CHASING SQUIRRELS
4LOW Offroad Magazine|February/March 2021
“ There is a hole here,” I said, gazing through the lime green tubing as the front passenger tire inched closer to the hole. “Uh-huh,” he replied.
Tonya Mercer

“There is a hole here,” I said, a little bit louder. “Uh-huh,” he said as he moved the steering wheel right, then left, then right again in an attempt to find traction for the climb. I put my brand-new camera in its case and wedged it between my knees, tightened my seat belt, and one last time said, “THERE IS A HOLE HERE.” The tire dropped in the hole, and I closed my eyes, fully expecting the buggy to land hard on the passenger side. I felt the movement of the vehicle as we started to fall. I opened my eyes to discover we were lying on the driver’s side, and my camera was gone, buried somewhere in the sand. This wasn’t my first experience in the buggy, but it was my first rollover.

The Rabid Squirrel was built in 2009. My husband wanted a comp buggy; I wanted something that we could go wheeling in as a family. After a lot of looking at builds and budgets, we spent a day test driving a friend’s Formula Toyota. At the time, building an F-toy made the most sense for us. Designed to be an entry-level buggy, F-Toys had a pre-fabricated chassis that you bought then built to class specifications. They were leaf-sprung, Toyota powered, and had a frame under them. Earlier in the year, we had taken the Squirrel to Moab for a shakedown run. The tuning on the propane system was not right.

The engine was getting too much fuel and running too hot. Sadly, the Squirrel spent most of its maiden voyage parked at the house while we wheeled in my 4Runner. Later that summer, the Squirrel made its debut in competitive rock crawling.

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