Change of Plan; Interview with Frank Ledwell of OutdoorX4

Frank Ledwell is Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of OutdoorX4 Magazine – an overland adventure lifestyle publication.


Frank knows the overland space: it changed his life.

Houston born and raised, he says “I went off to college in fall of 1996 but went to Colorado during the summer of 99 with four or five of my best friends. That experience was when my passion for the outdoors truly began.

When I finished my undergrad degree in economics, I was going to go to Colorado and do economic development. I swore I was never coming back.”

But he did.

That Summer in Colorado

“In the summer between my junior and senior year we had an opportunity to all work together in Colorado at YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park, Colorado – in the foothills of Rocky Mountain National Park.

It was the most memorable summer I’ve ever had. It was labor intensive for grounds and maintenance. We picked up trash at the cabins and worked outside building fences and an irrigation system on the property.

When we weren’t working we were out hiking. We had another good friend who had an old Jeep YJ that he had bought before we all went off to college. We used that Jeep to get everywhere, especially up into the mountains for hiking. That summer I really developed this love for being outdoors.

It was memorable because it was 3 months immersed in the mountains. I’d never experienced that. I belonged to the Boy Scouts, but this was different. It was best friends working together – a really, really fun experience. That summer in Colorado was the catalyst that created this passion for what I’m doing now.

The following semester I had to take economics and fell in love with it. I liked numbers, so I was very much intent on an economic career in Colorado; but I also liked writing. I was on the yearbook staff and had tinkered with the idea of getting a journalism degree.

A couple months before I got ready to graduate, my father started to get sick. I’d always had a close relationship with both parents. When he got sick the best decision was to move back to Houston to be with family and spend as much time as I could.

Over time, crunching numbers refueled the interest in writing.”

Just for fun: JPFreek Adventure Magazine  

“In 2005 I bought a white Jeep TJ Rubicon.  I and one of my best friends – a graphic designer – wanted to start doing something for fun to take a break from the daily grind of our day jobs. I love to write, he loves design and we both love photography.  We decided to tell the different stories of adventures we go on.

A few months later – In January 2006 – we launched the world’s first fully digital Jeep lifestyle magazine. JPFreek Adventure Magazine was small, a 16 page digital magazine intended to capture the aspect of getting out and having adventures in Jeeps – about hiking and mountain biking, things we enjoy doing. It went out to 20 people, friends and family.

After the first issue we decided to launch a second, maybe 20 or 24 pages. We put it on Jeep forums to gauge interest and gather feedback and it EXPLODED. People were completely engaged in the idea of the adventure lifestyle and all the things people do with their jeeps.

We continued to publish bi-monthly up until I left in 2012. By that time this little digital Jeep magazine had an email database of 20,000 readers in all 50 states and over 60 countries worldwide. It was certainly the largest digital Jeep magazine available. It was the catalyst that led me to OutdoorX4.”


Taking a Chance: OutdoorX4

“I started working on OutdoorX4 in the third quarter of 2012. The first year was tough because the publishing realm is a pretty tricky business to get into. When you’re an unknown on the print side, it’s very costly. I paid expenses out of pocket to be able to continue publishing; but I felt strong about what we were doing.

By 2013 I was sure we were going to go forward with it. I spent all of 2013 getting the work done. We released the first issue in January of 2014. Last year that expense turned into a tremendous investment financially and emotionally. It’s a testament to the quality of the people that are working with me. I couldn’t have done it by myself.

When you can relate to what you’re publishing, it gets people engaged. They can identify with it.

A Unique Perspective

“There are so many publications on the market, but they’re either off-road or outdoors; nobody brought the two together. It’s a natural fit to attach the vehicle to the recreation aspect. It makes us unique.”

What’s the difference between off-roading and overlanding?

“The two are interrelated to a degree. Off-roading is more general, things anybody would do if they have a 4 x 4 vehicle. It’s typically about getting in a Jeep and being off pavement, going over big rocks and through the mud. With overlanding, it’s not so much about the off-road aspect, although that’s certainly part of it.

Over the past 5 to 7 years, overlanding as a whole has grown to become the fastest growing segment within the off-road market.

You don’t have to have a big built up vehicle to get out and have an adventure. The vehicle is a tool to get out and enjoy the off-pavement element of being away. It’s also a tool to enjoy the other aspects of being out, from hiking and mountain biking to kayaking and more.

Overlanding is about getting out there and being self-sufficient when you go, with the right clothing, food and equipment. It’s about the experience. It’s something anybody can do.”

Plans For the Future

“The big mission has been for us to create solidarity between the off-road demographic and the outdoor recreation group. There has been a division between the two. People who enjoy all outdoor recreation have been anti motorized vehicles for recreation because of the bad apples who destroy public lands. We’re here to show that – through responsible recreation – enthusiasts can have a memorable experience.

We promote responsible family friendly oriented adventures to the broadest demographic possible. Anybody who reads an article can identify with it and say ‘this is something we can do.’ They don’t need a $100,000 vehicle with huge tires and a special suspension to get out and do these things.”

Something in Common

“The companies that we’ve worked with thus far are passionate about the products they build. They create products that our readers are engaged with and interested in. These companies share our values. They love what they do and the quality of what they do is seen in the products that they create.

I know Amanda Products is a company that’s passionate about producing and building quality products. We’re all about supporting people that come up with genuine ideas that are created here in the U.S.”


In Conclusion

“If I had moved to Colorado, the whole situation would have been very different. I met my wife and had children. Now I have a family that shares my passion. We enjoy getting in our Land Cruiser and taking week-long trips to the mountains. They really enjoy that.

I’m grateful for the sequence of events that got me here. It’s been a fun ride and a tremendous learning experience. It’s a true testament to how you can find something you really enjoy and do that.

It’s very rewarding. I couldn’t be happier.”


Our thanks to Frank for taking the time to share his story.

Subscriptions to OutdoorX4 are available in Print plus Digital and Digital only.


TrailHammer™ Bumpers and Doors for Jeep® Wrangler JK Launched at SEMA 2015

At SEMA 2014 TrailHammer™ bumpers and doors were mere prototypes to touch, admire and covet. This year they’re available for purchase.


Designed for 2007-2015 Jeep® Wrangler JK models, the front bumpers feature:

  • Hinged Amanda Products SpeedHook™ tow hooks for fast, easy off-road recovery
  • Enclosed winch mount
  • KC HiLiTES 4″ round LZR LED single lights for enhanced visibility
  • Removable end caps to help enthusiasts negotiate obstacles


The rear bumpers feature:

  • Hinged Amanda Products SpeedHook™ tow hooks for fast, easy off-road recovery
  • Receiver-ready design
  • Removable end caps for added tire clearance


The premium hand-welded doors feature bold design, enhanced views of trails and terrain, and beefy construction for a safe/secure feel.

How solid are they?

Enthusiasts say shutting them ‘sounds like closing a bank vault.’

The SEMA show takes place at:

The Las Vegas Convention Center
3150 Paradise Road
Las Vegas, NV 89109

Attendees can find Amanda Products at Booth #37149, in the Trucks, SUVs & Off-Road area of South Hall Upper.  (Lower middle of this floor plan.)

Please note that SEMA is a trade-only event, not open to the public.

Follow Amanda Products’ launch on social media



Amanda Products’ SpeedHook™ and TrailHammer™ lines are produced by parent companyAmanda Manufacturing in Logan, Ohio. Both companies are divisions of the Deshler Group. Based in the Detroit area, Deshler offers global solutions, from IT, supply chain management, manufacture and assembly to storage, packaging, distribution and transport.


Amanda Products


The Final Dirt Riot Race of the Season; Grand Junction Motor Speedway

The W.E. Rock site promised “a very fast course with a lot of technical areas as well. Looking at the Series and National points standings, there are heated battles in most classes in each series. A few drivers that don’t typically race in the Mountain or Southwest series are making the trip to maintain their National standings.”

Mike Klensin, Mike Florian and Mat Carpentier on their way to …

A Double Points Spectacular

Mike Klensin and co-driver Mat Carpentier expected strong competition in the battle for double points, but the track was a surprise.

“We got up there and it’s a dirt bike track modified into a track for razors, modified again this weekend for us. So it was a little bit twisty and tight. The jumps were set up for a shorter wheelbase car, not ideal for us.

Qualifying; photo by Matt Moga
Qualifying; photos by Matt Moga

We did good in practice, qualified second – 1 second slower than the fastest qualifier. But the car was hiccupping in qualifying, so we spent the rest of the time before the race trying to find out what was causing that. We didn’t figure it out, but we were able to pass that #1 qualifier in the second lap.

Airborne by Matt Moga
Airborne; photo by Matt Moga

We were running really good for 5 laps; after that the car was sputtering and not running hardly at all. At that point we wanted as many points as we could get – we wanted to keep our lead for the Southwest Series. So that’s what we did – kept sputtering around the track and managed an 8th place finish out of 14 cars. I think that was enough to keep us in lead, but we won’t know for sure until later this week.

We’re working on the car right now; we don’t have much time to get it fixed because we need to head off to Fallon, Nevada for the desert race.”

Follow the Team

Like Ultra4 Driver Mike Klensin on Facebook
Like ColeCar Motorsports on Facebook

Amanda Products: Title Sponsor of ColeCar Motorsports

Amanda Products is home of SpeedHook™ tow hooks – as seen on the team’s Ultra4 IFS race car and chase trucks. The ingenious off-road recovery device is priced from $79; it’s compatible with Jeeps, F150s, buggies and any vehicle with a 2” receiver hitch.

SpeedHook tow hook

Our Jeep Wrangler bumper and door prototypes have been enthusiastically received at SEMA 2014, Jeep Beach 2015, MakerFaire in Detroit and the Woodward Dream Cruise.


Stay tuned for updates – ‘like’ Amanda Products on Facebook!



The Woodward Dream Cruise; good times and a great cause

On August 15, 2015, Amanda Products was proud to be an event sponsor at  The Woodward Dream Cruise – ‘the world’s largest one-day celebration of classic car culture,’ featuring ‘more than 40,000 muscle cars, street rods, custom, collector and special interest vehicles.’

An Annual Rite of Summer

In 1995 a group of Detroit area visionaries decided it would be cool to recreate the 50s and 60s – a time when ‘youth, music and Motor City steel roamed Woodward Avenue, America’s first highway.’

Participation at the first cruise was 10 times what they expected; 250,000 people. These days it attracts over 1 million local, national and international visitors.

While rare and classic cars would capture the imaginations of many, we were there to show off our Jeep Wrangler prototype bumpers and doors and Ultra SS 4-seater chassis; all are designed for people who prefer to play OFF the pavement.  


We liked that a substantial portion of our sponsorship dollars would benefit the Boys and Girls Club of Royal Oak. The organization provides support programs and services for youth from 6 to 18 years of age. 

We also liked that we had a primo spot – at 13 & Woodward, next to the Firestone store. The U.S. Army had a recruiting tent nearby. Soldiers stopped to say ‘hi,’ posed for pics and told us they could have ‘a lot of fun with those vehicles!’

U.S. Army at Woodward Dream Cruise

Prize Drawing

Participants were invited to take pics of either vehicle, tag Amanda Products and share on social media for a chance to win one set of SpeedHook™ tow hooks for Ford F-150, a 2″ SpeedHook™ receiver mount or a gift card to the Vinsetta Garage restaurant in Berkley.

Selfies and candid shots ensued.

Taking selfies at the Dream Cruise

The chassis stayed at the tent while the Wrangler cruised Woodward most of the day. Despite traffic, the winner managed to capture this profile.  

Winning Shot

He said “Somebody told me about the drawing, then I saw the Jeep on the road. I tried to take the photo from the front, but the light turned green!”

An avid off-roader, he chose the 2″ receiver mount.

Mission Accomplished

The Woodward Dream Cruise was great fun – an exceptional opportunity to meet enthusiasts and promote our unique vehicles while supporting the Boys and Girls Club of Royal Oak.

Dream Cruise End

If you’ve never attended Dream Cruise, this video recap by WXYZ TV might persuade you to be there next year.

About Amanda Products 

Amanda Products is title sponsor of ColeCar Motorsports and home of SpeedHook™ – as seen on the team’s Ultra4 IFS race car and chase trucks. The ingenious off-road recovery device is priced from $79; it’s compatible with Jeeps, F150s, buggies and any vehicle with a 2” receiver hitch.

Like Amanda Products on Facebook


Dirt Riot Tucson, 5/16/15

Klensin Dirt Riot Tucson

Mike Klensin, Mat Carpentier and the ColeCar Motorsports team were happy to be racing the home track but – like Mike says – “Timmy does better at high speed on an open desert.” The only thing they were counting on was a good time.

As it happens, WINNING is a good time; but it wasn’t easy.

Fuel problems

“We weren’t as fast as we could have been. We had some bad fuel and didn’t realize it until we started racing. Some guys run aviation fuel or 110 octane or alcohol. We wanted to run pump gas, so we just use 91; but the car was cutting out on us the whole race.

Cactus concerns

“The track’s real twisty and turney and they added two straightaways where we could build up speed; that was kind of neat. Except that this track has a lot of cholla cactus; if you were to miss a turn and go straight, you’d run right into one.

You don’t want to hit one of those. They call it ‘jumping cactus’ because it’s so easy to get it on you. It comes off in little balls of needles.” Removal is brutal; we found video of a hiker’s cholla encounter. We might have shared it, but the expletives were over the top.

cholla cactus
Photo by Dave Pape, Associate Professor, Department of Media Study at University of Buffalo

Tire problems

“It was a timed race, 2 hours, as many laps as you could do. I think we did 12.

On the second to the last lap we noticed the left rear tire was getting low. We just went ahead and drove. By the last lap I knew we had a flat, but I didn’t want to stop.”


Timing issues

“We qualified first, started first, so if somebody started a minute and a half behind us in 30 second intervals, they could technically come in faster and beat us. We wanted to give ourselves at least a couple minute margin.

We were going to take the easy line through the rocks, but somebody rolled over. We had two choices – take the quarter pipe or wait until they’re done recovering. 

We didn’t know how close second was. We had radio communication between the car and Mikey and his dad Jim Florian in the pit. They were standing next to the time and scoring table to give us updates; but those numbers aren’t official.

We wanted to make sure that we had a little bit of margin for error on our timing. I didn’t want to lose the lead so I decided to take the quarter pipe.

We drove up that quarter pipe with a flat tire.

It’s 90 degrees up and down. When you go up you have to go hit the brakes or the car would go straight up and come back drown in drive; or the car will stop on the rear wheels and roll over; that would be no good. It’s dug out and down – about a 14′ drop from bottom to top.”

Watch the upper left corner of this video by Chris Cook.


We finished the whole last lap on a completely flat tire.”

Why they won

“I think one of the big reasons is we’re comfortable in the rocks. Before we were racing we were rock crawling, so I’m not scared to go up that quarter pipe. Coming from the rock crawling background combined with how well our car works in the rest of the terrain made it way faster for us.”

Win Dirt Riot Tucson

“We had a good weekend all around. Mat ran his UTV and Mikey ran his Cherokee; Mikey took first and Mat took second in his class.

We had a ton of people there, all of my family, Mikey’s family and Mat’s family – and all our friends. I actually drove home after the race, but the crew stayed out there.”

Dirt Riot Tucson group shot

Left to right – Mike Klensin, Mike Florian, Jerome Curtis, Acacia Pinnell, Sam Verbridge, Taylor Brown, Shelbie Kellogg, Jim Florian, Melissa Verbridge and Mat Carpentier.

“Our next race is Glen Helen, we’re looking forward to that. There’s more prepping to do on the car, make sure everything is working good – and do some new air intake stuff on the motor side.”

Amanda Products: Title Sponsor of ColeCar Motorsports

Amanda Products is home of SpeedHook™ – as seen on the team’s Ultra4 IFS race car and chase trucks. The ingenious off-road recovery device is priced from $79; it’s compatible with Jeeps, F150s, buggies and any vehicle with a 2” receiver hitch.

Like Amanda Products on Facebook

Follow the Team

Like Ultra4 Driver Mike Klensin on Facebook
Like ColeCar Motorsports on Facebook


Ultra4 MetalCloak Stampede, 5/9/15

It was a long drive from Tucson to Prairie City. Mike Klensin says “It took us almost 16 hours to get up there; the speed limit in California is 55 if you have a trailer.

When we finally arrived, I was pretty excited. For the last two years [before the new car] we broke trying to run, just in qualifying. So I was real happy we were able to run our preliminary race; we took third.”

There’s good reason for the outcome.

After prelim
Timmy’ after prelim Friday, 5/8/15; photo by ColeCar Motorsports

“This year we’re putting a lot of hours into race prep. That way, if we lose a race, it’s not for lack of trying. Even the engine builder – Jim Murphy from Calypso Automotive – takes one night before each race to go through the car again, just to make sure we didn’t miss anything.”

Mikey as spotter

Klensin drove #4431, Mat Carpentier co-drove and Mikey Florian acted as spotter. Mike explains, “I wouldn’t want to be racing without a spotter on these kinds of races. The way it works in these races where you can see the track is he tells us what’s going on with all the other cars via radio, so we have a real-time, third look at what’s going on on the race course. That’s a fun job; you’re saying ‘speed up’ or ‘slow down,’ ‘you’re going too wide on this turn – two cars are coming up on you,’ ‘lap time is a little slow.’

After mid-point in the heat race, we got a right front flat; it slowed us down a bit – and there were faster cars. We could have pushed harder to get second, but Mikey was saying ‘you guys can take it easy because fourth place is half a lap behind you.’

We stayed in it for a third place finish; we were a solid third.”

Metalcloak by TBar
Shots by Tbars4

‘The actual race was chaos.’

Klensin said he expected a lot of competition and was excited about “seeing where we can end up with the top guys;” but things didn’t exactly go as planned. “The actual race was chaos. I didn’t realize we were going to start as far back as we did. I expected further forward because of how well we did in our other races. I was a little bit disappointed.

MetalCloak by Corey Osborne
Photo by Corey Osborne

We talked about it as a team and decided we had to hit the rocks hard on that first lap. There was one burned-in line for the fastest line thru the rocks; if you wanted to pass somebody, you had to go through a less used section of rocks.

We pushed hard, passed a bunch of cars and that put us in a good position; we were fourth or fifth after the first lap. Then we tried to go fast enough to stay in front of those young kids, Wayland Campbell and Levi Shirley. Eventually we got passed by those guys, but not too far off of ’em.

We came in sixth. We get points for entering, points for finishing the heat races and points for how we do in the main race. So this race definitely helped us out for our season points.”

MetalCloak by ESAB
Photo by ESAB Welding & Cutting Products

‘We’re still getting used to the car’

“This was our first race on a groomed track with Timmy; everything else has been on actual desert. We’re still getting used to the car, weren’t sure how far we can hit the turns and push through stuff. So we weren’t quite as fast as we could have been. We’ll only get better when we get more seat time on actual tracks.

So we’re excited. This weekend it’s Dirt Riot in Tucson. It’s our home track, even though we don’t go out there often. It’s tight and windey and Timmy does better at high speed on open desert. But we’re still going to go out there and do our best and have a good time.”

Looking forward to Glen Helen

“We’ll be getting the car ready for the next Ultra4 at Glen Helen in July. Being a motocross guy, it’s one of my favorite tracks – one of the oldest motocross tracks in California. It’s got features you don’t see at other races – jumps, turns and berms. Some of the turns are banked, close to 90 degrees; it’s like riding a wall when you go around it. We should do real well.”

Amanda Products: Title Sponsor of ColeCar Motorsports

Amanda Products is home of SpeedHook™ – as seen on the team’s Ultra4 IFS race car and chase trucks. The ingenious off-road recovery device is priced from $79; it’s compatible with Jeeps, F150s, buggies and any vehicle with a 2” receiver hitch.

Like Amanda Products on Facebook

Follow the Team

Like Ultra4 Driver Mike Klensin on Facebook
Like ColeCar Motorsports on Facebook


From Dirt Riot/Moab to Ultra4 MetalCloak Stampede in California

Last month the ColeCar Motorsports Race Team headed to Moab for Dirt Riot Mountain Round 1. We didn’t post a recap for good reason. Race Driver Mike Klensin explains; “We weren’t able to do much. We broke in practice and went back and – with the help of a few other teams – we got the car back to the start line.”

Timmy at Moab
The ColeCar MotorSports Race Team getting assistance from other teams; Photo by Acacia Pinnell

“We qualified OK – mid-pack; but then during the first lap of the race we broke a bolt on our suspension. There wasn’t much to say after that. We were done. So we didn’t have much luck at Moab, but I feel real good about this next race.

MetalCloak Stampede; Prairie City, CA – Saturday, May 9

Mike called en route; it’s 13 hours from Tucson to Prairie City. He’s grateful they had plenty of time between races. “The whole team’s put a lot of work into getting the car ready. We’ve gone through it extensively and replaced all the bolts. It should be in good shape.

MetalCloak Stampede is the first one in the series for Ultra4 West, one of the bigger races we do throughout the year. There will be a lot of competition, so we’re excited to see where we can end up with the top guys.”

Ultra4’s video describes it as an ‘insane short course filled with jumps and punishing rock obstacles.’ Check it out:



A great event for spectators

MetalCloak promises to be a great spectator experience as 100+ cars battle it out for the win! Ultra4racing.com tells us “The course will consist of a 2 mile lap all visible to spectators filled with rock obstacles, tight turns and go fast sections.”

Find directions and details at: http://ultra4racing.com/category/2015stampede/

Amanda Products: Title Sponsor of ColeCar Motorsports

Amanda Products is home of SpeedHook™ – as seen on the team’s Ultra4 IFS race car and chase trucks. The ingenious off-road recovery device is priced from $79; it’s compatible with Jeeps, F150s, buggies and any vehicle with a 2” receiver hitch.

Like Amanda Products on Facebook

Follow the Team

Like Ultra4 Driver Mike Klensin on Facebook
Like ColeCar Motorsports on Facebook


Timmy Heading to Moab for Dirt Riot Mountain Round 1

En Route to Moab/Area BFEPhoto by Acacia Pinnell

Coming off their recent Win at the Mint 400, Mike Klensin was excited about changing the setup of the car “for rocks and heightened technical in the next race – Dirt Riot during Easter Jeep Safari in Moab.” (Easter Jeep Safari began 3/28/15; it runs through Sunday, 4/5/15. )

The ColeCar Motorsports team is headed to Area BFE outside Moab as we write; qualifying is late afternoon, the Drivers’ Meeting is at 8 tomorrow morning and the Ultra4 Pro 4×4 4400 Heat 1 Race is at noon tomorrow – 4/4/15.

Timmy headed to Moab
Photo by Acacia Pinnell

Timmy (the team’s new Ultra4 IFS race car) did his first rock crawling at King of the Hammers 2015; but Mike explains this course is different. “This is a mostly rock course, not a high speed desert race; more rock crawling and trail.” Mat Carpentier will be Klensin’s co-driver. Mike says “We’ll see what happens. We’re just going to go out and have fun.”

Both Razors will be racing as well. Mat Carpentier will drive with Jimmy Curtis as co-driver; and Mat’s sister Taylor Brown will drive with Mike Florian as co-driver.

Photo by Acacia Pinnell

Amanda Products: Title Sponsor of ColeCar Motorsports

Amanda Products is home of SpeedHook™ – as seen on the team’s Ultra4 IFS race car and chase trucks. The ingenious off-road recovery device is priced from $79; it’s compatible with Jeeps, F150s, buggies and any vehicle with a 2” receiver hitch.

Like Amanda Products on Facebook

Follow the Team

Like Ultra4 Driver Mike Klensin on Facebook
Like ColeCar Motorsports on Facebook
See team photos on Instagram



Win at the Mint 400

Photo by Tbars4
Photo by Tbars4

The ColeCar Motorsports team only had two races under their belts. The first was King of the Hammers 2015 and they had just completed Dirt Riot Round 1 in Congress, Arizona. Timmy, their new Ultra4 IFS race car was performing well. We expected they’d be heading to Fredericksburg, Texas for Dirt Riot March 14; but Mike Klensin called to say there was a change of plan. He was on his way to Las Vegas for the legendary Mint 400. Mat Carpentier and Mikey Florian were already there.

The Mint 400 was Mat’s idea. He says “I’ve always wanted to race the Mint; I’ve seen pics and videos on Facebook. I talked to Mike and said ‘do you think we could race the mint?’  He said ‘I don’t see a problem with it.’ We signed up the day we talked about it. It went from there. It was a bucket list thing for all of us to do, like Baja 1000 and Vegas to Reno.”

Mike says he “really wanted to race this race, but I thought next year we’d be way more prepared.” They would encounter a number of hurdles before they hit the finish line.

The essential Mint 400 tech sticker

Pre-Race Friday

Friday was crazy with details – tech and contingency, driver registration, the customary roll down Fremont Street and the drivers meeting at 7.

Mike was a bit nervous going through tech. “If they don’t like what they see, they won’t let you race. We went through without issues, they were happy. That’s a relief as a builder, getting our tech sticker. ”

Tech and contingency took place at the same time as driver registration – creating a last minute panic for Mat. “You had to have certain paperwork filled out before you went through contingency. Mike and Mikey were registering for driver’s passes; they had the paperwork that needed to be with me for contingency. That was a nightmare; they got there just in time for us to go through.”

Mike says “Contingency was really fun. We took the car down Fremont Street and people were coming up, wanting to see the car, asking about Amanda, how long we’ve been racing, etc. People were excited about the car; they really liked the look of it.” Mikey noticed “people really liked Timmy because it was different; they haven’t seen a 4wd buggy like that before. It really turned heads.”

Fremont Street by Jerome Curtis
Rolling down Fremont Street; photo by Jerome Curtis

Mat had mixed feelings. “It was a nightmare and fun at the same time. Just because there’s so many cars going through and you had to push your vehicle. Without power steering on Timmy, it was very difficult to push through a crowd. Almost had to start the vehicle and turn the wheel a certain way to not run anyone over. Seeing all the vendors and thousands of people; it took us about 4 ½ hours to get through.”

Last Minute Fix

The team had been told they’d be in the afternoon race; that was good news and bad. Mike explains “That’s the premier class race, 3 laps instead of 2; unfortunately, we broke the lights off Timmy’s big light bar in Congress. So we needed to get that light fixed.

Will and Nate from Artec Industries drove up to Rigid Industry LED Lighting in Phoenix and waited there while they fixed it so we’d have it the next day for the race.”

Will with the light bar

That night the team slept on cots in the trailer. Mat says “It was in the 50s at night and 83 in the day; nice sleeping at night, but the minute the sun hit it was brutal.” In a perfect world, he would have been co-driver. Unfortunately, “The doctor told me I couldn’t race for a little bit, so I didn’t want to push it.”

Mikey would be co-driver; the Mint 400 would be his first time in Timmy.

Race Day Strategy

Mike knew “There was a time limit to get done with the race. It wasn’t whoever gets done first, it was whoever finishes a very long race within a certain amount of time.” His experience with KOH helped him devise a strategy.

“I know the attrition rate from King of the Hammers; I knew we’re talking a very long race, close to 400 miles. Our car had 100 miles going into it; four times the car’s life already. Our strategy was to just stay within 5 to 10 minutes of the leader the first two laps; and then about halfway through the third lap, start pushing hard to get in front, close enough to strike. That way we’re turning a 400 mile race into a 60 or 80 mile race.”

Physical endurance is an issue. He says “It’s easier to hold your concentration for 60 miles than 400.”

Photo from Ultra4 Racing

First Lap: Challenging Terrain and Near Tragedy

The course took Mike by surprise. “I thought that the terrain would NOT be as rough as it was. I knew there would be sections, but there was a whole lot of rough.” Mikey says “I’ve never experienced that rough of desert before. There’s a lot of deep sand, silt, 3 to 4′ sections of whoops … big bumps that went on for like 5 miles. Consistent whoops and big sandy washes with big rocks thrown everywhere.

It wasn’t easy to accept getting passed. Mike says “Mikey and I were driving on the first lap and a guy would pass us and he’d be sitting on the side of the road and we’d do a fist bump and say ‘stick to the plan!‘  Then we’d see them on the side of the road again – that happened several times throughout the race.”

They were about 32 miles into the race when the race was stopped by Best In the Desert officials. Mikey says “We knew somebody was really, really hurt. A lot of times they’ll just flag you down and show you a way around.”

Photographer Ted at Shots by Tbars4 explains “Hearing this meant serious injuries. The Off Road race community is a large family and everyone pretty much knows everyone. We have all shared sleepless nights, tools, parts, stories down the road and meals. This accident took place right in front of the #4400 class Mike Klensin was part of.

They sat and waited and wondered. This is what they didn’t know:

“Jordan Poole was riding with Ryan Hancock in the Alexander Racing Class One Car, around race mile 31 Ryan & Jordan rolled; while attempting to get out, the vehicle was struck by another race vehicle. Jordan & Ryan both were transported via flight for life to UMC Trauma shortly after. They determined Jordan suffered a Spinal Cord Injury and had scheduled surgery right away to repair the damage.”

(From Jordan Poole’s donation page)

The race restarted at 4:45 p.m.; time was short. Mike says “That’s what made it down to the hour for all of us to get to the finish line.”

Photo by Tbars4

Second Lap; Wheel Balance Issues

At the end of the first lap, Mike says “Air pressure was too low in our tire balls and they clumped up at one end of the tire; it’s like having really bad wobble on the tire, it shakes the tire real bad.” Mikey thought they had a flat. “I wasn’t exactly sure what it was at the time. We kept pushing to get to the first pit, to not get out of the car but radio to see if we had a flat and needed to stop.”

Mike explains “There’s nothing really wrong with it, it’s just out of round and you just can’t take the car over 60 mph. In the lake bed sections the car’s only doing 60 where most guys are doing 100. That kept putting us back into the mix of guys who had mechanical issues – even though we didn’t have any. We didn’t push too hard. We were comfortable with where we were time-wise.

The other two drivers, second and third place, were pushing real hard the whole race. They would get way out in front of everybody. Driving hard is hard on equipment so they were blowing tires and changing belts and having to stop and fix the car.

We kinda knew that we were in pretty good shape, but those guys don’t give up. At the end of the second lap, it just happened to be we were in the lead. We had heard on the radio that the car that was in second place was not going to go through the pit, was just going to keep going. We were ok with that and took a really long pit stop. Had a couple of guys underneath the car checking bolts, fluid to make sure everything was perfect on the car.”

At this point Mat was invited to co-drive. Mikey says “Coming into the 3rd lap I asked him if he wanted to come in.” Mat knew racing all three laps would be tough on Mikey. “I felt bad for him, but I didn’t want him to get out of the car and take more time. It would have taken at least 5 minutes. There was three people behind us, so it was a time cruncher. We needed to get it done.”

Mint by SNM Media
Photo by SNM-Media.com

Third Lap – Getting it Done

Like Mike strategized; “That third lap was the start of our race.”

Andrew McLaughlin and Tim Diekmann were in a fierce battle for first. Mike describes the scene; “Leaving the pits, the guy that was in second – now in first – had about 3 minutes on us. So it didn’t take long, about 20 miles to get past him again. And then we really turned it up because we heard the third place guy was right there too. Worst case scenario – if we couldn’t catch the leader, I was sure we could catch the second place guy. We stuck to that plan.

We were going 60 – the second place guy said he was doing 109. By then second and third were struggling with mechanical problems from pushing hard. We drove just hard enough to stay close to the front. That saved the car so that we could really push hard the second half. We had zero flat tires, we had zero mechanical problems; the only issue at all was we lost a CV boot/dust cover for one of the axles. It worked out really well.”

Towards the end they entered a restricted stretch where they’d have to drop to 25 mph. “We made it through all the checkpoints and right before entering the restricted race course they stopped myself and another trophy truck, they said ‘take this route to bypass the 25 mph section.’ They told us ‘you’ve got your finish right here.’ At that last checkpoint they ended our race.”

Andrew McLaughlin of LetzRoll Offroad Racing took second and Tim Diekmann of Molten Motorsports took third; Mike says “He probably had from six to eight lead changes throughout the race. They were pushing harder than we were. We weren’t running at lap speed, we were just pushing hard enough to stay with. Like Nate from Artec said, ‘all three battled hard.’

The Physical Toll

Mike says “We lined up at about 12:30 in the afternoon for 2:00 and I didn’t get out of the driver’s seat until 1:30 in the morning, when we got off the stage.”

They had CamelBak bladders for hydration, external catheters for relief and “In the pits we would just grab a granola bar.” OK, many granola bars; it was a grueling race. “You’re using your entire body when you’re racing. You’re using your abs to keep you sitting where you want to be sitting and legs to hit the gas and the brake and both arms to steer and shift. So you’re using your entire body the whole time.

Mikey started feeling it in the second lap. “It was a 117 mile loop and about 20 miles into the second lap I could feel it was beating the heck out of me. By midpoint in the race I was really tired. By the end of second and starting third we started picking up the pace, pushing harder – that brought me back to life.”

Mike says “In some sections of the race we were actually breathing hard because it was hard to get the car to go where you want it to go as fast as you want it to go. There are a bunch of twisty turns and ruts and broken ties. We had to dodge tires, half wheels, drive shafts, rocks – a bunch of stuff that you’re constantly moving around at speed. Your reaction time has to be real quick and hard to stay concentrated that whole time. Again, it’s why we did the strategy the way we did and started racing the third lap.”

Mikey learned “It definitely takes a toll on your body. It’s not just a Sunday drive. It’s a physical sport though the car’s doing all the work. By the time we got done with the race I had no clue what time it was.”

Photo by Matt Moga

Hearing They Won

For Mikey, “When we heard we won it was like a burst of energy. I don’t think I actually calmed down to go to bed until 5:30 a.m. – after eating dinner and telling stories.” Mike “celebrated for 20 minutes after the race and then went to bed. It was a really long day.”

Dave Morganthall covered the race for themint400.com; he happened to catch Mike after the race. He wrote:

“Some of the last cars to cross the line belonged to Class 4400, the Ultra4 Racing series cars that braved the desert race course in their solid axle, shorter wheel based, machines. After the race Michael Klensin (#4431) said ‘after the first lap we couldn’t get the car over about 60’ adding ‘the whoops from the Trophy Trucks were just beating us up.’ … I asked Michael if we’d see him next year, as he laughed through his words he said ‘ask me again in a month.'”

(From Racers Battle to the End at the Polaris RZR Mint 400 Presented by General Tire – Official Results)

Photo by Artec
Photo from Artec Industries

Thanks to the People and Companies That Made It Happen

The ColeCar Motorsports team wants to thank “all our pit support and crew; being such a long race, those guys were out there for hours. Without them and the people in the pit keeping everybody informed, we couldn’t have done it.”

Thanks to:

Will Periman and Nate from Artec Industries for getting the light bar fixed. “There was no way we could have raced without a light bar, so we owe a huge debt to Rigid Industries LED Lighting and Artec Industries.”

Mike Kellogg of Greer Brothers Racing for his guidance. Mike says “He was out there to help us as well as another trophy truck team. He walked us through how everything works and helped us set up our pit and held our hand through the race.”

Jerome Curtis for helping the team get to and from the race and managing Pit B.

And mostly “Thanks to Mat. It was 100% his idea to race. So of course we went and we’re really grateful we did.” Mat’s sorry he wasn’t able to race this one, but he’s looking forward to Moab.

Thanks to the Sponsors

Amanda Products – title sponsor – is home of SpeedHook™. The ingenious recovery device came in handy at Congress, but Mat says “We didn’t need to use SpeedHook™ during this race. It was sand desert, no major rocks and no flips unless someone accidentally clipped you. It was there if needed; there are two on Timmy. We also have it on Taylor’s truck and my truck.”

Other fine sponsors include:

Artec Industries
ADS Off-Road Racing Shocks
Calypso Automotive
Wild West Off Road
Raceline Wheels
Crossed Up Customs

What’s next?

Mike’s looking forward to the next race. “So we’re excited now, have to change setup of the car for rocks and heightened technical in the next race, Dirt Riot during Easter Jeep Safari in Moab.”

Follow the Team

Like Ultra4 Driver Mike Klensin on Facebook
Like ColeCar Motorsports on Facebook




Change of Plans; Racing the Legendary Mint 400 in Las Vegas!

They promised more races in 2015 – and they meant it! The ColeCar Motorsports team made a last-minute decision to participate in ‘the greatest off-road race in America!’

Mike Klensin called Thursday to say “We’re off on our way to the Mint 400; it’s not on the schedule. Mat [Carpentier] decided we should run this, so we pulled the trigger and we’re going.” Plan was “We have tech contingency on Fremont Street Friday; and then the race is Saturday.”

Heading to Tech

‘Timmy’ heading to tech early Friday morning; photo by Jerome Curtis

A race series with history

Mike explains “It’s a really old desert race – definitely the premier desert race in the U.S.” In the 60s it began as a promotion for the Mint Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Promoters sent matching dune buggies across 600 miles of desert from the Mint to the Sahara Hotel in Tahoe. It was an instant hit that remained popular for two decades. Celebrity drivers included Mel Larson and Parnelli Jones; movie stars included James Garner and Steve McQueen.

When the Mint was sold in 1988, the series became a memory. In 2008 it was resurrected by SNORE Off Road Racing with help from General Tire.

Enjoy a video history of the Mint from the Red Bull Signature Series:

Klensin at The Mint

Mike Klensin, Mat Carpentier and ‘Timmy’ on Fremont Street

‘The Superbowl of off-road racing’

Mint 400 CEO Matt Martelli says “We’re building the Superbowl of off-road racing one year at a time.” One of this year’s improvements is a longer race course. According to race-dezert.com, “The new 126-mile Mint 400 race loop is designed to allow all twenty classes of race vehicles to race a full three laps of the ultra-technical race course – provided they can make the six hour cut-off time. The loop is longer and more technical than previous years and will allow limited classes to get more seat time as they attempt to finish the notoriously brutal race.”

Mat and Mikey will be co-drivers. Mikey Florian is “excited to experience the mint 400 – racing it and seeing the history behind it. It’s a bucket list race – like Baja 500 and the Baja 1000. I haven’t co-driven Timmy; the Mint will be the first time in the new car.” Mike says “Mat might drive the second half of the race.”

The 2015 Polaris RZR Mint 400 is presented by General Tire

The 2015 race happens Saturday, March 14th; the Red Bull Signature Series broadcast will air on NBC Sunday, June 28. Tens of thousands of spectators showed up last year. According to the Mint official trailer, “The Red Bull Signature Series brought us into 140 million homes nationwide, prime time.” 


Watch the 2014 Mint 400 online; the complete NBC Broadcast is free.

Learn more about the race online at themint400.com

About Amanda Products

Amanda Products is TITLE sponsor of ColeCar Motorsports LLC, including ‘Timmy,’ the new Ultra4 race car and two UTVs.

Amanda Entourage

Amanda Products is home of SpeedHook™ – as seen on the team’s Ultra4 IFS race car and chase trucks. The ingenious off-road recovery device is priced from $79; it’s compatible with Jeeps, F150s, buggies and any vehicle with a 2” receiver hitch.

Like Amanda Products on Facebook

Follow the Team

Like Ultra4 Driver Mike Klensin on Facebook
Like ColeCar Motorsports on Facebook
See team photos on Instagram



Race Recap: Dirt Riot Southwest, Round 1, Congress, AZ

Sunday, March 8, 2015; Congress was the race that opened the Dirt Riot season. Mike Klensin was pleased because “We had a whole crew there; it was really neat.”

The group included Mike Klensin, his daughter Alyssa and their boxer Bailey.  Mikey Florian was there with his parents; Mat Carpentier was accompanied by his dad and his sister Taylor Brown. John Brock entered his car and co-drove with Beau Matthews as driver.

Congress Round 1

Family and friends were part of the action at the diverse venue. Mike explains, “The Dirt Riot series has all different classes, the razor class, the stock class, the trail class and the 4400 class.”

Mike Klensin, Driver; Mat Carpentier, Co-Driver

We drove the 4400 class. We did good in qualifying, were the fastest qualifier; we got to start up front, but then we had a front end issue – a CV axle break; I didn’t know it at the time and that contributed to me rolling over on the fourth lap.”

It was Mat Carpentier’s first experience as co-driver. “The part where we rolled was pretty fun, I could count the seconds ‘til we hit the ground. I had to get out of the car to help Mike get off a rock and almost got hit by the car behind us.

John Brock helped us out. We used the Amanda Products SpeedHook™ to get us back over. Those things make it quick and easy to hook the line up and get the car back over in no time.”

Timmy after the roll

SpeedHook™ captured the attention of Josh England, Dirt Riot’s rescue specialist – so Klensin gave him one. Mike says “So now SpeedHook will be at all Dirt Riot races across the country.”

Mat enjoyed the whole experience. “It was fun, a whole ‘nother ball game because of the car and my first time co-driving in the race.” Mike sums it all up; “We had a rough start but expect to do very well throughout the Dirt Riot season. We’re really excited about how the car’s working, we just have a few little bugs to work out.”

Taylor Brown, Driver; Mikey Florian, Co-Driver

Mat’s sister Taylor wasn’t there to watch; she was there to race the Razor. 

Taylor's First Race

The team approved. Mikey says “Taylor did really good. I’m looking forward to future Dirt Riot races with her.” Mike says “She did really good in qualifying. We just had a little unfortunate luck with the hub … it broke.”

Not as bad as it looks

Mike is certain “We’ll be able to fix it, no big deal. But we couldn’t fix it and finish the race, it was only an hour long race.”

We thank Alyssa Klensin  for taking all the photos and Acacia Pinnell for sharing them.

About Amanda Products

Amanda Products is TITLE sponsor of ColeCar Motorsports LLC, including ‘Timmy,’ the new Ultra4 race car and two UTVs.

En route to Congress

Amanda Products is home of SpeedHook™ – as seen on the team’s Ultra4 IFS race car and chase trucks. The ingenious off-road recovery device is priced from $79; it’s compatible with Jeeps, F150s, buggies and any vehicle with a 2” receiver hitch.

Like Amanda Products on Facebook

Follow the Team

Like Ultra4 Driver Mike Klensin on Facebook
Like ColeCar Motorsports on Facebook
See team photos on Instagram


Preparing for Dirt Riot Southwest, Round 1, in Congress, AZ

Pre-race interview with Mike Klensin

This weekend Mike Klensin and the ColeCar Motorsports team will be heading out to Congress, Arizona for Dirt Riot Southwest Round 1. It’s a four hour drive from Tucson to Thompson’s Ranch. Most of the team will arrive Friday; qualifying begins Sunday, March 8 at 9 a.m.

At KOH2015

‘Timmy’ at King of the Hammers 2015; photo by Patty Pinnel

Pre-Race Prep

“After every race we have to tear the car down and look for broken or worn parts – and more so after KOH, due to how long the race was. We also knew that we had an overheating issue and fuel pressure issue that we needed to fix.  We’re doing shock tuning on Wednesday and we think we got the overheating issue figured out.”

Race Prep Pre-Congress

“We’re race prepping the car right now, have our RCV CV joints rebuilt and we’re putting those back in the car. Checking bolts and fluid levels and replacing worn parts from KOH so that we’re ready for the Congress race.

Compared to Dirt Riot, KOH is totally separate animal, a lot longer. For these shorter races the car doesn’t have to carry as much junk and gets prepped differently. We’re making some other adjustments, tire pressure and adjusting the suspension. Pretty standard pre-race stuff.”

(Read our blog from KOH2015; it was Klensin’s first race in the new Ultra4 IFS car.)

The Spectator Experience

Mike expects it Congress will be a lot of fun. “It’s a lapped race, you do as many laps as you can in a certain amount of time. It is fun for spectators and there’s a few areas to watch. There are bathrooms and probably a food vendor. And then there’s dry camping if somebody wanted to go camp there. The weather should be good. We’re getting rain today and tomorrow I think, but the weekend is supposed to be sunny and probably 75.”

If this is your first time at a Dirt Riot race, W.E.Rock tells you what to expect.
Find maps, ticket prices and other details at W.E.Rock Live.

About Amanda Products’ Role

This year Amanda Products is TITLE sponsor of ColeCar Motorsports LLC, including the new Ultra4 race car and two UTVs.

Amanda Products is home of SpeedHook™ – as seen on Timmy in the photo below. The ingenious off-road recovery device is priced from $79; it’s compatible with Jeeps, F150s, buggies and any vehicle with a 2” receiver hitch.

SpeedHookLike Amanda Products on Facebook

Follow the Team

Like Ultra4 Driver Mike Klensin on Facebook
Like ColeCar Motorsports on Facebook
See team photos on Instagram



KOH 2015: Klensin’s first race in the new Ultra4 car


What’s it like taking an all-new, untested Ultra4 IFS vehicle to ‘the ultimate desert race?’ Mike Klensin needed a minute to think about it. “Challenging, demanding, stressful and fulfilling at the same time.”

Mike and Mat Carpentier endured many sleepless nights getting ‘Timmy’ ready in time. “Mat and I finished the car Saturday night about 1 a.m., got a one hour power nap and headed off to Johnson Valley so we could make tech inspection on Sunday.

The trip up went good – it’s an 8 hour drive.  We got there about an hour before tech inspection and we hadn’t driven the car at all. Went through tech, there were no issues, it was pretty simple. The car looked good and everybody was happy with it.

Monday we went out to do some tuning. That afternoon we had a little problem with one of our front CV joints. Tuesday we were able to get RCV Performance to come over and help us get the CVs figured out; unfortunately, we missed our qualifying run on Tuesday because of that.


So we had to do qualifying on Wednesday. It went OK except that there were more new car issues; floored it and it was choking, starving for gas. We didn’t have enough fuel pressure. So that cost us a slower time, we could have been considerably faster. But overall we were somewhat satisfied with how the car was working. It went pretty good for having zero miles in the dirt.

On Thursday Mat and Mikey took the car through a contingency. Meanwhile Justin Reece and I raced the Every Man Challenge. Justin Reece was the driver, I was co-driver of 4619 of Rusty Nail Racing. I built the truck last year, just before KOH 2014. We did pretty good except we got stuck in traffic and ended up timing out. In fact, there was only one car in our class that finished that race.

Thursday night I worked on the car some more, got the fuel pressure fixed and sent my parents to find a fuel pressure gauge. They had to drive all the way to Kartech, which is about 4 hours into California – but they were able to get one. I was able to get the fuel fixed for Friday morning.

We were fairly happy with the starting position. We were in the 15th or 16th row, so that was pretty good considering there were 70 rows.


The start went real good.

We passed several cars in the desert, but into lap 1 we had a flat and came into the main pit to change a rear tire. Then we headed off to our second lap and that’s where I made the crucial mistake. I decided to go up Back Door; that was an optional line, you have to do at least one time during the race. I made the mistake of going then.

By the time we went back to the main race course, we were mid pack instead of up front. What that did was cause us to get stuck in that traffic jam in Jackhammer.

Trapped at Jackhammer

If I had stayed in the lead group, I would have been ahead of that congestion and been able to finish the race.”

For those of us who watched online, Jackhammer looked like a parking lot.  Mike says “You winch from the car ahead of you, the car behind you uses you to winch … it’s very time consuming. I think it took us two hours to get through there and the car was overheated.

By the time we were done, it was late in the afternoon.


We were trying to make up time on other rock trails and it ended up that I could never get the car to cool back down. So finally it overheated to where I had to stop and let it completely cool down. Had to send Justin to get water from our pit, so he did a 2 ½ mile jog to get water for the car.

By the time he got back and got the water in the car, it was way too late in the afternoon to finish before 10 at night. So we ended up calling it. I didn’t want to risk overheating the car again to finish at midnight with an unofficial timing.

The car is going to be great.

As soon as we get some shock tuning and the overheating figured out, we’ll be good to go for the season. Congress is next, at the beginning of next month.”

Mike thanks everyone on the support list, including Media Team Patty Pinnell and Acacia Pinnell, Pit help Jerome Curtis, Sam Verbridge, Mike Kellogg, Tristnie Evans, Shelbie Kellogg, Kourtnie Kellogg, Ryan and Michele Stewart, Taylor Brown, Matt Carpiter, Mikey Florian, Fran Klensin, Alyssa Klensin, Diana Klensin, John Brock, Georg and Garret Esterer, Dominic Desent, Nick Toste, Cameron Reece, Kelly Reece, The SORD race team, Robert Hutcheson, phone tech line help, Jimbo Murphy, The Roberator, Tim and Dallas Lund.

Photos courtesy of Intrepid Off Road, Ultra4 Racing, Acacia Pinnell and Patty Pinnell

Follow the Team!

As of January 1, 2015, Amanda Products became title sponsor of ColeCar Motorsports LLC, the new IFS Ultra4 race car, two UTVs and a full race schedule.

Support the team by following DriverMikeKlensin and ColeCar Motorsports on Facebook

On Instagram at colecarmotorsports







A New Team and a NEW ULTRA 4 RACE CAR for King of the Hammers!

Last year you knew us as ‘a’ sponsor of Mike Klensin and Team Crossed Up Off-Road. This year Amanda Products is TITLE sponsor of ColeCar Motorsports LLC – including a new IFS Ultra4 race car and two UTVs.


The new IFS Ultra4 race car at Crossed Up Customs in Tucson. (Mike’s dog Bailey in foreground.)

The team’s 2015 race schedule includes the Ultra 4 West Coast Series and other opportunities, including Lucas Oil regional short course off road racing and other local and regional desert races. All three vehicles will race the Dirt Riot series. Select events will feature Amanda Products’ SEMA 2014 Jeep Wrangler with its innovative new bumper and door prototypes. The race and prototype vehicles will be transported via 38′ trailer.  Custom wraps for the race vehicles and trailer are in the design phase.

About the new team

Last year Mat Carpentier of ColeCar Motorsports offered to help Mike build a new state of the art Ultra4 race car; today Mike and Mat are partners in a new car. Mike explains, “We’ve been kicking around ideas and brainstorming since August, came up with the idea of what we want to do and created an outline. We actually started putting tubes together and building the chassis this past December.”


Naming the car

Mike says “We were just thinking of different names, wanted a fun name, not too serious and kept thinking about Timmy from South Park. Yeah, we’ll call it that. A lot of people name their cars aggressive and medieval things, we wanted something fun. We all agreed on Timmy pretty quick.”

Will Timmy be ready in time for KOH?

“We’re wiring the car and doing final assembly as we speak. Hopefully we will have a week to tune the car. In about 14 days we leave for the lake bed. Most of the work is being done by Mike, Mat and Mikey – Mike Florian. Our motor builder is Jim Murphy. He owns Calypso Automotive in Tucson. He’s also helping with a lot of mechanical aspects of the build, making sure the belts and alternator fit, stuff like that.


Jim and I will get the wiring done. That’s a big job. The Roberator is our wiring expert; he’s a big help, helping us get the right switches and relays – but he’s not able to participate as much as he’d like, he has a lot of stuff going on. Everyone is taking time off their day jobs – and businesses – to get the job done. The only downside is we won’t be able to get a tuning session in before the race.”

Mat likes that “We have three of the cars; that’s going to be a plus for the whole team because each person has a vehicle to drive.” The race car and chase trucks will be equipped with SpeedHook™ “to make it easier to help fellow competitors in need of assistance.”

Mat says “Being involved with the build is great, words can’t describe how happy I am to be a part of the team with Mike and Mikey. Right now we’re putting all the components on the car. Getting it prepped.”

Were there any surprises in this build?

Mat responded; “Going from solid axle car to IFS car has been a big surprise to all of us. When you have a solid axle car you don’t have that much travel – with IFS you have 24” of travel in the rear and 17” up front. It’s a totally different ballgame. We’ll have more clearance and the ride will be a lot smoother.”


Mat already knows how tough the ride can be. He was Mike’s co-driver at the Ultra4 American Rocksports Challenge in Tooele, Utah. He says “The ride last year was fun. My neck hurt after the race because I didn’t have the right neck restraint; but it was very entertaining.”


John Brock spotted from the pit on that race. Mike says “John offered to come over and wrench on the car. He’s been ordering parts for us too. He’s going to be camped with us at KOH.”

What to expect for 2015

Klensin says “It’s really exciting for me, the next coupla years are going to be huge. It’s a new car, a new team, we’re expecting to do really well. We’re grateful to have Amanda Products as title sponsor and couldn’t ask for a better group of people to work with. Not only are their products top of the line, but the quality of the people they have in their organization is top notch.”

Follow ColeCar Motorsports on Facebook

On Instagram at colecarmotorsports


Our First Featured SpeedHook(TM) Testimonial


This unsolicited testimonial came to us from central Florida last month. “Just wanted to say your Speedhook is exactly what I have been looking for. Design concept and execution is perfect! The quality is absolutely amazing. Thanks again for an excellent product.”  Jimbo T.

We contacted him for pictures and he readily complied.


He told us “My Jeep’s name is Copper; I’m building it up for rock crawling at Moab. Hopefully we – me, my wife & son – can go out to Moab next Easter.

When I saw your ad in Crawl magazine, I was immediately struck by the design of the SpeedHook. After reading about Amanda Products history and experience in the automotive parts industry, I decided to pull the trigger and buy one.”


“Installing the SpeedHook into the trailer hitch receiver is as easy as pie! Very clean, easy to attach my Red Eye Bubba rope; I haven’t had a chance to use it yet.”

(Yeah, there’s a good chance he’ll be needing SpeedHook(TM) at Moab.)


“When I received the SpeedHook I was really taken by the quality of construction. Amanda Products, had a great concept, design, and executed the product with quality in mind. Amanda Products has a real winner with the SpeedHook design!”

This is our favorite shot; nice work Jimbo. Find YOUR SpeedHook(TM) at Amandaproducts.com



Jimbo takes great pride in his club. He said “They are a very active and an amazing group of people who are always watching out for each other on & off the trails. They have Wednesday rides & 1-2 weekend trail rides during the month. They love to get together and talk about anything Jeep! They meet weekly at a local Sonics on Thursday nights rain or shine.”

Sounds great – check them out on Facebook at Orlando Jeep Club !



If you already OWN SpeedHook(TM), we want to know about it. What did you buy, why did you buy it, how do you like it and where do you go?

If we like your story, we’ll ask for photos and you’ll see ’em here.

Write us at info@amandaproducts.com


Meet the Crossed Up Customs Media Crew

It’s a family thing. The Pinnells have been following their favorite drivers – Mike Klensin and John Brock – for almost eight years. The relationship began when Rob Pinnell started wiring Mike’s race car.

Rob’s daughter Acacia has been taking photos of off-road racing and posting to social media for two years. What makes that impressive? The fact that she’s only 16 years old.

Acacia Pinnell

Klensin says “She’s been hanging out at the races since she was little.”

She got hooked on photography when Mike first started racing. “He was jumping a big gap. I got a photo in mid-air. It was the coolest thing ever.”

Her mother Patty is “a major inspiration.”

Photo by Patty Pinnell – Ultra4 American Rock Sports Challenge  at Miller Motorsports Park

Acacia says “She has always taken pictures for Mike; she got a nice camera and started taking really awesome photos. I wanted to do the same. I love the racing atmosphere and wanted to capture the moments and share them to the world.”

Patty Pinnell

Patty shoots a Canon EOS 700D/Rebel T5i.

She sends her photos directly to Mike or Acacia; “She’s been my right arm.”

Patty is serious about her craft. She works full time while pursuing an Associate’s Degree in Graphic Design and Photography.

Photo by Patty Pinnell
Photo by Patty Pinnell – Ultra4 American Rock Sports Challenge  at Miller Motorsports Park

As busy as they are, the Pinnells manage to attend all the races – Ultra 4, Dirt Riot and King of the Hammers. The furthest (last month) was Cortez, Colorado.

Patty says “When it’s fun like that, we make it happen; we squeeze it in.”

Acacia Pinnell

Acacia takes photos with her iPhone.

One of her friends described her selfie as “beyond gorgeous.”  So you might expect her goals would include modeling or photography; you’d be wrong.

I want to race. I’d leave the photography up to my mom. She supports me. She thinks it would be really cool if I became a female rock crawler.” She says there are “a couple” female rock crawlers, but not many.

Photo by Acacia Pinnell – Ultra4 American Rock Sports Challenge  at Miller Motorsports Park

What do you admire most about Mike?

“I admire that even when times are tough, he pushes through and finishes with a smile.”

What keeps a fan enthusiastic during the tough times?

“As a team we rely on each other; I take photos, they keep the car alive and keep it together. Then we give each other high fives.”

What do you love about racing?

“When people start rolling, breaking and crashing, that’s when it gets exciting.”

The dogs make it fun too. “John never goes anywhere without Pudo and Mike has Bailey.”

John fixin Pudo lookin
Pudo watches as John sits & fixes; from the (AWESOME) Discount Tire American Rocksports Challenge Highlight Video

What’s your favorite recent photo?

“Tooele, in the evening – 5 minutes before we left the park. Dirt was still stuck on the gate.”

Photo by Acacia Pinnell – Ultra4 American Rock Sports Challenge  at Miller Motorsports Park

Where do you go for racing information?

“I like to look at the Ultra4 page or KOH sites because they keep updated; and other racers to see what they’re up to – or crashes. I like Crawl magazine and Dirt Sports.”

Are your friends obsessed with racing?

“They think it’s cool, but they don’t know anything about it. They’re more girly girls.” Except for her best friend Melissa Verdugo “who drives a jeep and isn’t afraid to get dirty like me.”

What do you drive?

“I have a Jeep Grand Cherokee. I am obsessed with Jeep. I sometimes off-road, mostly drive to school and home. I really would want a blacked out four door lifted but I am actually in love with my 5.9 V8 Grand Cherokee. It’s a ’98 with about 140,000 miles. It’s running perfect.”


Acacia does some of her own maintenance. “I check my own tire pressure, fill up the tires, put my own fluids in. If something’s not working, my dad finds the parts and I help him.”

What do you WANT to drive?

“Something like Mike has. Mike is my idol. I don’t have the money right now, so I just take the pictures and fantasize.”

Most fans can relate.

Photo by Acacia
Photo by Acacia Pinnell – Ultra4 American Rock Sports Challenge  at Miller Motorsports Park

Big thanks from an appreciative audience

Acacia and her mother enjoy being able to “capture the moments and share them to the world.” We’re glad they do.

Follow their work:

On Instagram @Crossedupcustoms

On Facebook at Team Crossed Up Off Road


Ultra4 American Rock Sports Challenge, August 2014

The Ultra4 American Rock Sports Challenge took place at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah Friday, August 22 and Saturday, August 23, 2014.

Post-race interview with Mike Klensin

Photo by Patty Pinnell

“The last time I raced there we had 4th in the main; we were right on track to do the same this time around.”

Miller Motorsports Park’s website says it’s as if the seven acre rock crawling course adjacent to the off-road short course “was custom-designed for Ultra4 racing.”

The Ultra4 American Rock Sports Challenge requires that drivers do “six laps of the Off Road Short Course as well as two circuits of the Rock-Crawling Course. After the first lap is completed on the Off Road Short Course, the drivers can choose when to switch over to the Rock-Crawling Course. To combine the high-speed, big-air action of the Off-Road Short Course with the low-speed, high-torque, very technical driving required on the big rocks places a premium on both driving talent and mechanical engineering.”

Photo by Acacia Pinnell
Photo by Acacia Pinnell

Mike says “I usually race faster than I qualify; that was the case here – mid pack in the qualifying lap.”

Mat Carpentier was co-driver; he’s a UTV racer exploring new styles of racing – like Ultra 4. Mat posted to Facebook “Glad I get the privilege to co-drive this race.”