mickTo celebrate the lives of Mickey, American off-road racing legend, and Trudy Thompson, the NHRA Wally Parks Motorsports Museum in Pomona, California, has put up a special exhibit, complete with off-road race vehicles and photographs, writes James Maxwell 

Marion (‘Mickey’) Lee Thompson, Jr, was born on December 7th, 1928. When he was 14 years old he bought his first car on his allowance, an old Chevrolet for $7.50, which had been sitting out in the open with its cylinder head off. Mickey had to drive the pistons out with a sledgehammer. It took a year and a half but he _ nally did get it running and he sold the car for $125.00, all before he was old enough to drive it.

policeNational Trust Wardens and the Police teamed up in early May for an offroad crime prevention campaign day in the Surrey Hills, targeting Wolvens Lane at Coldharbour, the Drove Road off White Down and Hogden Lane, Ranmore.

If anyone was caught without insurance, their vehicle would have been seized and potentially put through the crusher. They distributed lea_ ets to 4×4 drivers, motorcyclists, walkers, bikers and horse riders explaining the rights and responsibilities of people using BOATs.

mudNorthern Off Road Club’s Ashley Short took his  rst career win at The David Simmonite Memorial Safari, held at Baden Hall, over the Spring bank holiday weekend, writes Gavin Lodge. The event, a round of both the NORC and All Wheel Drive Club’s cross country championships, attracted over 80 crews.

Conditions changed from slippery to dry and dusty as the race unfolded and Short drove his BMW-powered TP 4×4 hard, narrowly beating veteran offroad racer, Chris Hammond, in his Milner R5, by a margin of just 11 seconds over the two-day, sixty-mile event. Robert Simmonite, driving the Simmbugghini Motorsports car, finished third.

Bob Cooke – contributor

1-isuxuI remember being thoroughly impressed with the Isuzu Rodeo when it first appeared in 2003 as a replacement for the truly trucklike Vauxhall Brava. Not that I approved of the styling, particularly, too school-run sleek for my liking compared with my favourite at the time, the Nissan Navara, which has a much more off-roady appeal. But I did like the gutsy 3.0-litre turbodiesel, which gave the Rodeo lustier acceleration and much easier cruising than its 2.5-litre opponents.

Hence I was pleased to have the opportunity to drive the long-term Denver Max LE. My, what a lot of pretty chrome trim, pretty blue-illuminated dials, complete with sporty red needles, and what a lot of gadgetry to play with! Personally, I could do without the silly gleaming sidesteps, all they really end up doing after a spell of off-roading is to smear mud all over your trouser legs as you get out; I’d be too afraid of scraping the plating off against a rock. I’d rather have a chunky length of angle iron there to protect the sills. Still, the rest of the chrome I can live with. What did leave me cold, however, was the sat nav system. I don’t really have a problem with systems that don’t allow you to select a destination on the move, but this one seems only to allow you to do so after first initialisation, which takes agonising minutes. If you drive off while it’s initialising thinking to pull into a layby later to set your destination, forget it – you’ll have to switch off again and wait for the entire deadly boring initialisation process to happen again. And then…the system doesn’t seem to recognise postcodes, so you have to go through the whole process of selecting city, street etc which is of no use at all if you’re going to anywhere that hasn’t got a suitable street number.

Louise Limb – contributor

2-vitaraHaving borrowed some Mediterranean weather for a few days, Britain basked in some pretty noticeable warmth and I snatched myself some time to get out on the hills and enjoy the fabulous Karst landscape that’s some 20 minutes up the road from me. The wild pansies and skylarks took my mind off the impending expenditure that the Grand Vitara was bound to incur.

Tuesday arrived, the sun went in and I handed over my keys to the nice people on the service desk at my local Suzuki main dealer. The good bit was that Phil was to be my grease monkey for what should have been the GV’s 36k miles service – a big one. He’s taken his Jeep to Croatia, knows his off-roaders and has a reserved view of anything Land Rover that was manufactured after 1971. His last Defender cost him £1000 in one year and that was using his immense skill and experience as well as secondhand parts. Phil was keen to show me what he was doing to my precious daily drive so off I went, beyond the edge of the carpeted public area and into workshop land.

Garry Stuart – freelance photographer

nissan3Following a photo shoot in Wiltshire with a pair of Pinzgauers, the Terrano was pointed towards France once again as Qt Services was holding a Wildcat testing weekend in the central Burgundy region.

Making an early evening crossing from Dover, Stella and I had hopes of a nice little B&B and a decent meal in an Auberge. These hopes were dashed when the LD Lines Ferry was unable to let us off the boat because it had lost all the hydraulics controlling the ramp. Instead of disembarking in Boulogne at 19.00hrs we eventually were set free at gone 02.00hrs, so, not for the first time, the Terrano became our overnight accommodation. The next day entailed driving through the St Denis region of Paris, as there appears to be no real bypass, and six hours later we reached our destination – the beautiful mediaeval town of Autun where we did find a good place to rest before an early start at a nearby off-road testing ground, favoured by French Dakar and WRC Teams.

Shion Scudamore – contributor

4bedfordWith the MoT test booked and the fear of the VOSA testing station kicking, I have started to remove the wings and sort the holes in the cab floor. I had hoped to do a complete stripdown and clear the cab of rust once and for all, but a mass of other time commitments have ruled that out. My sons are, understandably, more inclined to hit the beach in the old lady rather than hear the sound of dad angle grinding and welding; come to that, so am I!

The KAB seat suspension units are waiting to be grafted in underneath the Range Rover seats, which, we hope, should go some way in easing the discomfort of the solid-mounted cab. Removal of the floor mat by the driver’s feet revealed a lot of daylight and, to be honest, I have neglected the cab since I bought the truck six years ago.

Bob Cooke – contributor

5hotchThe tank was seriously stuck. The engine roared, the clutches slipped, the tracks churned but the megamass of military metal had clearly bellied out on a hidden chunk of rock. There was only one thing for it – Eugene to the rescue. With a 10-metre strop shackled to the blighted behemoth the lighweight veteran hauled the tank free…

In our dreams. Eugene just happened to be charging past the tank when photographer Pete Robain snapped it, and he couldn’t help Photoshopping in the towrope. Good one, Pete – but not as good as Pete’s later effort, when, with his 1947 Willys CJ3A, he used a real strop to pull a bogged-down Defender out of a hole – one-upmanship, or what!

Toby Savage – contributor

6Driving 4×4 Magazine’s Jeep Wrangler for the first time, it struck me just how much the basic design had improved over the years, while retaining the same core values as my own 1943 model. This was now a truck that was twice as fast and had twice as many gears, as I discovered 30 miles into my first drive, when I looked down at the gear lever and saw the number ‘6’, just below ‘5’ on the gear lever knob. Suddenly, everything was quieter! As it was such a pleasant day and the Jeep was a new toy for me, I opted to have a quick run up a local greenlane, to assess its performance. On the dry, baked earth it was easy, but bouncy going. The big coil springs soaked up the bumps well and the 2.8-litre common rail diesel engine certainly had ample power.

Wayne Mitchelson – contributor

7Probably the worst thing a bloke can do while messing about on eBay is to drink a bottle of wine. I did that very thing, and the next morning my worst fears woke me. I’m sure I bought a Defender last night? Through one blurred eye I turned on the Mac and to my horror, yes, in the bought items was one Woodcoat green Td5 90. Fortunately, the Defender was not a million miles away and I did actually need a vehicle. A couple of days later, there on my drive stood my most expensive eBay buy-it-now item ever – that £4.90 bottle of Shiraz cost me almost £8000.

In the sober light of day, the bodywork was battered and bruised, the interior looked shabby and torn and the All Terrains were the slick type. Not quite the exiting purchase I hoped for, but it had potential. I had owned a 90 several years earlier and loved it dearly, so I knew that, with a little effort and a few dollars more, I could turn this pig’s ear into a smart, every day do-all Defender.