Conversations with Big Rich

Are you driver enough? Ask Phil Collard, the original ARCA course designer

September 23, 2021 Guest Phil Collard Season 2 Episode 77
Conversations with Big Rich
Are you driver enough? Ask Phil Collard, the original ARCA course designer
Show Notes Transcript

Are you driver enough? OG course designer, Phil Collard, talks course setting philosophy with Big Rich. It’s interesting to hear how the original ARCA designer set courses. Phil’s had a long, full life since then.  Join us to learn more.

5:55 – I saw them help more people with problems

9:26 – how did you get started setting courses?

13:38 – how did you set courses?

18:55 – it was a chess match between me and the rest of the world

24:39 – I learned how to do it without having to drive it

30:46 – it’s Moab, it’s got to be the most difficult that there every was

34:31 – the goat cheese found the canyon 

36:25 – would you like to ride with me?

38:40 – I’m in a high-speed chase on that little tiny, skinny road

49:53 – personality of drivers that ranges from fantastic to even more fantastic

57:46 – that’s what happened with those spear things

1:03:11 – you’re changing the face of the industry

We want to thank our sponsors Maxxis Tires and 4Low Magazine. 

Be sure to listen on your favorite podcast app.


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[00:00:00.470] - Speaker 3

Welcome to The Big Rich Show. This podcast will focus on conversations with friends and acquaintances within the four wheel drive industry. Many of the people that I will be interviewing you may know the name. You may know some of the history, but let's get in depth with these people and find out what truly makes them a four wheel drive enthusiast. So now it's the time to sit back, grab a cold one and enjoy our conversation.


[00:00:28.520] - Speaker 4

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[00:00:55.200] - Speaker 2

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[00:01:16.580] - Big Rich Klein

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[00:01:19.460] - Big Rich Klein

On today's episode of Conversations with Big Rich. We have Phil Collard. Phil is well, I'm going to call him the OG course designer in rock crawling. I learned a lot from him working with him. Watching him, I should say in Cedar City, Utah, during the first ARCA event there when I was the club President and Phil over the years has set a lot of great courses. And we're going to talk about that and Phil's life in off road and how he got to become a Premier course designer.


[00:01:55.940] - Big Rich Klein

So, Phil, thank you very much for coming on board and sharing your life with our listeners.


[00:02:02.200] - Phil Collard

Well, thank you for having me on. I appreciate it. And thank you for all you've done for rock crawling.


[00:02:07.160] - Big Rich Klein

Well, it's my pleasure. And to be honest, I would have to say that you were a big influence that time watching you set courses as a club. We didn't really know what to expect. We had driven all over Three Peaks. We had some pretty extreme wheelers in the club, but we really had no idea. Even though we had a couple of us had gone to some of the other events, we really didn't know how it was going to shake out. So working with you that a couple of days of setting up the courses was was quite enlightening.


[00:02:44.000] - Phil Collard

That was one of the funnest places that I ever set courses. I really enjoyed that. I believe that probably was the most entertaining for me.


[00:02:53.260] - Big Rich Klein

Awesome. So let's jump right in with the first basic question. And that is, where were you born? And you know, where did you grow up?


[00:03:04.170] - Phil Collard

I was born in Farmington, New Mexico, and that's where I grew up. The Choke Cherry Canyon has been a big part of my life since I was little. My father and I used to ride our horses out there. And that's probably a big part of how I became so familiar with all of the Canyon as I grew up. Tom Weaver, a very good friend of mine. He and I would take our motorcycles out there and drive around, check what we're doing and try to find new places to go.


[00:03:42.180] - Phil Collard

And I believe that that probably those two ventures probably were the source of me knowing the Canyon so well.





[00:03:53.300] - Big Rich Klein

At that time, Pinon Hills, Road or Boulevard. Was that a thing?


[00:03:58.050] - Phil Collard

At that point, it was not there yet. In fact, where pinion Hills goes now was farm country a big part of it. And they just dirt roads out there. That's how we would access the Canyon.


[00:04:13.900] - Big Rich Klein

Okay. If you grew up in Farmington, there's some other notable in offroad that have grown up there Besides a lot of competitors. Dan Mick grew up there. And I think Danny Grimes from Grandpas Garage in Moab, also grew up in that area.


[00:04:31.980] - Phil Collard

They did. They grew up in this area. I did not know them until we started rock crawling. How I got involved with rock crawling was became a member of a club called Cliff Hangers, and I knew nothing about it. The club. They were an advanced club. And we had some members in there that were incredibly good mechanics. And so the new stuff that came out, we would a lot of it. We got first, we got to use it trial and error. And so that's how I became involved with rock crawling.


[00:05:11.580] - Phil Collard

So, like with Harold Off,  Harold Off, Jim Peterson, the Brown Brothers. They were very fun to go wheeling with.


[00:05:25.640] - Big Rich Klein

I see RJ and Joe. Every time I come into town. They were known for wild paint jobs, with flames. Some of those flames were real.


[00:05:39.120] - Phil Collard

They absolutely were.


[00:05:42.100] - Big Rich Klein

They like, forced induction, turbo charged Motors and supercharged and all that kind of stuff or nitrous. And they always seem to catch on fire. That's one thing I can remember. Those guys.


[00:05:55.960] - Phil Collard

They were always trying to be on the cutting edge of this industry. And I saw them help more people with problems. Competitors, they have a problem and they get it down to the shop. Let's get it fixed so you can come back and do this. Incredible, incredible. A couple of guys. I really enjoyed them.


[00:06:13.560] - Big Rich Klein

Absolutely. That's the one thing I enjoy about our sport is that instant camaraderie amongst the competitors. So if somebody they want to beat you on the rocks, they don't want to beat you in the pits. So if you break, they jump right into help.


[00:06:35.620] - Phil Collard

I saw Tom Weaver give up part of his equipment so one of the competitors could continue on. He literally took it from RJ shop and said here, put this in and to and do it. So it's been a real classy bunch.


[00:06:52.940] - Big Rich Klein

Awesome. So you went to school there. Were you studious, or were you kind of always itching to get outdoors and get away from school?


[00:07:03.560] - Phil Collard

I was the one that pretty much was on the edge of I'll be glad when this is done. And I can go on with my life. Yeah.


[00:07:13.340] - Big Rich Klein

I think a lot of us from this genre sport ended up with that kind of or started off with that kind of an attitude. The let's just jump right into those first events. How did you get involved with? I mean, okay, you got involved with Cliffhangers. Cliff Hangers has been around for a long time. The club is really strong right now. But what was it like back then? Was it a large group? A small group?


[00:07:45.540] - Phil Collard

A very small group. We were gosh, I don't remember the numbers, but we were a small group. And it seemed like every weekend we were together, we were either together at each other's homes, having a barbecue or out in the Canyon doing the barbecue out there trying to find what was next in doing. So we got a reputation as being a pretty hardcore club for the sport that we love.


[00:08:23.640] - Big Rich Klein

And what year about was that that you join the club?


[00:08:28.360] - Phil Collard

It was about 1990. Yeah, it was about pretty close to them.


[00:08:36.760] - Big Rich Klein

And did you guys Besides wheeling in that area of Choke Cherry Canyon and all around Farmington? I mean, there's some great stuff out in Aztec all in that area. Were there other areas that you guys would travel to to wheel?


[00:08:51.720] - Phil Collard

We went to a hole in the rock a lot. It was one of our favorite trails, and we would do a weekend, three day, anytime we got a three day, we would head out there. There were times we would do back to back weekends. We have people come in and ask us to take them and lead that trail, that specific trail. But also, we also did that in Moab, and you pretty much name it. And we were involved.


[00:09:19.720] - Big Rich Klein

That's awesome. So how did you get roped into designing courses?


[00:09:26.850] - Phil Collard

Well, one day I was visiting with some people that were in the industry and Ranch Pratt asked me if I would help him design a course here in Farmington to see if we could get some interest in it. And of course, I said, Well, let's see. Okay. I'll do that. And that's how literally how I got involved in in designing courses.


[00:09:52.370] - Big Rich Klein

Okay. And that was that was Ranch when Ranch did his event. That was 1998. And that was the first Arca event there in Farmington.


[00:10:03.280] - Phil Collard

That is correct. We put one together and didn't really know a lot about doing events at the time. So we had them spread out all through the Canyon. I got help from gosh from the club and from individuals that were involved in the sport that we would wheel with at night. And we wound up with several different personalities doing that. It was a lot of fun. Over the years, we learned that that was hard on the the spectators. So we started trying to get all of the courses together where they didn't have to move so far to see them.


[00:10:41.130] - Phil Collard

And that was probably one of the biggest steps that we made.


[00:10:45.000] - Big Rich Klein

Yeah, that's one of the things I found out right away is not to put on an event on the trail so that the stages went up the trail. And the other thing was to keep it compact. The event site not only for staff and recoveries, but also for the spectator so that they could easily follow their favorite drivers or be able to watch all the obstacles.


[00:11:13.820] - Phil Collard

That's true. We got into that issue in Los Cruises when we were going down the canyons, and one of the biggest problems we had was extraction. There was no way to get our extraction vehicles down through all the people to get the vehicle that's broken. So we decided that was probably something we wouldn't do anymore. And Las Cruses had some of the best climbs that I ever put together. They were. They were a lot of fun.


[00:11:42.280] - Big Rich Klein

I've never wheeled that lost cruises area. I hope to someday I understand some of the stuff that that was used in the past is now off limits. Do you know if that's the case?


[00:11:53.730] - Phil Collard

I don't know that I had heard that, but I don't know that for a fact, I've kind of gotten away from the industry a little bit, and I'm now able to get back into it. Work and family kind of separated me from the sport that I love so much.


[00:12:11.580] - Big Rich Klein

Right. And you have younger kids? I'm not sure your age. I always thought you were right around my age. I'm 63. Do you mind discussing how old you are?


[00:12:23.820] - Phil Collard

I'm 70. I was born in 1950.





[00:12:27.270] - Phil Collard

And I have two sons still at home. Chance and Caleb. Caleb just graduated, and they're both very interested in getting back into the end of the sport. With me being out of the sport doesn't mean that I haven't been wheeling. I've taken my boys out. We've done quite a bit of it. I have a daughter, Casey, that used to do Jeep jamborees with me. And a lot of the people remember Casey through that. And then I've got an older son, Keeling, that used to help me set courses.


[00:13:03.580] - Phil Collard

He was learning the industry, and then I decided to retire, and so that all of that came to an end.





[00:13:14.320] - Big Rich Klein

So then when your philosophy on setting courses, is that something that you can share? How do you like? I know how I go about setting up courses. Can you walk walk us through how you would do it? Say, the first time you walk came out to Cedar City?


[00:13:38.640] - Phil Collard

I can. And we actually I'll do it a little differently. The way that developed for me is I had been building courses for for a club and designing little things here and there. And so I picked up a few notes on that. Then when I got to setting courses for people like Jordan and the people that were really good, Tracy Jordan, the I had to do something different. We had mom and pop people that were trying to decide whether they wanted to buy a new living room set or work on their deep so they could take their family and go wheeling.


[00:14:24.280] - Phil Collard

And then we had people that they had shops and they could do this, you know, during work, during day, during whatever, and they would design new things to come out and see what they could do to figure out what I've done. I had to come up with a way to keep the mom and pop people in the industry. So I went and measured all of the vehicles, and I figured out a way to design specifically for a certain set. And you would be surprised how many of those vehicles were the same size.


[00:14:59.590] - Phil Collard

Most of the guys that were at the top of the industry, they were about the same size. So I thought, well, maybe I should build something a little different for them and not make it easier. And I make it harder, just different the angles different. So I spent a lot of time trying to figure that out. I finally did. And the bottom line came out that most everybody builds for the front of a vehicle they designed for the pathway for the front of the vehicle. I started designing for the rear end of the vehicle, and it caused everybody problems.


[00:15:37.610] - Phil Collard

But some of the mom and pops were able to stay up in the upper echelon of that, not because I built for them or against the others. It just worked out that way that they learned how to do that.


[00:15:52.610] - Big Rich Klein

Okay. And did you use the terrain for the development of that?


[00:16:00.670] - Phil Collard

Yes, I did. And there was some lightning and Thunder. All those of you that have been in the industry for a few years. And remember the early days that lightning and Thunder was just something that happened. And there was all of a sudden be something that was not there the day before.


[00:16:20.380] - Big Rich Klein

I remember we did an event you guys had put on Ranch, had put on an event, and you set the courses in lower and upper woodpecker. And I know that having to deal with BLM down there out of that Tucson office. And I forget the guy from BLM name now, but he's retired. And I can remember that there was this one line we wanted to use, and there was a barrel Cactus there. And we were pre walking the event, you know, area before BLM came in. And this was probably a month before.


[00:17:03.520] - Big Rich Klein

And I was down there with the McCollins and my son and some of the local wheelers. And I can remember a little rich going, man that barrel Cactus is in the way of it, just a cool ass climb. And Lo and behold, when we had the walk through with the BLM guy.





[00:17:29.930] - Big Rich Klein

Looks over at an area and goes at that area where that barrel Cactus had been and said, wow, there used to be a barrel Cactus right there. I wonder what happened to that. And we all looked around eye to each other and go, I have no idea. But if he really looked about 40ft away, that barrel Cactus was replanted. And as far as I know, it's still in the same location that was replanted. So whoever it is movement did a good job.


[00:17:59.620] - Phil Collard

A little bit of that happened. And sometimes these earthquakes, they would just cause things to vibrate out of the way. But that was a lot of fun.


[00:18:12.160] - Big Rich Klein

So I know that when I set a course, I look at it as it's a chess match, with the terrain being the board between me and the drivers.


[00:18:25.580] - Phil Collard

Absolutely. That's exactly how I described it when I was doing. Was it's a chess match between me and the best of the world? And the way that I rated myself was if nobody climbed it, it was not a good set. If everybody climbed it, it was not a good set. If you could have that were able to climb it, then you had just said a very nice course. And I'm not talking about just the course. I'm talking about the individual climbs, right. I broke it down to individual out of 14 climbs I had, I think, three that were only climbed by one person.


[00:19:07.640] - Phil Collard

I had a few of them that were climbed by everybody that I just didn't do well. The the ones that were climbed by one or maybe two people were Championship climbs. And that's the way they were designed was for the best of the best.


[00:19:23.710] - Big Rich Klein

Agree. Did you set for the route to the cones to be difficult, or did you put the the cones to be difficult?


[00:19:36.720] - Phil Collard

I tried to set for the thought process, so the individuals that were going to it, they would not have to decide depending on where they had just come out of the previous gate. I would set it to where the thought process would kind of be confusing for them. And that was a lot of getting the middle line for the high dollar guys and the mom and pops. I think I used the course more than the gates.


[00:20:10.740] - Big Rich Klein

Right. Some of these questions that I'm asking you, I have to frame it in reference to what, how I do it and then see if that's what your thought process was as well. I don't ask a question any other way.


[00:20:28.370] - Phil Collard

Absolutely. Fine.


[00:20:29.760] - Big Rich Klein

What I do is I try to set the course so that it looks like there's multiple ways that you could proceed or attempt to take to get to the gate. And then sometimes the gate is not the difficult part, but it's the exit or enter before or after the date. And then other times I make the gate itself difficult. Put it in the most difficult spot, especially in a place where people wheel a lot, like in Farmington. There's typically tire marks everywhere that we've ever had cones, because people go back out and practice.


[00:21:15.700] - Big Rich Klein

Is that something that how did you look at those? I know that it was route in making decisions, but and it's hard to pinpoint a set of gates that you may have done and said, okay, this is what I did. But were you trying to outsmart them to make them think that that maybe the course wasn't doable. But if they looked at it, you know, from a different angle. And I mean, physically actually looked at it from a different angle that they might see it.


[00:21:46.050] - Phil Collard

You and I set courses a lot the same way. That the way that I got the measurements on the vehicles, the side to side and corner to corner measurements were actually in Cedar City, and that allowed me to be able to take cones and set them at an angle that was not easy for some and easier for others. And what I would do with that is I would take those cones and I would do the same amount on one side as I would on the other side for each size.


[00:22:20.640] - Phil Collard

I broke those figures down to groups, and I would build four a difficulty for this specific size vehicle and then the others. They just figured it out. They just came up with a way to get through there. Unlike you, I would give them options on how they could get to the gate.





[00:22:42.750] - Big Rich Klein

One of the things that I've learned that I've had to do, and I think it all came about in about the same time the economy took a dump there. And starting in about 2000, late 2007, 2008, I do remember that all of a sudden, we had not near as many competitors, and there was some contributing factors that the economy and then certain guys, one you mentioned, Tracy Jordan would just win a lot of the events. And guys were, you know, I'm not going to go tear my stuff up if I have to, you know, if I have to just pay Tracy my entry fee anyway.


[00:23:26.210] - Big Rich Klein

So what I've done in the past doing now is I want everybody to succeed. So we put in these bonus lines now that that can separate the field. But the newer guys or the guys that may not have as much driving skill or competition skill, they may be great drivers and especially trail wheeling and stuff. But there's a technique to competing. And what I do is I make it so that everybody has the opportunity to succeed. But at the top, you know, that cream rises to the top.


[00:24:06.170] - Phil Collard

You're leveling the playing field like I did with measuring the vehicles I would put they were bonus climbs within the course, and you could do the regular course and not do those. But if you chose to do them, you would gain a couple of extra points. And in the early days, I used to take my Jeep, and I would try to do it. And I rebuilt my Jeep every year for the first couple of years, three years from ground up, because I just tore it to pieces of doing that.


[00:24:39.610] - Phil Collard

But in doing so, I learned how to do it without having to drive it. And that's where a tape measure came in. And I would literally measure what they could and couldn't do with the figures that I had just leveling the playing field for all. And like you say, you take someone like Tracy, that as far as I'm concerned, he's the best that there ever was. You now can compete against him if you want to take the bonus, if you want to take the bonus, the bonus climb, whatever it may be.





[00:25:16.230] - Big Rich Klein

Yeah. That's the approach that I tried to use. And I don't think a lot of guys, especially the guys at the top, realize that I think they want it super difficult on the regular course without the bonuses so that they can distance themselves. But then what that does is discourage the others. And if they don't show up because they're discouraged, then we don't have a competition.


[00:25:44.210] - Phil Collard

Exactly. Exactly.


[00:25:46.680] - Big Rich Klein

Quite the balancing act.


[00:25:48.060] - Phil Collard

It was fun doing, wasn't it? And you're still doing it. So it is fun for you. But I had a blast trying to figure out how to do that, how to level that playing field and get the mom and pop to go. Yeah. I will be back.





[00:26:01.760] - Big Rich Klein

So what I've done is I hate to talk about what I've done, but with you, I need to do this so that we can kind of compare, because, like I said, I don't know how to ask those questions.


[00:26:14.460] - Phil Collard

I'm fine with that. I'm fine. Say, you and I have known each other a long time, and I absolutely welcome that approach.


[00:26:24.070] - Big Rich Klein

Okay. I set my courses with a minimum gate with and I started doing this for a couple of reasons. One is that if on terrain where rocks would move, pieces would break off and we'd lose the Cone Mark that we knew exactly what those what that measurement was. And I picked the number of one one. And except for all but some of the huge trail cars that come out, I remember Kevin Carol when he first came out with a red dot to try to compete. He was like, I want to say he was like, 94 inches or 95 inches wide, and he's trying to shove that big car, which is a fantastic Ly built vehicle and quite capable on big trails.


[00:27:19.200] - Big Rich Klein

But, you know, compared to how the comp cars are built, he had, like, no room and he would go so rich, you need to widen your cones, and I'd go so Tracy and Jesse can do Uturns in him.


[00:27:35.400] - Phil Collard

I experienced the exact same thing. And what I did is I set mine at exactly 100 inches. I saw that we were one inch apart, and that came from measuring the corner to corner on those vehicles. And the reason for that is I used to set them narrower than that. And I had a couple of guys that had wide vehicles, and it was just cheating them. They couldn't get through it. And a lot of times I would take that 100 inches, and I would move the access point forward and backwards to where it's going to be a little harder for these smaller guys to get through because they've got to cut back the other direction.


[00:28:18.210] - Phil Collard

And that's how I compensated for the width of the vehicles is by setting them north and south, if you will, spreading them out a little bit to where the gate was. Actually for some of the vehicles, it was a little bit narrower because of the approach angle.





[00:28:39.620] - Phil Collard



[00:28:40.550] - Big Rich Klein

I get it. So what we've kind of discussed what the techniques were, what was probably your favorite place to go back to to set courses.


[00:28:56.140] - Phil Collard

You know, I really enjoyed almost every place we went. I do believe that Johnson Valley, I had a real good time with those courses out there, but I believe my favorite was Cedar City. I was able to go to Cedar City and take the exact same terrain and build a different line throughout that. And the I don't remember the individual's name that was in charge of that out there the first time we were out there. He was incredibly critical of everything that we did. And he would come out at 02:00 in the morning to see what I was doing, because I take my motor home out there.


[00:29:37.880] - Phil Collard

I'd pull my Jeep with my motor home, and I would live out there, and he literally would come out day and night to see if he could catch me doing something wrong or right or whatever he was doing. And then the second event was easier on the third event, he actually came out and wanted to help me with it. They softened up quite a bit. But that was my favorite place to to design.


[00:30:04.580] - Big Rich Klein

And when you say the guy that ran it, you're talking about, like, Bureau of Land Management.


[00:30:08.700] - Phil Collard

That's correct. Okay.


[00:30:10.340] - Big Rich Klein

Yeah. It's now County Park. That was one of the things that the club there color country, four wheel drive club that I was part of, and, you know, so many guys like Dean Bullock and some of the early competitors, we help to get the county to take that over that 1 sq Mi of three peaks as a County Park and got it away from BLM, even though we did do a race out there. And BLM was really cool with it. It's just BLM so much more difficult to work with most almost everywhere except for Farmington now.


[00:30:46.040] - Phil Collard

And one of the other places that one of the courses. I only built one course in Moab and the general consensus. It's Moab. It's got to be the most difficult that there ever was. And you got to do every course. Every climb has got to be this monstrosity. And so I I made it work, and I think I had more carnage on that course than any other course. I kind of regret that one a little bit because I built it so hard that a lot of people damage their equipment.


[00:31:22.180] - Phil Collard

But other than that, I'm pretty happy with the rest of them that I did.


[00:31:29.510] - Big Rich Klein

So let's talk about damaging vehicles. What was your feeling or philosophy on on Carnage?


[00:31:38.900] - Phil Collard

You came here to compete. Let's see how good you are.





[00:31:43.560] - Big Rich Klein



[00:31:46.900] - Phil Collard

That was my general attitude about carnage was if you're good enough driver to get through this because I know you can make it. I already know this can be done. I already know that the math I've done on this and everything it is doable, you will be able to do it. Are you driver enough to do it? Can you figure out the angles quick enough and can your spot or spot them quick enough to get you through this without any problem? And that was my general philosophy.


[00:32:17.810] - Phil Collard

As you're playing with the big boys. Let's go play.


[00:32:20.920] - Big Rich Klein

Okay, I get it. Did you ever work with when to put some names? Well, if your first event was was with Ranch. That means you didn't work with Phil. How? Because Phil started with Bob Hazel. I believe in Las Cruces. The first event the year before.


[00:32:41.520] - Phil Collard

That was the very first event that was ever done. I never worked directly with them. I had conversation with them, input with them, but I don't remember ever building directly for them.


[00:32:56.120] - Big Rich Klein

How about with Craig Stump from You Rock?


[00:33:00.610] - Phil Collard

No, I did not. Not with you, Rock.


[00:33:02.530] - Big Rich Klein



[00:33:02.920] - Phil Collard

I worked with I worked with two other companies, and it was Baja Rocks, and I'm sure it's who you said. I just don't remember.


[00:33:16.720] - Big Rich Klein

So let's talk about primarily did Arca with with Ranch. And then you did the Baha Rocks. What was it like going down to Baha? And was that area already picked out for you? And they just dirty. Dan Brown just took you down there and said, okay, this is your Canyon.


[00:33:39.780] - Phil Collard

What happened with that is I got the invitation to go do that. I got hired to go do that. And I went down there and spent a lot of time. I did not take my equipment down there. Dan had his Jeep down there. I used his Jeep, and I went from literally from the border of the United States all the way to the point looking for a place to have that event. And I had driven by where it wound up being. I had driven by it numerous times, and I'm not sure you want this in your podcast, but the way that I found it was I was in there's a little town at the top of the Hill there out of Cabo Kendall area is the name of it.


[00:34:31.400] - Phil Collard

And I got to know the people there because I went through there a lot and they had a little store there and I stopped and they have coffee and whatever they had and visit with them a little bit. And one morning they had goat cheese and the goat cheese. And I did not get along very well. And I'm driving down this road that I've been on, I don't know, 50 times, probably. And the people that lived in the city, they walked up that road and the the wash down to the main highway was their thoroughfare where they walked.


[00:35:06.840] - Phil Collard

And so I'm zooming down the Hill trying to find a place to take care of my business. And there's people everywhere. So I get to the bottom of the Hill and I look up the wash. I turn left and I hit up the wash and come sliding around the corner. And I'm not looking for a place to have an event. I'm looking for a place to take care of. Necessities. I bail out and right in front of me is a marble waterfall, probably one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen.


[00:35:35.100] - Phil Collard

And that's how I found the course.


[00:35:37.300] - Big Rich Klein

I that's awesome. I like that story. You told it well and clean.


[00:35:46.860] - Phil Collard

There were times that I was down there and their military. They were all over that Peninsula. And one time I was coming down a Hill and the military was coming up the Hill and they were real suspicious. They were locked and loaded and they were kind of doing their thing. And the the commander, I don't know what his rank was. He was speaking to me, spoke English and we were speaking about what I was doing. He was asking me questions and I thought, okay, this is the perfect opportunity.


[00:36:25.630] - Phil Collard

So I asked him and there was a little rock climb. It was really nothing but to them it would have been quite frightening. I said, Would you like to ride with me? And he said I would. So I took him and I put it for we arrange everything and climbed up this little rock outcropping to the top. All of his guys were yelling and screaming, Ya, that's great. And instant friends. I think that kept me out of quite a bind. Anyway, I took two or three of them up the Hill and most of them didn't want to go.


[00:36:57.580] - Phil Collard

It was too scary for them, but two or three of them rode up the Hill with me. That was fun. And another time I was turning into the the turn off when I started building the course and I passed one of their equivalent of state police. He was going the other direction. So I'm driving along there and I turn off and I look around and he's got his lights on. He's pulling me over. Ask me this myriad of questions. And my not so good Spanish in is not so good English.


[00:37:28.800] - Phil Collard

We were able to communicate. And he asked me to follow him back to Cabo San Lucas. And so I did. I followed him back to the police station, actually. And I had called Dan and told him what was going on. And Dan, one of the individuals that he was involved with down there, was a political figure who was able to contact the police Department in time to keep me from getting thrown in jail because I did not have any information that that was my vehicle. And so according to him, I was driving a stolen vehicle.





[00:38:11.300] - Phil Collard

And so they were fixed to throw me in jail. And he gets this call. And all of a sudden he was speaking to this person, and he got frantic. And all of a sudden everything was fine. His English was perfect. And he was telling me that if there was anything I needed in as long as I was in Mexico, here in my car, if there's anything you need, call me. I will take care of any issues you may have about that time. This. And I'm sitting in his police car.


[00:38:40.720] - Phil Collard

At this time, a vehicle comes the other direction, and he said, Buckle up. Okay. I'm going to do what I'm asking. So I buckle up now. I don't know if you've been down there, but that road is not very wide and it drops off on both sides in most places, a pretty good distance. And when this guy sees this officer turn around, he takes off. I'm in a high speed chase on that little tiny, skinny road going well over 100 miles an hour to catch this guy.


[00:39:11.350] - Phil Collard

He finally catches him. He pulls him over. He gets out of the car, goes up to him, and they have very harsh words. And he cuffs him and he puts him up against his car. He comes back, he makes a call. He goes back over and they discuss a little more. He takes the handcuffs off and let the guy go. And he gets back in the car and we start driving back to where Dan's Jeep was. So I can go back to work. And I said, what was the deal with him?


[00:39:39.940] - Phil Collard

And he said, that's a stolen vehicle. We know that it's a stolen vehicle. And he promised me that he would go ahead and take it back to the owner. So we're letting him go. Very entertaining day for me. Yeah.


[00:39:54.590] - Big Rich Klein

I've been down to Mexico a lot. I went down there with BFG the first year in 2003, when they we're filming Dust to Glory, and it was quite the adventure being down there during that. And then I followed it up for quite a few years with different race teams, but primarily with Pistol Pete and a trophy truck, and had always had a great time down there.


[00:40:21.110] - Phil Collard

Great place to go. What a fun time I had.


[00:40:24.620] - Big Rich Klein

It is a great place.


[00:40:26.920] - Phil Collard

The one issue that I had down there when I was building that course down in that particular Canyon at the bottom of the Hill, there was a man that owned a house down there, became friends with he was really, I don't know, probably 200 years old. He was the coolest guy ever met. I was going into the Canyon one day and there was a limb laying across the road and it was as wide as the vehicle because I remember thinking that's an odd place for a limb, and it's big enough that where did it come from?


[00:41:02.690] - Phil Collard

Because it goes from tire track to tire track. And the closer I got, that limb started crawling away. So I pulled up. I was going to get a picture of this huge snake, and he disappeared. I don't know where he went. And as I was reaching getting my camera out of the console and I thought I've got a snake crawling up in the vehicle here somewhere and a little concerned about it. Well, I didn't get the picture, but I was able to identify the snake, and I literally got up on his high up on the vehicles.


[00:41:41.790] - Phil Collard

I could watching for him, and he crawled off somewhere. He was not in the vehicle. So I drove back down by there, and I was talking to the old man and he had some snakes is hanging on the on his fence. And I told him what had happened. And he pointed at one of them. I pointed at the one that I thought it was. And he said that's one of the most deadly snakes on a planet, which I don't know. I never saw another one there.


[00:42:07.960] - Phil Collard

He said there in the Canyon, but he never seen one that big. And so another entertaining time I had down there.


[00:42:16.240] - Big Rich Klein

So you're not a big fan of snakes?


[00:42:18.120] - Phil Collard

They're not my best friend.


[00:42:19.930] - Big Rich Klein

They're not your best friend. Okay. It's one of the things climbing around on the rocks that we come across. I know that the one place that I always have to be very vigilant when setting the courses because we do it in the spring is here in Texas, where I'm at right now in Mason is a part called K two Items rocks. And it is was two years ago. I think it was it might have been two years ago. I don't think it was last year, but I was setting courses and it was real early in the morning.


[00:42:57.070] - Big Rich Klein

I was probably 630 light. I don't even think the sun had really cracked the horizon yet, and I knew that I wanted to make this one spot a bonus climb. So I put the climbing up in the rock. I put my hand up on the rock, and then I set the cone down and it's right next to a rattle snake that is stretched out. So I know he can't get a lunge at me or anything because he's not coiled. And so I slowly, you know, still hand on the cone, and I back away and went to go get my pistol that I carried.


[00:43:37.920] - Big Rich Klein

I didn't have it on me. I thought it was too early in the morning to have to worry about it. But that snake was out there trying to get the first raise in the mid spring or early for Texas spring April day. And it's the closest I've come to not being aware enough to know that there was going to be a steak laying there when I did that. Did you have any of those kind of instances?


[00:44:07.180] - Phil Collard

I did say I was down there by myself. I was in Johnson Valley, and they've got a little green rattle snake down there that's got hemotoxin and neurotoxin issues with their venom. They're very deadly.


[00:44:23.610] - Big Rich Klein

The Mojave green.


[00:44:25.740] - Phil Collard

That's correct. I was doing there was this earthquake happening, and there was this specific rock that just happened to be moving to the left as I was pulling to the left. And there were several snakes that were in there, and they were those small snakes. Most of them were just getting away from me. But that was pretty scary for me was that I I pulled that rock out of a den area. I'm sure that's what it was. I don't think they would be there having coffee in the morning, but it was the same thing.


[00:45:08.640] - Phil Collard

It was early in the morning, and that was the only time that other than in Mexico, that was the only time that I had to be vigilant about those snakes. And there were quite a few of them down in that area. I talked to the locals and they said, yeah, you need to stay away from those. Yeah.


[00:45:27.940] - Big Rich Klein

The Mojave Greens are they're really kind of aggressive as well?


[00:45:32.820] - Phil Collard

They were very aggressive. They were striking. They were laying flat trying to strike. And so I just got out of there. I did not use that. I did not use that section for the course, and it's too bad because it was beautiful.


[00:45:47.660] - Big Rich Klein

And did you guys use that? What they call the master's course. Is that the area that you're talking about?


[00:45:53.040] - Phil Collard

I did, I think two, maybe three. I think it was two that I built down there, and it was just under the hammer down in that area.


[00:46:02.020] - Big Rich Klein



[00:46:02.430] - Phil Collard

You can see the hammer from the course, right?


[00:46:06.930] - Big Rich Klein

I think that's what they call now. That's called the Masters area.


[00:46:11.390] - Phil Collard

I think so.


[00:46:12.170] - Big Rich Klein



[00:46:12.620] - Phil Collard



[00:46:14.890] - Big Rich Klein

Let'S talk about some of the personalities in rock crawling. Did you do any of the Marshalling, or were you just the course designer?


[00:46:23.840] - Phil Collard

I was in Marshall. I designed the course, then Ranch and myself, and I think his father in law, we were marshals. Actually, his father in law was not a Marshal. He was a judge.





[00:46:39.820] - Phil Collard

I think I just Ranch and I were marshals.


[00:46:42.940] - Big Rich Klein

Was that fun for you?


[00:46:46.280] - Phil Collard

It was fun for me. I usually anytime we had problems with civilian personnel. It was usually because they were really enjoying themselves, and it was most of the time very easy to turn them the other way into. Man. Let's have some fun. Let's sit around. Tell me what you're thinking about this. And it was pretty easy to do that. There were a couple of times that we had to ask people to leave, and I'm sure you had the same issue.


[00:47:16.040] - Big Rich Klein

Yeah. We had one. That one of the first. Well, the second event I ever did was down outside of Johnson Valley in laser little tone laser. We did one at the shooting range. There the lines, pride park. And we had a guy and his wife girlfriend. I'm assuming wife come in, and they were really drunk. They left all their beer cans and food containers and everything where they were sitting, and they were getting ready to leave, and people were like, hey, pick up your stuff, you know, and he wanted to fight everybody, and my medical guy calls me, and I said, you know what?


[00:47:55.440] - Big Rich Klein

Just ignore them. Let them leave. I'll watch for as they come down, we have to pick up their trash. Not a big deal. Let's just do it and not have a confrontation. Well, we had to hire the highway patrol because the road went right out onto the onto the highway there. And what I did is I called the highway patrolman and said, hey, by the way, you have this red Buick, Skylark or Skyhawk or whatever. It was coming out, Skylark, and you may want to check them for how much they had partied today.


[00:48:39.830] - Big Rich Klein

And so he called me back about an hour later and goes, hey, that was a good call.


[00:48:48.790] - Phil Collard

Does that 10% that we have to deal with rodeo and motorcycles at keeping and any event that you've got. You've got that 10%? Maybe not that high. I'll say 5% that just can't make good decisions, and they really do mess it up for a lot of people. Bless their hearts. They just don't get it.


[00:49:11.280] - Big Rich Klein

Yeah. And they probably never will will.


[00:49:17.210] - Phil Collard

One of the times I was in Johnson Valley, there was a person that had robbed a bank, and they were having a high speed chase, and I was just pulling right up onto the highway as they were coming, and I mean, there I don't know how many police cars there were, but there were a bunch of them, and one of them, it was obvious that I wasn't part of it, but somehow it was his job to check me to see what was going on. So he pulled me over, and I told him I was building a course for Arca and we had a slight conversation.


[00:49:53.970] - Phil Collard

He was in a hurry to go find somebody in a way he went. But other than that, I not many problems. I really enjoyed the industry. So how about the personality of drivers that ranges from fantastic to even more fantastic? I really didn't have a lot of problems with drivers. They I was able to get along with of them and a lot of them, I think, probably just endured me. They put up with me because I was doing something that they enjoyed. But for the most part, I got along with most everybody, and I really enjoyed the the camaraderie of that group of people.


[00:50:44.240] - Big Rich Klein

I know that that Ranch from those early years got more Gray hairs than he really wanted.


[00:50:53.110] - Phil Collard

Yes, he did.


[00:50:55.280] - Big Rich Klein

But he took the brunt of most of the of the driver complaints. If there was what they felt bad judging. And most of this stuff comes about from judging, we all know that that subjective. It's like calling balls and strikes. Nobody wants to admit they ever hit a cone or did anything that's against the rules. But, you know, it happens and guys just don't want to admit it.


[00:51:27.230] - Phil Collard

Sometimes most of the time when those kind of issues came about issues with the course, most of the guys would come talk to me. I know that they talked to Ranch quite a bit on Ranch, and I would deal with that.


[00:51:39.860] - Big Rich Klein



[00:51:42.590] - Phil Collard

Got along pretty good when it came to those kind of things. But there were a couple of times that I would put three cones in one spot because I knew those guys were going to run over it. It it was too simple. And they're just going to take the ten points and go. And so I would put two or three cones. And I had several of the guys asking me not to do that because 40 points and you're gone and getting 30 whacked all at once is really hard on them and think that they were correct.


[00:52:13.570] - Phil Collard

I think that they're going to try. Most of them are going to try hard enough to miss one cone as they would three. But you still have that percentage that are just going to run it down and go because they're behind. And for whatever reason, they do that that's actually where the 100 inches came from, was one of the people, one of the drivers, his vehicle was like you say, right at 90 inches and that he talked to me about it and he talked to Ranch about it, too.


[00:52:45.440] - Phil Collard

And so we just decided there had to be something done. So we set it at 100.


[00:52:52.840] - Big Rich Klein

Interesting. And you did that. I don't know why I picked 01:01. I know that my son likes them wider.


[00:53:03.640] - Phil Collard

But the angle factor.


[00:53:06.070] - Big Rich Klein

Yeah. With me, I went with the one on one as a standard like I said, I don't know why I picked one one, except that it just seemed to work. Most of the cars were in the in that 70 inch range in width.


[00:53:23.310] - Phil Collard

That's where I got it, too, was for measuring the vehicles. That's why I chose 100, because I knew what everybody's vehicle was from side to side and corner to corner. And it was the corner, the corner to corner that caused me to choose 100 inches.





[00:53:39.160] - Big Rich Klein

I remember in Cedar City watching, and we were there was like five or six of us from the club watching you set the courses. And you had a bunch of cones, like in an Arca because you didn't want people to go outside of that arc. That's Fred. And there was like ten cones almost not more than six inches apart. And I was like, what the hell?


[00:54:15.920] - Phil Collard

They kept them on the course, and if they would have gotten up on top of that particular spot, they could have driven through the gates backwards, which was allowed if they were smart enough to figure it out.





[00:54:29.110] - Big Rich Klein

So you just created a boundary with the cones, and I never I have never tried that. Nowadays we use we use delineators, and I'll set the boundary up with the Stringer pennant and delineators to Mark off an area not only for the spectators, but to keep the vehicles where I want them so that they don't have free range, because everything becomes easy if you have enough room.


[00:55:01.040] - Phil Collard

The reason we use the tape was to keep the spectators off the course, and we weren't quite smart enough to use it for boundaries. Talking about having marshalling issues. That was usually it as people would get inside the boundaries, and we had to get them out of there most of the time. It was pretty easy, but there were some people that just refused to leave, so we help them make up their mind.





[00:55:30.650] - Big Rich Klein

I remember watching. I mean, I started off with some type of highway delineator. First time I rented a whole trailer, one of what I call Pecker poles. And that's the round ones with the little Hexagon basis.


[00:55:46.000] - Phil Collard



[00:55:46.810] - Big Rich Klein

And they didn't stack. They took up a lot of room, and I thought, okay, if I'm going to have these things instead of renting them and having to drive 50 miles to someplace I could rent them, I just have to buy my own. And I went with the blade type delineators where they stack into each other and everything and still do this. Stay use them. But I can remember. I'm not going to say names. I can remember who the this promoter would drill holes in the rocks, put a piece of rebar in it, and then cover the rebar with a piece of PVC pipe.


[00:56:25.240] - Big Rich Klein

I remember that like it was protecting you from the rebar. And I was like, you just created a hypodermic syringe in a one inch diameter piece of pipe. And if somebody rolls over on that, they're going to bleed out so fast.


[00:56:47.600] - Phil Collard

And that was too dangerous. He did that. And he also did it with pointed spear looking things that he wanted to try to use.


[00:56:58.800] - Big Rich Klein

I tried to because I never had enough delineators. I didn't feel. And I used rebar one time at that second event. I did. And the the rebar. I had it so far away that there was no way anybody was going to get to it. And Mike Schaefer, I believe it was his wife was driving or a girlfriend or something. I thought it was Shaver. Maybe it was somebody else. They rolled the vehicle and landed between two pieces of rebar that there was absolutely no way that any of us thought that they would get anybody would get to that rebar.


[00:57:46.450] - Phil Collard

That's what happened with those spear things that we were trying to use. And what we did with those is we had them there so we could identify that it was a drop off and it was a very sharp drop off, but they couldn't see the cone at the bottom. So we thought, Well, we'll just use a pole. And neither one of us thought about using PVC Ranch found some aluminum something or other. And I put a cone on the top of it. And I thought, Man, if somebody rolls on that, it's going to go right through.


[00:58:19.740] - Phil Collard

We kind of had the same issue. There was no way they could get to it unless they rolled right.


[00:58:27.150] - Big Rich Klein

Becca Webster one time rolled and a piece of rebar with probably two foot behind her seat when she finished rolling. And I was like, alright, pull all the rebar space out the delineators. We're just going to deal with this. And again, it was in a spot where there was it was, I guess, virtually impossible to get to.


[00:58:55.400] - Phil Collard

It virtually impossible to get to it.


[00:58:57.370] - Big Rich Klein

Yeah, but they do. They find a way. What were some of the thoughts on safety? I know that in those early days, there wasn't a whole lot of you had to have a cage. I remember you have to have a fire extinguisher because I can remember Lance Clifford spotting Bob Rogi and standing. And it was that Cedar City event that first one, and he was hanging on the side of it like a like it was a jungle gym. And he stepped on the fire extinguisher and it sprayed him in the face.


[00:59:32.730] - Big Rich Klein

And somebody has a photo of that.


[00:59:34.290] - Phil Collard

And it's just phenomenal that we had a lot of fun. A lot of funny things happened, but they caused us to do things in Cedar City. We had and I don't remember his name. He was a very delightful person. He was going up a climb and he rolled and he didn't have a Hornes. He had just a seatbelt. And when the vehicle rolled, he fell out of the door. And fortunately for him, his tires were big enough that it caused it to roll over the top of him.


[01:00:03.640] - Phil Collard

And literally, if it hadn't been for his tires, he probably would have been crushed by his own vehicle. So that's when we decided helmets are required. That's when we decided the helmets were required and harnesses, we've got to have harnesses in there. Safety is got to be number one now, right.


[01:00:22.880] - Big Rich Klein

I remember when Bob Bower, Bob, Bob Bauer came to me and said, Rich, you got it. You got to put in safety. Here's a list of safety items you need to do. And I looked at him and I said, Bob, if I do this, I won't have any drivers show up.


[01:00:39.000] - Phil Collard

They won't. They can't afford it.





[01:00:41.740] - Big Rich Klein

And he goes, you can't afford to have one of these guys die. And I promised him that I would. I would Institute some of those safety things. Fire suits, window nets, as I deemed it possible for us to do. And every one of those things, something happened where nobody got hurt or badly hurt. And I was able to say, okay, now is the time to do this.


[01:01:15.870] - Phil Collard



[01:01:17.590] - Big Rich Klein

And it was. Luckily, once we did that, everybody else did it as well. By that time, I think Branch had had taken over Craig Stump spot at Uroc and Arca had gone away.


[01:01:36.900] - Phil Collard

That's correct.


[01:01:38.440] - Big Rich Klein

The rules for the window nets was okay. I already got the guys in fire suits, like, convinced them of doing that because Budweiser said we won't sponsor an event where it looks like you're a bunch of rednecks. And I'm like, Well, that's who buys your beer. And he goes, yeah, we don't mind those guys buying our beer, but we don't want to look that way in motor sports, right? And I'm like, okay, so I told everybody, hey, the only way we're going to get out of the industry sponsors is by looking professional.


[01:02:07.990] - Big Rich Klein

And so everybody went, alright, alright. We bought into it single layer, whatever to give you a couple of seconds. And then the window nets came about. Cody Wagner had his arm outside the car at Vernal and laid it up against a rock and pinched his forearm, the bottom of the skin on the forearm to where he had to go to the hospital. And I said, okay, everybody's got to keep their arms in now. So everybody has to go with window nets. Boy, man, you talk about people have enough fit the absolute shock for that.


[01:02:45.090] - Phil Collard

Why are you doing that to us? If it catches on fire, we won't be able to get out all kinds of issues we I remember you guys talking about.


[01:02:54.260] - Big Rich Klein

And now it's just a standard. There's even guys in the sportsman class that we don't make them wear fire suits or have window nets. But of course, they're on a lot easier tamer courses, but a lot of them were to have those items anyway.


[01:03:11.180] - Phil Collard

I like the fact that you guys came up with two classes. I thought that was brilliant. I had an old man one time. I called him an old man. I don't know how old he was. I was in my ten and he came to me and he said, do you have any idea what you're doing? I'm pretty cocky at the time. I'm a pretty good course designer. I think I know what I'm doing. I said, Well, why don't you tell me what I'm doing? He says, you're changing the face of the industry.


[01:03:39.820] - Phil Collard

And I said, I'm not quite sure what you mean by that. He says, you're building courses out here that they bring their vehicle and they cannot make that. So they go home and they lay awake at night trying to figure out some way to improve their vehicle so they can beat you. And, you know, I thought about that a lot, and I thought that was not the intent. My intent was to go enjoy fellowship with my friends and build something that they got to be on their toes to get it done.


[01:04:11.080] - Phil Collard

I'll never forget that man. He was just an interesting man. We talked for probably half an hour, and he was quite an interesting individual. I have no idea what his name was, but I did really respect him for that.


[01:04:25.590] - Big Rich Klein

Those kind of moments, those wild moments are pretty incredible. When you think back on them. The one I had was when we rock, finally closed doors and folded, and Dustin Webster calls me up and says, okay, Rich, you can't quit now. And I'm like, what are you talking about? He goes, Well, you're the last man standing. If you quit rock crawling, there's nobody. All these cars that have been built, all these guys that have custom shops, all these people that are building customer is correct. We're going to be out of business.


[01:05:09.000] - Phil Collard

He was absolutely correct. I have several of the competitors called me and say, Why don't you start one up? Why don't you do this by then, I was pretty burned out. There were some things that had happened to me that I did not appreciate, and I just thought I'd left at the best time I could. The first event was in Farmington. The last event was in Farmington, and it was pretty much the same group of people for all of those years that I dealt with. I do not want to do diminish that.


[01:05:41.710] - Phil Collard

I don't want it to change. And I felt like that I ended on a really good course with people that I really enjoyed, and I just didn't want to take a chance of that changing for me.


[01:05:52.710] - Big Rich Klein

Yeah. At that point is when I told Dustin, I said, don't put that on me. Dude, don't do that and you just can't do it.


[01:06:04.100] - Phil Collard

He was correct. He was absolutely correct. If you had done that, there would have been several businesses that would no longer be a viable business because you've got the 22 year old that has a good job, just got out of school or just got got himself in a position to where he could do this and it would have collapsed on him. He had no reason to do it now. So good for you. Thank you for staying in there.


[01:06:30.460] - Big Rich Klein

Yeah, 2021 years later. And we're still doing it a couple more years. But where we got the sport, we think we got the sport handled for the next 20 years with somebody that's going to take over for us. So good. That's good.


[01:06:53.080] - Phil Collard

I'm so happy to hear that.


[01:06:54.380] - Big Rich Klein

Yeah, we are, too. I've been trying to talk this guy for five years into taking over the sport, and he he finally convinced himself or I convinced him. I'm not sure which that he hit his head somewhere, and so he's come on as a partner and he's going to be running the day to day on the course parts of it. And Ellie and I'll be running everything from the on the back side of that.


[01:07:25.320] - Phil Collard

More or less when you get boots on the ground and they're doing that part of it and you can do the management of that. It will be really a big deal for you guys, because I know how hard. Trust me. I know how hard you work getting those together. I know how many hours people have no idea the number of hours that you spend out there, and you will be sitting there for probably two or 3 hours looking at one climb going, okay. Is this good enough for them?


[01:07:55.280] - Phil Collard

Are they going to be satisfied with this, or are they going to be furious? Furious is fine if they want to be furious, that's fine. I had several of them furious over some of my climates because they couldn't make them. But somebody did. And somebody proved that it could be done. And that neutralized any problems that I had with it. So I know how many hours you spend.


[01:08:20.240] - Big Rich Klein

Yeah, there's a lot of hours, but also it's, as you know, it's physically taxing going up and down those rocks a hundred times in a week.


[01:08:30.760] - Phil Collard

Trying to set the courses 100 times. What did you do half time or what?


[01:08:37.340] - Big Rich Klein

Yeah, it feels like it.


[01:08:41.570] - Phil Collard

That is so true. And one of the things that I found interesting is after maybe two or three days out there, you knew all of the correct path to walk to where you had the shortcuts, and sometimes it didn't look like that would be the right way to go. But you cut off half of your walk time by taking just a few steps over something that might not be real safe.


[01:09:03.230] - Big Rich Klein

Exactly. Now I take the longer route because of the my knees. I can't do those jumps leaps of faith anymore from one rock to the other. And I'm like, okay, they can drive across that. But I can't jump that. So I have to climb down and then scale back over over here. And it's like, you know, okay. It's it's not as easy as when I was 42.


[01:09:32.670] - Phil Collard

Bruises on your legs, bruises on your shoulders, bruises on your back from slipping and falling. A-I-I do remember.


[01:09:42.300] - Big Rich Klein

So you still have the same Jeep. You have that Burgundy, slight purplish. What color would you call that?


[01:09:51.380] - Phil Collard

Well, that's a good question. I've been asked that for, I don't know, 30 years. People can ask me what color it is. And I don't know what color it is. Let me think of the term that they were using. Oh, gosh. I wish I could remember that Arca Cosmetic products. It was called Mary K for a while, and I don't really know what the color is.


[01:10:23.650] - Big Rich Klein

Okay, because when you said you were still driving her and I looked over and sure enough, there she was.


[01:10:30.920] - Phil Collard



[01:10:33.550] - Big Rich Klein

Don'T have the same vehicle that I started with. I don't even drive the courses, but never have. I remember. Bob Rogi is helping me set the very first events that we did. And he was like, I got to put a tire on this. And I'm like, no, you don't. You know what the car can do and can't do. And he goes, yeah, but the drivers want to see tire marks on here and know that somebody's driven it. I'm like, they don't have to know it can be driven.


[01:11:04.500] - Phil Collard

In fact, don't want them to.


[01:11:06.030] - Big Rich Klein

In fact, it's better if they don't see lines, because then they have to try to figure it out themselves.


[01:11:13.100] - Phil Collard



[01:11:14.650] - Big Rich Klein

And finally, he got the hang of that. And then my son did a pretty good job, and then Josh. And the same thing, though, is those those lessons of whether they knew they were being trained or not. It was like, okay, let's think about what you just did there. Or what did you have in mind? How are they going to do that if it's just a free fall drop or just a full throttle assault on a climb? Where are you expecting it? One guy with a big block or 5000 HP going to make it, or are you wanting it crawled?


[01:12:01.450] - Phil Collard

You know, that kind of thing that goes from tiny little four cylinder that he drove so well up to people like RJ. That the motto when in doubt, lay it out. And you and I both saw that many times. I think Ranch came up with one of the best ways to solve that problem. We stopped driving them. Some of them, I would still drive. I would go ahead and put one of her on there just to make sure that it could be done. But when we would stage in the morning for the competition, the people in the front.


[01:12:45.020] - Phil Collard

The following day, for the second day of the competition, Ranch would reverse the order on the cars. So the guy that was first the one day he was last the next day, and a lot of guys said, Well, that only matters for two guys because the rest of us are going to follow him. Well, it really only matters for one day because all of the lines were said anyway, from the tire marks. But it caused people not to be able to follow people like Tracy Jordan.


[01:13:14.990] - Phil Collard

If you were behind him one day, you're going to take the same track as Tracy would take, or you would. And then the following day, he's behind you. Really? Okay. That's fine. I'll watch him when I break something or whatever happens or if I make it. I thought that that was a good way to handle that.


[01:13:33.470] - Big Rich Klein

Yeah, we still use that today. They draw for start position, and then we reverse it on the next day. And it does make a big difference with the the top guys. The cars nowadays are, well, unlimited almost become a spec class with Jesse Haines chassis anyway, and they're all going to little, tiny, small Motors with lots of horse power created by turbo charging or super charging or whatever. And it's pretty interesting now that the cars are so similar that if Jesse draws first because he is the top dog right now, I still at Nationals three years in a row.


[01:14:29.250] - Big Rich Klein

Dave Long driving a car almost identical to his it's a Jesse Haines chassis, but the engine, I think package and transmission package may be different. Those are probably the top two right now. At least we rock and they it becomes Follow the leader because there's so many cars that are so similar that, you know, they're always trying to you get that edge by. Well, okay, Jesse's got it. I'm going to have it. And it's interesting. It makes it a little more difficult to set courses because I have to now I have to stop, not stop.


[01:15:12.410] - Big Rich Klein

I have to challenge the best driver with the thought process, but also with the best machine. But now so many of those guys have the best machine.


[01:15:23.340] - Phil Collard

I think one of the reasons that that stuff came about was I think they found out that I was designing for the rear end of vehicles and they couldn't steer. They couldn't go around it. And I was knocking out some pretty big names because they were used to doing just the front end. But look at what those magnificent designers did over the years. And look what you guys have now versus what we started. We started with CJ seven, six and some guy with his Ford truck back in the early days.


[01:15:58.320] - Phil Collard

So, yeah, I'm just amazed at what they have designed and what they've come up with. Genius. Absolute genius. Yeah.


[01:16:08.760] - Big Rich Klein

They're real problem solvers.


[01:16:11.660] - Phil Collard

And I think what that does one of my thoughts on that is it now becomes what I always wanted it to be. And that's the skill of the driver and the skill of the spotter, because if you all have the same equipment and somebody's on top, somebody's not quite there yet, because the driving skills may not be the same. That's what I always wanted to see was it's just about the driver and spot are getting it done. Yeah.


[01:16:38.950] - Big Rich Klein

Because even though they have the same vehicle and you're going to try to follow that same line, doesn't mean you're going to nail that line salute fact. Yeah. Well, so what's next for Phil?


[01:16:54.260] - Phil Collard

There's a few of us here in Farmington that are discussing going back to the old days and doing trail, just quality trail runs and getting back to some of the people that I don't want to do. The hardcore. I don't want that to be my identity. I want to be able to take my family and go out and enjoy the sport the way that it started. So we're looking at we're looking at doing a I guess, for lack of better communication with you, I think probably an old vehicle class, like taking a 1950 flat Fender or a truck or whatever and having just a run for them.


[01:17:50.720] - Phil Collard

This particular class is 1950 Jeeps. Please bring your family. Let's go play. And then we'll do something relatively simple in wherever we decide to have it.


[01:18:03.610] - Big Rich Klein

So like, it how it all started.


[01:18:05.700] - Phil Collard

Say that again.


[01:18:07.450] - Big Rich Klein

I said, so back to how it all started.


[01:18:10.080] - Phil Collard



[01:18:11.100] - Big Rich Klein

I mean that's our sport evolved out of guys wanting bragging rights over their friends on a difficult part of the trail that they were driving like, hey, I made that climber. I made that side Hill. I made that crack line, and you can't do it as well as I did.


[01:18:29.480] - Phil Collard

One of my favorite comments was one of the cliff hangers who was incredibly good. He had climbed this rock and he had done it several times, and he brought us took us all out there. His name is Armstrong, took us out there and he drove up the rock, and I was the one trying it. And I was new at the sport. We went it was my very first vehicle, and I was trying to make it. And he was looking down there and he said, yeah, pretty tough, not medias can make it.


[01:19:10.300] - Phil Collard

Roger and I have been friends for a long time, and he's a terrific guy, and he taught me a lot. He really taught me a lot about the sport.


[01:19:19.700] - Big Rich Klein

And your kids are into the your two young boys are into into the rock crawling.


[01:19:26.730] - Phil Collard

They have been in sports since they were little Virginia, and I decided that that would be the path we wanted them to go, because they have to keep their grades up. Everything works well. And so they have been in sports all of their lives since, literally, since they were three years old. We started wrestling, and the older of the two was ranked the number one quarterback in the state of New Mexico his senior year. So we have been into that and getting them prepared to do that.


[01:19:57.980] - Phil Collard

He now is becoming a fireman. He graduated last year and he becoming a fireman. And yes, we built a shop just so we can build vehicles to go out and play.


[01:20:07.640] - Big Rich Klein

That's awesome. Passing it on to the next generation.


[01:20:11.490] - Phil Collard



[01:20:12.500] - Big Rich Klein

I love it. Well, Phil, I want to say thank you for coming on board and spending the time with us this morning and and having a conversation. I know that you were a little worried because you hadn't done something like this before, but I think it turned out great. And I look forward to to what people have to say about it, because I think it's going to be a very educational podcast for people to listen to.


[01:20:40.540] - Phil Collard

I'm looking forward to hearing it, and I want to thank you. I want to thank your organization for staying on it. Keeping it going. I want to thank you for the opportunity to do this. There are so many people that were involved with my growth. That my gosh. If I started naming names, we'd be here for hours and I cannot thank them enough. They made my life, that portion of my life. Absolutely fantastic. And thank you all back in the day. Thank all of you so much for helping me with that and being a part of it.


[01:21:12.690] - Phil Collard

And Rich, thank you for allowing me to do this. I do appreciate it, Phil.


[01:21:18.260] - Big Rich Klein

It was my pleasure. Do you have a great day and say Hello to the family? It was nice meeting your son's, Farmington.


[01:21:26.130] - Phil Collard

I'm glad that you got to meet both of them. And as soon as I hang up, we are on our way out to the shop to start working on another Jeep.


[01:21:35.150] - Big Rich Klein

Excellent. Sounds good. Alright. So thank you.


[01:21:38.820] - Phil Collard

Bye bye bye.


[01:21:40.340] - Speaker 2

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.


[01:21:53.750] - Big Rich Klein

Hope you enjoyed it.


[01:21:54.680] - Speaker 2

We'll catch you next week with conversations with Big Rich. Thank you very much.