Some people quietly make an impact on an industry, others do it with a big splash. We’d like to introduce you to the Quiet Man, Ben Bower, making a ripple through off-road since the 1970’s. Gold medals and chrome are his M.O., but so is listening – learn why it matters.
3:34 – there’s lots of time to think with a ShopSmith
6:19 – making surfboards to get through the month
9:22– All-Marine volleyball team
12:23 – how the BART tube under the bay is made
17:36 – no food today, we’re buying a Honda
22:01 – Enduros fit my math/engineering background
28:02 – you’ve got to finish to win
31:05 – it’s a collective
41:43 – I’m a welder…and then I’m not
45:20 – first date
51:46 – I want to run the dunes and the Rubicon
1:00:57 – hooked into learning the video camera
1:05:38 – independent suspension
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[00:01:20.520] - Big Rich Klein
On today's episode of Conversations with Big Rich, we have Ben Bower, Ben has been around the Off-Road industry a long time. He was a motorcycle racer. He owns a gorgeous flat fender, which we'll talk about. He's very meticulous in his preparation of parts. I always kid him about, you know, the cars polished way better than than any four wheel drive needs to be. But we'll get into that. And we'll also get into his relationship with Jason, Scherer and IFS and and the problems that they solved and have overcome with that.
So, Ben, thank you for being on board with Conversations and talking with us and myself and with our listeners. I just want to say I miss you, dude. It's been a while since I've seen you.
[00:02:13.620] - Ben Bower
It has been a while. And I'm honored to have your call and set this up.
[00:02:18.750] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, well, we want to we want to find out your history. You know, I'll let everybody know that Ben is Charlene Bower's Dad. we'll get into that a little later. But before Charlene came, Ben and his wife Deanna. So we'll talk about about them.
But first, my number one, pit crew, my number one pit crew, Deanna. Absolutely. Absolutely.
So let's talk about your beginnings. Where did you grow up and go to school and all that kind of stuff?
Well, I think a lot of this podcast was kind of go toward techie stuff and thinking about that, I was born and raised in basically Berkeley, a little small community called Kensington. And my dad was a maintenance manager for the 76 Union Oil Refinery Out Rodale. You should know that because you're a local guy. Absolutely. And I can't believe it. But he bought me a ShopSmith, when I was ten years old.
OK, we may have to tell tell everybody what a ShopSmith is.
I happen to know because I had to have multiple tools that you have to make to do to work with wood basically all that. I'm using it to cut aluminum. Oh, really? And it's just table saw and lathe and drill press and all that kind of stuff. And every time you want to change to something else, it takes fifteen minutes to a half an hour. So you have a lot, a lot of time thinking about things about that.
Yeah. I can't I'd forgotten all about the shop Smiths. There was one in our garage is growing up and it was the first thing I got to work on with wood without my dad actually knowing I was doing it until he found holes in everything.
And some of the stuff that he had that he had precise cut wood for certain things, and then he'd come in and they'd be shorter.
So I learned well, it was a great learning experience and I can't believe that I still have ten digits after all that.
That means your good and careful. Sure. And my dad being a maintenance guy, you know, I said, you know, I kind of want my own bedroom and we had to live down the hills there in Kensington. And so this is will go build yourself a room. So I started digging and you know, we went went on from there. But that kind of was the beginning of putting things together. And really, when I went through school and all that, I was not really a techie.
I was more of a more of a jock and played basketball. And although, you know, most of the varsity teams and things like that, then I got recruited in the San Jose State to play basketball there. Oh, awesome. As I was, I always claimed myself to be the sixth man. I was never the A player. I was always the sixth man. And I was ready to come in. And cheer and not cheer, but play like I had to play like they wanted me to. I was never the A player. So I went in to San Jose State and. Majored in engineering, started out as mechanical and wound up as an industrial engineer, because some of those things like strength materials and other courses just I couldn't get my head around it. Differential equations and logs. You remember logs and all that stuff? Oh, yeah.
Now all that stuff's easy.
Oh, just your mind was blown. And, you know, here I was kind of being a jock more than a student. And so something got me going into surfing. And so I quit the basketball deal. I really wasn't happy with a sports team sports that time. And I got into surfing. And then after I really had no money to make boards or to buy a board, so I decided to make a board and so I bought the Styrofoam and stuff and started making surfboards and eventually started making, I'd make five surfboards in a weekend.
And that would put me through a whole month of school for the amount of money that I made. As I remember, we sold those boards for like 40 bucks. Wow. I might have been I might have been paid fifteen dollars apiece. But, you know, you could live you could live a week or almost a month on one hundred and fifty bucks, you know, at college. Yeah. And that said, we started working with my hands and then also starting to understand curves because of the board structures.
And you know, one side's the same as the other side and things like that. We never had templates. Of course I that was well before CAD. Right. And I can remember I was a fairly here again, a B surfer and the guys always commented, well, we don't worry about you until it gets above 10 feet because you're not out here. But when it hits 10 feet. You're out here. And I got into one competition and I built a surfboard that was seven feet long and just happened to be that.
It was a ten foot day and all the pros came up from Southern California and more than half of them came in and. What's with this board you got here?
And the only reason I made it seven feet was because I screwed up a 10 foot board. And that's all I have. It's all the foam I had left, but it was kind of, you know, in the back some different. And of course, I didn't win anything. But, you know, they could see that things happen quicker than the old longboards like was usual back then. And this really the early 60s, OK?
And so basically surfed my way out of school and Marine Corps came along. And one thing about when to stop when you're not this, I keep coming back to sports again because I want to say that the thing that really got me through motorcycles were originally while up was conditioning right there.
And so one thing you do when you're not surfing is you're playing volleyball on the beach. And I got my draft notice and all this kind of stuff. And he said I went into a Marine Corps recruiting station and the guy says, well, I can't talk to you now. We got one spot open, but I'm going. I got to go play volleyball for lunch. I go home. I play volleyball. You got your shorts? Absolutely.
So I played volleyball and I'm going to make a couple of telephone calls, take this test here. And an hour later, I was recruited in is this you're going to go in at this time and then you're going to go on to the Marine Corps base volleyball team and then you can go on from there if you can do good. Well, I went all the way up to the all-Marine team and then the Inter Service team.
Well, they would have probably been around 66 somewhere in that range. And that actually got me going to where later on I was started playing for the Olympic Club. But, you know, the Olympic Club from San Francisco. And so I played for them for a number of years and.
Actually got chosen on to the Olympic team as a trials person. Now there were 20 people chosen, 19 were from Southern California, and I was the only one from northern California. So you know where that went. Right. And I put up with that for about a month. And I go, now, this is not for me. I'm sure, again, I'm I'm the B player. So it just wasn't worth taking a whole year out to get prepared for that.
And up in around 66, after I got out of the Marine Corps, I started surveying or, you know, one of the guys on the survey crew. Right. What we did all the survey work for BART and all that stuff. So I was the seventh person to walk through the BART tube underneath the bay. But how about that?
That's pretty cool. You were both ways. How yeah.
How long is that tube is seven miles.
Did you walk it in one day both ways.
Well, yeah, because your car's the other way.
I probably walked it 20 or 30 times because we were doing all the survey work, you know, through the check survey. Right. I mean, there are stories about that BART tube. Can you tell them.
Oh, yeah. Give us one minute. No, I'm OK. I'm going to give you one, because the tubes were for a seven mile tube, but they were made in 300 foot sections and those sections were made in the Bethlehem shipyards there in south San Francisco. And we have to go out there at five thirty in the morning and measure those tubes to the length because they would be at the same temperature of the water that was right there, because during the daytime they would get longer by six inches or so.
Really that much? Yeah, it's crazy.
So the next thing we did is they took the last of these tubes just like a ship, float them out into the bay and then they'd start they put big fences up on top of the tube and they'd start loading gravel and things like that on top of the tube and sink them, well at the end of each tube was, what you call it, a hatch that you walk through. OK, being a boat guy. And these hatches, they had hatches on both ends so they'd sink the tube down the hatch, big train couplers on it, and they would adjust the tube, get it all close together with hydraulics to the to the train catchers, you know, whatever groups together pump out about 300 gallons of water between the two hatches would open the one hatch just in the tube and then the other half, which is in the 300 pounds to intersession.
And I'd walk through down to the other end and set up basically a target. And they had already set up their transport, you know, their scopes and all that stuff. So they would say to and they said, well, the tubes got to go down and it's true, it's going to go up to an inch or, you know, three inches or something like that. Well, I'm standing in the end of the tube and it's 70 feet underneath the water.
And all of a sudden you can feel this to go up in the air and then they drop it.
Oh, I'm standing inside this tube. And I mean, you're three, four miles from land on whatever side you're working on it. So there's no getting out. It was no get out. So there was you know, the best thing about that whole thing was it was an incredible feat of engineering. And I says, oh, this is just amazing. And if I can do all this stuff out, you can figure out anything. And this, you know, if you remember, that's about when they started doing the space stuff, you know, sorry, it was a good year for great time for tech.
Just a great time for tech. Just your mind was just going all the time.
That's awesome. I've learned so much just in the short period of time conversation with you about you that I didn't know. And this is why I do these. This is awesome.
Well, when it all. Comes down to the end, you relate and it's all this background, it's all these people, I call them mentors. I mean, every every time you go along, I mean, you had mentors in sports, you had mentors and in your survey crew, you know, when you're screwing up, you screw it up. When you don't know how to do it right, they're going to tell you how and why. Yes.
And so you have these mentors, as you know, as you go along and I get to use your ears, open your ears to let these people talk the impression on me over the years.
So getting back about that in the survey thing, we were surveying through San Francisco because they built these big ditches, Market Street, and they didn't want the 40 and 50 storey buildings to collapse into that trench. So we were going along and making sure they weren't tripping inside Market Street.
That's good. Yeah, it's a good, good plan, right? Yeah. And we had a deal every day in San Francisco. So cool because there's so many awesome restaurants. I mean, every car, every quarter of a block.
There's a nice restaurant.
Right. In any kind of food you can imagine is being prepared in San Francisco.
Absolutely. 100 percent.
You can see a lot of things as a 12:00 noon. Wherever we were standing, we would walk into the closest restaurant for lunch.
Wow. And for some reason, we weren't we weren't on market. We were someplace else. But at noon, we were right next to a Honda shop and we weren't really hungry. So we walked in and walked out a half an hour later buying three, 350 scramblers. Now, I knew zero about a motorcycle. I had no clue. I was I guess I was repairing my own cars by this time because I was probably under 20 or 21 or 22.
And the only reason I was working on my own car is because they didn't have the money to have anybody else look on them. Right. You know, that's kind of the way it was back then. Absolutely. So I got the bike somehow. I think at the time I was living down in there again because of school and things like that. And so Saturday, I think I brought the bike on a Wednesday and I kind of went around the streets a little bit Thursday and Friday.
And my neighbor across the street was kind of a trial rider. So he says, hey, come up to the Santa Cruz Mountains with Ruscoe riding because the scrambler was kind of half and half. And so we went up into the Santa Cruz bounce and I had the greatest time because they were in the Bouchareb, through the Fernstrom, through trails that I really wasn't familiar with the redwoods by this by this time, I had hiked a lot of the back country of, you know, Yosemite and Kings Canyon, all that through a Boy Scouts deal.
So it went almost to Eagle Scout on that. But, you know, you just start adding things up there and I go, wow, that's pretty cool. Well, maybe I went down knobby tires, took off all the early KOH stuff, turn signals headlights, belted out it out of the fender. And I've always had a vehicle. So, you know, I could take it around in a van. And there's and there's another word you can't use anymore.
Sig Shaggs. So we started going up to the Santa Cruz Mountains.
And of course, it's always WebSphere slip sliding and having fun. And that was probably around sixty eight somewhere, somewhere in that range. But I had a couple more years to. Then I went back to college and finished up in 1970 and I went to work for Owens-Illinois Glass Company in Oakland where it was a glass plant as an industrial engineer. And I was so broke that I showed up on day one and I had to ask my boss for money so that I could so that I could buy gas on back the next morning.
I had to get to work.
Exactly. And I think by the third month, I had to say my bike also to be able to, you know, just to have cash, I think on the third month I went into the credit union and I got enough money to buy a Husqvarna. So that was right in 1970. And as an industrial engineer, well, I was kind of laying out record corrugated.
officers, but, you know, whether corrugated boxes or things like that, I got here again.
I had a mentor. Is this come on. And we can we can we lay out this whole production area and get it going so we make money. OK, so here's a man who was pushing you, pushing you. And I also was doing the budgets. So now all of a sudden you're becoming a math person and a person who can do with numbers, things like that. And of course, you have to have balance sheet and it has to balance.
So it had to be accurate. So that was a good thing at the same time. But befriended the guy at the Husqvarna shop. And he happened to be John Nelson, who had actually ridden the six days trials, which is a six day race, and I think he rode in like Spain or something like that. But by that time, I hadn't done any enduros. I hadn't done anything like that, basically, because I was just coming out of the mountains.
Well, he was doing this. Come on, let's go right and do as well. He saw that, you know, I was right and good and all with him is it's kind of like it's all navigation. Well, not totally navigation. You're just you have to keep certain speeds and things like that. And if you come in early, it's two points against you. If you're late one minute, it's one point against the right. So it's the guy with the least points wins.
Time, distance. Yeah, right, well, that's the other thing, and that fit me perfect, because all of a sudden, I mean, the numbers, you know, being an engineer, you're just right up my alley and and the speeds were not super fast speeds because. They had to have people finish and it was more like, well, you know what the Sierras are like, they could be muddy. They can be. They can be fast, they could be dusty, they can be snowy, everything, but it's your average speed between checkpoints where you have to tack, you have to nail it, right?
And I remember I made a wound up winning a lot of these things and doing this overall. But the one I remember the most is the cowbell. Oh. Which was right around 1971. There was fourteen hundred guys started and when it started it had already been raining for two days. The river was so deep that we were handing our motorcycles across the river, you know, very well. And then to try to get out the other side, it was 100, 200, 300 guys stuck on the other side trying to get up this hill.
We had basically motorcycles as traction to get up. And I think out of 1400 guys, I think it was only ten of us finished.
Wow. So but here again, it goes back to this conditioning thing, you know, where your. You know, your health is not the issue. It's it's just perseverance. Right. So along with the. Being John Nelson and kind of got me into this ISTD, you know, you have the moxie to do this, six rates and things like that. And through that, I met Malcolm Smith. Very good.
And, of course, you know what kind of a mentor he is. Absolutely.
And, you know, as I started, you know, working my way up, we also noticed problems with production bikes. And, you know, we look at things that say, well, gee, there's a bushing there that's made out of rubber. Why can't we make a bushing out of polyurethane that's not going to ever go away? So there's a lot of that stuff that I wound up making small, small parts for Malcolm, and he wound up selling them for me.
And that was a great boost for me and kept me interested in working. Right. And, you know, we developed, here again, you do you have to do tire changes in three minutes? Whether you are the trainer, we get a flat tire on the trail. You stop, you take the tire out of the motorcycle and undo it from one side to off to put in another tube, put it back on the rim, use CO2 cartridges. We got the belt we developed at about that same time so that we didn't have to sit there with air pumps.
Nice. And but we also developed the easy way to get. I mean, we would have the we would stop and I could have the tire laying on the ground within 10 seconds, and I found out also that I could take the rim and the rim that I decided I wanted the tire to come off of. I would. Take that room and narrow it down, take a couple of hundred thousand south of it so you could almost if you put the time into the drop in on one side, you could almost push the tire off the rim, but with your hands without using a tire tool, know what that meant is that you got a flat tire your on right now.
Yeah. You're not. Yeah. You're not riding on a flat.
Yeah. Better to run fast enough to stay ahead of the curve in the six days. You just have to make points at a certain time. You have to be. It's okay to be early. You can just never be late. If you're ever late, you're off the gold standard ever in six days and it is about 13 of these checkpoints a day and you do it about 200 miles a day. The idea was to ride hard enough, but not crazy enough because you had six days of riding.
And here again, I wasn't the fastest rider, but let's call it consistent. You knew that you had to finish.
Yes. You got to finish to win. Right. How many times were that? I guess. That's when the motorcycle thing started in my zest for racing and making the bike the best it can possibly be. So kind of taking everything, I mean, you knew every nut and bolt, you knew what wrench to pull out. You practiced at changing things all the time because, OK, I had a hard time changing. How could I make it easier to fix or make it so it doesn't break?
You know, you have a choice. Right, you can make them break, but all of a sudden, you know, wow, I just added 10 pounds to my bike. Not good.
So so how many parts do you think that you developed in those days trying to make the bikes easier to work on or to last longer? Like you're talking about, well, that it's not a part, but, you know, shaving the the one side of the rim down so that the tire was easier to put on, you could take the tire off in in 10 seconds. You did. You have quick connects. What was it that you did to expedite that process?
Well, in that case, the first thing was we always used to have to break the chain. OK, so the first thing was trying to figure out how to derail the chain. In other words, push the axle forward so you could derail a chain that was number one. And once you're off the chain and then you could pull the axle still in the wheel all the way back out of the bike. Right. And you can't do that on production bike because of safety reasons, but you can do anything you want when you race.
And so there's a lot of stuff in it. You say you ask about. Me doing something, you can't do that because we're all in this we're all in this together, you know, and you're you're talking with other people, you're you know, you're discussing a person's problem. It's, you know, how do we go through this? How do we work with this? And you get five ideas and then all of a sudden, oh, well, we take this person this idea of pushing that idea on this one.
Hey, we got it. So it's really hard to say, but, you know, one person really develops anything. And that's what I really found out through the whole, you know, whatever we've done, you know, forever, it's. Yeah, well, I have two or three patents. Yeah. But I mean, there's a lot of people that go into giving you the information that was needed, you know, to get get something done.
So it was a collective.
Yeah, right, yeah, I mean, think about pirates, I think about pirates moved the off-road industry, you know, from from wheelings, it was amazing, but it was there was collective, you know, was one person influence in that? Well, one person might have been influential in keeping the threat up to, you know, and still, you know, people figure stuff out.
It was great.
So how did you do in the six day? And I got two gold medals, I rode three times. Wow, I got a gold medal with Huskq and I guess that was 73. That race was in Massachusetts and that was good. And I had a flat tire at the last check of the last day. Yeah, that was funny because it was a real tight check. And I came into the came in to the checkpoint and I got the tail off.
I got everything done, but I didn't have enough time to put air in it. So I pushed the bike through on my minute and then filled it up on the other side. So that was pretty close. And I have to go back to talking about that because. This is where you start respecting your your other racers and their riders. We were we were pretty much you start out on what they call a beast schedule, which is kind of breaking everybody out.
And all the while, the fast guys have already broken their bikes by now. And they're they're out of the race. And on the third day, they're going to an A Schedule and it's going to rain. So we're in this meeting with the husky guys. And this is where I started understanding about pits and the importance of a pit crew and what a true manufacturer's team does. But we would be riding to they would have three riders. And this is where the big riders from Husqvarna team, you know, from Sweden, you know the guys there, because those guys.
Right, they would bring them over and those guys would run it through. And then they'd report back Tuesday night to us and they say, OK, Szechwan, I had two minutes. Check three I had. Ten minutes. Well, if you knew there was ten minutes, that's where you wanted to change your tire to get a fresh tire in the morning. And I was having a hard time making I was just making some of the checks that go.
Malcolm, how the hell are you guys going so fast? And Malcolm says, well, where do you crash? This is where we always crash the corners. And it goes, yes, so you go in deeper and come out harder.
You don't go around the corners any faster and that's all you had to say. That's all they have to say, and that's when I really found out about front brakes because that's where I was stopping him and he's just going deeper. He the this person try to keep the bike straight. You come out a little bit harder. You know, you don't slide around corners. That's for sure. Where guys go faster. If you know what's around the corner, you can slide it.
If you don't know what's around the corner, you go in hard, work hard and come out, you know, make your turn and then come out hard after you can see what's around the corner.
Makes sense. One of those.
Yeah, but it's one of those things. It makes sense, but no one talks about it, right.
I mean, there's so much to running now that guys, you know, what guys are doing, you know? So anyhow, keep on going on. So there was no running at the six days. So you have to kind of ride that way.
No free running. But you for you. But you had somebody else they could prerana. Yes, let's give you notes, of course, notes. OK, yes, we'll give you an idea. You know, here you go out three miles and there's a big dam river you're going to be crossing. Just walk it or there's no rocks and just blast. But, yeah, you have a little bit of that going on. And so it was nice to be on a big team.
I think that husky team that was you know, there was a pretty big year. There's probably 10 of us. Wow. Ten, ten riders. So I learned a lot from that and then, you know, I kept kept right on going going faster and. Whatever, and then got chosen to go to Italy, which got here, and I was one of these guys that, you know, I like doing all my own work on the bike because I check it all out and I got my insurance guy, you know, and we know each other and I'm looking over his shoulder.
You know, I'm not I'm not telling him what to do. I'm just learning and see what's going on. And this is a factory bike and it's special. We don't want anybody to look inside of it. Well, I get over to Italy and. I can say that I never I rode we got there a week early, so we were riding around, but I never got on the bike really hard. Well, 50 miles from the starting line, my crankiest.
So I was out of the race 50 miles into the first day. Wow. But now it became really fun because that night a of other motorists are now what they call a ghost rider on the track. So basically. You're not supposed to say this, but you're basically a parts bike, right? OK, and you know, yes, there's no outside assistance. And a lot of people don't understand this, but it can happen. I mean, I can't give you a part.
But you can certainly find a part, you know, all of a sudden there just happens to be a shifter lever laying on the ground. So, you know, there's all kinds of ways that I mean, it's not cheating. It's just kind of the way the way to do that was kind of neat. We had I know one of the guys lost. They had bearings out of the, you know, the steering head right there.
And another guy and myself, we worked.
Six hours we took took the job that requires taking the handlebars off pulling the forks out of the steering hip, putting new bearings and putting it all back together, putting the bars back on again. Well, he's either not going to finish or whatever. So he said, OK, well, we found an old barn along the trail someplace. And I said, all we want you to do is just hold the bike. We're going to center the bike.
We have it all worked out. And we replaced the head bearings in three minutes because we worked about five hours and we did it on a regular bike. We must have done it 15 times. So we knew exactly where we were, but we had to do. That's how the people they see finished. That was there, it was some of those fun things that that you do and report back, you know, the guy's having a hard time.
You could write it, had to go through another part and say, hey, you know, be prepared. He's going to need it. It's going to need a tire or things like that. You know, all this stuff that people do on radios today, back then, there's no radios, there's no communication. There was no cell phones, no nothing. So you had to follow the trail, the marks on the on the trail. There was no GPS.
Did you guys did you have, like role cards or the roll charts or, you know, overall we're just following it through the forest.
And of course, all you needed was. One person to go out there and take a couple arrows down, then you had chaos. Yes, I mean, you have people going backwards on the. Trail now, right? That's. That was I mean, it's almost you take down you're almost committing murder in my mind. I agree. So there was there was that then Huskey started. Well, we all know that was the beginning of. And we started having the gas wars and the downturn of the economy.
Yeah, so Huski had to pull back and they had their four or five guys. And I got on to another fellow who was doing enduros and he says and he worked for Bultaco. So we better be talking is better protocols and took a basically a motocross bike ride in the dirt bike out of it, put it in different bearings. And I started doing a lot of, you know, things that I'd done to the to the Huskies. I can tell you that about that time I also bought a welder.
And. All of a sudden now I'm a welder. And it wasn't just steel , but by the same as as pretty good gas welder, because I was building expansion chambers and repairing expansion chambers. OK, and what's interesting about that is you just can't repair an expansion chamber because it's all full of creosote stuff on the inside, which is, you know, carbon. So once you heat up the expansion chamber, the carbon goes into the steel and then all of a sudden you got real, you know, real, pretty brittle steel.
So you have to learn to weld the minimum amount of feet possible to get things. The carbon wouldn't go in little small stuff like that that you find out as you go along in life, you know, these little experiences. Well, the welder deal was so now I have a TIG welder so I can do aluminum. Well, to make the front wheels come off fast, I had to weld a bung onto my front fork, which I did the very next race around the desert.
I think probably doing 70 miles an hour is about as fast as the bikes went back down. I can hear where this is going. Yeah, and then and I come to this big, broad sweeping corner just outside the California city and I just, you know, I would take your breaks to get around to kind of work out. Yeah. And I went out for a break and I fell off or broke off and I wrapped up the front brake cable and I went over the handlebars.
And it was amazing how quickly I didn't even know, I didn't even know it was over the bars, all of a sudden I hit the ground. At that speed, it happens quickly. Yes, and I just have to say, I just got a phone call from one of our good buddies, Danny Grimes, really high class community.
That's right. Yeah. So I went over the bar and so I learned that I wasn't a welder. Also, when I landed, the rear tire was between my legs and they was still doing 70 miles an hour and also Pulled the throttle off. And so I just put the hell on the other side of my legs, but I still feel that. So let's go on to. That was the most Bultaco thing we had to go through to three guys.
We all got gold medals. That also meant we had to put together a pit crew. And so I asked a bunch of friends, you know, husbands and wives to over beat the crews. They were not Bultaco people, but they were motorcycle people and they knew how to talk motorcycles and work on them. And they had a great time. We had a good time. You know, one of our guys was a little temperamental. He had to tell them that, you know, these are volunteers out here, don't go out and stuff, just talk to them, tell em what you need
And so that was a good experience for me, trying to understand the mechanics, you know, of the pit crew and stuff like that together. Right.
And I think it was about that time, too. I was getting a little long in the tooth with the. With the bikes and I met Deanna. My wife met her in a bar. Our first date was that Saturday. I said, what would you like to go out Saturday? She said, Sure, thinking I'd go after you. You know, I've got a motorcycle riding in the morning of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Would you like to go, please?
Sure. I took you up there and. You know, we did our ride and I said, well, would you like to buddy up and go ride a little bit? Sure. Also, we want to go back to Miles up to the top of this hill, I says well as two miles back. That was about 100 yards down, straight down to the van. And she says, oh, well, her job sounds OK. Well, two people on a bike is a lot different than one person.
And I started down this hill weaving my way through. Redwood trees, which don't move scared like you can't believe they were down to the bottom and I'm just kind of go, oh my God, just going. That was when you had a keeper.
Then you have the keeper. And then she became a pit crew in, you know, the Bultaco thing. She was eight, eight months pregnant with Charlene. And we talked about and she's out there pouring gas, staying in hot tubs at night time and. You know, being a true, true rallier, it's awesome. And it was also about that time I started thinking, oh, boy, now we've got a family and this motorcycle thing is getting pretty crazy because six days you kind of, you know, random streets also, and you're going through red lights, stop signs, and we're running a cobblestone streets and guys are hitting people walking out of their homes, their front yards because.
It was it was kind of nuts for me. You know, it's not nuts for some people, but for me it was they just didn't want to be in that position. So that's when I happen to see a Willys wagon, and that started me in a four wheel drive. Thinking that way, and we always went to Pismo Beach to ride our bikes and another buddy shows up with this Jeep flatlander. And all of a sudden that's for sale and I'm going, well, there's a flatfender Jeep right there, instead of me building up this Willys, so I bought the flatfender and it a drive jeep, OK, and which we really wanted it for the sands.
And I did the sand thing for a couple of years, and this was so fun. Oh my God, it was so fun. And then I started meeting some of the guys, and some of those people from Southern California that, you know, really knew how to drive. And they well, you don't just you know, you don't have to just go straight up the dune and straight back down again. You can sidehill a little bit.
You know, I go, oh, you can travel, said Mr. Luna, that we started having more fun. And now in the jeep that I have now. Well, so this is so and it was pretty special. Already had 350 Chevy Cobalt, 400 independent rear, because it's a flap with the short wheel based and because of the long transmission, you only have an eight inch drive shaft, so you can only have an independent suspension. So that was the beginning of my getting involved in that.
It was a torsion bar suspension, so. That would come down a bigger ground class was about four inches, but didn't seem so important in the sand. The rocks are smaller.
Yeah. So what about this time, but bear in mind, she just brought up a chair that. Cram everything goes down with the Southern California guys, right, and the cool thing in Southern California at that time was Jerry frickin perfect keeps his jobs council rules, the whole thing. I guess it may be the same as what we think today of an industry, because it was kind of the industry people I was kind of around right at that point.
I just happened to melt in with them and had a jeep that could keep up with him and, you know, he definitely knew how to find traction because you've been finding traction in the motorcycles forever. And if you look at our community now, I bet. 80 percent, 90 percent of the fast guys have been part of a motorcycle backrooms, right, which you guessed that I would guess the number is pretty high.
Yeah. Yeah, because, you know, you just start understanding traction and what what goes on in Syria then someone or he came up with this jeep and we basically put it together on a family member on Wednesday night, about six of us in a. Thursday morning, we left for the Jeepers jamboree, and we had such a great time, Jeepers Jamboree. We have four guys and Toshie. I don't think we even had sleeping bags because we didn't have a place to put them.
And I remember we probably had two cases of beer, which is normal, and we had a great time. I thought, wow, that's so much fun. This is, you know, I wives would love that, too. So that's when I started thinking about I need to take my jeep and make it a two sport. So they can run the dunes and also to the Rubicon. And so 1980, I took that jeep all the way down and then started building it back up with my own two frame and not a rectangular tube frame and kind of the beginning of that and still trying to hold true to what everybody was doing with paint and all that kind of stuff.
You came up with. I would say you're you're flat fender is one of the prettiest I've ever seen, if not the prettiest. Well, thanks. It took it took a lot of thought, and I can tell you that I hear again you search out, I believe I went one more time on the ship jamboree and I did nothing but look at Flatlanders. And what they were doing and they steal this idea from this guy on this idea from that guy, you know, there was no Internet back then, so that's the only way you would start doing it.
Was just watching people and what they were doing and, you know, it could be an old junker jeep, but, you know, they were doing something special, they just had to figure it out. So you started looking at stuff and you also saw the real pretty ones. And, you know, well, that was that's a neat idea. That's pretty cool idea. So I just started messing with that, and at this time also I had changed jobs to another company in the packaging area and I worked in a little small group that we helped customers improve their their their work, their their their business, their packaging business.
And we would build parts. And here again, you go back to mentors. And if you think about the ship's machinists, right. You know, the Old Navy guys, that's what was in this group. They were two of these guys and they could make machines sing and do things. You know, there's no digital readouts, no nothing. And I'd be in there doing my engineering and making drawings. And they'd make sure that I always walked out into the shop about every hour, try to keep up with these guys and see what see what they were doing, how they were doing things, how they clamping things that are that add up.
That helped me also come back in and then build build this up to where things kind of came out the way they thought they should. OK, so I did the independent suspension, so that went on to maybe a mid 90s. But this time the tires were starting to get the 35 issues right. And I was stuck on thirty three. There was just no way I could put a 35 on there and everybody started lifting their jeeps so they could put on these big tires.
And I go, wow, look at how easy they go over all this stuff. This 35, I just know I can't ever do a sport. I can't. I can't lift my Jeep and then go down into the dunes, because by this time I have perfected Citilink to the fact where I can Sadil. I can actually come down off doing make a U-turn and go back up right in the middle of the dune. Wow. And basically what you're doing is you're coming down.
You're starting to cramp the cramped wheel and just about the time you're ready to roll, you stand on the gas. That brings the round around. You start going back up again.
You hope, you hope.
And in that process, you take in about 50 gallons of sand inside your jeep because you're going right into the roof, just coming off the front wheel. So I always make sure that the passengers on the outside, they keep your eyes open and see where they are going. Otherwise, the. That my claim to fame is I can write my name on this side of pretty much anything that's out there, you know, BMB just doing that Crucis that's just kind of churning out lifting things was not the way to go.
And so I started looking into it and then I started playing around with more aluminum. And so I built a couple of independent suspension's for bodies using Corvet model forty four center sections and they came out great. So I go, Oh, that's great. And I said, well, got to have a little bit of fun. And so I figured out a way to make a little bit of straight axle and I was just about to start doing man big miracles and the tubes and all that kind of stuff.
And I actually had a lot of Australia, a nine inch center section built to where I could put on tubes for the finance to make a straight at all, a little bit of straight axle. And it was like twice as big as what the guys were using for drag racing to go. And then it got there. Campbell came along and tried to find a place and that shut that down pretty quick because I started getting around. Wow. You can really go fast with independent front suspension.
But I need to back up here also because about this little bit in the mid 90s, I met this guy, Jeff Mello, through my brother. And we know Jeff for winning. Lots of luck. Competitions, things like that. Yes, he said go up and help him because you know, what the hell's going on. What are these guys doing to be able to RockHall like us? Terrorism is an amazing person because I would go up there and he'd say, I got this problem and we start talking about it.
And I bet we'd come up to some kind of a you know, I'm kind of a normal like, OK, this is the way to go. And then you kind of think about it overnight or a week and then you think about it to make sure you and I do something different. Whereas my Jeff, you come up with some kind of an idea. He brings out the Sawzall and it's coming apart.
It's getting done in about three hours. We're going to find out if it works or not. Well, that was kind of a, you know, front wheel. And then he also got involved, you know, right at the beginning. At the beginning, but right at the beginning of King of the Hammers. Yes. And so here you build the car for that. And of course, he knew what to do. So I was just more or less a garage sweeper is what I call myself, and helping out where I could.
That was also Charleen, you know, has a history on the off road. And she picked up on helping to pull up those first years and putting that king in a hamer's together and also the town. Right. I think she I remember her going to the Mountainview city manager saying, how do I build a town? I have to build a town in the middle of the desert where we've got to have streets to got to have sewers. You've got to have what are you going to have?
You know, it up, not sewers. You know, restrooms give you the bullet points. And then she went from there. So and Dave, of course, was in charge of the race, you know, kind of split things up. It wasn't just her. There's a whole group right there. Boy, how much did we learn? How much did we learn? A lot. Yeah. So, yeah, so what happened also is there was no media at that time, the Chinese are going to have media, I guess I get to promote this somehow.
So I got looked into learning, you know, buying a camera, video camera, cameras and things like that. And I started taking video of the racers. And because of the motorcycle stuff, you start seeing, you know, what works and what doesn't. But it all goes on. And that guy screwed up. Now, was that because of the car? Was that because of the driver or the car driver? Because the copilot can be just responsible for, let's say, Wensheng.
Yeah. You know, they can destroy your car with a winch, so you start seeing all this stuff. And at that time, I was riding a motorcycle so I could get to 10 different places and. In an immigration check with people and see all kinds of different stuff, but it was it was just interesting to me and then all of a sudden you start once you start editing this stuff, you're you're looking at these videos three and four times and you start just seeing more and more and more where Washington state to keep up with those fast.
That's why it was taking a lot of those videos and for some reason I just focused in on the offense because I'm kind of the techie guy and I saw that that was a way to, you know, I mean, he beat everybody just so what would what would you do, beat everybody like an hour or something like that? Yes. Crazy. Yeah. You have to start looking at it and over say, oh, man, I already have two new flatlanders in my garage in parts on the shelf, and now we're going to throw it all away.
It's my night off. My project is still going and it's 20, 21. But I'm getting closer because I am building parts excellent in my budget probably went up 200 percent.
Let's talk about those things.
You had the credit card statements. There is unbelievable and forgiving Jesus. Hey, if you're on the grass, I know exactly where you're at, you know? And so we get along just fine. Excellent. And we enjoy and we enjoy the opera. We enjoy that. We enjoy the people, the camaraderie. You know, I can tell you and this is an area aside being in sports and not sports, because it wasn't a big deal back then necessarily.
But, you know, I fell in love with sports. I don't have any friends. I mean, friends that were friendly, if I ever see them. Right. But but it's not a community and I don't know if that's because when you're into teams, you're in a sports like that. It's you're you're trying to be an individual in a sport and you're trying to be the best and you're forgetting about the team and the team spirit afterwards. You're not going out drinking beer with them necessarily.
You know, we're now here, there's this camaraderie that, you know, everybody's pulling together and then doing stuff, it's just it's a totally different experience, that collective.
Yeah, exactly, and you can't knock the person who's in it to win at all cost, because I can remember doing that in sports. You know, I mean, you can't knock it. It's just different, right? Where were we? We were just starting to you were talking about Melo and how you met Jeff and then the IFES project that that you started in on. And because of what Campbell had put together, so that reaction to your helping and working with Jason in that same garage.
At first, I thought the same thing, but I did not know Jason. I did not know Jason. I don't even know if he came. I'm sure he probably. Well, let's say this. I knew Jason intimately as it wound up being working at his garage. One day I get this call from him and he says, Ben, you're the only guy that knows independent suspension. And we're going to have I'm going to have a meeting of about 10 guys and we're going to talk about undefendable suspension.
And I go, well, I don't know what to do, but I know what not to do because I had messed with independent front suspension back when I got the car and I found out I had an independent suspension kind of mess with it. And it was easy because the car had independent suspension on it one time before when you got. Back then, you didn't use CVC was doing to research rights. So if you went over a WE Rock, you abuse up a universal joint and you can't turn or if you turn, you can't go over a rock because now your wheels going to straighten out because the roof, you know, it was it was one of the two, you know, there just not enough there to go both directions.
And a lot of that didn't really happen until the guys figured that out, trying to remember who did Campbell's independent front suspension. But it could have been worked out, you know, down there in L.A. So now it's been it's been worked out. And so there was some I was looking at it and I'm saying, OK, I see what's going on here. And so when Jason had his little get together, this is what I know what not to do.
And so, you know, we all know that stuff now. And I believe about that time Tim Hunt was starting to do a lot of work with the Toyota stuff. So he was a lot fresher on, you know, what was going on from the Toyota side of it. Right. And his son, Dallas, was starting to play around with. Well, he was also. I believe going to going to college and with some suspension information, you know, classes and things like that, and also started getting good Aqab and really good at cards, actually.
And so we started talking and they started developing and and I started seeing things in the in the videos as I first became a little more popular, because I think by the next by the next year, Shannon might have a couple other people in independent suspensions. But you could also see, starting with the geometry and the terrorists tucking under and doing different stuff, you just I mean, you can't turn a motorcycle with a tire on tucked under the wrong direction.
So we have to go back. We want that you want that tire sticking out there so, you know, pushing into the bedroom and doing this thing and you start seeing the trophy trucks, all those type people. And they were doing it with the independent two wheel drive stuff. So they knew what was going on. So I said, well, you know, they need to do this or, you know, think about this, do that and Dallas get broken.
I mean, thousands of hours came out with the first one. And, you know, there's always, always issues. Then Jason did a second one or third one and got it off. You know, the developments keep going on as you learn more and more about what makes the difference true and how much is an indefinite suspension. Because if you look at how many straight Axelsson won the last couple of years, you wonder, you know, as an independent, the solution.
You know, I think it I, I think that that it's truly the design of the racecourses. Bring out the engineering qualities of of both types of, you know, whether it's straight axle or an even it's straight axle. There's guys are doing it differently than than each other, you know. Yeah, the axle may be there, but it's the weight and the way that the that live axle straight axle is working with weight distribution and everything. And I think that there's there's a lot to be said for finding what works.
But never knowing what the exactly the course is going to be is. Is one of the things that that plays into that, especially at KOKH. Yes, because you have more to go for speed over too quickly. Yeah, well, you know, the course designer, Dave, or whoever it is that it's actually designing the course, can throw in a lot of high speed stuff for a long distance in an area where the straight axle cars may not be able to reach its highest speeds.
But then if you throw in the rock trails in between that, it can slow. That overall speed down and where, you know, the the straight axle cars have an advantage is in big rocks and big holes, you know, and whether it's going uphill or downhill, you know, you can watch the. At least what I've noticed, and, you know, I'm not an engineering person by any means and definitely not a fabricator. I couldn't weld anything together to make it last.
I'm a grinder, is what you might say, filler, you know, and. But the what I see with an independent cars is guys have had to make them that bulkhead. In front of the deth, very strong so that they could plow through the rocks. Where a straight axle car can be more nimble in the rocks, but not at high speeds. OK, that's how I have a little different take on that.
OK, that's good.
OK, what I'm seeing now, I have not driven an independent car. Right? I have not driven the straight axle car to that. If you think about, you know, to that, you know, King of the Hammers, the good cause that way. But what I'm seeing, the independent car, of course, has the advantage of being independent, which only one reason is being disrupted that normally. But the problem with the independent Cavas Street, Axle's, an independent car, is very real.
They're going to be able to turn better than about 37, 38 degrees right where your street is easily 45 and maybe more in today's world. Yes, it definitely wasn't that way 10 years ago when King of the Hammers started, but it is today. And so, yes, the street actually has that turning ability. I call an independent car a missile because it was made to go straight and it's made to use the skids. Yes.
And that's how the guys travel. Yes, and hopefully when they're becoming a missile, they don't take the WE Rock straight on to wheel. Yes, you know, it breaks up and really, really, really crazy. But from a wenching standpoint and then a better KOH, which is for every day of the month, because there's no fun to catch on anything you wish twice as fast in an independent car if you ever get down to that area because they're built to skip row, you have that front differential there and it's nothing but a hindrance to the poor driver and driver.
Now, can you which side is not? Well, probably both cars. There's not going to take that, you know, to which side was put so much force on an upright receiver. See, you know, when you break something, right.
I think we saw that probably this year in Cody Wagner's car, there is spirit in spades. Yes, I.
I never said it.
I'm glad you did that. Well, at least at least we know it's been talked about, right?
Yes. Yeah, I mean, I'm sure that they've looked at the video of their attempts to get around that rock, and I'm sure Wayne has looked at it and said, oh, my Lord, I should have done this or that instead of what they did. But, you know, in a race situation, you're you're you know, it's almost panic at that point when you're not progressing and things just seem like they're getting worse and worse. You know, you just you're trying everything instead of really thinking about what has to happen.
And I think that that's, you know, that's completely understandable. But I think that they're going to everybody that watches that part of the live coverage or watched that that felt that part of the film will see that there was maybe options. I mean, at least from the viewer standpoint, maybe there wasn't in that whole.
Yeah, I agree with that because I never said anything because we don't know where the breaking point might have been. Right.
I'll have to have that conversation with Wayne. Hmm. Interesting.
Yeah, that was the first time I seen it, right. I thought, oh, god, I just happened to find a 2015 where everybody was watching, going up one of those canyons.
Everybody and I probably up two hours of lynching, probably had a camera where everything where they just had the long line. Yes.
Yeah, it was it was nuts. And you just saw those independent cars just, you know, go right through and and the other is just getting frustrated. And and even then, you know, the guy was they were trying to the point that they were trying to winch to who was not in the best place to get them through the rocks, you know. So, you know, it was it wasn't the first time I've been going to places, you know, where they've had to was just.
You saw that. Yes. And then the car went straight. XIKAR just there's no no question about it. But you've got to be smart about it, cause there you go.
The things have happened bestrode actually in the last few years was steering that have made them competitive again. Now, guys couldn't go fast at the beginning of the hammers because they had so much rear steer in the crowbar systems. And once we got that straightened out, where there's no rear steer, you know, from articulation. Yes. The you know, the speeds went from the 60s to the 80s to the 90s and then independent from the 90s on up, probably independent France is probably got them from the 90s to the one tenth.
And greater to what's happened with this straight axle is the guys are gotten new technology now to wear the straight axles, almost mechanical linkage to them, to the hydraulics. And a lot of that was discussed out on pirate, you know, back and forth.
And it worked out and, you know, the Millers clamped on to that and true hydrogen and not hydrogen and neither radio.
Is that radio dynamic's.
Yes, right. And, you know, he came up with, you know, some good reservoirs and really made a big, good science out of it, you know, and along with a couple other guys. And they have those finance trials so that they're not hunting and doing all that stuff. And they can they have confidence to get above 100 miles an hour and not feel like, you know, they're like they're trying to walk over the handlebars.
So I think that's that's that's why a lot of the straight actions are coming back, you know, to play with the independent cars just because of the steering technology. And if I had to build if I had to build a car today without the independent suspension, I'd build a straight XIKAR. I wouldn't. But 20 grand in the parts. I mean, should just the steering a little seven grand. Right. You know, for an independent car, just the parts I believe I built a straight, excellent car because I think you could just as you know, I Shelley for that race for KOKH.
Well, and even for the recreational person, right? No, I agree. The recreation, not the the other races in the Ultra four series, I think that that some of those more desert type races where the rock crawling isn't as prevalent and it's not the more extreme that the and especially in a short quarter more of a short course environment, the IFES cars are way, way more capable than the straight axle cars.
Well, let's look at this. Every independent suspension car out there that has a 40000 dollar motor on it.
How many Stridex cars are out there with 40000 dollar motors?
Yeah, you know, I don't know where you go with that, but I understand it they understand where you're coming from, especially in El Reno. But here again, what we learned in independence suspension was camber. And you want to have those tires never, ever seeing positive camber. And that was one of the things that I don't think I'm saying anything out of school, because it's kind of old news at this point, whether you're training wheels or whatever, you never want to have that to go into positive camper.
In other words, stop pointing out you always want to have the top in and the tires digging in because I've seen tires here again. You can go back to I can almost at one point tell the difference and tires just by the way they reacted and how far they tucked under under the wheel. I've seen a lot of tires halfway into the center of the wheel, the outside of the tire into the center of the wheel.
I'm kind of like, holy crap. So we talked about Jason and being part of part of his group. And there's a lot of discussion that goes on. And there's things that I see that I just I can't tell. I don't expect Jason to take any any of our comments. Anybody on the crew can make a comment. And if anybody has a question and that crew, it makes sure that the answer is there. So we understand the answer what went on and why it was done that way so that you understood it completely and then you could, you know, go on from that position, has an incredible mindset to search things out.
So please sense is something that's credible. I'm sure that with all kinds of different people, I mean, there's a reason that there's probably no number three or number four build or design change, you know. Yeah. And who knows what's going to happen now with portal's. Yeah, absolutely. Exactly. I'm sure we're going to see portal's out there, but you know what that does the suspension, I, I can't get my head around it, but I know there's different things to the links, you know, to arms, to squat, everything else.
So, yeah, the force dynamics are are a lot different than what everybody's used to using. Going going slow with portal's is a completely different beast than trying to go fast. But, you know, there's some great minds out there working on these things.
Well, and this is, I think, what happened. What's really neat is the trophy truck guys finally grabbed hold of it. Yes, they have the engineering power and resources. And many here to point out, you know, and Mason's on top of it and everything I look at and see and I'm not saying anything negative, you know, or I can look at some of our stuff and go, OK, I don't understand it.
I know Joe Thompson, you know, builds cars with a completely different design theory to it. But I see his cars out there and I say, God damn, those tires are doing what they should be doing. Yeah.
And, you know, he's smart, dude, but he's he's he's a unique person and he's not I don't want to say educators. He's experienced, let's put it that way. Yes. From an education. But the experience is there and playing around with what he's playing with, just doing an incredible job where all of a sudden you get down into the massive group and the guys are some those type people. And all of a sudden you've got two or three different people and everybody's, you know, beating up each other and they have almost two wheel drive experience with different ends, you know, where we really didn't have the experience of two real drive and trying to make a fun and Paule around the corner.
Everybody can go fast, straight. OK, that's just a matter of how tight your pants are.
That's putting it. But if you're, you know, going around corners, that's that's a whole different. That's a whole different. And you still have to be able to trail, you know, the drop off.
Yeah. So are you are you predicting that the newest technology is going to be in the portal's with with WE Rock sports? I know it is in the rock crawling, but in the rock racing. Yes, yeah, I agree, but I don't know what it's going to be, just put it this way. I think a number of people have driven Cody's car that supports independent rules and they like to ride. I think the ride is too small.
And I think the guys that are driving it thought it was too soft, which made it a comfortable ride, and they didn't hit as many rocks. And if you think about a king of the hammers, were guys doing 68 hours and hitting these rocks hard, being a missile to be able to only missed half the rocks. Yeah, that hard. And, you know, you talked about the freedoms being both so tough not to be tough because that's where they're driven.
You have to keep one of the things that I've noticed with independents is the momentum factor. You know, you can you can crawl, stop, continue with with a straight axle car, you know, reposition that diff, try to get that tire. You know, where you need it, where with the with the independent. It just seems like, OK, let's just shove this through because I don't have that steering. I don't have the I'm not as nimble because of the steering that, you know.
Yeah. I could slide over things. So I'm going to use that that momentum to to do that. That's that's what I meant. Well, that's part of it.
But also, you know, we're doing a full compression. Right. The frame is only about two inches off the ground.
Yeah. So that kid, if it's straight up and down, there's been a couple of guys that got flown out on helicopters, you know who they are. Yes. Because their front skin was to straight up and down. And when they hit that rock, it just stopped them immediately.
And if you've got a front skid, that's it has to be a minimum of 45 degrees. And if you can get any many other, you know, sort glances off stuff, I know it sticks and looks like hell, but whatever, you know, that's that's what makes the airplane work independent. We're I'm I have the independent rear. I would never know the independent rear because I have 24 inches of I have I could have twenty four inches of rear suspension, no problem at all in my independent rear because I built a real no center section and everything was Bayport.
But in reality I've only got 18 inches because. A full confession, I'm four inches under the ground, truth.
OK, want see where I'm going with that? Yes. And so the same holds true for the 4Low. So you're going to see the guys trying to go down. So I stop trying to accelerate to get the front end to the left, you know, instead of go into compression. Yes, it's a little different.
It's just a way different. Dynamic, right.
And driving driving's. It's definitely a different driving style. Yeah.
And you have another four inches of clearance to that front end. Yeah, yeah. I think puddles in the front are going to make a big difference, especially for especially for the driver going to allow them to crash into stuff harder. Well, cool. I'm going to stay on a straight axle in the rear just because I know that because of the you know, the front are going down and digging the dirt compression. So anything else that we haven't talked about that you want to hit, not necessarily got, I think we've kind of cruised along, which you can think of something that we were talking about earlier, but we're just 100 percent supportive, you know, help that along.
She's done everything by herself. Basically, she found her, found a niche this year along the way and found jobs first. It's our first job in a motorcycle shop. And the first day she comes back home and I say, So how was your first day on the job? Sharleen's this have all changed so many different tires today.
You won't believe it. And that's happening all the time.
You have to change it while you have it.
So you had to get fast at it so that you could make more money.
Yeah, but we had a good time on motorcycles. Are, you know, the general Palmetto family. We do want motorcycle rides. We're going to Reno and ride to the border and back in a weekend. Five hundred miles basically trails.
And that's how Barbara Rainey and US kind of understand the northern and southern Nevada trails all the back roads because they had a lot of guys that lived up there. And we'd go out, we would put on 500 miles in a weekend on bikes. That's awesome. And the only way to stop us was trying to find fuel.
I can tell you, we know every rancher in northern and southern Nevada for gas siphon gas out of their their trucks or whatever, you know, or whatever it was before G.P.S. go in the wrong direction 10 miles from Gremillion.
You come back, that's 20 miles out of 120 mile tank of gas.
You know, that's awesome.
At that point, you're looking for you're looking for, you know, oh, there's so many stores, the long, long hauls. But I've been very lucky. I think we were very lucky in the 70s to be able to ride places that are all close to the truth. There's very few, you know, backwards. But places in California probably done very well. Hiking trails, you know. And if some got their way, that would happen to all the trails, yeah, and I guess what doesn't happen, that's just, you know, we're lucky.
I consider myself lucky to have been at the right place at the right time in the 60s. The bikes weren't all that reliable. So you couldn't get 25 miles from your truck. You know, you started into the 70s and the bikes started getting more reliable. And you could you know, you could do 70 miles. We'd go out and stash gas in the middle of the desert, a number of different places, so so we could keep riding. So, you know, a lot of history in that that portion of our frontier been pretty lucky stuff.
Well, that's awesome. Then we're we're approaching and from time, 45 minutes, I want to say to everybody, oh, no, no, no, no, don't worry about it.
We've we've done very good. And it'll be a great interview that everybody gets to listen to, trust me.
Well, I hope that everybody appreciates the people that they're around and listen to know and talk about the issues, problems.
I mean, you can't do it alone. There's there's other people, but you know everybody. In you know, there's one more comment that someone can make to make a big difference and modifications you make to your Jeep or do whatever. Right. And yes, we watch the industry people to you know, they're helping us. They're helping us.
So I don't have to make it, but I can't imagine it makes me mad is as I can't buy a new jeep. Is this why can't you buy a new GM?
But just because you make everything.
I wouldn't have fun.
Couldn't make it all yourself. There you go. Yeah, well, I think that's a great place to end it. So, Ben, thank you so much for coming on. Conversations with Big Rich and and spending some time talking about your life and what you've done and off road and who you know and the things that that have interested you, because I know that's going to be of an interest to our listeners. I know I was captivated, so I want to say thank you so much.
Well, thanks for giving me a call. Yeah, no worries and hopefully on the trail for sure. Hopefully we get to see you soon. Thank you. OK, OK, bye bye. Bye bye.
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. You enjoyed it. Will catch you next week with conversations with Big Rich. Thank you very much.