Prepping for a wild weekend of wheelin’ |

Prepping for a wild weekend of wheelin’

Provided to the SunRockher, owned by Dustin and Becca Webster of San Diego, parks on the rugged terrain on the northeast shoulder of Donner Ski Ranch, the site of this weekend's fourth stop of the W.E. Rock USA National Championship Series.

Rockher’s bubble-gum soft tires fight for traction as its engine grunts with horsepower. Its beefy components tweaking and creaking, the rig suddenly gains the upper hand on the boulder field and springs forward, its rear end settling with a violent clunk on a Volkswagen-size slab of granite.

“If we roll over, you’ll want to keep your arms inside the rig,” Becca says calmly as she maneuvers Rockher into to a gravity-defying tilt, tackling the next heap of rocks along the northeast shoulder of Donner Ski Ranch.

The Pro Modified class rock crawler, says Dustin Webster, Becca’s husband and teammate, is capable of maintaining a 65-degree lean before tipping. The same rig can climb a near vertical 87 degrees before succumbing to the laws of physics, he adds.

That’s where the roll cage comes into play. And it often does, says Dustin, who works as the two-person team’s spotter, or “second set of eyes.”

During this weekend’s fourth and final stop of the W.E. ROCK Western U.S. Nationals ” Rock’n at The Ranch ” Dustin says Rockher, like all other rigs, will at some point tumble belly up. It’s the nature of the competition.

“You can pretty much count on it (rolling),” Dustin says with a smirk, the beard stubble on his cheeks and chin shaded by a tan, brimmed hat. “We’ll roll this weekend for sure.

“It’s a blast,” he continues. “The crowd loves it. And the kicker is that a lot of times we can drive it back onto its wheels (as long as at least one tire is touching the ground).”

This is because Becca ” a soft-spoken and kind woman with dark hair and an off-road vehicle pendant hanging from her neck ” can transfer power with a flip of a switch to any one wheel at any given time, Dustin explains. Plus, he adds, his wife’s skills are honed, which is why she drives and he spots.

“She has a gift on the throttle that I don’t have,” Dustin says. “She has a feeling for acceleration and brakes that are critical, and she can feel the balance very well.”

The husband’s claims seem indesputable as Becca continues to crawl around the rugged terrain, punching the throttle with deft touch and stopping with precision at Dustin’s command. It will be much-needed practice for the weekend ahead.

The Websters, both 39 of San Diego, arrived at Donner Ski Ranch early this week to prepare for the final competition of the W.E. Rock USA National Championship Series, which culminates with the Grand National Finals in Boyd, Texas, Sept. 14-16 and the World Championships in Sydney, Australia Jan. 25-27.

After this weekend, the top six competitors in each class ” Unlimited, Pro Modified, Stock Modified and Formula Toyota ” will qualify for Grand Nationals. The top six from Grand Nationals then advance to the World Championships.

Dustin and Becca, who are sponsored by Red Bull, are currently tied for fourth in the Pro Modified class. Two years ago they won the World Championships.

This weekend, Rockher, a radically modified Chevy S10, will be one of 70 custom-built rock crawling machines, and one of 27 in the Pro Modified class, Dustin says.

With many of the nation’s top competitors entered, both Dustin and Becca say this weekend’s event is well worth watching.

“Let’s just say that this should be the most exciting event of the season,” Dustin says. “I smell carnage.”

Adds Becca: “This weekend is going to be fun, for one because of the beautiful weather, and two to see some of the top competitors in the world. This is the last event of the season, so there will be a ton of competition.

“People are going to be really pushing themselves. They’ll probably take a lot of bonus lines and end up in a lot of rollovers.”


3-8 p.m. ” Tech inspection and event registration, vendor/sponsor set-up, show and shine, autograph signing, meet the top teams in the nation.


7 a.m. ” Late tech inspection and check-in.

10 a.m. ” Start positions posted at Comp site on W.E. ROCK Trailer

9 a.m. ” Spectators gate opens.

9 a.m. ” Driver’s meeting, W.E. ROCK trailer at comp site

10 a.m. ” Competition begins


9 a.m. ” Spectators gate opens.

10 a.m. ” Competition begins

2 p.m. ” The Shoot-out begins: Top six teams make the final battle for first place 3 p.m.

Results ” Posted after competition.

Awards ceremony ” Within 10 minutes after end of competition. Located at the Donner Lodge

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