do that. I don't need ice. Road truckers and American chopper on the rocks. It doesn't make any sense.
[00:40:37.950] - James Schofield
No. And I don't think it would do any justice because people that are actually involved in it would see the holes in your show and know that it's not real.
[00:40:47.180] - Big Rich Klein
Right. So then after Bluetorch and the rock crawling yeah.
[00:40:54.930] - James Schofield
So we came back from drag Race and I came back to Bluetorch and did the two C car that we built that Nicole drove and she drove it at the Hammers. And then I ended up wrecking that car pre run it. Not pre run it, but, like, shaking the car down and trying to get the suspension somewhat right and being completely green to everything and taking a lot of input from Troy Johnson at the Fab School on how to drive one of these cars correctly instead of just figuring it out. And I was driving the car at a pace that I was very comfortable with driving at. And Frank was riding with me and Nicole’s husband. And we got kind of a bad balance out of this little wash out. And it kind of passed the back end, past the front end. And we didn't wad the car up by any means, but it took a tumble and needed an upper link and messed the panels up and stuff. But we loaded up, went to the Fab School and they cut the tubes out fixing things. Had a big rolled roof on it, and then the steering was kind of overspeed for what was comfortable.
[00:42:17.110] - James Schofield
Like, the input was too touchy. And Jeff Howe ended up fixing all that for us and getting it to where you could drive it. Right. And we got back home, we cut it all apart and put a flat roof on it and then put the steering box under the driver's seat to make it have, like, a class eight style swing set steering. So I had a gearbox and a Ram assist. And that was, like, the best thing you have ever driven coming from a Ram at that time, or double the Ram. And then we did the Vegas Torino. I think it was nine. So we built that car in eight for Nicole to drive, I think it's eight. And then we did. Vegas to Reno. And then Rob Mack drove the car with Larry McRae at the Hammers. And what else? I think they popped the motor that came out of Hammers and got it back home and put a different engine together for it and change the transmission. I want to say I had a 700 R four back in it back then. And we went to a Turbo 400 because you have, like, that rock crawler mentality where you got to have stupid load crawling.
[00:43:31.180] - James Schofield
But at that time, you didn't. Because of the Hammers wasn't really technical rock crawling. It was more of you kind of have to have that bump every now and then. Like, we had to hit it with some speed.
[00:43:47.170] - Big Rich Klein
Right. Push it through.
[00:43:48.810] - James Schofield
Yeah. Super steep first gear and low five to one transfer case is dumb. But now you've got guys running the Hammers with a one five case, it's like the times have changed, right?
[00:44:03.250] - Big Rich Klein
But you also got guys doing 130 on across the lake bed.
[00:44:08.230] - James Schofield
Yes. Very effortlessly.
[00:44:10.960] - Big Rich Klein
[00:44:11.370] - James Schofield
That's about what Tom and I run. I think it's 134 this past year. And that's like nothing. That's when you eat and drink.
[00:44:21.490] - Big Rich Klein
As crazy as it is, that's insane.
[00:44:24.910] - James Schofield
[00:44:27.070] - Big Rich Klein
So then were you building transmissions as well or did you have no, I.
[00:44:32.960] - James Schofield
Was using Hughes performance was doing the transmissions because Shannon Campbell and Nick Campbell kind of set the bar on a bunch of that stuff where they had these are the companies that we're using. Turnkey did a bunch of engine work for us and then they were using Hughes, which is basically a local company to those guys. And their stuff seemed to work. So everybody was kind of doing that. And we got on that program for a while and then we started having engine issues, I would say, and then started doing them ourselves. And that was when you start bringing everything in house to do that type of stuff. Like when Peter and I raised the single seat car and the JK near the end of Bluetooth, and it was all built engines from the shop instead of running something that somebody else built and said was good and didn't have any issues really with any of that. And it took a little few years to figure out, like drive line combinations that work that aren't picking on certain parts or pieces or if they are, you know what, you can get lifetime out of this part and you change it before it fails.
[00:45:52.690] - Big Rich Klein
Right, okay. And so you outsourced transmission work, but you started doing the engine work yourself.
[00:46:02.830] - James Schofield
Right. Which is kind of what my dad did when I was a kid. My dad grew up I grew up watching my dad build engines and tuning carburetors and stuff like that at the drag strip. So, like the nuts and bolts side of the engine is not real intimidating. Once you understand what you're trying to accomplish, what the application of this engine is to do, then it's not that hard to figure out. But I think a lot of the early stages, the crate motor game was this motor works great for this, but it doesn't work great for that. But feel free to try it. You kind of figure out like the mileage that you can get out of an engine in the environment that we run in to get 1000 or 1500 miles out of an engine is doing something. And a lot of people don't understand that. Crazy as that number is, if you can get 1500 miles out of an actual race engine, you're doing it normally. Filtration is not good enough to do that.
[00:47:12.490] - Big Rich Klein
Right. On both ends on air and lubrication 100%.
[00:47:17.530] - James Schofield
Yeah. I mean, just look at the environment that you run this thing and you're basically treating it like a rental car with full coverage insurance every time you crank it up.
[00:47:29.930] - Big Rich Klein
I don't think there's a few areas that I would never buy a rental car from, and that's anywhere where there was off road racing or rock crawling.
[00:47:38.910] - James Schofield
Events or drag races.
[00:47:45.150] - Big Rich Klein
So you fly into one of those towns where any of that's going on, you just kind of go, okay, I'll rent it, but I'll never buy from that rental car company.
[00:47:55.290] - James Schofield
[00:47:58.170] - Big Rich Klein
Even if it's like an eight passenger van or something. No way.
[00:48:03.030] - James Schofield
[00:48:04.010] - Big Rich Klein
Because, you know, it was filled with more than that and everybody beat on it. So then the engine building. What kind of work did you do at Trail Gear?
[00:48:22.030] - James Schofield
So trail gear. I just ran his race program. It was just trying to get his new car, which was that ISS car that Brian Kirby built and just trying to get it to where it's competitive, like the year before I came out there. That's when he had his accident at the Hammers and got all banged up and all that kind of good stuff, but fixing a lot of the little stuff that needed to be fixed on that car just from the package more or less like the combination of the motor, the transmission and the converter and the gear ratio was a little off. And then Matt kind of gave me free rein to put something together that would work. And I went back to what I know we were running at the Bluetooth stuff and started there, and I think we won four or five races that year with him driving. And we went to the Hammers, and I think we went to Hammers like five or six times. Like we would test team shocks with King, like on Thursday or something like that in Barstow, and we'd go to the Hammers and spend the weekend at the Hammers just running, like the prior year's lap and just putting miles on the car.
[00:49:42.580] - James Schofield
And then came race week. We get to the Hammers, like, on Thursday, and they give us the race course on Friday, and we're out pre running, and the car catches on fire, and about mile 20 something in the first lap, and right before you got to the big desert section, and the car is basically engulfing flames from behind, and Matt is telling me that the car is losing power. And, like, I had all the gauges on my side of the car, and I was like, everything on my end looks like it's good. And then it just died. And when it died, it came to a slow stop at 90 miles an hour, and we were engulfed in flames, and it was pretty wild to get out of that situation and get the fire put out. I can burn the whole back of the car off, but once it got through the cooler hoses, there's enough water above the motor in that radiator to kind of get it down to where the dirt and the sand you're throwing on it was able to kind of contain it, but it's kind of scary for a minute. And then we got it put out and we got towed back to camp.
[00:50:53.840] - James Schofield
And Matt was like, well, that sucks. And I guess we'll just load it up and go to the house. And I was kind of more like, no, that ain't how we're going to do this. And I called Buddy Mine to turn key. And I said, Man, I need all these parts. Do you have them? And he's like, yeah. I'm like, okay, we're going to come down there. It's bad. And we get down there and we tear the back of the car apart, get the motor out of it because it melted everything on it and went to repair and everything and got it all put back together and then showed back up at the Hammers, like three days later. Two days later. And I think we qualified 7th that year with no pre run time on the car because of all the issues that we had and finished 10th that year. But we didn't have a single gauge in the car that you didn't need, and Matt didn't have any real input in on how it was set up. It was just driving, which is pretty cool because I met a lot of people through the whole trail gear situation that were big comp crawler guys like Justin Hall and all those kind of guys like Aaron Sykes, stuff like that.
[00:52:06.530] - James Schofield
But they were helping with pit stuff and Matt wanted to be the guy in the pit. When you roll in the pit, like, the driver wants to make sure everything is great. And I was very clear, like, this dude doesn't need to know anything. You just need to smile and say everything. It looks great. And if the tires hanging off of it, fix it. But smile while you're doing it so he doesn't freak out because I've got to deal with this guy for the next 8 hours. And we nerfed Chicky Barton in the desert, and it broke the side of the winch off the last 4ft of us coming into the Nerf Chicki at 50 or 60 miles an hour, he kind of went to the right and it took the motor side of the winch off, like the gearbox side of the winch off. And we're hauling mail through the desert and next thing you know, there's like six or eight foot of winch rope with the shackle just banging off the hood. I'm like, oh my God, you got to roll your winch in. So he like, hits the winch and you can kind of hear it in the radio, like in your earpiece, pick up.
[00:53:13.170] - James Schofield
The winches is moving. I'm like, okay, that's probably good. And another five minutes go by now there's like 15 foot hanging out. And I'm like, I think you went the wrong way on the winch. So he's just holding the button down the other way. I'm like, okay, that's got to be good. And we radio into pit. Now there's 20ft out, and it's over the top of the car. And I'm like, man, we get into pit, just figure out what's wrong with this winch. It's not reeling it so the guy in Pitts like, okay, man. So we pull in the pit, main camp. The main pit is the hammers. And I unplug my headset, my helmet from the car so Matt can't hear me and the guy talking. And the guy comes over, and he's like, man, your winch is no good. I'm like, okay, what's wrong with it? He goes. It's broken half. And I'm like, wrap it up and let's go with it. And he's like, okay. So he's out front wrapping it up, and Matt put my helmet back in, and Matt was like, what do you say? What do you say? And I said, man.
[00:54:11.280] - James Schofield
He said, if everything looks good and we're good to go. So we get leave pit. I love Matt and death, but he would have freaked out if he knew it was broken. Like, we would have gone back out. And we go out and we get to the top of wrecking Ball, and the car just won't do the climb. And he's like, let's just winch it. I'm like, no, we're not going to winch it. You're going to back up, move over, like 2ft to the right, and it should one shot around the top, rock pivot, rock at the top. And he said, okay. And he said, don't go. We're going to winch, man. It goes. I'm like, thank God it made it. We get all the way through. We come up chocolate Thunder, and we kind of put the car on the door and match. Like, let's winch it. Let's just not risk it. I'm like, that ain't an option. And he's like, what do you mean? I said, that ain't an option. And the next thing you know, we get pushed over back on the tires, and it was like Aaron Sykes and those guys pushed us back over, and we get to going, and the coach worker guy was like, you're good to go.
[00:55:15.220] - James Schofield
Kept the traffic rolling, and we finished the race. And I was like, man, that winch got broke, like mile nine, and that's why we couldn't winch. And he said, Why didn't you tell me? Because you would have quit the first race I raced with him, man, we had went to that man somewhere in the Mexico Cinco de Baja race. They did. We got the pole because of the random draw or whatever, and we started losing oil pressure like the fifth lap. Well, like, the way that car was set up, like if my hand was on my left leg, like if I bent my knees, my left hand was on my left knee, I could cover up the oil pressure gauge so as the whole time it's blinking. I could just cover it up, and that would be, like, every 40 seconds. What's the gauges look like? What's the gauges look like? They look great. The whole time. I'm not even looking because I know what's behind me is dying a quick death. And every time you put it in third gear, I'd knock it back to second. I keep the RPMs up, man, don't lug this thing.
[00:56:20.130] - James Schofield
And he's like, okay. And then we get through the finish line, we win the race. And when he comes through the finish line, he gets off the gas, it's done, the motor locks up, it's over with, and he's like, what happened, man? We lost oil pressure, like, 40 miles ago. You've been getting by with about four to £5 of oil pressure. He's like, Why didn't you say anything? That's a long walk. Sorry about your luck, but we did just win the race, and then when we came to do it's only got to run today. It doesn't matter if it doesn't run tomorrow, right? That's the style of racing I try to do, where you leave every single thing on the table instead of like, man, if we just kept going, we would have probably finished. Instead of like, you got to try, and you kind of got to know what you can get away with, parts and pieces wise. And then you got to be quick on your thought process of what can you omit out of a car and not right.
[00:57:23.690] - Big Rich Klein
So then after trail gear yeah. You went back to Bluetorch.
[00:57:31.570] - James Schofield
Yeah, came back to Bluetorch and then brought a bunch of racing stuff from the trail gear stuff because we did all the ifs car stuff. I raced the F Toy at Prairie City at Goodbyes, deal with the Norcow series, and then did some cone stuff with you guys at Donner and then one in Arizona. I can't remember that one, but just some more experience type stuff. And then came back to Bluetoorch and was just doing the park side of stuff and helping them shop where needed. And Peter and Jason wanted to do some real racing. So we start putting the car together to do the real racing, and we go to the Hammers, and Peter and Jason and myself are going to split driving duties with the single seat car. And I get up I went up the right side of back door, and I ended up breaking a lower link on the second step up. Six minutes into the race and backed up, and Goodbye is looking at me like the drive shift has come flying out of this thing. So I back up and get all the way over to the right of the second wall.
[00:58:45.980] - James Schofield
So I'm kind of out of the way, and I basically run back the main pit with this link that I need to have welded together or clamped together or something to get me going. And when I get back to camp. Like, dave's trailer is parked kind of near ours, and there happens to be an aluminum link that's got inch and quarter times in it that looks like it'll work. So we confiscate that, basically. And I go back to the car and it's like six, eight inches too long for where it needed to go in the tab. So I just said, screw it, I just stuck it in the chassis and I ratchet strapped the chassis to the link, like the axle to the chassis wedged in there to where it can't come out, you know what I mean? Like, if it comes out, you've got other problems anyways. And I did that and ended up getting out. But by that time, it was like, kind of off or not. Ended up jason and those guys ended up calling the race. But I drove back to camp and got home with it and fixed it correctly, and we built that JK, which was 4500 class, which was the spare drive line to the single seat car in it.
[01:00:06.630] - James Schofield
So the big q ballos motor, turbo 400 spare atlas, and it was pretty stout for what it was. And we raced it. I raced it at the hammers, peter drove it for 4500 class, and then I raced it in 4400 on race day. But peter drove the single seat car, and it was basically nothing more than a punch wagon for the single seat car, and we had a lot of fun with that. John gabriel co rode with peter for the 4500 race, and then he co rode me for the 4400 race in that same car. Yeah, it was a good time. Just a lot of work to transfer from they changed it over from a 37 to a 39 and then liners and all that kind of good stuff. I commend the guys at b of g for swapping tires Thursday night to 40s for the next day.
[01:01:02.150] - Big Rich Klein
Didn't have a whole new set with liners and rims.
[01:01:05.750] - James Schofield
No, I wasn't that big time, so I didn't have that many wheels and tires ready to go, so I just had to work with what I had.
[01:01:17.570] - Big Rich Klein
You brought the single seat out to Alabama? Not Alabama. Excuse me? It was that georgia.
[01:01:27.530] - James Schofield
Oh, yeah, durhamtown.
[01:01:28.910] - Big Rich Klein
[01:01:30.680] - James Schofield
That was like, the nastiest I've ever been in my life.
[01:01:35.870] - Big Rich Klein
That was one muddy race, man.
[01:01:39.480] - James Schofield
I tell you what I was telling the guy that was racing with me or helping me with James vest, I said, man, I really, really don't want to qualify. Like, I will take a rear start just so I don't have to get in this car, because once I get in it, I'm not going to want to get out because you're going to be nasty. And he's like, okay, man, whatever you want to do. And then I think everybody else that was one of the race was like, no, just let him go first. And we'll go behind, or whatever that situation worked out to be. But, yeah, that was a bad day. I mean, big cars don't work that well in the woods of motocross track in the grand scheme of things.
[01:02:24.960] - Big Rich Klein
Right. Sliding in and off the road, man. And then the owner showed up the next day.
[01:02:33.710] - James Schofield
Oh, that guy. I've never raced there. That guy didn't have a custom match with somebody. And it's like, Dude, come on, man. You have to be a special kind of dumb to not realize that when you turn something loose out here with 6700 HP on your motocross track, that it's going to annihilate it for a few days. You're going to need to do some dress up work.
[01:02:58.230] - Big Rich Klein
Right. And his tractor was the thing that caused the most problems. His tractor operator?
[01:03:05.510] - James Schofield
[01:03:06.060] - Big Rich Klein
Because it was stuck out there.
[01:03:08.750] - James Schofield
Yeah. It was fun, though. I missed the day of racing in your series just because it was so much more laid back. And at times it was laid back. Obviously there's another story in there for that, but it was a whole lot more laid back. Not as stressful. You don't need 50 people to do the race, and you're not going to tear up that much stuff.
[01:03:30.640] - Big Rich Klein
[01:03:31.040] - James Schofield
[01:03:32.630] - Big Rich Klein
Well, our whole thing with Dirt Riot was to expose people into the racing, the four wheel drive endurance racing that wouldn't get a chance otherwise.
[01:03:46.670] - James Schofield
[01:03:47.700] - Big Rich Klein
And I think we did a good job at that. I remember one time we had like 18 racers out of 25 finishers that had all got their start with us one year at Koh.
[01:03:59.910] - James Schofield
Awesome. That's awesome.
[01:04:01.480] - Big Rich Klein
And that says something.
[01:04:04.070] - James Schofield
Well, I thought it was pretty cool back when you had to do pretty good in your series to get a chance to race The Hammers. I ended up getting one. Had to go to Texas to seal the deal on getting the qualified spot for The Hammers. But it meant something back then, you know what I mean? Like, you weren't just on the list because of who you were, you had to earn it.
[01:04:25.080] - Big Rich Klein
[01:04:26.090] - James Schofield
Which to me was a pretty good deal.
[01:04:29.750] - Big Rich Klein
Right. And those were some fun times. We really enjoyed the racing aspect.
[01:04:34.250] - James Schofield
[01:04:35.080] - Big Rich Klein
Just too many cars decided not to keep coming back. They'd go race, they'd get into ultra four race, they'd refinance their house two or three times, and then they would sell their race cars and never go racing again.
[01:04:53.250] - James Schofield
[01:04:55.890] - Big Rich Klein
But that's racing.
[01:04:58.590] - James Schofield
Yeah. The good part about the Dirt Ryan series that you had over the left side of the country was the farthest one was Durantown. Really? You raised a dirt town and you raised in our backyard here in Birmingham. And that was perfect. Didn't have to go anywhere to go home at night.
[01:05:15.970] - Big Rich Klein
And Gray Rock was always fun.
[01:05:18.050] - James Schofield
Yeah. That kid was racing. That Jeep out there was kind of I felt like I was driving. A d eight bulldozer through the woods, but something that's 90 inches wide or 92 inches wide. I don't know how I qualified on the pole, and I was right behind him, and, like, the second laugh or something like that, bill is all spun out in the woods, and he is trying his dang test to get this thing to go. And I pull up on him, and he's just, like, looking at me like, oh, no. There was nowhere to go. His car was wedged in between two trees, and he was facing traffic, and one whole corner of the car was missing. Like, the right rear axle left rear axle with the tube wheel at all was gone. And I ended up driving over the front of his car to go by. But when I came back around the next lap, comes back up to the start finish line where his truck and trailer was, he was gone. It's like, man, that dude didn't stick.
[01:06:28.470] - Big Rich Klein
Around for nothing once we got him out. No, he didn't.
[01:06:32.070] - James Schofield
Holy crap, man. He's gone.
[01:06:34.770] - Big Rich Klein
It was difficult to get him out of that spot.
[01:06:37.950] - James Schofield
Oh, I can imagine, because running up on it, man, it was a bad spot to be in anyways. But that's, like, we would go to Texas and we race out. There another Bill Bear story. He gets upside down in this mud hole, and I come around, and I'm like, oh, God, this is bad. Like, the roof of this car is in the mud, like, under the mud, and four tires are sticking up in the air. And I'm radioing into Peter like, hey, dude, I think Bill Baird's car, he's got to be out of the car, but I think he's out of the race 100%. And I get the cruising, like, going down the road. Next thing you know, there's a dude that's half covered in mud. Like, his legs aren't muddy, but the whole top of his fire suit and everything is muddy. Like, he just took a dunk in the mud and got all the way back to main camp. And bill Barrett was always a good sportsmanship guy, like, cut up and talk to you about what he did, but it's like, man, that had to be scary. As I'll get out, single seat car upside down on the driver's side, like, you can't get out.
[01:07:43.970] - James Schofield
How did you get out of this thing?
[01:07:47.490] - Big Rich Klein
He did. The only thing was he lost his helmet, because remember I told everybody, if your car is upside down and you're away from the vehicle, you've gotten out and you're walking back, leave your helmet on the car so that everybody knew you were okay.
[01:08:05.430] - James Schofield
[01:08:06.120] - Big Rich Klein
And that's when Daryl Gray pulled up, didn't see the helmet, pulled over unbelted, and jumped in and searched the car for bill to see if bill was out of the car, then got back in his car. And that was probably some of the nastiest smelling mud ever, dude, it was.
[01:08:26.230] - James Schofield
Like straight sulfur mud, man. Yeah, good stuff, man.
[01:08:34.480] - Big Rich Klein
So tell us what you're doing now.
[01:08:37.350] - James Schofield
So now when I left my wood torch fizzled or whatever, I got a building, 5000 square foot building. And just been doing the normal parts deal, like selling parts and brackets and tabs and stuff like that, that I've done forever. And near the end of 21, I ended up selling that business and just started doing the Scofield performance deal where bought a chassis Dino. I do a bunch of engine work, a lot of gear work and engine tuning, fuel injection stuff and putting combinations together for people that raise an Ultra Four that normally would never have the ability to do it from the East Coast. To have a good combination that works to start out or have somebody on the West Coast that sends you an engine and you build them and tune them and ship them out. That's kind of what I enjoy doing is playing with the engine and doing the tuning. And I prep a few Ultra Four cars and I do a lot of the tuning and stuff like that for a lot of guys in the Ultra Four world that you don't have to have every car here or run a sticker on everybody's car to get by.
[01:10:00.580] - James Schofield
So kind of doing it over here in the dark type of situation where you tune a lot of people stuff or you build a lot of people engines and do a lot of gear work for people, but you're involved in so many different cars and classes that I can't keep up with who's doing what at what rate really.
[01:10:20.080] - Big Rich Klein
And then are you still running with Tom Waves? Is he still running?
[01:10:25.350] - James Schofield
Yeah. So we ran, obviously, my accident in 21, I basically had a year of not being able to do anything. And pretty well healed up from that 100%, I would say, on about everything. My back got some issues, but it's not the end of the world. But I was able to get back in the car last year, which was great. It's kind of a weird deal, like going back to the Hammers and seeing everybody that had either called, checked in on me, or took care of my wife or helped my wife with logistics or what you need to do, how you need to handle this, or hey man, we're just sending you dinner, those kinds of things. It was great to be able to shake those people's hands and tell them thank you and stuff like that. But the car is sitting there, it's like, okay, same car, same deal. And like, okay, let's go pre run it. And we get in the car and it's like nothing ever happened. And in my opinion, getting back on that horse is like the best thing you can do. A lot of people, man, that Rachel Jr four were like, you need to just hang it up, dude, that hit too close to home.
[01:11:44.560] - James Schofield
And it's like, man, you can't quit. You know what I mean? Like you can't quit like that. You would rather quit by doing something good, coming back from that and doing something good and saying, hey, you know what, I'm done with the race side of it. I'll stick to doing something on the sidelines type of situation. But that drive of wanting to do it has always been there. And my wife is kind of the baddest chick I know and overly supportive of, no, this is what we do. This is how we eat. This is what we do. And this is all we know how to do. So right, wrong or indifferent, we're going to race and this is what we do. A lot of her friends and man have been kind of like, well, that's kind of weird. You're going to let him do that again? She's like, what do you mean let him do that? This is what he does. My wife doesn't work. And what's kind of crazy is she's never really been in the not, say, limelight, but she doesn't know who's who and all of this and to be thrown into the wolves last year or a year and a half ago, it's kind of crazy that all these people that will even listen to your podcast or wise podcast, we race against stuff like that.
[01:13:00.920] - James Schofield
You never know where you stand with certain people or people in general until something bad happens. And to be the guy that received all the benefits and the people helping out, it's overwhelming, man. I'm not willing to ask for help, I just figured out type of situation. But you got people that are like, quit being a dumbass and just take the help. And you're like, okay, I get it. I don't know how to accept it, I guess you'd say in the most proper way. So it's like, hey, we're sending you guys dinner. It's like, okay. And they're like, what do you guys want there's something easy. No, we're not sending you something easy. We're going to send you something that's going to be good. Man, you're talking to the wrong guy. Like sandwiches. I'm not asking for that. Business wise. People that I had in the shop, like vehicles I had in my shop, they were overly understanding of the situation. But at the same time they weren't pulling out. Like people that I was helping on their cars or whatever during the tuning and stuff like that, they weren't like all of a sudden bailing.
[01:14:13.620] - James Schofield
And it was like the people that are loyal to you when you're down are pretty solid individuals in my opinion. It took me a while to get back up to the shop, but once my wife dropped me off at the shop, it was good because I'm still in a walker and stuff like that. But getting all that worked out to where I can get back some stamina again. And my legs and my back. Once I got to that point, it was like I got a goal and the goal is to get back in in February. And if Tom or Dylan or Tony of Icon would say yeah or not, then that was the deal. I'm going to show up and you're going to have to tell me no. Instead of like, well, let's put this other guy in which he had another opportunity, a guy to race with him, but he had other opportunities for people to race with him. But Tom was like, no, if he's ready, he's getting back in. And it's like that's pretty legit in my opinion. So getting back in the car at 21 or 22 was great and I think qualified like mid 20th or something like that and ended up finishing 10th, 9th or 10th.
[01:15:30.760] - James Schofield
I'm like that. And I did the first lap and then ran, I guess it would be remote pit two or something like that. And as an option if you needed it, I'd get back in. But I told my wife I'd call her like 4 hours after the race started because I'd be getting out. And then we come back in down the resolution and bypass around back door and Tom's like, man, I don't think I'm ready for you to get out. I'm like, Tom, I'm not married to you buddy. And he's like, I understand after last year, dude, I better just get out and make a phone call and I'll be ready to go when you're ready. He's like, Sounds good, and then come through the short course and radio into the guy Jake that ended up running the second 3rd lap with Tom. It's like, hey man, I'm getting out, so get ready. And we came in and got fuel and some back tires and I hopped in and checked out.
[01:16:29.370] - Big Rich Klein
Awesome. And what's happening in 23?
[01:16:37.570] - James Schofield
I would say 23 would be much like 22. Hopefully Tom and I talked a little bit and if everything works out on my end, we'll just be, I would say in the car the whole time. As long as my back will stay together, I'll do the whole thing. But that's the plan. I'm still doing some drag racing stuff with Swetcher's car, but he's pretty good. I keep all his stuff in my shop, so as long as everything's good with it and we're not doing any preseason testing or nothing like that, then The Hammers will work out. Because The Hammers has always worked out kind of funky with drag racing because the first real race of the season is the same weekend of The Hammers 90% of the time.
[01:17:26.590] - Big Rich Klein
Is that what they call winter Nationals?
[01:17:29.450] - James Schofield
Yeah. You would test in Phoenix or Vegas and you might be there a week or two early and service car, assemble a car and then go preseason testing and try different combos and then tear it all apart, prep it again to go to the first race of the year. So the hammers was always like, if you were to do it, you would show up to do the day of. And I don't think that very justifies getting into the car time stuff. Like, you're there, like, a week and a half, two weeks early, and you get to pull all the pull all the panels off the car. You pull the third numbers out. You make sure every single thing is legit, and then you put it back together, and you go race it. So when it does have an issue, tom is the most, like, we'll figure some stuff out kind of guy in the race car, but you're not wanting that. You know what I mean? Like, you're wanting him to just solely drive, like, just shut up, eat your food, drink a drink, and I'll handle that. And Tom and I have that kind of relationship where he's like, okay, he'll just sit there and do his deal while I'm working on what I'm doing, or he can go talk to the people that powers it be of whatever he's wanting to do for sponsorships or whatnot.
[01:18:51.140] - James Schofield
And when he comes back, the car is ready to go. The guys that Tom has assembled to work on his race car, pretty legit people. And if they say, this is what it is and that's what it is this weekend, it's this guy pulling this tire off or this guy doing this pit spot. It's like the same people all the time. And you get into that routine of like, hey, this guy does this, and Colt does this, and yon does this, and this is how we're doing it. And you know who to talk to, who's ahead at what pit, and they can kind of tell when you talk to them on the radio what is severe and what's not severe. And you can put it in terms that they can understand it, and you know what you're talking to. Like, they know what you're talking about by the way you're talking to them.
[01:19:36.330] - Big Rich Klein
[01:19:37.240] - James Schofield
It works out really well.
[01:19:39.550] - Big Rich Klein
So do you have to do with Tom like you did with Matt and kind of hide maybe what's happening behind you or with him?
[01:19:51.100] - James Schofield
Tom's more proactive, I would say Tom is not easy to BS where Messer running 100 miles an hour in the loops or 110 in the whoops is kind of on the front of the seat. Tom is going to be like, one hand on top of the steering wheel, and the other one trying to figure out how to open this pack of gummies, and it's like, what are you doing? There are certain spots in the race where Tom's like, take the wheel. I'm going to drink, and I'm going to eat. Okay, we're running 80 miles an hour. I'm steering and navigating while he's eating and drinking. And then when he's done. He'll burp in your freaking ear set like he has no house training and then you go on about your business. But that's just how it is, man.
[01:20:41.350] - Big Rich Klein
I totally see Tom as that. I've known him a long time. I'd say we're friends, but we're not super tight or close or anything, but we've known each other for a long time. He rock crawled with us with a trail rig and all that kind of stuff.
[01:20:56.750] - James Schofield
But he definitely yeah, solid individual, man. Like, if it went down, if something bad went down, that's the dude you want on your side, right?
[01:21:07.900] - Big Rich Klein
[01:21:09.250] - James Schofield
Whether it's killing something in your house with a hatchet or chasing bears. Exactly. Or trying to get you out of the desert after you get all busted up.
[01:21:19.970] - Big Rich Klein
Right. So what else do you got going? The life good down there in Alabama right now.
[01:21:30.910] - James Schofield
Yeah. So basically my kids, my little boy is kind of picking up some tune input for me on the chassis Dyno side of things. And he's been able to tune a few cars remotely. And I let him operate the Dino, like the vehicle on the Dino, whether it's off road car or pickup truck or something that we're tuning. But he's learning the ropes of how to do that kind of stuff to where hopefully one day I can kind of take a step back and let him run with it. And he's eleven now. He's been tuning cars for about a year and a half, two years, and he gets it, you know what I mean? He understands it, which is amazing. And he kind of shows interest in coming to the shop every day that he can. And whether it's to sweep up or just to hang out and hear the other guys talking, that the shop talk of what we do and why we do what we do and how you do certain things. And he understands it. And then I've got my little girl Lexington, that is seven, and she's into dance and cheerleading and wants to play softball, wants to do every single thing.
[01:22:42.390] - James Schofield
But she comes to the shop and she sweeps up, runs the dust mop and kind of just boxes people around. Like that's what she's supposed to do. At the end of the day. My goal as a father is like, I want my kids to be experienced in all these things that are considered extreme. So like drag racing, off road racing, being around things that are normally not a normal thing for somebody to be like, oh, my girlfriend's dad does this, or my girlfriend knows what this is based on this or that type of situation where you're not like shell shocked, that, oh my God, that's an off road race car, and oh, that's so and so. I don't get people to say like, oh, that's so and so. We should get his autograph. I guess the dumbest thing you can get is an autograph. You need to be on the same level as that person and then they'll recognize you just like you recognize them. And don't cater to certain people. Like make them respect you instead of just walking up front and giving them the world they need to earn it. And then when they earn it, they'll respect it and they'll respect you for what you've had to do to get to where you're at.
[01:23:59.000] - James Schofield
In kind of my situation, that's the way I look at it. There's a lot of people that are in this off road industry that are either bought their way in or kind of just got lucky. I would say if you want to call it luck. I'm a firm believer. Everything happens for a reason and if you didn't earn it, it doesn't last.
[01:24:23.170] - Big Rich Klein
[01:24:24.390] - James Schofield
That's kind of where I'm at.
[01:24:25.960] - Big Rich Klein
That's some good advice. What you're saying about guys needing to earn and how to earn it, be real stepup and experience it. I've been around enough different types of racing to know that there's people that can write the check, show up and sit in the car, and have no idea what's happening around them except driving it. And some of those guys are great drivers, but they better have somebody in the vehicle with them that can help them when shit goes sideways 100%.
[01:25:14.030] - James Schofield
A lot of races, man, have been come down to the person in the passenger seat. Like, how creative can you get with getting this car out of here or fixing this problem? Or what can we use off of the car to get this other thing figured out? And you have to do some very low down dirty work at times. And when you do it, you know that that fix is only temporary. And then you fix it correctly where some of those guys will do that kind of fix on a race and then the next race they show up with the same stuff and you're like you wonder why you don't finish or you wonder why you're not placing, or your car is always broke or you always got to work on it. I'm a firm believer and if you do all the prep work at the shop, you really don't have a whole lot to do at the track.
[01:26:03.140] - Big Rich Klein
[01:26:03.560] - James Schofield
A lot of races are water loss or at the pit instead of at the track, like working out of your shop or like at the Hammers. If you yard your car part after qualifying to get ready for race day, that's like the best thing you could do.
[01:26:18.470] - Big Rich Klein
Forces you to prep.
[01:26:20.390] - James Schofield
Exactly. And people that build cars that aren't very thought out of serviceability, like the best thing you could ever do is buy a car from somebody that also works on them and build them because they thought out, where you can actually get this part out without having to remove that part. It's very serviceable. Like the forethought into building a chassis is there for race day type changes.
[01:26:46.740] - Big Rich Klein
Right. Well, any recommendations for somebody that's an enthusiast but always wanted to get into, say, being on a team with Kwh? How would you suggest somebody that wants to be involved besides being a spectator?
[01:27:09.450] - James Schofield
I would say pick somebody that you think you want to work with and try to be a sponge. Approach somebody with a way of being open to the way they do certain things, and you'll probably learn something while being a part of something, whether you're working for a big name team or very entry level team. To me, I think if you go into something like that as an open mind or you have a little bit of experience because a lot of the guys that help with The Hammers, whether it's on Tom's team or anybody else's team, per se, they all have some kind of a wheeling background. So you want somebody that's kind of been around rock crawling so they're not like when the car comes into pit and it's got two flat tires and stuff's going bad. They're not just, like, overwhelmed, freaked out. You want somebody that's just, like, cool, calm, and collective, and it's just like reaching for tools, doing the job, instead of being all into their fields at that time. Emotions kind of get people hurt, in my opinion. So the more you're just completely mellow in a pit spot, like, nobody yelling and cussing at somebody for not grabbing the right tool or wrong zip tie or wrong tape, the reason you're having to yell is the guy is uneducated, so you never showed him properly what he needs to do.
[01:28:35.630] - James Schofield
And I think being a sponge and having somebody teach you the ropes is kind of a big thing to do. And it transfers from boat racing to drag racing to off road racing. Working in a shop, if you see somebody sweeping up a pile of dirt, you should probably grab the dust pan. Like, you don't grab the other room. You don't grab the shop back. You grab a dust pan. You kind of see where they're going with what they're working with. And then if you know that guy's taking a tire off and you don't see another one next to them, you probably should roll one over there. You know what I mean? Like, just a little forethought in that side of it to where you're not a hindrance, you're actually a help.
[01:29:14.810] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah. Using some common sense.
[01:29:17.410] - James Schofield
Yeah. I think if you can keep cool, everything works out better. You know what I mean? Like, when it's crazy and hectic and everybody's running around and screaming and yelling, nothing gets done correctly.
[01:29:29.790] - Big Rich Klein
[01:29:30.450] - James Schofield
Very true. Even if you bought a car up at the Hammers, you don't have to be freaking out about it, like trying to get your game plan, check the bearings and know what's going on and kind of go from there.
[01:29:44.750] - Big Rich Klein
So is there anything else that you want to talk about that we haven't touched on?
[01:29:51.990] - James Schofield
I don't know. You said something about a funny story you had.
[01:29:55.290] - Big Rich Klein
Well, that was the one where the guy at Durhamtown oh, that guy, yeah. Was yelling and screaming, and you were standing there, and I was just like, okay, yes. Okay, yes. He drove off, but we looked at.
[01:30:14.530] - James Schofield
Each other like the protest I got at Durantown.
[01:30:19.590] - Big Rich Klein
Oh, I don't remember that one where.
[01:30:23.210] - James Schofield
I nerfed the guy, and he break checked me. I was on him for like 4 miles or something, and he breaks me in the woods, and I wrecked the back of his car, and he broke the coilover off of the right front of my car. So I was running on a bypass and a coil over that was just riding on the side panel, basically. And I caught the guy like, he rabbited me. I caught him again, and then next thing you know, James Vest, the guy who was helping me in the car, was like, hey, dude, I don't know what the hell you did, but these dudes are pissed. And I'm like, okay. And he's like, they're over at the trailer, like, they're ready to fight. I'm like, Great. Well, I get done here a little while. We can handle this. And I come in, and you were just like, all right. He's like, James, I want to hear your story. I'm like, okay. So I kind of told you what the deal was. I was like, no, man, I caught this guy in the woods, and you said, you have a camera? I said, yeah, I got one on the dash.
[01:31:26.670] - James Schofield
And you're like, okay, cool. And then you and Josh pulled the camera card, and you looked at it, and then you kind of, like, watched the video, and I had to siren on a toggle switch, and it ran for a while, and then when I finally got to the guys, like, the co rider waved, and I backed off, and then it was like, another mile or two. And then the guy finally just break checked me, and I was foot off his bumper, and I went under his car, broke the deal. And then you looked at the guy that owned the car that I hit and was like, hey, buddy, that's actually not that bad. You should be thankful that's all you got wrong with your car. And then the guy was pissed, man. And we go to Gray Rock, and I'm racing the JK, and you had the safety meet, like, the driver's meeting, and it was directed at me and that guy, and you were like, for anybody that doesn't understand how this game works is if you hear the siren and you don't move, it is fair game. And they're like, what kind of BS wrecking cars and that?
[01:32:33.040] - James Schofield
And you're like, no, there's people that are here to race. And then there's people that are here to say they race. Like, you need to pick the side that you want to be on. If that's the side you want to be on, don't race the unlimited class. And then you're like, James is racing this jeep called Fat Amy. He got a bigass bumper on the front of it and he is not scared to use it. And then that guy was like, this is just BS, man. And he was funny, but I'll never forget getting protested after that race and then the driver's meeting at the next one, and you were like, oh my God, this shouldn't even be an argument.
[01:33:08.070] - Big Rich Klein
I had a few of those. There was one in Arizona, I won't mention names, but the guy came in after being nerfed and he was really upset with the driver that nurfed him. The driver that nurfed him actually ended up taking himself out. And then the same kind of thing we found out that he break checked and it ruined the guy that was trying to pass his race. And the guy had been on him for almost a near lap. So it happens that way. And I just wish people would understand. The time to race is before you're caught.
[01:33:50.310] - James Schofield
Yeah, especially when you're 32nd intervals and I'm on your bumper. It's over with. Like, you have been caught long ago.
[01:33:56.990] - Big Rich Klein
Exactly. So get over and then race. But to try to jack rabbit and race and drive over your abilities is only going to cause more problems.
[01:34:06.450] - James Schofield
And I see it all the time in these woods races, man. Like, I was on and then I was on, and it's like, but you never got him. You got to get close enough. The siren from 200 yards back does you nothing.
[01:34:19.700] - Big Rich Klein
[01:34:20.200] - James Schofield
So you're just that guy. Like, you never quite made it, but you're that guy. And then there's people that I'm a big believer in. The siren and then a Lamb all in one swift motion after, you know, I've been there. And the general public understands that when you're racing in an unlimited class, that's kind of how it goes. And having raced, it like the best in the desert stuff it is that way with a Jeep speed, man. You don't understand getting hit by a trophy truck and a Jeep speed that you're not technically supposed to be hit by. I never heard a single thing. And I got plowed. And it was Andy McMillan. I was like, holy crap, man. He hit me like 30 miles an hour faster than the Jeep would ever dream about going. And after I felt him come off the back of the Jeep like, you heard the siren and it was like, oh my God, that's legal. That's how this has got to go.
[01:35:18.030] - Big Rich Klein
He probably was on it, but he was going so much faster, the siren hadn't caught up.
[01:35:24.030] - James Schofield
Dude, it was bad. And then at the end of the. Race. We were laughing about it. He's like, yeah, sorry about your Jeep, dude. I'm like, I don't even know how the door is still open. You plow me, man. Good stuff.
[01:35:38.770] - Big Rich Klein
Good stuff. Well, James, I want to say thank you so much for spending the time today and talking to me and sharing your history with all of our listeners. And it was good to catch up with you again.
[01:35:54.750] - James Schofield
OK, man, thanks for having me, man. And likewise.
[01:35:58.530] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, hopefully you again. I don't know if I'm going to get back out to the Hammers. It's just become too much of a zoo for me to deal with. Yeah, but I hope to catch up with you along the way somewhere.
[01:36:10.180] - James Schofield
Okay, buddy. Sounds like a plan.
[01:36:12.060] - Big Rich Klein
All right, James. Take care.
[01:36:13.800] - James Schofield
All right, buddy.
[01:36:14.710] - Big Rich Klein
Thank you. Bye. Well, that's another episode of Conversations with Big Rich. I'd like to thank you all for listening. If you could do us a favor and leave us a review on any podcast service that you happen to be listening on or send us an email or text message or Facebook message and let me know any ideas that you have or if there's anybody that you have that you think would be a great guest. Please forward the contact information to me so that we can try to get them on. And always remember, Luke life to the fullest. Enjoying life is a must. Follow your dreams and live life with all the gusto you can. Thank you.