Team Garbage Can Cleans Up At The 2019 Tennessee Gambler 500

Are we really all that different? Most of us want to make a positive impact and have fun doing it. Then I come across people like Team Garbage Can, and I just kind of think to myself that yes there really is something different about them.

Purpose-built trash pick up rig at the Tennessee Gambler 500.

Standing amongst over five hundred individual participants at the 2019 Tennessee Gambler 500 provided just that experience. If you have ever been to a Gambler 500 then you know that there are some characters that show up. If you have never been to one then let me just assure you that you will laugh, you may cry a bit, but you will definitely be entertained. Spending time in this unusual and eclectic crowd can lead a person to realize that we are all pretty much the same. All of the people that chose to come out and participate just want to have fun. They enjoy being outdoors, care about their local lands, and like to be challenged.

Lots of personal decals cover this build inside and out.

Team Garbage Can

You look up and see three people riding on the roof of a car with a giant trash rack on top. They are driving from camp to camp collecting everyone’s trash and taking it to the dumpster. You also quickly realize that this is the same crew that was down at one of the waypoints the previous day picking up trash. Not only were they picking up trash but also they were actually going through an old fire pit area cleaning out all of the old burned debris.

The team is composed of three friends that started out loving the off-road hobby and sedans. From there they came together and created both an awesome gambler rig and new friendships. Jon Redling, Paul Love, and Ben Huffman comprise the core of  Team Garbage Can. Additional members include family and friends like Alison Starr, Hailey Huffman, and Aaron Keller. The core crew has attended many previous gambler events in various states.

Members of Team Garbage Can out on the trail cleaning up all the trash they can find.

A friend of a friend first brought the gambler to Ben’s attention. From there he channeled the resources of his business HRG Engineering into the creation of a gambler rig. He also posted on his Facebook page that he was accepting help and that is where both Paul and Jon became involved. Jon said with a smile, “Even though Paul is from Baltimore Maryland he flew down to Charlotte to drive six hours to be here at the Tennessee Gambler. He even changed his flight to go home today to be here just a little longer.”

The Can

Ben reminisced that; “I first got the car for three hundred dollars. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it. The further I got into it the more I realized that there was just too much wrong to fix it back up to drive daily.” Instead, Ben decided that he would take any parts he had lying around his garage and make a gambler out of it. After all, having a business that specializes in lift kits for a variety of vehicles has its advantages. Once the build process started it only took about three to four months to complete.

The focus of the build was always going to be trash pick up. Jon explained, “even if there were no ring in this we would still build it this way. Wherever we are we are picking up trash. We knew that we would never win the overall gambler ring because the car is still mostly stock. We found out about the trash collection ring so we figured we would go for that.”

The car is pretty much stock including the interior.

Ben added that “We originally came up with the name Team Garbage Can because we were going to make the top rack out of silver garbage can sides.” In the end, the team decided that it just didn’t look right so the plan evolved into what you currently see here.

Ben laughed as he remembered that, “Originally I didn’t want to build it that big. They kept telling me to go bigger. Now I think we might need to go even bigger than what we have now!”

The Build

The rear suspension consists of components relieved from a Honda CRV. Ben explained, “The CRV struts are like five inches longer than a Honda Civic. Nothing is even close to working. However, they have more travel and a much higher spring rate so it is a perfect set up. So what I did was I cut off the end of the CRV strut and welded it to the strut for it to work on here.”

An HRG Engineering lift kit provides some clearance. Due to the Civic being a unibody construction, dropping the subframe three inches can provide up to six inches of total lift. Many of the components for the build were parts that were lying around the HRG shop. All of the brackets, lines, and everything that connects to the car’s body are extended with special HRG extension pieces.

The crew decided to stop at three inches of additional lift after the subframe drop because that was as far as the wiring and other hoses would stretch prior to additional fabrication is necessary.  Ben said, “You would have to drop the engine down some in order to prevent the axles from being at too great of an angle. Otherwise, they will bind.”

Paul bought the 27x850x14 Maxxis Buckshot tires. Jon bought the wheels. The aggressive tires were chosen to be functional and provide a cool aesthetic look. Jon admitted, “We do like to send it!” The air intake is stock. The custom exhaust was completed primarily because the original exhaust was ripped off on a previous adventure. Once it was damaged the crew decided that it made more sense to come on up through the hood. The tractor flap is also a pretty awesome detail.

A Group Effort

The whole crew took turns buying any parts that were needed. They even took the time to put together a pretty decent sound system. An EQ supported by marine speakers and two ten-inch subwoofers in a box in the rear provides solid beats while working the trail.

An LED light bar in the front was lying around the HRG shop and the crew chipped in for the LED cubes in the rear. They were sourced from Amazon. The cube lights were badly needed to provide light to the rear while the group worked to clean up the trails. Paul admitted, “One of the greatest things about this is that it pulls people together. Sometimes it’s just a matter of hey I’ve got this and you’ve got that, let’s do this.”

Future Upgrades

Amongst the list of future upgrades for the next event is an all-wheel-drive. Also, the crew plans to give the car a good once over and fix everything that is broken. Ben said, “The car has never really been gone through. There are all kinds of arms that are bent and bushings that are shot. We want to get all of that dialed in so at least it will drive straight. From there we will do the all-wheel-drive conversion with Honda Civic wagon parts.”

Additional power upgrades are also a possibility. Paul laughed as he reported, “We currently have about ninety horsepower. We have ninety horsepower with three or more people in the car at all times. We also have a huge trashcan that is always full on top and a cooler full of our favorite beverages. That’s not even taking into consideration all of our tools and spare parts we have stuck in the back.”

The Gangs Not All Here

While Paul is the only one that is married the rest of the team is just as supported by their families and significant others. These kinds of projects take a lot of time and resources and the support of loved ones is paramount. Paul shared that, “My wife Tara would totally come out here if it wasn’t primitive camping. I think that next time we may do a camper so that she can be out here with us. She would love this. I called her up just a little bit ago and told her the schedule out here. I asked her if she could redo my flight and she took care of it for me. She’s pretty amazing and is an awesome background supporter of everything that I do.”

We hope the crew can get the whole gang together for the next run. We certainly don’t blame anyone for not being interested in primitive camping. Been there and done that! No matter what we appreciate the work that Team Garbage Can did out at the Tennessee gambler. We were also super stoked to hear that the organizer Mason Dixon saw fit to award the team with the Gambler ring for most trash picked up at the event. It was an award well deserved and we will see this team out at the next one.

About the author

Christie Materni

As a photographer, and self-proclaimed "magic maker" for over 12 years, Christie loves to create anything from amazing images to great chocolate chip cookies. Traveling the country with her camera, husband, and sometimes a dog, in search of fast cars and tough trucks is her favorite way to spend the day.
Read My Articles

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