Dirty Work – Off Road with Rob MacCachren
We were trying to recruit other top notch teams to run our E4OD transmission. Rob MacCachren was and still is one of the best off road racers of all times. He had just won the Trophy Truck championship with a largely outdated truck.
He had a fairly low budget for the time. He was really running a Class 8 truck in Trophy Truck, which is the unlimited class. It shouldn’t have been competitive, and it probably wouldn’t have been without Rob behind the wheel.
He was going to a BFGoodrich tire test on the old Mint 400 course north of Las Vegas. I was sent to his shop in Hemet, CA, to help with the installation of the E4OD. He and his guys nailed it without my help. I just watched. Then we loaded up and went to Vegas.
The course that they used for the tire test is about 20 miles long. Ivan “Iron Man” Stewart was also participating in the test with his Toyota. BFG would install tires and send the drivers out. Part of the test was their lap time, part was the driver’s debrief on how he liked the tires, and I’m sure part was dissecting the tires once the test was over.
Rob kept the electric shift knob covered whenever the truck was in the pits. We didn’t want Ivan or any of the Toyota guys to know. They also didn’t know I was with Ford. I played the part of a hanger-on. After the first lap Rob told me it wasn’t shifting right. He handed me a helmet and asked if I’d ride along with him. Just twist my arm!
I quickly found and fixed the problem. It was a minor wiring issue. Then he said I can ride as much as I want to. Nobody on the team wanted to ride, and I suppose it gets lonely out there. The first lap we bounced so much that I could barely focus. By the third lap I was used to it and I could read the gauges and we could scream at each other. There was no intercom, we had to talk over the noise of the truck!
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We went through one area of rocks that were anywhere from one to three feet in diameter. As we approached it I knew he would have to go around, even this truck couldn’t go through that. Boy was I wrong! We went through it at probably 40 MPH.
One area had a jump. We were about 15-20 feet in the air for several truck lengths. I was braced for the crash back to the ground, but it was as smooth as an expert pilot landing a jetliner on his best day. It was amazing the punishment that truck could take, and not transfer it to the people inside.
Photos courtesy of Rob MacCachren via