The most revolutionary car in rockcrawling history is undoubtedly, Tiny. Today we interview, Jon Bundrant, the driver Tiny was built around. John won 18 events in two years in the early days with this incredible car, then went on to off-road industry fame with All-Pro Offroad. Catch up with Jon in this episode.
3:21 – history of racing goes back a long way, Arizona state champ in BMX at age 16
5:49 – start in four-wheel drive was Azusa Canyon and a Land Cruiser
11:10 – the start of All-Pro Off-Road
14:42 – Sounds like Randy
17:34 – Sitting on a milk crate as Tiny got built around me
21:04 – We didn’t know its limits
29:14 – Getting in Tracy’s head
36:53 – favorite location, that’s easy: Farmington
49:31 – history of All-Pro
57:05 – drag racing today
1:00:36 – spying on Tiny
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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 enthusiasts. So now's the time to sit back, grab a cold one and enjoy our conversation.
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[00:01:20.610] - Big Rich Klein
On this week's episode of Conversations with Big Rich, we'll be talking with Jon Bundrant. Jon was the founder of All-Pro Off-Road.
He was also the driver of Tiny, probably the most revolutionary rock crawler in history. So let's talk to Jon about those early days at All-Pro, the early days of rock crawling and where he's going now and what he plans on doing in the future. Hello, Jon, thank you for coming on board with us today with Conversations with Big Rich and talking about your history and your history in off road and how you got to get to where you're at today. So where did you grow up, Jon?
[00:02:02.670] - Jon Bundrant
I was born in Modesto, California, grew up there, I was like 12 or 13, we travel around a lot. My parents did. I've lived in Mississippi and Arizona and just all over the country, but mostly Central Valley, California, is where I grew up.
[00:02:19.450] - Big Rich Klein
What kind of influences did you have as a kid that might have gotten you going in the direction that you ended up going in off road?
[00:02:28.220] - Jon Bundrant
We used to go camping with my grandpa and my uncles and we would add dirt bikes. This was back in around. 68 to 70, I mean, a long, long time ago, but, you know, I started riding the Honda Trail 70, you know, I think it was like nineteen sixty nine. We would go dirt bike riding in the mountains up in the Sierras, just east of Sonora, Tuolumne up in that area.
And we would spend the weekends up there almost every weekend, all summer and into the fall. And so my grandpa and my uncle had a big influence on me, really got me turned on to off roading and the mountains and getting out and enjoying it.
[00:03:13.330] - Big Rich Klein
So did you race as a kid and anything? Motorcycles or quads or three wheelers or anything like that.
[00:03:21.850] - Jon Bundrant
So when I was 13, we moved to Tucson, Arizona, and I was in eighth grade. I started racing BMX there and I got pretty into it. Know, I was actually the Arizona state champion as a 16 year old in BMX and then started racing dirt bikes a little bit. But I really couldn't afford it. I had a really old Suzuki TM125, I think in nineteen seventy three. So I raced several times, you know, on the dirt bikes, but I was kind of had to pay for it on my own.
And it was, it was tough in a high school and working at a bicycle shop after school and then trying to keep the dirt bike going. But I did the BMX for several years. And, you know, as I got into cars, you know, about 18 or so, I started getting into that. Wanted to have a drag car, hot rod car, you. So the kind of BMX kind of I was getting too old for it anyway, but it kind of went away and.
I got into the car. What was your first car? Oh, my first car was a 69 Olds Cutlass was the first car. It was really slow, but I thought it was really fast and I had that Gabriel highjacker airshocks on the back and, you know, big tires. And otherwise it was it was pretty stock. And that was my very first car. Not long after that, I got into four wheel drives and I got my first four wheel drive was a seventy four Toyota Land Cruiser.
And I bought I've had Land Cruisers and Toyota trucks and 4runners like the whole rest of my life.
[00:05:00.690] - Big Rich Klein
I was going to ask you what came first as a four wheel drive vehicle start off in Toyotas, or did you start off in a Jeep and then go to Toyota's that you jumped right into Toyota?
[00:05:12.030] - Jon Bundrant
Yeah. Made the right decision. Yeah, I've I've just for some reason, I've never really liked Jeep vehicles, you know, I always like the Toyotas. And so my first vehicle was Land Cruiser, my first four wheel drive. You know, I just kind of bonded with them, and I've always had Toyota's ever since.
[00:05:33.440] - Big Rich Klein
So from the Arizona area, that's where you graduated high school as well. Yeah, and then at about 18, you got you got into cars, then migrated into Toyotas. What happened with that first Land Cruiser?
[00:05:49.580] - Jon Bundrant
It actually I bought it off of a used car lot and El Monte, California. I had after high school, I went to Auto Mechanics Trade School in Tucson. When I graduated from that, I moved to Southern California. I found Azusa canyon off road area, and a couple of buddies told me, I need to go up there and check it out, you know, if you want to go off roading. So I did actually rode up there with a friend the first time and then the very next week I found a used car lot in El Monte.
They had a seventy four Land Cruiser that somebody had done a three fifty Chevy conversion on. And I have the Toyota drivetrain in the Chevy engine. I didn't know anything about it. It was a real pile, you know, but I thought it was it was really cool to me and I think I was 19. It was really cool. And I started going to Azusa canyon and I was breaking axles every weekend and just having all kinds of trouble.
But from that, I learned how to upgrade it. And I started making stuff on my own and just making a little stronger beefier and where I was actually having fun there instead of working on it all the time.
[00:07:05.600] - Big Rich Klein
So from Azusa Canyon, God, I've never even been into Azusa canyon, but I always hear so much about it. One of these days I'm going to have to make a trip into there. But was that FJ that you had? It was a 40, I'm assuming. Was it topless or did it have the hardtop on it when you got it?
[00:07:25.310] - Jon Bundrant
No, It had a soft top. I think it was back then. It was a K-line soft top. I didn't have any hard top with that.
[00:07:34.280] - Big Rich Klein
So in the winter times or that the rainy season in Southern California, you had quite the vehicle.
[00:07:41.700] - Jon Bundrant
Yeah, fortunately it wasn't my daily driver. I think at the time I had like an old 72 Buick Riviera that I used to drive to work. And, you know, because by Sunday night, the Land Cruiser was usually broken. I wouldn't be able to drive it to work anyways.
So I had the old Buick for a while that I drove to work.
[00:08:02.780] - Big Rich Klein
So what kind of jobs were you working then. You go to work Mondays and have to take the Buick. Were you wrenching at that point?
[00:08:11.840] - Jon Bundrant
I wasn't. I was doing like side work but I actually worked at Kern Foods in City of Industry, you know, and they make the nectars and jellies, jams, all that kind of stuff. I was a warehouse supervisor there and and then I worked on four wheel drives at night and stuff.
I worked there for three or four years.
[00:08:31.490] - Big Rich Klein
Did you belong to any clubs?
[00:08:33.650] - Jon Bundrant
Just like the Azusa canyon deal.
It was very informal, but there would be like three thousand people there on every weekend, you know, and you had kind of a big circle of friends that you wheel with. And, you know, mud bog, Hill climb the, you know, everything that was down there. Wasn't too many rocks down there at the time, but a lot of the big hill climbs and stuff and lots of mud.
[00:08:56.770] - Big Rich Klein
So at about what time did All-pro or did you did you have a transition from Kern Foods to All-pro?
[00:09:06.670] - Jon Bundrant
So All-Pro came much later. I ended up going back meeting a guy in Azusa Canyon who was, I don't know, exact he was like kind of buying car dealerships in the Midwest and stuff. And he had this dream of building what he called a muscle truck, which was like a truck with thirty eight inch tires or whatever, and a big block and stuff that they would sell on the dealer showroom. You know, he talked about going back, going back to Missouri, where we were going to build these trucks and that we're going to have like a monster truck kind of deal.
And I was going to be the driver and do car crashes and. Supposedly compete against Bigfoot. That just got started and, you know, this is the early 80s, so I actually went back, I was back there for a year and did some car crushing and stuff like that and and worked at a Ford dealer there back in Southwest City, Missouri. And I kind of got my start at a dealership there and ended up working when I came back to California.
I got a job at a Ford dealer here and doing transmission's and rear ends and did that for about 10 years before I started All-Pro the whole time I was four-wheeling, going out to doing a Rubicon and fun in the desert and all these runs down here and and building my own parts and people would see them on my truck. And where did you get that bumper or where did you get this or that? and I told them I built it. That just turned into All-pro, you know, and I quit my job one day and that was it didn't look back for it.
Never looked back.
[00:10:53.830] - Big Rich Klein
We all have those moments. Yeah. Those moments where we just look at it, what we're what we've been doing and said, you know, we've got to have a better life than this. And then we work our asses off for that better life. But at least we're we're calling our own shots.
[00:11:10.420] - Jon Bundrant
Yeah, exactly. And that was the whole deal, you know, being my own boss, calling my own shots and make my own decisions, good or bad, at least they're my own and not taking direction from somebody who I don't agree with that direction, you know.
[00:11:26.710] - Big Rich Klein
So All-pro, you guys were in Temecula, is that correct? Hemet, Hemet and is that where you started it at, or did you start somewhere else and end up moving there?
[00:11:41.840] - Jon Bundrant
I started I moved to Hemet in eighty eight and started at the Ford dealer in Hemet. And so that's where I started All-Pro from now. Eighty eight,
[00:11:55.050] - Big Rich Klein
OK? And so you if you were running the Rubicon, you came across the Wardens and Pardee and all those guys, didn't you?
[00:12:02.520] - Jon Bundrant
Oh yeah, that had some really nice Land Cruisers that I was very envious of, they had a lot of nice stuff.
[00:12:12.520] - Big Rich Klein
So let's talk about let's talk about All-Pro, you know, the whole basis behind that company started off, I guess, building stuff for yourself and then people wanted wanted parts that you built. Right.
[00:12:27.730] - Jon Bundrant
Right. Yeah, I was working at the Ford dealer and building my own parts and building stuff for people on the side.
I mean, I would get off work at five o'clock and I would come home and work till 2:00 in the morning in my little shop at my house and pretty much every night. And then on weekends I would go wheeling and back at that Monday morning, you know, and then I was building bumpers and sliders and skid plates and, you know, suspension kits, just all that kind of stuff for Toyotas.
[00:13:01.140] - Big Rich Klein
When did All-Pro become a really substantial business where where you just, you know, no more dealership, I'm going to do this full time.
And did you start off with with employees or did you do it all yourself? Twenty four hours a day. How did that work out?
[00:13:17.700] - Jon Bundrant
I started by myself and it didn't take long for I had a couple of employees and and, you know, you can't do it by yourself. You can't get anything done by yourself. But it didn't take more than a few weeks for I had a couple mechanics/ fabricators, you know, and I was nineteen ninety-six. Ninety six is when I left the Ford dealer for good and All-Pro was open full time. I had it for twenty three years I guess.
[00:13:48.280] - Big Rich Klein
And let's talk about that.
when I interviewed Lance Clifford, he mentioned that you were his first advertiser on Pirate. Yep.
[00:13:59.820] - Jon Bundrant
That's what he tells me. He's told me that a few times,
[00:14:02.010] - Big Rich Klein
he really thanks you for that because that made him understand that, that there was a world out there beyond working for somebody else.
[00:14:10.140] - Jon Bundrant
Yeah, we were the first paying advertiser on pirate 4x4 , so. And it worked worked for him, and it worked really good for us. I mean, it was awesome, awesome place and it blew up like, you know, you can't believe it was a good place.
[00:14:28.610] - Big Rich Klein
So name some of the guys that came through. I know that there's there's a king of the king of the hammers that worked for you.
If I if I remember right, didn't Slawson work for you at one time?
[00:14:42.530] - Jon Bundrant
Yeah. I hired Randy. He had just moved down from Oregon. I think his wife was going to nursing school, Loma Linda, and he was looking for a job and he I didn't have much for him. He seemed really enthusiastic. But, you know, he was basically doing cleanup work and stuff and pushing a broom and and he would tell he would sit there and look at my, what we call Truggy, which is our little bad ass Toyota rockcrawler.
And he I was really proud of it. You know, it was a nice truck and he would tell me all the things that were wrong with it, you know. Sounds like Randy.
Yeah, exactly. And I'm like, what does this guy know? Right. And he has yeah. He's come a long way, as you know. I'm proud of him. And he worked at All-Pro for a few months. but he's come a long way. He's very talented fabricator and he's done well.
[00:15:40.550] - Big Rich Klein
Let's talk about competition with the rock crawling. You I know that you came out to our first series event in 2002 at what Cal Rocks that we did at Lions Pride Park. But was there any events prior to that? Did you were you involved with the CRCA or any of those events or any other events?
[00:16:05.800] - Jon Bundrant
The CRCA, I think, was the two thousand three. We got involved with that, but prior to Cal Rocks in 2002. I did Pro Rock. I did like the Warn Rock Crawling series with Bob Hazel. You know, I went to like, Farmington. And there was one in Johnson Valley and I went to Montrose, Colorado. I did like a handful of events before that. Two thousand two Cal Rock event?
[00:16:36.670] - Big Rich Klein
And that event I remember you injured your back. Was that the one that that Nelson was there with you, John Nelson?
[00:16:47.540] - Jon Bundrant
Yeah, yeah, he was there with me. I've known him for years prior to that. You know, he just lived down the street from me. We used to race stock cars and stuff together, circle track stuff. So he was there watching. I was trying to get him and to come check us out. He never really, he'd been in the desert his whole life, but not all the go fast stuff, you know, not rock crawling.
So he came to check it out. And you know what happened to me? I broke three vertebrae in my back on that. Right. I think it was the end of the first day or whatever of. You're sorry to hear see that happen? That's for sure. Yeah, yeah, that was no fun. No, but from that, you guys developed the groundbreaking car.
Yeah, I actually sat on a milk crate on top of a surface plate and they built the car around all, all the like the wheelbase, track width front rear weight percentage is all that were taken off my Toyota truggy. It was the exact same dimensions, you know, as far as trackwidth and wheelbase and ride height and all that kind of stuff. And it came to, oh, you put the engine in the front, you ask me what's the well, you need the most improvement on from the driver's seat when you're on the course.
And it's visibility. I mean, trying to see the front of that Toyota truck with the big fenders and all that stuff on was that was the toughest part. Even you have a spotter, but it's really gives you a lot more confidence when you can see it right there in front of yourself, you know, with no body body on it. The driver's position, bias towards the front of the engines in the back. So the engine went in the back, and that was kind of, everybody knows the rest
[00:18:38.550] - Big Rich Klein
well, some people do.
We're trying to bring this all this history up to all the guys that got involved in in off roading with the JK's and that are overlanders and are looking so that that vehicle ended up with the name Tiny. I don't know how the name was coined. I know that that didn't look like there was any two tubes on that that were parallel or in line that matched size wise. Can you can you talk about what was going through. John's mind, Nelson, with when throwing tubes in there, know
[00:19:18.660] - Jon Bundrant
he's a real creative guy and you know, when it comes to all the link mounts and suspension and all that kind of stuff, now, it was so compact that you had to put everything where it fit, you couldn't just if you would have laid it out more conventional like most people do.
And what it ended up being a really big vehicle, you know, so to keep it as small as possible and you had to. fit link tubes and brackets and stuff in unconventional places, you know, but it all it all worked, so sure did.
[00:19:55.700] - Big Rich Klein
So you guys built that came up that concept and started building it in 2002. And then you debuted it.
Where was the first place you ran in
[00:20:07.930] - Jon Bundrant
the first place? We ran it was at the CRCA, Jeff Knolls, at the Wooden Nickel Ranch there in Menifee, California. I think at the time, it was like a one day deal and it was 20 minutes from our house, so we went over there and ran it.
[00:20:28.880] - Big Rich Klein
Were you instantly impressed by it or were there a lot of I know that typically there's new car blues and that thing was so new meaning, you know, it was there. Well, it wasn't conventional. I mean, it it was so far out of the box. Did did it did it work magically or did would you guys have to go back and tweak some things?
[00:20:52.880] - Jon Bundrant
I have to go back and tweak some things. It worked pretty well, but we actually broke at the first event, broke a rear link arm on on the right rear.
And it just wasn't you know, it was made really lightweight and we didn't really know the limits. How far can you go before it's not going to be strong enough? We learned on that day that the very first day. So I think we still ended up third or something like that, a very capable vehicle. I knew we'd gone out and tested a couple times and it was a completely different driving experience than what I was used to.
[00:21:33.500] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, visibility and everything else in that car was phenomenal. I still see that car once a year. The gentleman that owns that right now is down in Mexico in Saltillo and competes it down there at events. And he comes up to our events in Texas. It's always a treat to see that car. I mean, it was always my favorite car. Any car that's ever been built to take something that's that's never been done produce something that everybody I mean, everybody I've talked to says the first time they saw it, which a lot of them saw at that super crawl was the first time.
And everybody was looking at it like, yeah, that's not going to work. How is that going to work, you know? And then not a lot. Yeah. And I remember my first conversation with with John Nelson. He called me up and he said, hey, Rich I want you to allow us to put water in the tires. Because water's free. And I said, John, water might be free, but it's not really free because once we start putting water in the tires, there's a whole bunch of other things that's going to happen.
Guys are going to start breaking more. The cars are going to become way more capable. And to make that make it exciting or to to make it so that the cars are challenged, we're going to have to make courses that may end up being more dangerous. He goes, well, just remember, Water's free, we argued and he goes, well, Craig Stumph has already said that he'd do it. And I'm like, well, you know, I'm not Craig Stumph.
So we had a long conversation that night on the phone and he finally he finally got me when he said, well, Rich, here's the deal. I'm going to put weight where I want it. And if that means I got to weld fifteen thousand dollars worth of tungsten to the rims, I'm going to do that. And then I'm the only one that's going to be able to afford it.
So water's free and I'm like, damn you, you know?
All right, fine, water's free. So not only did he change that vehicle, change the way everybody thought about how cars, rock crawlers should be built. But he also changed the whole sport by pushing that envelope of of weighting the vehicle and all the different things. An incredible mind, but damn, rock crawling used to be a lot cheaper. Yeah, yeah, you can take a trail rig, you know. So what did you guys hear when you showed up with Tiny and you as the driver?
I know Larry wasn't your first spotter. Somebody else was. I had like three didn't like the first three or four events I had a different spotter at every one we were trying to find the exact right. One of the best guy. We had a couple of local guys here, Chris Geiger's spotted at the CRCA deal, which that was like a time to speed dial. So he was mostly running.
Trying to get out of the way was a real good at getting out of the way.
I saw him get hit a couple of times at that first super crawl Mitch Guthrie spotted for me. And about halfway through the event, I reinjured my back from when I broke it at the CalRocks. It had only been. I don't know, six months or so since that happened and I wasn't fully healed, so I drove it the first day I couldn't drive, but the next day I couldn't even move so Mitch drove it the second day. And, you know, it wasn't.
Super impressive. And, you know, in hindsight, we looked we were disappointed, but we looked at that and that was the last event of 2002 and we're like, well, now everybody is going to go work on the rigs, all winter. And nobody's going to be worried about Tiny because it was different, but it didn't really impress anybody yet. So that was kind of a you know, if we would have went and won that's first Supercrawl the first time, then, you know, everybody would have been changing their rigs that winter to, you know, try to get a lot better.
But because I think we finished 15th or something, nobody gave it a second thought. And and then we practiced all winter long. And I hooked up with Larry, and that worked out awesome. That was we were just the two right personalities to work together. We communicated perfectly when we would go pre- walk a course, we would see the same things without even. There was never any arguments. You know, we basically see the same lines.
It just worked out perfect. So in that, you know, that changed it. And then you having John as a coach. It was it was a great, great team.
[00:26:47.160] - Big Rich Klein
Larry mentioned John as a coach more than just a coach in the rock crawling but a coach in life and business as well. But how to be a professional because he brought that over from the desert racing and the roundy round stuff that he did. And I'm not even sure all the different types of racing that he was involved with.
But that was one of the things that
[00:27:09.990] - Jon Bundrant
he owns, several businesses that are all successful. And yeah, there's a lot of times I would just go over to his house and sit on the couch and ask him questions. Hey, I'm struggling at work and I have I need some advice. And, you know, he would usually give it to me and he would always tell me, you know, just remember that that advice I just gave you is worth exactly what you paid for.
You know, no joke. But what great advice from John.
[00:27:40.350] - Big Rich Klein
So with with all that practice and the coaching, you guys came back in two thousand and three. And you ran, UROC, you ran, ARCA, you ran, pro rock, you ran CalRocs. And you guys kind of like put smack down on everybody I remember, right?
[00:28:03.610] - Jon Bundrant
Yeah, I think we ran 18 events in 2003 and we won, I believe, 14, 13 or 14 of the 18.
And if we didn't win, we were second and third. I think we got one fifth place finish once. I think we broke a a diff or something one time. And we were always in contention.
[00:28:30.770] - Big Rich Klein
So then you guys have been winning, you go into two thousand and four. And you continued to win, wasn't there, like a long stretch of wins or
[00:28:44.190] - Jon Bundrant
we won in 2004?
I think we we ended up finishing second in the UROC series in 2004, but I missed two events and Larry actually drove it in those events, but in those two events. But I missed it. And, you know, we ended up second that year. Tracy Jordan won and we didn't do near as many events, you know, have things going on at work and in life. And and that was that.
[00:29:14.070] - Big Rich Klein
I remember you guys competing the one time that I remember that, where there was a lot of competition going on between you and Tracy was. And I think it was more John Nelson and Tracy then than you. And it was in two thousand and three, I think it was with we're at Cougar Butte's and I. It was the weekend or yeah, I think it was a week before the Baja Rocks event or maybe two weeks before the Baja Rocks event, and I remember Jon getting under Tracey's skin just on him on every course instead of paying attention to you guys running.
He's just shadowing Tracy.
[00:29:58.370] - Jon Bundrant
He followed Tracy around and just kind of stared them down. And Tracy coming up to me after he'd done that a few times and yelled at me and said, you know, tell your boss to quit trying to intimidate me.
[00:30:14.330] - Big Rich Klein
I remember that Tracy rolled on like the last obstacle. Well, it was obviously his last obstacle. Smoke the motor. Just, yeah, got pretty upset. We had a long discussion about it. I called John after that and said, hey, we need to lay off, you know, while people are on course, you know, let them run their course. Don't try to you know, this isn't this isn't circle track. I don't want fights in the pits.
I don't want anything going on. So let guys run, beat them on the rocks. I remember Tracy was highly upset because he had to replace a motor and it all worked out for him because he went to Baja Rocks and and won that event. And, of course, nobody ever got paid from that event. But I remember that.
Yeah. So let's talk about the competing against Tracy. I know that he's a fierce competitor. We see that. We've seen that for years. He does not like to lose, nor does anyone. But, you know, Tracy has always been kind of, you know, at the top of the game, especially when he's working with his brother. They're pretty fierce competitors and they really study what other people are doing, but they have their own ideas.
What was it like? What was it like competing with against him?
[00:31:38.520] - Jon Bundrant
I'm competing with Tracy was was probably the best thing for me, like I, I think he's the best pure Rock crawler that's ever been in the sport. I thought that back then. I still think that he's an awesome driver, very meticulous in what he does or doesn't get rushed and frazzled and stuff is just. Is super good, his pleasure to compete against them, and he brought out the best in me and our team, you know, because there's nobody we wanted to beat more than Tracy Jordan.
[00:32:16.400] - Big Rich Klein
I would say that you're correct in that I agree that that overall, I think that he is probably the most accomplished over a long period of time and with various vehicles being able to perform at a pretty high level. Not only that, but just some of the big trails that he's opened up in in Arizona and other places is he seems to be completely fearless. And I think that helps.
[00:32:47.240] - Jon Bundrant
Yeah, no. Yeah, he was fearless and he did some crazy lines that we'd watch and go, you know, while we weren't going to do that. But now we have to do that. Right, because Tracy did it and whether weather was a bonus line or whatever it was. But yeah, he was definitely fearless. And I got the utmost respect for him and his team, whether it was with Don Robbins or his brother. We had a lot of fun competing against him.
And that was one of the highlights of the short time that I was getting to compete against.
[00:33:21.210] - Big Rich Klein
And what about drivers like Shannon Campbell, I know Shannon. It seemed to me that Shannon was always trying to perfect the vehicle instead of learning the what what he could do in the vehicle, so it seemed like almost every event he'd come out with almost a new vehicle.
[00:33:40.820] - Jon Bundrant
Yeah, they seem to have, yeah, new vehicles all the time and and maybe not enough time to get used to it and what it could do or learn it before he switch to something else.
But I mean, he was one of the coolest guys to watch on course because he was always exciting and a lot of throttle. And you never knew what he was going to do, you know, but great guy, love the guy and always had fun competing against him to.
[00:34:11.530] - Big Rich Klein
What did did you compete against? I'm sure you did Johnny G,
[00:34:17.290] - Jon Bundrant
yeah, Johnny G. We had a good battle in Reno, was a Moonrocks ARCA event, and I think it was obvious they called a B seven was like a famous obstacle there and nobody had ever climbed it.
We were on day one was our turn to climb. And we we made the climb and we're leading the event and his time was on day two to climb and nobody else climbed it all weekend, just us. And if he made the climb, he won the event by like one point over us. And if he didn't make the climb, we won the event. It came down to the very end of the the second day he came up and out of school and he made it.
He was only one other than us to make it and just barely edged this out for the for the win there in Reno. Wow.
[00:35:10.180] - Big Rich Klein
I don't I remember being at that event. I remember it being cold and windy. Yeah. Especially on on Sunday, because when I tried to drive home, I had to put chains on to get the Placerville right.
Which was crazy. Yeah. So who else was there that that you competed against back in those early years that, that either you thought had potential and then eventually got there or that you just like to compete against because they were always on the edge?
[00:35:44.740] - Jon Bundrant
Well, as far as I just like to compete against it would be Mitch. Guthrie may have been best friends for, like since nineteen eighty three or eighty four. We met and actually started wheeling together and Azusa Canyon, you know, back in the early eighties and have been friends ever since. So whatever we do, whether it was with Land Cruisers where both of the Land Cruisers or competing, rock crawling, or Razer's or whatever, we've always brought out the best in each other and enjoyed beating each other.
You also competing against Mitch? Ours was always fun.
[00:36:26.500] - Big Rich Klein
I would imagine that led to some good bench racing before and after the events.
[00:36:32.320] - Jon Bundrant
Oh, yeah, obviously good times and in bad times, you know, but yeah, we've always had a good time competing against each other and I guess I've been bench racing about it.
[00:36:44.350] - Big Rich Klein
So out of all the places that you competed with Tiny, where was your favorite? Location,
[00:36:53.420] - Jon Bundrant
that's pretty easy when Farmington, because I believe we won every event we ever went to in Farmington, I think we we won five times there in different associations and stuff. So tiny was a good big climb on some of the big climbs and stuff like that and. And I enjoyed that, so, I mean, we always did good there and that was our.
Our best place, Johnson Valley, probably the second place, you know, we won a couple of events there and I love going to Johnson Valley myself.
[00:37:28.900] - Big Rich Klein
And what would you say besides being that super crawl?
What was the most memorable win that you ever had in Tiny?
[00:37:39.540] - Jon Bundrant
Gosh, I mean, they're all memorable. You know, we won so many events over a two year period, I think 18 events or something, but, you know, the first the first one in Johnson Valley was big because that was our first kind of major win, the MOAB event. Was huge. I think we won by two four. We didn't even have to do the last two courses.
We were like 80 points ahead. So we just it was a killer weekend. Like everything was just click. And we don't think we hit a cone all weekend where everything just clicked in Moab. And that was like our biggest win as far as a point spread, because when we had a we had a lot of good ones. All the farmington events and a lot of good events, you know, put up or shut up, won twice.
Those were good. So, I mean, there are. They're all good, though, you know, two years ago, we finished fifth, two different times, and those were our worst finishes ever. They're both in Cedar City, which was my my least favorite place to go. I think just because of that, you know, and we never won at Cedar city, so. We pretty much won everyone everywhere else,
[00:39:01.860] - Big Rich Klein
that's kind of amazing, that cedar is that we still do cedar.
In fact, we did Cedar twice this year and in twenty 20 with a regular season event that we moved there because we couldn't go to Donner because of the covid. So then we and then we had to move our finals out of Farmington because the state wouldn't allow us to do an event. So we moved it to Cedar for finals and we used an area that hadn't been used in years. Everybody really looked forward to going back there. And so we're putting it on the schedule again for this season.
It always was good for crowds.
Yeah, yeah, they could get a lot of people there. It helped me out with course design back then because I didn't go to a lot of the ARCA events or to the pro rock events, then did they do a lot of breakovers?
[00:39:56.990] - Jon Bundrant
There were a lot of breakovers. And what's that could hang us up, you know, but we had very little travel in the shocks and almost all droop. So even when the bell hung up on just out of break over rock, the axles dropped down far enough, usually to touch the ground. It could help get us off. So it was low, but we had a lot of drug travel in. So that actually dropped down as far as possible to hopefully gain some kind of traction.
[00:40:29.640] - Jon Bundrant
Did you run the BFGs on that the whole time that you ran it? Yeah, yeah, we're sponsored by BFG and that's all we ever ran.
[00:40:41.030] - Big Rich Klein
Was there any consideration of ever I know that you started off with the truggy and the you know, we talked about the truggy and and what happened at that event there in in Lions Pride Park. And then you guys, you and John Nelson sat down to to create a new car, which ended up being tiny. Was there any. Any idea about trying to use any Toyota parts, being that that's what you where your background was?
[00:41:12.520] - Jon Bundrant
Yeah, we discussed it.
I mean, it's kind of. We thought about using Toyota axles because we were just going for a lightweight, you know, decided in the end they wouldn't take the punishment that we're going to have to dish out.
[00:41:27.140] - Big Rich Klein
What other what other partners did you have back then? I know you, partner. You said you partnered with with BFG. What are the other partners that helped you out during those times?
[00:41:38.710] - Jon Bundrant
We didn't have a lot of sponsors. Alcoa will come on and supplied us wheels and stuff, but CTM Axle's helped us out with Axle's, you know, that's all I know. And we didn't actually go out and pursue sponsors and kind of want to do it on our own.
And and that's just the way it was. So.
But I remember that. Yeah. Did you compete down there in Baja? No, I never did. OK. All right. So did you ever do any desert racing? Never did, never did, OK? No. And. The after tiny. Did was that kind of the end of the rock crawling competition scene for you? That was the end.
Yeah, that was the end of the competing. At the end of 04. I was still rock crawling every weekend, going to events for work and Larry and the gang of friends. We would go out to the Hammer's almost every weekend for three or four more years and, you know, just have fun.
[00:49:31.690] - Big Rich Klein
What was the product All- Pro that you think that that really drove that business?
[00:49:40.240] - Jon Bundrant
And the main product was the high steer for the Toyota, and I invented that myself back in. I had the first one, I think, in like ninety eight, ninety nine right in there, made the arms, made everything from scratch and you know, before we were forging the arms and that kind of stuff. And we're welding arms together one by one. That was our biggest product for years.
I think we ended up selling like over twenty five thousand of those highsteer kits and then also came out with a solid axle conversion kit, went to the independent front end in eighty six, came out with a kit that the average guy can do at their own shop or in their garage or driveway to convert their truck. All the pieces needed to convert the truck from IFS to a solid axle. And that was a huge seller for years and years. So.
[00:50:41.320] - Big Rich Klein
So most of the stuff that you sold or you did at All-pro was for the do it yourself or or did you did you bring cars in and build, build, build trucks or cars for people?
[00:50:53.350] - Jon Bundrant
We did for the first three years, we built a lot of trucks. When I first started doing the solid axle swaps, people would drive their truck from all over the country to All-Pro and they would fly home. They would fly back in two weeks and drive the truck home with a solid axle in it.
We do that for three or four years until. We're doing so many parts and, you know, we had a big line of parts that we just couldn't do installs anymore, the parts were much more profitable and less time consuming than, you know, building trucks from scratch. So we kind of quit doing, you know, the building trucks. We did a few one offs here and there, and we always prototype our own parts at All-Pro. So that's what took most of the shop space, was, you know, we would develop a new products, you know.
So we did all that in-house.
[00:51:48.030] - Big Rich Klein
Awesome. So when did when did you decide to retire and step away from All-pro, that was in it towards the end of twenty seventeen.
[00:52:00.930] - Jon Bundrant
You know, I got a call from Matt Messer, who was interested in buying it. We were up in Montana at the time. We'd move the company up to Montana. I just felt like it was time, you know, time to do that. I've lost some of the. You know, the passion for the product and all that lasted for years and years, but the industry had changed. It seemed like nobody was rock crawling. I couldn't really I tried to get into the overlanding stuff.
We made lots of product for overlanders, but I wasn't really into it. I wasn't passionate about it. And we're not passionate about something. I mean, you can't be that successful. That so is lost. Some of the drive for that is the time the opportunity came to get out and I took it. I'm happy Matt has it and I think he's doing pretty good with it and I wish him the best.
[00:52:57.960] - Big Rich Klein
So my son called me and said. Guess what I just bought? And I was like, I don't know, and he goes, well I was talking to John Bundrant and I went, Oh. You got the Truggy. And he said, yep, I got the Truggy so you you parted with your baby.
[00:53:22.920] - Jon Bundrant
Yeah, he was here yesterday and picked it up, loaded onto the back of his truck like he's home with it right now, that's what he got that call today, OK?
Yeah. So, yeah, I had sold it in 2009 to a friend. I built a nice, real nice Land Cruiser, know the V8 all those really nice Land Cruiser on 40's and decided it's time to get rid of Truggy and build something different and come out with some more Land Cruiser parts for the business and everything. So I sold it and then he ended up selling it sold about three times over the next five years, I believe it ended up in Minnesota.
And I got a call at work when I was in Montana. This guy had it and it rolled it a bunch of times. I mean, it was in pretty bad shape, a lot of rust and asked me if I'd be interested in it. And immediately I got emotional about it and I got to have it back and I'm going to restore the stuff. I bought it sight unseen. I wasn't going to go back to Minnesota in the winter time.
And, you know, I just I sent him the money. So I'm in the truck. And it wasn't exactly like it was worse then the pictures he sent me and I just never, you know, was just moving back to California and selling the business. And it's just kind of been sitting out back and I'm not really doing any rock crawling anymore. And, you know, four wheel drives. You know, we do the side by side stuff and, you know, we go Rock crawling in them, and then we go to Glamis and.
You know, that kind of stuff, I just. You know, never got the ambition to fix it back up, so I decided after sitting in the backyard for two years, I just decided to put it on one of the Facebook pages of classifieds. And I don't know if people would remember it. And I have like 80 responses in like 20 minutes. And, you know, if people remembered it and. And I had several people wanted to buy it, and even after Rich said that he would buy it at several people say if it doesn't go through, you know, here's my number, call me.
I'll take it. I'm glad Rich got it. And I know you. He seems pretty ambitious about getting a fix back up.
[00:55:58.680] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, he's going to he's going to put together a rebuild thread on our magazine, 4Low, and he's so he's going to put know we'll have a complete series of. Of articles and photos and everything else of the resurrection of the Truggy, the All-Pro Truggy, it'll be kind of cool. He called me today and asked me if I'd be interested in that.
And I'm like, well, yeah, that's why we have the magazine, because people want to read the. They don't want to read about JK's and JL's. You know, I think even the guys in JK's and JL's. You know, they want to they want to see what the history was. But people are you know, what people are doing. I mean, I I like all the newer vehicles that are great platforms and they're very capable out of the box, but, you know, it's still I'm still old school.
Yeah, I agree. So let's talk let's let's talk about other things that you've gotten into. I know that you're you drag race again.
Yeah. Drag racing. Now what tell me about tell me about your your car there. What what what class is it. What are you doing.
[00:57:13.920] - Jon Bundrant
Um, it's all the extreme drag radio around us. Two or three different associations. It's all eighth mile stuff now. Pretty much everything's gone. Eighth mile. I have a it's a sixty three nova. It runs like four twenty and eight mile run about six seventy and a quarter mile about two hundred and ten miles an hour. Yeah it's a rush you know it's like three point five GS when you let go the transbrake it's I mean it gets your attention.
Yeah. Yeah. About twenty, one hundred and fifty horsepower and it moves out. You try to get on the street outlaws at night. It's like the way this car is set up, you have to be like a prep track. It's got too much power. And like the class I run runs on two seventy five drag radio, which is like a twenty eight inch tall by ten inches wide. So you're there's a lot of suspension work and everything has to be set up just right to put twenty one hundred horsepower down on a twenty eight inch by ten inch wide tire.
Absolutely. Can't just go on the street and even have any chance of hooking up, you know.It's a lot of fun.
[00:58:37.290] - Big Rich Klein
I would imagine so you're where you're where are you doing most of the racing in Southern California? You're going to Vegas or Arizona?
[00:58:45.960] - Jon Bundrant
Vegas Tucson, Bakersfield, Sacramento, Fontana, just the Southwest mainly. I went back to Texas in January to Dallas and ran for a couple of days back there. That was pretty good. Racing's really big back there, drivers and so on. It is fun, but mostly the southwest here, so.
[00:59:11.160] - Big Rich Klein
And you mentioned UTV's, what do you what are you running in the UTV Polaris or.
[00:59:18.300] - Jon Bundrant
Polaris, got a Turbo S, got two of them, a two seater and a four seater.
We go to Glamis mostly we go to Moab at least once a year. And then when I start going to Sand Hollow, you know, a couple of times a year, hopefully got a little bit of rockcrawling with them. We're going to Johnson Valley and out to Barstow. So they'll go cruising out in the desert, mostly Glamis, I think we went to Glamis 12 times this winter, you know, so that's that's our main deal with them and hauling butt in the sand. We used to go to Glamis years ago when, like, I had my first couple of Land Cruisers with straight 6 and we go to Glamis and air down to two pounds and, you know, you didn't have power to do anything. You had to get a big run at everything that you didn't have any suspension you had. You know, you're hitting your head on the roof all the time and it's a whole different deal now. And all the long travel suspensions and side by sides have come a long way since the rhino days and stuff.
[01:00:20.920] - Big Rich Klein
So, yeah, it's really fun. So are you doing that as a family wife and.
[01:00:26.580] - Jon Bundrant
Yeah, I have a daughter and a daughter. God bless them. She's into all the more than I.
[01:00:36.110] - Big Rich Klein
So going to touch back on on Tiny and you said Mitch Guthrie, I didn't realize that Mitch had had driven the car and spotted I know that he went ended up going to Shannon with all these measurements on a piece of paper and and said. Build me one of these, and of course, it was a Campbell take on it, but he was spying while he was doing that for you.
[01:01:05.360] - Jon Bundrant
Yeah, no, I will tell you the story about it, he he had been taking measurements for the last six months, like we didn't know that, but he was measuring every lank measure and angles, just measuring the whole chassé. He drew up blueprints from all these measurements. He actually had a blueprint and he was on his way to Shannons and he calls me up. And I didn't know anything about it because it says, meet me up at the freeway.in Beaumont as he
passes pretty close to Hemet when he's going out to Arizona. And I met him up there, the Denny's, he's in his truck. He has his doors locked and his window up and he holds a blueprint up to the window for me to see. I didn't know where he was going or what he has the door lock and he starts laughing with this complete blueprint of Tiny that he had drawn up over the last six months. And he took it to Shannon and they knocked it off.
You know, that's that's the story right there. Shannon built a whole bunch of them that they weren't exact but they were close. You know, he didn't use the Volkswagen engine. And I think Shannon may have in one of his, he was putting EcoTecs in them. And they work really well. That's how they got copied so quick. Really similar to tiny, right?
[01:02:28.290] - Big Rich Klein
Well, you know, that's the biggest form of flattery. Yeah. Were you involved at all with the scrapper project? With the cars that came out,
[01:02:38.500] - Jon Bundrant
No. Now, also, John owned, tiny, the first year he paid for everything and and the winnings, we won a lot of money that first year. There are some big payouts and we are splitting the money, between me and Larry and John. And at the end of the year, he said John said, OK, I want to do this now.
I want to drive and have a car. And what he learned of doing Tiny, you know, he knew that he could make improvements. There was a few not major improvements. There was a lot of minor improvements that were made on scrapper. John didn't want to pay for the tiny program the next year, so he offered to sell it to me, which I bought it and I paid for it thousand for. And then at the end of the year, I sold it to.
He built Scrapper, and
[01:03:33.640] - Big Rich Klein
I was to say the the one thing that I noticed, the biggest difference between scrapper and tiny is that scrapper is a lot easier for guys. Those chassis are easier for guys to put rear steer in because of the back. The back end is narrower, suspend all the suspension angles and tube work is narrower so that they can put it in the rear steer. I notice a lot of those buggies have all gone rear steer now.
[01:04:02.720] - Jon Bundrant
Yeah, he didn't do it with the intention of putting rear steer in at it because we were actually against rear steer at the time. But he put a smaller motor in it and the smaller, narrower motor let him narrow up the chassis in the back. So that was kind of a reason why it was narrow and he it was lighter than tiny, I think it was one hundred and thirty pounds lighter than tiny. They didn't have a weight rule the first year.
But I think the next year when scrapper came, there was a weight rule, but and Scrapper was six hundred pounds under the weight. But you make that up with lead in the front tire. I think we're running like two hundred fifty pounds of lead in each front tire of lead shot. So, you know, an environment to get that much weight in water. The water was almost to the top of the tire and that really affected the center of gravity and braking and steering.
But if you could get 250 pounds of lead shot wasn't even up to the bottom of the ramp. So it didn't really affect the steering that much or the braking or and it certainly kept the center of gravity right down at the ground.
[01:05:13.140] - Big Rich Klein
It's it's amazing where rock crawling is gone nowadays. I, I finally got to where I dropped the rear steer penalty. So unlimited is gone. All rear steer buggies. It's helped with the resurgence of of rock crawling is after two thousand eight two thousand nine ten that that housing recession and everything that we went through, it really hurt the sport. Guys decided to go fast. I remember it was some of the competitors were like, well, I might as well just write a check and send it to Tracy Jordan or Shannon Campbell or Brad Lovell and not show up to the event.
And so they all went racing with with Dave King of the Hammers, because everybody can go fast. You may not even be closest to the fastest one out there, but you're driving. As fast as you hand your ability, so it's more fun, it's not as technical. I still enjoyed the technical a lot more. We we we did Dirt Riot for a few years where we were creating like a regional series for racing to teach guys how to race and where they could get their start before jumping into Ultra four.
And we just we just went back to doing just the rockcrawls this year, which with this covid thing is probably a good thing because I don't know how I would have gotten 20 events off this year with losing two months already of our schedule. So that that was great foresight, I guess, for us to drop the Dirt Riot. But what do you see for the future for Jon? You got any plans business wise going to make a resurgence come back or.
[01:07:00.080] - Jon Bundrant
So the racing is really expensive, so I got to make a little money to cover the race and so I'm actually making some parts for drag cars now, like 4 link kits, links and brackets. And I've got about six or eight products that I'm working on right now. I'm just getting started and just starting to sell them. But that's what I'm dealing with and that's my hobby and kind of my business again. So I just kind of like All- Pro. That's what I'm doing.
I think about the four wheel drive industry a lot. I can't come back in that for about two and a half more years because of a non compete agreement that I signed. But maybe someday, certainly I think about it.
[01:07:47.750] - Big Rich Klein
But you're still a young man.
[01:07:51.530] - Jon Bundrant
Relatively I don't feel young sometimes.
[01:07:55.700] - Big Rich Klein
Neither do I. Neither do I. Yeah. Many years running around on the rocks. Exactly.
So is there anything that you can think of that you'd like to touch bases on anything, anything you want to ask me, you know, anything about? I know that you probably watch a lot of the things that are happening in the sport. Maybe you don't at all, which is understandable as well. It's been so long since you've been a competitor, but you're you're still an enthusiast.
[01:08:27.120] - Jon Bundrant
Yeah. And I didn't watch anything for three or four years, probably. But I do now and I'm interested in what's going on and trying to follow as good as I can. And most of the guys that I competed with are most of them aren't in it anymore and still in sports, but most of them are. So a lot of the friends I've had from Rock crawling doing something different now or just living life or whatever they're doing, but. The current competitors, rock competitors, I probably don't know many of them,
[01:09:04.330] - Big Rich Klein
probably Cody, Cody Waggoner would probably be the one that you.
Yeah, I know Cody doing it.
He took a long break and then came back and he did and is doing he's not going to do it quite well. Yes. Well, cool. I'd like to say thank you very much for for coming on board and discussing the history from your point of view and your your background in All-Ppro once you get the drag racing business going. I have a lot of friends in that part of the racing as well, especially back east in the Midwest. So when you need help or you want you want some help putting that name, your name out there, you'll tag me in in Facebook land and I'll be more than happy to to pump your stuff for you.
I appreciate that. It's not a no, we're asking you to be on here and it's been fun. OK, great, but you have a nice evening and take care and we will. We'll catch you somewhere. I sure hope so.
Yeah, well, we'll see any of that somewhere. All right, John, thank you very much. 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.