Project VehiCross Goes Gambling
TMNT Saab Sends It
The next trail was on very loose sand and very steep hills. The only way to get up it (without low range) was to get a good running start through the mud, through the sand, and as far up the hill as your car and right foot could take you. Due to all of the off-roading, there were a few berms and the result was a less than comfortable ride. A special shout out to this Saab that ingested a bit of water in the pond on Day 1, but didn’t hydrolock the motor and kept on going.
TMNT Saab Sand Railing
Once through the mud, a few hundred feet of deep, loose sand covered the road.  The ruts being dug were easily ankle deep and it was easy to high side and bog down. Getting traction was incredibly difficult even for those with 4WD and good ground clearance.
JP Jeep and VehiCross Wait for the Sand Road
Trail etiquette demanded we stop and wait our turn to get a clear shot up the hill. If I had one complaint about the Gambler, it’s that the trail etiquette was rather poor. I suppose when you’re trying to get 700+ people all down the same trails at the same time with a high chance of breakage or getting stuck, you need to keep sending cars, but we saw a lot of people get stuck because they refused to wait, took the poor line, and got bogged down. Fortunately, we did not see any accidents due to too many people trying to occupy the same piece of road at once, but we did see a few near misses, including one that involved the VehiCross!
JP Jeep Climbs the Sand Road
Once the road was clear, the JP Jeep and Project VehiCross walked right up the hills. 4WD and low range are kind of cheating in the Gambler, but they sure make for a relaxing drive! I should add, that while I have done a ton of time on an R/C rock crawler, this was my first time doing anything full size, much less with the VehiCross. My whole goal was to make it to the end of the event, preferably without getting stuck or breaking. Considering some of these trails were breaking Jeeps, this was a taller order than you might think!
Neon Stuck in Mud
On the final trail of the day, this Neon put up a valiant effort, but ultimately got trapped in the mud too. Finally, we would be able to tow another car free and get ourselves a Gambler token! Gambler tokens are what you get for freeing another vehicle. One of the ways to “win” the Gambler is to collect as many as possible. Every team starts with one and if you get a tow, you give it up.


  1. Those ZJs came with a shitty full time 4WD transfer case with a viscous center section that eventually failed. The NP231s that came in base models were true 4WD (locked front to rear with no differential). Still open diffs front/rear though…

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