Super win for ‘Super Jeep’

Alaska’s top off-road racers are from Poulsbo, Kingston

“I tell people I had my wife and my ex-wife fooled. All my closest friends are like, ‘Damn, how did you keep that a secret?”— Carl Jantz, on keeping secret his win in the History Channel show, “Alaska Off-Road Warriors.” History did not want the winners disclosed until after the series completed airing.


POULSBO — Carl Jantz has tackled the demands of owning a small business and has forged a career out of Jantz Engineering. He has challenged cancer against all odds and beat it.

And now, Jantz has defeated the Alaska wilderness — and the best off-road racers the state could throw at him.

“I think we had a lot more experience in off-road,” Jantz said of his edge in the History Channel’s TV show “Off-Road Warriors.”

Jantz and Super Jeep — a 1942 Jeep that Jantz keeps under constant modification — beat four other teams in a race across Alaska for the competition TV show.

Jantz, of Poulsbo, didn’t do it alone. In the passenger seat the whole way was Rich Rudman of Kingston. They were the only team from outside Alaska. The show filmed over summer 2014, with all five teams racing across the Alaskan terrain for a $100,000 prize.

Jantz split the prize money with Rudman first, then he split his own share with Super Jeep to pay for some upgrades. He built a new office for his business, then he went on vacation.

While the race was over long before the show premiered on Nov. 30, Jantz’s neighbors and friends had to wait until its conclusion in January to find out he won.

“The fact is, they shot two different endings,” Jantz said. “We were pretty sure we had it. I told everybody that they shot a few endings so we didn’t know, but we had a pretty good idea.”

He joked, “I tell people I had my wife and my ex-wife fooled. All my closest friends are like, ‘Damn, how did you keep that a secret?’”

Jantz said it was challenging but fun, and he got along with the rest of the competitors — for the most part.

“What I can’t figure out is that Jason character, man,” he said. “He’s nice to your face, but you put him behind a camera and he’s just a jerk.”

Jantz said that all teams were worthy opponents, but keeping a steady pace was one trick he had up his sleeve to win.

“(One guy) had a nice vehicle that should have won, but when he saw a 1942 Jeep beating him, he drove his rig so hard,” Jantz said. “When you are on a trek that long, you can win one day if you push it hard, but you won’t win the long run if you push it hard all the time.”

One day didn’t win the race. Rather, it was the accumulation of time raced over days. Whomever added up the least amount of time won. Jantz kept a GPS system with a timer on his dash, which gave him a pretty good idea of his timing, but it wasn’t that easy to add up.

“We had it on when we were racing, but if a cameraman had to do some set up, or something like that, we stopped the timer,” Jantz said. There were a lot of breaks for camera set up, and taking different shots on the road. “They would be like, ‘Time out — can you do that again and splash more?’” Jantz said. “They’re trying to capture all the action.”

He added, “You have to help everybody out at the end of the day. I wish they had another episode where they go over some details, but the way it was, for anybody to win the prize, everybody has to make it to the end. If you got 50-60-70 miles to go in a day, and you see somebody broke down in the first couple of miles, do you stop and help them or do you go all the way and come back? If you stop and help them, your time is counting against you.”

While Jantz was good at keeping track of his time, he credits a couple of other aspects that gave him the edge in the competition: spares and a Pull-Pal.

“We were faster in getting unstuck than anyone else was. No matter the situation,” Jantz said. “The No. 1 thing that got us through was a land anchor, made by Pull-Pal. It’s a little family-owned business in Colorado. What are we used to in the Pacific Northwest? You get stuck, what do you anchor to?” Jantz said, noting the answer is a tree.

“In Alaska, there weren’t any trees,” he said.The Pull-Pal was the next best thing. It works like a seaworthy anchor, though it is used on land for trucks to attach a line to and pull themselves out of a sticky situation with a winch. Being prepared with plenty of spares was the other advantage Jantz cites.

“I carried a lot of spares and I needed them,” he said. “I had a spare tire, I also had a tractor tire repair kit. There’s one episode where you actually see me repair the sidewall of my tire.“I had spare fuel injection computer, spare starter, spare electric fan motor because we were going through a lot of water. I had a lot of bolts rattle out and I replaced them. And you always carry a lot of wire and duct tape.

“I had 1,500 pounds of extra stuff on my Jeep. It was packed.” At one point, Super Jeep began to develop a crack in its frame. No problem for Jantz and his trusty supply of spare parts. “I always carry a few pieces of flat bar with me,” he said. “It’s still there. I overlapped the crack in the frame and I drilled through. And it’s still holding. It bent down, but it didn’t break in half.”

Jantz is already planning more improvements for Super Jeep, now that he’s had some Alaskan experience, in case the show gets picked up for another season. There is no word on whether a new season of “Off-Road Warriors” will be in production, but he wants to be prepared.

Jantz wants to win again.

“I really had a good time doing it,” Jantz said. “It wore me out. It disrupted my life. So much, that the only way I think to get even, is to go do it again.”