Imperial Sand Dune Recreational Area, Glamis - New Years 2007 - Counterculture
A Day In The Sand Life
From the May, 2008 issue of Jp
By Christian Hazel
Over the past decade or so we've brought you smatterings of Glamis coverage. But wh at was once a Romanesque bacchanal of topless college chicks and keg stands has given way to something more akin to the roots of the Glamis movement. It seems it's once again a family fun spot. Or at least that's the vibe we got from our latest visit on New Year's Eve 2007.
The Imperial Sand Dune Recreational Area, commonly referred to simply as Glamis, is framed by the Salton Sea and Mexico to the north and south, and the sprawling metropolises of Brawley, California, and Yuma, Arizona, to the east and west. And whether warranted or not, it has earned a reputation best described as the Wild West meets Mad Max. It conjures images of marauding bands of thugs adorned in Vans sneakers, sporting flavor-savor goatees, amped up on Red Bull, and fool-fueled by Budweiser. It's said they'd light your rig on fire if you got stuck, steal your extra fuel, then make off with your women folk.
Regardless of past legend, the present reality is an overwhelming show of law enforcement on big weekends and a pretty mild vibe throughout the sand-goers. Not only local ranger and border-patrol units, but sheriff's department, California Highway Patrol, and even National Guard patrol the dunes in everything from quads and 4x4 SUVs to wheel-standing buggies and aircraft. In short, law has come to the Wild West and it's safe to wear your calico skirt down Main Street.
When tasked with whipping up some event coverage on short notice, this author loaded up his flatfender, aired the tires to 2 psi, and hit the sand with camera in hand to see what he could find. So here's what was captured on a one-day voyage to the sand from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. For more info on the Imperial Sand Dunes or permit purchases, visit imperialsanddunes.org.
Different is the name of the...
Different is the name of the game in Glamis. Where else are you gonna see a quad strapped to a homemade bed where a big-rig's fifth-wheel hitch used to be? That 34-foot pull-behind toy hauler is simply dwarfed by this monster tow rig. We were gawking, but the regulars didn't even bat an eyelash.
We've all see photos of $100,000...
We've all see photos of $100,000 long travel buggies in midair, but seeing them in mid-landing is even more spectacular. This year we'd conservatively estimate the six-figure, long-travel, rear-engine sand toys outnumbered Jeeps ten to one. This is the top of Competition Hill, by the way. It's the only major attraction you can get to via paved road, so it's usually closed at night for big weekends and holidays.
We don't know what sort of...
We don't know what sort of bet these dudes lost, but hitting Oldsmobile Hill in pink pajamas wouldn't be on our top 10 list of things to do. And did you notice the spaghetti straps on the dude riding the red Honda? Kinda makes you wonder.
We struck up a conversation...
We struck up a conversation with Andrew and Lucas Infanti at the bottom of Olds. The father-and-son team drove young Lucas' '74 CJ-5 out from Tucson, Arizona. The little 304 is woken up with a cam and headers spilling into 3-inch Lakes pipes that can be opened up for free breathing. A mild spring lift clears room for the 33-inch General Grabber AP tires, and the rear Dana 44 is loaded with a factory Power-Loc limited slip. The Dana 30 front still wears its factory drum brakes, which, when set up correctly, work just fine.
Just east of Oldsmobile Hill...
Just east of Oldsmobile Hill is a little jump that has come to be known as the Robbie Gordon Jump. It's named so because Robbie can frequently be seen there airing his competition Baja rig du jour 20 feet. This time there were a few takers, namely this dude in a nicely finished Larry Minor-built sand Jeep.
When we think "sand Jeep,"...
When we think "sand Jeep," one like Steve Fusilier's '51 flattie comes to mind. This Jeep could be duplicated for not too much coin and would be equally at home in the dunes of Michigan, Oregon, or Oklahoma. A warmed Chevy 350 engine and TH350 tranny deviate from stock, but the factory Dana 44 rear and Dana 25 front deal with the power just fine in the sand. A Saginaw power-steering box is hung on the driver-side framerail for quicker steering, and big 13.00-15 Padla Trak tires throw roosts from the back and lessen the burden on the BFG A/T front tires.
We spied Denis Forman's '62...
We spied Denis Forman's '62 CJ-5 from across a hill and literally chased him down Hollywood style to get him to stop. We're lucky he didn't mistake our photographic zeal for an attempted carjacking and shoot us. His monster rides on a stretched frame with a custom A-arm front suspension, a TH400 tranny, and a four-linked rear using coilovers to locate the Currie 9-inch rear loaded with 5.67 gears and a 35-spline spool. Oh, yeah, and there's that honkin' 355 Chevy sporting a monster Holset turbo and aftermarket injection setup. The intercooled turbo system currently runs at 8 psi while Denis works out the kinks. Eventually he'll bump the boost up to 14 psi, which should raise the power up from its current 500 hp to around 900 hp.
Even when you're one of a...
Even when you're one of a crowd the name of the game is to stand out. The fiberglass Jeep-bodied tube chassis rigs built by Larry Minor Motorsports all follow a similar style. However, the owner of this "Minor Jeep" stuffed a twin turbo'd, intercooled 434 Chevy engine between the rails. The resulting 16 psi of boost is good for well over 1,100 hp, thanks to the 434's ported SB2 NASCAR cylinder heads and other trick components. The stakes are being raised. You'd better come to the table with at least 24 inches of wheel travel and 1,000 hp to get noticed nowadays.
Don't have $100,000 or more...
Don't have $100,000 or more for a fullsize, long-travel buggy? How about a mini-buggy like this Suzuki Hayabusa-powered twitcher? These suckers are fun. For more info, check out minibuggy.net. A buddy of ours is currently building a four-seater like this. You can be sure we'll be one of the first in line for a ride when he's finished.
Toward the end of our day...
Toward the end of our day at Glamis, the winds picked up to the point of making photography virtually impossible. Still, before the sandstorm hit, we were able to shoot a few pics of Steve "Perk" Perkio's Willys. Another fine example of a Jeep/sand-car hybrid, Perk's 450hp Chevy 350 spins a Dana 60 rear with 7.17 gears and massive 38-inch paddles. The front drag-race tires move to the tune of a homebuilt A-arm independent suspension with massive coilovers and 21/2-inch air bumps. The clean interior panels and cutting brakes are all business.
The subtle exterior belies...
The subtle exterior belies just how much work Jay Paasch has in his '42 Ford GPW. There's the coilover front and rear setup using a three-link wishbone rear and radius arm front, a Chevy 350, TH350, and Dana 300 t-case, a late-'70s disc-brake Dana 30 front and Ford 9-inch rear with 4.56 gears in the high-pinion centersection, and the list just goes on. You can be sure we'll be copying the custom-built fuel cell that mounts behind the rear axle for our flattie, and maybe the carrier-bearing front driveshaft while we're at it.
There's never any telling...
There's never any telling what you'll see. While traveling along the Sand Highway, which connects Oldsmobile Hill, Competition Hill, and the Ranger checkpoints along Gecko Road, we spotted this mostly stock MB or GPW. Mismatched tires, a swapped-in F-head four-cylinder, and the coolest vintage cooler in the world were just a few things we noticed in our all-too-brief low-speed flyby. Neat.