Me and the 80 have joined a storm chasing team this year

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Jul 2, 2005
New Mexico
Hey all. I'm under obligation to Dr. Joshua Wurman (Home - Center for Severe Weather Research ( for this year's season.

If you don't know, he's the guy riding in back of the Doppler on Wheels (DOW) on "Storm Chasers." I will be in the 80, and the project is covering all my fuel costs. Otherwise, it's all voluntary, and out of my pocket. I'll be hauling gear, and acting as convoy relay, with the main justification being medical support. I'm a newly retired firefighter/paramedic.

It is not certain if the 80 will be on film, but chances are good. This might sound stupid, but my rig is mostly stock, except for 285s. I've been wanting to build it up, but could never justify the funds. If I'm going to do it, now's probably the time. I'm thniking national exposure of a built up 80 certainly won't hurt their value.

I'm considering a lift, rack, winch bumper, and tire bumper. If you have any of this for sale at a really reasonable cost, IM me.

I have to be on the road by May 28.
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Sweet deal! :) Sounds like a blast. Sorry I dont have anything for ya.
Hell Yea! I have actually thought about what would be the perfect 80 for this. Here is what i think.

First, you will be on the road, probably 98% on road. You need to be quick to get in and out of trouble. Looks like you guys stay in hotels/motels, so camping is a non issue.

Here is what i would do:

turbo or supercharger for the power and speed to get you in and out. Keep the lift low and tires relatively small. You are not rock crawling so really you need road manners. If you have lockers then that is more then enough.
Get a ARB bull bar with lights and a winch so if you do get stuck or someone gets suck with you, you can get them out. You also have front end protection from any debris or animals; or the unlikely event you need to push or winch tree debris or other debris out of your way. Lights to help get you through the storms.
heavy suspension springs to handle all the gear.
This last one i'm not sure of, but obviously in the shows they are hit by hail a lot. So i thought a good roof rack could help protect but i'm still not sure. I'm also not sure i would replace the glass with acrylic or something stronger. Again, this is the only one i'm not sure which way i would go on.

Lastly, baseline the fluids and if you have not already, change the Head Gasket. You should be good to go and have the perfect vehicle for this job. IMHO
i wonder if something like the 3M plastic on the windows in bad hail might be a good thing?

Sounds like a fun project, a lift might be nice for getting over debris on the road, however stability for excessive wind and long drives is probally more important.

I dont think anyone will be selling their ARB bumpers etc. for cheap, but you may get a good deal on new stuff if you throw some large stickers (advertising) on your cruiser, especialy if its gonna get tv exposure on discovery. You should try contacting SROR or ARB or whoever and mention this.

Sounds like a great trip though, please post lots of pics and keep us updated!
Talk to IdahoDoug about windshield protection. There was a guy here that was trying to market side window film protection as well. Metal screens over the side windows may not be a bad idea. If you are running gear, a Milford barrier may be a good consideration.
I'll throw in a suggestion for limb-risers. These are one or two steel cables that go from the corners of your ARB bull bar to the corners of your roof rack. I know a professional photographer that ends up shooting a lot of scenes after storms have come through. He's got limb risers on his cruiser and loves them as he ends up driving through or around a lot of downed trees and limbs.
Hey, thanks for the advice! I've actually spent a small fortune with Senior CDan, and have done all rotors and pads, ALL fluids, HG, PHH, '94 radiator, alternator, blue-hub clutch, rebuilt the PS pump, and on and on and on. All Mr. T's parts, all with my own hands. I know her pretty well now, just never have built her up yet.

I don't rock crawl, but will be hauling a lot of gear, so a small lift for weight carrying is what I need. And you're right, we'll be in a motel with every night. He had a list down to his feet of grad students and PhD candidates, but none were paramedics, so I got that slot. I'm pretty stoked about it.
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Need a copilot?

I'm so freaking jealous!!

I'm an amateur photographer and a storm buff. I would sell my left kidney for an opportunity like that!
emphasize the window protection. consider expanded steel to cover windshield, sunroof (if no roof rack), possibly sides and rear - lots of debris possibly flying, not to mention hail.

In a hasty emergency retreat, a broken or even cracked window would sure be a distraction at best, and deadly from flying debris at worst.

Scrap supercharger / turbo, IMHO - you don't need complexity, and when you are on a back road / farm path, it won't be a drag race - if the tornado is that close, you won't out run it. You need reliability and umph. The stock engine has that in spades.

There was a thread a while back about a Stormchaser build. I'll see if I can find it.
whatever it is, man, get started! 3 weeks is not a lot of time! sounds amazing, keep us updated if you can, maybe start a trip report or something (if copyright allows)

I watch that show a lot and see MANY times those guys yelling to get the heck out of dodge. I know i would want extra power for those situations. The 80 is not a race car. plus, if he has done the maintenance and replaced the HG, i think that forced induction is safe.
SC or turbo wouldnt be a bad idea IMO, reasoning... Armor, lots and lots of heavy armor ;)

ARB front fits that bill, Line-X some panels, RoofRack would help protection but would need to be quality one with solid anchor points (if not wind and flying cows may knock it clean off). I like the idea of the limb-risers. Winch of course. May look at a dual battery setup and getting some Aux power and whatnot inside. Are they providing all the communication and etc? And naturally recovery gear.
Yep, i agree. Add additional power and outlets inside rig to run radios, computers, GPS, charge batteries, ect...
Sounds like an awesome opportunity. If there was a living to be made, I would absolutely LOVE to be a storm chaser. Once it starts, you have to keep us posted! I'm sure you'll be in my area, wave as you go by.:D
Contact Lisa Woods at ARB USA, she’s the marketing director. Tell her what you are doing and see if they would like to donate product for signage on your truck. This would be a great PR opportunity for them. Tell her Tare formally from Source Interlink Media thought they might be interested in this. I'm sure they will kick in a lift and bumper, best of luck.
It sounds like quite the adventure. I'm sure you'll get lots of advice, but I doubt anyone is going to be giving up personal gear. You might check with Discovery and find out if you're allowed to have sponsor stickers on your vehicle. That might be worth something to the larger shops.

I wish they would come up with a show title other than "Storm Chasers."

Here in Nebraska, when I hear, "Storm Chasers," I think of glory and adrenaline seeking idiots from outside of Tornado Alley racing around breaking speed limits, destroying property, interfering with rescue response and exploiting volunteer "Spotter" reports to find the most dangerous place to be.

I realize that the Discovery show is more about storm science than reckless endangerment. It does tend to glorify the situation and attract the idiots though.

Working with a well organized science team, you will be in pretty good hands IMHO. They will know better than to put people in harms way. That said, if you're going to be a team medic for this kind of venture, you're in for some interesting times.

From a safety aspect, the sunroof is a weak point. It doesn't happen often, but BIG hail is not unknown. As in baseball sized missiles that punch straight through auto glass and in some cases sheet metal.

Keep the lift low and make sure the tires can split/spit water to cut down on hydroplaning. Maybe go narrow on the tires?

Beware of idiots. When you pull off the side of the road, get all the way out of the lanes. Yes, I know it's easier to get back on if you leave the 2 inside tires in contact with pavement, but there may be idiots (chasers) racing by at 100mph or more going both ways. Again, them getting, "the shot," is more important to them than your anonymous life.

If a tree is down, do not just 'drive through it' even if you have limb risers. Stop, hit the big lights and look carefully to see if there is a power line or barbed wire wrapped up in that tree. Much of the time you're better off leaving it for daylight and finding an alternate route.

Never drive over a field. You -will- get stuck. They're freshly plowed this time of year and they will be water logged and bogged. Barbed wire will do a number on your drive line AND it's vandalism.

Big lights used intelligently. There's city dark, country dark and country in a storm dark. Think of it as being in a cave that is peppered with flashbulbs going off. Having HIDs is handy, but you -must- be careful to shut them down if you can see any other vehicle in the area. Also, keep them pointed downward a bit more than you normally would for rally driving. Any upward light will bounce off of the rain and right back into your eyes.

Full tank of gas. Don't get caught trying to use a gas pump in a pounding thunder/lightning/rain storm in the middle of nowhere. It is unnerving.

All that said, have fun with it. In the end, that type of adventure is more about the people you meet than the chase.

For an even more fulfilling adventure, consider volunteering for the American Red Cross for disaster response. They're often the 2nd team in after a town gets hit. They don't get the glory, but they do a lot more good than the people on the 1st team who drive by 10 minutes after the storm to take pictures of the carnage for their web sites then leave without checking to see if anyone is hurt.

You can probably tell that I do not have a favorable opinion of the new "Storm Chasers" that seem think of it like an X-Games event.

Good luck to you and stay safe. I grew up here and I like a good storm more than most. Don't loose touch with the fact that these storms -are- dangerous.

The idiots out racing/chasing around can be even more dangerous than the storm. Watch out for them.

Another thought, being medic. Possible a good storage system, well organized and easy to operate. Like ^ posted gas maybe needed, cargo space for jerry can or sub tank. Im sure you could go crazy with this build and ideas. :D

keep us posted.


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