- Pit+Paddock hosts the third Drivers Project road trip experience with our first off-road adventure.
- Thirteen modified trucks of various makes and models, including the Turn 14 Distribution Ford Bronco, embark on an adventure from Los Angeles to Las Vegas.
- Highlights include camping in Calico and Needles, navigating through the Mojave National Preserve, UTV driving, and a private finale dinner in downtown Vegas.
- Drivers Project III was made possible by presenting sponsor ACT and supporting partners AEM Electronics, Airaid, Hawk Performance, K&N, King Shocks, Koyorad, MBRP, Nexen Tire, Turn 14 Distribution, and Weld Racing.
EXPERIENCES ARE EVERYTHING
Before we made the change to Pit+Paddock, we were known as Front Street Media. For five years, Front Street served as an online magazine that reported on industry news, grassroots events, new tech, and of course, showcased the coolest builds from around the world. Since we rebranded to Pit+Paddock last April, we’re still a media outlet at heart, but we’re also making it known that we are an innovative and experiential brand. Experiences are everything, which is exactly what we aim to provide to our readers and partners, and what really is the foundation of our driving event series called “The Drivers Project”.
EXCLUSIVE ROAD TRIPS
As you can guess from the title, The Drivers Project revolves around driving and lots of it. It’s an exclusive, multi-day road trip experience that our staff carefully plan out and host for invited industry partners and guests. The general concept is not for it to be a massive rally event with hundreds of people and cars to worry about, but a more intimate adventure that allows friendships to be made and experiences to be remembered.
Last year, our first Drivers Project consisted of 12 modified vehicles traveling over 1,200 miles from LA to San Francisco, then Reno, and finally Vegas. Our second Drivers Project took place this past summer. The road trip started at Turn 14 Distribution headquarters in Pennsylvania, went through New York and New Jersey, and ended at the T14 warehouse with plenty of fun backroad driving in between. For our third Drivers Project, we decided to switch things up and take the unpaved road less traveled with our first off-road excursion from SoCal to Vegas.
It’s no mystery that the off-road segment continues to climb in America, with truck and SUV sales trending upwards while aftermarket truck parts can barely stay on the shelves. Going wheelin’ and overlanding has become more popular, especially in the last few years; in fact, we support events like King of the Hammers, so it was a no brainer for us to put a new spin on The Drivers Project and show that Pit+Paddock isn’t just about on-road but appreciates off-road performance, too.
In total, we invited 13 trucks, which ranged from Toyota Tacomas to a 1979 CJ-5 Jeep. The vehicles all had to be vetted and up to par as certain trails on our road map would be challenging, especially if not equipped with the proper suspension and wheel/tire package.
The first day of our adventure began at Advanced Clutch Technology (ACT) headquarters in Lancaster, CA. Here is where all the vehicles and drivers gathered for lunch, picked up their radios, and were debriefed on the adventure ahead. We traveled northeast towards Barstow, where we stopped at Calico — an old mining town built in the 1880s. A part of what we strive for in the Drivers Project is to have our participants discover new things. While many of us have driven from LA to Vegas, a very small fraction have actually taken the time to check out the extraordinary attractions along the way, such as Calico Ghost Town.
Day two would be the most grueling day of the journey as we traversed through the Mojave National Preserve — a 1.6 million-acre park that consists of sand dunes, lava tubes, Joshua trees, canyons, and abandoned mines. There are no paved roads or cell service, just miles and miles of dirt, sand, and rock. This part of the Drivers Project required a trained veteran to lead our group. We were grateful to have Mike Hallmark of Hellwig Products as our personal off-road trail guide. His route was the perfect testbed to evaluate a truck without facing any sketchy cliffs or impossible rock crawling situations. From sunrise to nightfall, we scurried through the desert, dodging obstacles along the way until we reached our second night’s stop in Needles – a small city situated along the Colorado River and Arizona border.
On the last day of our trip, we headed north into Nevada, where we made a lengthy pitstop at Vegas Off-Road Tours. This stop is where the entire group got a chance to beat on a pack of Polaris RZR side-by-sides (I highly recommend trying this out if you haven’t!). After making our final descent into Sin City, we corralled everyone together for a private finale dinner at Vegas Test Kitchen, where local chefs prepared a one-of-a-kind dining experience just for us.
BEYOND THE ROADS
Despite the hours of awesome driving and the incredible sights that we saw, the heart of The Drivers Project boils down to the experience — being able to hang out with like-minded enthusiasts and industry friends, celebrating automotive culture, and creating fun memories that will last a lifetime. There’s not one person on The Drivers Project that isn’t going to remember climbing down into the caves of the Mojave Lava Tubes, having a catered steak lunch in the middle of the desert, or caravanning into darkness several miles outside of Needles. It’s an unforgettable adventure shared amongst everyone on board and something we can’t wait to keep expanding upon as we continue to evolve Pit+Paddock.
We want to take a moment to thank our partners ACT, AEM Electronics, Airaid, Hawk Performance, K&N, King Shocks, Koyorad, MBRP, Nexen Tire, Turn 14 Distribution, and Weld Wheels.