Tag: Survival

10 Most Dangerous Motor Vehicle Races in the World

Pike Peak
Image Via: TopGear

An unrelenting desert heat that will cause your V8 engine to cease in the middle of nowhere, booby traps that blow out your tires and crush your 4X4 axle, inclines so steep you’re liable to flip your motorcycle, monsoon rains that make dirt roads so slick many vehicles end up in a ditch or worse, at the bottom of a gully, and tests of endurance that often result in race cars slamming into one another as exhausted drivers fall asleep at the wheel. If all this sounds like fun to you, you’re definitely newstyletrends material. But these are just a few of the obstacles that adventurous racers withstand when competing in the world’s 10 most dangerous motor vehicle races. 

10. The King of the Hammers

Image Via: Insight

Held every February in the hot, arid, unforgiving Johnson Valley High Desert California territory, the King of the Hammers is said to be one of the roughest motor races there is, yet it is also one of the most popular. More than 400 teams compete while 30,000 spectators roast in the sun to watch some state-of-the-art, 800 HP 4X4s negotiate boulders the size of VW Bugs. Vehicles will speed at more than 100 mph and many will flip, bust axles, blow out tires, or just plain overheat, causing more than one driver to scream more than his or her fair share of expletives. This race ain’t about namby pamby personal bests either. It’s either finish in 14 hours, or hit the road (Don’t let the desert sun slap you on the ass on your way out).

9. The Rainforest Challenge

Rainforest Challenge
Image Via: lebananon offroad.com

Never trust a race whose motto is “Survival of the Fittest.” What it means at worst is you might not survive. At best, you might survive, but you’ll likely end up nearly killing yourself doing it. Founded in 1997 by someone with a sick sense of humor, the 6-day Rainforest Challenge takes place annually in Malaysia’s thick tropical rainforests. Competitors drive Jeeps and a variety of off-road vehicles ranging from Land Rovers to souped-up pickup trucks through dense jungle, mud, overflowing rivers, impossible to climb hills, and poisonous snake-filled swamps. Oh, and did I mention the race purposely takes place during the monsoon season, just to spice things up? When the sun goes down, racers camp out for a few hours of shuteye while having to deal with tarantulas, anacondas, and hungry jaguars. Not many years ago, a landslide destroyed a handful of vehicles and buried the drivers. Now that’s our idea of fun.

8. Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

Image Via: AmericaLovesHorsepower.com

Rocky Mountain High isn’t just some sappy song title for folks who love the great outdoors. It means you gotta be high to enter into the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb which occurs annually in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain range. This one has a nickname: “The Race to the Clouds.” Or maybe they should call it, “The Race to Heaven (or Hell)” since it’s not uncommon for a racer to suffer a fiery death after rolling down a rock strewn cliff side. Begun in 1916 when racers put out a fraction of the HP they pull today, the track is only 12 miles long, but it contains 156 turns, and a climb of more than 5,000 feet. Up until 2011, the road was covered with gravel. But now it’s paved with blacktop making it more treacherous since racers use the macadam as an excuse to go faster and die quicker. 

Image Via: TopGear

7. The Isle of Man Tourist Trophy

Like to race motorcycles? Got a death wish? If you say “check” to both, you’re gonna love The Isle of Man Tourist Trophy. Since its inception in 1907, this race has claimed more than 239 lives and wrecked a ton of motorcycles. That makes this race the most dangerous, if not deadly, race in the world. But that doesn’t stop motorcycle/motocross racers from flocking to compete in it every year. Think you’re too old to enter and die? There’s a “seniors” class for that. 

6. 24 Hours of Le Mans

2017 Le Mans 24 Hours test day.
Image Via: Rainier Ehrhardt

This is the most famous of them all. You know, the one that takes place in beautiful France’s Circuit de la Sarthe, just south of La Mans, where famous people like Johnny Depp can be seen working the crowd. Movies have been made about the 24 Hours of Le Mans with handsome actors playing the daring race car drivers and sexy blonde bombshells portraying their frightened to death lovers. But the reality of this grueling competition is best summed up as endurance hell on earth. Not only do you and your car need to race for 24 hours straight, there’s a good chance that you’ll end up crashing into stone wall once severe fatigue sets in. In 1955, 80 spectators died when driver Pierre Levegh crashed into them.

5. The 24 Hours Nürburgring Race

VLN 1. Lauf 2016
Image Via: Gruppe C GmbH

This one could be called the “24 Hours of Le Man, German Style.” Same deal, a bunch of adventurous race car drivers from around the world compete in a race of both speed and endurance on a track that is 25km long. 210 cars and teams from around the world are happy to compete. But here’s what’s not so happy. Because of the many hairpin turns and winding roadway, drivers can’t help but crash into one another, especially after nightfall and the exhaustion sets in. That’s why cars utilize more than one driver. One guy to steer and the other to mix the Red Bull cocktails.

4. East African Safari Rally

Now we’ve entered true newstyletrends territory. After all, The East African Safari Rally has got all the essentials of a true extreme adventure, including red African mud, killer beasts like lions and leopards, searing hot equatorial sun, and more than a 1,000 kilometers of possible 4X4 breakdown and/or driver collapse. The terrain runs from desert sands, to jungle swamp country, to vast open arid plains of so much nothing, you might find yourself slapping your own face just to stay awake. Bring extra engine coolant because exterior temps have been known to hit 50 degrees Celsius. You don’t want to find yourself stranded out in the middle of nowhere while the buzzards begin to circle overhead.

3. The Dakar Rally

Image Via: CNN

If 24 Hours of La Mans is the most famous race, The Dakar Rally is the most romantic since it has attracted competitive drivers and adventurers ever since its beginnings early last century when it was recognized as the Paris-Dakar Rally. Since racing from the City of Light to Senegal was deemed too dangerous in the 1980s, the race now takes place in South Africa. But that doesn’t make it any less of an extreme test of driver know-how and 4X4 endurance. This ultimate off-road race requires drivers to endure tall dunes, mud, thick camel grass, boulders, river crossings and even caverns. It’s not uncommon for Jeeps and Land Rover Discoveries to flip, so make certain your winch is in working order. Drivers will need to cover 500 miles per day necessitating excellent conditioning. Heart attacks and strokes are a real risk. So is getting lost. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s son got lost for 6 days during the 1982 competition. 

2. The Erzberg Rodeo

Jonny Walker
Image Via: Motorcycle USA

Imagine a motorcycle race in which only 9 out of the 500 racers who enter it, finish? Now that’s one bad ass race. It also gives you just a small idea of how challenging The Erzberg Rodeo can be. Begun in 1995, this one takes place in the Austrian Alps in June and attracts crazy people from more than 40 countries. All that’s required of racers is to scale up the side of a mine shaft. Easy peasy, right? Well, considering the severe slope and the high speed required to handle the steep grade, riders are more likely to tumble head over boot heels than make it to the top. Got ambulance anyone? Don’t worry about that broken neck, it can be repaired surgically.

1. The Baja 1000

And the number one most dangerous motor vehicle race in the world is (drum roll please…) the Baja 1000. Goliath.com describes this one as “Ominous, dangerous, unforgiving and cruel.” I’m not sure I can top that descriptor but then, why does it bring a smile to my face? A test of extreme endurance, the Baja 1000 requires contestants to race across more than 1,000 miles of unforgiving Mexican desert located inside Mexico’s rugged Baja California Peninsula. It’s sort of like Mad Max in that all variety of motor vehicles are allowed to compete including Jeeps, motorcycles, 4X4s, dune buggies, pickups, and even stock cars. Now here’s the fun part: these are the badlands of Mexico after all, and the course is often booby trapped. So not only do you have to bring plenty of food and water in case of breakdown, but you’d better be packing a semi-automatic in the event said breakdown happens to correspond to a staged robbery. Fun times. Just don’t tell your mother you’ve entered into the competition. 

Ultimate Tactical Jeep is the Ultimate Off-Road Adventure

SAS Tactical Jeep operating in North Africa during the Second World War
Photo Via: Long Range Desert Group Preservation Society

The bad ass four-wheeling adventure idea was born out of necessity in the North African desert during the Second World War. Equipping Jeeps with machine guns so troops could harass German airfields and encampments. The rugged, highly mobile Jeep made it possible to shoot and scoot without getting one’s ass shot off by some very ticked off Wehrmacht. These Rat Patrols, as they came to be known, were so successful, they were given their own television show in the 1960s. (Catch the action at FanTV).

The Rat Patrols might be gone, but the Tactical Jeep lives on. Today’s Tactical Jeep isn’t just rigged with machine guns, it’s a got a hell of a lot more power under the hood, some sophisticated dash-mounted GPS navigation and self-driving capabilities, and yeah, it’s got some hefty firepower too. According to Tactical-Life.com, a tactical ride is both a rugged and reliable specially equipped Jeep utilized by law enforcement, security contractors, military outfits, and of course, private citizens who can’t get enough of their weekend warier lifestyle.

The Tactical, or Tac, Jeep has got to operate on both paved and off-road conditions. It’s got to have four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, automatic and/or manual transmission (the 2012 Wrangler yours truly drives operates with a hybrid auto/manual tranny), and enough ground clearance to negotiate logs, boulders, dead bodies, pieces of blown up debris, and more. It’s also got to have the right tires. Not mudders, but a set of 35-inch Goodyear Wrangler Duratrack tires will definitely do the trick.

Modern day Tactical Jeep taking on the dunes
Photo Via: realworldsurvivor.com

If you’re operating in a war zone or maybe Border Patrol, you’ll want to equip your Tac Jeep with life-preserving features like run-flat tires, bullet-resistant glass, and body armor, both on the side panels and on the underside to ward off those pesky IEDs. As for the engine? A gasoline-powered 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 air-cooled engine will suffice, although in special instances, some Jeeps can be equipped with a diesel engine. The point here is not comfort, but speed, rugged reliability, safety, and mobility.

Should you decide to build your own Tac Jeep, the amount of add-on features seems limited only to your imagination. A 10,000 pound capacity winch attached to a Garvin G2 front bumper is a good idea just in case the mud gets too deep and you need to get pulled out. The rear bumper can be outfitted with a swing-away combination spare tire/tool/gas (Geri) can system, while a roof rack that allows for the hardtop roof panels to be removed is a must. A 2-inch lift suspension kit can be mounted to the swing-away carrier or mounted to the front hood. You’ll also want to install a snorkel and extra Geri cans on the side panels for additional water and gasoline.

Okay, so I know what you’re thinking. All this fancy gadgetry is all well and good, but what about firepower? Well, unlike the Rat Patrols of old, or those tactical Jeeps currently roaming the outskirts of Syria and Iraq, Johnny Q Public Citizen can’t very well get away with mounting a .50 cal or a rapid-fire Minigun to his roll bar. Or can he?

Custom built 21st Century “Rat Patrol” Tactical Jeep with Airsoft Minigun mount.
Photo Via: www.fourwheeler.com

FourWheeler Network reports on a Utah Jeep enthusiast who not only transformed his 2011 3.8L V-6 Wrangler into a Tactical Jeep, he mounted a P3 Airsoft Minigun to the rack. Said to be based on the GE Vulcan Minigun in operation around the world’s hot spots today, the Airsoft version is capable of firing 50 rounds (biodegradable plastic BBs) per second. That Airsoft Minigun is not a toy, considering it was able to obliterate a junkyard television set at fifty paces, which means it’s also dangerous enough to make hamburger out of a grown man’s backside.

The homegrown Tactical Jeep doesn’t limit itself to just a single Minigun however. Mounted to its side panels via Kydex holsters are two ACR Airsoft rifles. One can also mount pistol holders to the vehicle’s center console. What’s so great about these Airsoft modifications? If the End of Days (or World War III for that matter) should come upon us, the Airsoft weapons can be substituted with the real thing.

Building your own version of the ultimate Tactical Jeep can obviously be a lot of fun. All that’s required is time, passion, some cash, and a whole lot of blood, sweat, and tears. But what if you don’t have the time to devote to such a project? You can, of course, purchase the ultimate tactical Jeep. In fact, if you have a spare couple hundred K lying around, you can drive one off the lot today.

The ultimate bulletproof Tactical Jeep for the ‘burbs and beyond.
Photo Via: Gearjunkie.com

Meet the ultimate Tactical Jeep. GearJunkie recently reported that this Tactical Urban Vehicle is the brainchild of Rezvani Motors in Irvine, Calif. Nicknamed the Tank, it looks like something from out of a sci-fi movie, but under the hood, it is pure Jeep Wrangler. The base model features a 3.6L V6 engine and on-demand 4X4 capability. It’s got a leather interior, Extreme Off-Road capable 37 in. tires, and you can feel safe driving the kids to school surrounded by its Kevlar armor and bulletproof glass. You can even order a night vision upgrade. What’s more, if you want to part with a few more bucks, you can power up the engine with a 6.4L V8 motor that pumps out 500 horsepower. No wonder they call it the Tank.

Whether your goal is a fire-arm equipped tactical Jeep that will keep you safe on the battleground like the Rat Patrol of old, a custom tactical build that will provide you with thrills and spills in the outback all weekend long, or just a bad ass Tank of a 4X4 for driving around the badlands of West Hollywood, the Tactical Jeep just might be the ultimate adventure ride.

–Vincent Zandri

Using Nothing But His Bare Hands, Survival Genius Can Kill, Forge Tools, and…Build Houses?

John Plant says to hell with your basic survival kits. The Queensland, Australia native has proven that he can make it in the wild with nothing—no pocket knife, no matches, no string, and not even a full set of clothes. Wearing only his shorts, Plant takes experiments in self-reliance to the extreme by vanishing into the forest for days at a time. While thus isolated, he puts his ingenuity on display by building tools, appliances, and even full houses with nothing but his bare hands and the resources he finds in the wild. Check out these five videos of Plant piecing together amazing things from nothing.

  1. Stone Axe

Stones of roughly axe-headed size are fairly common in Plant’s corner of Queensland. For an axe to be useful, though, it has to be sharp. With no modern tools available, the survivalist had to resort to a truly primitive sharpening method to get the stone he selected into shape: beating it with another rock.

After bringing the axe-head to an edge, he was able to use it as a chisel to cut down a sapling that was the right size to serve as a handle. Still using the sharpened head as a knife, he then carved out a cavity in the handle that he measured to be just a hair narrower than the wide end of the axe-head. By fire-hardening the cavity, he was able to wedge the head into the handle so firmly that it needed no additional binding. The fully formed axe was a foundational tool for Plant, one that enabled him to tackle more advanced projects that called for significant wood-cutting.

  1. Bow and Arrow
Created from Primitive Technology’s YouTube Video

Plant next set out to create his own version of the most important weapon in the primitive hunter-gatherer’s arsenal: the bow-and-arrow. His stone axe was put to immediate use in cutting down a small tree of the right width and cutting it to around four feet long. He then used another stone chisel (which he sharpened by—you guessed it—banging rocks together) to taper the outside of the bow back toward its tips.

With the bow itself carved, Plant turned his attention to finding materials that would work as a string. He settled on the bark of a fast-growing tree species that’s extremely weak internally but has very tough, rigid bark. With his stone chisel, he sliced off thin strips of the bark and wove them together in an alternating pattern that wouldn’t unravel. He was careful about the length of the strips. They had to be slightly shorter than the bow itself to give it its curvature.

After stringing the bow, Plant set about making arrows. With the stone chisel, he cut thin branches roughly two feet long, shaved the bark off, and fire-hardened the tips. Charred wood is extremely easy to whittle down, so he was able to hone his missiles to a lethal point. After fletching them with feathers he found scattered in the bush, the setup was complete. As you can see in the GIF, the finished weapon has plenty of juice. Plant himself estimates his bow would be deadly on animals as large as Australian wild pigs at moderate distances.

  1. Spear Thrower

While a bow would certainly get the job done on small to medium-sized game, anything larger would require more firepower. To fill this gap in his arsenal, Plant set out to build a spear thrower using a traditional Aboriginal design. This contraption would allow him to fire off a spear with much more velocity and range than he could achieve by hand throwing.

First, with the help of his stone cutting tools, he took down a four-foot long tree with a small branch stemming off near its base. In order to fashion these raw materials into a thrower, he whittled off the small branch into a spur-like protrusion that would ultimately hold the spear.

The spear itself was a straight, six-foot long branch roughly an inch in diameter. We’re talking about a heavy-duty projectile here. Plant carved a cup into its base for the spur of the thrower to fit into. When the user flings the thrower forward, it causes the spear itself to flex slightly. This rubber band-style effect is what imparts so much additional energy—up to four times more than that of a modern compound bow.

  1. Natural Draft Furnace

While wooden implements like those described above were early man’s constant companions, real technological progress was made with the advent of metalworking. Plant wanted to see whether he could build a furnace hot enough to melt ore using only the resources he found in the forest. Guided by the understanding that the heat generated by a draft furnace is determined how rapidly air can be drawn through it, he designed a system made of clay that ultimately reached up to 1200 degrees Celsius.

He first dug a hole roughly a foot in diameter and placed a ring of rocks at the bottom. These rocks would form the skeleton of the bed on which his fuel would burn. Next, he coated these rocks with mud that he generated by mixing clay and water in a nearby pit. This process of producing clay that he could mold and shape easily by hand was an integral part of the project in that it provided Plant with virtually all of the raw material.

Once the bed had settled, he began building upward in a vertical, cylindrical column. A foot or so from the base, Plant inserted a tuyere, or air entry pipe. This implement, fashioned, of course, from clay, allowed air to be drawn into the furnace at a single point. Over a matter of days (to allow for drying and hardening), he continued to build upward until the furnace reached a height of about six feet. Limited as always by his environment, he fed the flames at the base with wood instead of charcoal. Despite this slight handicap, the natural draft furnace was able to generate temperatures extreme enough to melt ore.

  1. Tiled Roof Hut

All these creations have obvious utility in terms of helping a person survive in the wilderness. This final feat of jungle engineering goes beyond that—it would help a person thrive. In what Plant describes as his most ambitious project to date, the tiled roof hut from the GIF above took around 100 days to complete. The finished product, built completely without the use of modern tools, looks more like a vacation getaway than a desperately cobbled together hut.

In the first phase of construction, Plant used his stone axe to gather the foundational wood needed for the dwelling. He also built a floor kiln that would later be used to not only cook, but heat the entire house from the ground up. When he finished work on several frames for the tile that would come later, the initial building stage was completed.

An entire month was devoted to the production of tiles themselves. Using the molds he’d created in the first phase, he shaped clay into tiles of the correct dimensions by leaving the mud to set near a fire. After a period of two days, each batch of tiles was placed into the kiln to fire-harden. Ultimately, Plant manufactured 450 flat tiles and 15 curved ridge tiles.

After framing the structure’s roof with wooden beams cut with his axe and lashed together, he meticulously layered the tile over the structure’s skeleton. Only then did he begin to fill in walls with the same clay he used to make the tiles. The structure’s ultimate design was one that Plant was able to consult with various modern resources on, but let’s be clear: there’s no asterisk attached to this project. This 21st-century survival genius was able to build a full-size, completely weatherproof hut with underfloor heating with his bare hands. If you’re ever forced to pick a person to be stuck in a survival situation with, think carefully before you blurt out, “Bear Grylls!” John Plant just might have him beat.