Brian Ellinger on Episode 149 features Toyotas, rockcrawling and Front Range Offroad


Toyota expert, Brian Ellinger, joins us on Episode 149. Brian is the owner of Front Range Offroad and Diamond Axles, a former rockcrawling competitor, Brian aspires to a quiet life where it’s less people-y. Tune in to your favorite podcast app to listen in.


6:30 – wood does things metal doesn’t, like warp when it gets wet

10:55 – the backpacking mentality works with my brain

20:07 – “what’s a tombstone?”

26:50 – what better time to take the plunge, there’s plenty of time to recover if you go broke

33:51 – we’ve only kept the things that people actually want

41:59 – I met Dave face-to-face in a dirt lot swapping an engine the day before the comp

52:15 – you guys do really well on the hard, technical, weird stuff

57:41 – I’m not trying to win, I’m just trying to finish

We want to thank our sponsors Maxxis Tires and 4Low Magazine.


[00:01:47.640] – Big Rich Klein

on today’s episode of conversations with big rich, we have Brian Ellinger. Brian is a Toyota guy, a business owner, ex rock crawling competitor. He runs Front Range Off Road- Diamond Axle and is currently residing in Colorado. Brian, thank you very much for coming on board and talking with us.

[00:02:08.960] – Brian Ellinger

Thank you very much, Rich.

[00:02:10.740] – Big Rich Klein

So let’s jump right in. Where were you born and raised?

[00:02:15.520] – Brian Ellinger

Bay Area of California, actually.

[00:02:17.840] – Big Rich Klein

Okay. And you said, let everybody know that I screwed up and forgot to hit the recording button. So a little bit of this Brian and I have already talked about. So I’ll lead him on to get the answers that I had the first time. And you grew up between in the San Francisco Bay area. Between San Jose and San Francisco, correct.

[00:02:38.520] – Brian Ellinger

Yes, sir. Yeah, a bit more south towards the San Jose area, but yeah, right in there.

[00:02:42.940] – Big Rich Klein

Okay. And that area is urban? I wouldn’t call it rural, but it’s not a heavy city either. San Jose and San Francisco would be that and the schooling. What school did you go to high school?

[00:02:58.800] – Brian Ellinger

The high school was Gunn high school, actually.

[00:03:01.360] – Big Rich Klein

Oh, I remember swimming against Gunn. Very, very good pool facility.

[00:03:07.760] – Brian Ellinger

Oh, got you.

[00:03:08.960] – Big Rich Klein

And some really good swimmers came out of there anyway. So what kind of student were you? Did you do a lot of electives or sports or band or anything like that?

[00:03:23.560] – Brian Ellinger

No, not really. I was really a student that wanted to get out of school, wanted to do other things. The typical reading, writing, arithmetic, grind of high school was not my forte. I could do them, I do tests well or testing well. But the monotonous homework piece of the puzzle was certainly a tripping point.

[00:03:51.840] – Big Rich Klein

And as you were growing up, what kind of interest did you have?

[00:03:58.320] – Brian Ellinger

Really? I would say outdoor stuff, things with your hands. Took woodshop in school and then got into machining classes into the community college there. Aside from that, as far as school related stuff, a little bit across country, I think maybe the first semester of high school at most. Other than that, no team sports or anything like that.

[00:04:27.580] – Big Rich Klein

And you weren’t a party or definitely not.

[00:04:32.140] – Brian Ellinger

I’m not the social butterfly in the family.

[00:04:35.280] – Big Rich Klein

Okay, so you weren’t hanging out in like, our high school, we had an area called Marlborough Country. That’s where all the smokers and stoners hung out. And then we had like senior rail, and just off of the senior rail around the rally court, you’d find more of the jocks hanging out there. Was there spots like that in your school at gun?

[00:05:01.710] – Brian Ellinger

There were gosh, it’s been a minute, so I’d have to even think about it. I had not normal high school situation, so I only attended the actual high school for about a year and a half and then was able to get into a program that was just launching, I think it was the first year that they did it. And so I actually went to the local community college for the next year and a half and graduated early because I was taking college classes, which qualified for more credits, more high school credits. So if, for example, you’d take a semester of college, it would qualify for, say, a year of high school.

[00:05:49.650] – Big Rich Klein

Okay, cool. And that was more of like in the trades?

[00:05:54.660] – Brian Ellinger

That was a bit more in the trades. It was also just checking off your general stuff, your history, English kind of thing on the high school level as well, but being more concentrated classes, they’re harder, they run faster. Of course, we all know that. But I was able to jump into stuff that I wanted to more be doing, which was the machining end of things at the college there.

[00:06:21.440] – Big Rich Klein

And what got you into that kind of interest.

[00:06:30.180] – Brian Ellinger

Really was shooting for an engineering degree at the time and really just wanting to understand and how to make things. My father did a bit of woodworking, so I had my head wrapped around how that worked and how to make a lot of stuff with wood. But of course wood does things. Metal doesn’t, like warp when it gets wet and things like this gosh, I want to play with metal because it doesn’t do these kind of things. You just have to worry about rusting. So, yeah, that’s really what drove me towards the metal side of things.  READ MORE


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