Picture this; a cold frosty January morning and a ten acre horse pasture full of off road enthusiasts in every conceivable type of four wheel drive vehicle imaginable. This is every off road guys dream vision and the staging area for the 5th. annual HPR New Year’s event. There was a vehicle for every taste and some that defied description, a few conjured up visions of Mel in a Mad Max film.
A good portion of these rigs were loving customized by their owners and as such named after I am sure countless hours of wrenching swearing and driving. Names like Chris Kingston’s Scout “the Trout” or Andy Blazer of Little Bit Ranches Bronco “donkey” and Jake Hall’s one ton Toyota truck “taco”. Then there is Doug Wiebe’s “weepers” the 49 Willys and John McCullough’s Toyota “tinkerbell” and “stomper” the mega Bronco on 2 1/2 ton Rockwell’s appropriately named after the 70’s toy series. Our cover photo shows Doug Phillips of Dads Automotive moving through the course. This is about pride of ownership driving skills, bragging rights and the trophies made of various welded broken parts proclaiming victory. This year’s course winner was Chris Kingston in his much modified barely recognizable Scout. The Happy New Year 2018 Shayari award went to Don Wolff of Wolff’s Auto in Missoula driving a Toyota Forerunner that had a few moments during the day Saturday that would test any drivers fortitude. And the award for most try went to Justin Marks in his Toyota truck that came up as part of the Montana Toyota Off-road group. A few of the rigs were built by various shops and sported an odd assortment of decals proudly proclaiming everything from crawler boxes to chrome molly axels.
Tucked into a small section of the HorsePower Ranch located on the picturesque east shore of Flathead lake at mile marker #7 on Hwy 35 is a private proving ground designed to challenge the strongest most extreme four wheel drive vehicle out there. Saturday was spent on a full day trail ride to the top of the mountain with breathtaking views of the Mission Valley and Flathead Lake and was topped off with a dinner at the always fabulous Ricciardi’s Italian Seafood restaurant where Chris Kingston of Nukeproff Fabrication was heard to say “This is the toughest manmade made course I have seen”. The following morning Chris neatly spanked the course with just a few “holy cow you guys” moments uttered. The guys he was talking about were Doug Wiebe and