Of all the titles Ryan Miller carries, internet fact checker is one of my favorite – it’s not that he’s a smartass, he just remembers everything. What rock to turn at, which race was won by whom, how many turns of the wrench gets you the exact ride height you need. Ryan is smart and talented, listen in to this rockcrawler/navigator/racer/husband/dad/rattlesnake bite survivor, I promise you’ll learn some things!
10:31 – I don’t like to suck at stuff
17:44 – “I want you to be lost to find me”
24:54 – the idea of the Arizona Wildcat Off Road club was if you go out into the desert and get stuck, at least you have some buddies to come get you unstuck
33:15 – I was like, I don’t know how I’m winning, but I am
39:43 – all those Southwest guys didn’t even know what mud and trees were
50:37 – it’s easy to go our and break something, but just as easy on the equipment and get through it
1:00:24 – how do I tell Bailey that her race is over?
1:05:36 – oh, yeah, you wear out the refresh button. Refresh, refresh, refresh!!
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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 to job. I talked 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.
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[00:01:47.240] - Big Rich Klein
on today's episode of conversations with big rich, we have Ryan Miller. Ryan is a rock crawler, dirt riot racer, Ultra4 navigator, a flatty lover, internet fact checker, and the husband to Rebelle Rally winner Kaleigh Miller, father and rattlesnake bite survivor. So I want to say, Ryan, thank you for coming on board and sharing your history with us. So, yeah, thanks. Good to see you. Very good to hear you, I should say.
[00:02:21.400] - Ryan Miller
Yeah. Thanks, Rich.
[00:02:23.540] - Big Rich Klein
So let's jump right into it. And where were you born and raised?
[00:02:29.460] - Ryan Miller
I was born in Phoenix, so hundred miles north of where I'm living now. And pretty much we moved houses but lived in Phoenix all the way up through high school. But we spent a lot of time up in northern Arizona. My parents have a place up in the mountains up there that's pretty rural.
[00:02:56.760] - Big Rich Klein
Excellent. And so growing up, going to school, that kind of stuff. Did you play any sports or anything or have you been more academic or what was your early life like?
[00:03:09.590] - Ryan Miller
Kind of both. I played little league baseball and I played in some basketball leagues probably up until freshman, sophomore year of high school about. And I took a lot of school classes, extra classes. I was in the gifted programs, which is they moved you up a year or two in certain subjects or all of them. And in high school I wasn't really involved with anything at the school, so my counselor said, you need to get involved with an extracurricular activity at school. So I actually joined the band. I played instruments in elementary school, but I joined band in high school and ended up being in marching band and jazz band because I like those both. And then I end up playing tennis, of all things.
[00:04:13.570] - Big Rich Klein
[00:04:13.960] - Ryan Miller
And never picked up a tennis racket in my life before freshman year of high school. And my counselor that said that he was actually the tennis coach, and he said, why don't you just come out and check it out? Well, three weeks before the season started was when they started their practices, and that was the first time I'd ever picked up a tennis racket in my life. And I made the varsity team as a freshman.
[00:04:39.740] - Big Rich Klein
[00:04:40.670] - Ryan Miller
I think I actually, when I graduated, I had like the most wins in school history for the tennis team, which I was just like, OK, apparently I'm good at tennis, I guess.
[00:04:51.740] - Big Rich Klein
Well, you know, it's an eye hand coordination sport. Absolutely.
[00:04:56.090] - Ryan Miller
[00:04:57.740] - Big Rich Klein
So then what you were a gifted student, which doesn't surprise me, knowing you as well as I think I do. What school you said in the Phoenix area, were you Scottsdale or Phoenix itself?
[00:05:16.410] - Ryan Miller
Phoenix to Glendale.
[00:05:17.920] - Big Rich Klein
[00:05:18.590] - Ryan Miller
The house that I lived in when I was little was in Phoenix, and then my parents moved a couple of miles north to Glendale, my high school, I guess you would say. Glendale. It's on Glendale Avenue. Yeah.
[00:05:34.370] - Big Rich Klein
And so did you take shop classes or anything like that?
[00:05:39.660] - Ryan Miller
Funny thing, I was very excited to go to that high school because they had a wood shop and an auto shop, which, growing up, my dad was a custom carpenter, so we have giant wood shop in the backyard and I would go out there and make stuff on all of his equipment and have fun. So the wood shop wasn't exciting to me as much because I could do that at home, but they actually ended auto shop my freshman year of high school, so I never was able to do that.
[00:06:18.960] - Big Rich Klein
[00:06:20.620] - Ryan Miller
Yeah. Of all things. Right. That was a long time ago. That was 1996.
[00:06:28.250] - Big Rich Klein
[00:06:29.310] - Ryan Miller
I mean, you would think nowadays it's like, how many schools have an auto shop? Like zero, but yeah, they ended that. The last auto shop class was the year before I started.
[00:06:42.660] - Big Rich Klein
I think that's something that schools need to bring back.
[00:06:46.860] - Ryan Miller
Yeah, I mean, at that point, I already owned one vehicle and I didn't even have a learners permit yet. Okay. And then at the end, my freshman year of high school, I actually owned two vehicles by then.
[00:07:02.540] - Big Rich Klein
Nice. And what were they?
[00:07:05.240] - Ryan Miller
I had a 68 Chevy CST, long bed, two wheel drive truck, and then I had a 71 Suburban, four wheel drive. That was pretty much my daily driver because I was building the 68. That's what I bought for myself as a birthday present. Nice.
[00:07:30.360] - Big Rich Klein
So then the kind of classes that you enjoyed most, or did everything come easy, or did you have to work at getting the solid grades?
[00:07:46.940] - Ryan Miller
My wife and I were just talking about this the other day. Like I said, I was pretty much in all the advanced classes, so you're already one to two years ahead. Math was like a gimme. I didn't have to try at all, really. The teachers would actually tell me, you're required to come to the final exam of the year, even though if you got a zero on it, you would still get an A for the class. But science was fine. Everything was okay. English was like just that was my nemesis because I'm very strong at math. So English is a little bit tougher, but I don't read very fast. Like, when I read something, I absorb it, but I don't read fast. So when you're in these advanced English classes, they're reading, like, a new book every two weeks. And it's not like little books, it's big books. And this is what my wife and I were talking about. Oh, we're going to read Crime and Punishment. Okay, well, that's 600 pages long. A book like that, it takes me, like, four to five minutes to read one page. So I'm like so in the next two weeks, I have to read for 60 hours.
[00:09:16.040] - Ryan Miller
How can I do that? In my head, being Mappers, I'm like, I have to read like 5 hours a night in order to finish this book. Ridiculous. So English was actually my only class in all of high school. One year, one semester, I got one B and that was it.
[00:09:43.280] - Big Rich Klein
Wow, you still got a B. That's pretty damn good.
[00:09:46.610] - Ryan Miller
[00:09:48.890] - Big Rich Klein
I got through English classes by being the yearbook photographer. That was my English requirement. And that was easy because I was a photographer. I didn't even have to write anything.
[00:10:04.410] - Ryan Miller
If I could have had that option, that would have been easier.
[00:10:08.540] - Big Rich Klein
It probably didn't help me any now, but it was an easy way for me to get through those.
[00:10:18.060] - Ryan Miller
[00:10:19.410] - Big Rich Klein
So then you became a pretty good tennis player pretty quick. What was the driving factor there?
[00:10:31.790] - Ryan Miller
I just don't like to suck at stuff. I grew up playing ping pong a lot, so with my dad, it doesn't exactly translate over, but it's pretty close. It's still a paddle sport or a racket.
[00:10:53.650] - Big Rich Klein
[00:10:54.530] - Ryan Miller
And I just didn't like to lose, so I just wanted to win. And it's tough because a lot of these other guys, people that play tennis usually grow up doing it from being little or they're seniors or juniors at other schools that you're playing against. And I'm a freshman, so it was us. But I just didn't like to lose, and I had fun doing it, so something to do. I don't like being bored.
[00:11:31.860] - Big Rich Klein
So then band, you said you played jazz. And in the marching band, what was your instrument, actually?
[00:11:42.050] - Ryan Miller
So in elementary school, I had liked jazz. That's what I did. I don't know what requirements that would be in elementary school nowadays, but I played in the jazz band. I played tenor saxophone. It was a lot of fun. I like jazz music. It's pretty cool. Usually the older stuff from when jazz first started, right. Playing all that stuff. And then in a marching band I played. It's called the Susa Phone, but it's the tuba. And our marching band in high school actually was very, very, very good. Pretty much won every competition we went to. A lot of times, tubes are just kind of like the background instrument, whatever, but we actually had, like, features. There was three of us and a lot of the places we went to for competitions. The judges were very surprised because they're like, no one ever does that. Okay, that's cool.
[00:12:56.240] - Big Rich Klein
You guys, all three of you must have been pretty good then, if you got features.
[00:13:00.910] - Ryan Miller
Yeah, I think it would be hard for me to remember, but I know that one of the other people, that wasn't their instrument either. Like I just played Susa phone. It's just I played in a jazz band, and the band director was like, hey, do you think you could play a sousaphone in marching band? And I was like, I don't know. I'll give it a shot.
[00:13:25.340] - Big Rich Klein
So he picks you with the largest instrument out there?
[00:13:28.940] - Ryan Miller
Yeah. Nowadays, these kids have a fiberglass one, so they're super light. Back then, they were still all metal.
[00:13:35.760] - Big Rich Klein
Right. I can't imagine. I didn't realize that fiberglass interesting.
[00:13:44.390] - Ryan Miller
Yeah. To make them lighter, that was, like, towards my senior year, they started making them in fiberglass. Like, the valves and stuff were still metal just for the sound. But the rest of the instrument was all fiberglass after that, so that way it wasn't so heavy. Okay. They're not light.
[00:14:08.090] - Big Rich Klein
No, they're not. At least when you're a drummer, you have the harness and everything else distribute across the body. Where I don't think that was really the case with the Susa Phone.
[00:14:23.760] - Ryan Miller
That on one shoulder in one spot only, and that was it.
[00:14:28.240] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah. It's like carrying a kid.
[00:14:32.240] - Ryan Miller
[00:14:33.810] - Big Rich Klein
As a man. Women are built to carry kids. Of course, they don't want to hear that. I'm probably getting trouble for that one anyway. Let's talk about how you got involved in off road in Wheeling growing up.
[00:14:57.140] - Ryan Miller
My dad always liked going out and camping. And we'd go camping. We'd go out to the forest, ride quads motorcycles. I think I was five. Got a quad for Christmas. That was fun. And my parents, like I said, bought a place up in the White Mountains. And we spent a lot of time up there. Usually every weekend. That isn't in the middle of winter because it gets pretty cold. Lots of snow up there. And then a lot of time during the summer when I wasn't in school. And my dad had a 72 Chevy, four wheel drive short bed truck. And then for the property up there, he bought an old flat Fender Willys Jeep. And that's what I learned to drive on, was that with his truck and the Jeep and I think it's old as I could be where I could barely reach the pedals. I was driving things like, probably eight years old. The Willie Jeep had no brakes, so that was interesting. And they also have no synchro first in reverse gear, so you had to come to a complete stop in order to shift, which with no brakes, real fun.
[00:16:18.660] - Big Rich Klein
So was the no breaks just of lack of maintenance or, you know I know that breaks kind of sucking them anyway.
[00:16:31.560] - Ryan Miller
Yeah, he had bought it, and it was missing, like, actual brake. Like it had no brake drums. I think they even removed two of the backing plates. Yeah, it's just for up there. Just kind of puts it around. Okay. And that's the way it was for ten years, probably, until he found a nicer one and he bought that one and then sold our old one to the neighbor. But that's what I just learned to drive on, was that old thing in his truck. And that was up until that was years before I had a driver's license.
[00:17:15.220] - Big Rich Klein
Right, so just cruising around up in the White Mountains. That's the area below Payson.
[00:17:26.390] - Ryan Miller
[00:17:27.040] - Big Rich Klein
Above Payson. Okay.
[00:17:29.910] - Ryan Miller
So they're like where they're at is just below 7000ft elevation right there.
[00:17:35.500] - Big Rich Klein
Okay. I know that there's the Apache tribe up there, the White Mountain Apache. It's a really beautiful area.
[00:17:44.990] - Ryan Miller
Like I said, they're pretty rural. My dad told the realtor, I want you to have to be lost to find me. You got to turn down a couple of dirt roads to get out to where we are. And the Rim is the kind of the geological divide between the lowland desert and the high mountains there. And they're about 5 miles straight line to the edge of the Rim, which is also where the Indian reservation starts.
[00:18:16.190] - Big Rich Klein
[00:18:18.590] - Ryan Miller
You're not way out in the middle of nowhere, but they're not near anything. You got to drive 2030 minutes to get to a gas station.
[00:18:28.710] - Big Rich Klein
So you don't leave when you're on empty?
[00:18:32.390] - Ryan Miller
Yeah, every time you go to town or something, you fill up some gas jugs and bring them back.
[00:18:38.110] - Big Rich Klein
There you go. So did you hunt and fish and all that kind of stuff as a kid?
[00:18:44.390] - Ryan Miller
Yeah, we actually went fishing a lot up there. My dad had a fishing boat, and we actually hunted out of that area a couple of times growing up, which was nice because we could just go up and stay at the property. And a big fire came through. My senior year of high school, there was a the Rodeo Chetascot fire, which is actually the second biggest now, I think, fire in AZ history. It was like a half million acres. And the first place it got because it was a fire that was started in the it was on the Indian reservation and it went up the rim. And the first place it hit was the little community out where my parents are. And it burned everything on the whole property except for the cabin.
[00:19:41.090] - Big Rich Klein
[00:19:42.850] - Ryan Miller
That included my dad's truck and his Jeep and the fishing boat and all of our hunting stuff because that's where we kept it all. And after that, it was like I think that he was pretty sad about that, my dad, the only thing that he replaced out of all of that was his Jeep.
[00:20:06.590] - Big Rich Klein
[00:20:07.640] - Ryan Miller
[00:20:10.190] - Big Rich Klein
All the trees in the area and everything were pretty devastated. Has it grown back?
[00:20:15.830] - Ryan Miller
Well, it's pretty interesting because we have five acres and there's like a tree line on the north end of the property and some sparse trees here and there, but for the most part is kind of open high grassland. There are trees around on the neighbors properties and stuff, and the forest is right there. But the fire itself is kind of very spotty. Our property, it didn't burn all the trees because it was a lot of the trees that were by themselves in the middle of all the grass. It would just burn the grass. And it wasn't enough of the grass to catch the tree on fire. Right, okay. But our barn in our barn yard were all like, old redwood ticket fence with railroad ties and telephone poles. It was an old barn set up. Right. So all that obviously caught fire real quick from the grass.
[00:21:20.800] - Big Rich Klein
[00:21:21.280] - Ryan Miller
But there's other people that you go two properties over and it burned every tree on their whole property. And then the guy between us, nothing. Right. So it was just kind of hit and miss the way that it just made it to its way through the land. But yes, 20 years later, now you can tell where it was because there's not a lot of large growth trees, but it's very green. Things are growing back.
[00:21:53.310] - Big Rich Klein
Good. Okay, so when you graduated from high school, first of all, when you were in high school, you were in band, that kind of stuff, tennis. Did you attend social activities like the dances and that kind of thing?
[00:22:13.070] - Ryan Miller
[00:22:13.780] - Big Rich Klein
[00:22:14.210] - Ryan Miller
I was pretty much everything. And then I had a group of friends that we always hung out with. Interesting, because, like I said, my daily driver was a 71 four wheel drive Chevy Suburban. Not a lot of those around, even back then. And out of all, just random luck, there's another guy at the high school that I hung out with, Ryan as well, and he had the exact same vehicle, but a 72. He had a 72 Chevy Suburban. And then another guy, Dusty, had a 72 Blazer. And we were literally the only three people at the school that had any kind of truck or four wheel drive so we hung out. You know, it's funny because there's parking spots that weren't really parking spots they used to be, and then they, like, poured these concrete slabs to put like, some electrical gear and a telephone pole and guide wires and stuff. And we would actually park there because we could drive over the curb and everyone just knew that's where they park and no one else even attempted to park there. That was like, parking spots. Right. Nice. I'd get up and banned usually was the first thing in the morning.
[00:23:37.720] - Ryan Miller
That was your zero hour class. So I'd usually be leaving the house at like, six in the morning and I'd usually be gone for a good 12 hours. After schools over in the springtime, you'd have tennis. Other times I'd just be hanging out with friends or shooting some basketball hoops or whatever.
[00:24:00.360] - Big Rich Klein
Okay. After high school, did you attend college?
[00:24:07.790] - Ryan Miller
Yeah. So I moved down to Tucson to go to U of A, had a scholarship and got into the engineering school at U of A. And I pretty much didn't do tennis. I didn't do any more band stuff just because I had fun with it and I didn't want to. I was like, I don't feel like continuing them.
[00:24:42.590] - Big Rich Klein
And how did you get involved with offroading? I mean, to where you started doing more than just running around on the property.
[00:24:54.060] - Ryan Miller
So I still had my Suburban, and that was my college vehicle. And I met a couple of other friends that they had four wheel drive. So we would go out in the desert and go exploring in random places. And this was 2000, and at that time rock crawling itself was relatively new. So still a lot of just two track forest roads, whatever. We go out and go exploring and have a good time. And I think it was 2002, maybe 2003, a group of us started an off road club at U of A called Arizona Wildcat Off Road. The idea of it was, well, at least if you go out into the desert and you get stuck, you have some buddies to come get you unstuck. Right, right. Or just someone to go with. And I was involved with that for quite a while and met a lot of cool people. And actually I met Kaylee way back then and it just was a good time. And that's kind of when I started to get involved into rock crawling about the end of college.
[00:26:22.560] - Big Rich Klein
And that was because of the four wheel drive club.
[00:26:24.920] - Ryan Miller
Yeah. I like the technical stuff. Which Suburban isn't really the prime vehicle for that.
[00:26:35.230] - Big Rich Klein
No, but you have to pick a line.
[00:26:37.490] - Ryan Miller
Yeah. We'd go run some trails that were pretty tough and it was always just fun. I tried to go out almost every weekend in college, go somewhere, because there's a couple of really close places that are right at the edge of town. You could drive a half hour and you're in Fort Drive and having a good time.
[00:27:07.340] - Big Rich Klein
That is the nice thing about Arizona.
[00:27:09.770] - Ryan Miller
Yeah. So right after graduating from college is when I got my YJ, that eventually became my buggy. Before I even bought it, I knew whatever I was buying was going to be turned into a buggy. And that's when I got real big into the rock crawling.
[00:27:30.810] - Big Rich Klein
And at what point did it start getting cut up and transformed?
[00:27:40.860] - Ryan Miller
Well, funny thing, I bought it and I had axles already built sitting in the garage ready to go. I didn't know what I was going to do for suspension and transportation. I was like, I know I'm going to put Data 60s under this thing and chromole shafts and spools. I just want it to be pretty robust. So I already had all that stuff and OIJ came up for sale in California and I bought it from the guy, drove out there to get it and brought it back. And I was like, you know what? Before I cut this thing apart, I want to just take it out and wheel it once or twice. Well, I took it out once or twice and I had so much fun with it. Totally stock. I mean, as stock as you can get that I mean, it wasn't stock, stock, stock. The guy had put like a set of 31 1050 15 on the stock Jeep wheels and it was open disk, leaf spring YJ, no lift. And I ended up wheeling that thing for a year, totally stock, just to see what it could do. Because people would be like, oh, you can't run that.
[00:29:02.240] - Ryan Miller
Well, let's go find out. And this is when I met some of the Arizona Undertakers guys. And out in Florence, that was one of the first rock crawling places in Arizona with all of its trails. And one of the famous trails out there is Axel Alley. Well, one day we were sitting there wondering, what could we go run that I could do? And I said, I want to try Axel Alley. And they were like, no way. I was like, how about this? If I can get to the first fall unassisted, I didn't have a winch on it, nothing. It was just I had four spare axle shafts, front and rear drive shafts, and a spare tire and tools. I was like, that way I can fix it, whatever. But I don't have a winch whatever. And they said, if you can get to the first fall unassisted, we'll wish you up the fall and we'll run the rest of the trail. And I did, and they're like, Holy crap, that's insane. I can't believe someone and that was actually the only assistance I needed on the whole trail was winching up that fall. All the other obstacles bone, stock, open, open.
[00:30:10.870] - Ryan Miller
YJ on 30 wise, look nice. And then later on we'd go run that in our buggies. Five years down the road and I'd think, how did I drive this thing into this? Now I'm on 40s with suspension, driving into the same trail, going, was I nuts?
[00:30:32.610] - Big Rich Klein
You didn't know any better.
[00:30:34.520] - Ryan Miller
Yeah, right? But it was just fun to just see what you could do in a totally stock, no lockers, no anything, and it was just fun. So then finally one day I was like, okay, that's enough. And it was about a year later, and that's when I tore it all apart, cut it up, basically, almost did an entire tube chassis. I just kept the center frame rails as my baseline to build off of and chopped the tub. There wasn't much left of it after that.
[00:31:12.020] - Big Rich Klein
Right? And then you started racing it.
[00:31:16.260] - Ryan Miller
Yeah. Then so when you had started Dirt Riot, I saw it and I was like, oh, that'd be kind of fun. But you know, a YJ Buggy with a stock Jeep four cylinder, eh, it's not going to be fast. There's no way. Because there's all the guys that I went wheeling with had similar rigs, but they all had V Eight because who didn't have a Buggy with a V Eight? So the first race that you had that was nearby was in Tucson, and I had come out to just help with someone, rolled over on course, whatever. Okay, well, then the next one was in Moab and I was like, I think I'm just going to go just to see. Right? Because I liked seeing how fast I could go up trails smoothly and without winching and stuff like that. But Moab Race course not as hard of obstacles. Okay? And so I showed up with my rig and it was still on Leaf Springs at the time. And I remember I broke a leaf spring, like the moment I started the race. And by the end of the race I won by a lot. And I was like, okay, well, maybe I'll try it again, even though the next one is in Congress or wherever it was.
[00:32:44.860] - Ryan Miller
And I was like, that's more open desert. Obviously guys with bigger motors are going to be way faster. So I came to that one in one and then expand that over the course of the next year and a half when I had won like ten dirt riots in a row in trail class, which was anyone with whatever, just your normal buggy back then, which was 40 V, eight coilovers or links with coils or whatever people built at the time.
[00:33:14.980] - Big Rich Klein
[00:33:15.770] - Ryan Miller
And I was like, I don't know how I'm winning, but I am. So then it was after the first year when I won four of them or something and won the championship that I had got with Brian Turner, who at the time was at Ads and talked to him about a partnership and Artie and Nate at our Tech. And we end up changing my rig over to links and coilovers and I swapped the rear axle out to a 14 volts because I had broke the 60 trail wheeling in the offseason doing fun stuff. And from then on, it was like, if I didn't win, I was pretty disappointed.
[00:34:12.210] - Big Rich Klein
Which you weren't disappointed very often.
[00:34:15.810] - Ryan Miller
No, not very often, but it did happen. There's a lot of guys that are racing Legends Class 4800 Ultra Four right now that I raced against, and a lot of guys that race and have now retired from it. And it was a good time with all those guys because, I mean, that was when the Legends class actually kind of started, and guys started building purpose built Legends cars. And they'd have 6700. I'm here with 125 HP stock Jeep four cylinder, and sometimes they would get pretty pissed when they win, but it all depended on the more open courses. Obviously, I have my hands full trying to beat them, but on the technical courses where motors didn't matter, like moab or in the trees in Oklahoma, that's where I knew I could hold my own, because all that horsepower didn't matter at that point, right?
[00:35:17.110] - Big Rich Klein
And I think having the four cylinder, though, you could run that thing like a red line and you couldn't break anything.
[00:35:26.390] - Ryan Miller
True. I had some cheater stuff, too, because I had an Atlas four speed, so I had two to one gears in the main case, and they were race gears, so I would run it in two to one all the time because I had overdrive and four tons in the axle. So running it in two to one, it was like one to one with eight twenty s, and it gave me more gearing, which helped.
[00:35:56.260] - Big Rich Klein
Right. I can remember Oklahoma, and one of the teams just couldn't believe they were driving a 4800 car, and they couldn't believe that you just checked out on them. They thought they were doing really good because they caught up with you. And I remember you saying, oh yeah, I let them start to catch up because I wanted to see what they had because my course was switched back. So you could see the guys 200 yards behind you, because they'd be on the trail with a row of trees in between, or some rocks or something like that. So you let them get around you and then they made a mistake, and then you checked out on them, and they were only delayed a couple of seconds, and they were like, Ryan must have cheated. And I'm like, no, there's no way. Except for that one lap where they caught you, which basically you kind of let them catch you.
[00:37:06.430] - Ryan Miller
Or it appeared that way, clearly. But I know who it was. It was actually the Maddens, the white Jimmy's car. Very cool guys. After talking to them after that race and racing with them the rest of the couple of seasons and seeing them a king of the hammers, good friends, but I was. New at that one because I'm going to step back a second because I had no intention ever of racing Central dirt ride, because there's a lot of driving, because all the races were Oklahoma, Central, Texas, somewhere around there, and that's 1000 miles one way for me. And I was already racing southwest and mountain dirt rides, right? So picking up three more races, that's ten races in a year, that's a lot. Especially I'm just an everyday guy. I don't have huge sponsorships, I don't do it as my job. And that year was the year that wanted to race with me. So the week before the first central race of the year, which was in Austin, Texas, was the dirt riot in Congress. And that's when that was the first time ever being in the race car with me. And I rolled it while I was in the lead.
[00:38:35.160] - Ryan Miller
And I mean, I had put it on cruise control at that point. I got it, just take it easy. And I just hit a rut in a wash just wrong and bite it up. And I thought I had it saved, but I was trying to avoid hitting some stuff while saving it. There's some choya and a couple of big rocks, and I ended up laying it over on the passenger side and ended up jumping out. She stayed in the car, I winched it back over real quick and checked my oil because I lost them out of the breather and it was fine. But I jumped back in, strapped back in and took off and ended up racing all the way back into second, right between Robbie Flanders and Kate Rod. And they were both just like, how did he come all the way back from that many minutes down? And the whole drive home, I was just pissed because I knew I had that race one. Well, Kaylee had gone to grad school in Austin and she's like, well, why don't we just go to Austin next weekend and you can go get a win there.
[00:39:43.710] - Ryan Miller
That's a lot of driving. I got to represent the car, I guess. So we went to Austin and I had won that race by like 7 seconds. It was a mud race. All those who's the southwest guy, he doesn't even know what mud and trees are. And I ended up winning it. So they were like, oh crap. So that started. Now I've won the first race, we got to go to the second one. So that's when we went to Oklahoma. Well, in Oklahoma there obviously I wanted to win again. And it was lots of rain, mud, rocks, trees, and I started second to last and the Maddens had started right behind me. And on the first lap I hit the water crossing too hard and I got my distributor like absolutely soaked. And I was running on three cylinders then, so this four cylinders wasn't bad enough. I was on three and they were slowly catching me, slowly catching me, and I was just trying to keep moving, you know? And I knew I was wounded, so when they caught me, I just kind of I did the right thing. Move out of their way, let them go.
[00:40:54.110] - Ryan Miller
You know my stuff. Like you always said, if you're caught from behind, you're already beat. I moved over they went, and as soon as I moved over, I got the four cylinder back. I was like, dang it. I mean, instantly, I was right on their butt, and I followed them for a lap and a half because they were moving pretty good. And we were both passing cars here and there. And like you said, the second they made a mistake, I went for it and passed them. And once I passed them, I saw them for, like, two turns and then never saw them again. And that's when after the race, they were like, there is no way that four cylinders that fast. It wasn't a matter of I had done extensive work with the Guy Ads to make sure that that thing could take some stuff suspension wise, because I needed to be able to keep momentum up was the biggest thing because I didn't have a lot of acceleration. And I remember that was also the race. You gave me two white flags because I went too fast, because the format for the Dirt Riots, where as soon as you did the math and said, okay, well, when he finishes this next lap, it's going to be after the one or one and a half hour time for the race.
[00:42:17.620] - Ryan Miller
So we're going to give the white flag now, and the next time it comes around, it will be an hour and 31 minutes, and we'll give them the checker flag. Well, I had lost my radio, too, because it had got soaked from all the water crossings, so I had no idea how far ahead I was in first. I knew I was at first, but I didn't know how much time I had. And like you said, you can see behind you, but not super far. So I knew I had to beat Rodney by 30 seconds. I didn't know where he was, so I was just driving that thing to the limit because I wanted to win. And you gave me a white flag, and I railed that thing for all it was worth, thinking, this is the last slap. This is it. And then I came around to the finish, and you gave me another white flag, and I threw my arms off like, what the hell?
[00:43:11.320] - Big Rich Klein
Because you were so dang fast on that last one, you beat your hour by, like, 10 seconds.
[00:43:17.900] - Ryan Miller
Yeah, I remember that because my lap time, that was like 45 seconds faster than any other lap I ran the rest of the day, and I was like, Dang it. So then I had to do it. So then I railed it for another lap because I was like, I don't know where he's at. It was funny because then I remember Josh even telling me they were wondering, like, there's no way he had to have cut course somewhere or whatever. Which, I mean, I get it. But once they were like, no, he hit this spot on the course and that spot on the course. And so and So has a picture of them there and here. And I saw him come there and they were like, damn. Okay.
[00:44:00.660] - Big Rich Klein
Because that's one of the things that we could tell at Dirt Riot. Guys would get faster as the race come on, but it would only be a few seconds every lap.
[00:44:14.110] - Ryan Miller
[00:44:14.540] - Big Rich Klein
You know, and anytime somebody beat their lap by the preceding lap or all their averages by more than 2025 30 seconds, it raises a red flag. And if you clipped off two or three minutes, I'm calling you cheater. And there's some guys that I did that with. They may have won, but I tell them later. I said, I know you cheated because there's no way you picked off two or three minutes. Well, you picked off quite a bit of time, but there wasn't a place out there that you could clip off that much time.
[00:44:53.650] - Ryan Miller
Yeah, I remember the one spot that you could is where I think where Josh was taking pictures. And I was there taking pictures because that was the only place that you could have tried to cut across.
[00:45:09.220] - Big Rich Klein
Right. And that's where he knew some of those UTV drivers were doing, were going to do that. Because after the pre run, he went out to check the course, the markings and stuff, and saw everybody, all the UTV's had taken that shortcut. So he goes, well, I'm going to stand there that way they can't. And the first UTV comes around the corner, and I'm not going to mention names, but all of a sudden they check up and like, oh, dang. Because they almost blew the whole course by doing that.
[00:45:42.660] - Ryan Miller
Now, going out there, all those guys in the Central Series were real good guys. And that was actually a lot of fun racing against them because not as many, but they had quite a handful of cars. But pretty much all of them were guys that race the Ultra Four series, too. They weren't just trail rigs. There were a lot of legends cars out there.
[00:46:07.720] - Big Rich Klein
Correct. And that was the whole idea behind Dirt Ride anyway, was to give those guys a place to race and hone their skills. So when they went to Koh or Ultra Four, that they knew how to finish a race.
[00:46:23.240] - Ryan Miller
Yeah, but against the Southwest and Mountains, there was a lot of trail rigs. A lot of trail rigs, especially in the Mountain series with all the jimmy's cars and stuff. And the guys up there in the Four Corners area. I remember the one race there was like 22 of us in the trail class of unlimited, and it was like, whoa, okay.
[00:46:51.140] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, that's probably there in cortez.
[00:46:56.160] - Ryan Miller
Yeah, that's where it was.
[00:46:57.560] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, that was a good race track, too. I loved the spectators. There was that handful of local natives that would come out and cheer out in the middle of nowhere. And the photographs from that corner was just hilarious.
[00:47:15.100] - Ryan Miller
[00:47:17.010] - Big Rich Klein
So let's talk about how you became ryanmillercambell.
[00:47:22.860] - Ryan Miller
Well, that was racing for ride because I refuse to lose.
[00:47:29.310] - Big Rich Klein
But your association with the campbells.
[00:47:32.080] - Ryan Miller
Yeah, so I think it was 20 10, 20 09 was like the first big year out at koh, and shannon had won it in 2008. And some of the undertakers guys knew who shannon were. They helped him go out and test his new car, which back then was bypass air shocks and super tiny little single seat, rock crawler, moon buggy looking thing. And then he built his ISS car in 2009, and I knew some of the guys that were helping him then. And then in ten they were like, hey, do you think you could come help us pit for hammers? Okay. So I went out, you know, still went out to koh with my buggy and was mainly just hanging out and trail wheeling with all the guys. And then we go over, see if they needed anything, and pretty much just there for race day to help pit. Well, after that in, shannon had built his little volkswagen hood, two seat I think it was a promod car at the time, right? And he's like, oh, I want to take the kids out, take them trail wheeling. You know, they need to learn how to drive rocks and sea lines and blah, blah, blah.
[00:49:06.890] - Ryan Miller
So right after koh in 2010, then he's like, yeah, put together a trail run, and this is to the guys that I knew. And so they put together a run, and I was out there, and it just so happened they were like, we're going to follow ryan today. Okay? So I was leading, and I put them right behind me. So it was bailey driving and waiting passengers. And shannon, he was riding with me. He was riding with some other guys, rob and whoever else was there. And he was just jumping in with whoever. But he told him, he's like, hey, just pay attention. Watch what he does learn. Why did he take that line? Yada. Yada. Okay, so we wield and we went out to one of our little locations, and it's big boy stuff. It's not these aren't trailing old, and anyone can go run just because you got a buggy, right? And bailey was barely old enough to reach the pedals. What was this, 2010? So she was 13 maybe? It was about built for, I think, nick, because that was what nick and rob McKinney raised in the hammers that year and drove everything except for it was on the last day we were there, last obstacle, last trail.
[00:50:37.640] - Ryan Miller
And she struggled a little bit, and shannon said, okay, well, that's enough. Jump out of the driver's seat. Let waylon jump in. And whelan. I was trying to tell her it was one of those obstacles where it's all in the field and you had to bump it. It was a bump waterfall, and once you bumped it, you're almost rolling. And right at the right time, you needed to turn within like a six inch area going up it. And she was right there, but just couldn't get it. And whalen did it in one shot, and that kind of got her a little angry. Bro got it in the first shot, whatever. We had a good time, and they learned a lot, obviously. And that's what he wanted them to do was learn how to pick a line and see the line and throttle control. It's easy to go out and break something, but just be easy on the equipment and get through it. And shortly after that weekend, one of the guys that had set up that run that knew shannon, he called me and he said, hey, is it all right if I give shannon your phone number if he wants to talk to you?
[00:51:55.070] - Ryan Miller
I was like, yeah, no problem. And shannon called and said, hey, we need a spotter for we rock for the year. Would you spot for my brother nick? And I said, yeah, sure. And he's like, hey, you just come with us. We'll take care of you, and hopefully it works good. Okay, well, the first one was in tucson, so that was easy. And I came out and I spotted for nick, and we ended up winning all but one event that year and winning the championship. And at the end of the year, shannon was like, hey, you want to come help us for hammers next year? And I was like, yeah, sure. So I helped him with hammers a lot with logistics, stuff for race day, like where to pit, where to put certain parts and stuff like that, and how much fuel we're going to take here and there. And after that is, hey, you want to come desert race with us? This was at the start of 2011, that's four wheel drive, class one car. So we went and raised vegas to reno and stuff. So that was 2011. And then shortly after that is when he built the top truck challenge car to go to the 20th anniversary.
[00:53:16.710] - Ryan Miller
That was in 2012. And then he said, hey, I want to get wayland qualified for king of the hammers. You want to CoDrive with them? Yeah, sure. So that's when I started codriving for wayland, and then we built him that ISS car, and it's kind of all history from there. It's like built in that. Ifs car co drove with him for a while until bailey started racing, and then co drove with her and then Wayland ended up in the single seat car. And now here we are, right?
[00:53:47.690] - Big Rich Klein
Yes. I told you the other day that I was going to be interviewing Bailey the same day as you, but before you and it was funny because when I texted, I said, yeah, I'm interviewing Bailey. And you go, my Bailey. I could hear you saying that in your voice. And I get taking I don't say ownership, that's not the right word, but you take that responsibility for somebody and you have done that. And we talked with her about that Koh run where you guys were in first place and the water pump broke. Let's talk and get your feelings on all of that, especially that race.
[00:54:50.240] - Ryan Miller
Anytime I'm in the car with her, I want her to win and I want her to do good because I know she can, right? And she wants to do good. There was a lot leading up to that. The previous year, she had put her car on the podium twice. She hasn't won an ultra four race, but she's been dang close. She's qualified first a couple of times and she won a couple of dirt riots, and she's done the we rock stuff, but not Ultrafloor. But I was like, I know the one thing she's like, I want to win King of the Hammers, right? And I want to win King of the Hammers with her. So that race, we're not really worried about anyone else. We just want to run our pace, what we think is a winning pace. And we knew we were doing good. We caught a bunch of cars on the first lap in the desert and passed them. Her car works phenomenal out in the desert. She feels comfortable out there, but she also feels comfortable in the rocks. And once we got to lap two, it was just kind of like, alright, we got to get through this lap.
[00:56:09.280] - Ryan Miller
We got through the lap. In my head, I don't know what to say. Like, I keep track of where we are.
[00:56:20.020] - Big Rich Klein
It's that math thing.
[00:56:21.550] - Ryan Miller
Yeah, it's the math thing. So I'm like, we've passed a ton of people. We're definitely in the top five, right? And coming in out of the last rock trail, I mean, I can't say last rock trail because you saw to go down resolution and back door, but there was pulled over on the side leaving the last rock trail, there he was, him and Burger were arms up, fist pumping us, cheering us on as we went by. And I was like, huh, they obviously just got out of their car and they're cheering us on like, go, go. And just before that, we had passed Wayne and Cameron who were out changing a tire, which we were battling with them in the rocks. Pretty much all of that too, going back and forth. And we knew we had a good pace going. We had already passed, like I said, a whole bunch of cars. There was only a handful of them left in front of us. And then as soon as we topped resolution, JP. Was pulled over right there. And I was like, gosh, we got to be in, like the top three now. And when we pulled in the main pit at the end of lap two, our first pit stop, because her car has a huge fuel tank, we can almost run the whole race, but we just stopped at the end of the lap to take some fuel just to make sure we don't run out.
[00:57:43.260] - Ryan Miller
And I had asked their fuel in the car, and then people come in, hey, you need a water? Need a rag or anything? And I kind of mouthed to the guy on my side of the car, like, are we in first? And I actually, like, said it. And it caught Bailey's attention because she heard it on the intercom, I think. And he said, yeah, you guys are in first. And that's when it said, in, like, holy crap, we are in first. Like, I knew we were doing good, and she kind of started to get a tear in her eye, and we pulled out to go through the start finish line and start our last lap. And I remember seeing Emily Miller come out of the media tent right there and came out to the start finish line as we were pulling out of the pit and cheered her on. And we're like, okay, well, one more lap. Here we go. And we took off on that last lap, and they radioed to us like, hey, just so you know, second place car through is Cameron, and he's this many minutes behind you physically. And I already knew in my head, okay, well, we started behind him by this far, so we have this many minutes on corrected time ahead of him.
[00:58:59.200] - Ryan Miller
You're fine. Just stay in front of him physically. And by the time we get to the rocks, and I know you got it, and we entered that desert section, and I don't know what flipped, but daily was running probably 15 miles an hour faster than we did the first two laps, and we were flying pretty good, and it just felt comfortable. We were just on cruise control, but going much faster. And we got to the end of the lake bed going across Emerson over by the marine baseline. I'm like and I just said to her, all right, just one more rock loop. You already ran it perfect on the second lap. Just one more lap. And as soon as we hit the little trail going up off the lake bed, she goes, oh, crap, I lost a belt. And I was like, no biggie. So she pulled over. And one thing is, we don't like to run our cars too hard across the lake bed. When using them pretty hard, it takes its toll on some stuff, but we actually went the same speed across the lake bed as we did across the desert. We were like, 105.
[01:00:24.740] - Ryan Miller
That was pretty much it. I got out thinking, I'm just going to grab this belt and stick a belt on. And when I went to put the belt on the car, the whole water pump pulley moved. And I went, oh, crap. Because that's when I saw the whole pulley was broken. At that moment, I was like, how do I tell Bailey that her race is over? You know, like, this is going to crush her. And I walked back up to the side of the car and I said, Bailey, we're done. And she started to get a good tear in her eye. And she's like, no. And I was like, the water pump pulleys broke. And it was just like, no, I mean, we're done, done. Like I said, we're not done. We're going to get a water pump, we're going to get this fixed, and we're going to get to the finish line, but sorry, you're not going to win this one, right? That was tough, because anyone says, like, oh, yeah, I was leading until this, it's never guaranteed. I just knew that she wasn't going to do anything, you know, to hurt the car and she wasn't going to get us screwed up on the last stop.
[01:01:44.450] - Ryan Miller
It's just one of those things that's out of your control, and it just happened in a wrong time for her. So we hung out there for a while and had some laughs and waited for a water pump to show up because, I mean, she had a pretty good lead. Where we were was on, like I said, that little rocky, narrow two track going up the side of the mountain, which is a pretty sketch spot to be in. There's not really anywhere to pull off to the side. So I had backed up the car because we had no belt, so we had no steering, which is really hard with a rack of the racks. The only car that got by us while we were still up on the mountain after all that was Cameron and Wayne. I had rolled the car back down off of the side of the hill there onto the flat at the edge of the lake bed so that we weren't in a sketchy spot there. And we waited for Shannon to come with a water pump because that's such a far away from Main pit that we had to wait for him to get to Main pit and then drive all the way out to where we were.
[01:02:59.570] - Ryan Miller
It was like an hour and 45 minutes or something. We were sitting out there. Some of the Marines were watching the race. And we went over and talked to them and just checked over the car a couple of times, just waiting and waiting and waiting. And then it came and we threw the water pump on it and poured some water in it and took off. And she picked up right where she was before the water pump issue, and she drove a completely flawless third lap through the rocks, and we got to the finish, but it wasn't the finish that looking for.
[01:03:34.310] - Big Rich Klein
Right. Yeah, she mentioned that. That was a heartbreaker for oh, yeah.
[01:03:41.310] - Ryan Miller
That was a heartbreaker. But I think that also you can tell yourself, I can win this race. I can win this race. But I think that really, like, showed her she could win that race, you know?
[01:03:56.810] - Big Rich Klein
[01:03:57.580] - Ryan Miller
And the following year, she was pregnant with their kid, and I drove her car, and I know that she wanted to be in that car and win that race. When she asked me to drive the car for her, of course I'll drive the car for her, but I was more like, disappointed that her and I weren't going to be able to go win the race.
[01:04:30.310] - Big Rich Klein
Right. So let's talk about you and Kaylee and how I love when Kaylee's competing at the Rebel. And I get texts from you about what's happening scoring wise, because most of the time I'm not watching the scoring or I'm watching the tracking like people at home are, because I'm sitting there waiting to go herd in. Or make sure everybody gets back to camp, but I got to wait till everybody gets past me before I can go start doing that. And I always enjoy your text to me, like, hey, somebody is gone rogue. I won't mention names or numbers, but, you know, it's always funny getting those. What is it like sitting at home and watching your wife on the Internet compete?
[01:05:36.290] - Ryan Miller
I think it takes years off of your life. Her and her group of girlfriends, they go out and practice and help each other. And that just happened this year. She didn't go this year. She was planning on it and then decided not to. But it's very nerve wracking because you don't know what they're doing. You don't know what they're thinking. You're just waiting on them to get to the next checkpoint, and you're like, looking on the tractor of how they get there. When they take a wrong turn, you're like, no, don't go that way. Go the other way. Or the green and the blue checkpoint. Or there's flags out there, but the black ones aren't marked. So when they get really close to it, but they stop not close enough, you're like, no, go further. And you do that 200 times because that's how many checkpoints they have over the course of a week. And it's fun to watch, but you just want them to do so well that every time the trackers moving, you're like, going the right direction.
[01:06:54.660] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, more so the tracker. I watched the scoring myself. That way I know, like, when specific areas are done and we can start pulling flags when the girls have all gone past that and they've got that next green. So all the blues and greens before that can be pulled, that kind of thing. And I don't watch the scoring so much to see who's in the lead just to try to help play quarterback out there with the course team, which we have a really great course team, everybody gets it and we've had basically the same team for seven years now and so it makes it really easy. But watching that scoring really helps in doing that and I can imagine that it must be nerve wracking for the husbands at home watching it.
[01:07:55.400] - Ryan Miller
Oh, yeah, you wear out the refresh button. Refresh, refresh, refresh. But you got to have two screens going because you got to have tracking on one that you're refreshing on and then you got to have the scoring page on the other. When they get closer, you're just hitting refresh to see if they scored it yet. Especially on the I mean, the greens and the blues. It's a set score, so once they get to it, you're like, kind of it's not a gimme per se, because there's trick ones out there, but you're just waiting on the score to populate at that time. But the Blacks, you're like getting refreshed to see like, I hope they didn't click it already because they need to get closer and just waiting to see if that score pops up and how good it is, right?
[01:08:38.080] - Big Rich Klein
And the Blues, where they do the double blues within sight of each other just outside of the scoring rings, the good teams, teams that are really experienced, understand, they don't just go, oh, there's our blue, and assume it's the first one. They know where they're going and they'll drive right to the one that they want. But it's kind of interesting watching the girls that they get to those blues and they're like, okay, now which one is ours? Because it's almost like they forgot where they were supposed to go and they don't have the electronics that we have at home or watching on while we're out there.
[01:09:20.310] - Ryan Miller
[01:09:21.070] - Big Rich Klein
So it's pretty difficult. Everybody thinks it's easy. It is by no way easy at all.
[01:09:28.580] - Ryan Miller
No. I always say, I would love to do that rally because it seems super fun to me, but it's for women only. But I like going out and one of the other ladies that does it, her husband Britain and I, we like to go out and we set practice courses for them, and some of the girls will fly in or drive over from California or whatever and they get a group of them together and have a little weekend and we'll set up a course for them and send them out on their way as if it was a real rally day and equipped with blues near each other. And I'll even stick random flags that aren't anybody's backpoint out there, right? And they're. Like, we saw that and we were like, oh, we're here. And then we're like, wait a minute, we're not here. Are you sure? Well, maybe we should drive a little further up around this corner and see. And then they come around the corner and they see there's another they're like, no, that's the one. Okay. Every now and then I can get them, but most of them are kind of veterans and it's very hard to trick them.
[01:10:50.980] - Ryan Miller
[01:10:51.730] - Big Rich Klein
And now Emily is throwing out different each year they add something different just to not break the monotony, but to throw something into the works that maybe the girls haven't had a chance to practice.
[01:11:06.740] - Ryan Miller
Yeah, it's funny because this year she did check points that you can do in any order on certain days. On certain days, right. Only two. And actually Kaylee and Territory practiced that before.
[01:11:28.560] - Big Rich Klein
[01:11:31.710] - Ryan Miller
The one year that they were in Johnson Valley when it was flooded and they were going to have night checkpoints and they didn't do they had practiced that too. Night checkpoints. What if she does this or what if she does that? It's like just trying to give them what if so they could think through different scenarios. Not that that would be what she does. She could do something totally different, but just to not be the same.
[01:12:00.140] - Big Rich Klein
[01:12:01.260] - Ryan Miller
I would check points where they would have to drive past the current one and then go back. Well, that doesn't make sense because you're twelve is before your eleven. And I'm like, oh, is it? As they're plotting it going down the road this way, the twelve is going to be before the eleven. Okay, yeah.
[01:12:22.720] - Big Rich Klein
[01:12:25.190] - Ryan Miller
Or I would give them one where it's like a super far distance from a green or a blue to a black and then make a green or a blue closer to the black on the opposite side to see who would try to get it just driving straight to it, or who would try to drive straight past it and then backtrack. Like your margin of error is shorter when you're navigating from a closer distance.
[01:12:54.260] - Big Rich Klein
[01:12:55.710] - Ryan Miller
Just to see who does what. Because when I would do stuff like that, some of them would do it straight from the previous one and nail it, and other ones would go straight past and come back and also nail it.
[01:13:10.860] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah. So then let's talk about the flat Fender run.
[01:13:17.020] - Ryan Miller
Oh, the Go Devil run. Yeah.
[01:13:18.310] - Big Rich Klein
Go, Devil run. There you go.
[01:13:20.240] - Ryan Miller
Super fun. And I interviewed Ian because you had asked me about what to ask Ian about.
[01:13:27.580] - Big Rich Klein
[01:13:28.790] - Ryan Miller
Yeah, like I said, going all the way back to my parents property up in the White Mountains. That was like one of the first vehicles I drove as a flat fender. My dad's had them ever since then, so I've always loved them. And right before Alien and I got married, I come across a couple of them for sale. And we were actually getting ready to go up to the White Mountains because her folks also have a place up there. We are going up there to do some wedding planning stuff because that's where we were getting going to get married. And one of her friends messaged her and said, hey, family friend has these Jeeps. They're going to put them for sale. Maybe Ryan knows someone that would be interested in buying them. And I saw him and I was like, yeah, me, I'm interested in buying them. Because one of them was the Jeep that we currently own, the flat fender 46 Willys, and it's a CJ, two A, and they had had it, and it was just kind of wants to run, but it doesn't run. Like we can get it to crank over and it kind of starts and dies and it makes a bunch of noise and it smokes real bad, but it's got a title.
[01:14:59.690] - Ryan Miller
And I went and I looked at it and I bought it and I loaded it on the trailer under its own power. I poured some gas in the carburetor and got it running just long enough to scoot it up onto the trailer real quick. And I took it home and I had it running that next week. The problem was the fuel tank had condensated so much just by sitting for too many years. The fuel was old and it was like a third water.
[01:15:27.890] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, cars don't like to run that way.
[01:15:30.340] - Ryan Miller
Yeah. No, and those things actually have drains on the fuel tanks. I just unscrewed the drain drained to pour new fuel in it, and I've been driving it since we're going up, like I said, to do some wedding planning stuff. So we actually ended up deciding that we would drive that in our wedding. So it was our wedding vehicle. But ever since then, it's just we love it and we love taking it out and driving around. It's super fun because it's not anything that's new and fancy and you can drive down the highway for hours. And it's old and it's pretty just basic everything. But we actually, like I said, have blast doing it. The first Godevil run that Ian did was 2020. And Kaylee went with me. The two of us, little flat fender Jeep with all of our gear for camping.
[01:16:31.560] - Big Rich Klein
And you guys did everything retro, I mean, clothing that you wore, all that kind of stuff. In fact, you guys did everything black.
[01:16:40.960] - Ryan Miller
And white photos take black and white photos. Looks original. Everyone's got a little bit of something done. Different tire sizes are probably the biggest thing, but all of our Jeeps are like, no lifts, no axle swaps, no engine swaps. They're all the original flat head, four cylinder motors, no newer radial tires. They're all the old 600 715 16 bias plies, factory wheels, stuff like that, just to make it look like it's straight out of 1950.
[01:17:26.780] - Big Rich Klein
That's awesome. I hope to do that someday.
[01:17:30.590] - Ryan Miller
Yeah, it is a blast. We actually just owning one, and us, before the first go double run. Anyway, we had one, and we'd be up at the cabin, riding around in it and whatever, and knowing bailey and Brian cross, like, those things seem kind of cool. Whatever. Well, one weekend, they were up north there, too, and I said, swing on by, and we'll go for a cruise through the forest. So Brian at that time had his JL. We had my dad's flat fender and my flat fender and a brand new JL, and we went out cruising through the forest. I kind of convinced him, hey, drive it. See if you like it. Whatever. And he's like, nah, nah, nah. I finally got bailey to ride with me, and Bailey's like, oh, that was so much fun, brian, you got to drive it. You got to drive it, Brian. And he's like, oh, that's so much fun. They left from our place and headed home, and bailey was already texting me, saying, brian has me searching for flattender jeeps now because he wants one. He had bought one, and then he bought his dad art one, too.
[01:18:44.420] - Ryan Miller
And both of them have come on every go devil run, and it's just a blast. Obviously, brian has his own ultra four car, but we've both been in ultra four cars and stuff, 800 doing 100 miles an hour across the desert. But you get these little flat fender jeeps, and we're like, this is the most fun you could have. Like, this is just a blast.
[01:19:08.870] - Big Rich Klein
Right? I used to have a 53 m 38, a one, the old CJ five military. And I had more fun driving that thing with the manual steering. 25. 27 axles. Yeah, I had 31 inch tires started with the those are illegal. They are for the run, yes. But I had moved up to those because I had the armstrong true tracks on there that were like a 30 inch or something. They were like an 11 50 15 or something, and they were so out of round that you couldn't drive it over 40 miles an hour because the thing would just try to shake itself to death. Yeah, I threw some 30 ones on it.
[01:20:00.980] - Ryan Miller
Now, the motor in that thing, eric falar would say that that is what he calls overhead valbery, which is also illegal.
[01:20:10.340] - Big Rich Klein
Well, mine had the odd fire v six buick, so it was really illegal. And an SM 465, so yeah, but it was so much fun.
[01:20:21.810] - Ryan Miller
Now, 40 miles an hour. Most people say you can't go that fast in the stock flat fender, because that's what the internet says.
[01:20:29.460] - Big Rich Klein
Well, we all know how accurate the internet can be. It's like 65 deg steering.
[01:20:35.500] - Ryan Miller
[01:20:36.810] - Big Rich Klein
On a toyota.
[01:20:39.290] - Ryan Miller
[01:20:40.280] - Big Rich Klein
Not physically possible or mathematically.
[01:20:46.340] - Ryan Miller
The best way is you just flip your protractor over. That way, it's a higher number.
[01:20:53.680] - Big Rich Klein
There you go, I always love those when somebody comes on and says something and you come on as the fact checker and go, yeah, no, not really. And then they want to argue.
[01:21:08.240] - Ryan Miller
I posted so many people tag me is the second someone claims they have all these degrees at steering and I'm like, Stop tagging me. But easiest way to increase your steering angle is to claim you have more than you do on the Internet.
[01:21:26.160] - Big Rich Klein
True enough. Let's talk about the future. What's in the future for the Millers?
[01:21:39.740] - Ryan Miller
I'm not really sure. So obviously you brought up the wife doing the Rebel rally and we had a Jeep TJ for the second Rebel rally and she won with that with Terri Lynn, and they did a couple more in it. And we had done Fury Road at Trail Hero a couple of times and we had won in the with that. And we did Nevada Trophy a couple of times. That was real fun. But then we had our baby 16 months ago and that changes things. The TJ really didn't. It's really not a family vehicle, you know? Right. I mean, it can be. The problem is we also have a large dog, too, and we love to take him places, but you can't fit a baby and a 100 pound dog and all your gear and stuff in a TJ. It's a little much to ask, right? When we knew we were going to have a kid, we bought a new JL and that's what Kaylee had rallied with her, Lynn the last time she went. And they won in that. But we sold the TJ to some friends out of Phoenix, I think Mike and Ashley Bradley, right?
[01:23:10.600] - Ryan Miller
And we're just so happy that someone bought it that was going to use it for how it was built. Because, I mean, you've seen that thing many times. It's a sleeper and it's not like a hardcore rock crawler or anything like that. It's just a Jeep that looks like a street Jeep, but it can cruise across the desert pretty good. And also rock crawl, some moderate trails pretty good. It was only on 33 inch tires, but I wheeled it out at Hammers a couple times with Harry, which was funny because he had that little tracker that Jesse Haynes build, you know, on 37. That pretty, pretty cool little rig that could work real well. And some of the guys that were coming on the trail were all in 37 and 39 and 40 inch tire buggies and truggies. And they're looking at me like, harry, is that guy really going to make it? And I'm like, Harry, are you sure you're inviting me on the right run? Like, these folks are a lot more tired than I got and obviously don't give a crap about the body because I had the hard top pull hard doors on it because it's out of the Hammers.
[01:24:30.580] - Ryan Miller
I was like, I don't want to be freezing driving around, and I don't want to have to clean the inside of it when I get home. And he's like, no, you're going to be fine. And we drove up, I think it was Boulder dash, and we get all the way to the top, and we turned around, and he's like, See? I told you you weren't the one to worry about. He's like, they're all down there stuck. But there were some spots where I had to work at it. A little 33 inch tires. That's not the easiest trail, but the thing worked really well. It had lockers front and back and chromolia axle shafts, and at ADF shocks. A couple times we go out to check out the race course on other days of racing, besides the 4400 and Shannon Road with me, and he's like, this thing rides great. I was like, yeah, well, it's built for comfort.
[01:25:25.790] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, and you had that oversized you put an oversized fuel tank or system in it. A spare tank, yeah, I put an.
[01:25:34.970] - Ryan Miller
Extra fuel tank in it because the TJ tank and those 4.0, they're pretty hardy, but they don't get the best fuel mileage for the Rebel. The year that they went kaylee and Terrace said we won, but there was a couple of checkpoints that we skipped because we thought we were going to run out of fuel. And I was like, we can't have that. So I put an extra fuel tank in the back with the whole deck that bolts into the floor, and all your spares are strapped down and everything is fully held in place, so that way stuff doesn't fly around while you're scooting through the desert. But it's five gallons. But it had to be an actual fuel cell, and it had to be plumbed into the factory fuel system. So that's all fully self contained. Because the rally goes through a bunch of they go through the BLM areas, including Johnson Valley. So they have to follow the same rules that, like Dave has to for King of the Hammers, which is for fueling. And King of the Hammers, obviously there's fueling going on, but it has to be in a designated pit location with a tarp.
[01:26:46.490] - Ryan Miller
And they have BLM people out there watching and yada, yada. Well, Emily can't have that on the rally because, like, what are you going to do, set up a designated fueling area for people to fill up that of jerry cans or something, right? And so she just says, how much fuel you have is how much fuel you have. And I was like, we can't have that. So I did all that to give it more range, which it actually helped in the Nevada Trophy event. We did, too. Just that way you didn't have to worry about running out because you can make it as far as anyone else could then, too, right before the TJ, going for every checkpoint would be, you're probably the most handicapped on fuel at that point. Right. But we end up, like I said, selling that. And we're glad that went to someone who's going to use it. I know that they've actually taken it out on some trails out in Florence and just out exploring in the desert. And they love it because we're like, who's going to have so much time and work went into this thing. I tweaked every little thing that I could on it to make it the best it could possibly be because we built it.
[01:28:02.480] - Ryan Miller
We stripped it all the way down to the frame and started there. I cut every bracket off of the frame and rewelded all new brackets that are stronger and skid plated everything and flat bellied it and did everything I could to make it perform as best as possible.
[01:28:19.410] - Big Rich Klein
And you did a good job, there's no doubt about it. When you drove off Highdive that one time when you were with us out of Moab, I was like, all right, I'm impressed.
[01:28:28.880] - Ryan Miller
[01:28:29.320] - Big Rich Klein
Because there's no way I'm driving off the thing and anything. Yes.
[01:28:32.180] - Ryan Miller
You were like, you're going to drive off of Highdive and what looks to be a stock TJ.
[01:28:36.770] - Big Rich Klein
[01:28:38.160] - Ryan Miller
I was like, yeah, this isn't a problem. Now we have our JL. Obviously didn't go as crazy as I did on the TJ, but kind of built it the same as the TJ. It's got a deck that bolts into the back with all of our gear that stays strapped down with a place that you can put the ice chest. And it's got all the spare parts and the tools and fluids and skidplated and ABS shocks and a winch and all that fancy stuff. So we just take that out. And it's a little different with the kids. We've actually taken them out on some trails many times and just have fun with it, with the whole family, you know, we're actually looking into possibly going down. There's an event that we saw in Baja, Mexico. It's like kind of a navigation type rally that goes all the way down to Cabo and all the way back. Wow. So we've been talking to some people about possibly going and doing that just because it'd be super fun. Kaylee's never been to Baja. I've been down there to Race 1000 with the Campbells a couple of times and I love Baja.
[01:29:59.770] - Ryan Miller
I don't know.
[01:30:01.040] - Big Rich Klein
It is awesome. It's the last of the Wild West.
[01:30:04.450] - Ryan Miller
Yeah. And then besides that, we recently got a cab over camper for the truck, and we want to take that out and go camping in some locations for a week or go to a national park or a road trip and just take RJ, our son, with us and go have a good time.
[01:30:28.110] - Big Rich Klein
Excellent. So, last thing, let's talk about your snake bite. You got bit by a rattlesnake here recently. You're the only the second person that I know that's gotten bitten and it's not a pleasant experience.
[01:30:45.590] - Ryan Miller
No, it hurts like real bad. This is the 9th day since I've been bit and it was Monday of last week. I just got home from work and I went into the backyard to pick up there's some brush that we had accumulated while working in the backyard previously. And I went to clean it up. So that way when I left the following day to go to Ultra four Nationals, that Kaylee could take the dog out without having to worry about snakes being underneath there and whatever. Right. Well, go figure. I started picking up the brush and I made it through one pile and I started on the second pile. They're pretty good piles, like large palaverty limbs. And I made it all the way down to two limbs left in the pile. And I picked up the second to last limb and I started to turn to go take it over to load on the trailer. And I just felt like a sharp, like, poke in my leg. And I was like, what? And I turned around and I looked and there was a freaking rattlesnake. And then it turned and took off into my wood pile and I was like, dang it quick, just dropped the branch.
[01:32:18.980] - Ryan Miller
And I went inside and I said, hey, because our wife works at home. And I said, I just got bit by Ralph's neck. And she's like, go get in the car. So we drove down to the hospital and I was in the hospital for three or four days and got three doses of anti venom and got out of the hospital. I couldn't put any weight on it until yesterday, but the bite itself didn't hurt everything after that. It hurt a lot. That first night in the hospital, I didn't sleep. It just I could not get comfortable. They had me on morphine and Vicodin and I was getting the antivenom shot too. And it just doesn't really matter. It just hurts so bad. I could not get comfortable to actually.
[01:33:15.200] - Big Rich Klein
Sleep right, because that venom attacks the muscle.
[01:33:19.860] - Ryan Miller
Yeah. And I was very bummed because I was missing out on Ultra four Nationals then. I didn't want to let Bailey down. That didn't work out very well for me.
[01:33:35.630] - Big Rich Klein
[01:33:36.110] - Ryan Miller
But I know that she was looking forward to the last race of the year and that it was going to be lots of rocks because both of us love those types of courses more than like, short course. But Brian jumped in with her and she did good, so I was very happy with that. But I was still bumped in general that I wasn't even I wanted to try to get out of the hospital and at least be there to support.
[01:34:05.230] - Big Rich Klein
Her and that wasn't going to happen.
[01:34:07.990] - Ryan Miller
No. I got out of the hospital Thursday evening and like I said, I couldn't even walk until yesterday. Yesterday was the first time I could put my foot down on the ground. I still can't really walk. I can hobble around. Well, I don't recommend it. It sucks.
[01:34:31.260] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah. So you're going to be a lot more careful now when you're moving brush files.
[01:34:36.960] - Ryan Miller
I'm always pretty careful, but I couldn't really see him at all. He was curled up on Monday. It was pretty cool. It was like one of the last days where it was like, warm in the middle of the day and then that was it. So that's when they're on their last moves before they go into hibernation is when it's just barely warm in the middle of the day.
[01:35:04.180] - Big Rich Klein
[01:35:08.090] - Ryan Miller
These pallidity branches were huge, so I'm pretty sure I stepped forward closer to where it was at after I picked up that second branch because it was so heavy. And I know you know about the desert. Everything pokes you. So those palliativeities have a million little sharp ends on them and when they're grown out, they're hard to see through. It's not like you can just see through it even though there's not really any leaves on them.
[01:35:37.450] - Big Rich Klein
[01:35:37.790] - Ryan Miller
So, yes, he was underneath there and snuck out and bit me in the ankle.
[01:35:42.380] - Big Rich Klein
It's one of the things I've always been careful about, especially with anything that we've done in the South Central or Southwest, is rattlesnakes. A couple of years ago, I was setting up early in the morning. It was about 615, 06:00 in the morning, and at Mason at K Two, and there was a spot that I'd already decided I was going to put a cone, bonus cone at. And so I climbed up on the rock, reached the cone up there, and then needed to position it just right and measure it. And so I set the cone up and then I got up all the way up there and I'd put my hand about six, eight inches away from a snake that was trying to warm itself. And luckily it was still early in the morning and I backed off and went, oh, shit, and ran to get my pistol because I carry a 357 with snake shot in it. But I didn't have it on me. It was in the jeep. By the time I came back, the snake probably realized, oh, and he took off. But it was the closest call for me. But luckily it was early in the morning and the snake wasn't very active at that point because it was still cold.
[01:36:58.190] - Ryan Miller
Yeah, when it's cold, they're a little slow.
[01:37:01.720] - Big Rich Klein
Yes. But you got to be careful.
[01:37:06.290] - Ryan Miller
[01:37:07.220] - Big Rich Klein
All the events that we've done at Congress and Baghdad and Tucson, it doesn't matter how clean an area seems to be, they'll find a spot.
[01:37:18.510] - Ryan Miller
Yes. Our backyard is pretty. When we moved in, it's an acre and it's desert, so there was a lot of just overgrown cactus and stuff like that. I spent about two months cleaning the whole yard where you can walk out the back door. And, yes, there's trees, and I left cactus and stuff everywhere, but it's just real clean on the ground where you can see the whole ground across the whole yard. Right. I mean, it doesn't mean that they're not there. I've still seen them over the years, but it makes it easier to see them.
[01:37:51.950] - Big Rich Klein
Correct. And that's the whole idea. Well, Ryan, thank you so much for coming on board and sharing your life and stories with us. I really appreciate it. I've appreciated your friendship over the years. You've been one of those guys. It's just a solid dude, and you're unflappable. I mean, everybody jokes with you, and you always have a smile on your face. I've never seen you get upset. I'm sure there's been a time that you have, but I've never seen it. And you always got that little chuckle like you just did. And you're just one of those guys. It's fun to be around. So thank you.
[01:38:35.240] - Ryan Miller
Yeah. Thank you, Rich.
[01:38:37.410] - Big Rich Klein
And say hello to Kayleigh for me, and we'll catch up here soon.
[01:38:43.790] - Ryan Miller
Yes, we'll see you, I'm sure.
[01:38:45.340] - Big Rich Klein
Okay, you take care. All right, thank you. Bye 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 happened 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, live life to the fullest. Enjoying life is a must. Follow your dreams and live life with all the gusto. Thank you.