OAKLEY, CA (May 23) – A national trail-based recreation group continues its strong opposition to a proposed military base expansion into a popular OHV recreation area in Southern California.  The BlueRibbon Coalition (BRC) submitted comments on May 19, 2011, that are directed to the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the 29 Palms Training Land Acquisition/Airspace Establishment Study.

BRC believes all of the action alternatives (1-6) are basically “closure of Johnson Valley OHV area” alternatives. The action alternatives would practically or functionally close the entire 180 thousand acre Johnson Valley OHV area to public use.

Don Amador, Western Representative for the BlueRibbon Coalition, states, “BRC has reviewed the Draft EIS and continues in our strong opposition to the entire project including the proposed withdrawal. BRC believes the EIS is fatally flawed and is not in compliance with NEPA.”

Amador continues, “BRC believes the Corps has failed to meaningfully explain the ‘need’ in the purpose and need section.  Aside from not identifying the proper basis for an increased training land-base, the purpose and need statement blithely ignores any discussion of the balance necessitated by any project of this nature. BRC believes the EIS/project should be withdrawn and shelved given its fatal flaws, public objection to the project, and national economic crisis.”

BRC continues to encourage its members to submit public comments by the May 26, 2011, deadline.

Link to BRC comment letter

Trail-Gear arrived on the lakebed almost a week before the big race to make their final tweaks and get the car fully dialed in. A 9th place finish at last year’s King of the Hammers proved that the 4-cylinder, Ecotec powered engine at the heart of the #17 Trail-Gear Godspeed buggy had what it took to be a contender at the toughest off road race in the world.

“I’ll drive fast enough to put that fire out.” Those were the words of Matt Messer, owner of Trail-Gear, regarding concerns of a potential fire if any race fuel were to spill onto the turbo during refueling in the pits. It was obvious that their only options were to win or break trying. Starting at the middle of the pack in 44th position meant having to reel in a large number of other racers to move into contention.

Trail-Gear took the jump off the line and raced into what would be a high speed, low visibility first lap. The winds were low at The Hammers and the dust was like a dense fog that just wouldn’t evaporate.

Gary Feravanti limped into the pits halfway through the race on with only 1/2 of a rim on one corner and 4WheelParts owner, Greg Adler, sat for ages waiting for tire changes and other adjustments. It was nerve wracking to think what shape the Godspeed buggy might be in.

Minneapolis, Feb 15, 2011– After three years of racing “King of the Hammers”, the Jagged X team won the side-by-side class with the new and nearly-stock RANGER RZR XP 900!

Since its original debut in 2008, the “King of the Hammers” race has been deemed the toughest off-road race in the world. The course is a 42-mile combination of open desert racing, narrow goat trails and huge rock trails. For the last two years, the Jagged X team raced their desert race car and while they were in the hunt, the heavier full-blown race car came up just short of the win. This year, the team took a little different approach and raced the new and nearly-stock RANGER RZR XP 900. The unit was modified only to comply with the safety requirements and equipped with a set of Elka Elite series shocks.


With the temperature hovering in the low 20s, the Jagged X team lined up in the tenth starting position with seventeen other side-by-sides. When the flag dropped, Brandon Schueler and co-driver Mike West charged off into the California desert with a group of very-well equipped competitors. The RANGER RZR XP 900 did an amazing job of reeling in the rest of the field and by the first rock trail, the team was running in third position. Shortly after, the only car between the No. 1919 and the finish line was the two-time winner Mitch Guthrie, also driving an almost-stock, very nimble and quick RANGER RZR 800. The two were separated by only a few feet for the next 15 miles but then in the last major rock section, known as Aftershock, Schueler was able to squeeze by and capture the lead. The two swapped the lead again in the bottom of the canyon but when the dust cleared, Jagged X came out ahead by nearly five minutes ahead of Guthrie, and the rest of the field was nearly an hour back.

“The new RANGER RZR XP 900 proved once again that Polaris is the only manufacturer to build a car that offers the power, suspension and agility to win one of the toughest races in the world,” said Brandon Schueler. “Jagged X would like to thank everyone who helped us to take the crown and become the KING of the HAMMERS!”

Special thanks go out to Polaris Industries, Elka Suspension, Pro Armor, Simpson safety equipment, CR Designs, OMF Performance and Renegade Seats.

After his first crack at it last year, Rock Zombie 4×4 club member Travis Carpenter of the 4405 “land-use” team will again race the King of the Hammers off-road race and generate funds for the Blue Ribbon Coalition and off-road land use in the process. The race, which will take place on February 11th, is promoted by HammerKing Productions (www.kingofthehammers.com) and is considered one of the toughest off-road competitions in the United States, blending off-road desert racing and hard-core rock crawling. The 120-mile course is split into two laps, with many racers struggling to finish the race.

The 4405 “Land-use” team is asking people to make a “Pledge per mile made” by Travis Carpenter to the Blue Ribbon Coalition. Individuals and companies are invited to make a pledge (see the link below). The amount of the final donations will depend on how far Travis is able to travel in the event. A flat rate may also be pledged. In 2010, the 4405 “land-use” team raised nearly $20,000 during the race-a-thon, which included major donations from the Tin Benders 4×4 club and 4Wheel Parts. As noted in the press release about the pledge event, “With the Blue Ribbon Coalition working nation wide to preserve access to motorized use on public lands, this race-a-thon comes at a key time when funds are sorely needed.”