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The SoCal Staff was created to help further the club and to keep its members informed about all things Toyota and 4x4 related. The SoCal Staff will also help its members find new and exciting trails, as well as to make sure that the club and its members are safe on trail runs. They are also here to answer any questions you have about the current or upcoming SoCal TTORA runs. They will know the trail ratings, what equipment will be needed, and if a certain trail is better suited for a particular type of truck (4x4, Lifted, PreRunner, Desert Racing, etc.).

They are also available to you if you decide to take a trip without the club, and you would like to know more about the trail you are heading out to. They will keep maps, trail info, and trail location information, and make it available to all SoCal TTORA members.

Each staff member will have a general knowledge about all things Toyota but each staff member has his own area of expertise. This page will give you the information you need to contact the staff member that will best be suited to answer your questions. The specialty and number system below each staff member's name is to help you find where that persons expertise lies. The number system breaks down as follows:
(1) - Wide open terrain and desert racing (2WD or 4WD)
(2) - Easy to moderate trails (2WD or 4WD)
(3) - Moderate to difficult trails with rocks (4WD)
(4) - Full out rock crawling (4WD)

Michael Ramos - President


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Specialty: 2,3

I was born and raised right here in beautiful Southern California.  I currently live and work in Riverside and you can usually find me out of the house on the weekends.  I've never been content sitting around at home.  I was fortunate growing up with parents who loved the outdoors.  I've seen, and camped, most of California and have been cross-country all over the west, mid-west and southern states.  I always wanted to explore off-road but wasn't able to until I bought my '04 Tacoma 4x4.  TTORA got a hold of me soon after and I've never had a better place to access information to build my rig.

I'm very lucky to live where I do.  I have the San Bernardino mountains practically in my back-yard, Barstow and Calico a hop away from that, and Anza Borrego to the south.  I love to wheel all over but have a special place my heart for Anza Borrego.  My truck has a mid-travel lift and plenty of armor.  It definitely gets used and I'm constantly testing it's capabilities.  I enjoy everything from a scenic fire-road to the rock crawling offered in Big Bear and Calico.  "Nobody gets left behind" is a huge standard of mine.  I'm always the first to lend a hand to get a truck up and running again.  I truly believe everyone has a responsibility to help keep our trails open to the public and I like to lead by example.  I look forward to the years ahead with the chapter and the many friends I'll meet along the way.

Garry Hill - Vice President
Garry Hill

Specialty: 2,3,4

For me, it began back in ’83 when my dad took me out to Anza Borrego to wheel the AMC Eagle. He soon upgraded to a Nissan P/U and later a Ford Ranger that I rolled outside of Borrego Springs shortly after turning 16 in 1992.

I purchased my first truck (87 Toyota x-tra cab) when I was 18 and owned 4 other Tacoma’s until 07. My trail vehicle of choice now is a 97 Lexus LX450 (FZJ80 Landcruiser) allowing the wife and kids to wheel in comfort. We enjoy all types of terrain but have started to increase the number of hard trails we go on.

Billy Dawson - Trail Leader

Specialty: 3,4

Hey guys, my name's Dawson. I was born 'n raised in the swamps of Florida 'til I moved out to SoCal about 11 yrs ago. I made the transition from mud bogs to rock crawlin', bought a Tacoma, found TTORA, and the rest is history.

Jamie Franks - Trail Leader
Jamie Franks

Specialty: 2,3

I'm Jamie - SAR_Squid79 on the boards. I'm a US Navy Rescue Swimmer. I'm originally from North Carolina. I've been in the Navy for over 11 years. 8 of those years have been in SoCal. I got into wheeling by accident. I bought my 2WD TRD PreRunner, and was researching some mall wheeling modifications, and stumbled across TTORA. I saw pictures of trucks just like mine on the Rubicon, and in Moab, and said to myself "I want to do THAT!". The rest is history - EXPENSIVE history!

I have been an active TTORA member for over 4 years. My truck started as a 2WD PreRunner, and is now an armored, supercharged, 4WD beast. My goal has been to build a well-rounded truck capable of everything from daily driving, to trail riding, to mild rock crawling, to self-sufficient overland expedition. My truck has taken me all over the USA. I've wheeled Corral Canyon, Truckhaven, Ocotillo, Anza Borrego, Hot Springs Arkansas, Harlan Kentucky, Badlands Indiana, The Cliffs Illinois, MIOBI Iowa, and all over Moab. I'm very excited to give back to the organization that has taught me so much. I'm a VERY FIRM believer in 'Tread Lightly', and responsible wheeling.

Jason Demello - Trail Leader

Jason Demello

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Specialty: 3,4

I was born and raised here in southern California; my second home would have to be Joshua Tree. Or as my circle of friends refer to as "The desert". I have been off-roading for almost eleven years. I started out on dirt bikes and through the years have ridden and driven almost every form of off road transportation known to man. The first 4wheel drive I ever drove was an International Scout. I think I was 14years old. My first 4-wheel drive I have ever owned is a Suzuki Samurai. I have driven many friends, relatives, and parents 4x4's through the years. Most of these were Toyotas.

Wyatt Scott - Trail Leader

Wyatt Scott

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Specialty: 3,4

I was born and raised in West Germany and didn't come to the States until I was 18. I've been all over the world but now call Southern Cal my home. My first experience with off-roading was with my uncles Unimog in Germany. He works for Lowenbrau with the draft horses and he would let me play in the mud with his Unimog. I didn't have much contact with off-roading again until I came here to the States. My first 4x4 was an orange and black 1980 Dodge Power Wagon that every one called the "great pumpkin". After having that I built hot rods and it wasn't until 1999 that I bought my first Toyota 4x4. It was a 1989 4runner and I loved that truck. Then in September of 2001 I read an article about Tacomas climbing in Moab and I had to have one. I bought my 02 Dbl Cab in October of 2001 and joined TTORA shortly after. Then I sold the '02 and Jason Talked me into getting the '05 Tacoma so we could cut it up. The rest is history.

I would say that rock crawling and extreme trails are my favorite but I love all that off-roading has to offer and I plan on making the off road world my future. I love going out to find new trails and to help others do the same.

Tyler Barkwill - Trail Leader / Webmaster

Tyler Barkwill

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Specialty: 2,3

I got the 4x4 bug from local friends who traveled off-road as part of a type of scavenger hunt event called T-hunting. Even though I drove a 2wd station wagon at the time, that car was known for going places some of the 4x4 vehicles would not. I bought my first 4wd truck a few years later. It was a 1993 Toyota pick-up. Unfortunately its life was cut short when a friend of mine rolled it 2 months after I got it. I bought a 1995 Tacoma truck as a replacement, and still drive that truck today.

My truck now has over 250k miles and is on its second engine. Its still mostly stock which is probably why its lasted so long. Hopefully it lasts a lot longer because I need it to tow the Waverunner to the lake on the weekends!

John Lopez - Trail Leader

Specialty: 1,2

When I was 12, my cousin bought a new Toyota 4x4 pick-up. At that point I knew what kind of truck I wanted when I grew up. Unfortunately I forgot to buy the 4wd. My truck is a '01 Toyota Prerunner 2wd without lockers. Though my truck has its limitations I do my best to explore the open desert and the Rocky Mountains. I love exploring the Mojave Desert and enjoy the scenery of Big Bear, Calico and Anza Borrego. Most of the trucks on TTORA are 4wd but I don't let that stop me. I like to challenge my truck and push it to its limits. I enjoy camping with the TTORA crew and sitting around the campfire talking trucks and listening to dumb jokes. You will usually find me camping with my two young sons while they drive me crazy.

I've learned a lot about my truck over the past few years by reading through the TTORA threads and talking to other members. I'm proud to say I've done all the work on my truck or with the help of others. Just when I think I'm done with my truck I find a new project.

If you're new to the forum or you have a 2wd truck, don't hesitate to come to the monthly trail runs that are open to 2wd trucks. When researching 2wd trails I do my best to make it adventurous and sight-seeing.



Mike Van Dyne - Trail Leader

Specialty: 2,3,4

Let’s start with the important part. Wheeling.   My start in offroading was as a kid.  We grew up riding motorcycle’s, mini bikes and whatever we could use out in the desert.   Time went on and I was able to purchase my 4 wheel offroad vehicles.   The  1st was a 1979  Subaru Brat. After a few trips out in the desert it was evident that this was not going to cut it as a real offroad vehicle.  The next 2 vehicles were a little more in line.  1 beat Toyota Landcruiser with a 350 Chevy engine and a 1980 Jeep CJ-5 brand new off of the lot.  Time passed and I wasn’t able to keep up with the offroading ( Family , Kids etc) until the purchase of the 2006 Toyota Tacoma.  After many years of upgrades and changes this truck has taken my wife and I on many fun wheeling trips throughout California and Moab , Utah.  I have added a 1990 pick up that has been converted to a solid axle.  You’ll see it out on the trail.

Ok a little about me.  I was born and raised in the high desert of SoCal.   I worked as a Union welder/pipefitter for 20 years before moving to the Operating Engineers as a stationary engineer (high rise buildings and big equipment).  I enjoy working on the trucks and doing as much fabrication as time allows.  My home shop has continued to grow throughout the years and I am usually there whenever time allows.

I am glad to be a part of the SoCal TTORA staff and look forward to seeing you out on the trail.     Let’s Get Wheeling.


Last Updated on Thursday, 03 November 2016 18:12