Recently Utah’s premier 2023 motorsports event was held. Yes, of course we’re talking about the Off-Road Wrecker Games. What, you haven’t heard of the Wrecker Games? Apparently a lot of people had—yes, it was really a thing—because Sand Hollow was jam-packed with spectators, vendors, and of course wrecker crews and support staff.
The event, sponsored by Matt’s Off-Road Recovery (MORR), took place March 9th – 11th at Sand Hollow State Park. Show center was the plentiful sand and rocks just south of the reservoir.
Five off-road recovery athletes competed against each other for “the coveted title of World’s Greatest Off-Road Wrecker!” The competitors, including two from out of state, were:
Rory of Trail Mater, from Moab;
Paul, of Fab Rats, from Glendale;
Eric, of BSF, from St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin;
Matt, of Matt’s Off-Road Recovery, from Hurricane; and
Merlin, of Merlin’s Old School Garage, from Lake Havasu City, Arizona.
Each of the five operates a seriously modified tow truck (wrecker)—think half rock crawler and half tow vehicle—and each has a significant following on YouTube and/or other social media. Accordingly, the event was well-publicized and the crowds were…well, crowded. Around 4700 tickets were pre-sold, according to MORR employees, and walk-ons almost definitely brought attendance to well over 6000. Some spectators reported parking on the highway near Sand Hollow because both improved and improvised parking areas inside the park were inundated.
Speaking of the crowd, one competitor, Rory, could not say enough about how wonderful, considerate, and supportive the crowd was and how much fun the whole experience was.
Events for day one of the competition included rollover recovery, welding skills, and dead pulls—dragging a full-size pickup-truck with a loaded trailer up a sandy beach. Engine dyno testing and a “flex-off“ to demonstrate wrecker power and suspension travel were also featured.
The dead pulls were a hoot to watch since wrecker tires tended to burrow straight down into deep sand, instead of moving forward, while trying to break out the load. Most compensated by getting a run at the task before the tow cable tightened. One competitor even took out a headlight and passenger-side mirror, of the truck being towed, when the harness snapped during an extra-big run at it.
The main event, the Wrecker Rodeo, was the following day. That competition saw each wrecker dragging a disabled SUV up the Triple 7 trail. The route is often treacherously steep and is alternately sandy and rocky, and sometimes both. Regardless, it’s a true test of wrecker and driver ability to conduct off-road recovery in especially challenging conditions. Watching drivers tackle that challenge was highly entertaining, and included an unplanned roll-over recovery when one disabled SUV got flipped on a tough segment of the trail.
So who won? Well, that’s hard to say. Judges made zero claim to being qualified and some admitted that they might be biased. In fact, video evidence of blatant bribery and a “most corrupt judge award” being handed out at the closing ceremony was part of the fun. Perhaps it’s no surprise then that one competitor, Matt, was downgraded for being too good and making things look too easy.
Officially, the standings were: 4th Loser, Matt; 3rd Loser, Eric; 2nd Loser, Paul; and 1st Loser, Rory. The winner was former pro rock crawler Merlin and his huge diesel-powered wrecker. Rory and Trail Mater walked away with the coveted People’s Choice award.
So while it may not be entirely clear who is really the best at off-road recovery, it does seem clear that nearly everyone had a great time with the numerous giveaways, interacting with social media personalities, and viewing some highly-entertaining battles between impressive wreckers and drivers. That’s what the event was mostly about for spectators and wrecker crews. Having fun.
Note: The competitors have YouTube channels with entertaining videos of The Off-Road Wrecker Games.