Opposite Lock Challenge – Mudgee 2012

There aren’t many comp events where you see a bulk-standard, run-of-the-mill four wheel drive road car lined up against the biggest of comp trucks, but at the Opposite Lock Challenge held over the June long weekend, you would see just that.  Whilst the comp trucks and the standard 4WDs’ don’t compete directly against each other in every event, some of the courses are designed to be direct competition with no difference in the layout.


The OLC is held on 700 acres of private property 30k’s south of Mudgee, NSW.  Property owner Jamie Smith has been opening his property up to the event for the last couple of years and it has been a real hit.  Run by the ‘on all 4’s’ 4WD club, this year’s event attracted over 130 entries with almost 100 trucks competing for a range of prizes.


The event consists of eight individual challenges and competitors have to complete all eight over the Saturday and Sunday of the event.  The full-on comp trucks competing in the Outlaw class also get the opportunity to put their skills to the test in a night time run through the ‘rock and slog’ course which is held in a creek bed traversing some massive rocks and obstacles.


There are four classes that competitors were competing in.  Standard was for standard four wheel drives without lockers, although a factory LSD is ok, and a maximum of 3” lift and 33” tyres.  This was a pretty popular class with all types of vehicles entered including Suzuki Vitaris, short wheel base Pajero’s and your typical Nissan Patrols and Toyota Landcruisers.


If you have a locked diff or lifted the vehicle up to 4”, then the Modified class suits this style of vehicle and this was again a popular class.  Once you start to do more modifications you enter the open class and at the top of the class structure was the Outlaw class where pretty much anything goes.


The family friendly nature of this event was evident in the number of families competing.  Wives and girlfriends were well represented in every class in what is typically a male dominated sport.  The other interesting fact about this event is that it was not actually open to the general public.  To get in the gates you must be a member of an invited 4wd club and whilst you would think this would mean only a few spectators, you’d be wrong.  The event had a huge spectator presence, especially at the night course where a band was playing and kid friendly games, like ‘10 spring bowling’ kept everyone entertained.


The courses themselves were divided into two categories.  The common courses are where everyone does the same course, which are more your novelty type events.     The non-common courses were divided up into different difficulty levels based on the class of car you were driving.


All courses are based on a point system.  The further you get through the course, the more points you get.  Points range from 10 at the start of the course through to 100 points for those who made it all the way through.  There are also penalties for knocking over posts or breaking the bunting.


So let’s cover off each of the common courses where each class does the same course…


Ball Breaker – was a course around a small gully where you had to edge your 4wd up to a pole with a golf ball attached to the top.  You had to touch the pole without the ball coming off.  Knock the ball off and lose points.  This was a tough one for some of the Comp trucks which aren’t great at moving slowly up to a small plastic pole.


Wrong way around – is just that, a reversing test where you had to reverse your truck around a bush track, up a gully and around a 90 degree bend.  No forward power assisted movement allowed or you’re out.  And this event certainly tricked out a few seasoned 4wd’ers.



On all balls – tests the skills of the driver!  No sudden moves in this one as competitors tackle a course that traverses the side of a hill and then does a lap around a dam.  The object was to keep a Frisbee with a tennis ball in it on the bonnet of the car.


Long way to the Top – a simple travel ramp with points scored depending on how high trucks could get their wheels up the ramp.  Point scores were as low as 10 for some of the standard class cars up to 80 for the big comp  rigs.


The action, on the other hand, was at the full competition events where each course was designed for the class of vehicle.  So at each of the four competition events there were four different setups to allow all cars to compete on an equal footing.


The Hill-climb was a tough setup on the side of a rocky and steep section of property that looked as fearsome as it was when the trucks started their ascent.  The outlaw and open class had a tough time getting past the 30 point mark and some carnage was certainly on the cards with one of the ladies ending their run with a rollover.  In the modified class the track conditions were just as tough and most trucks got stuck at the 60 point mark with a step up that was almost impossible to get up.   But when you hear the words ‘impossible’ that just means “challenge accepted” to some drivers, however only two trucks managed the climb to 100 points.  Over on the standard part of the hillclimb, most made it up, however a tricky turn at the 50 point mark caught a few drivers out and they failed to get through.


Rock and Slog was a hard section up a creek bed and whilst most classes finished it in daylight, all the action occurred at night under lights.  With only the Outlaw class competing in the dark, there was a huge crowd of onlookers and a fair amount of encouragement in the forms of loud advice shouted from the banks lining the creek.  And there sure was some action!  Picking lines was the most important aspect of the course and after one truck came to grief and rolled, the line became very obvious.


Rocky Mountain was a series of courses on the side of a rocky hill where climbing big rock steps and picking your line made the difference between a 30 point result and the full 100 points.  The Outlaw class had one particularly challenging section that only the bravest competitors managed to get up.  It was a pretty clear result for the other classes with most grabbing the full 100 points.


The Mud Holes was another story altogether.  It was completely unpredictable who would make it through and the result was some spectacular action from all classes.  Not one of the Open or Outlaw class vehicles made it through, but they sure had fun trying!  With a massive mud hole at the end of the course, most of the trucks looked like submarines with as much muddy water inside the car as outside.


If you wanted to see some wheel articulation in action then the mud holes was the place to be.  There were wheels in the air everywhere.  In the Modified class, the odd truck was making it out of the final mudhole, but not without a lot of revs, a lot of front wheels in the air, and a fair amount of wheelspin.  Over in standard class it was pretty exciting too, with most trucks getting through and scoring 100 points.


There were plenty of smiles all over the property with many first timers having an absolute blast.  This competitor friendly event is sure to continue with great success based on the enormous support it gathers each year.  And despite it being a sunny and fine weekend, the temperature hovered around zero for most of the nights making it one cold, but extremely fun family event.


Check out the story in Issue #3 of Extreme Off-Road Addiction Magazine.

Images by David Sheerman.  Additional images by  Nathan McCredie.







One Comment

  1. Jacinta smith says:

    This is my mum and dads property 🙂
    (Jamie & Juliana smith)

Comments are now closed for this article.