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Big Don Ellison's Bubba Rope Tips

SPEED: Probably the biggest thing I see from the beginner on the trail is that they think if you get in trouble "STAND ON THE GAS." In some situations standing on the gas is the right thing to do, but more times than not it will get you in TROUBLE and fast! And lets face it, going slow will be much easier on your vehicle. You will have more traction at a slower speed. If your spinning the tires your losing traction. Take it easy and let the vehicle and the tires do the work. Big Don Ellison—Founder and announcer at US Outlaw Mud Racing Association, Founder of Racetalk Magazine and Racetalk Radio.

MOMENTUM: Momentum is what will get you over the ledge, up the hill, and out of the mud hole. To gain more momentum you will need to start further back from the obstacle. How much momentum depends on a couple of things. The most important is the obstacle itself. Experience is gained as you become more comfortable with your rig and learn how much momentum is needed without going to fast. If in doubt approach an obstacle with a little momentum and then make the decision if you need more. Watch others and learn from their mistakes!

KNOW YOUR LIMITS: I think knowing your limitations is the most important thing for a novice off-roader,  especially when off-roading by yourself or when doing some “hard-core wheeling.” My best advice is to only test your rig (or yourself) when you have some experienced off-roaders with you. The bottom line is if your rig won’t clear an obstacle, “HITTING IT HARDER” is only going to damage your rig. It's very easy for the novice wheeler to get in over their head. KNOW YOUR LIMITS, and save your vehicle!

KNOW YOUR MUD: My favorite thing in the world is “MUD,” but I always test the mud before trying to cross a hole for the first time. If you can’t see the bottom of the hole, you don't know if it’s 2' deep or 6' deep. Once you have checked the hole and decided to give it a shot, enter it with a little MOMENTUM, and if you feel your truck getting stuck, try turning your front wheels from side to side. This will help you get a little more traction. The most important thing is, do not stop until all forward momentum is lost. Than try backing out. Many times you can easily back out of a hole. Remember to turn front wheels side to side to improve traction while backing out also.

Most 4x4’s can handle axle deep water without any problems or special add-on’s, however, if you’re crossing deeper water be aware of the location of the air intake and the engines computer as you do not want to water to enter these locations.

I learned this trick from my Dad. Keep a tarp in your vehicle and when crossing deep water, secure it with bungee cords across the grill. The tarp will help keep the water from coming into the engine area thereby keeping the ignition dry and water out of the air intake.

When crossing shallow creeks and streams, always drive at a slow and steady pace to create a bow wave to reduce the amount of water behind the bumper. This helps keep water out of the air intake and electronics. Select low range and a low gear and keep the steering straight.

When crossing fast moving shallow creeks or stream, always cross at a slight angle and drive slightly up-stream. This will reduce the surface area of your rig and lessen the force of the water on your rig.