Dixie Four-Wheel Drive Founder, Milt Thompson shares his story this week. It’s not just about four-wheel drive, it’s about raising a family, hiring well and being around at the beginning of the competitive scene. Now with two shops in Utah, St. George and Moab, Milt and family have built a terrific business. If you are in either area, and need some work done, these are the people you go to. Capable, trustworthy and always working with you in mind. https://dixie4wheeldrive.com/
2:21 – Growing up in St George, when it was still small
3:52 –Figure 8’s in the field gave us away
9:42 – the things we sell for love
12:25 – A pioneering family
22:01 – A bad habit working on my own stuff
23:25 – Why I was packing at 2 a.m.
27:13 – It was time to get a Jeep
37:31 – Can you do that to my Jeep?
44:15 – My mail-order bride
49:23 – Hiring solid crews
1:07:41 – Broken bones and ARCA
1:10:41 – Why didn’t you tell me that before?
We want to thank our sponsors Maxxis Tires and 4Low Magazine.
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[00:00:01.080] - Big Rich Klein
Welcome to the Big Rich show, this podcast will focus on conversations with friends and acquaintances within the four wheel drive industry. Many of the people that I will be interviewing, you may know the name, you may know some of the history, but let's get in depth with these people and find out what truly makes them a four wheel drive enthusiast. So now's the time to sit back, grab a cold one and enjoy our conversation.
[00:00:29.660] - Maxxis advertisement
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[00:00:56.220] - 4Low advertisement
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[00:01:21.150] - Big Rich Klein
On today's episode of Conversations with Big Rich, we have Milt Thompson from Dixie Four-Wheel Drive in St George, Utah, and Moab, Utah.
So Milton, I have known each other since the mid 90s when I was living in Cedar City. And of course, Milt was down in St George with Dixie and part of the Four-Wheel Drive Club down there. He's opened a lot of trails, if not most of the trails in sand hollow. And we'll discuss Life Off Road and Four-Wheel Drive and Milt's history.
OK, Milt, go ahead and let's get started. Where did you grow up?
[00:01:59.780] - Milt Thompson
I grew up in St. George, born and raised, back when St. George was around 5000 people, as I recall it, kind of about the size Moab.
Now, that little out of the way town interstate didn't go through there then it.
It was hotter than hell. There still is depending on time of year, but yeah, growing up as a kid there, very small town, knew most everybody. Lots of places to chase and play down there as a kid growing up.
[00:02:37.380] - Big Rich Klein
So how did you how did your life off road get started?
[00:02:43.000] - Milt Thompson
I don't know if there's one thing I can identify as starting it, I remember as a very young kid, my dad had an old Jeep, old flat fender with a three speed column shift.
And I remember going for a ride with my older brother. Years, years, years ago, and down where Dixie State University is now, we got down that way, unfortunately, we had to walk home. The old Jeep wasn't in great shape and hadn't been kept up and quit. And we had to walk back and they had to go get something to tow it back. But that was my earliest recollection of a Jeep ride.
A few years later, Dad had a quite a collection of odds and ends up in the backyard at our house where we lived. I remember toting the wagon when I got big enough to lift his toolbox in the wagon and pull it up the hill to the backyard and started working on things, I'd take them apart, see how they worked. My younger brother was prone to breaking the lights and the windows out of things, but I took to liking to work on them.
I think the first rig that. Well, we had a 53 Ford pickup that I remember we got running as kids, about 10 years old somewhere in there, and so whenever the folks would leave, we would go start it and drive it around up in the backyard and through the neighborhood on the dirt roads.
[00:04:11.800] - Big Rich Klein
So it sounds to me like they didn't know that you had it running.
[00:04:15.760] - Milt Thompson
Well, we didn't think they knew we had it running, but the big figure eights out in the open field probably gave them a pretty good clue that something was up.
But and then we took a 46 Studebaker half ton pickup was the first rig that I built for off road speak of. And I look back now and would like to shoot myself because we cut that truck up, strip the body welded brackets to it was where I learned to Weld was on that old project with an old Westinghouse buzz box.
We cut it up short in the frame.
I think it was five feet axle centered axle center and welded a frame on it and had an old fiberglass chair that we bolted to. That was the only seat on it. And we'd take that out into the camps in the boonies and and run it until we get it stuck someplace that we couldn't get it out, and we'd have to have Dad bring a truck out and pull us loose back in the day, our house was about the last house in town and I-15 didn't exist there on the eastern part of St. George. And so from our house clear out to that, Black Mesa was nothing but open ground and some dirt roads. So that's where we started wheeling in the beginning was out in that area.
[00:05:40.490] - Big Rich Klein
So you've seen a big change in St George. I always call it Utah's Orange County with everybody that's moving in there and all the businesses. And and I mean, it's just like going and being down in Orange County, California, you know, to me. But it just a lot smaller.
[00:05:58.130] - Milt Thompson
Yeah, it's grown immensely growing up as a kid. When we had we'd hike up on the Red Hill, what we call the Red Hill north of town. And there's that fishing pond up there now. But that was a swimming hole, irrigation pond up there. And we knew where all the shade was and had dirt ditches along the street. So we'd go up without our shoes, wade in the ditches and then stand in the shade. And if we had to wait for more than two vehicles on the boulevard to get across, it was a traffic jam.
Yet it would shoot by the old Desert Kitchen cafe and then walk the pipeline up the hill because a pipeline was cool, it had water running through it. And we'd go up on the hill and go swimming or fishing or whatever we want to do that day. But that's what we'd do for fun up there. And like I say, it was it was a very small town at the time and it was a lot of fun as a kid growing up, got a lot of fond memories from it.
Now, I when I'm home in the St. George shop, I try to.
Travel home at off times during the day, and I always go to a stoplight, cross the boulevard because the traffic is insane and I'm not sure what the current population is.
I know it's over 100000 now and growing rapidly. It seems like every time there's a major natural disaster in California, a major earthquake, we get a lot of influx of people moving into southern Utah, which. Isn't necessarily a bad thing, it's good for business crowd things up, but we've met some great people that have moved up and on the flip side, we've met some that we wish would go back.
[00:07:40.560] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, there's a lot of my friends have moved into the area, off road community. And I think a lot of that had to do with Lance Clifford, the old pirate 4x4 originator. When he, you know, he a real estate agent and he moved there, moved over to hurricane, I believe. Yeah. Hurricane and then he's been he's been selling houses to everybody that he knows. Yeah. I mean, my son's over there now and Larry McRae.
Yeah. And Ryan and all sorts of those. Oh, everybody. I mean, I even Dave Wong, one of our competitors has just moved over there and sand hollow.
I can remember all of us going out to Sand Hollow you down in in St George and then me with color country up in Cedar City. And we'd go we went there for the sand dunes. Yeah. Because we had Three Peaks to play with and up in Cedar. So we didn't even think about rock crawling there. And the sand dunes in Hurricane were a lot closer than coral pink. Yeah. And those were my early memories was was that area and going in there.
But I remember going on a couple of runs with you where you took us on some of the trails out there. And it wasn't I don't think so much in the rocks, but more in like the Arizona strip, but maybe more of the Utah part of that. There was a couple of pretty good climbs that we went on. I don't even remember, although it was so long ago that was that was enjoyable.
But to get back to what we were talking about, your youth and growing up, what was what was the first car that you drove that, you know, say, is a licensed driver that you were able to to commandeer?
[00:09:23.800] - Milt Thompson
I think the first car that I had that was I would consider mine, I had bought a 1950 Chevy two door hard top deluxe for 25 dollars while it was sitting off of 4th East by the old Moss home.
And I can't even remember who owned it at the time. I bought it from somebody and bought it cheap because it didn't run. Went through the 216 motor, had in it the old splash crank and fixed it up. And that was my first car that I owned and drove. I had it up until the time I just before I got married I actually sold that car to buy my wife's diamond ring. I think I sold it for 400 dollars when I did.
[00:10:10.960] - Big Rich Klein
Oh, nice. Nice markup
[00:10:12.610] - Milt Thompson
Well, unfortunately, a friend of mine is a car collector in St. George, showed up at the shop one day driving a nineteen fifty deluxe hardtop he had just bought at the Scottsdale auction. And I says, Dennis, where did you get that?
And he says, you know what this is? And I said, I used to own one. He says, I stole this thing. He says, I only gave nineteen thousand dollars for it.
I about died. It yeah, it I had put a two eighty three V8 in mine with a three speed with an overdrive on it and I drove that all through high school. But you know that old car on the highway course octane and fuel is a lot better than at 75 mile an hour on the freeway.
I got thirty miles a gallon in that car. Wow. It was a great little car.
And my wife ofttimes says, you know, wish you had kept that car because she over the years that we've been married, she lost that ring somehow. And we we got another one.
But so that was the first car that I actually owned that I did have a dune buggy I had built out of the leftovers of a 64 Volkswagen bus that all my sisters had learned to drive. And each one of them had at least one turn wrecking it. So it was pretty hammered by the time I got my hands on it and we took the front axle out of it, the transaxle out of the back. And I made a chassis out of galvanized pipe, not the best thing to learn.
Welding, welding that galvanized. Well done. You want to do that out where it's windy and it blows that away because it make you pretty sick, sometimes welded that old dune buggy up. And we run that all through high school, too. It was that's where we started running out to Hurricane Sand dunes, is what we called it then. Yeah. Back in. Oh I want to say seventy two when they first started driving out there with the buggy.
We had a lot of fun, got a lot of places with, but nothing like what you could do with a Jeep now, right.
[00:12:23.000] - Big Rich Klein
Talk about your family a little bit, if you don't mind.
[00:12:25.600] - Milt Thompson
Well, my family, if you go back to the like my great grandfather's were sent to St. George by Brigham Young to settle. Wow. And they got there and either just never left or couldn't get out or something. Hard to say. They were sent down with the original group of settlers that Brigham Young set down my dad's side and my actually my dad's mother, her grandfather was James U. Blake, who is a secretary to Brigham Young. And he sent was sat down with that original group as well.
Wow. And then just recently, we've checked some history on my mother's side. My great grandfather on my mother's side was originally from Pennsylvania who got to Utah on his way to the California Gold Rush, and they stopped in Ogden to fix wagons and get stocked up in one thing or another. And during the months they were there, he kind of fell for this young lady in Ogden and they started out for California and decided, you know, the gold's not worth it.
He went back and got married and lived in up in the Farmington area, as well as Farmington, Utah, now. Right. And in reading their history, he had a big, really nice piece of property. It turned out it's that same property. That lagoon is built on the lagoon water park that he was called to the southern mission by the church leaders and went down and settled in Harrisburg, which was a rough, rough life for him, I would imagine.
And so when it started finally getting up and going in Harrisburg, he got called by President Taylor at the time as part of the group that went down through Hole in the Rock, traveled through Hole in the Rock down to Bluff, Utah, and settled there for a period of time and eventually moved down into Arizona, Alpine, and then years later ended up back in Paragonah Utah, where he eventually passed away.
[00:14:38.170] - Big Rich Klein
Okay. So he made a he made a lot of travel then.
[00:14:41.890] - Milt Thompson
Yeah, he he traveled a bunch and that wasn't easy travel. I know it.
If you get on YouTube and look at the impossible journey, one about Hole in the Rock, I think Bleepn Jeep did a three part video of of Hole in the Rock and gives a lot of history. And watching the two of those together, one after the other, gives you a pretty good respect for what those poor pioneers went through going through that travel.
[00:15:08.650] - Big Rich Klein
I'm always amazed at when we travel. You know, I travel the country a lot, putting on events all back and forth cross-country.
And I see all these beautiful roads that we drive on now and we complain about potholes and irregular road surfaces. Yeah. And then you look at some of the trails that that that the pioneers came across on. You can still see that the wagon tracks in a lot of different places. One of them up in Idaho where I lived for a while. It's amazing what they did and how they did it and that the fortitude that they had much more than what we have now.
We're we are so spoiled. Oh, yeah, it with technology. And, you know, technology is advancing, of course. And every all the youngest generations even have more of it. They just don't build like they used to.
[00:15:58.550] - Milt Thompson
Yeah. I tell my kids that you think you've got it tough. You look back and read what some of your ancestors went through it. They they were stout, hardy people. Absolutely. Yeah. I had my grandfather on my mother's side who was his father that went down through a hole in the rock.
And my grandfather was born in Alpine, Arizona in 1884. He was a blacksmith. As the wagons started to fade and the cars came in, he became a mechanic. And so I look back on some of my ancestry and it helps me understand kind of where I've come from and what's led me to some of the things I do.
[00:16:40.330] - Big Rich Klein
He was he was able to what we call pivot now. Yeah. Which is really important, you know, especially through this covid thing. Oh, yeah. We had to pivot a lot with our business. And I know a lot of other people with with businesses, especially in entertainment, where we found out we were essentially non-essential, you know, and it was like, OK, now what are we going to do instead of sitting for so long? How was how was your business during during the covid?
[00:17:05.850] - Milt Thompson
You know, we come over here in February of this year and mostly my youngest son, they were having a baby and he needed to go home to St George, where her doctor was and so we come over so they could go home, but that was just prior to covid hitting. And so when the covid thing hit, you know, nobody knew what was really going to happen.
And it made us sound like, you know, two out of every ten we're going to die. Just, you know. And so we said, you know what, you guys go home, stay in my house, because nobody's been in it for a week or two. We know what's good. You guys stay there and we'll stay here and run this till things get sorted out. And we're still here and they're still in your house and they're still in my house there, which is all right.
I mean, it's been good here, but during the whole covid thing, we were classified as an essential business because we're in automotive repair. And I've been busy. I've worked every single day. We haven't missed a day's work through the entire thing. And I've had some days that I've had to, you know, work out other shops and recommend other places. They take them because I wasn't able to physically get them in because I was backed up.
[00:18:15.470] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah. And right now, I notice you have no staff. It's just you and your wife.
[00:18:20.480] - Milt Thompson
Yeah, it's we've had employees in the past here. It's it's been difficult, especially the unemployment benefits and their pay and all this extra money. Nobody wants to work. People aren't willing to work now.
They can sit at home like we've we've put out a couple of, you know, shots for employees. And in a six month period time, we've had one response. Wow, they weren't somebody I could hire, but only one response. And so it's been it would be nice to have somebody that was passionate about the sport of off roading and and with some background in that. But Moab is quite an expensive place to live. A little bit difficult that way.
But I would love to eventually find somebody that we could train and to either manage and run the shop, get some employees here, make it solid and make that work. But like I say, as far as the covid goes, we've stayed. In fact, both shops, our St George. Stop. I talked to them this morning. They scheduled 16 new jobs today. Wow.
A lot of people that are penned up or has enough. I got to get out. I'm going to go do something wheeling off roading. And that is been a really popular thing and got even more so with people being cooped up. They want to get out.
[00:19:42.630] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, I noticed that when we when we got back to an event schedule, all of our events have been better than previous years, especially on the West Coast or what we call our Western series.
And I really think it's because people have been, you know, cooped up and they just want to get out and do something. And even though we have COVID protocols and we recommend everybody wear masks, you know, we we don't we don't require it. We don't say you have to. If you don't wear a mask, you have to leave. You know, we have extra handwashing stations and, you know, things like that. But the other thing is we don't allow anybody to shame each other because they're either wearing a mask or not wearing a mask.
Yeah, because that's that's one of the things I see really bad right now going on.
You got to have respect for other people. Correct. There's a big lack of respect in the United States right now.
Unfortunately, that's true.
So how did the process go from high school building cars? Did you get into when did when did off road become kind of a major mainstay of your life?
That probably didn't happen until as far as a mainstay, until probably the later 80s after high school, I did work for a garage downtown full time as a mechanic up until the time I left and served a mission for the church. And that was interesting because I even fixed some cars.
So I was down in Florida. Oh, I served in the Florida Fort Lauderdale mission years ago, back in seventy six and seven. And then when I come home, I went to work for Tunex for Tunex, doing their carburetors and tuning and stuff, worked for them for a period of time until that we could see the writing on the wall. The guy that own the company wasn't paying his franchise and we knew that wasn't going to last long.
And so I'd worked for another gas station, different things, and ended up as a. A warehouse operator for more business forms for most of the year, and that occasionally would get me into trouble because when I get done with all my jobs in the warehouse and I had free time, you had to do something to stay busy.
And I had a bad habit of working on my own equipment that was supposed to go to the maintenance department. And every now and again, they'd catch me working on the forklifts and say, that's not your job. But, you know, maintenance had been had a work order for two weeks and anything, of course. And so it I finally moved on from there. My wife had a real hankering to move back up by her folks. She was from Riverton, Utah.
Begrudgingly, I gave in and we moved to Riverton and right at the time of which was the recession of 1980, went through five jobs in eight months, would get a job, go to work, work for a couple of weeks, show up in the morning and the big sign on the door saying closed. Wow. I went through a number of jobs that way, did a little bit everything. And last job up there was working for an excavating company.
I worked for them. I've been with them for a couple of months and was running a crew, digging mainline water and sewer and putting stuff together for them. And then when the weather was bad or couldn't work, they'd have me work on their equipment, which wouldn't have been too bad other than it was in the garage at his house on a gravel floor, which was not the best of conditions. But, you know, it was still work.
It was work, did what we could do.
I was working then for five dollars an hour and we were about starved to death. And I recall it being like February. And my wife rolled over and said, you know, I think we should go back to St. George. And I got up at two o'clock in the morning and started packing.
You were ready? We moved back to St. George, went into business for myself. At the time. It was actually in the custom woodworking business. I had bought some equipment and was making payments on it. And and we went into the the custom woodworking and furniture restoration, did a lot of antique restoration work, and we did that for 14 years. That's why you're so good at detail then.
It's I think part of that's where that come from is is, you know, fussy and figuring out how to make things work, how to make things fit, because a lot of times that old stuff, you know, was missing pieces or broke up.
You have to figure out what think the oldest piece we ever did was a spinning wheel from the 16th century for an attorney that had a really old European spinning wheel. And we had to make we actually had to hand forge some of the metal parts, which, having had a grandfather was a blacksmith, come in handy because I'd learned a little bit from him.
[00:24:44.830] - Big Rich Klein
That's awesome. I love blacksmithing. I just a couple of years ago, I took a folk school class for a week doing blacksmithing.
And even though it was a basic introductory blacksmithing, eventually when we settled down and I retire and find a place to live, I'm going to create a shop. And one of the things I'm going to do is get a forge in an anvil and just a bunch of metal and start beating on things.
[00:25:13.230] - Milt Thompson
Yeah, it's it can be a lot of fun. And and, you know, also, you know, take your frustration out on something and yell at somebody.
Yeah, I do have some of my grandfather's a few of his old tools that I still have to this day and actually still use some of them I have in my toolbox out here. Well that's awesome. But so yeah.
So we spent, I say about fourteen years and the entire time being in the furniture business, I was doing automotive on the side to supplement the furniture business because it wasn't a real lucrative business at the time. I didn't have really any competition in it. We do things like with weave the cane seats in the chairs and weave them wow. The Rawhide seats, the old pioneer stuff. So I got a chance to learn a lot of things we did, which is not politically correct anymore.
We restored the Civil War canon.
The college had OK, the Dixie Rebels that they used to pull it in the parades and cannon and the case on and all that that I went through and made some of the new spokes and it restored the wagon wheel so they could pull it in the parades and do everything. And then when we get done with that ever after, they just pull it on a wagon and then somehow it mysteriously got damaged and disappeared from the college. How long ago did that happen?
Oh, it's been been a few years back. There it was. I was a little suspicious of how when they somebody said that somebody had put something in, it blown the barrel up. Well, I can guarantee that didn't happen because why? We had that cannon. We shot that cannon.
And when you shoot one of those off with a quarter pound of powder in it at midnight in the middle of town, it excites people.
It's a good thing we didn't get caught, would probably go to jail.
So, yeah, during the whole interim of of doing woodworking, I was doing automotive on the side. During that time, I had I had bought a 66 MGB convertible out of a wrecking yard and I remember towing it home from Santa Clara and coming down what they call Graveyard Hill in Santa Clara and one brake calipers off. So I'd stuck a piece of wood in the calipers so it wouldn't spit the piston and the back brakes were smoking. And I remember my wife was towing me and we had a 68 El Camino at the time until I and we got home and she was in tears.
She was so mad. She didn't want me to buy that. And I did anyway. And I put it back together and run it for several years. I remember being on a dirt road. I had come back from Cedar City and I wanted to pull I pulled off at the Browse exit and went off the south side and down into Ash Creek. There's a Dugway goes down into Ash Creek. I had never been down there, so I to drive down.
So I drive to the bottom of this in a 66 M.G. convertible. And I remember looking at it from the bottom up going, I hope I can get out of here because I could feel the bottom scraping on rocks and things as I got down in there.
And fortunately I had a limited slip differential and I very carefully picked my way back up that Dugway and and got out and got home. And I thought, you know, if I'm going to keep going off, I really need to find something different than this convertible. So I started looking. I found an old military jeep guy, had it in his backyard, flat fender, flat fender, 1942. It was military. Still had the machine gun mount in the frame.
I think his name was Ralph Schwarzer. He was an Arizona highway patrol officer, lived in there by St George. And I remember the time he wanted six hundred and fifty dollars for this Jeep, which I look back now and it was way too much. And I had 600 dollars. He was kind of holding firm to it. And his wife took me aside when he wasn't listening. And she said, if you buy this jeep, I'll pay the extra fifty bucks.
And she wanted out of her backyard because there is an extra body laying on a side. And they had the thing built. It was a doghouse. They had it all around. It's part of a doghouse, like a dummy. I ended up buying it, started piecing it together and got it up and running and had the flat flathead four cylinder in it, had the T84 transmission and got it all up and running and then got it license to go out with the family in it and we come down off of up above the that industrial park or by hurricane where Wal-Mart distribution is now.
Yeah. You can drive up that ridge above and look down into Quail Lake. There's a road goes up the top of that and we'd gone up and stopped and watched and looked and and on her way back down. And that old T8 was notorious for jumping out of gear and it did. And when they jump out of gear, a lot of times it'll chip a tooth off a first gear. And so it's like clang, clang, clang, clang, clang, clang.
So that's what happened with that. And I hunted around. I couldn't find another T84 and I did hand up, found a T14 that a guy had. It was a a Buick V six. So I ended up doing some work for the the guy that had that did some trade work and got the motor and transmission.
Everything from him was that one of the old odd fires, it was an old odd fire but it was the two thirty one, it wasn't a two twenty five dauntless but it was, it was an odd fire two thirty one and so I traded for it. And part of the trade is McArthur Welding. That was next door to where I had my shop. I needed a motor for their welder. So it's kind of a three way trade and my motor was still good.
And so I took the motor out of the jeep I had and put it in one of their Hobart welders because it bolted in place of that continental motor, a few modifications and bolted that in so they could continue using that welder. Then the other guy that had the other shop, we got the trade all done and I got that V six put in that jeep and with the fourteen and it made a pretty good little jeep out of it. The.
We run it for for a long time until we killed it, deer hunting. That's not the one that's on the. That was on the on the sign. No.
OK, no, actually, the the one my original jeep is actually still on the road. My second son, Tyson has got it in Richfield. Oh, nice. We'd we'd been hunting deer out to Jan, what they call General Steam. I don't know if you've ever been out that way. I don't know that name. General Steam was started back in the 30s, I believe, kind of an eccentric old guy that had bought a bunch of equipment, different things from Hoover Dam when they had built down there and when they got done.
And there's a lot of equipment and old stuff around that they were getting rid of. And he bought a bunch of that old lathes and mills and old and he had hauled steam boilers and big hammer deals, a bunch of stuff up in the mountains, that is. Oh, it was north northwest of Gunlock and Vail, Utah, kind of up in the mountains. And the guy's original intent is there was an old iron mine up there. He was going to mine his own iron and process, that he was going to build cars here.
And there is kind of there was a way about doing some big buildings up there one time, pretty good sized buildings. And there was a lot of old Studebaker's and stuff he had hauled in there. There's still a few iron remnants and stuff up there. They'll believe it's been burned down and kind of tore up. The old cars have been hauled away and but up in general steam, you could actually go to the top of the mountain and then down off the south side.
And we had gone out there deer hunting and got into some really heavy brush and off camber sliding down. So we knew it wasn't to go back up. It was so clear out the bottom and at the bottom there's a large wash. And we were trying to get up out the other side. And back in the day it was open differentials and still had the the quarter ton full float rear ended. And, well, we ended up breaking an axle, breaking the second axle, blowing up the motor.
Oh, jeez. Several things that my wife informed me that she says next time you do something like that, you just shoot it between the headlights and leave it. But we went back in and winched it up out of there with hand winches and actually had to cut down one or two trees to get it out. Oh, it was back in the day for that was a big no no. But we we got it out, hauled it home and ended up rebuilding it.
We put CJ7 axles under it from. Quadratec seven had the offset rear end in it, had that Quadratec full time four wheel drive, but the offset was great for the Dana 18 transfer case. Yep. And so we put that in and then I bought a motor out of a I want to say it was an 89 S10 little four three guy I knew going Kanab that had bought the truck for body parts and stuff had been broadsided and he bought it for a little S10 cyclone he was putting back together.
And so he had the motor and everything. I bought the motor and a harness and the computer and and all that and put that fuel injected six in that little jeep behind a Munsie 465. The only problem with those is you have no driveline length with nobody made an adapter short enough to make it work. So we made an adapter. Oh, nice.
And Novak Industries makes an adapter for the four thirty five to the eighteen and twenty. I gave them that design. Nice. The original prototype is is still in that jeep, still running to this day and its overall length from bell housing to the transfer cases is one inch longer than stock. With a 465 in it, so they give you a little bit of drive long and give me some driveline length and but I run that Jeep for probably 100000 miles after we did that, build on it.
Does it still have the 43 in it now, still got the same four three in it? We've changed the body. We wore the body clear out on it. And so my son put another body and we helped him. And so he's still running that little jeep to the awesome. So when did when did Dixie take like Dixie took life, we run the furniture business for about 14 years doing automotive on the side, we sat down one day and put a pencil to it and we were doing better on the sidework then we were full time of the woodwork.
And this is kind of stupid. And and then we had an insurance company because I was doing some automotive work at the same shop as the furniture shop. They said we won't insure you with a woodworking shop and automotive in the same location. We just don't do it. We'd never had a claim, never had a problem, but they absolutely refused.
And and after we looked at numbers and stuff and thought, you know what, it's probably time to let the furniture go. And so we phased it out and went into listed as Thompson Repair. We worked for a couple of years as Thompson repaired to General Automotive and but our business license listed everything up to horse trading. I mean, it was the city at one point tried to make us buy two business licenses. And it's like one for one location.
I'm one guy working in one location. Yeah, but you're doing, you know, different things. And I said, well, Gibson's down the road, so sporting goods and groceries and diapers. And how many business licenses do they have? Well, that's different. It's no, it's not. They have a lot more employees, but they're doing all that under one roof. I said, what difference is it anyway? We finally got sorted out in the city, went away and left me alone finally after a few threats that I'd made.
So but we eventually I had built this little jeep that we'd been runnin for some time and I'd experiment. So, you know, if I do this, this would work better. And so we do shackle reversal on it and it steered better. And then, of course, the nine inch drums were horrible. And when I went to the other Axle's on it, I had disc brakes up front. So I built discs to go on the back and we eventually put 12 inch disks all the way around.
So I stopped really good, but I started having people come in. Can you do that to my jeep? Well, yeah, I think so. And I was getting more and more of that. And I get to the point. I was getting actually quite a bit of four wheel drive work and we got to kick it around one day and, you know, probably had to change the name to Dixie four wheel drive because back in the 70s, the building that we were working out of that the location we're at that in St.
George now was a building that when my parents passed away, my dad passed away last. But my two brothers myself inherited that piece of property and my sister's inherited the house and the other land and the insurance part, whatever policy stuff. But so I eventually ended up buying the two brothers out of the property there because they didn't have any real interest in it. And and so I bought them out of it. But in years before, when my dad was alive, we rented that building out.
Originally, that building sat on that location. We manufactured roof tile, the bar, tile, brand, roof tile, cement, shingles, tile. And as a little kid, I worked with Dad up there. My job was to shovel sand in the hopper and get it ready for the next batch of cement. And I was probably more more grief than good some days for him. But but it was fun to work with him and watch him.
I have fond memories of seeing him making that tile and end up in the building there.
So after they closed that, he sold that business years later to one of my uncles in Cedar who had a block plant. And they had it for a little while. And then, I don't know, whatever, you know, kind of went defunct. Well, after that, dad just used that as a rental property rented at Whetsel and Hawthorne, they made sleeping bags and tents and stuff on satellite building for them. And then later he just ran a different outfits.
He rented it out to a guy that was running a garage out of it, old Harold and Larry Musgrove that ran for probably 13 years from us.
And I got to know them quite well. And at one point, Larry had moved up from California originally. And and he told me one day he wanted me to ask, asked me if I could change the writing on the roof. Used to say Thompson bar tile on the roof, spelled out in the white tile on the red roof. And so he was thinking that he was going to do Jeeps eventually and had it me. Right, Dixie four wheel drive on the roof.
While he never did do Jeeps and eventually got out of the automotive business and building and we still owned the building and it said Dixie four wheel drive on a roof. And I thought well you know be a shame to waste the sign.
And so we changed the name to Dixie four wheel drive from Thompson repair and I think that was somewhere about let's see, oh, in the early 90s somewhere in there.
So we changed over and copyrighted the name and made sure we had everything taken care of. That's when we changed the name over to making it a new business license. Well, we're just changing it. We change the name on the business license when it when it comes to again.
So we've been Dixie four wheel drive ever since then. I had customers from years previous that, you know, little old ladies that drove Buicks and stuff that would come in. So does that mean you're not going to work on my car anymore? And it's like, no, I'll still work on your car. I had customers, a sweet little old ladies. I just couldn't tell them. No, I'd still my old customers back. We had a call two days ago, somebody still asking about if we would take a side job on doing some woodwork.
And it's like, wow. Not a chance.
No. Yeah, you can't afford me.
But so I continue to take care of my my old clientele that I'd had for years and years because I'd got to know them. They were friends, they were good people. And so we've always tried to take care. We we mainlined now in in four wheel drive, not exclusively, you know, the occasional car or something that's broke down. It's got to have something, you know, I get it more so here in Moab than than over in St.
George, but because there's not as many places to refer them to. But but I told my guys some years back, I said, OK, rule is now. No more European stuff can be avoided. I don't want any more Rolls-Royce, no more Bentleys, Lotus Lamborghinis. He used to work on a lot of those. And it's like the answer's no, I don't want to do anymore. Had a customer in here the other day with the Lamborghini, beautiful car.
But it wasn't for work. He was dropping. He had dropped a customer's jeep off for him, OK? And he just brought his car by so we could look at it.
Beautiful car, an older Lambo. It's it's a new one. Oh, jeez. Nice, nice cars and cash. Yeah. Those are but beautiful car. But fortunately I don't have to work on those anymore. That's nice.
Although, you know your your shop rate would go up.
Yes, it would definitely go up. If I was going to do those, I'd have to get different hoist. Mine don't go close enough to the ground to get on. True. With the Lambo.
So you something that you discussed earlier is that your wife was from never forgotten the name Riverton. Riverton and you were down here. How did the two of you meet.
Interesting story about that. I tease her about being a mail order bride.
Mail order bride. There we go.
Why? I was in Florida serving missions for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints. My first missionary companion down there was a kid by the name of Randy Wahl from Riverton, Utah. Fun, fun guy. Got to love him.
He was he was great. And so we were together for about six months as companions in the mission field. He had a girlfriend at home in Riverton. It was waiting for him to come home off his missioners.
And he wrote her one day and says, hey, my companion doesn't have anybody writing to him.
You need to find somebody to write him, say anyway, it's like, oh, really? Randy Elder it anyway.
So it wasn't for too long. There's three young women from up in the Riverton area that started writing me letters and I'd been out for, you know, a few months. We when we serve a mission, it was for two years, so anyway, I started getting letters and I'd respond to them and and to be honest with you, to have a really flaky or seemed really flaky. So anyway, they kind of put it away. But my wife that was writing to me, who I had never met, continue to write.
And for some reason I kept writing. And so we wrote back and forth letters, you know, each week for 18 months and got to know her very well through letters. And I thought, you know, I think I'm going to marry this girl.
And so when I come home off my mission, sight unseen or and get some photos, she sent me a couple of pictures. So when I come home off my mission in January of 78, she had come down to meet me. But when you come off a mission, you have to be released from your mission and until then, you're still a missionary. I hadn't been released at the time and she had stopped at my parents house and and we'd driven past the house on the way to get released.
And she. Ah, you released yet? Yeah. And I said, no, we're on our way. Damn you. My wife grew up on a farming area and that's a habit she's never broke.
She tends to cuss. That is part of what I love about her. I got released and we dated.
We got married three months after I come home from my mission. Wow. And it's her about being a mail order bride. That's awesome. And but that's how we how we met.
And how many kids do you have got? Six. Six kids that she thought three would be a good number. And somehow we doubled that. We've got three boys and three girls. So you thought three would be a good number? She thought through the good number, apparently had six ended up it ended up six. So we kind of had our own basketball team. But and they range from like, say, my oldest daughter and then. I've got a son.
And then another daughter and another daughter and a son and son and my oldest are not oldest daughter. My second daughter is about six foot two and my youngest daughter is about. Five two. I write about that really my mother in law is 4' 11", but your wife is not.
No, she's five seven about that. Well, she was before we started, you know, gravity started to settle. Yeah. You get to a certain age and and things just start and start to recess, get shorter. And then, like I always say, you never lose your hair or become bald. It just migrates. Yeah. It goes to different places and it turns gray, although you have much gray hair. Oh, I keep working on it.
Yeah, I have hopes. My grandfather on my mother's side supposed to be. That's where you get your hair genes from, was ninety six years old when he passed away and still had the majority of his hair. It was gray by then but he still had most of it.
[00:48:37.020] - Big Rich Klein
Well I got really lucky that way because all the men on my mom's side were bald. Luckily I took after my dad's side and got to keep my hair. It just came in gray early. You know, by my mid 30s. I was already starting I was turning gray in areas. So but now it's just.
All right. But okay. So you guys have I remember the shop being small. The first met you in in the 90s was probably ninety six. Seven. Mm hmm. Now you've got two very, very nice buildings. Yeah.
I mean you come into your shops and and you can tell that you guys do high quality work.
[00:49:23.730] - Milt Thompson
Well we strive for that. I can't say it's always been exactly what it should be when you start hiring employees, occasionally you'll run into things that and be honest with you, we've sorted through some employees. The staff we have in St George right now is pretty solid crew. I'm really pleased with them that we've got some they have different ones, have strong suits in different areas that are really good because, you know, certain things like welding. We've we've got a couple of the really good welders and some of them that are really good in, you know, wiring, you know, different things.
So and most most of them are quite versed pretty much overall and which is is really nice. It's not always easy to find. And like I say, we've had to sort through some over the years as we've gone. But we've got a pretty solid staff over there. Some days I'm a little jealous. I've got five or six techs in St George, two full time sales guys, general manager, my youngest son, who's a partner in the business as well.
That's in sales. He can turn wrenches, he can weld his his strong suits in customer relations, sales and stuff. He does very well there. When they get loaded up over there, there's pretty good staff. Or if you have to push something or do something, you got you've got a good group to work with over here.
It's we're a little limited, as my wife and I right now. And like I say, hopefully will eventually find somebody that will will fit in and can do what we need. But well, good luck with that.
And if there's anything I can do when you start looking for when you're really serious about starting to look and stuff, let me know and I'll put the word out to your good network that, you know, we we find people for for businesses at the time.
And I say we're hoping that this covid thing will will subside, that they'll get a handle on, you know, what direction we're going and a things. November 4th. We yeah. I keep hearing that it'll instantly be gone. Yeah. Magically poof. And now it's just the flu again.
It Oh I guess shouldn't make light of it because I mean some people have been seriously ill from it and yes. Things and but then again, some of the doctors I've talked to and they say it's a 99 percent survivable and some of the people that are dying from a common cold will kill him. Correct. So, you know, I'm not a medical expert by any means, so I'm not going to make any statements on it.
I just know a lot of people that have lost their businesses, especially in the service industries, restaurants. It's been really tough for them. Breweries, people. You know, a lot of my friends in Northern California, in Placerville area have have really suffered with their businesses and lost their businesses. And it's it you know, it's just one of those things. But I hope that everybody gets through and and gets through it, you know, and yeah, we're making light of it.
But it is serious, you know, we'll see. We'll see how it goes. But I have a feeling that next year it'll just, you know, it'll it'll be something new, of course. Yeah. Let's just hope it's not all bad.
I'm hoping it gets back to where the people are without work and it can get back to work and and can, you know, get lives back to somewhat normal. And I agree. And taking care of themselves and their families.
[00:52:58.390] - Big Rich Klein
So what's the what's the future, you think for Dixie Four-Wheel Drive?
[00:53:03.490] - Milt Thompson
Well it? I've had a lot of people say, man, I wish you'd come open a store and such and such. And it's like I didn't really plan on expanding from St George. It just kind of just kind of happened when.
When Steve closed Moab outpost here in Moab, Sold his property closed up here. Kevin, Kevin, that was that, actually.
Owned this building that we bought, right, and that he had called and he knew our partner Albert Wada in Idaho and I said, hey, if you guys ever thought of coming to Moab, you know, now would be the time because Steve's closing his business and and we talked about it.
And it's like, well, do we want to do we not want to do a you know? And so we met as a board and sat down and discussed it and decided, you know, we probably had to give it a shot, you know, Moab, a great area.
And so we ended up deciding, you know, we're going to pull the trigger on it. And and so it's been. Well, three and a half years now, now my wife and I, when we decided that, yeah, that's a good idea, along with the rest of the board, didn't realize that she and I had spent the first year over here getting a building set up and getting things going. And and so we're back now. That likelihood is going to be another year over here before things, you know, get back to normal and and that.
But but it's been good. I mean, it's a beautiful area and met a lot of great people over here. We we hope that if the the world gets somewhat back to normal and the nation gets back, you know, someone on track, we hope, and hopefully get employees that we can staff with because the exposure has been been great here. We've got a lot of customers from all over up and down the East Coast and through the middle of the country that we've met.
And we're getting a lot of repeats in the three years we've been here. I've got a lot of customers that we've seen for the second or third time in the time we've been here. That's excellent. And so it's been it's been great. We've met a lot of really good people. Glad to hear that the idea is to expand the business here, not necessarily open one in Salt Lake City or no, that's not really I mean, that's not enough to run.
That's not something we've really looked at and projected toward.
It's I've I never had that the thought of expanding beyond where we were at. And St George, be honest with you, when the old building got to the point, we were looking at remodeling the old building and it was kind of getting to be a race as to whether we remodeled it and got it back in shape or it fell down on us.
The building was about 70 years old. And I say I grew up working with my dad there. My grandfather and my dad built that building back in 1948 49 and build it for the express interest of making roof tiles there. And so it was never designed as a garage. I don't know if you remember where I had my hoist there. I'd cut the ceiling out and raise the ceiling. That's right. So to get up to raise them high enough, so we had modify the building all over to and it wasn't the best working conditions, it wasn't insulated.
So in the summer, you couldn't keep it cool or keep it cooled off. And in the winter you'd freeze your heinie off because you couldn't keep it warm.
And so when it finally come down to the point we looked at the first extensive remodel, I had an architect and a couple of things, and it's going to be like six hundred and seventy five thousand dollars to remodel it, do the renovation.
I'm going I'm not looking to build a dealership here just to fix the garage.
And so then we end up tearing the whole thing down and going way beyond what we had initially planned on. So we're just over 13000 square feet and the other facility. And but to be honest with you, I don't regret it for a minute.
[00:57:14.220] - Big Rich Klein
It's a gorgeous building the way the layout is and the the showroom and the shop space and the parking and everything else you got out there, it's I was really impressed when I showed up there a couple of years ago, just as you guys were. It was just finishing. There was part of it that you guys were still working on. Yeah. And but it was just absolutely gorgeous. I mean, it really it really makes a good impression, as does this this store.
And I think that's I think that's very helpful in our business, in the off road industry. The the businesses that I see that flourish are the ones that are very well organized, very clean. The the guys that struggle are the guys in those one and two bay shops that, you know, they got all the other parts, you know, laying on the floor and just no organization. And they're always looking for things. And so they're spending a lot more time.
Customers walk in and go, oh, you're going to work on my transmission in this place or whatever. Having a facility that looks, you know, almost like an operating room really, really does enhance the overall business, I believe.
[00:58:28.770] - Milt Thompson
Yeah, well, it's we've we've tried really hard to keep it nice. My wife is a clean fanatic, and I don't know if you noticed that front and out back. There's no weeds in the area. She goes out every day. She's a weed killer. Was great because I hate pulling weeds, but she's down to that old farming community. She's done a great job of that.
But I can't I can't fault a little crowded shops because I was one. No, I spent my backyard was my parts department. I had more junk and crap out there. My wife always called it my junk yard. I called it inventory are my treasure room. Yeah. And I nearly cried when we we cleared all that out to do the new building. And I caught a lot of flack because we took two trailer loads of axles to the salvage yard.
And I got so many people screaming at me over social media, different stuff going how come you did this? Like, dude, I've had that stuff in the back yard for three or four years. You guys never bought any of it. And I can't house it anymore. Exactly.
And so making the change has been because of my nature. I'm kind of a collector. Anyway, we call the hoarding. My parents grew up through the Depression, so they didn't get rid of much.
And and I've had to overcome a lot of that. But with my wife's help and the kids, they've you know, they've kept me going pretty good.
But every now and again I go, oh, man, I had one of those and he and I have signed it out.
I've had to get it, get over that. And but to be honest with you, I'm I'm glad we've progressed to this point because now it is so much nicer being able to come to work and, you know. Get on the computer and find my inventory and do everything else. There are still some little things I save and hide aside and that we use a lot. I like that hide and I do have to hide some of this stuff occasionally.
But every now and again, my kids will come.
Dad, you know, anywhere there's a you know, I happen to have one of those. So I still rathole a few things. But but yeah, it's been and we've tried to we've tried over the years to to build a brand and to and as we hire people, we we explain to them we expect a certain level of work and a certain amount of pride and stuff.
And if you're wearing a company shirt, when you go out in public, remember to behave yourself and act accordingly.
And so and we've we've got a good group that I've been really proud of them. They're all good friends. And my wife treats them like they're all all her kids.
[01:01:19.560] - Big Rich Klein
That's awesome. That's that is how you keep people, especially people you want. You know, that's that's important. We do the same thing with our racers. And, you know, every every once in a while somebody comes into the group. You wish they had found something else to do. Very few and far between. Yeah. And just rub people the wrong way or whatever. And they always find their way out of the of the scene because they're just not welcomed.
Yeah. And, you know, employees are the same way. Before moving to Cedar City in the 90s, mid 90s, I used to run Sears Automotives. And as a I mean, I started off doing tires and batteries and shocks and exhaust and then went on, you know, through that and then ended up as a store manager and ran stores that had 128 employees. Well, there was always every store I went into, there was stores that I was like, why did somebody hire you?
You know? And then my job was kind of not to force them out, but, you know, make them see the light that they really didn't fit. It's it's difficult without just going, you're fired. Get out of here. Of course I've done that, too. Yeah. And I get to say some of them will bring to that point. Yes.
[01:02:35.430] - Milt Thompson
And some of them you tell some of them, you know, I had a guy that worked for me years ago and he come and he says, oh, he says, I love this, I love this. I love this as Ron, your sick man, you'll get over it.
And he did. He eventually went out from there and went into more of a parts type guy, you know, selling parts instead of actually having to work on to get dirty and stuff, because it it turned out it wasn't really in his nature. It was fun, you know, as a hobby a little bit. But to do it every day, he quickly got over that. But he realized that we realized it and we're still friends.
That's also. We had a marketing guy that that worked for us and he was great loved, you've known him for over 20 years and he didn't leave because he wasn't a good fit or doing his job. He left because he did too good a job and a big company kept watching his work and come and tried to hire him. We had given him a raise and then they come in and tried to hire him again, but they made him sign a nondisclosure that he wouldn't tell us what they were paying him about.
He in I think I know who that was.
He was feeling bad. And I says, look, you know what? If this is good for you and it's good for your family, take it. That's the important part. If it's a good move for you, take that job and we'll be fine. We'll get somebody else. And we've got a guy that's part time now doing a great job for us. And, you know, we're still friends, you know, the kind of things that just happen.
And then like, say, you get some employees that, like, they really need to go away. And I don't know how this is going to happen without really it's amazing.
People can interview really well and then you hire them. And within 48 hours of working, you know, OK, this isn't going to work. Yeah, this guy totally, you know, pulled the wool over. My resume was a little padded, padded or just the personality, you know. Well, true colors. You know, one of the great things I've had my daughter that's our general manager, Tara. Yeah. She is really good.
She's kind of like had no nonsense. Yeah.
She's she's had to fire some of them and she'll walk in and take care of it. I mean, she'll make a clean cut if need be. But she had work for Harmons in their business department and up in the new City Creek Center and and then down here in St George and a couple of places. And she learned a lot about corporate law and business. And she interviews and everybody that we hire, she requires them to take a personality test.
And there are certain personalities that she will no longer hire if they they come up as a certain personality, ain't happening because she's she's tracked it and she knows which personalities work with the others and which ones that we've had, because I won't tell you which one, but all of our.
The employees that we had most issues with have all been one personality, and so she's done a really good job of tracking through all that. That's great.
I'll bet there's people that would love business owners that would love to have her program, but she would tell them what it is if if they talk to her.
Well, I've heard that call Tara.
She may shoot me, but. Yeah, but like I say, it's she's found it to be very, very successful.
Works very well. At least has done for us.
That's great. So is there anything in your list? Well, let's talk some more about about off road. You and I met through the clubs as Color Country. We brought help bring in ARCA and Ranch Pratt to Cedar City. They put a call out for judges being that we were the club was working with Ranch to try to facilitate and help him do what he needed to get done and, you know, including, you know, BLM and all that kind of stuff.
That was before Three Peaks became a county park. I put the call out to the rebels, and wasn't it yours, Dixie off road, wasn't that the other club that was down there? Who was it? Well, it was rebels, four wheel drive. Oh, it was right. Yeah, OK.
I was a trip director for the Rebels Club, and so I put the call out to you guys and. I think I mean, there was like 20, 30 of you guys all showed up and to help out with that event and a lot of you guys stayed for years.
Yeah, there was I think there was 14 of us that traveled the circuit for most of five years. Yeah. And when I started CALROCs when I moved out of Cedar City in 2000 and then did my first event in 2001, I was like. Oh, man, I wish I had you guys, but too far away, how did you how did you like that part of it? The competition scene?
And, you know, I really enjoyed it. And I remember the the first event up and cedar. I think it was Phil Collard, wasn't he? The trip there, or course, director. Yeah.
And he he was a lot of fun. And I remember going up there and walking, the course, with him the first day and everything and. That was the up there when we walked the course, the first time was the day I broke my ankle. Oh was it? And I didn't know I broke broken. I was wearing cowboy boots when we walked the course and I jumped over a spot and I heard my ankle pop and thought I've promised these guys the next two days.
And so we worked the course. I'd forgotten all about that.
And so I and I thought I just sprained it because after a month or two, I finally got back towards feeling all right. It was just a few years back that I actually had it x rayed and found out that broken in three places. Oh, wow.
But never. It just it's it's all it's fused and it's it is what it is. It'll never be right. You're not going to go out and play basketball. No, I don't run anymore. I can still hike and I can still Jeep. That's awesome. And but hiking is only when the jeep breaks down. Yeah well I, I do enjoy hiking and I did a lot of it when we were laying out trails before and I like to hike and before and get a good look at them and then and start driving them.
But, but yeah. The, the early days of ARCA, I loved it. They were so much fun because we'd have people come and compete that we're in their daily drivers.
The Jeep, they were driving to work every day. I still remember one guy in an XJ broke down in my obstacle. He's on his phone. He has timed out. I'm going. You got to move if we got to get you off of here. He's on his phone with his wife trying to find parts for her Cherokee that she doesn't know he's got and competing.
And I'm pretty sure he got what for when he got home. But those days were great because, I mean, they were driving almost stock outfits and competing especially that first year. And, yeah, it was it was fun. It was really cool to watch and and then to watch the progression of the sport. And that equipment was really fun over those five years.
Yeah. It's incredible that the growth on it was phenomenal and ingenious ideas they started coming up with. I'm trying to think if it was Neil Lillard or who was toward the end was working on a. Extendible wheelbase, because it was like (sounds like something Neil would do) we had talked about that and I said, you know, in some of these places, long wheel base is a detriment. And other places, it's a huge bonus. And there's nothing in the rulebook says you can't do it.
And I remember Tiny and is Moonbuggy broke down in one of my obstacles.
It wouldn't run, wouldn't startup. And then they timed out and we had to get him off the course and he says, it won't run.
I says, grab your spot. Or having put his water bottle over that fuel pump, it'll start up poured over the fuel up, fired right up
He says, why didn't you tell me that before? I says you were on the clock?
Exactly. I said I can't be helping you on the clock. I said, but I can help you get get off the course. And I says, I can tell you if you put that pump in a submersible fuel cell. So it's cool, you won't have that problem, you know, different things. But, you know, I wouldn't help them on the clock because, you know, it wouldn't be fair, but I'd sure share with them after the fact.
But but yeah, we met some some great people that we still see. You know, Shannon Campbell was always such a show. And whenever he's up in Moab, he's always stopped by and always gives my wife a hug. And, you know, he's great. Chris Durham from the Carolinas. Oh, yeah. We see him periodically. That was one of the branches of this year with covid and losing the Red Rock, Four-Wheel Drive Easter Jeep Safari. Yeah, it's know that's what I get to see all those guys.
Yeah. It was kind of a daily grind. Said to say hello because that's what we're staying right now.
Yeah, I see Danny pretty regularly. He does come back, he gets bored.
He goes, I'm bored out of my mind. I got to talk to somebody. Exactly. So he'll come in and he'll hang out, you know, sit, you know, Bay away or something, and we'll visit why I'm working or something. And and so we visit and have a chance to talk.
But yes, he was back there in the day. He was like crew chief for Chris Durham. Hmm. And that's that's how I met him was at our first event when Chris showed up, a couple of those guys with old Dave Night, who there's a whole lot of people would like to see Dave night again. But yeah, for different reasons. Dave, if you ever hear this, do not show up around a rock crawl or anybody used to run it all, got their name on a piece of lead or at the end of a hammer.
Yeah. Wouldn't end well. Yeah. No it wouldn't it. But yeah the the early days of the ARCA were, were a lot of fun. Remember Chris winning in that first year. Yes. And with a junkyard built buggy and a carburator mounted backwards.
I remember it Donner Ski Ranch and this was probably 2003, 2003-2004. We were still running under CalRocs and he and I were sitting there talking in the restaurant slash bar at the ski resort. And you guys, you know, Rich, I don't I don't know if I'll ever win again. I think the sport's gone past me. And I said, Chris, don't worry about it, you will win again. And he won that event and he came back, I mean, on the second day, he came back from being way down and did and and won and he looked at me and he goes, How did you know?
Because you're Chris Durham. You know, it's just the way it is. It's Chris Durham. That's that's what happens. So, yeah, he was one of my favorite drivers. Still is still is a great guy and shows up here every year. It stays up. So I get to see him there and Shannon and I don't know if you heard, but Shannon, youngest child, Bailey, is just announced that she's pregnant. Oh, I hadn't heard that yet.
She married Brian Crofts and they're. They're they're expecting now. Awesome, great. That's going to cut into her racing. Yeah, I was going to say I might slow her down for a little bit. Yeah, it's going to be at least a season, I would think. Yeah. That she's going to run this way, Brian now has a chance to beat her.
But I still think Bailey will be the first female winner of KOH, King of the Hammers. That'll be cool. I thought she was going to do it this year. She was leading. And then the water pump pulley went out on idler pulley or something. Yeah. And Shannon found out it was in the pits brought out of part for her. And they got that running and she was able to finish, I believe. But it was we were all rooting for her, everybody that
was online and we were driving across the country. on our way to Arizona from the event and cheering her on. But, yeah, it's good. It's great to see the second generation starting to come through. Yeah. You know, Bryce, you know, running the company and your daughter and then my son is now running Trail Hero, you know, which is turning into a pretty big event out there. Yeah. And so it's really kind of cool to watch the second generation come through.
You know, I interviewed George Schultz from Red Wheelers because his dad was the one that started that here and took it over from the Chamber of Commerce or the city that was running Easter Jeep. So, you know, it's it's just it's kind of cool to see that this sport has longevity. Yeah. With with the second and third generations. Yeah, it's pretty awesome. It appeals to so many and we're starting to see a lot more women getting involved in driving and really enjoying it.
Yes. And. That's one of the things that we do, is we we help out with the Rebelle Rally, which is the all women's navigational challenge goes from Tahoe to Nevada and California, all map and compass, and finishes up and in, you know, almost on the border and the eight day affair for the girls. And we're on the we're on there out there for about 12. But it's it's an awesome event to watch these women that some of them have no experience off road at all, but they're gung ho to go out and do this.
And luckily, it's not they're not doing any rock crawling or anything like that. They're basically on roads and some washes, just watching them overcome a lot of fears, overcoming the things that happened to them because they don't have their support group and their boyfriends or husbands or whatever aren't with them. Yeah. And all of a sudden, you know, they flattened two tires. Well, they got to spare, so we just learned last week how to change a tire, you know, and they get him change.
They're thrilled. Yeah, you know, it's just fun to be around and it's great to see the women get really involved with the sport. Well, great, I would like to thank you for coming on board and with conversations with Big Rich and welcome sharing your history with our listeners, you know, thank you for being a friend for so many years. I know there was a long time there where we didn't see each other. Yeah, good.
I never got to St George very often. Yeah.
And then and then we we were able to come by I guess it was about five years ago. It was the first year of trial hero that I had put some tires on that were too big and I needed my bumpers and rock sliders trimmed up a little bit, trimmed up and you got the saws all out and opened them up and those tires fit. Now, those bigger tires are good and haven't done anything else like that. Yeah, it was it's awesome.
So I really appreciate the years of a friendship and everything that you've done. You're one of those unsung heroes in offroad, I believe. You know, the drivers and big company owners are these guys that everybody, you know, gets to see all the time and social media and and on video and everything. And it's guys like you that, you know, we're around at the very beginning of the sport competitive scene and opening trails in areas that that people now enjoy as a recreational area when it wasn't a recreational area.
You know, you're one of those kind of people that I that I'm trying to reach with the history so that the people coming into the sport now actually understand how it got to where it's at. And I want to thank you for your friendship over the years. You're doing that. You're welcome. Thank you very much. Enjoyed it. All right, Milt, thank you. You're welcome. If you enjoy these podcasts, please give us a rating, share some feedback with us via Facebook or Instagram and share our link among your friends who might be like minded.
Well, that brings this episode to an end. OK, you enjoyed it. We'll catch you next week with conversations with Big Rich. Thank you very much.