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Let’s Get Vertical

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For those of you who have been involved in off-road racing, hill climbing and rock crawling, you know what I’m talking about. And for those of you who think that drifting is the only motorsport showing growth, I have something to tell you! Over the last few years, the popularity of all manner of off-road racing has gained more publicity than any other type, due, in part, to the ever-increasing number of television programs.

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As off-road motosports has taken on new dimensions, aftermarket companies are approaching it from different angles, specifically “straight up” – or as near to it as you can get.

Sponsorship money is flowing into sports groups like the RedBull Rock Crawling team of Dustin and Becca Webster. Shown above is Becca’s “Rockher.” She runs 16-inch alloys and 37×13.50-16 X-Terrains, both from Pro Competition Tire (www.procomptires.com).

Pro Comp offers a full range of one-piece traditional designed wheels from 15×8 up to 20×9 and forged wheels like the Series 6089 (shown at right) that ranges from 17×9 up to 22×10. The sister crawler to the Rockher is the Rockit; it runs on 40×13.50-20 Pro Comp rubber.

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According to Dustin Webster, “the advantage of the large diameter is that it offers the ability to use larger brakes, and the shorter sidewall doesn’t bounce or deflect as much when making a fast run at a steep incline, which can be a short vertical face or a constant 72° slope.”

Yes, that’s right – 72°! You can’t walk up a 72° slope, but these machines are driving it. Special compounds with two thick plies in the sidewall and belt packages that can handle the stress make this possible.

Not to be outdone, Mickey Thompson (www.mickeythompsontires.com) offers some pretty incredible products of its own. Now owned by Cooper Tire & Rubber Co., Mickey Thompson has the marketing and production capacity to meet most any demand. And new tread designs like the SideBiter on the Baja Claw Radial add a tremendous amount of grip to the sidewall and tread areas.

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The Baja Claw Radial is offered in traditional 15- through 17-inch sizes, as well as new 17- through 20-inch wheel sizes and tire diameters up to 40 inches. The special-purpose Competition Claw made specifically for competition rock crawling is offered in sizes 35×13.00-15 and 37×13.00-17. Competition Claws can be seen on the Mickey Thompson-sponsored “Team Trail Ready” super-modified rock crawl buggy driven by Larry Trim.

To complement its rubber, Mickey Thompson offers its Classic Lock wheel with simulated bead lock rings in four color options and the Classic II in sizes ranging from 15×8 to 20×10.

In case you’re wondering how many people actually are interested in the sport, take a look at th picture above, taken at a recent event. Literally thousands of spectators lined the course to watch the event. And many go home to work on their own wicked crawler. Others just want the big tire/wheel package for urban terrain – because it stands out in a crowd.

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In any case, you can’t put these huge tire and wheel combos on anything until the vehicle gets a full suspension and body lift. For that, SkyJacker (www.skyjacker.com) offers what it calls a complete system to turn a wannabe stocker into a bona-fide rocker. Take a look at the setup shown here. It’s engineered to make this truck a daily driver as well as a weekend warrior.

The market potential for this segment is booming. The recent SEMA Off-Road Show in Indianapolis and the off-road course built in Las Vegas for the SEMA Show last November both prove that the market is growing.

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Right now is a great time to invest in the people and products that can take your business to the next level. Even if that level is straight up.

Like we’ve said all along, get involved. Your competition will.

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