Meet the off-road heroes behind Dirt Every Day
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Fred Williams and Dave Chappelle are the steel-welding, mud-plugging, trail-storming duo behind MotorTrend's hit off-road show, Dirt Every Day. If you've not seen it, it goes something like this: the guys plan an off-road adventure, find a car and then break out the tools to give it the guts needed to tackle America's toughest trails.
They take on some of the most gorgeous scenery in the United States, and not always in vehicles that rolled out of the factory ready for the task. We caught up with Fred and Dave to see what goes into putting together this addictive cocktail of mud and metal.
Before we get started, remember you can grab a free trial of MotorTrend's subscription service and see the guys in action.
Dirt Every Day was born out of tarmac-bound frustrations
The show was born after Fred mentioned to MotorTrend's then-boss that not all car fans like tarmac. "I walked into the office of MotorTrend boss Angus McKenzie and told him that car stuff is neat, but most asphalt-based car shows are two-dimensional – the cars go side to side and front to back. Off-roading adds a third dimension – up and down!"
It wasn't long before Fred was asked to create an off-roading show and to pick a co-host – and he turned to Dave Chappelle. "Dave and I met probably 10 years ago through Ultimate Adventure, a hardcore off-roading challenge. He helped me build a roll-cage for a Jeep, and we used to go four-wheeling in the desert together. He was my natural choice when I needed a co-host – he's a really talented fabricator and we have this quirky sense of humour together."
Pushing cars out of planes
Dave (left) and Fred (right) have worked together for more than 10 years building off-road rigs
While Dave's got the fabricating chops, he praises Fred for being the creative powerhouse behind Dirt Every Day. "Fred has the ability to write down our creative adventure and build ideas, and – more importantly – he can con the higher-ups into going along with them!"
So are there any Dirt Every Day ideas that don't make it off the drawing board?
"Oh yeah!" laughs Fred. "I've been trying to chuck my Jeep out of an airplane and have it land somewhere where Dave and I can go four-wheeling. The bosses keep saying it's expensive to do that… that's not my problem though!"
The guys have some great advice for getting started off-roading
Despite spending much of their time building off-road machines, Fred and Dave's first bit of advice for anyone wanting to get into off-roading is this: "Whatever car you buy, don't worry about doing upgrades before going four-wheeling," says Fred. "Go with other people and just start driving the thing before spending any money on it. You don't need to start out with 40-inch tyres or $20,000 axles."
Dave agrees: "People often ask us what their first upgrade should be – all they need to do is let some air out of their tyres for traction – everyone can afford to do that! Then just go and see what your vehicle can do. Take a friend who has a tow strap – and don't go alone on your first few trips out. Oh, and take a sandwich in your jacket pocket in case you're out longer than you expected."
Their favourite episode is also the most down-to-earth
Looks like the guys are stumped (sorry)
Despite all their years of turning some seriously quirky cars into proper off-roaders, it's one of the most attainable episodes that Dave looks back on most fondly. "One of the most well-rounded episodes is "4x4 in 48 hours", with a '94 Ford F-250 in Colorado. We started with an attainable truck, only did a weekend's work on it and took it to a trail in Colorado that's a bucket list item for lots of people. It showed what you can do in a weekend with a car you can actually get affordably, in a place that lots of people can visit."
But as for their dream build and adventure? Fred has some seriously grand plans.
"Oh that's easy. I want to drive from the top of North America to the bottom of South America in my little diesel-powered Jeep that I drove underwater."
Yep, he drove a Jeep underwater. Check it out in the clip below for proof of how you can do anything with a big enough snorkel.
Back to his dream trip. "There has to be a disclaimer for the length-of-the-Americas trip: top off the whole way. No roof. We'd freeze our balls off in Alaska and sweat through Central America. that'd be amazing."
It's this infectious enthusiasm for proper off-road adventures that makes Dirt Every Day such a compelling watch – even if your petrolhead tendencies tend more towards asphalt-based antics.
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