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Hummer H2 Academy

By Michael Cohn

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Once again, morning came quickly and after a quick breakfast, we were off to the track again. With our GPS training still somewhat fresh in our heads, we were all handed envelopes with coordinates for us all to go find. We all went our separate ways and one by one found our waypoints. This event proved to be rather amusing as some of the less technical students ended up going their merry ways beyond the planned routes. In addition, some competitive spirit came out in some of the drivers. This event was not intended for us to go very far off-road, so there were no instructors along for the ride. We happened to come across one team who managed to get themselves pretty stuck in the mud, however, and we were just in time to rescue the damsels in distress. We all arrived back at the classrooms just a bit muddier than perhaps expected by the instructors. All the better to test the H2, though, right?

Hummer H2 Academy
Martin finds his waypoint and gets coordinates for our next stop
Hummer H2 Academy
Scratching of the head is usually not a good sign
Hummer H2 Academy
Some teams left the designated path for the GPS course...
Hummer H2 Academy
and got a little extra training in recovery

After another short classroom discussion about what supplies and tools to carry off-road and general preparedness, we headed out for some more trailing. This second time out on the trails was a lot of fun. The instructors took us to some of the more difficult areas of the woods and being that I was the only driver with extensive off-road experience, I got to the lead the pack and test the waters, so to speak, on some of the more rutted out and muddy areas. This proved to be great fun and there couldn't have been a better way for me to really test and evaluate the H2.

We went through some pretty serious stuff and did eventually get the H2 high-centered over an under-water log. So there we were, stuck on the log without a single wheel contacting the ground below. We had found the limit of the H2's break-over angle (I still think I was set up by the trainers). But what better way to let the students learn how to use a winch, right? So out came the gloves and each of the students got a chance to learn some hands-on winching skills. Once again, lucky for me, I got to stay in the dry, clean comfort of the truck.

Hummer H2 Academy
Hummer H2 Academy
Hummer H2 Academy
Hummer H2 Academy

This area turned out to be great fun for everyone, as I got to rev up the H2 and send the mud flying everywhere. Some of the people had never seen a "rooster tail" before and were downright hysterical as it rained down mud.

Once out of the stuck, though, it wasn't long before we got hung up in the mud again. This time, though, I did have wheel contact and I got to test out the various 4WD settings on the H2. I had found a situation where I could test out the TC3 button on the H2. The Traction Control 3 system uses electronic brake control to stop wheels that are spinning but not getting any traction. The system only functions, though, at higher RPMs. Being that I was stuck in the slime, TC3 was perfect for this setting. I mashed the pedal to the floor and sawed the steering wheel, as the H2's brakes, rear E-Locker, and transfer case all worked in harmony to pull my truck out of the mud pit. Once again, everyone laughed and screamed as my truck spewed mud everywhere.

Our gang wound around the woods for a good bit longer. Others got stuck and got to test out the lockers and suspension on their H2's and also honed their recovery skills some more. Eventually, though, our time had run out and we all reluctantly headed back for lunch.

Hummer H2 Academy
Hummer H2 Academy
Hummer H2 Academy
Hummer H2 Academy

We all sat down under a covered pavilion and to our surprise, were served a gourmet meal - complete with five-star service. Had the trails not been so nasty from all of the rain, we were told, the lunch would have been served on the trails. Hummer was just full of surprises at every turn.

After lunch we headed out to a mini Rubicon. The Hummer gang had constructed a boulder field, dubbed "Little Sluice" out in the middle of the obstacle course where drivers could go rockcrawling and learn things like tire placement and spotting. Hey...now we're talking!

Eyes open wide, the participants took to the rocks and learned how to spot each other through the obstacles. What better way to learn how to pound rocks than with someone else's truck, right? Each driver went over the rocks one at a time. Bam! Clank! Scrrrrrrape! They cringed at these new noises but when they discovered that their trucks were just fine at the end they were happy to know that they had bought some pretty stout and capable trucks.

Hummer H2 Academy
Hummer H2 Academy
Hummer H2 Academy
Hummer H2 Academy
Hummer H2 Academy
Hummer H2 Academy

We then headed over to "Guardrail," which was a man-made version of the famous obstacle found at Tellico. OK, well it wasn't exactly like the real Guardrail, but it was close and it was very challenging! There was pretty much one line up the hill and it was up to each driver to find it. Some drivers took right to it while others decided that speed, rather than finesse, was the way to go. Eventually, though, we all made it up the hill and there were happy faces everywhere.

Hummer H2 Academy
Hummer H2 Academy

The final event of the academy was the Hummer Olympics. This was great fun. Each team of two had to do various tasks, including finding a waypoint with their GPS, balancing an H2 on a giant see-saw, driving backward through obstacles, guiding the H2 through tightly-spaced cones without knocking off eggs, and finally a blindfolded obstacle course. Our very competitive group really shined during this event. In fact, some teams were downright devious. One team even told us their time to beat on one obstacle. In our haste to beat it, we hit several cones, costing us points. When we got to the end, we learned that their time was grossly exaggerated and that theirs was nowhere near what they had told us! Rats!

Hummer H2 Academy
Hummer H2 Academy
Hummer H2 Academy
Hummer H2 Academy
Hummer H2 Academy
Hummer H2 Academy
Hummer H2 Academy
Hummer H2 Academy

The blindfolded obstacle course was tons of fun. The driver was blindfolded, obviously, and their team-mate had to guide them through the course with verbal commands. Once again, eggs were placed atop the cones. Break and egg - lose points. It turned out that this was a great test of human nature because almost every spotter would use hand signals, despite the fact that the drivers could not see them. It was just one more way to prove that communication is key to safe and successful four-wheeling, and this is exactly the point that the Hummer gang was trying to get across.

Hummer H2 Assembly Plant
The gang poses for photo after a week of great fun
Once we were all finished, we were dragged back into the van and taken out to dinner at Tippecanoe Place, which was the home of the Studebaker family. The gorgeous mansion was completed in 1889 at a total cost of $250,000 and has four main levels totaling 40 rooms and 20 fireplaces. Needless to say, we all indulged ourselves in great food, great wine and great company. After dinner, we were all presented with framed certificates showing our passing the courses and we were all given individual gag awards for our personal achievements. For my entertaining antics in the mud, I received the "High Gear Award," which has now found a nice home in my office.

The academies not only offer Hummer owners the chance to learn the basics of four-wheeling, but offer a wonderful way to get to know their vehicles better and make new friends. For me, it was a glimpse into the world of the H2 owner and a chance to really play hard in someone else's H2. Attendees came from very different backgrounds - a bolt distributor, a high-tech executive, a police uniform manufacturer, a wine and beer importer, and those crazy Cooper brothers...CIA? INS?

But even more than just getting to know some H2 owners and what makes them tick, I got to really get my feet wet in the H2 itself. I learned its strong points and its weak points. I learned what it could and could not do in just about every imaginable off-road environment. But most importantly, I had the chance to really try to make the H2 look silly - and I failed. The H2 really is a very capable vehicle - especially in the hands of an experienced driver - and the folks in South Bend are ready and waiting to prove it to you - well, once you buy yourself an H2, that is.

For more information or to sign-up call:
H1 Academy: Contact Tim Bonadies at 574-258-6622
H2 Academy: 1-866-831-9547

Resources

Hummer Driving Academy
Tim Bonadies
(574) 258-6622 or (866) 831-9547
408 South Byrkit Street
Mishawaka, IN 46544
www.hummer.com

 

Michael Cohn

Michael Cohn is the founder and Editor here at Rockcrawler.com.

Contact Michael at comments@rockcrawler.com