Rob McKenney: rockcrawler, racer, bump skier, crane operator; great stories for all on Episode 151


With the attention span of a 3-year-old, competitor Rob McKenney, shares some great stories. New York to the PNW, this crane operator knows his stuff and his friends. So good to talk to him again. Listen in on your favorite podcast app.


4:20 – early on, I got relieved of my privilege to ride the school bus

10:54 – if I showed up a minute late, I was working Saturdays for free

14:43 – we pioneered the homeless stuff

21:52 – what are you going to do? I said, Jeff, we’re going to break the axle, and we did

32:02 – the ups I never got great at, but the downhill, gravity is your friend

42:33 – Nick and I had the famous Casey Curry incident where we might or might not have driven over a car he was driving

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


[00:01:47.340] – Big Rich Klein

On today’s episode of Conversations with Big Rich, we have Robert or Rob McKenney. He’s an old CalRocks, U Rock, W e Rock competitor. He also completed in KOH early years. He tried to help us get into Ellensburg into a big gravel pit up there. When he was working as a tower crane technician, of course, Ellensburg, all the neighbors around there complained, or enough of them complained at the city council meeting or county council meeting that they shut us down. But anyway, Robert, it’s nice to have you on board and talking to you again.

[00:02:27.820] – Rob McKenney

A pleasure to be talking to you, Rich. Certainly, thank you for having me. It’s flattering that you want to take the time and discuss my rock crawling and racing career.

[00:02:37.550] – Big Rich Klein

Yeah, absolutely. Well, your name has come up in quite a few conversations, so let’s get started. Where were you born and raised?

[00:02:47.000] – Rob McKenney

I was born in Downstate New York, a small town called Suffolk. Spent until the third grade there, and my family moved to Upstate New York to a rural town called Lafayette, New York, spent my grade school and high school years there. It was farming, mostly communities. Neighbors had all farms. Cows were our neighbors. It was a good place to grow up.

[00:03:15.920] – Big Rich Klein

So you grew up really rural then?

[00:03:19.120] – Rob McKenney

Definitely. Our graduating class was 60, and we all knew each other. That’s awesome.

[00:03:26.700] – Big Rich Klein

It was a small town. That’s pretty cool. So you were… Was there a lot of farmland around there then, I guess? And were you able to explore the other areas or were the neighbors keep out of our property?

[00:03:42.640] – Rob McKenney

No, it was pretty open, good community, good people around us growing up, at least the farmers were farmers. You worked for them as a kid. Hay season, you bailed it and stacked hay. You drove tractor when they needed it. Usually it was being a kid, you did all the hard labor work, shoveled and stacked. It was good living, though. Definitely nothing to regret on that end.

[00:04:09.520] – Big Rich Klein

And so were you close enough to town for school that you were able to walk or were you given a ride or did you have to bus in?

[00:04:20.210] – Rob McKenney

We had a school bus, but I wasn’t always the best behaved kid. And early on, I got relieved of my privilege to ride the school bus. I had a pretty long walk to school. It was about five, six miles and I actually had to cross an interstate where it was a lot longer. And so I’d ride my bicycle or I’d walk to school every day from probably seventh or eighth grade on.

[00:04:48.900] – Big Rich Klein

So crossing the interstate, was that like playing frogger then?

[00:04:53.440] – Rob McKenney

It was. And I had always told my parents there was a culvert, and that’s how I crossed it. But there was going to the culvert, always took a lot of extra time, and I’d always chance getting wet. So I always crossed the interstate. And there was a time or two that the state troopers had stopped and given me a ride to school. And then small town again, they knew me, they knew my dad, so I got the ride to school in the police car, which was always tough to explain to everybody in school while I was getting out of a police car.  READ MORE

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