<%@LANGUAGE="VBSCRIPT"%> ROCKCRAWLER.com - Walker Evans Set to Take on Vernal, UT


Goodyear
'The Legend' Looks to Repeat at Goodyear's Utah Event


RCAAVERNAL, Utah - Off-road racing legend Walker Evans faces huge obstacles in repeating a rock crawling win here this weekend. He has to face the boulders and all other competitors who consider him the man to beat. The 63-year-old Evans, who won his first rock crawling event here in 2000, looks to repeat his heroics Friday and Saturday at the Goodyear/Skyjacker Extreme Rock Crawling Nationals.

Walker Evans
Photo by Vic Carroll

Retired from off-road racing with 140 career victories and 20 championship titles, Evans was the first driver in racing history to win the Baja 1000 (in 1979) and Fireworks 250 (in 1982). Although Evans hasn't won a rock-crawling series championship yet, most consider the former off-road racer the one to beat. He's always the favorite. In 2000, Evans, of Riverside, Calif., called the Vernal victory "sweet. It ranks right up there with anything I've accomplished in my off-roadracing career." Yet to most of the competitors, this legendary driver still is a rookie in rockcrawling. Confused? Even Evans concedes it's difficult to always be the favorite, never the underdog who sneaks up on the field. He's expected to win.

Sanctioning body RCAA president Ranch Pratt said competitiveness will reach a fever pitch in Vernal. "The level of driving has gone beyond our expectations. Having Walker Evans compete here certainly has stepped up competition to a new level."

Goodyear's Steve Myers, marketing manager for light-truck tires, said he wouldn't be surprised to see Evans continue his legendary ways. "Walker's such a competitor. He just won't quit. He brings excitement to the events."

Myers said the championship series also has proven to be an ideal avenue to promote Goodyear's Wrangler MT/R off-road tire and tire durability in general. Sales of the new tire skyrocketed 46 percent last year, and its market still is growing.

Evans won the Championship Off Road Racing (CORR) championship in 1999 on 17-inch Wrangler MT/R tires, which he called "the toughest tires I've ever raced on." He now uses the tires on his Chevy Thunder S-10 pickup rockcrawler.

The series event also is good for Vernal. The local chamber of commerce said about $1 million was generated in the community two years ago. Myers said he's pleased with Vernal's reaction to the sport."Initially, we weren't exactly sure how people would view rockcrawling, but these drivers are giving new meaning to 'being stuck between a rock and a hard place."

"We definitely expect the competition to heat up in Vernal," he added. Rockcrawling has been compared to golf; it's also been called the art of negotiating an extremely difficult obstacle. Like golf, speed's not a factor; accruing the least amount of points is key.

The drivers face 14 obstacles in the two-day event. Scoring infractions include 1 point for stopping and backing up, 10 for knocking down a flag, 20 for winching with a cable, 40 for taking too much time, and 50 for bypassing the obstacle.Rolling over scores no points, but it's a crowd-pleaser. Vernal promises to deliver its share of rolled-over vehicles. They always bring a cheer. So does Evans when he completes an obstacle, Myers said. It gives the competitors a goal to beat.