Can you ever really go too big? Most of us try to live the mantra of go big or go home. When we start a project we try and set ourselves apart from everyone else with our choices and materials. Sometimes, things get away from us a little bit. Then there are those other times when we just plain nail it. Such was the case with Seth Hall’s 1947 International build at the 2019 OG Gambler 500.
Always Be Gambling
For those that are not familiar, Gambler 500 events are typically weekend-long, rally-style, off-road navigational challenges. Most of the time, the chosen rides have never been off-road a day in their lives. The drivers gamble that their chosen vehicle will make it to the waypoints provided. The next gamble is that the vehicle will also be able to make it back to the established camp. Many of the cars are even expected to make the potentially states-long trek back home after the event is over.
Gambler 500 events have taken place in many states across both the United States as well as Canada. The one theme that persists amongst all of the events is that fun is greater than any established set of rules. The original Gambler 500 was started in the state of Oregon in 2014 as a challenge to see how far 500-dollar cars could go off-road. Since then, the hallmark of the event has become stewardship of the land, with participants competing to see who can pick up the most trash throughout the weekend.
A prize is handed down to the participant that collects the most trash on the trails during the event. It is not at all uncommon for several large dumpsters to be filled. It’s a pretty significant achievement that goes a long way toward gaining the support of local communities and law enforcement agencies in the communities where Gambler 500 events are held. Seeing a few hundred vehicles come down the road in slightly less than optimal running conditions can draw some attention. Thanks in part to the land conservation aspect of the Gambler 500, most participants have no issues.
Additional prizes are reserved for things like the person with the most incapable car. It’s not about having the biggest or baddest thing on the trail. The fun and impractical are prized much higher. There are typically several other prizes given out at each event. The associated bragging rights only make the tales from the event taller. While unique rides are commonplace at any Gambler 500, sometimes one just sticks out.
Sometimes One Just Sticks Out
International trucks are popular with a certain niche in the off-road market. They offer some pretty amazing nostalgia and are pure Americana. In addition, they are also some pretty rad little off-roaders. Seth has his sitting pretty on 33-inch tires with plenty of personalization. Seth explained, “It’s been chopped and channeled three inches. It’s supposed to be a rat rod, but I wanted to be able to take it off the road for the Gambler.”
Seth had originally built another ride to take part in the Gambler. However, he blew the motor in that car, so the International rat rod became the go-to vehicle. Seth said, “This is my first Gambler. I’ve heard about it for years. I wanted to bring a car out so I built a Chevy Lumina.” The trusty Lumina may not have made it to the Gambler, but it will live on in spirit forever.
Just Getting There Is Half The Fun
Most Gambler 500 participants gamble that their vehicle will not only make it to the GPS waypoints provided but back home as well. Some event-goers bring a trailer that shuttles their chosen ride to the event. Then, after a weekend of hijinks, the cars go back on the trailer for the trek back home. While there is nothing wrong with this approach, it does have its disadvantages. After all, sometimes getting to the Gambler can be just as exciting as participating in it.
Seth is not one of those trailer guys. Instead, he chose to drive his International to the Gambler. While this creates the opportunity for a really fun road trip, it can also create the possibility for something to go wrong. Seth experienced the latter on the way to the event. However, he didn’t let the challenges bring him down. Instead, he seemed to be having a blast.
Seth explained with a laugh, “Coming out of Lebanon, Oregon, we hit a pothole. It broke a whole strut. The truck has a Camaro A-arm suspension and when that strut broke, it made the whole bed tilt. We were going on Highway 20 when the tire started rubbing and blew because of the heat and friction. A whole bunch of gamblers all got together and we got the truck jacked up. We had to cut the spare tire into pieces and shove the pieces in between the A-arm and the strut! It made it here immaculately. It’s pretty much held together with an old tire and ratchet straps.”
A Thousand Of Your Closest Friends
When participating in a Gambler 500 event, you meet a lot of interesting people. These are the kinds of people that stop and help on the side of the road. They are the kinds of people that will cut a spare tire apart with you. Most of all, though, they are the kinds of people that will make sure you are okay at a time when the chips are down.
You may be thinking to yourself that driving around a vehicle with old tires and ratchet straps holding things together is not your cup of tea. Well, in that case, you probably should stop reading and never attend a Gambler 500. If you are the kind of person who thinks that sounds like fun, then you will probably enjoy hearing about how the brakes only work sometimes. You would also probably get a kick out of hearing that Seth used a camping pot for an air intake. Unfortunately, it fell off at one point during the gambler, so he used J.B. Weld to reinstall it. Seth bragged that “It’s been good other than the four or five issues that I’ve had.”
The Devil Is In The Details
The motor is a 292 cubic-inch inline-six that has been bored over to a 301 cubic-inch engine. The transmission consists of a Chevy S10 and Camaro partnership that has operated flawlessly. The rear axle is from a Ford Falcon and is held in place by a four-link suspension with coilovers. Seth admitted, “They are racing struts on a rat rod that I jacked to the extreme to get ground clearance.”
Seth lost his dad before the Gambler 500. The International was originally his dad’s. His dad built the custom bed and you can see that there is a lot of pride that exists with this build. The custom bed even incorporates a cooler compartment for nice cold beverages when out on the road or trail.
Seth made sure to include plenty of tools with his load-out for the event. He has tools, jacks, and a compressor all onboard for when the going gets tough. Seth stated, “I’ve got shovels, food, plenty of fuel in case someone needs it, tow straps, and three fire extinguishers. You know, just in case.”
Picking Up The Trash
Seth also built the custom upper roof rack just for The Gambler. He stated, “It’s ready to just get the trash out of the woods and help anyone out. That’s what this is all about.”
Seth revealed that, “My favorite part of this is that it’s my dad’s vehicle and that now in his memory I am taking it on the OG Gambler 500. That’s the dream and my dad would be proud.”
We do not doubt that Seth’s dad would be proud of the build and what Seth is doing with it. Seth approached the Gambler 500 as a sort of Memoriam to his father. Land conservation, helping other people, and having a great time with like-minded people are all values that his dad would have approved of, and so do we.