Mr. 4th Place, Dave Wong, has shaken off that title to become a champion trail breaker. Dave shares his history in California and now Utah. Listen in to one of the kindest men in rockcrawling on your favorite podcast app.
7:42 – There was a lot of chocolate pudding I put down as a kid
18:51 – there’s so many stories I have about my dad, his heart was always in the right place for the kids
30:11 – I couldn’t ever leave any vehicle alone
43:51 – Just take her for a ride in your car
51:50 – I always wanted to compete, but I never thought I was capable
1:05:47 – she’s been trapped in the laundry room – “didn’t you hear me banging?”
1:09:10 – whatever you do and whatever I do, I’m going to be fourth place
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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 a job. I talk to competitive teams, racers, rock crawlers, business owners and employees, media and private park owners, men and women who have found their way into this exciting and addictive lifestyle. We discuss their personal history, struggles, successes, and reboots. We dive into what drives them to stay active and offroad. We all hope to shed some light on how to find a path into this world we live and love and call offroad.
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[00:01:47.160] - Big Rich Klein
on today's episode of conversations with big rich, we have Dave Wong. Dave is a trail breaker winner at Trail Hero. He's unlimited driver in WeRock, has quite a few podiums. He's also the runner up this year of the Texas Top Gun Shootout, which was a first time event at K2 in Mason, Texas. And he's in ex Californian that made the trek to southern Utah. Dave, it's really good to have you on the air and talking to you about your history.
[00:02:18.480] - Dave Wong
Well, thanks for having me, Big Rich. It's an honor. I've listened to a lot of your podcasts. There's a lot of really good people on there. I'm honored to be on here.
[00:02:30.450] - Big Rich Klein
Well, you deserve it. So let's get started and jump right in on where were you born and raised?
[00:02:40.120] - Dave Wong
Well, not too far from where you were. I was born in Fairfield. Fairfield, just north of you. That North Bay area out in California. And then we moved to Livermore when I was really young, and then we moved to Pleasanton when I was four. So we did a lot of moving around. And then when I was eight, my dad moved our family up to Sonora, California, up in the gold country.
[00:03:04.400] - Big Rich Klein
And what was the reason for moving? Was he military or did the job do it?
[00:03:11.600] - Dave Wong
So my dad was a teacher, actually, he was a math teacher. And his passion was coaching basketball. When I was born, I think the first week I was alive, I went to a basketball game. Of course, I don't remember it. It's just what I hear.
[00:03:26.790] - Big Rich Klein
[00:03:28.280] - Dave Wong
But my dad, he grew up in San Francisco, in Hunter's Point, which is not the best area.
[00:03:35.320] - Big Rich Klein
[00:03:36.300] - Dave Wong
And he wanted to raise my sister and I and somewhere a little more wholesome and safer. So he went to a wedding up there in Sonora and fell in love with it up there. So he said, that's where we're going.
[00:03:51.380] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, it's a real nice area. It's part of that highway 49, golden chain of cities. Columbia, Sonora, jackson Placerville, auburn Grass Valley, Nevada City. It really is a nice location.
[00:04:11.860] - Dave Wong
Yeah, it was a good place to grow up there in the foothills of the Sierras there.
[00:04:16.470] - Big Rich Klein
Right. That was Pleasanton made the move. That was about the time you started school. Or was it Sonora, where you started school?
[00:04:27.160] - Dave Wong
So I started school in Pleasanton, and then funny thing for people that know the Bay Area, when we moved to Pleasanton, wasn't going to date me a little bit, too. But Pleasanton had one stoplight.
[00:04:39.450] - Big Rich Klein
[00:04:40.880] - Dave Wong
Yeah. So I started school there. We still walk to school, and parents didn't worry too much. There was a huge park across from our little neighborhood, and that's gone. It's all houses now.
[00:04:58.100] - Big Rich Klein
That's too bad that they removed parks to build houses.
[00:05:02.420] - Dave Wong
Yeah, I think there may be still a small park in that area, but it was huge when we were there.
[00:05:10.060] - Big Rich Klein
[00:05:10.680] - Dave Wong
Of course. Maybe it's perspective. I was a lot smaller then.
[00:05:14.440] - Big Rich Klein
There's a lot to be said for that. There's a town called Woonsocket, South Dakota, and my grandfather grew up there, and they had a little hotel in a Main Street square, and there was a pond in the middle of the square. Lake, I would say, but I was there. Oh, God. It was before I started driving, but not quite right. At the beginning of my teens, I think it was. But I remember that lake being big, and Shelley and I drove through there a couple of years ago, and I was like, okay, they must have filled in the lake, because if it was an acre, I'm giving it credit where credit wasn't due. So, yeah, it is perspective. Absolutely. So then Pleasanton, you started school there. Dad was a math teacher and basketball coach. Did mom work?
[00:06:18.940] - Dave Wong
Mom didn't work. When we moved to Sonora, their friends that went to their wedding, they told my parents about a restaurant that was for sale, and above the restaurant was the house. So they told my dad, you can buy this restaurant. You have a place to live. You have a business. So that's what they did. They bought that restaurant. It was called Scandias Mortgage Board. It was actually in Sugar Pine, just above Twain Hart, which was above Sonora.
[00:06:47.180] - Big Rich Klein
[00:06:48.120] - Dave Wong
And so we lived above the restaurant. My mom ran the restaurant, and shortly after that, my dad started coaching at the high school in Tuolumi, Somerville, and then he became a counselor there.
[00:07:01.040] - Big Rich Klein
Okay, so your mom became a housewife to restaurant owner.
[00:07:07.820] - Dave Wong
Yeah, she ran the restaurant also cooked, and it was a smorgasbord. So my sister and I, anytime we were hungry, we could just go hop in line and we never went hungry, that's for sure.
[00:07:23.750] - Big Rich Klein
I guess not. Smorgasbord.
[00:07:25.700] - Dave Wong
[00:07:26.470] - Big Rich Klein
Man, I'm glad I didn't have that as a kid. God knows how big I'd be.
[00:07:34.980] - Dave Wong
Yeah, I don't know. I guess it's the genes. I think a lot of it's just genes.
[00:07:40.340] - Big Rich Klein
I do. I agree, too.
[00:07:42.200] - Dave Wong
There was a lot of chocolate pudding that I put down as a kid because that was one of the desserts.
[00:07:47.420] - Big Rich Klein
A lot of chocolate pudding. That's awesome. So then that area is pretty rural. It's not a lot of the neighborhoods are kind of small. Everything's built into the canyons. Just like here in Placerville, pretty much. What was it like growing up in that area?
[00:08:05.680] - Dave Wong
I liked it. I think it was a great place to grow up. When we bought that restaurant that people don't it before their son raced dirt bikes. So there was a dirt bike track behind the restaurant because it was just open land behind there.
[00:08:18.100] - Big Rich Klein
[00:08:19.000] - Dave Wong
So I had a huge parking lot to play around in. When the restaurant wasn't open or was slow, I had that dirt bike track behind us. And then as I got into dirt bikes more, I could jump across the highway, hit the railroad bed, and just go for miles. And as a parent now, I don't know how my mom ever put up with it because I'd be gone all day on a dirt bike. She wouldn't know if I was dead or alive because she couldn't check on me.
[00:08:52.000] - Big Rich Klein
I think things were so much different back then. Growing up, my parents both worked out of the house, I think from at least about the time I was six or seven. Mom was working in San Francisco, dad was doing the same thing. And as long as I was home when they got home, or I had my chores done when they got home, it didn't matter. As soon as it started getting dark, there was always a set time for dinner, so you came home for that. But on the weekends, it didn't even matter if you weren't there for dinner. You didn't eat or you had to warm something up. But there wasn't any fear. I never feared about getting kidnapped. Everybody gets into injuries and stuff like that, but those things that parents fear nowadays weren't there.
[00:09:57.620] - Dave Wong
Yeah, I think times change. They will continue to do that.
[00:10:03.300] - Big Rich Klein
Right. And now that we can monitor kids, it's so much easier for us to do that as parents, or even my parents, since we're staying with my parents. We have this thing, Life 360 that.
[00:10:18.830] - Dave Wong
We have, so okay.
[00:10:20.200] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, we have my mom on it. So that and we started that when we weren't here after she had her congestive heart failure. So we keep an eye on where she was at and what was happening, and we still have it. So now she follows us the whole rest of the year. It was like, okay, what are you doing there? We tried to sneak up on her one time and come back to visit, and she was all of a sudden I get a message, what are you doing in Nevada? Because we had been in Texas or something, and it was just kind of funny that she's watching us as adults where when we were kids, that never happened.
[00:11:02.520] - Dave Wong
Yeah, I'm sure part of that. You're always going to be her kid.
[00:11:07.230] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, probably. So then you started riding motorcycles. That's your first foray into off road. Did you ride bicycles before the motorcycle?
[00:11:21.680] - Dave Wong
Yeah, of course. BMX bikes were real popular. When I was a kid. We went out, hand me down, go cart from one of my dad's buddies. When we moved there, I was eight. I probably didn't get a dirt bike until I was ten or eleven, so it took me a couple of years of working on my mom so I could get one because she was against it.
[00:11:47.960] - Big Rich Klein
Mother's always against motorcycles.
[00:11:50.520] - Dave Wong
I can't blame her. It's easy to get hurt on them, but I don't know, boys will be boys, and you're going to have to learn by falling down, you know, whether it's running or whatever.
[00:12:02.460] - Big Rich Klein
[00:12:03.870] - Dave Wong
So but, yeah, I got my first dirt bike was just an RM 50, and it was kind of the beginning of my parents realizing how I was going to be because I brand new RM 50, big deal. A lot of money for my folks to spend on me on something they don't know. Next week I will be into something else. I rode it for a while and then I was learning how to take care of it and clean it and air filters and what have you. But my dad had a little tiny shop down by the well. It was the well house is what it was, but had a little shop there with his tools. I took my dirt bike in there one time and tore it all the way down to the frame. And my dad came walking in because I had been around for a while.
[00:12:51.580] - Big Rich Klein
And it wasn't broken.
[00:12:54.220] - Dave Wong
It wasn't broken. I just tore it down to see how everything worked. And he came in and you could see the disgust on his face and all he could say was, I hope you know how to put it together. And he walked out and being a parent now, I get it, but at the time I was like, I thought, this is what you do. I've just seen how it worked and trying to make it as good as possible, take care of it.
[00:13:25.350] - Big Rich Klein
Was your dad mechanical?
[00:13:28.280] - Dave Wong
Well, that's the other thing. He wasn't very mechanical well, I shouldn't say that he was fairly mechanical, but I don't think he's definitely not as much as I am. Just he didn't have the interest. He'd have a hobby. Like, he'd rebuilt the Austin Healey. He rebuilt the motor with one of the neighbors. One of our neighbors was very mechanical, so one of the motors in one of our trucks blew up and they rebuilt it. Old Ford F 100. So I think he was handy enough, but it wasn't like he was a mechanic.
[00:14:03.360] - Big Rich Klein
Okay, but he had tools. He had tools, and that to a kid, mostly male kids. I know girls do it, too. Don't everybody start sending me messages. But typically, the male child is the one that has to open that toolbox and figure out how to use all them tools, figure out where everything goes. I get it.
[00:14:34.910] - Dave Wong
Yeah. I remember my dad used to take care of the cars themselves to service some change oil and stuff, and I think that's probably what started to get me interested in that.
[00:14:44.910] - Big Rich Klein
Right. So at any point, did your dad start helping you put the bike back together, or was it all on you?
[00:14:52.740] - Dave Wong
It was all on me, and I think he was proving a point. I'm not sure if he thought I could do it or not, but either way, he was going to prove a point.
[00:15:05.240] - Big Rich Klein
If you start it, you're finishing it.
[00:15:07.720] - Dave Wong
[00:15:09.080] - Big Rich Klein
That's a good lesson right there.
[00:15:11.400] - Dave Wong
Yeah. Well, my dad, he was a counselor at the high school I went to, too, so he'd been around teenagers his whole life. As a teacher, he was 14 steps ahead of me all the time. Whenever I thought I was getting away with something or anything that was going on in my life, he already was way ahead of me. Of course, as a kid, you think you're outsmarting your parents sometimes?
[00:15:38.400] - Big Rich Klein
[00:15:40.000] - Dave Wong
It wasn't happening. He was just letting me think I was outsmarting.
[00:15:46.820] - Big Rich Klein
That's good, because I don't think I let my kids get away with it. But I just wanted him to let him know that, hey, my line to him was, you can't bullshit a bullshitter. And you know my son anyway.
[00:16:03.500] - Dave Wong
[00:16:04.120] - Big Rich Klein
So let's talk about school. He was at the high school. So you didn't catch up to him until high school, then, right?
[00:16:14.620] - Dave Wong
Right. Yeah. I went to Twin Hart elementary. Played a little bit of sports, not a lot. Basketball, of course. And then high school, there's two counselors. Our high school had four grades, 9th through 12th.
[00:16:32.430] - Big Rich Klein
[00:16:33.040] - Dave Wong
So they both took, like, one counselor at 9th grade and 11th grade. The other one had 10th and 12th grade, and then they would stay with that class all the way through. So I had the other counselor just by chance. It could go either way, having your dad be a counselor. He's the one doing discipline. People could really hate you because they don't like your dad. But most of the people like my dad, athletes like my dad, he was there for the kids and even the bad kids that he was disciplining. He was real fair. So no one ever gave me a bad time, really, which was nice for me, because it could have went either way.
[00:17:21.200] - Big Rich Klein
I get it. My dad was a no nonsense kind of guy. And I can remember there was some kids that I went to school with. I think I was in 7th grade or 8th grade, and these two boys were a year ahead of me, and they were kind of troublemakers, meaning they were always into getting into shit. And I can remember something happened right out in front of our house. I think they broke a bottle or something, and my dad forced him to clean it up. And I'm there in the garage and driveway working on my Volkswagen I had gotten. And all I could think about is, man, those guys are going to kick my ass. The next day at school or whenever they saw me alone, because that's the kind of guys they were. Well, they argued with my dad. Well, we'll just have our dad come over and tell you what it's all about. My dad says, Send them, but you're cleaning up this damn glass. He made him clean up the glass. And the next time I saw those kids, I thought, okay, here comes but I wasn't going to run away or anything.
[00:18:39.180] - Big Rich Klein
Take it. And they came up and goes, your dad's kind of a jerk, but he's a good guy. And it was like, wow, how did that happen?
[00:18:51.520] - Dave Wong
Yeah. There's so many stories that I have, and some of them I heard after the fact. When I run into people when I was 30 years old, they'd tell me a story about my dad, and he would do things like kids would get a detention. And he'd tell the kid, hey, you can go sit in the library for an hour and do school work, or you can go up in front of the gym, the lawn there, clean up all the garbage. And when you're done, you're done. It might take him 15 or 20 minutes, but my dad saw it as he did something disciplinary, and he got a school clean, right? It was a win win. And then I remember one day, kids came running to him. There's a fight. These two guys are in a fight, and he come stop him. My dad always had a cup of coffee, and he tells the guy, all right, yeah. He starts walking, and they're like, what are you doing? Come on, we got to go stop him. He's like, well, I don't want to be there too fast. They'll be all full energy. Let him get worn out first.
[00:19:56.820] - Dave Wong
He'd walk over there. His heart was always in the right place for the kids.
[00:20:06.600] - Big Rich Klein
So he was a good role model for you.
[00:20:10.360] - Dave Wong
Yeah. And a lot of those things about your parents, you don't realize till later, right. Because they're disciplining you and you're pushing back. And one of those things for years, I kept hearing stories. Well, one of the ones when I was going to tell you about when I was 32, the basketball players got thrown in jail one night, screwing around. I don't even know what they're doing, but I remember my dad leaving in the middle of the night. I didn't know what it was. Well, they told me years later they came. My dad went down and bailed him out, and he asked the guy, hey, why don't you call your mom? His his mom was a single parent, and he said, there's no way I was going to call my mom. She would kick my butt. So I called you. So my dad went and got him and took him home. That's all I know about the story. They didn't tell me anything else, but I have a lot of respect for my dad, which you don't always have when you're growing up.
[00:21:07.530] - Big Rich Klein
[00:21:08.290] - Dave Wong
But as you get older and you see things in a different view, it's pretty cool. And it's pretty cool. I see these teams jumping ahead just a little bit.
[00:21:18.350] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, no worries.
[00:21:19.500] - Dave Wong
The parents spotting their kids at these wee rocks and stuff. And the family event that it's become is really cool. And it may have always been that way, but what I've seen lately is just really cool to see that family out there working together. And I'll tell you what, I couldn't probably work with my parents when I was that age. I know I couldn't, but it's neat to see.
[00:21:45.400] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, I agree. I really like that aspect in the rock crawling. And even though we ran racing, the rock racing as well, under Dirt Riot, the two are so much different, not just in the styles of what's happening, but also the way the event is run, where with rock crawling, you're always together. You're not maybe miles apart or in your pit working right up to the time that the race is. And then during the race, and right after the race, there's so much more time spent with the other families. And I think that's one reason that people feel comfortable bringing their kids, and especially how many girls that the dads have out there doing it. It's pretty dang cool.
[00:22:46.540] - Dave Wong
It is cool.
[00:22:48.460] - Big Rich Klein
Some stick around, some don't, but at least the parents are giving them the opportunity to come out and give it a try. Typically, the parents more into the offroad than the kid is. Very rarely is it the kid shows up with a Jeep and says, dad, you need to take me out. I think McKenzie was that way. I don't think that they wheeled before that. I'm not sure. But I remember hearing the story that she got a Jeep, talked her dad into, hey, I want to compete, and then they showed up. And it's really awesome that families are able to do that. I think it's important.
[00:23:29.400] - Dave Wong
Yeah. McKenzie and her dad. McKenzie really wanted to go pro. I think it might have been her second or third year. And the parents came to me and said, what do you think? And I know, as the conversation went on, I figured out that the parents wanted me to say, it's probably not a good idea, but I told them, yes, 100%. If she wants to go for it, you should go for it. And the parents, the mom especially, looked at me like, serious. You're just going to sell us out like that? And that's what I realized. I'm like, oh, you wanted me to be the voice of dreamston.
[00:24:11.630] - Big Rich Klein
[00:24:12.210] - Dave Wong
But I'm here being a cheerleader.
[00:24:15.020] - Big Rich Klein
Exactly. Because I think that's our job with other kids. When Rich was small, I coached his football teams. He played baseball for a while. I never played baseball, organized baseball, so there was no way I was going to get into coaching on that or basketball. But football was a different story. I love that sport, that youth age. There weren't very many parents involved, and if they were, I think they were involved wrongly. They didn't have the encouragement. And I think that with the rock crawling, that the encouragement that everybody gives to each other is incredible. The sports parents are typically so self involved with their own child that their child should be the starting quarterback or the star running back, or the picture, the forward, the guy that should always have the ball and be doing everything that they don't see where their own child actually places in that hierarchy. And I think that's completely different when it's an individual sport, which in school doesn't happen a lot of school age kids, unless it's like cross country track or swimming, maybe, because everything else is team sports.
[00:25:53.540] - Dave Wong
[00:25:54.840] - Big Rich Klein
And not everybody thrives in team sports.
[00:25:59.000] - Dave Wong
Yeah. And the competition becomes amongst each other, which is unfortunate.
[00:26:03.920] - Big Rich Klein
[00:26:04.410] - Dave Wong
You're supposed to be a team.
[00:26:06.540] - Big Rich Klein
Right. And that can be difficult. I didn't understand it until I started coaching. The dynamics of dealing with all the kids at once, and you still want to give them the opportunity to win. But I guess with the youth sports before high school, it's a lot easier to give everybody a chance in most times. I mean, I've seen some teams that won't play their extra players except for the three downs, like at Pop Warner, three or four downs that they have to play. They just don't get playing time because they're not the best player. And that win at all cost is in young sports. I think it's important, but I don't think the win at all cost is important. I don't believe in playing soccer without a ball. Like, I've heard some places we're doing.
[00:27:08.880] - Dave Wong
[00:27:09.540] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah. I heard that a few years ago that some youth soccer league. They actually were playing soccer without a ball. And I don't understand that. I mean, that's just like MMA. Then they're out there kicking each other or whatever.
[00:27:25.830] - Dave Wong
I don't know.
[00:27:26.390] - Big Rich Klein
[00:27:28.000] - Dave Wong
To me, it was kind of sounds like practice.
[00:27:30.100] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah. You said you played a little bit of sports. Was that all the way through school then? High school included.
[00:27:40.850] - Dave Wong
I did play a little soccer in elementary school and basketball. Played basketball in high school. I know I'm not built for basketball. I'm 5657. I always tell everyone five seven, but I don't think it's been quite five seven.
[00:27:57.100] - Big Rich Klein
I didn't realize we were that short.
[00:28:00.560] - Dave Wong
I'm just barely taller than Jeff McKinley.
[00:28:04.160] - Big Rich Klein
You carry yourself well.
[00:28:07.440] - Dave Wong
I don't know. Maybe I've been putting on the high heels around here or something. I'm pretty sure. But I've always loved basketball. And then I played golf in high school, too, for a little bit, which I wish I played more, because that's something you can do your whole life, basketball. I played until my 40s. I'd still go to the gym and play pickup games, but I can't do any more. It's too hard on my legs and my knees.
[00:28:37.960] - Big Rich Klein
Right. That's what happens with age.
[00:28:41.900] - Dave Wong
Yeah. I can't count how many times I've rolled my ankle. I can roll it on an extension cord now, walking across the shop. So loose.
[00:28:51.850] - Big Rich Klein
[00:28:54.400] - Dave Wong
So, yeah, I played some sports, but I've always been into vehicles. Like, once I turned 16, I got off dirt bikes and got into cars. Started working and started with cars.
[00:29:10.240] - Big Rich Klein
What was your first car?
[00:29:11.860] - Dave Wong
So my first vehicle was 76 Dots and pick up. My uncle gave me, I guess I was 16. I learned to drive in my parents 78 Bronco, which now with all the popularity of Broncos, which we still had.
[00:29:30.220] - Big Rich Klein
[00:29:32.780] - Dave Wong
But that was a cool vehicle. And that was really my first vehicle I went offroading in. We take it up to Lions Lake in the winter. They would lower the lake, and there was the mud flats, so everyone would go out there, or we'd go up to the snow, depending on what was going on. But I would ask my dad to take the Bronco and go see my friends or whatever, and then I would split out and go wheeling with them all. My dad probably knew, but I thought he didn't know.
[00:30:08.760] - Big Rich Klein
[00:30:11.640] - Dave Wong
We'd spend so much money at the car wash after the mud flats, trying to get the Bronco to not look like it was ever in the mud, but it's still worth it. It was so fun. One time out the Mud flats, there was these tree stumps because they'd cut down all the trees when they built the lake. Well, I didn't see one. I ran right into it, bent the tie rod, bent the drag link, didn't know it. And about a month later, my dad noticed the tires were wearing funny, so he took it in to see what's going on with the Bronco. The guy showed him tie rod spent, drag link spent, you know, was it in a wreck or what's going on? So my dad asked me. I just played dumb, I don't know. So I don't know how that happened, but of course I coughed it up later. Once I was living on my own. Had to clear my conscience.
[00:31:14.080] - Big Rich Klein
There you go.
[00:31:17.900] - Dave Wong
That was my first spell of four wheelin. And then I got that my own truck, which was 84. I started driving, so it was a 76 Dolphin pickup. And then I couldn't ever leave any vehicle alone. So that was my first experience with many trucks. Found some other guys with many trucks and we lowered it, put a stereo in it and I did that to every vehicle I ever had. Couldn't leave anything alone. Was going to be lifted or lowered or what have you.
[00:32:00.300] - Big Rich Klein
How did you afford to do that? Were you working while you went to school or was it just saving allowance or odd jobs?
[00:32:10.640] - Dave Wong
I've always been driven by stuff I wanted, so I always wanted to work because I needed money to get the stuff I wanted. So I started like my mom. She's put up with a lot with me because I was always honored for something. Like I wanted a dirt bike. Well, they always had high school kids doing the dishes at the restaurant. So once I got my dirt bike, I was all over it at work. So I'd get money. And I wasn't old enough, I couldn't even reach into the sink to clean the pots and pans. But when I was twelve, she put me to work doing dishes. So I got to keep half of whatever I made. The other half went into savings. And then when I turned 16, I went and got a job at a sandwich shop in town called the Velvet Creamery with a small chain of ice cream parlor, sandwich shops, and the lady manager there. When I went in when I was 16, I was 411. When I was 16, wow, really short. I had to sit on a pillow to do driver's training, which was a whole other story because the girl was a year ahead of me that I was doing driver's training with.
[00:33:26.280] - Dave Wong
Really good looking girl. And here I come with my pillow, ready to drive, real Studs. The lady didn't believe how old I was, so I had to prove it to her. And I kept going back till she hired me at that sandwich shop. And then by the end of high school, I was the assistant manager there. I was just really driven to work. I was driven to work because I wanted trucks and what have you.
[00:34:06.420] - Big Rich Klein
So then you're working at Snow Shop through high school. Did you continue working there after high school?
[00:34:14.680] - Dave Wong
No, after high school I went up to Chico State, up. In Chico, and my dad was a counselor. So school was the way. That's what got him his career. But I was not a student. I was smart enough in high school to just kind of skate by in college. Quickly learned you have to try a little bit harder. And I wasn't really willing to try harder, but I was still working up there. I got a job at the body shop down the road from where we were living, and I got a job in the evenings at Holiday Inn doing room service. And the body shop was really cool because he painted funny cars. And the funny cars I just thought was cool. Big flashy paint jobs on these things. But my job and another college student, we color sanded all day long on these funny cars. We had no fingerprints from color sanding all day. And I quickly realized it's not as fun as I thought it would be, right? And then the guy down the way was friends with him. He had a window tint shop, tent cars, and he came down and asked us, hey, you guys have any friends who want to do window tending to let a guy go?
[00:35:44.820] - Dave Wong
And I immediately raised my hand and said, I'd like to try it because I was done with color standing cars, right? So Jim Kojak was his name, and he hired me. And for the people that know, I've been window tending ever since. So I tell people that's what I learned at Chico State. Window tending.
[00:36:07.620] - Big Rich Klein
Well, that's good because most people, I think, that went to Chico. I hate to say this, it's kind of like Santa Barbara. When you go to colleges there, you end up majoring in party.
[00:36:21.770] - Dave Wong
Yeah, I did a little bit of that. It was near the time where the riots were. The riots were actually the year before I got there at Chico. And then the second year I was up there, they had the riots again. And it was one block from where we lived. We were there when it started, and the cops came in from both ends of the block. They trapped everybody, which was a terrible idea. And it was just a big college party. It wasn't really a riot until the cops got there, but they wanted to shut it down, understandably? Luckily, we knew how to get through the fence onto the next block where we lived. So once the cops showed up, we went home real quick. There was a lot of that up there still when I was there. But one of the other things that was really cool about up there was the cook at the Holiday Inn. Taught me to salmon fish in the river there, But Creek. So those are the highlights of my college career growing up, obviously. But learning to window tenant get a career and doing some salmon fishing with this Japanese cook, it was just took me under his wing and saw a kid that was trying to grow up.
[00:37:40.520] - Big Rich Klein
That's pretty cool.
[00:37:42.200] - Dave Wong
Yeah. It was a quick two years at Chico State. Then they said, you can't come back.
[00:37:51.660] - Big Rich Klein
Chico said that?
[00:37:53.500] - Dave Wong
Yeah. But I didn't have the grades to continue on because I could be talked out of going to class really easily.
[00:38:02.840] - Big Rich Klein
Right. I understand that one. That's for sure. So then after Chico, did you move back to Sonora?
[00:38:13.060] - Dave Wong
I did move back to Sonora and started working. Met another guy, very influential in my life. He hired me at a pest control place, of all places, and his name is Don Wolf. And I continued window tinting just out of my dad's garage and working at the pest control place for dawn. It's Clark Pest Control, which is another pretty big chain out in California.
[00:38:44.950] - Big Rich Klein
[00:38:47.020] - Dave Wong
But as time went on, don went and bought his own pest control company. And I started just doing more window tinning. My dad said, hey, there's too many people I don't know in my house. Well, it's fair enough. He's like to do something, get a shop or whatever. And I was pretty worried. So I was talking to Don about it because he went on into business on his own and the overhead and I don't want to fail and don't want to be caught in a lease or something. So Don said, hey, come rent part of my shop for me. $300 a month covers everything. You can walk away anytime you want. So I spent five years rent from him and building my window tent business, having him as a mentor. He's about five years older than me, I think he really was. You meet a lot of people through your life, you realize they're very influential and you don't even know it at the time. But he really helped give me some direction and get me headed on my way. So I continued to window tent. And then being into trucks and stuff, we want to lift our trucks, wheels, tires, all that.
[00:39:59.690] - Dave Wong
My buddies were like, we need to figure out a cheaper way than we don't even have to drive an hour to get our trucks lifted or anything. I said, Well, I have a business. I wonder if I get a wholesale account with somebody called Trans American and the wholesale truck accessories and use my window temp business as the COVID And they gave me a wholesale account. We started fixing up our own trucks, and then pretty soon we're fixing up other people's trucks. And my window tent business started expanding. Over the years. We went from window tent to truck accessories. We did detailing for a while. Good friend of mine, Nate Larson, had a sterile shop in town. He got a better job offer for one of the companies. So I bought his car stereo business and added it. So over 27 years, we just kept growing the business and paying for paying for stuff like we were talking about earlier.
[00:41:03.800] - Big Rich Klein
So the motivation was the same.
[00:41:06.360] - Dave Wong
Yeah, always was. There was always some care that I wanted, whether it was I was into Harleys for a while. We built Harleys also for a while with Don. Wolf was into Harleys when I started renting from him, and I thought, well, those look cool. So I started building those for a while. But I don't know, we're kind of all over the place. But it was pretty much anything that I was into became something that we were doing for money.
[00:41:41.540] - Big Rich Klein
Well, that's good. If you can take a passion and even if your passions change, you can make a living doing that. It's phenomenal. I mean, that's what I did with the rock crawling. I really enjoyed being around the events. Even though I like trail wheeling, it was being around the events and just everything that was going on, that competition scene. And so when I moved back to California, I knew exactly what I was going to do. But when did you meet your wife?
[00:42:19.120] - Dave Wong
My wife, let's see, it was after I was rock crawling. So the lineage is that I was building Harley for a little while and then I bought 85 foreigners to flip so I could build a custom Harley for myself, just make a couple of bucks and then had a customer come in and say, hey, those four runners do awesome on the Rubicon. I was like, what's that? What's the rubicon? He's like, well, we go rock crawling up there and I'm like, what's that? I had no idea. We're talking late 90s. So ended up not selling that Fourunner, fixed it up to be a rock crawler and never built another Harley. And then we were wheeling. Years after that, I'd had my first tube buggy. I built a little two seat rear steer. Well, it's big compared to the two seat cars now, but it was rear steer buggy, and me and my buddies would go wheel all the time and it was probably the most capable rig out of my group of friends. So we were at Moon Rocks and I had taken my buddy Nate Larson, had the stairs shop with me. And one of my friend's wife brought her sister over and said, hey, can you give Jen a ride?
[00:43:51.420] - Dave Wong
She's never been rock crawling before. Just take her for a ride in your car, that'd be cool. And so I looked at Jen and she looked not super excited. She felt like, she doesn't know me. And Jamie, her sister, is just throwing her in someone's car. And I said, well, if she wants to go, that's fine, I'll take her. She doesn't want to, that's fine. And she was being nice too. She's like, well, if you don't want me, that's fine. We did that back and forth for seemed like five minutes, but I'm sure it was like 30 seconds. Finally I said, Just get in the car, take it for a ride, and if you like it, great. If not, we'll just come right back. It's moon rock. So you're 20ft away from the wheel when you're camping there, right? So I took her for a ride, and we're having a good time getting to know each other. And it was really cold. That weekend was a Memorial Day weekend half the time here, there on Memorial Day, it'll snow. Right? And it did snow. My poor buddy Nate. Jen and I were hitting off so good that I kept taking her out wheeling.
[00:45:01.940] - Dave Wong
And Nate lost his seat that weekend. He still doesn't let me forget it. He just put a post on Instagram again, reminding me how that trip went for him. So if it was just some random girl that one weekend, I would feel a little worse. But it ended up being my wife. So you have to take one for the team, buddy.
[00:45:24.630] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, there you go. The bro does not always prevail.
[00:45:33.740] - Dave Wong
Yeah. The other funny part of that weekend was I hate being cold. There's some people that will probably listen to this, know it, but I just hate being cold. And it was snowing that weekend. We were staying in my aluminum box trailer and we had a little buddy heater in there, but barely worked well. Jen was staying in her brother in law's camper, so I wormed in my way in there so I could sleep in the camper when we weren't doing anything. But I was sleeping in a bed with my wife Jen, at the time, before she was my wife, but I just wanted to be warm. So.
[00:46:17.340] - Big Rich Klein
That was your motivation?
[00:46:19.260] - Dave Wong
[00:46:20.390] - Big Rich Klein
Part of it, at least, yes. Or at least that was your excuse.
[00:46:26.080] - Dave Wong
That too. I do like girls, but yeah, I just wanted it was just as nice just to be warm. So it was weird. I hadn't dated anyone in a while. I was previously married and divorced for probably about a year when I met Jen. And she was the first girl I ever had any interest in since my divorce. I'd look at girls and think, she's pretty, but she's in trouble.
[00:47:07.340] - Big Rich Klein
[00:47:08.130] - Dave Wong
So just after being through a divorce, I was still a little bitter, but Jen fixed that good.
[00:47:16.240] - Big Rich Klein
And she's a great lady. Anybody that's never met her, for sure. So then you're working, you got your shop going on and stuff, you're wheeling. The first time we met, you were in a club, and wasn't it that you guys came up to Donner?
[00:47:40.840] - Dave Wong
So the first time I met you I believe I think it was probably the first time I met you was in Vernon.
[00:47:48.130] - Big Rich Klein
[00:47:49.820] - Dave Wong
And that was when I when I was in my divorce, I took a trip for like about four weeks and traveled to western United States with my rock road. And it was the year BZ. This is the way, you'll know what I'm talking about. It was the year BZ put screws in his tires.
[00:48:08.500] - Big Rich Klein
Oh, Jesus. Yes.
[00:48:11.680] - Dave Wong
So we were just traveling my friend Matt Van and I were just traveling to West United States. And we go here and there and ask the four of drive shops, where do you wheel? And we'd go wheel. And we knew that we rock was going to be infernal, so we made it one of our stops and we even thought about competing. And we showed up must have been the day before the event. You guys were setting up courses and I met your son. We told him we were kind of thinking about competing. Well, that's great. He goes, but go look at the courses. Because he saw our car. He goes, Your car is pretty big. It was on, like, 42 inch swampers. And he goes, but if you want, that's fine. And he goes, I don't know if it was you or him, but said if you don't want to compete, we need judges. And if you judge, we can get you a hotel room down I think it was a Motel Six here in Bernal. Yeah, well, we're staying in that aluminum box trailer and then every few nights we would get a hotel room.
[00:49:15.170] - Dave Wong
We were on a budget, but we still need a shower once in a while. So when you said hotel room, we're like, yeah, we're in. We'll take it and we'll judge. And then you invite us to dinner down there. It's funny, I can remember it like it was yesterday. Other things I can't remember at all. But I think it all goes back to what I'm passionate about.
[00:49:38.300] - Big Rich Klein
[00:49:38.700] - Dave Wong
I thought rock crawling was super cool. I still do. So we went to the Golden Corral for dinner and we ate with you guys. You guys are so accommodating and never met us before, but, hey, come to dinner, do this and that. But, yeah. So that was the first time I think I met you and your son and your daughter. We judged, you split, Maddie and I up around courses next to each other. And I think I might have told you this story, but Tracy Jordan, I think his spotter was Moose. He's a big guy. Well, Maddie called the cone on him. Moose was on the other side of the car, but he was convinced that there was no way to hit it. So he got all up in Maddie's face. And Maddie is not a real big guy either, but he stood his ground and you came over and you talked it out with him. No, you say you hit the cone. It's cone. And I remember before Matty, I took him on this trip, and now he's getting screamed at by this six four. Big old dude was a great part of that trip, doing that judging and then hanging out with the teams.
[00:50:53.400] - Dave Wong
Went to the local bar. I think that night, one of the nights, Friday or Saturday. It was a cool event. Definitely made me want to be part of it, even if I couldn't compete with the current car. After that, we actually that's when we went to Donna, it was a group of us. Maddie was there and we would do recovery for you.
[00:51:16.320] - Big Rich Klein
[00:51:17.580] - Dave Wong
I think you guys liked it because I had a rear car that could get in places. There wasn't as many rear cars, I don't think then. So I could get to places where I could be useful. Went to Riverside. Riverside?
[00:51:33.380] - Big Rich Klein
Oh, down there at Paris. Paris, California.
[00:51:37.790] - Dave Wong
Paris, yes. Yeah. He had that big drop. I think he put hay bales on it.
[00:51:45.110] - Big Rich Klein
At the bottom of it. Yeah. Because it was way undercut.
[00:51:50.120] - Dave Wong
Yeah. So he did recovery down there too. The one thing I wanted to say on here was I always wanted to compete, but I never thought I was capable or I just felt like it wasn't a level that was reachable. There's a better word for it, I'm sure, but I was always too intimidated to do it. I think it's gotten better in general, more approachable for people. But if you ever have for anyone who's listening, if you ever thought of competing, the teams will all help you. Don't be intimidated and just do it. I think you have a catchphrase at the end of this podcast that kind of feeds to this. If you want to do it, just go do it. What's the worst that could happen? I think part of me is I don't want to go do something and look like a fool because I have no idea what I'm doing. But you always have to start somewhere, right?
[00:52:55.740] - Big Rich Klein
And I think one of the keys that all of us that love this sport and want to see it continue and grow is to try to get new people into it, but make them understand that you could be the greatest trail wheeler and obstacle wheeler out there. But competition is truly a totally different animal. There's a game. It's a game or like a board game, like chess. It's not just there's a strategy to it. And when you're trail wheeling, there's no strategy. Nobody's picking your line except for you with the rock crawling. We are picking people's lines and people get frustrated and don't have fun because they expect to do really well. And I try to tell everybody, just come out and enjoy it, have fun, meet people, learn and understand that it's a strategy type competition. And some of the people that are total atype personalities, which you have to have to do this anyway, you can't be a total recluse or introvert. You've got to be able to put yourself out there. But if you're coming out there to the first event and you expect a podium, especially if you jump right into the pros, you get your sight set wrong and you could be really in for some disappointment.
[00:54:37.620] - Big Rich Klein
And I can remember telling Kevin Carroll that the first time he came out. It's like, Kevin, I know who you are. I know what you do. Jeff McKinley, too, because they're hard on themselves. You've got to understand that this is not big obstacle breaking, big trail breaking where you got all this time and you can approach it 60 different ways until you finally get the line. You have to see it and you have to trust yourself and your spotter. And I think that, you know, if people come into the sport with the idea that, hey, I'm going to have fun, I'm going to learn what this strategy thing is, then I'm going to go after it. And I think that that's a key for people to have success.
[00:55:30.060] - Dave Wong
Yes, I agree. I tell people all the time that it is a game. Some people are good at the game and some people are learning the game. Like you said, they come from trail wheeling. So I tell them, too. Trail wheeling, you want to do the biggest line. You want to be the one in the group that's able to do it more than anyone else. Whereas in rock crawling competition, you might be able to do the biggest line, but is it the smartest choice? What's the risk here? What if you roll and you don't finish? What's the odds of that? That's where the game comes in. It's not always the biggest line that's the best choice.
[00:56:12.660] - Big Rich Klein
No, it's the smartest of course, you know, that's why we put those sometimes stupid bonuses there is to trap some of those guys. That Kyleman was really good. He always wanted to do the biggest line. He wanted to get that bonus that everybody else bypassed to show that he could do it. Whether he would win or not, he would go for it. And you'd see some amazing stuff. Jeff is more calculating now. At first he was kind of the same way, but you watch guys, Tracy would always go for it because he was convinced he could do it, and typically he would. He's pretty dang good. And then there are certain guys out there, you just know they're going to go for that bonus because it's like the coolest line out there.
[00:57:11.520] - Dave Wong
Yeah. And Cowman is that guy, too. I see that.
[00:57:17.190] - Big Rich Klein
[00:57:19.040] - Dave Wong
But for a lot of the new guys, that bonus line, that's a little crazy. There's probably a time and place for it if you're way behind and everyone else is bypassing it, being smart, well, maybe it's worth a shot. But if you're neck and neck with the guys at the top, well, maybe it's not always the best idea, right?
[00:57:42.200] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah. I can never sucker Jesse into those.
[00:57:45.020] - Dave Wong
He's so stinking good. I love that guy, but he's so stinking good. But the sport really needs those Jesse's, though, because I know a lot of guys like myself that it gives us someone to go after he sets the bar. And then if for some reason you can beat him one weekend, it's a big deal for that competitor that beat Jesse. I know on the other side of that, it makes it not very fun for Jesse sometimes because everyone's out to beat him.
[00:58:16.260] - Big Rich Klein
Right. There's a lot of pressure on him.
[00:58:19.590] - Dave Wong
Yeah. And then it becomes a lose lose because he's expected to win. So if he wins, everyone's like, well, yeah, of course he won, but if he loses, they're like, how'd you lose? What's wrong with you? Right. Because they expect him to win.
[00:58:38.760] - Big Rich Klein
He gets mad at me whenever I tell him, the best thing for the sport is for you to lose an event here and there. And he goes, man, I just hate when you say that. But it's true. If nobody ever beats him, eventually people will go, okay, I just can't do it. It got that way for a while with Tracy, especially when the courses in that late mid to late two thousand s at two thousand and eight, nine, the courses were in ten. The courses were pretty brutal. A lot of times you didn't have a choice. The regular line was what I would probably put as a bonus line, and you either did it or you failed. And we footballed a lot of cars in those couple of years. And I think that at one point, people were just like I remember some guys up in Washington tell me we're just going to mail our entry fees to to Tracy, because he's going to win anyway, and I don't need to suffer $10,000 worth of damage, you know? And then it was like, okay, now we have to rethink our, our strategy on the courses so that we're not destroying cars, right?
[01:00:02.260] - Dave Wong
Yeah. A lot of guys well, it's changing slowly, but it was a lot of blue collar guys that only had so much money they could spend on the sport.
[01:00:15.660] - Big Rich Klein
Right. Especially at that time, because during that recession, a lot of guys were contractors or fabricators or like yourself, business owners, that as the money became tighter because of the recession, people weren't spending it. They weren't building new decks or building new houses or whatever. They were just trying to keep what they had that the income wasn't there. So guys started backing off because if it was going to cost them so much money to compete and to rebuild, why do it? And then that's when Ultra Four came along, or King of the Hammers, and everybody thought, okay, well, it's one time of year, I can save all my money, go do that event. And everybody likes to go fast, because even if you're the slowest one out there, you're going as fast as you can. That's cool. Rock crawling, it's technical. You got to hit the mark. And if you're expecting, you have certain expectations of yourself to not come in at the bottom or you're going to win the event and you're not winning, it becomes hard to swallow because you don't have that fun of going fast.
[01:01:42.260] - Dave Wong
Yeah, I can see that too. That recession time was for us. We had our second child in 2010, so I decided it was a good time to, during the recession, buy a house and have a kid and rebuild my rock crawler into a more competitive car. I sold off the whole rock crawler except the axles, and it's going to build a top car because I've been competing in your well, you sold it by then, but cow rocks the event. You started in my old car like an seven through ten, and I thought, I want to build a more competitive car. I kept tweaking my old car with the sticky BFGS and air shocks instead of coilovers. Kept making it more of a comp car, but it was still a trail car size. So I sold it all off and going to build a comp car and buy a house and have a kid and quickly found out my budget didn't allow for all of that. I was pretty committed to the house and the kids. The crawler got put aside for years. I ended up selling those axles even. Fast forward to well, luckily it was 2015 when I decided I wanted one more shot at rock crawling.
[01:03:03.990] - Dave Wong
But in between there, some teams picked me up to navigate for Ultra Four, king and Hammers and Baja 1000 Vegas to Reno, so they were still able to be in the off road world, racing world, even though I couldn't afford to compete. And they were putting me in the navigator seat and I was getting to go out of fun and it kept me kept my juices flowing for competing. And so in 2015, I wasn't getting any younger and asked my wife if I could do it one more time. I wanted to go rock crawling again. She said yes, sure, there's times where she regrets it, but I told her let's try it for two years to see how it goes, but let's give it a two year commitment. I got a hold of Jesse and didn't really know him at the time. Anyone that knows Jesse, he's not real big on building turnkey cars and I wanted him to build me a car. Kind of had to talk him into it. Gave my sob story of wanting one more shot. I was just going to jump right into unlimited class. So 15 started building the car and let's see.
[01:04:23.990] - Dave Wong
Yeah, I guess it was the end of the year. So anyways, by the end of summer of 16, we had a car ready to go for his super crawl event and started back at it. It was the longest build ever. You consider? I started building one in 2010 and then didn't really get to get it done. But I feel very fortunate that I was able to get back to it with the help of Jesse and him and his wife. I go up there every weekend and help build this car with him, and he and Sarah would let me stay at their house. And they became really good friends. I consider them some of my best friends. My wife, who she's the fun one. There's a group of wives at the event that feed everybody and invite everyone over for drinks. She's the entertainer. And I kept telling her about Jesse's wife. She was pregnant, and she's doing the tile in the kitchen. And this girl is just amazing. She's just a go getter. I remember we're working out in the garage. Sarah is in the house, and she's eight months pregnant, and she's trying to get the laundry room clear to do the tile in there.
[01:05:47.460] - Dave Wong
So she's trying to move the washer and dryer out. And we had no idea. And we come walking in to get a soda or something, take a break, and Sarah is fuming. She's like, didn't you hear me talking to Jesse? We're like, no. She's always banging on the wall. We're out there banging on stuff too, so we didn't hear it. We probably just thought it was one of the other he or I making the noise. She's always trapped in the laundry room. I was trying to move the washing machine out and I got trapped in between the wall and the washing machine with their belly and everything. And that was the time that I said, well, I'm going to go back out in the garage. Good luck, Jesse. But I kept telling my wife about Jesse and Sarah. For one, I think she was doing way too much, but she was just doing it. She was retiring and everything before the baby got there. But my wife started kind of not like that. I talk so well about another woman. It was kind of funny because I can't call it jealousy, but it was kind of jealousy that I was talking about how amazing she was and nice.
[01:07:06.700] - Dave Wong
But now, fast forward, we start competing. They meet each other, they hit it off. They're now best friends. So it's funny how the dynamics like, if I talk good about her, it's not okay, but if she talks good about her, it's just okay. So I think they probably talk more than Jesse and I. And I just you know, we're all it's really been neat through this process of rock crawling and building a car to come across such good friends. And I see this story all over. This is just my story of this, but I think rock crawling brings a lot of people together, like minded, that were probably friends before they even knew that they were going to be friends, right?
[01:07:54.880] - Big Rich Klein
So let's talk about the events that recently that you've done very well in you've done over the last couple of years. Shelley wanted first one of the questions. She wanted to ask me was how did you feel about being kind of dubbed Mr. Fourth place?
[01:08:21.540] - Dave Wong
It's like a lot of things when you're competing, you hope for podium, finished first place. Realistically, you want to be like, for me, I always wanted to win. I'm competitive no matter what it is. We're playing cornhole or checkers you name. I want to win, but I'm also realistic. So when I was competing, I wanted to win or want to be on the podium, but I definitely didn't want to be last. I wanted to be like, at least mid pack is my realistic thing. Be mid pack or better. The fourth place thing. It was one of the craziest things I've probably ever experienced in my life. Just because you couldn't do that if you tried. What was it? Fourth place for over a year, I'm pretty sure.
[01:09:08.370] - Big Rich Klein
[01:09:10.660] - Dave Wong
Just every single event, fourth place. At first I was a little frustrated and really picking apart, like, well, if we would have done this, we could have beat we could have been on the podium. And then after a while, I was like just becoming comical. And I'll never forget at Donner, Jeremy winners and I were in the same group on the second day and I think we had one or two courses left and we were real close. Fighting for third place or fighting for fourth place. He was in fifth and I was in fourth, but I was ahead of him by a couple of points or something and he's like, well, what are you going to do? He's trying to get all the info of what I'm going to do on each course and everything. And I said, it doesn't matter. Whatever you do and whatever I do, I'm going to be fourth place. It's just what's going to happen. It's been happening for a year. It's going to happen again here. It's beyond our control. It's just the universe is going to make me fourth place. You can do whatever you want and I'll still end up fourth.
[01:10:18.050] - Dave Wong
And sure enough, he ended up rolling right after that, wrecking Jesse's car because he borrowed a car. And anyone that knows Jeremy, he's either going to rub you wrong or you're going to laugh. That's how people take him because he's just sarcastic all the time. And I love the guy. His sense of humor, I get it. When I first met him, I did not like him. I thought he was a total ass.
[01:10:46.980] - Big Rich Klein
That's right. There was a lot of us that did that.
[01:10:50.820] - Dave Wong
Yeah. And you just got to see through that. He's like a lot of people. Jeremy is Jeremy. But Jeremy also has a great sense of humor if you can see it. So after he rolled, I'm like, I told you, it doesn't matter what we do, I'm going to be a fourth. And sure enough, I got fourth that weekend. Yeah. It went from frustration to just he got a laugh, but it was also something that probably I'll be the only one that's ever done it.
[01:11:30.320] - Big Rich Klein
Cody made you your own podium for fourth?
[01:11:33.780] - Dave Wong
Yeah, it was actually instead of a podium, it was a tray. So you said in the tray.
[01:11:38.080] - Big Rich Klein
[01:11:40.500] - Dave Wong
And then to get rid of that thing, I took it really well. I thought it was funny, Cody doing that. I have pretty good sense of humor. I took it well, I guess, is what I'm saying. But at the same time, I kind of wanted to get rid of it because I didn't want the curse or whatever you want to call it. So finally I decided, talking with a couple of other people, I'm like, whoever gets fourth place, I'm going to give it to you, and then they can sign it or whatever. And then whoever gets fourth place after that, they can give it to them. It'll be like this thing that gets passed on to the fourth place guy. Well, when I decided that Jacob Reeves ended up fourth that weekend, so I gave it to him. I remember if it was Cedar City, I don't remember where. And then I think he's so nice that he's never given it to anyone else, which really wasn't the plan. Now I feel like I stuck it with him. But he's a nice kid and I don't know, he has the heart to give it to someone.
[01:12:59.620] - Big Rich Klein
Right. That they may take it the wrong way. Exactly.
[01:13:03.230] - Dave Wong
[01:13:04.160] - Big Rich Klein
And you don't want it back.
[01:13:06.880] - Dave Wong
I don't want it back. Now that area, hopefully is gone, although I did end up fourth. That Texas Top Gun shoot out, which now whenever I get fourth, it is a little bit more bitter. It's like, we don't want to go down this road again.
[01:13:25.880] - Big Rich Klein
So you only got fourth at Top Gun?
[01:13:29.160] - Dave Wong
[01:13:29.950] - Big Rich Klein
I thought you were a runner up.
[01:13:32.200] - Dave Wong
No, to be honest, I kind of blew it. Shortly after that. I did a video, too. I lost my focus on an obstacle. It ended up being a lot more difficult than I thought, so I kind of overlooked it. It was only the second obstacle.
[01:13:51.640] - Big Rich Klein
Okay. Yeah. The middle there. Right.
[01:13:54.240] - Dave Wong
So I got a little flustered and frustrated, and then when I got through there, I wasn't clear headed enough to just stay focused on the job at hand and just choked, like you were talking earlier. Once you have some success, if you're not successful, it's frustrating. And I've had some success in the past couple of years. So you expect more out of yourself.
[01:14:27.660] - Big Rich Klein
Right. You've been at the top of that podium.
[01:14:30.000] - Dave Wong
Yeah, so and I really feel, looking back at that, even going into that course, I felt like I had a really good chance of winning it. But that's why you play the game. That's what my dad used to always say in basketball, it doesn't matter what you're ranked. That's why there's upsets that's why you play the game, right? Everyone has their day. It wasn't my day, but it was still a great event. I hope they continue that on and I hope more people come to check it out. It was my first time in Texas and the hospitality was top level. The rocks are top level. Huge boulders there. Actually, I think I'll be going down there for We Rock this year. That's our plan.
[01:15:16.880] - Big Rich Klein
Oh, awesome. Cool. Because it is a great place. The two parks that are there. Katemsi's got the bigger rocks. The others got more rock. But I would say but I think Katimsi's, overall more difficult has more difficult stuff and stuff that, you know, if we could ever clear all of the deadfall out there, there's some stuff out there that they would make really good runs for their Top Gun shootout. And I hope that motivates those guys at K Two to get out there and clear more of that brush. I know we try to every time we go in there. Jake or I jake did a lot of clearing this last time. In fact, some of the stuff you guys ran in the shootout was stuff that he had cleared when we were there for We Rock. So, yeah, there's some really good stuff out there. And like you said, the hospitality. I love Mason, Texas. It's a great little town, and someday I hope to retire there.
[01:16:30.320] - Dave Wong
It's a really cool town. When I went into the town square area there, it's like you went back in time. It was really cool.
[01:16:41.300] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, it's a great area. That whole rocky high country. That's what they call it for us that live in the mountains are right next to the Sierras or the Rockies. We wouldn't even call it hills.
[01:17:02.380] - Dave Wong
[01:17:03.040] - Big Rich Klein
But yeah, the hill country there is really nice. And especially that stretch that has all that granite, that'd be great. I hope you do. And I hope that was one of the now that we've got more people that have done that and watched that and seen those rocks, that they'll come on out and compete. So talk about Trail Breaker this year because you won that.
[01:17:27.220] - Dave Wong
I did win Trail Breaker, so this year we had a couple I always say we because I'm so used to being the team. But my two biggest wins this year were just me, nothing against my team. I've created spotters that I work with. So the shoot out was the one that came the hammers back in February. And then, of course, trailbreaker, which I think is it's harder to brag about trailbreaker now that I won? Because I don't want to sound like I'm just bragging about myself, but I think it's one of the purest find. The best rock crawler, the best driver events. Not being able to watch the other drivers, they try and keep it a level playing field. Obstacles that will hopefully weed out everyone to find who's the best trail breaker is during Trail Hero event, which is run by your son, Little Rich. And I've been in that trail breaker event three or four times now, and this year it was pretty epic. I mean, it's probably I would consider my biggest win for sure just because of the way the event is looking for the best drivers. And this year I was the only one to make it through all three courses.
[01:18:52.650] - Dave Wong
So a lot of times it comes down to time. My first trail breaker event, I made it just as far as anybody else, but I wasn't as fast, so I lost, which is fair. But this year being the only guy that made it felt pretty good because it didn't come down to four guys made it. But you were the fastest.
[01:19:13.420] - Big Rich Klein
[01:19:14.360] - Dave Wong
And I happened to be the last driver. It's a BFG sponsored event. So the way it played out, no one had made it up. The last obstacle, tim from BFG, the guy that was winning at the time before I ran was jesse haynes, which is no surprise. He made up everything and super fast except for the last obstacle. He couldn't make it up. He timed out. So now Jesse haynes on max's tires is winning the event. And your son tells him, hey, just so you know, as of right now, jesse is leading this event. And then I come through last vehicle, make it up. The last obstacle. Everyone knows that I won. I know I won. I'm on BFG. So ten is happy now for BFG because it's his sponsored event. Crowds going crazy. Your son is trying to make it up. The last obstacle with a trophy to give it to me. Like, you know, it's harder to walk up some of these obstacles than drive up them.
[01:20:14.670] - Big Rich Klein
[01:20:16.040] - Dave Wong
So people are trying to help him up and trying to help photographers up. And it was just what a great moment for me and for the event. I don't know. Still at a loss for words sometimes. My daughter was there. My wife was there. It was about as good as it gets.
[01:20:34.080] - Big Rich Klein
Excellent. So what precipitated the move to southern utah?
[01:20:44.740] - Dave Wong
So I came down for trail hero. That first trail breaker I was talking about, I came down for that and I can't remember. I'm pretty sure it was that because I also came down for some of your we rocks when it was in the bowl at the resort.
[01:21:02.660] - Big Rich Klein
[01:21:03.260] - Dave Wong
But I want to say the first time I came down was for trail breaker. And everywhere we go, my wife and I always kind of look at houses and see what they cost there because we're from northern california and in the foothills houses aren't worth a lot. But in the bay area, crazy pricing. So wherever we travel, we always try to check out houses and check out the area and daydream about what it would be like to live here, wherever we were. And of course, for myself, seeing all the offroading, I was like, this is pretty cool here. And being able to wheel year round in the Sears, you get snowed out for the winter. And then my wife's looking at jobs, too, because she does HR. She's like, oh, look, the resorts hire an HR. I could do that. Just kind of playing around, joking around. But we go back home after the event and my wife's emailing me houses and jobs she could do out here. That's when I realized, oh, you're serious, mike I was already 100% in. I just wasn't going to do it because it's a family decision. But once she kept going, because usually once you get home, that just ends.
[01:22:19.440] - Dave Wong
You're not in another city, you're not checking out anymore. That was probably what was it, 2017 maybe. And then we didn't move until 2019. But we just kept looking at the area and kept trying to put it all together. I had to figure out what I was going to do with my business in the meantime. My dad had moved to St. George, of all things. Not because he knew we were looking, just they wanted to move out of California. They lived up in Lincoln by Sacramento. That's my dad and my step home. And they decided that this area was for them. They got golf courses and nice weather, so they moved down here. So then it made the move even better for us because now I'm down here where my dad is, as he gets older, be able to help him if he needs it or take care of him or have him over Thanksgiving without having to have them fly or stuff like that. So that just made even an easier decision to move here. But if you're into offroad and outdoors, this area is just an amazing place. And plus some of these California people probably going to be mad at me, but it's not California, right?
[01:23:47.980] - Dave Wong
I was in business too long in California to saw them just continue to put more weight on business owners and the general public with fees and taxes and you name it, was just becoming ridiculous. And the rate that the fees would go up was insane, too. And it's a little more wholesome here. I feel like raising my daughter here has been really cool. The kids, it's like you step back in time here compared to you can still ride in the back of a pickup here. I know California is going to lose their minds, but you can hop in the back of a pickup and go down to the local park and unload all the kids or whatever. You just can't be on the freeway. You don't have to wear a helmet here to ride a motorcycle. But like, there's common sense involved. Again, here where I tell my daughter, yeah, you don't have to wear a helmet to ride a motorcycle. You probably should, but no one's telling you you have to, right?
[01:24:59.930] - Big Rich Klein
Utah comes with less warning labels.
[01:25:03.460] - Dave Wong
Yeah. And I was in California almost my whole life. I'm 54 now. We moved when I was 51. I would go to Texas for a convention or something on river walk in San Antonio and think it's ridiculous they don't have a handrail here. You could fall in the river. There's going to be drunk people coming out of the bars, fall in the river. But it was so brainwashed. And obviously when I grew up, you didn't have to have a helmet, you had to have common sense. If you think you get hurt, don't do that.
[01:25:37.070] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah. Remember, coffee is hot.
[01:25:42.160] - Dave Wong
It's refreshing here. We bought a house in the neighborhood. I'd lived in the country for a while, so we never really had close neighbors. And I looked out I have some of the best neighbors here. Quite a few of them have kids my daughter runs around with. Yeah, I'm super happy here. Should have done it sooner. I miss all my friends in California, but I invite them all the time to come see me. We got an extra room, come hang out. Love to show you this place.
[01:26:18.000] - Big Rich Klein
So are you in Hurricane or St. George or where is your house located?
[01:26:24.480] - Dave Wong
I'm actually in St. George. And as you come from Vegas, we're the second exit. So it's right off the Southern Parkway. We're barely in Utah.
[01:26:35.580] - Big Rich Klein
[01:26:38.180] - Dave Wong
About as south as you can get.
[01:26:40.090] - Big Rich Klein
So you're out there just on the edge of the Strip, which if everybody south and east of St. George is what they call the Arizona Strip. And it's Utah, Arizona and the Grand Canyon.
[01:26:58.620] - Dave Wong
[01:26:59.210] - Big Rich Klein
And there's miles and miles and miles of dirt roads and places to go across there.
[01:27:07.100] - Dave Wong
Yeah. So out the back of our neighborhood you can take your Raptor or side by side and drive all the way to Mesquite under roads. Yeah. Mesquite is probably 35 minutes drive on the freeway. So I have friends, I haven't done it with them yet. They'll take their UTVs, drive into Mosquito, to the hotel for the night and then come back. And it seems like almost any direction from St. George Hurricane, there's areas like that where you can just take off. Whether it's hiking, biking, UTVs, it's a.
[01:27:46.120] - Big Rich Klein
Huge play area, outdoor wonderland. I mean, you can snowski. You go up to Brian Head, which is only like an hour and a half away. If it's snowing, you've got the lakes, you got the river, you've got national parks, you have that big like I said, the Arizona Utah Strip area. So any kind of offroading going to we used to go to Sand Hollow before it had a name. There was no lake down there on the highway going into where like Walmart is, that was the only road to the south. And so we would park down there unload and then start wheeling from there. And we'd go down there for the sand dunes. Because we were living in Cedar City, you know, we didn't think about the rocks down there because the rocks in Cedar City were fine for what we were doing. We just went down there to go fast in the sand dunes.
[01:28:50.120] - Dave Wong
[01:28:50.780] - Big Rich Klein
And now it's just, it's just there's so much to do down there. It's credible, mountain biking, everything. So it is a really good area.
[01:28:59.440] - Dave Wong
It is. Unfortunately it's not as appealing to live here just as far as home prices. The home prices have gotten crazy, but as far as outdoors, you really almost can't beat it. Such a great place for recreation.
[01:29:19.710] - Big Rich Klein
Right. So then what is in the future for you guys? Have you reopened your business yet?
[01:29:28.380] - Dave Wong
No, I don't think I will. I was in business 27 years and you've seen I enjoy people, but man, I was burnt out on customers. I've been tending windows with John Hemble, one of the other competitors. He has a window tending business. He tends homes and commercial windows, no cars. So I tend with him and I do some sales for him, just go out and find jobs. But I haven't really figured out my next step, which got to come pretty soon because I'm going to run out of money. But I'm looking more into like real estate type stuff, investment type stuff. I don't think I want to do retail again. I think I've had my fill of that. I enjoyed it. I enjoyed what I did and I have a feeling to be better here. Part of what I didn't like was like, we talked about the regulations of California, but also there's always a handful of customers that are your customers and they're going to keep coming back, but every time they come in, you cringe a little bit and it's, I don't know, just kind of worn out on it. It's too bad because I enjoy people, but those few will ruin it if I'm in business where I have to deal with them.
[01:30:52.020] - Big Rich Klein
[01:30:55.540] - Dave Wong
I do tend some cars still for my friends and friends of friends here, but I'm not trying to make it a career.
[01:31:03.810] - Big Rich Klein
Right, okay, fair enough. And you said Jen is working at Sand Hallo Resort?
[01:31:12.300] - Dave Wong
No, that was the job. She when we were talking about coming down here, she's like, well, I could work here or there, but she actually works for the lower five counties, Utah, and she does HR. It's pretty cool organization. They go after any federal funded programs. And because the counties, our county, Washington County is the biggest county, and southern Utah, but the other counties, like Iron County, some of the other ones are very small. They don't have the ability to go after these the manpower to go after these federally funded programs. And the programs are all mostly based around seniors Meals on Wheels type things or rides to the doctor or rental assistance during COVID They had a rental assistance for anyone affected by COVID. And they have an office here in St. George, which is the biggest one, and then they have an office in Cedar City and then they have their medical side that gives medical assistance programs. They even have an office over in Cannabis. So she does HR for them. They'll have politicians come out and they'll show them around and show them these different programs. So she took a bunch of people, a busload of people from DC, her and her boss, and a few other ones all through Utah.
[01:32:50.350] - Dave Wong
They just took a road trip and got to see a whole bunch of sites and it's a pretty neat job and I guess I like it because it's helping people too. It's for the greater good, right.
[01:33:01.140] - Big Rich Klein
Cool. And your kids are thriving there in southern Utah?
[01:33:06.720] - Dave Wong
Yeah, finally. My son, a lot of people don't even know I have a son because my daughter always comes to the events. My son doesn't, he's 20, he's working actually at a window tip shop here in town for Nick Melby. So I had helped Nick for a little bit and he needed some help, so I got my son working there. As far as I know, they're all happy working together there, so that was a big achievement because he never had a job yet, so he's doing well. And then my daughter, she's really the most responsible one in the whole family, more than my wife and I. She's looking out for us all the time. Well, anyone that knows me, I'm just another kid in this family. My wife is the only responsible adult. So I'm out playing as much as I'm working and she's got to tell me when it's enough playing. But my daughter, she's doing really well. She's twelve now. In 7th grade she was raising herself. She's an amazing child. She's got a lot of friends here and they just run around like crazy.
[01:34:14.760] - Big Rich Klein
Cool, so then you're just going to try to figure out what you're going to do. Maybe get into real estate or real estate investment. It's not a bad gig.
[01:34:25.320] - Dave Wong
Yeah, I know. You have that rental in Mason, which actually I saw, I took a picture of it on purpose. Woody swears and ratted you out. Which place?
[01:34:35.100] - Big Rich Klein
It was our hotel. Yes. That's been a great investment for us. We just had somebody contact our local manager there and say, hey, we love this place, we'd love to buy it. And Shelley was like, I can't, you know, I can't believe it, but I don't want to sell it. And so we threw the numbers of what we would have to get compared to what we make on it and for how long, and she's like, we'll just hang on to it. And I agree, it's been a great investment and it's not a bad way to go.
[01:35:15.270] - Dave Wong
Yeah. That's why I'm looking at something like that some kind of rental. Whether it's, like, what you have there or commercial, I'm not sure which direction yet. And that's one of my problems, is I will investigate and investigate until it's I should have done it ten years ago, you know?
[01:35:34.410] - Big Rich Klein
[01:35:35.340] - Dave Wong
It's I feel like I'm my biggest hurdle is myself.
[01:35:40.580] - Big Rich Klein
Well, if you ever want to talk to somebody about doing it, shelley is more than happy to share her knowledge, that's for sure, because she analyzes and studies everything and has so many different interests in businesses and different endeavors that it's quite amazing. So if you ever have any questions or want to talk to somebody that's maybe not as close a friend, but somebody that would have your best interest in mind, feel free to talk to her.
[01:36:16.780] - Dave Wong
I appreciate that. It's a great time to get to say that she's been an amazing person. As I've come back to the sport, she's just always happy to see people. It's always fun to come see you guys. She's a sweet lady, and you're very lucky.
[01:36:39.630] - Big Rich Klein
Yes, I am. Very lucky. I have to say that. There's no doubt everybody that knows me or has known me has said the same thing, so I can't believe I found somebody to put up with me.
[01:36:57.720] - Dave Wong
Well, I'm happy for both of you.
[01:36:59.310] - Big Rich Klein
Well, thank you. Thank you. Well, I think we've touched on all the bases. Dave, is there anything that we haven't touched on that you would like to talk about?
[01:37:07.260] - Dave Wong
No, I feel like I run my mouth a lot, so we could do this for a couple more hours, I'm sure, but we don't want to put people to sleep.
[01:37:16.940] - Big Rich Klein
There you go. Well, I appreciate you spending the time with us this morning. I really hope for the best for you and your family and everybody involved in your life. It was great to see you head to Southern Utah. I think there's a lot of opportunity there, and you guys deserve all the awards and riches that can come your way.
[01:37:39.160] - Dave Wong
I appreciate it. And I guess the one thing I didn't say was for anyone that's coming out to the sport, feel free to reach out to me anytime if you have questions. I get a few people that reach out to me. I'm more than happy to help with advice, anything like that, if it helps. So you can reach me on social media anytime. Whatever I can do to help other competitors or off road, whether it's come into a competition or just coming to Southern Utah and want some advice on where to go, the off road family is my family. That's the way I look at it. So if you need some help, give me a shout.
[01:38:26.540] - Big Rich Klein
Excellent. I appreciate it, Dave. You have a great day.
[01:38:31.000] - Dave Wong
You too. Thanks again, Rich. It's been a pleasure.
[01:38:33.980] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah. All right. Take care.
[01:38:36.270] - Dave Wong
[01:38:38.680] - Big Rich Klein
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 a 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 you can. Thank you.