Holley Ford Festival 2021: The Off-Road Experience, Hooptie X and Bigfoot!

10 min read

Holley Ford Festival 2021: The Off-Road Experience, Hooptie X and Bigfoot!

10 min read

For the first time, Holley is incorporating an off-road event into one of their large shows at Beech Bend Raceway! With the assistance of Vaughn Gittin, Jr., Loren Healey, and track builder John Goodby, a special section of Beech Bend will now have a dirt track, complete with plenty of points where vehicles can get airborne. And this isn't just for competitors like the Fun Haver team or for an exhibition with the BIGFOOT monster truck, either...the HooptieX cars from the Gambler 500 will put their machines to the test and there will even be open times where participants who signed up in advance can come out and get their own vehicles a bit dirty!

Hooptie X

Ford Fest 2021 Hooptie X Ford Aerostar

HooptieX (say: "hooptie-cross") is what happens when somebody asks for a little bit of excitement from a Gambler 500 event. There are basic rules in the name of safety, but overall the idea is simple: take Gambler-spec cars and go racing. Sounds like fun? It is, and the Off-Road Experience track is the perfect place for Ford-powered HooptieX cars, trucks and even a cheap, wretched minivan to come out and play! Driving a monster truck is a dream come true for many, and the Ultra4 Broncos are professional-level weapons. Without a doubt, they are going to be a blast, but you haven't lived until you've taken a $500 sedan and sent it flying off of a jump.

ULTRA4 Bronco 4400s

Ford Fest 2021 Ultra4 Bronco 4400s

Ultra4 racing embodies the ultimate form of off-road racing. These Bronco 4400 Ultra4 trucks were built as a collaborative effort by Triton Engineering and Fun-Haver and are designed to run through the dirt like a Lincoln on a long, smooth Interstate. These rigs sport 800 horsepower through a 460ci motor and feature huge tires, 21 inches of suspension travel with a portal axle-equipped independent suspension up front and 28 inches of suspension travel out back. Not only are these Broncos prepared to tackle the largest jumps and whoops, but they are built to also crawl the toughest, rockiest trails found at events like King of the Hammers and Baja. When the plans to incorporate off-road racing to Holley Ford Festival were approved, it only made sense to build a course capable of full sends and 4-wheel drifting through every single corner by these monsters. One thing is for sure, these are nothing like the new Broncos that are hitting the showrooms.


Ford Fest 2021 BIGFOOT

Imagine creating a vehicle so iconic it invents an entire genre of motorsports. The first BIGFOOT started as a 1974 Ford F-250, but creator Bob Chandler went so far into the modifications that it was no longer considered a truck. Instead, it became the first monster truck, birthing a piece of American so pure, it rivals warm apple pie and 4th of July picnics.

Since 1979 there have been a total of 20 BIGFOOT trucks built. In celebration of that Americana, BIGFOOT #18 will thrash the new off-road course here at Beech Bend Park before it gets to flatten some condemned cars on Saturday. Finally, Vaughn Gittin JR. and team will be drifting around BIGFOOT in the oval pit!

Interview: Kyler Millershaski

FordFest21 Millershaski 1

Take a bunch of vehicles that might otherwise be bound for the scrapyard, put some off-road tires on them (or in some cases, don’t even do that), turn them loose on a dirt course and you’ve got the basic ingredients for Hooptie-X. We caught up with driver Kyler Millershaski, who hails from southwest Kansas, to find out how he got involved, why he chose the Crown Victoria as his weapon of choice, and what the series means to him.

ML: How did you get involved with HooptieX?

KM: Long story short, back in my younger days I was really into tough trucks. It was a blast to find an old farm truck, run out and launch it off some jumps. But I was disappointed because you would get about two races out of a tough truck and its toast. It was really hard to put a lot of work into something you were going to just tear up right away. Then I heard about Hooptie X and I kind of followed it for about a year, just looking at it and seeing what it was. It looked like a really fun series, but their goal isn’t to destroy the car, but just to have cheap rally cross racing. There are some jumps and I’m really good at breaking ball joints and tie rods, but I’m going on two years with this car and it’s just a lot of fun. You can put some work into it, add some safety features and just tinker on it. I enjoy racing as much as I enjoy working on the cars. It’s the cheapest rally cross racing you can do.

Millershaski P4

ML: How did you decide on a Crown Victoria being your weapon of choice?

KM: When I was younger, I grew up watching Cops on TV and always enjoyed seeing the Crown Vic police cars. Our sheriffs had them and I thought they were the coolest things. I always wanted one to drive around and this was a good excuse to get one. I did some looking online and they’re relatively easy to lift a couple inches and put on some bigger tires. Mainly I’m living out my childhood fantasy of driving around in a cop car.

ML: Besides tires and suspension, what other mods have you made to the Crown Vic?

KM: I put a locking differential in and a tune from Martin Oaks on the engine, who has some of the best tunes for the Crown Vics and Mustangs I’ve found. I did lift it about four inches using Expedition springs in the rear and Explorer springs in the front. I put in a 4-point harness and bucket seats because I like to send it off some jumps but don’t like bouncing around. I did upgrade the Watts link studs and components from ADTR. I want to put a turbo on it and maybe an I-Beam front suspension, and that may be a winter project this year.

FordFest2021 Millershaski 2

ML: About how much do you have invested in the car?

KM: The car was relatively cheap. It had a bad engine so I swapped in a Mustang engine. I’ve also put some more expensive shocks in it, but I might have a couple grand in it now. It starts off as an easy thing like upgrading the shocks, then there goes $500. You can spend as much or as little as you want to on these things. That’s the great thing about Hooptie-X, they’ve got different classes for 2WD, 4WD, the “hater” class (which is pretty much the "anything goes" class. -Ed.) and a super soft class for like your side by sides and trophy trucks. That’s nice because it keeps it competitive for the different classes.

ML: Are you touring with the series?

KM: Yes. I’ve been here to Kentucky, they’ve got one in Denver, Arizona and Southern Indiana. I did miss one in Oklahoma, but I’m excited to go out to the Mint 400 (Las Vegas) this year. Hooptie-X has about 26 races across that nation, so it works out there’s an event about every two weeks. I think they closest one I’ve been to me was five hours away and the farthest was about twenty. It’s worth it just to come out and have fun.

FordFest21 Millershaski 3


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