4WD – Take a deep breath

I have to admit that apart from the sometimes insulting letters from readers who consider me lower than a shark’s shadow because I don’t agree with them about how to pack a tent, I do have a great job. I get to go to great places with my 4×4, shoot some video, and I earn a living at it too. This simplistic view makes it look? well, simple. I wish it was!

Actually, I spend most of my time looking for and chasing sponsors. The equipment, the fuel, the camera crew and all the bits that go with making a TV show cost a great deal, and at the conclusion of production there isn’t much moola left.

“4WD – Take a Deep Breath” is the name of the new series. It began broadcasting on SuperSport on Tuesday 6 October. This is my third TV series dedicated to adventure lovers who use 4x4s as the basis for so many of their pursuits. I’ve called it “Take a Deep Breath” because it’s not just about 4x4s, but more to do with what 4x4s can deliver. They are truly magic machines: Using various 4x4s to reach amazing places, I go snorkeling, scuba diving, hot-air ballooning, land yachting, flying a glider, car racing, exploring, and I spend some time being utterly alone.

This is the first of my TV series where I have teamed up with conservation projects, not only to support them in some way, but also to highlight what good 4x4s can do when used practically. I have also been able to team up with others in the 4×4 industry, some of whom have some clout (a nice word for money).

The lion tuberculosis research project in and around the Kruger National Park is one that has been supported by Jurgens since 2002. Imperial Toyota backs many conservation projects, such as a leopard project based in the Waterberg, and has put its energy behind the TV show, as has Campworld, part of the Jurgens CI Caravan group, and the National Airways Corporation. BP South Africa has supplied copious amounts of fuel for all our travelling, and Toyota South Africa also came through generously.

But I really didn’t want every vehicle in the show to be a Toyota – the show needs variety. So I went to Mitsubishi for a Pajero and Land Rover for a Discovery, but both declined. But from Toyota, I got whatever I asked for. Eventually I did get a Pajero, thanks to a dealer: Mitsubishi Motors Umhlanga.

With this, and some other interesting machinery there is plentiful variety, including a very hot Defender-90 and what must be the fastest 4×4 in the world – a 1500-bhp Lamborghini, its four-wheel drive system enabling this vehicle to accelerate from 100-300 kph in just 11.9 seconds! No, I didn’t drive it but stayed happily strapped in the left seat. “Take your breath away” is not just an expression! In this machine you can’t breathe between 100 and 300 kph.

Another machine that I rode in but didn’t drive was a hot air balloon over the Namib Desert – a truly awe-inspiring experience. A few machines I did manage to drive were a Blo-Cart land yacht, a glider and an Extra-300. This is an aerobatic aircraft with pilot-in-command, World aerobatic champion and Red Bull Air Race Pilot Glen Dell at the helm. But this has nothing to do with 4x4s, I hear you cry. Yes, but it has got lots to do with the competition associated with the TV show, because this is one of the prizes.

Locations are as varied as ever. The support has resulted in more time spent shooting and, in the end, a far more interesting and diverse show. The series consists of the usual 13 episodes of 26-minutes each, shot on the Mozambican coast, in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve in Botswana, in Namibia from the Orange River via the sand sea to Walvis Bay, through the desert mountains of the Richtersveld, the Cape West Coast, the Kruger National Park, and the Lowveld and Waterberg in South Africa.

Contributions toward the “Take a Deep Breath” competition are fantastic, and it runs from 15 November 2009 to 28 February 2010.

What can be won?
For starters, a complete Jurgens XT-140 off-road trailer. It’s an amazing trailer! For those who don’t win that, how about a weekend for two in a 5-star bush lodge, all flights courtesy National Airways Corporation?

For those who aren’t that lucky, how about a couple of laps in a Ferrari Forza Challenge race car? Not exciting enough? Take a spin (literally) in an aerobatic aircraft with World Aerobatic champion Glen Dell at the controls? Not enough? Want something more sedate? Then how about a complimentary rental 4×4 from Britz and a tour for two through the Namib Naukluft Park with Faces of Namib and URI Adventures? And there are dozens of complimentary prizes including Koni gas shocks for your 4×4, flat screen TVs and a bunch of 4×4 books and DVDs.

Our idea is to support conservation, and while doing so we will give away some amazing adventure experiences. When you read this, we will still be deciding how the prizes are to be won, but the more entries you send in, the better your chances of winning. It will be a good idea to watch the shows from episode-8 because many of the prizes and conservation projects are part of the shows (so that I get to have the fun first!).

Details of the show, the conservation projects and prizes can be found on www.4xforum.com.

There are several repeat broadcasts, so it should be possible to watch all the shows. If not, get your mother-in-law to record the shows for you – it will be worth it. Probably. Only residents of the Republic of South Africa are eligible for prizes. Sorry.

The regular prime-time broadcasts are every Tuesday evening at 8:30pm on SuperSport 5, Supersport CSN and Supersport Africa. Good luck and enjoy the show!