Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve officially selected our four teams to partake in the upcoming 2019 Junkyard Challenge, presented by K&N. We want to extend a quick thanks to all who applied – we went through each and every application and now, we have our final four. So, without further ado, let’s meet the teams!
Team 1: Team RaceAnything
Clockwise: Jeff Mello, Trevor Huiskens, Jack Tagart, and Kevin Yoder.
Team RaceAnything is led by Jeff Mello and includes Kevin Yoder, Trevor Huiskens, and Jack Tagart. The team is located out of northern California and is bringing a vibe of homegrown, off-roader enthusiasm mixed with racing expertise and a can-do attitude.
“We are so consumed in the off-road lifestyle, that it’s what we eat, sleep and breathe,” commented Jeff.
Jeff comes from a Jeep background, and claims to be the winningest budget off-road driver in the country. He has over 100 career wins and nine championships in Jeep vehicles across several disciplines, including the Baja 1000, UROC World Supercrawl, and other events.
With experience in races like King of the Hammers, Team RaceAnything (Kevin and Trevor are seen here) comes ready to fight!
Kevin Yoder is a “barn builder” and co-driver to Jeff in many of his exploits. Kevin has experience racing and completing the venerable King of the Hammers, a mixed rockcrawling/open-desert race so brutal that it sees more DNFs than finishers – and Kevin has done it in a buggy he built with his own two hands.
Trevor owns and runs WFO Concepts, an off-road shop in Auburn, California. He’s equal parts expert fabricator and super-salesman, and “spends more time wide-open [throttle] than a church door.” He sounds like the right guy for the job!
Jack Tagart is the kid of the group at age 23. He’s a media specialist, but he’s not afraid to get in on the heavy lifting when called upon. His off-roading experience consists of Jeepers Jamborees and NorCal Rock Racing events, the latter of which he’s made podiums on in his short but blooming career.
Team 2: Team NEXGEN
Clockwise: Dez Knight, Don Knight, Chris Nissley, and Kris Steele.
Our next team is Team NEXGEN. A local team here in Murrieta-Temecula, we’re excited to see what our hometown heroes will bring to the competition. The leader is Dez Knight and is rounded out by Don Knight, Kris Steele, and Chris Nissley.
“We’ve been building and racing off-road and 4×4 for over 100 combined years,” explained Dez. “We’ve all grown up in the dirt and passed it down through our families. Our love of off-road brought us to start NEXGEN, and we’re excited to be a part of this!”
Dez Knight’s experience in short-course racing will come handy during the Junkyard Challenge competitions! Photo: Durty Pictures
All four members of the team are true gearheads and racers. Don and Dez have off-road racing in their blood, with father Don racing dirtbikes, Baja Bugs and trucks since the 1970s, and son Dez racing desert and short-course since the late ’90s. Chris races in the Best In The Desert series currently, while Kris earned his stripes off-the-record in import street races.
Team 3: Team Rock Solid Off-Road
Clockwise: Mike Francis, Tyler Francis, Billy Sykes, and James Doughty.
When it comes to premiere-level off-road shops, our minds go to the dudes over at RSO Performance in Hemet, California. We’ve covered builds and expeditions of theirs before, and been blown away by what these guys bring to the table. Tyler Francis, son of owner/founder Mike Francis, spoke to what sets RSO Performance apart:
“We are primarily a shop that specializes in restoring Toyota Land Cruisers, but we also indulge in hot rods, race trucks, buggies, and more,” he said. “We do everything in-house, from paint and body to custom suspensions to engine swaps.”
A small selection of RSO's handiwork.
With 20 years of the shop in business, Mike has cultivated sharp talent and bright minds into the fold. One-off builds of high quality are par for the course for these guys – so how will that play in the Junkyard Challenge? We’ll have to wait and see!
Team 4: Team Damage, Inc.
Clockwise: Matt Moghaddam, Sandy Sausser, Tyler Mitchell, and Rylee Walker.
Finally, we have the team that may very well shake the others to their core: Team Damage, Inc. Their leader is Matt Moghaddam and includes Rylee Walker, Tyler Mitchell, and Sandy Sausser.
Damage, Inc. is a team that reads like an all-star roster – Matt heads things up as the Truck Editor at Driving Line, as well as the owner/operator of Desert Chief Media and social media and marketing director for Dirt Alliance. Suffice it to say, he wears tons of hats, but he gets tons of seat time as well; he’s participated in NORRA and SCORE races, among others.
Sandy Sausser has served as crew chief for King of the Hammers, and has even won at a Jump Champs event. His abilities as shop manager for Shear Performance could help steer the team toward victory.
“We’re four friends based in SoCal who have been building 4x4s and desert racers for most of our lives, both as a hobby and for a living,” explained Matt.
Tyler specializes in Toyota trucks (uh oh, RSO!) and has an eye for wiring, plumbing and finish work. He’s also pitted for multiple SNORE and MORE-sanctioned races.
Then there’s Rylee, whose smile belies a wealth of knowledge and experience. As a fabricator first and foremost, he knows his way around metal, and add to that his past of driving in SNORE, SCORE, NORRA, and other races, and the young man is a force to be reckoned with.
So there you have it! These are your four teams selected for the 2019 Junkyard Challenge. Once again, thank you to all who applied, and we look forward to seeing who comes out on top!