44th Annual Tierra Del Sol Desert Safari
Wheelin' at Truck Haven, CA
This year marked 44 years of wheelin’ and fun for the Tierra Del Sol Four Wheel Drive Club based out of San Diego, CA. The TDS Desert Safari has been in existence since 1962. The annual event is held near Borrego Springs and the Salton Sea in an area called Truckhaven Hills. Every year the event gets bigger and better with a variety of events, vendors and displays, and their famous raffle at the end of the day. People come from all over the world to attend this great event. This year the TDS club was anticipating having around 15,000 people at the event, and by the looks of things, they exceeded that. They had a great turnout.
The annual Desert Safari provides an organized trail run with around 1,000 vehicles. The trails are marked by different colored markers which provide a standard route, a by-pass route, and an x-treme route. The organized run begins at 8am and runs until the late afternoon. Many factors, like how many rigs get stuck or brake, will impact the amount of time it takes to complete the course. One thing is for sure, everyone is back in time for the famous TDS Desert Safari raffle.
By around noon many people were out playing in the mud hills and in an area also known as the “Notches”. This is where the monster rigs come out to lay it all down. Although the majority of vehicles cruising around were Jeeps, there were plenty of early Land Cruisers, Broncos, K5 Blazers, and your occasional exotic off-road vehicle like the Unimog and Pinzgauer.
Team Red Bull brought out their Rock Crawlers during the day to show us some exciting crawling at the “Notches”. A huge crowd surrounded the area to see the amazing display of technique, power, and articulation these rigs and their driver’s posses. With amazement in their eyes, two little girls stood in front of us next to their daddy, mesmerized by what these rock-buggies could do.
Back at the Vendors area, there was a 4-Wheelin’ haven. Numerous manufacturers and Off-Road organizations were on site to help answer questions and simply talk shop on what new products they have and how they can help make your vehicle the ultimate off-road rig. ORW was on site with their new TJ Unlimited. They had a large booth with merchandise on site for purchase. Some of the other companies on site were Kilby Enterprises, Fabtech, Deaver Springs, Good Year Tire, Maxxis, MasterCraft Seats, and Currie to name a few.
After a long day of wheelin’ around the Truckhaven Hills and walking around the vendor’s area, it was time for a nice cold snow cone—man was that good. What was even better was the raffle that was about to begin. I was amazed to see how people started showing up with their camping chairs and lining them up. An area that had been occupied by rock-crawlers and jeeps earlier in the day was now filled with an enthusiastic group of Desert Safari participants.
With each paid entry for the Desert Safari comes an automatic entry into one of the largest off-road product raffles. The money raised goes to help keep our deserts open. This year they had over $60,000 in prizes. The items given away ranged from tool bags to full suspension kits.
Once the raffle was finished, people headed back to camp for dinner…and then got ready for the night action at the “Notches”. We headed out there with Creighton King from Maxxis Tires and were amazed at the display of lights that surrounded the area as we drove in. It was pitch black out there, but with the help of a few lights from different vehicles, an outside arena was made.
Nightlife at the “Notches” was something very different than during the day. It had an element of scary, but on the edge of exciting. Throaty V8 rigs would come out of the darkness and leave the crowd stunned as they romped over the verticals. There were rollovers and broken shafts—it was carnage. Shannon Campbell surprised us with a killer rock-buggy haulin’ ass through the “Notches” and conquering dirt verticals with a single punch to the peddle. His HID equipped buggy stood out from the rest because it looked very much like an Off-Road Race car. The front clip had a resemblance to a class 1 buggy.
Being a part of the 44 th Annual Tierra Del Sol Desert Safari was an amazing experience. Without a doubt, this was one of the best 4-Wheelin’ events put on in the West. We will be back next year when the Tierra Del Sol Off Road Club celebrates 45 years of wheelin’. Hopefully more of you can make the journey and join us next year. For those of you that just can’t make it, we will continue to bring the excitement and feeling of the event to a web browser near you. Until next year…Keep on Wheelin’!
Make sure to check out the 2006 TDS Desert Safari Photo Gallery
For more information on Tierra Del Sol and the 45 th Annual Desert Safari visit http://www.tds4x4.com/