Behind the Scenes in HANGTIME!
Professionals make things look easy, like athletes in the Olympics, actors in movies and the drivers in our HANGTIME! video. Some might think that all these guys got together with a ramp in a parking lot and started jumping over cars. The reality is that it took about two months to plan, build the ramp, secure the location and coordinate the photographers, videographers, drifters and Ultra4 drivers.
It Started With a Crazy Idea...
It started with the idea of an Ultra4 rig jumping over a drift car. Quickly, that idea escalated into two Ultra4 vehicles clearing three drift cars simultaneously. Picking the location, drivers and vehicles was easy because all the drivers were already in town for Nitto Tire’s Auto Enthusiast Day that was to be held in the parking lot of Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California. What they didn’t have figured out was how they were actually going to execute the spectacle without crushing a drift car.
Putting the Pieces in Place
The Driving Line team sourced stunt coordinator Ron Stobaugh to plan the jump and manage the different vehicles and distinctive driving styles while keeping everyone safe. Stobaugh was another obvious choice for the team with his considerable knowledge of off-road stunts. “I’ve been racing since dirt was invented—I started way back in ’91,” Stobaugh said. “I stopped racing awhile back and now I run a desert race school (www.desertraceschool.com) where part of the curriculum is jumping.” After a few conversations with Driving Line and Loren Healey, Stobaugh worked out the math for the ramp, including his projections of how it would work and what the ramp dimensions should be. The next challenge was building the ramp.
Chris Begley of Welding Sparks in Riverside, California utilized his 25 years of off-road fabrication experience to build the ramp to Stobaugh’s specs. “I’ve built off-road cars, and sand rail frames/cages, tons of display ramps and shock-tuning practice drive-up jump ramps, but this was only the second full-speed (100-110mph) jump ramp I’ve built,” Begley said. There were other specifications for the ramp as well—it had to be adjustable and it had to be mobile, meaning it would need to have the ability to separate into manageable pieces.
The two bottom corners of the apex side of the ramp can be adjusted almost 12 inches, and it can be divided in half to make transportation more manageable. “I used 2x.120-inch square tubing and a lot of triangulated supports for extra strength, unfortunately that adds a lot of weight. I had to keep the weight down where I could, so I used two layers of three-quarter inch plywood that can be replaced as it wears out. Each side of the ramp weighs approximately 750lbs and each section can be moved by four or five people,” Begley said. With the ramp built, Begley had to figure out how to transport the beast—and cannibalized a boat trailer for the heavy lifting.
The morning of the jump day was the first time all the components came together. With the ramp assembled and anchored to the asphalt, the Ultra4 drivers started practicing jumps and warming up their Trail Grapplers. “With a jump like this, the landing can’t come up short. We had to adjust the speed of the rigs and take into consideration the different handling characteristics of each truck to get it right. It took us about a dozen tries before we were ready to jump over the drifters,” Stobaugh said. Once they had nailed the jump, it was time for the drifters to start spinning their NT05s.
"At first it was difficult to keep all three of the drifters door-to-door and well within the safe zone in close proximity to the ramp—the timing had to be perfect," Stobaugh said. “The first time we tried the jump with all of the players in action at the same time, it went perfect. Unfortunately, none of the cameras were rolling yet, and it took another dozen or so tries to synchronize everyone just right,” Stobaugh continued. “I knew the Ultra4 guys, but I’d never met the drifters until the day of the jump. It was a really long day, but everyone worked together like they had been friends their whole lives. I think that’s what made it all work so well.”
Overall, the video came together perfectly. Now, the only problem is how to top it next year.