I love to shift gears also....thought automatics were garbage. I was given an 06 Pete with an Allison 6sp auto. It was nice for city driving but scary going down hills. If you weren't on the brakes at the right time,the thing would upshift and take off. Next I was given a 15 KW with an Allison 7sp rugged duty trans with deep reduction and a jake brake. The thing is pretty cool to drive,but I do miss shifting.
Kevin: I used to race stadium trucks and cars in a spec class called legends. That was fifteen years ago....lol. I probably wouldn't be much help with pointers because all my stuff is from the dark ages...so to speak. Technology in rc equipment has become much more sophisticated since then......I can't even get parts for what I have. Good luck getting a rock crawler,they are awesome.