Each spring, we're always impressed with the crop of new-and-improved 4x4s that roll through the gates of the first 4-Wheel Jamboree of the season. After all, we're often on the sweaty end of the wrench ourselves, so we can appreciate the hard work that goes into building an awesome machine. The 3rd Annual O'Reilly Auto Parts Ozark 4-Wheel Jamboree Nationals kicked off the 2000 Special Events Performance Series schedule, and after cruising the grounds of the Ozark Empire Fairgrounds seeing all the new trucks, it was clearly obvious that the previous winter's downtime had been used wisely by a number of truck owners.
Nowhere was this more apparent than in the Show-'n'-Shine where the bulk of the 825 registered vehicles were gathered. The Ozark Jamboree drew a wide range of 4x4s, which included trick show trucks such as Gary Dedick Sr.'s stunning '78 Jeep CJ, which sported intense custom paint (both on the exterior and the drivetrain), massive meats, and a huge blown engine. These mods combined to win him the Grand Champion award in the Pro/Modified Class. Chris Burch's '79 Ford pickup represented a capable 'wheeler/daily driver with its 400ci engine, a Dana 44 front diff, a 9-inch rear diff, 4.11 gears, a 9-inch Skyjacker suspension lift, and 38-inch Swampers. We were also impressed with the number of trail-ready machines, such as Bradley Bell's 2000 Wrangler, which was beefed up with almost every functional item known to mankind. It also has some totally cool custom trail-ready mods including a re-routed air intake for deep water crossings, loads of storage for trail items, and a full complement of integrated switches and gauges.
As with all Jambos, professional vehicle judging was offered to all participants by simply driving through a judging lane during Saturday's show. Located in and around the Show-'n'-Shine was the Performance Marketplace, which offered aftermarket accessories from local and national companies, including Jamboree seasoned sponsors Flowmaster Exhaust, Rancho Suspension, Rhino Linings, Sears, National Tire and Battery, and Weld Wheels. New to the Performance Marketplace (and debuting at the Ozark Jambo) was the Family Fun Zone, which offered a number of free activities geared for kids, including a chance for the youngins to race battery-powered Jeeps head-to-head on an oval track. Of course, awesome racing action dominated the Ozark Nationals, and contributing to the non-stop events in the infield were six classes of National Mud Racing Organizations', side-by-side mud racing, five massive monster trucks, a slew of Tough Trucks, the Burnout Competition, a Tug-A-Truck Competition, and a Monster Truck Wishbone - a pair of monster trucks pull a car in two - gotta like that.
In addition to all the aforementioned events, the weekend also featured a number of activities, including an audio sound-off competition sponsored by Competitive Audio, loads of free prizes at the Main Stage, and a Miss Ozark 4-Wheel Jamboree contest, which was won by 22-year-old Tara Harris.
Special thanks go out to the Ozark Mountain 4x4 Club whose members parked their trail trucks for the weekend to help out wherever they were needed. This helped things go smoothly; 22,900 spectators inundated the Ozark Empire Fairgrounds to take part in the festivities.
For more information on this or any of the other Jamborees in the Special Events Series, contact: Special Events, Dept. OR, 804 N. Delaware, Indianapolis, IN 46204, (317) 236-6515, www.familyevents.com.