Can you say driven? The preeminent spotter of the rockcrawling world, Chris Poblano joins us on Conversations with Big Rich. Chris talks about the differences of spotting for different rockcrawlers over the last two decades – Tony K., Brent Bradshaw, Olivia Messer, and currently Jesse Haines. It’s a good listen.
5:17 – I wanted to be Magnum P.I.
9:46 – Mom picked us up from school with the boat attached.
13:54 – Big-O revoked my lifetime alignment warranty
22:44 – Carnage for the Con 2001
25:17 – Tony launched that cone
29:29 – First disabled sports run
33:25 – The Bradshaw years
41:56 – Matt Messer approached me about spotting his daughter, what an honor
46:02 – There’s only a couple of drivers like Jesse
48:03 – every competitor should judge, just another component of competition
49:50 – The physical therapy practice
51:35 – I do Crossfit so I can eat what I want
54:37 – Sanding your hands
59:38 – My future is in Tennessee
1:05:23 – what makes a great spotter?
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[00:01:20.220] - Big Rich Klein
On today's episode of Conversations with Big Rich, we have Chris Poblano. Chris is one of the preeminent spotters in the sport of rock crawling. He's been around well, the sport at least as long as I have. I believe Chris either judged or was at our first event for CalRocs back in 2001. But we'll get into all that. And Chris, it's great for you to come out and spend some time with us and talk with us about your history.
[00:01:57.040] - Chris Poblano
I'm glad to be here and glad to have the opportunity.
[00:02:00.810] - Big Rich Klein
So let's let's just jump right in and let us know where you grew up and were born and your early years influences.
[00:02:11.870] - Chris Poblano
I was born in Sacramento, California, and I basically grew up in Cameron Park, Cameron Park is a little town in between Sacramento and Placerville. My dad built the house there in nineteen seventy three and I was there until nineteen ninety one, so I spent the majority of my years in Cameron Park.
[00:02:36.540] - Big Rich Klein
Interesting, I didn't realize that that you were basically a Cameron Park native. What yeah, what road did you grow right down the road from you in Placerville?
Yep. What road did you grow up on in Cameron Park? Kimberly Road, Kimberly, OK, I know that road, I did a lot of landscaping in that area back in the must have been the 80s. Yeah, I had a landscaping company anyway. What grade school did you go to when you're in Cameron Park? I was in Cameron Park, I spent my first first grade through third grade at a private school in Placerville called El Dorado Junior Academy.
[00:03:17.950] - Chris Poblano
Right. And then I transferred from there to a private school in Sacramento, Sacramento Union Academy. And I spent grade four through 11 there. And then the new principal and myself did not get along in my junior year. And I left there and finished at Oak Ridge High School in El Dorado Hills.
[00:03:40.580] - Big Rich Klein
OK, excellent. Let's let's talk about your early days, those times the Academy, did they have. Was it academic then or did they have sports?
[00:03:52.330] - Chris Poblano
There was sports, but it is not like public school sports back then, especially, I mean, now they've gotten more into. Football and basketball and and those type of things where you compete against other schools, back when I was there, it was the big thing was competing against the alumni. The alumni came back for a special time of Thanksgiving and they came back another time in the spring. And your big games were competing against the alumni. Otherwise you just played against.
You know, other other classes and stuff. OK, and what what sports did you. Did you like the best? I preferred football, volleyball and and track that makes a lot of sense.
And I know that you are a physical therapist, I know there's a degree for that or like a doctor of or something. What is that that you that you have now? My degree is actually a physical therapist, assistant, and, yeah, it's a degree that you have to go to an accredited school for and then you have to pass your state boards. And then every two years you have to do enough continuing education to renew your license every two years.
OK. At what point did you decide that that's what you wanted to do? Actually, I was about three years into college when I decided what I want to do. I first initially went into college for criminal justice. Magnum P.I. was a big thing when I was a kid. And who doesn't want to drive around a Ferrari and hang out with chicks and search for dudes and fly around in the helicopter.
So Magnum P.I. was was an influence. Awesome.
Yeah. Magnum P.I. was it. And then I went into college for. For criminal justice, I was going to be a private investigator and I decided that probably wasn't reality. And then I went into nursing. And nursing, I just felt, was more schooling than I wanted to do because I wanted to be a nurse anesthetist which administers the anesthesia and that was more school. And I wanted to do and my brother was in the physical therapy field and a good friend of ours was in the physical therapy field.
So I switched over to the physical therapy field.
OK. When did you get your first car? Her first car had it at 14, I guess, is when my dad gave me a 1959 Volkswagen Bug and we began restoring it until I was 16 and that was my first vehicle.
Very nice. My first vehicle was a bug as well, a 54 living in that Cameron Park area. There's a lot of open space, at least in that time it wasn't completely all houses. So did you correct? Did you ride BMX bikes or, you know, motorcycles, anything like that? Mainly motorcycles, we had we had bicycles too, where we were building and when we built, you're correct, there were no houses around. My dad didn't own the land, but we use the land like it was ours.
I mean, we we had hundreds of acres at our access that we rode motorcycles to. We always had motorcycles. We always had bicycles, too, but. There was a place called Sam Town that was about it was it was the next exit up from our house, but we would ride our motorcycles and our quads there and we just parked them in the like trash container area and they had a huge arcade. We would go in there and play for hours in their arcade and then ride our bikes back.
That was always a pretty cool place to go with all the wood shavings on the floor, peanut shells, yeah, lots of arcade games.
I remember right out of college working and working as a landscaper before I owned a landscaping business. And we did a lot of a lot of lunches there. There are multiple times that we were out on our motorcycles. And the cops beat us back to our house and they would tell our parents we didn't belong on the road, on our motorcycles, but back in that day, they I mean, that's what they did. They they just came to your house and told your parents that and your parents hopefully did the right thing.
They didn't try to hassle you too much. And so that was nice, right?
No, it's true. The generation now that's growing up, the restrictions are so much tighter, they can't get away with near as much as when you were a kid or when I was a kid, that's for damn sure. So what do we listen better than we listen better back then to I mean, the cop told you to do something, you did it right now, the generation now thinks that they don't have to listen and they can do what they want.
Well, yeah, there's no respect for any kind of authority. Correct or respect for anybody else damn near in that time in Cameron Park, you rode by motorcycles a lot. You had to go to a private school down in Sacramento. How did you get down there? Was it one of the parents lived down or worked in that area? So you got dropped off or how did that work? Yeah, my dad my dad worked in Sacramento, so he would just take us and then pick us up.
Actually, my mom picked us up most of the time. And then I grew up water skiing, too, I didn't tell you that, I mean, I started water skiing at probably the age of one and a half or two. So my mom would pick us up with the boat and we'd be on Folsom Lake. And then my dad would meet us at the dam and we would ski till dark and then go home. This was literally a four day a week activity.
Wow. That's so that's pretty cool.
Yeah, it was very, very, very fortunate because, I mean, obviously back then to the lake wasn't more than crowded at all. I mean, the lake was ours. We we went up. The fork towards Salmon Falls, and there was nobody up there, and we would just ski and ski and then come back and head home and literally three to four days a week, that's that's what we did. My mom picked us up from school with the boat and we would head out and then my dad would meet us at the dam.
Overlook would pick them up from my ski more and then and we'd head home.
Cool. So in the wintertime, did you snow ski? I know a lot of a lot of us that grew up in that area at some point did. We did we snowskiied every year, we had a season pass to Sierra ski ranch and we utilized it a lot. That's awesome. So my brother is three years older than me. So by the time I was 13, I was doing everything with him where he was driving, which included taking the boat out on our own snow skiing.
My dad had already bought my Toyota four runner by then from Stanfields in Placerville and that eventually became my vehicle. But we got it stuck in the mud plenty and. I mean, it didn't take long before two boys figured out what to do with something that was four wheel drive, and I had I mean, I think I had my motorcycle license before I had my driver's license because you can get your motorcycle license at 15 and a half. So I would drive my ride.
My dad's Harley. To school, and then I eventually got a GFXR 750 and was up on the roads all through Placerville, Highway 193, bucks road, all of them, all the nice curvy roads. I spent a lot of time on those ride motorcycles, even out in Georgetown on the single track, all of our dirt bikes. So we spent a lot of time up in those hills. And you survived a street bike. I've survived many street bikes, I had my last street bike up until about three years ago, I finally got rid of that GFXR 750, I've had four GFXR 750's, I think.
Wow. So what year did you graduate high school? Graduated in nineteen ninety. OK, so your first experience off road with four wheel drive is obviously that that Toyota. That you and your brother drove and did you end up with that or how did. How did that what was your first four wheel drive vehicle? It was that it was a 1987 Toyota Fourrunner that my dad bought brand new first experience was out actually behind Sam's town and stuff up and up in the dirt, there is first place we got it buried and then we started.
Taking it, you know, little more places we ended up and not in Rubicon, but up by Union Valley Reservoir, and then up kind of towards Barrett Jeep trail, OK, in between in between Union Valley Reservoir and Barrett Jeep trail, there's a bunch of stuff to do up in there. And we ended up in there multiple times with it. And then after I graduated in 1990, my dad, I took over payment, I paid it off and then it became mine.
And in 91, Big O. Revoked my lifetime alignment that I had on it because I was in there every every week getting it realigned, so 1990 when I cut all the front end off and put a straight axle on it, and that solved the alignment issue. And did you go to Leaf Spring or did you link it? No, it was a leaf spring, I went and got a nineteen eighty five front clip and I cut the frame off from a junkyard, so I had all the measurements of where to drill through the frame and and put my sleeve and.
From my Front Springs, but I did exactly the same as the 1985 frame, nice, and so was that the the four cylinder turbo or. I was just a twenty two hour, twenty two hour, OK, and ninety two, no, ninety, yeah, ninety three. It blew up with two hundred eighty thousand miles. It got tired of towing the boat up the up the hill from Eldorado Hills to Cameron Park and blew up and I stuck nineteen ninety two three leader V six in it.
That had five thousand miles on it but I got out of a junk truck. So that was a wiring nightmare, forget it, because I took the dash and everything out of that truck, so I converted my dash over, I converted the motor over. Transmission, I mean, I have both of the whole thing, engine training, transferee, both of the whole thing in and then had to fabricate new cross members and stuff from. But it ran after two weeks.
It took me two weeks to to do it all. My dad looked at it. He goes, that thing is never going to run again. He looked at all the wiring going everywhere he goes. That thing is never going to run again.
Well, I have to give the credit to be able to do that, especially in two weeks. That took me two weeks. And I was a young, motivated kid, I guess, I mean, I was 19 or 20 then because I graduated in 1990, but I graduated in three years. I went to high school and three years since I went to a private school. And when I left, I had so many credits. I was 17 when I graduated.
Well, OK. So that was probably I was probably 19 when I did that.
It's awesome. And you did that in the garage. And my dad's garage, I pulled the boat out because I. I took the spot where the boat usually that. I pulled the boat out, did it right there, hooked up a. He helped me. Put like I think it was three or four, two by sixes together, so I had a thought to pull an engine in the trusses and then just went at it, yanked all the dash out, yanked all the wiring out.
And it turned into a kind of a nightmare because. It was a forerunner, so the brainbox controlled everything in the back end of the foreigner. Well, I got the motor and new brainbox and everything out of a pickup. So then I had to come up with a relay system to control my back window, my back went to washer, all of that stuff. The defrosts. But it got back together and I had that until. I probably sold about eight years ago.
Wow, I, I bobbed it 12 inches. It was just a work in progress all the time.
That's interesting. I didn't know that. Did you use anything, like from any of the manufacturers at that time or was it all stuff that you, you know, came up with on your own?
The straight axle conversion I came up with on my own, and then a year later I read about it from my shop in Colorado that supposedly did a first rate conversion. I'm like, no, that wasn't the first one. But I mean, they did a nice, nice write up and everything on it. And then now most of the stuff. I didn't use any manufactured I mean, as I continued to build it out later on, I mean, I destroyed the body, my first body on it, I completely destroyed in a competition down in Johnson Valley in 2002.
And then I put a new body on it. Bob, Bob, the new body. And by then I was getting, you know, some stuff. I had strong internal bead locks on it, I had ProComp tires on it from ProComp, I mean, I had I had stuff then that the guy I was spotting for then Tony, he gave me some of the parts that he was getting. So that made it building a little bit easier.
But I had a I mean, I didn't even have a marlin in it, I had a it was called the Jake J-P Eater is made by Jack O'Brien and Rossdale. Hmm. And you just didn't see many of them out there because it was before before Marlin even came out with anything, Padilla's transfer case. Wow. And you said you spotted Tony, that was was that Tony K.? Tony Kasabasich, Tony Case of Ball’s Itch as Roggy, you would call him?
Yeah. Anyway, he's off flying airplanes now. You still see him?
I see him every now and again. He just got married last week. And again, no, April 3rd got married, but I stay in contact with him. Yeah, he is here, these big airplanes. He I mean, he is building basically the same offroad shock that he built, it's just built for an airplane now. So it's just like in my industry and the medical industry, you know, Makita drill is. Fifty bucks down at Home Depot, but if you use the Makita drill in a surgery as the orthopedic surgeon, that's that's a seven hundred dollar Makita drill, right.
So what's with Tony and offroad shock? That was one hundred dollar shock is the two thousand dollar airplane shock. But it's the same shock.
Yeah, I thought so. I mean, I don't know I don't know those prices. Are accurate, but, you know, I mean, it's it's worth ten times more because it's worth it for an airplane, right, versus an automobile.
Yeah, I saw Tony at a STOL event in Gainesville, Texas, last year. Doug Jackson put on his first event. And Shelley and I were helping with the, welll. Shelley was helping with the scoring. I was just kind of being in the way and. All of a sudden, there was Tony, I was like, damn, dude, what's up? So it was it was pretty interesting seeing him again.
Yeah, I knew he was flying, but I didn't know how deep he was into it, so. Oh, he's deep. He has three or four planes these deep. Yeah, that's. Three or four planes, if you find the time to even fly them all. I don't know, it's crazy, like having four pickup trucks and trying to figure out which one to take each day. Anyway, so from that Toyota. And you said you were in a competition and.
Down in Johnson Valley in 2002, what preceded that? I know you were you were at Lake Amador, but were you a spectator or did you help with that event? Lake Amador is a spectator, but I was there with Kevin Yoder. I wasn't spotting him. I, I think Kevin Yoder was the very first person I spotted. But at that event, I didn't spot him. I was just there helping him. And Joel was there. I was helping with and there is a big group from Far and Gone Motorsports.
I was at that event. Yeah, but, I mean, I, I it was a good Northern California event, that's for damn sure. Correct. I mean, but before that, I mean, I was in the Rubicon for, I think Carnage for the Con and the first one was held in in Little Sluice. And I remember Slinky going through there with his canoe on his flat fender. And I mean, I think Rubicon is where I where I started.
And I think that was first time I met you. OK, because I was up there to help trail fixing of some section, I don't remember what section was the very first time I met you? I was. One of the work parties I was there with my forerunner, OK? Yeah, that that was right after I moved back to California from Utah, so that was 2001. Because I moved back just before Christmas of 2000 and then did the first event November of 2001, so must have been that springtime then of 2001, probably.
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, those were some good days out there with those with the trail cleanups and the and the work parties for Friends of the Rubicon. And all that that was there were a lot of parties, half of it was cleaning up what was left from the party the night before.
So from there, then you got into your spectating at Amador and by the way, thank you for sending me the photos that you did. And and then you competed. Down in Johnson Valley and who was who was that with it was it was put on by Victor Valley Four-Wheel Drive Club at one of their October Fest things that they used to do on Columbus Day weekend. It was just thrown together at the last last minute. And I can't even remember what section of Johnson Valley was held.
And that was the year I was going to start competing with Tony spotting for him. And we were down there together. And he goes, you know, let's both do this. So we did he had a little buggy that he had built and it kind of looked like a flat fender. And I was in my fourrunner and. Actually, I beat him in the event, but I destroyed my Four runner. I mean, I destroyed it. There was one whole side of it that was gone because I was the only way I was getting through a section.
But it was fun.
That's pretty good. Let's talk about after Tony. How how long did you spot for Tony? I it for Tony for five years, I would say 2002 to 2007.
OK. So then at the Donner events with WE Rock, you spotted him, did you did you spot for him at the pro rock event that was held there in Fernley? Yeah, when he threw the cone, yes.
I had to talk that father off the ledge that day because I was standing right there when Tony launched that cone. I mean, there was like four people at that point in the evening watching. And the second just. Clip that that that child, but it freaked a child out and the dad thought, you know, the way he was acting, it was like the kid got run over.
Let's talk about some of the Donner events. What do you remember most from from those days? What do I remember most? That was probably still CalRocs day, was that you had the early beginnings.
Yeah, we didn't start. I didn't I think 2005 was the first WE Rock. Yeah, so, I mean, I Donner it's just a great, great event. My biggest memory from Donner, honestly, is Jason Berger doing a wheelie up the wall, because I was I mean, I've been a great friend with Jason Berger for. 20 some years, too, I've done disabled sports with him every year when he did it, and we actually own a business together, but that's one of my that's one of my most memorable moments.
Donner is him doing a really two wheel drive with nitrous in his WE Rock racer up that wall for, like, intermission or something.
The the parties on the deck were always pretty awesome out there at Donner. I never really got into that aspect of of any of it. I've never really been a drinker. So, I mean, I like to hang out and have fun, but. There's a lot of stupid stuff that happens when you start adding alcohol. I try to stay away from it. That's that's been wise. That's been a good move over the years to stay away from those from that kind of a situation when you when you involve the alcohol.
So after, Tony, you said you did Yoder, Yoder was spotted for Yoder, but that was probably before Tony. That was before before Tony and during Tony, I mean, if Tony wasn't going to event but Kevin was and he needed somebody, I mean, I'd go back and forth between the two of them for for quite a few years, OK? And then after Tony, that's when I started spotting for Brent Bradshaw.
OK, so it was after Tony. All right. All right. And it's kind of funny because Tony called them, too, and said, you know, I'm not going to drive anymore, but I'll spot or my spotter is available. So obviously, Brent chose me. Probably a good move. So while I've always had a theory that drivers are drivers and spotters or spotters, and as soon as they start trying to. Cross the line, yeah, you can do the other to learn, but drivers are usually drivers for a reason and spotters are usually spotters for a reason.
I agree, and I mean, I drove I drove Tony's car so I could understand, you know. What it did and. Where the edge was and how it felt and I drove Brent's car, I've never driven like Jesse's car. But I mean, I have a very good understanding now what a car is capable of doing, right? Well, and that shows that shows. So let's let's jump into. To to Berger. And your guys relationship with with, you know, over those 20 years and let's hit a little bit on the business that you guys run together or owned together.
Well, I was part of Far and Gone Club and the very first a disabled sports run that he did was up in Cisco Grove. And we just went from the basically the fire road there down the cut out into the forest trail and then back up and then hung out at the lake right there. He he did. He ran disabled sports in the off road section for I am probably. Close to 20, 15 to 20 years. And he basically just came down too far and gone and and presented it, and there are plenty of people want to jump in and help.
And I was just part of that first one and and from there. I didn't miss a year until he had to had to eventually shut it down because they couldn't get insurance anymore for that kind of get insurance anymore because they couldn't designate it as a controlled environment. So so nobody would insure it anymore. Hmm.
OK, that makes sense, especially, you know, dealing with the. With the things that they had to deal with in that in that kind of a situation. Right. So the first couple of years, it was it was, you know, the four days and then it when they got the idea, hey, I think we could do this in the Rubicon. So the very first year, it was a one night trip into Rubicon. Well, that turned out to be a ton of work for one night.
And then from there on, he tried to turn it into a two night trip so we would meet in the parking lot at the Tahoe side Friday morning. We'd go down, they would always reserve the Dirty Dozen campground, we'd go down to the Springs Friday. Have a big barbecue Friday night, and then Saturday, we would always go up to Buck Island, hang out at Buck Island, come back Sunday morning, pack up and leave. You're talking 20 to 25 disable participants from ambulatory people to non ambulatory people.
So we'd have wheelchairs, we'd have crutches, we'd have everything that you could think of. And to haul twenty five people and their family members, you're talking 40 to 50 rigs. So this was always 40 to 50 very capable rigs, too, because we didn't want to be clogging up the trail. We didn't want to be broke in there. And I mean. Every year we were very blessed people moving out of our way. Very graciously just pull it over the side and let 40 re's go the wrong way on the trail and we never really ran into any trouble.
Everybody always really supported it. There's a dirty dozen was always donated. And there was always I mean, a big, big gathering, there were seven of us that towed trailers. I mean, I tow the trailer and six others towed the trailer. And I mean to bring, you know, 50 people into a spot and provide food for them for three days. It was it was quite a production. And he ran it and he did a great job of it.
And I love participating every year. I mean, I actually missed competitions because they were the same weekend as Disabled Sports Trip. And I I mean, that that was a no brainer for me. That was the one thing I committed to every single year. I never got a chance to go on disabled sports, I know that that my son did and a lot of other friends of mine, but I never had a chance to do that. And.
I kind of regret that, but, you know, you can't do everything. Correct, you can't so talk about the years with Bradshaw, years of Bradshaw, honestly, some of my most memorable years, because my wife and I and my kids did a lot of it together. My wife probably went to every single event with me and Brent. Linda preferred that. I mean, there was a. It was a big family thing for us. My kids were always invited, they always got me a hotel room or a condo or whatever that accommodated my whole family.
Very, very good years. I mean, we did. And we did. We did. Well, he was willing to put in the money and the time to to do well. I believe there's two different theories than in building a vehicle. Either pay for it up front or you're going to pay the same price over the years of breaking the parts that you would have paid for it up front. So, I mean, with Tony, we went through a lot of broken parts and he was paying for a lot of broken parts and as soon as you break apart.
You're really not in contention anymore. Brent paid the money up front. And we didn't break the car very often at all. I mean, I calculated at once, we competed for four years. We did 10 events a year between WE Rock CalRocks and Cal Neva. And we would do obviously nine courses basically prevent. And in those four years, we lost an ARB once and we broke a trailing arm in the rear once, so we broke twice and neither of those breaks were bad enough that we could not get off the course.
So we got off course, fixed it and continued on. So, I mean, to compete that much and to break that little. Is is, you know, a positive testament to his equipment. First of all, there was also the time he put in that vehicle as soon as it left, in the event it went home. And Randy, who was his engineer, worked on the vehicle for three days, got it ready for the next event and put it back in the trailer.
And it wasn't touched by anybody. But if it broke the two times it did in the field that Brant and I had to work on it. But otherwise, his engineer, Randy, is the only person that worked on that vehicle. And the vehicle was always prepared. Right.
So it was very prep means a lot. It really does. Correct. And that's that's something that I think a lot of teams, you know, don't pay attention to, not even in rockcrawling and even in Ultra4r I mean, these these teams that, you know, thinking is go out and beat it and beat it and beat it and never pull it apart and see if there's something wrong with your opinion or something wrong. Twist it on your axle or something.
I mean, they have a lot of lot more faith in their equipment than I thought I personally would. Yeah, true. Understood. So after Brent. And I know that that drivers are all all different, they all have they all have different needs or wants from their spotters. And I would say that Tony and and Brent were probably.
Different. For sure, and I know that you probably had to to talk Brent into doing some of the things that he may not have felt comfortable doing. Am I correct in that assumption? No, Brent was he was very confident in his ability. Once you told him exactly where he needed to be, so Tony, Tony to my downfall was basically communication, I would ask him to do something, to tell him to do something, and he would tell me you didn't convince me of it.
Well, it's not my job to convince you of it, in my opinion. It's my job to give my opinion on what needs to happen. And you're still the driver. You got to choose to do it or not. Brent was more like a remote control car. I told him to turn the wheel, turn the wheel left. I him turn the wheel right, you turn the wheel right. It was I mean, he did not move the car and left.
I was watching him and helped him and helped him do that. And a couple of times when he did, you know, try to get to a section and I was off stacking rocks or something, you know, here he is hung up and that were forced to take a back up or something. So with Brent, that was completely different. It was like a remote control car. Had Brant been competing before you became his spotter? Yes, Brent, I had competed against Brent for four price four or five years.
He was in a eight wheel drive, Suzuki Samurai first. Right. And then and then he had a yeah. And then he had a red Honda that we competed against him in.
That's right. And I remember Todd Young was the spotter's a little bit. And if I remember right, Shane Yost was his spotter a little bit. But I'm not for sure on all those. And then I just happened to call them, and it's funny because I called him and Jesse Haines at the same time because I was done, was done with Tony and Jesse had just moved to the West Coast. And Jesse said, I don't know anything about you and.
And I'm going to go with somebody else. All right, cool, so then I contact a branch. I say I think I contact Brant first, but then get back to me. And then Brent said, yeah, let's try it out. So we went and practiced in our first event together was Perris.
Yeah. And I think we took third place there. Did did he lose in the Haines, did he have the the scrapper car then? At that event, he did OK. Yeah, that is the only car ever spotted for OK was a scrapper OK? Right.
So a Browns Valley event, which I think was a Cal Rock event, which was, you know, five miles from my house at that point. I was competing with. Kevin Yoder against them and Tracy Jordan was there because Tracy sold him the car and Tracy Jordan was spotting for him. And drove them the wrong way in the course. Another reason I say drivers really shouldn't be spotters. And and I talked to him a little bit then I didn't even realize he had that car and then and then he contacted me.
But yeah, that's the only car that I ever spotted for him with was that. A first year it was scrapper, and then he built his own design of that exact same chassis. OK. Because I know the original scrapper chances were were pretty, pretty thin walled tube and all the tabs and everything, and I think although that was one I think B.Z. built or had was the original scrapper and then he had two identical chassis's built and one of them was his and one of them was Tracy’s.
So that was probably that that one then. OK. Just trying to figure it all out in my mind. So then you spotted him for for quite a while until he decided to retire and then you jumped in, you jumped in with. With Trail Gear and Matt Messer, if I remember, right, correct. Actually, I jumped in my jet the first. In 2013, so I quit with Brent, I think in 2012, 2013, I did a couple events with multiple people and then I, I worked with Jesse at Nationals, I believe it was in Colorado that year.
OK. And we went out there and his flat bender and then I worked with him the next year for a year. And then at the end of that year, Matt approached me at one of the event and said his daughter was going to start competing and. And then I started talking to him about. Spotting for his daughter, Olivia, she was she was young. I think she probably 15 at that point. Yeah, 14 years. And I and I thought that was an honor, you know, that that, you know, Matt would consider me because that's I mean, that's his daughter.
That's his baby. That's baby girl. That's. And basically in my hands, if I drive her off a cliff and she crashes, that, that can't be nobody else, right? So. So, yeah, then I worked with Olivia for. Oh, a year and a half. And then she started. She had school stuff and things that prevented her from finishing out the season in 2016. So then I spotted Jessie Haines again at the end of 2016, just like nationals or something.
And then from there on, I've worked with I worked with him from then until now. OK. Each one of those drivers comes with a different skill set or no real skill set yet like Olivia when she was brand new into it. Barack, do you did you prefer working with somebody that had a skill set or was it nice to be able to mold a driver like Olivia to to to perform and where she was trusting you? I would say both, I mean.
I really enjoy having a driver that's willing to do. You know, everything is very confident about doing it without me having to look and make sure they're doing it. But I also I mean, I like a better driver, trust me, enough to want to do what I say as well, Olivia. I mean, she was she was good for her age and her. Her lack of skill and and just her inexperience, she was willing to.
She was willing to try almost anything she just sometimes didn't always understand. What the car was doing and couldn't tell me what the car felt like underneath there where Britt or just I mean, just is really good about telling me how the car feels. And so was Brant. I mean, it was just really good about. Telling me, look, the sun doesn't feel right, I don't feel right. You sure we need to try that and she just didn't have, you know, that knowledge or that experience or that time, all of it, you know, all of that comes with.
With experience, and she doesn't have it yet, but I think we did well, we were always in the top 50 percent and we were we were fighting for first place that Rangeley, Colorado, we ended up taking second. And that's because we chose not to do a bonus and we chose not to do the bonus because. I didn't feel it was the right position to put her right. You know, the people who won, they did the bonus, they ended up hitting the KOH in any way, but it was just something that.
But they chose to do, but I didn't think it was the best position to put her in, I always had that in the back of my mind, too. I mean, it's not. I wanted to do the best I could, but I also had another man's 15 year old, 16 year old daughter. That I'm responsible for to. So. Yeah, it's a lot different than dealing with Jesse or Tony or Brant, you know, when, you know you've got got somebody young like that.
Yeah. Correct. So what's it been like with spotting for Jesse since since that time? It's been really good. I mean, we've gotten. Much better, we communicate really well. He is a phenomenal driver. I mean, there's a him, Tracy Jordan. There's just a couple of drivers like them, honestly, they don't need a spotter, they need a spotter to tell them how close they are to cone or to stack them. To stack some rocks for them before they get there, I mean, honestly, if you watch Tracy Jordan and his brother work together, Jason was always just out.
Doing pretty work for Tracy because Tracy knew where the car was going to go. He didn't need him to tell them where the car was going to go and just do the same. Jesse, Jesse knows where the car is going to go and how it's going to how well it's going to do. I'm out there to do a little preventative work for him and. And make sure we don't hit cones and every now and again, I mean, he gets in a bad position and it takes me thinking of, you know, how to get him out of that position.
But those those times are rare, right?
So you don't have any aspirations of driving yourself again, right? No, I drove solely for the reason to kind of learn what a car feels like and, you know, just get an idea of of that side of it, the same same thing that I did with Justin at your event. I mean, I judge at a grand nationals. I've judged at multiple events for you. And I think every competitor should should go out and and judge once or twice if they can, because.
It's just another component of the competition that I think everybody needs to know. I think it makes you a better competitor no matter what, whether you're a driver spotter. It doesn't matter. Just it makes you a better competitor because you understand you understand what the judge is going through. I mean, they're out there volunteering their time and they have people like me that harass them sometimes and.
And I mean, it's just not I think it just builds a better person, better, better competitor, so that's the reasons I drove. But no, I have no no aspirations of driving, of owning a team of. Of any of that and honestly. Because of my job, I don't have the time to take off Thursday and Friday to get to the event and then Monday and Tuesday to get home from the event. I'm in I'm a high maintenance spotter.
I fly into events. I rent a car. I drive. To the event, I show up and I do my work and I get on a plane that night. Ninety five percent of the time that night and I'm back at my house Sunday night and I go to work Monday morning at five o'clock. So. I mean, it's it's not. Driving, driving, being the driver and the car owner would not play into it, it just wouldn't it wouldn't work for me, right.
So let's talk about your business, what what you're doing and what kind of clientele you have, that kind of thing, is that right? Yup.
My brother and I own an outpatient physical therapy practice in Oroville, California. He started it in nineteen ninety nine and I joined him in 2001 when he just got busy to handle it himself. So we've been here for 20 years and the same same place we treat orthopedic outpatient clientele, whether it's a surgery recovery, a worker's compensation injury or just a sports injury, we're rehabbing them back to. Their best potential. That is that is my main business, that is.
What put the food on my table, that is what makes me able to travel and compete as what makes me able to vacation and have that, I have a couple side businesses as well. But that is my main business.
Let's talk about those side businesses also. You're you are you still competing or is it just workout's in the crossfit? Yeah.
Crossfit. So in 2014, I opened my own Crossfit here in town and it's been very successful. I coach Monday, Wednesday, Friday morning, the 6:00 a.m. class. And I've done that since 2014, so I'll go there and coach, then I come to my office and I treat patients and then I'll usually go work out at five thirty at night during the week. I do not compete in any crossfit anymore. I'm just I'm too old in my opinion.
Although you compete with people in your age bracket the past four years, I just have not done near as much as I used to. I used to be really heavily involved and compete and travel around the country competing and in Crossfit and. It just it just wearing on my body and I just do it now to say. In better shape, and I really I do it so I can eat what I want. I just like to eat junk food a lot of the time.
That's my downfall. I don't work hard enough to get rid of the junk food diet. So.
So I was a huge benefit, though, when I was I mean. Getting in really good shape for Crossfit and then competing in rock crawling went hand in hand, I mean, moving rocks and rolling over vehicles, just all of it. I mean, there was a time when I worked out so I could be better competing in rock crawling right now. It's just I try to just stay so I can stay moving. Well, because as I get older.
I know that I'm not going to make the gains in the Crossett like I used to, but if I can maintain where I'm at, I'm really happy with that because as I get older, if I can just maintain it. But that's a success for me, right? That's that's good. So let's talk about those those businesses that you have. I know one of them is and maybe both of them, but one of them is with Jason, is that correct?
Yeah, Jason and I started a company called Waltraud, and it is a a hand sanding tool for Crossfit. He was down in my gym. For a competition. For him and another girl that was in the Masters Division with him, they would come down from Truckee. So there are 6500 foot elevation. They would come down for specific workouts before the crossfit games and do them in my gym at like 80 foot sea level. So it's kind of like blood doping.
I mean, you got. You're used to working out of 6500 foot elevation, you come down to 100 foot elevation and your oxygen is way better, your endurance is way better, and they would literally do the workout up there first and then they would come down here and they would get like. You know, two more rounds of it or it just it was a significant difference, so one time he was down and he has the PVC pipe and he has a D.A. standing standing will pad.
Stick on like one hundred and twenty grit on this PVC pipe and sand in his hands, I'm like, what is that thing is all? I want to invent this and I really want to. I want to do something with it eventually, but I just don't know where to start because you interested? I'm like. Yeah, we'll talk about it, and I just kind of blew it off and I called him a week later and I go, hey, were you serious about that?
He goes, Well, yeah, I'm serious. I go, well, you need like a financial investor in it or do you want somebody to help you build it or what? He goes, no, I want a partner. So, you know, I go out of my shop, I grab another PVC pipe, I cut a groove in it because he kind of told me what he wanted. He wanted sandpaper to come out of the center of it like a lint roller.
And as the sandpaper wore off, you tear it off, you throw it away, and you you put your new one on. So I go in the shop and I slice a groove in a PVC pipe and I wind up some sandpaper on the inside that I found this four inch sandpaper and send him pictures. I'm like talking something like this. Is it. Yeah. So I have a buddy here in Oroville that owns a body shop, like the next week I'm up at his place and we're we're trying to have this out of aluminum now.
And we went through like 11 Prototypes. And got it down to what it is now and we ship them worldwide. I mean, we've had that business, I think, since 2017. And yeah, we ship them, we ship them worldwide, I produce everything right here in Orovillel, I manufacture them here and then I put them together in my house. And then I then I get them to Jason Berger, who lives in Truckee, and he shipped them and it's been it's been a great business.
We've gone to you know, we've done it across the games that we've had been there. Booster We were scheduled to go to the Arnold last year in Ohio until covid hit and then it got canceled. So we didn't go to the Arnold. But we're that's one of our next goals, is to go to the Arnold Fitness Expo because there's like two hundred fifty thousand people that attend that. Wow.
So it's a perfect, perfect place for it and explained to us that don't know what that sanding of the hands does. So your calluses build up, the more and more you grab a barbell or kettlebell or dumbbells, and eventually those calluses can rip off. So what a callous rips off. Now it's an open wound and bleeding. And we're just trying to prevent that. We're trying to have good hand maintenance so your hands stay in better condition and you and you don't have these calluses to peel off.
You don't have an open wound. And you just typically when when you rip callous off, you're not working out for a week at least, and. And Crossfit, I mean, it's a big thing that a lot of cross fitters think it's a badge of honor to have these ripped up hands and it's not my opinion. So we're trying to prevent that. And that's what the tool is. We spent a lot of time designing its murals on one side.
So, you know, just like a barbell, when you grab a barbell, the nursing on it, it's the same. MORLING The caps are removable so you can put a refillable sandpaper refill in there. The biggest company for, like all crossfit exercise equipment is Rogue, they're out of Ohio and they contacted us and wanted to have it. Supply them with it for their customers, and so we met with them and I mean, they're our biggest their biggest buyer.
They're our biggest wholesaler, we shipped to them every single month. And it was it was, you know, quite an honor to have them call honestly and contact us because. There are competitors out there and the competitors try to get their product in with them and it didn't meet their standards basically, and ours, ours met their standards. So it was nice.
That's awesome. So you have the gym, you have the the physical therapy, and then you have the. The product. So that's the three businesses that you're doing. That's correct. OK. And where do you see? Those all in the future, are they growth mode or are they, you know, status quo? The business, my main business, actually, we are in escrow right now to sell it to private private company out of Utah.
OK. And my future is in Tennessee. I own 10 acres in Tennessee that I bought last year and that is where I'm going to retire. I am extremely conservative. Tennessee suits me well. I like how conservative they are. I like how fiscally responsible they are. I like that my retirement is a tax. There's no income tax. It's like a twenty five percent pay raise just to move from California to Tennessee. And they're about our freedoms and our liberties, and I'm all about my freedoms and my liberties and and where I live in California.
They want to take away my freedoms and my liberties, in my opinion. So. Tennessee is my future, the gym I will stay an owner of. Until it either closes or we sell it or whatever, I'll just basically be a silent partner. My partners that I have currently or are OK with that, they don't really want anybody to buy me out and I'm not going to force them to buy me out. And Jason and I are we're figuring that out because we might just we haven't decided what we're doing with that with that business.
Whether he's going to continue to have the stuff produced here in Oroville and just come down and get it, if we're just going to try to sell that business or we're going to try to get a licensing deal where somebody like Rogue or another company produces them and takes takes over everything. And and we have to do nothing. So we're still trying to figure out that business. Itself, but my future is in Tennessee. Do you think by the end of this year?
Oh, really? Do you mind me asking where in Tennessee. The town of Dunlap, it. Not. Well, it's actually like 20 miles south of Dayton where you hold an event.
Yeah, we go through we go through Dunlap and we go to El Metate which is the the Mexican restaurant there at least twice every time we go into Tennessee for the for the rock crawl That's interesting. Cool. And yeah, we've we've been out there four or five times and we've driven around a lot and. We drove up to this property and I mean, I kind of knew that that was where I wanted to be and my wife didn't say anything and I didn't say anything to her.
And then later we just both looked at each other and we just we knew that that's probably where we belong. So we made an offer on it. They accept our offer and. I'm actually going out there next weekend and I hope to contract with a guy to start the dirt work. So it's just raw land right now. It's just raw land, yeah. OK. And is it is it along the river or the Sequatchie or just in the valley?
It is up. It's actually up on the mountain, on the plateau, Fredonia Mountain.
Oh, OK. So it's up a 200 foot elevation, which hopefully has less humidity, less heat, that's what I've been told. And yeah, I'm going to build my own house again, my current house that I live in, I built 16 years ago because before I was into physical therapy, I was a framer. And I mean, I was in construction from age 12 to. Nineteen, because my dad was in construction, so, OK, I'm looking forward to building another house.
Awesome. When you're out there and you retire, are you really retiring or do you have your eyes set on another business or extension of something else that you're already doing? I am going to keep my physical therapy license, right? I mean, I have applied for reciprocity. I'm going to keep that just in case I need to do that. I honestly, I want to invest in storage units. And I want to get I wouldn't mind delivering classy or classy motorhomes from the factory to.
Like their final destination at the dealership and there's in Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia, there's multiple motorhome manufacturers, so excellent. I don't know what I'm going to do. Retire? No, because I'm only 48 years old, but. Not do kind of do it, I want to do I want to just kind of work two days a week probably. And how what's the range, how old are your kids? My kids are twenty two and twenty.
Oh, wow. OK, they are they are adults. They're adults. My son is the fireman who works for Cal Fire and my daughter is in college and she'll actually be going to school in Kentucky that she will be wrestling for. She's going on a wrestling scholarship to Campbellsville University where she wants to. Get a bachelors in criminal justice and a master's in forensic psychology, and then she wants to join the Air Force after that as a second lieutenant.
I think she said, wow, she's got a game plan. That's awesome. She does she she's very goal oriented. And I want to go to the Air Force for a while and then eventually end up in FBI or CIA, is what she's talked about, but very patriotic young lady.
Good to hear that. Good to hear that so. Let's talk now about what you think makes a great spotter. And. Also, what you think. Spotters coming into the sport. Need to to work on or they should. What's the first thing they should should do? What makes a great spot, in my opinion, is knowing what your driver wants, because every single person I've spotted for wants a little bit different information and. I know exactly what they want.
You need to be able to communicate it to them whether they want to know when they've cleared a section, a gate, and that's something people want to know some some want to know how far away they are from a KOH. And so some I mean, it's just every every driver wants to know those. Just a little cup, a little different thing. And you need to be able to communicate that to them before they ask for it, right?
OK, the other thing is this, I mean, obviously practicing with your driver, communicating the biggest thing that I feel has helped me. Is knowing my course as I walked, of course, the night before I walk, of course, the morning before. And if I'm allowed to, I'll walk the course before we go, because sometimes they change, but I can't walk, of course, too many times because every time I walk and I see something different and I think what too many teams do.
Is they don't know the course, so they watch the vehicle in front of them and then it becomes a follow the leader game and. Sometimes that leader is not doing something that you really need to be doing so or your vehicle is not capable of doing or whatever. So we always I mean, Jesse and I are I are Olivia and I, we always whoever I thought, we always have a game plan. We had a WE Rock option A and option B and an option B only came into play when, oh, crap, we screwed up so bad we got to do option B.
But I mean, we always had we always had a game plan. And I learned that from Brant. I mean literally we. You know, we would walk, of course, a lot, we were the first ones on the mountain in the morning and we were the last ones off the mountain in the night. And that led to a lot of success. But but I mean, that success came with putting in the time. But that is the most important thing, in my opinion, is knowing your course.
Knowing your course, 4Low, knowing what gate you need to get to next, knowing what direction you have to go through it, I mean, you watch it. Yes. I can't tell you how many times I've watched go the wrong way. Not know where the next set of Gates is, not knowing where the finish gate is. I mean, it just it goes on and on like that. So knowing your course is as one of the most important things, in my opinion.
Absolutely agree. Second biggest thing, in my opinion, is finishing courses, if you have to run over a cone to get out a finish gate, if you have to do whatever you got to do. You have to finish the course. If you don't finish, of course, nowadays you're not on the podium. You're not even in contention because there's. There's just you can't you can't make up the point swings that is going to happen if you don't finish, of course.
So that is always key. And in the five years I has brought up suggested we did not finish a course once. And that was last year. And Goldendale, we find out on a on our first course on day two. And it was 100 percent. My fault, in my opinion, and it wasn't because I was crippled, it was because. We kept trying a bonus for too long and we needed to get out of that bonus and finish the course, but we knew we could get the bonus because we had already driven up it.
But we I mean, the car just kept it in the wrong position and we ended up not finishing that course. And when you just don't finish, of course, it ruins while it ruins your day for one. But I mean, it ruins your chances of being in the top three.
Right. So now here's I'm going to throw a twist, Stacia. OK. Do you have a question for me regarding rock crawling or events that we've done or my life or anything else that you think?
That the listeners might like the information that comes from the from the answer. How long do you feel that you're going to be doing it? Hmm, that's a good question. I let's just I'm going to put it this way we are getting into the twilight of my WE Rock crawling career as a event promoter for competitive events. I would imagine that I'm going to be around it doing it. For probably at least three years. And hopefully find somebody that that wants to do it, that we can transition it to him and then that becomes that timeframe becomes what it is for me to teach them what we have done to make this successful.
Because I mean, it's always been successful, it's just. Shelley needed to. When when I met Shelley, Shelley stepped in and and fixed the things that. Well, me being able to keep keep a hold of money, you know, I mean, is I'd spend it as fast as we made it and that wasn't always a good thing, whether I you know, I'd say, well, I need to do this. And maybe that wasn't the thing I needed to do.
And she's brought in those controls. But, you know, there will be a transition period. I don't want to see WE Rock disappear. And, you know, I know there's a couple of people out there that could run it. Hopefully one of those will step up. And if anybody is listening and and would like to become an off road event promoter, competitive event promoter, I'd be more than happy to discuss it with them. But, yeah, I would say that, you know, three years.
You know, would probably be about right. Sounds good. I think that's about my my life expectancy to three more years. I get it. Well, my my goal is two more national championships, so it might take three years to do it. There's going to be some good competition this year.
There's a lot of there's so many people that have stood up, stepped up into the unlimited class. And I think some of them are really good drivers. Maybe they're not familiar with rear steer or that kind of thing. But I've been really surprised at some of the guys that have stepped up over the last couple of years and some guys that are coming back into it that are. You know, if if all the cards fall right, it's going to be a really difficult year season and whoever gets on that podium at each event is going to definitely earn it.
I agree, there's a lot of. A lot of good cars out there and there's a lot of good drivers and there's a lot of good drivers that just need the right spotter. Yeah. Fortunately for me, I stopped for a guy who now in his backyard can practice three to five hours a day if he wants to, and for the past three weeks, that's what he's been doing and he's been stuck tuning and he's been tuning everything. And he's and the time is tremendous.
And is he got that the engine management, the fuel system management going properly now? Does Jesse have that car run and top? The car I was up there last week and we practice the car ran better than it did. Three weeks ago, when I was up there three weeks ago, I was having to spray a starter fluid into a port because the.
The injectors were not firing well, but that's fixed horsepower wise, he's got a lot more power than we had last year and the car starts every time he's constantly tuning stuff. So, I mean, he is. And when I say shock tuning, literally, he's out shock tuning for five hours a day, he'll try to drop and he'll tune the shock and try to drop it in the shop and they'll mess with the water in the tires. And that's what the amount of the tire.
So that's what little things. And it's because his backyard, literally his backyard is. Rock crawling. Yeah, I've seen the pictures. So three weeks ago, we had four teams out there practicing, and in last week we had seven teams out there practicing. Wow. So we posted our own little competition and just practice. And it's just the teams that came out, the team, not even just those teams that came out. Any team that's out practicing, they're miles ahead because that's what it takes.
That takes time. It takes communication. Drivers spotter. Takes no in your vehicle and every every position that you can get it in and and Jesse this year has for sure put in that time and where he hasn't been able to before, he's just fortunate right now that that is literally his backyard. I mean, he works still and fabricate, but he he spends a lot of time in that seat. It's good news. Well. I'd like to say thank you, Chris, for coming on board with the conversations with Big Rich, you've shed some light on things that I didn't know or didn't understand.
And I'm sure our listeners will enjoy this. And I want to say good luck to you and Jesse going into this season.
I appreciate it. I look forward to our first event in Cedar City, and I think it was like three weeks.
Yeah, it's three or four weeks. Two and a half weeks. Yep. Yeah. So we'll see.
Oh, look, I'm looking forward to it. I really enjoy cedar. I really enjoy that. You've gone back to natural terrain. I love natural terrain. I mean, don't get me wrong, manmade stuff is OK, but natural is there's just nothing like natural terrain and. It changes, so what I look at in the morning might not be what it is when I get in the car, so that type of stuff always keep the person on their on their a game.
That is true. All right, Chris, thank you for that and have a wonderful evening. OK, you too. Bye. All right. 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. OK, you enjoyed it. We'll catch you next week with conversations with Big Rich.
Thank you very much.