A new feature on the flag, We interview people of importance and interest to wheelers of all kinds and who better to start the tradition then Tim Piele Editor of CRAWL magazine.
Tim what is it about the world of hardcore wheelin' that drew you to it?
I grew up in an automotive culture. From an early age my dad had hot rods. I remember driving home from the county fair one day with my parents, and we passed a sweet 1966 Chevy Impala parked on some guys lawn for sale. My dad went back and he ended up buying it on the spot for like $2200.He still has that car, he built it into a street rod and won all sorts of awards up and down the westcoast. By the age of 15 I had my first lowrider mini-truck and I did the lowrider thing for a few years but eventually I figured out that my redneck wasn't going to wash off.
Even though my dad and I were really into rods and lowriders, we grew up pretty blue collar, he is construction worker and we always had a sort of a ranch growing up. At some point I got tired of sitting in a parking lot looking at show cars and decided I wanted to build something I could actually take out and drive. That lead me to my first real 4WD rig.
Well then what was your first rig?
Well, technically my first 4WD vehicle was a 1987 Subaru GL-10 AWD station wagon, but the first one I ever really wheeled (and flopped) was a 1986 Samurai I bought to get me back and forth to work as a ski lift operator. I didn't do much to it that you couldn't get out of a J.C.Whitney catalog, like KC HiLites and a custom hardtop, but it was a pretty cool little rig by 1994 standards.
Sounds pretty sweet.
Describe your worst wheelin experience?
I went on a trip back east for the magazine last year and it was horrible. I won't say where or when because I don't want anyone to feel bad, they tried hard to make me feel comfortable, but I had more teeth than the entire club combined and they were drunk by breakfast. I like to have fun but this was a rare case where my readers and me were just not the same people. They were drunk, very obscene
(and it takes a lot to offend this self-proclaimed amputee / midget porn addict) and I just didn't have any fun. The wheelin' sucked, and I've seen some crappy wheelin', all of their rigs broke down and they just sat on the hood and drank more beer like the rig was going to fix itself. I like all kinds of people but staying even remotely sober on the trail is important, and actually trying to wheel instead of standing around and bullshitting is too.
That kind of sounds like us, what has been your best wheelin experience?
I recently spent the weekend at River Rock ORV Park in Georgia and the owner gave me the keys to his linked up Jeep YJ. That thing wheels better than a lot of buggies I have driven. I just had a blast wheelin' his rig, no stress or pressure just cruising around in his rig with my camera, shooting other rigs. Other than that, I miss the good 'ol days of wheeling Tillamook State Forest with my homies Aaron, Brandon, Jason, Brock and Pee-Wee. We used to do these runs with our forum www.timbercrawler.com and we'd have a blast. We'd call in sick on Friday and go wheel, and be back home by Friday night. I had a blast on those runs, trying to make it to the top of the mountain in three feet of snow. That's 0.9144 meters to you Canucks. I guess after I started wheelin' or covering wheelin' as a job it kind of lost some of its fun. I still love it and wheel whenever I can but I'll never forget hitting Tillamook with that crew.
You never forget your first, what's in your Ipod right now?
I have a crappy off-brand MP3 player, but I am listening to some country like Reckless Kelly and Hank William, Jr. right now, but also some 2-Pac and Biggie and this new chick I talked to on MySpace named Colbie Caillatt or something like that. All I know is she is hot and she can sing. Down the list I have Jack Johnson, Suicidal Tendencies, old Metallica and oh... Rebel Son. Look that shit up, now that is some down-home good 'ol redneck music right there. Gunracks, ta'bacca juice and hound dogs. Good times.
Interesting gotta love old school, What is you biggest pet peeve? ( besides annoying questions)
People who talk a lot of shit and then can't back it up. It is okay to egg each-other on and screw off but some people just don't know when to shut up about their rigs and what they think they can drive up. I think to myself, "Oh yeah? If you think you can, fucking do it. I have a camera right here and I'll show the world if you can actually do it." Usually they break and blame their equipment.
Their mouth, that's their defective equipment, haha.
Pffft, you should see what I can do...
Of all the spots to wheel where is your personal favorite?
Upper Helldorado in Moab has a lot of memories for me. My friend Jeremy manages that land and we've had some killer rides there. Moab in general though, Fins & Things, Moab Rim, Pritchett Canyon... outside of there, I think Gray Rock, AL is cool and Las Cruces, NM is sick. JP Magazine was right, that's the new Moab. Las Cruces will kick your ass and spit out parts.
What the hell is JP magazine? nuk nuk...
When did you decide you wanted to start CRAWL magazine?
Well, I helped start that other magazine, Xtreme Offroad but it failed. Once I cleared the legal obstacles with that company, we formed CRAWL. I initially bought my Jeep YJ to get to my research sites when I was studying wildlife biology in college. I decided to lift it after getting stuck in the snow haha! My brother in law Russ had a lifted Jeep, so he helped me lift mine. When I get into things I really tend to go overboard, so Timbercrawler.com turned into a magazine. I knew the other mags sucked but I had no idea how to do a magazine, I had no idea, really. But we figured it out over time. I've always had a pretty good business sense so we just went for it. Just do it.
Rad, I just did it...Did you expect CRAWL to take off as it has?
Yes and no. I knew it was a great idea and that there was a definite market for the rag. Everyone was sick of the other magazine and we (offroad) needed a culture rag like Thrasher and Racer-X were for skateboarding and motocross. We recently sold 23,500 copies on the newsstand and as far as we know, that surpasses 4WD&SUV and a few others. I never expected to sell 40,000 or more copies per issue (newsstand and subscriptions combined) after only two years but we're there. It's amazing the response we've gotten but at the same time, the three owners (Brandon Foster, Tom Clark and I) and key employees often work 100 hours a week so it pays off. It's capitalism fueled by raw passion and a retarded amount of commitment. I think not knowing when to quit and being naive actually helped us get this far. If I knew any better when things got bad that first year, I'd probably have quit. I'm glad I was clueless.
Obviously with the many new extreme offroad events springing up around the world offroading is a successful industry, where do you see the industry heading?
I see more manufactures making trail capable rigs, like the Jeep Rubicon and Toyota FJ-Cruiser.
I read somewhere recently that something like 90% of all Jeep owners accessorize or customize their rigs.That's huge. But I think we also have some major land use issues to overcome. If these greeny asswipes keep lobbying successfully to close our trails, and we don't counter with our own fight, we're going to be shit out of luck. Stacy Albright from the Blue Ribbon Coalition was in our office today discussing just this topic. There are a lot of cool private parks in the USA but our public lands are under attack. I know that sounds like propaganda but it is true. Look, I have a degree in Environmental Science and I understand protecting and managing resources. But I also believe in our constitution and public lands need to remain public. Aldo Leopold, the early 20th century environmental writer, pointed out the difference between conservation and preservation. Preserving something is locking it up tight, leaving it untouched and locked down. Conserving a resource means protecting it so it is there to use in the long term. That is what we need to do, conserve our resources. When you're stranded on a desert island you conserve water (because you'll need it later) not preserve it so no one can ever use it. Conservation is the key, preservation is dangerous. Other than that I see huge growth if we can keep access open to land.
Rockcrawling is getting popular and rock racing is badass. Desert Racing is still popular too and
side-by-side ATV's and quads are still growing. I think flying cars will ruin the offroad industry though, eventually. I mean, if I can't make an obstacle I'll just float over it so I don't have to scratch my chrome driveline.
If you could tell someone that has never been "out there" one thing what would it be?
Remember when you were a kid and you would ride your bike around the neighborhood? You would ride and ride all day with your friends and the end of the street was the edge of the universe as far as you were concerned. Now you can get the same feeling in a Jeep except there is a lot out there past your street. Miles and miles of trail with intense scenery and all sorts of adventure. Wheelin' isn't just about getting over hard obstacles. It's about exploring old mining towns, camping with friends, crossing rivers, seeing places you'd never see from the front seat of your mini van.
Remember that book "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance?" The premise was that riding a motorcycle affords you experiences you can't get from behind a glass window in a car, with the radio on and kids screaming. Wheelin' is like that. It's organic. You can smell the outdoors, feel it too if you screw up and have to get out to winch! There are tons of trails out there that feel like no one has ever been down them, distant, isolated areas and the exploration is the fun part!
Do magazine guys have groupies?
I actually have a stalker. It's a dude too. He used to come by our old office and bug me, rub up on me and shit... we've also gotten a few death threats. I say bring it. I don't know about groupies but I have signed a handful of autographs. That weirds me out too. I mean I respect that people honor what we do with praise, but really, we're posers. The people that read CRAWL are often much more hardcore than us. Sometimes we get emails from readers and photos of their rigs, and it just amazes us the level of hardcore that our readers reach. I recently got an email with photos of a Bronco, a fully tubed out EB on rockwells and a 454, this thing was sick. The guy described himself as an average reader and just wanted us to know he loved the rag. There are thousands and thousands of people out there with amazing rockcrawlers and they all love CRAWL. It blows us away, really. We're flattered.
I think we surprise ourselves some days haha! So groupies? I don't know about that but the difference between us and other offroad magazines is that they have readers and we have fans. People will slap our decals on their rig and wear it like a badge. When their issue is late they call the office all worried. It's a great feeling knowing you touched an audience like that (not in a dirty way though).
When was the last time CRAWL staff got kicked out of an event, what was it for?
UROC Salt Lake City in 2005. The guy building my buggy used to own his own rockcrawling series and they hated UROC. They sent out a nasty bitch-slap of a letter to the entire offroad industry one day. You know how when you send an email and you put one person in the To: field and the rest in Bcc: He put my name in the To: field and after it got forwarded around the planet 600 times and posted on Pirate4x4.com, his name came off and it looked like it came from me. I was stopped at the gate and asked to leave, I said hell no and pushed past the gatekeepers (fat chicks) and went and found the [former] owner of UROC [not Ranch]. I got into a screaming match with him and his wife in the pouring down rain and finally I said fuck it and left. My friend and I went to Moab and had beer and pizza at Zax's. Good times. Oh, we also got pretty drunk at a DirtSports sponsored dinner at SEMA or some damn tradeshow and were asked to leave.
Awesome, sounds pretty much like an outing with Bubbles or Mud Monkey from the flag, Anything new and exciting CRAWL readers might want to know?
We have several awesome projects in the works. My rear engine LS-1 buggy is nearly complete,
polished stainless chassis and all. Brandon Foster has his LS-1 powered Jeep on the rack and Larry our tech guy is building a sick Toyota FJ-45 with an aluminum tub.
Also, Ian Johnson (from Spike's Xtreme4x4 TV) is working as a tech editor for us and building a buggy, a four-seater. Check out our website later this month for project updates. Other than that, we're ramping it up for 2008. More cool content, more crazy roadtrips and a few surprises too (read: CRAWL Girls). Oh, and remember our Truck Nuts install for April Fools? How about a Fox Coilover Pogo Stick article? That's steady pimpin' right there boy!
That sure is, thanks Tim...
For more from Tim be sure to check out CRAWL magazine
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