The Kansas OutKast Gambler 500 isn’t a race, it’s a navigational challenge.
“It started out as ‘bring a $500 rig that’ll make it 500 miles.’ Now as long as it’s legal, it’ll run, but the ideals are cheap fun in outdoors and stewardship.” said Oree Klein. “We just try to have fun. It’s a hobby but we try to do something good while we’re having fun.”
It looks like a band of misfits that wouldn’t be out of place in a post-apocalyptic scenario. As rigs rolled through town Friday, necks turned to rubber. While it is made up of a merry band of misfits and odd-ball vehicles from as far away as Minnesota, Chicago, and Washington state, they’re far from the villains found in Mad-Max movies.
Do good while having fun outdoors and being a good steward to the outdoors - that’s the motto. “CKORA (Central Kansas Off Road Association) has been awesome in letting us use their area to set up base camp,” Klein continued. “Along the trail we pick up trash; somebody has already hauled a couch out of the riverbed.” The group’s Association base camp is south of the Radium river bridge.
Along the 500 miles they’ll travel in the Golden Belt area, the goal is to pick up litter while testing their vehicles and their own mettle.
Each course is different. There are navigational markers each attendant will have to hit and the course is designed to see some unique and interesting landmarks that get passed by on the main roads. “We try and stay on gravel roads – pavement is lava is how it goes.”
While they cover 500 miles the attendees must fix what breaks and carry the spare parts they might need, along with hauling out trash they find.
“Some have experience in automotive trades and others not so much but we try and help each other out as much as possible and we have a couple rescue rigs that run around and help stranded vehicles out. Plus, we’ve met some great people throughout the years. One guy in the challenge is somebody we met during a challenge and he keeps spare fuel filters because his rig sat in pasture for years that he drug out and its fuel tank is full of rust.”
They keep track of who hauls out the most trash and award trophies to the top spots and the first back to base camp. This year’s trophy is an homage to the vehicles that enter the challenge, its a raft of spare parts, possibly items left over from building a vehicle in this years challenge.