Those new to the four-wheel drive scene may be surprised to learn four-wheel driving wasn’t always like it is now. The standard today is over-bearing modification laws and bureaucracy, but things used to be a little more, well… wild.
In no uncertain terms they were the glory days of 4x4ing, where vehicles were built for purpose and the tracks were wild and open. Every few months, if you knew where to look, the hills of rural Victoria would ring loud with the roar of V8s, the clack-clack of competition winches and the cheers of crowds as driver and navigator battled the clock and the terrain. It was wild, it was glorious, and it’s back.
After countless meetings with Baw Baw Shire Council, James Hill and Barry Smethurst were able to cut through the red tape and put together what is set to be the premiere winch challenge in Victoria: the Wild Dog Winch Challenge.
If you’re unfamiliar with winch racing you’re seriously missing out. The stages are a mixture of high-speed cornering through tight tracks, precise driving through technical terrain, and more than a few climbs that are so steep nothing short of a competition winch and a heavy hand of wheelspin will get you to the top.
The 2016 Wild Dog Winch Challenge drew massive numbers of both spectators and competitors. Sold-out crowds turned up all weekend to watch 42 individual teams and their large “support crews” fight tooth and nail for a spot on the podium. For some, the weekend brought glory; for others, broken dreams and busted 4x4s. However, everyone left with a smile.
“It was an absolutely gargantuan task to get everything together,” James Hill told us after the event. “We spent literally hundreds of hours preparing fencing, stages and spectator tracks so it would all run smoothly. We’d have to print a full page of names just to cover the amount of people who helped out, from the volunteers of the Snatch’em 4X4 club through to Alan and Karen McMullen, the property owners.”
The event was such a huge success the Wild Dog Winch Challenge will be back in 2017, bigger than ever. Spectator tickets will again be limited, so make sure you line up early or risk missing the wildest 4x4 event in Victoria.
Want more? Check out our 4x4 recovery guide to winching.