Marissa VanGundy – Ladies Offroad Challenge Featured Entry
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Marissa VanGundy – Ladies Offroad Challenge Featured Entry

Marissa VanGundy – Ladies Offroad Challenge Featured Entry

Marissa VanGundy Ladies Offroad 3Marissa VanGundy
Stoutsville, OH


"Marissa VanGundy, Stoutsville, OH – Marissa and her husband have mud bogged for the last 7 years and been trail riding for the last 5 years. Two years ago she got her first Toyota Truggy, then got a buggy a year ago. Her biggest garage accomplishment has been taking apart and putting back together her axle shafts. Second accomplishment was being able to rewire her buggy. She can change tires, has helped take a part her husband’s motors and put them back together. She admits she is still very inexperienced in the garage, but is always willing to learn and ask questions. By day, she is a self-employed Cosmetologist."

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Marissa VanGundy Ladies Offroad Network 12Tell us about yourself

Hi, my name is Marissa VanGundy, I am a self-employed Cosmetologist who enjoys trail riding, whether I am in the passenger seat or the drivers seat!! I live in a small town called Stoutsville, Ohio. I work in a town not too much bigger than the one I live in. I work hard to play hard!! I don't get many weekends off to be able to be in the woods, but I am hoping this year that will change!

Marissa VanGundy LOC 12How long have you been offroading? 

I started out mud bogging with my husband and his family seven years ago. My husband has had a Toyota Buggy for five years, and I have had Toyota Buggy for two years.

How did you get into offroading?

I started dating my husband seven years ago; he, his dad, brother, and mom all mud bogged. Before I had my vehicle, I drove my husband’s 1978 square body Chevy. My father-in-law had a 1985 Chevy with a 468 big block, with tractor tires on it, but I wasn't allowed to drive his vehicle. A few years later my husband and I bought a Chevy S10 with a 468 big block in it. I loved it!! My first time out in it, I put her on the wall!! After that, we decided to try trail riding. My husband ended up getting a Toyota buggy, and I was his co-pilot. I got that itch to start driving. In 2016, I bought a Toyota buggy with a Chevy 4.3 motor powered by propane, sitting on 40” Creepy Crawlers, 4-linked in the rear and leaf sprung in the front. I took it out in the woods for the first time, and I blew it up! So, we got it back home and swapped out the motors and traded it for my current buggy.

Marissa VanGundy Ladies Offroad Network 12Tell us about your vehicle:

My current buggy is a rear engine Toyota with an AW4 Jeep transmission and a Dana 300 transfer case powered by a 22RE on propane. It's three linked all the way around with 16" Fox Shocks. I have Six Shooters, RCV Chromoly Axle shafts in the front and rear, 529 gears, and rear steer. She is all black, her given name from her previous owner was Back Burner.

Marissa VanGundy Ladies Offroad 3What has been your favorite offroad experience?

My favorite off-roading experience was the Diablo Run of 2016. The Diablo Run is on Labor Day weekend, those that go end up going to three or four different parks. That year we started out at V-Gap, Athens and then to a private property in Ohio. My husband and I started out the day with a bad thermostat. We had to run back to town get a new one. After we got back, we fixed the thermostat, then we attempted the waterfall where we twisted the drive shaft like a pretzel. We were able to get out and make it back to Marissa VanGundy Ladies Offroad 3camp. One of our buddies, Jason let us use his spare drive shaft to get us back on the trails again. We decided to go back in the woods again and try Venom. Once we made it to the bottom of Venom our transfer case broke. It took two buggies hooked to ours to get us out. After what seemed like forever, we made it back to camp and were ready to call it a day, but our off-roading friends said that was not going to happen. We had all kinds of people help get the old transfer case out. One guy called his son to go pick up a spare transfer case and meet us the next day at Athens. When we made it to Athens, we found out that we had a bearing Marissa VanGundy Ladies Offroad 3going out on the trailer and it was a miracle we didn’t lose the tire going down the road. So, once again we had people helping fix the bearing and putting the transfer case back in so we could wheel with them for the rest of the weekend. We blew the buggy up and had to go home anyway. Moral of the story is, even though we had bad luck we have some amazing friends that helped us out when we were ready to throw in the towel. That is what made it my favorite experience!

Marissa VanGundy Ladies Offroad Network 12What was your most exciting offroad achievement?

My most exciting off-road achievement was going to Heiney Farms for the last ride of the year. It was raining and was a muddy mess. I didn’t care, because I finally got my buggy back together after breaking my rear third member and having to put new gears in it. Our group started out on some easy trails, then went for a few of the harder ones. I pulled up to try and make a lefty. I took off with my foot on the floor, a lucky bounce and made it up lefty with ease. My husband didn't think I would make it up because it was my first time. After I did that, I wanted to try Excalibur, it was one of the hardest obstacles on that run. It's uphill with a huge rock in the middle that you have to get over with your front and rear diff. After that, there is a rock shelf you have to get your front end on and heat your tires up until they grab and sling you up and over. I didn't make it all the way up but at least I was able to try it, and that was the best feeling in the world!! I can’t wait until I get to try it again this year, and hopefully, I make it this time!!

Marissa VanGundy Ladies Offroad Network 12What excites you about offroading?

The most exciting part of off-roading for me is when I'm in my buggy in the woods, where I don't get cell phone service, I'm with friends and family for a great weekend away from reality!

What do you think is the most challenging aspect of offroading?

To me, the most challenging part of off-roading is having the nerve to get in a jeep, buggy or whatever you own and try it. You never know how a bounce is going to take you no matter how many times you try, how the right line makes it or how the wrong line can land you on your top. If you don't try it, then you will never know whether you could have made it or not.

Which aspect of offroading do you think is the most fun?

The best part of off-roading is getting to be in the woods in my buggy and meeting new people. Being able to watch how other people with all different types of rigs approach an obstacle. Learning that having a good spotter can make a huge difference.

Marissa VanGundy Ladies Offroad 3What does prepping for an adventure look like in your world?

Complete chaos... I work a lot, so when I have the time to pack and get everything ready for a weekend away, it's a mad rush to try and get everything ready. Along with making sure someone is at my home to take care of my dog. Squeezing in every last customer that I can before I have to leave. Getting some garage time in with my husband to work on my buggy and pack tools and extra parts. I may overpack just a little, but I would rather have too much than not enough.

Marissa VanGundy Ladies Offroad 3What is on your offroading bucket list?

Improving my driving skills, learn how to use my rear steer better. I would like to make it up the Water Fall at V Gap and Excalibur at Heiney Farms. I want to go to Rush Off Road, Ivy, Harlan and Windrock Park. I would like to be able to wheel more and find new places to go. I would also like to learn how to set up my own 3rd members.

Tell us about who you go offroading with:

My husband and I have many amazing buddies that we try and get on the trails with as much as we possibly can. They are all different in their unique ways. It's amazing how many different people can all love the off-roading life. They are willing to help out, give you pointers, pull you back to camp or stand around drinking a few beers and talk.

Marissa VanGundy LOC 1What is a piece of advice you have been given that you instill in your offroading adventures?

Listen to your spotter. They can see things better than you can, and sometimes they can be the difference between making it up or down an obstacle.

Do you have anything else you would like to add?

I want to say thank you to my husband, friends, co-workers, and clients for supporting me on this journey. I also would like to thank Charlene and her group for putting this all together and giving me the opportunity to get out of my comfort zone and try something new!

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Wow Marissa, this is so cool. I definitely want to go riding with you in your buggy sometime. Does it fit 2?