Wild Tuff Trucks In Washington: Fun Off-Road Racing On The Cheap

Jason Smolarek took the Open Truck win both days, and the $1000 prize.

Warm nights and hot racing in Southwest Washington.

These thrill seekers, men, and women alike, gathered at the Clark County Fairgrounds in Ridgefield,  Washington. The warm evening breeze had a tinge of super unleaded to it as several dozen wild Tuff Trucks filed into the arena for the national anthem.

(left) Miss Greater Vancouver's Outstanding Teen sang the National Anthem for the crowd and racers. (right) The stands were rocking when the racers came out for introductions.

The next two nights were filled with flying vehicles, flying parts, broken parts, and dreams fulfilled. Some did indeed, send it!  A few found glory. Some found how hard it can be to get out of an upside down vehicle. You could tell some were there for fun and to thrill the crowd. Others took it quite seriously and wanted the $500 to $1000 prize money depending on your class.

Williams Howard shows how serious he takes Tuff Truck racing.

Tuff Truck racing does not have to cost a fortune.

Before, we get on with the event coverage, let us answer the question; What are Tuff Trucks? Racing is expensive, but does it have to be? If you are resourceful enough there are affordable choices. Many of us dream of taking on Baja California for 1000 miles. Maybe driving against the best short course racers at Crandon or Glen Helen. Ambitions that cost a mountain of money. Off Road Xtreme wanted to explain a little bit about these wild Tuff Trucks, a much cheaper form of racing.

Sometimes you are a steely eyed racer. Sometimes you are a lawn dart.

Tuff Truck racing is a bargain. It can be tackled alone, with friends, or as a family project. Many have got into it for under $1000. Your choice of vehicle to race is only limited by your imagination. Everything is fair game. From cars, trucks, mini vans, SUVs, UTVs, to military vehicles.

Anything can show up at a Tuff Truck race. From a 6X6 troop transporter to a Ford Aerostar minivan.

What am I getting myself into?

What is Tuff Truck racing? Tuff Truck racing is the best meaning of “run what’cha brung” and can be found across the country in various formats. Usually, there are several classes to enter. At this event there were four divisions. Open or Stock Truck, Cars, and UTV.  Entry fees are typically $50 for a weekend. That gets you two races in front of a grandstand full of rabid fans.

It is all about the pre-race prep.

On the west coast, Tuff Truck events are run by World’s Greatest Action Sports (WGAS) overseen by John Borba and his daughter Chelsea Kessler. John Borba has been doing this for a long time. Since the early 1970s with truck and tractor pulls.

It does not have to be pretty it just has to run.

Getting started

Let’s get theoretical. Out in your yard is your old pickup truck. It has not run since the Clinton Administration. Mother nature has done a number on the paint and heat-miser has cracked your interior. But, it has good bones.

Jimmy Patprau was out here for the first time with his incredibly large 1985 Lincoln Town Car. On day one the fuel pump died. But on day two he came back strong with a third place in the Car Class

Through some new parts at it, air up those meaty tires, new fluids, and holy cow! It starts. Let’s go racing! You figure that light bar you were inspired to get while watching re-runs of Lee Majors on The Fall Guy will save you. Securely tie down the battery, make sure the seat belts work and make sure there is nothing loose in the cab.

Don Chester is the owner and driver of the Jeep known as Major Rush, and is a crowd favorite.

It is that simple. Of course, you need a helmet. How cheap is a helmet if you cannot borrow one? Hey Slick, it’s your head we are talking about! You got a $20 head, get a $20 helmet. Remember rule number one is do not skimp on the safety requirements! Figure on about $150

The Nissan Xterra was going for it. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, either way it is a show.

Send it, Slick! Or not

There is no practice and no qualifying. You can walk the course and see what you got yourself into. There are jumps and moguls and probably a mud pit. You think, “I got this! I am going to send it so hard!” Slick, do you need to drive it home? Think twice about sending it your first time. There you are. With zero regard for your kidneys, back, and spleen (see photos) you too can thrill the masses at your local county fairgrounds.

Troy Knight sent it hard. It went from possible mistake to glory. He continued on unscathed.

What did Off Road Xtreme learn from these weekend warriors and wild tuff trucks? That racing is racing, it is a fraternal brother/sisterhood. Whether you are at Indianapolis, Daytona, Baja, Pikes Peak, or the local bullring, racers are family. They say that weekends are made or broken based on the people you spend them with. Off Road Extreme had a heck of a good weekend with the Tuff Trucks!

The faces of Tuff Truck racing.

Did someone ask about carnage? Of course there was.

Friday Results:

Street Trucks – (time in seconds)

  1. Josh Johnson – 27.873
  2. Charlie Gardner – 28.154
  3. Cody Veitenheimer – 31.528
Josh Johnson sails to the victory in Street Truck on day one.

Josh Johnson sails to the victory in Street Truck on day one.

Open Trucks –

  1. Jason Smolarek – 23.973
  2. Robert Ammons – 26.623
  3. Gary Woodruff – 27.952

UTV –

  1. Anthony Samuel – 30.831
  2. Bailey Tarrant – 31.410

Anthony Samuel was the UTV ace sweeping both days of racing.

Cars –

  1. Naomi Woods – 51.304
  2. Keith Barnett – 68.337

Naomi Woods took it to the boys on day one. She won the Car Class by 17 seconds.

Saturday Results:

Street Truck –

  1. Rodney Thomas Jr – 30.371
  2. Tyler Collins – 32.465
  3. Michael Johnson – 32.570

Rodney Thomas Jr took day two in Street Truck.

Open Trucks –

  1. Jason Smolarek – 25.120
  2. Christopher Roy – 25.251
  3. Gary Woodruff – 25.504

Christopher Roy took a 7th on day one. Then followed that up with a big second place on day two.

UTV –

  1. Anthony Samuel – 22.238
  2. Braack Smith – 24.723
  3. James Peterson – 26.145

Cars –

  1. Keith Barnett – 31.182
  2. Braiden Lukowski – 38.200
  3. Jimmy Patereau – 41.957

The crowd enjoyed the non-stop action and wild Tuff Trucks.

Street Truck means basically stock, but it does not mean you cannot have some fun.

Photo gallery

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About the author

John Elkin

John Elkin was born into an off-roading family. Most vacations were spent exploring Death Valley. Later, John found off-road racing, then rally. His competition career spanned 35 years, mostly navigating. John lives in Vancouver, WA. with his family.
Read My Articles

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