Cooper Rock Crawlers Capture RROCK Title
The Cooper-sponsored Rubber Belly Racing rock crawling team is charting a record-setting course this year, notching both a World Extreme Rock Crawling event victory and the overall RROCK modified stock series title in two recent events.
Driver Jake Good attributed this year's markedly more successful performance to the Rubber Belly Racing team's gelling, in its fourth year together.
"We are really starting to come together as a team this year," Jake said. "A busy race schedule has given us the opportunity to refine the techniques that work well for us. Plus, the team really worked hard on the rig in the off-season and the changes have really made a big difference. Now we have the confidence that we can make the big climbs necessary to bring home wins at any event."
The Cooper Discoverer STTs fitted to his Geo Tracker also afforded the team more confidence, he said.
"The Discoverer STTs have been the perfect tire for all the different types of terrain for this season," Jake said. "We've run courses ranging from man-made concrete and sandstone ledges to mud-covered sharp limestone. The Coopers have really given us the traction to bring home the victories this year."
The team captured first place in the July 24-25 World Extreme Rock Crawling Eastern U.S. Nationals competition in Hannibal, Mo.
Competitive rock crawlers try to keep points as low as possible by accurately navigating through obstacle courses marked by boulders, cliffs and trees. Drivers start a course with zero points. They receive a point for every reverse. Running over a cone – which marks the course boundary and sets its difficulty – means a 10-point penalty.
"An event we wanted to win more than anything was the one on our home turf: We had never won in Hannibal against the defending national champion, Kurt Shramovich," recalled Rubber Belly Racing driver Jake Good. "The bigger story for the weekend, however, was the heat. Heat indexes as high as 110 degrees, combined with W.E. ROCK's typical long, tough courses, tested the endurance of spotters, drivers and rigs."
Saturday morning got started quickly, as all the competitors worked to beat the heat.
Jake said the Rubber Belly Racing team was "really on and worked the courses with the exact precision needed to take the lead on day one. We weren't sitting back comfortably, though: 2009 East Coast champion Jon Terhune was nipping at our heels, four points back."
Saturday night, competitors were evacuated because of a tornado that appeared to be headed straight for the park. Luckily, the severe weather ended up skirting the area and dissipating, leaving little damage in its wake.
Sunday's courses proved only slightly muddier, as the heat of the day worked to dry things out quickly. While the scores weren't as low as Saturday's scores, Rubber Belly Racing was still the only team to post a negative score for the weekend and led the field by 53 points at the end of the day.
"It was a great victory for the team and a great pleasure for Rubber Belly Racing to win in front of our hometown crowd," Jake said.
Meanwhile at the RROCK Series Finals, Aug. 14 in Hannibal, Mo., Rubber Belly Racing was named series champion.
Heavy rains the night before had left the courses muddy and wet. The legends and modified stock classes competed on combined courses, creating a very similar feel to the W.E. ROCK courses.
On its first course for the day, Rubber Belly Racing used a superwinch to make a steep ledge climb and also slide into another gate as Jake tried to side hill through them.
"It was definitely not a confidence-building run to start the day," Jake said.
On the next course, the team battled one of the toughest spots in the quarry. The team spent most of its time stuck on the belly of its Geo Tracker before once again using the winch to get free. Running low on time, Jake set out to gain as many progress points as possible but completed only two sets of gates.
The third course for the day was a rough rock garden on which Rubber Belly Racing normally performed well. This time was no different and the team finally set a low score for the day.
The day's final course included a very tough rock that had to be climbed in order to complete the course.
"We gave the last course everything we had, but to no avail," Jake said. "We timed out halfway through the course, stuck on a huge rock, like many other competitors."
But even with a performance that was well below its best, Rubber Belly Racing managed a second-place finish, enough to secure the 2010 RROCK modified stock series win.