Some how in all my years of attending motorsports events; I’d never been to a 4X4 event. Which much to my wife’s chagrin was a grave injustice for all the time I spent at Donnybrooke. Considering the lockdown situation we’re in, I’m glad I made it to that March event. #HappyWifeHappyLife. See whilst I’m more of speed or sideways cars; my wife has penchant for 4 wheelers, particularly Defenders (as her Instagram feed would testify). Nothing was going to get in our(her) way that night.
It was a warm evening when we headed out to the track. We were excited to see what exactly the 4X4 Club was all about. The closest we’d been previously was the Oval Track, where we could just make out the top of the hillclimb.
We got to park on the oval track and waked into the 4X4 area. Much to my wife’s delight there were a ton of Defenders of all shapes in the inner parking area. The crowd was varied, a true family fun day type of atmosphere. Music blaring in the background and various stalls scattered around the entrance.
We decided to follow a group of people to one of the nearby obstacles. At this point I must say one of the best things about 4X4 versus every other motorsport; as a spectator, is that you can get very close to the action. Not that it’s any less dangerous but the slower technical nature of it means a lot closer access to the action.
How the courses work
If oval track is something like a destruction derby where rubbings (see also crashing) is racing, 4X4 is something of dusty surgery. Each competitor takes a turn to complete each course while a group of judges mark them on their ability to navigate each course without hitting the penalty markers.
Each obstacle course is fairly short, but by no means easy. Forcing the driver and navigator to work as one to not only complete the course but to do so whilst keeping four (or most) of the wheels on the ground. The helmets, harnesses and roll cages all hinting that ending up upside down a very real possibility.
The vehicles are broken into different classes and tackle different courses depending on how modified they are. So there is quite a surprising variety of vehicles. From extreme Frankenstein jeep wranglers to almost factory fresh Land Rovers.
The more extreme vehicles started out life as factory chassis but have been stripped out, suspension upgraded and modified to provide more articulation an engine swaps for more power. Drivers were of all ages, as they say start them young!
The Hiluxs and Discovery’s took on the course that started with the hillclimb. It was somewhat refreshing to watch to these vehicles using their differentials and off road technology for more than the daily school run.
The sun was soon dipping below the horizon. We moved onto a more extreme course to watch the more dedicated off road vehicles would tackle it. Out came the spotlights, and LED bars. The darkness added an extra layer of difficulty to the endeavor.
The extreme vehicles tackled all sorts of obstacles, a tire mound, gulleys, banked curves and the one obstacle we didn’t manage to see: the see-saw. If you’ve ever watched a show on the History channel called Monster Truck, imagine a see-saw like that but smaller. An obstacle that would allow a truck to climb up, balance and test the drivers throttle control.
The action was far from over when we had to leave but we were nothing but excited to have seen what we had. Hopefully after the coronavirus subsides we will have a motorsport season packed with more 4X4 action. Till then enjoy the gallery below.