Some 4x4 vehicles enjoy a fanatical following, while others are merely a mode of transportation. One vehicle that has gathered a devout following is the Ford Bronco, and since its introduction in 1966, it has been at the forefront of American four-wheel-drive vehicles. Even its demise can't shake its popularity, and the prices and demand for these vehicles have been steadily climbing (especially for the early Broncos). Many of the owners of these trucks are steadfastly devoted to the vehicles, and to them, nothing else comes close to their durability and classic good looks.
Illustrating this are the 150 die-hard Bronco fans who came to Murphy, North Carolina, to take part in the third annual East Coast Bronco Roundup (ECBR). The event was the brainchild of Bronco owner (and die-hard Bronco fan) Mark Shainman, who used to spend some of his time looking out his office window in Arlington, Virginia, contemplating why all the cool Bronco events took place on the other side of the U.S. Now Shainman is a smart guy (double major in college, and currently a Senior Research Analyst at a large I.T. firm), so in 1999, he formulated a plan to create an event where Bronco owners could unite and celebrate the vehicle they all love. Thus, the first ECBR was born, and it was a modest success with more than 20 Broncos in attendance for a weekend of 'wheeling in the Upper Tellico ORV area near Murphy, North Carolina. Then things really took off, when Ford Motor Company committed sponsorship to the ECBR for the second year, and the East Coast Bronco Registry was formed (it's an Online brotherhood that now totals more than 800 Bronco owners representing ownership of 1,004 Broncos), and Randy Thomas (another Bronco owner) of Performance Unlimited in Hartford, Wisconsin, built a Web site featuring information and photos from the first ECBR event. These things combined to raise interest in the second annual ECBR, and the number of Broncos doubled to more than 70 in 2000.
This year, the event returned to the Murphy, North Carolina, area and continued its triple-digit growth pattern by drawing more than 150 Broncos to the third annual ECBR. The two-day event drew folks from ten different states and from as far away as Texas. One of the most important things to note about the ECBR (and the most mind-boggling) is that it's free. The ECBR's motto is "fun and free," and they take that motto very seriously, pointing out that their existence is not about making money. Volunteers run the entire event, and anyone is welcome to attend as long as they own a Bronco. As a matter of fact, it actually benefited participants to attend, because in addition to the fun and companionship, the event distributed more than $30,000 in prizes at the Ford-sponsored cookout on Saturday evening. The only other thing they could do to make it more desirable is give you gas money to make the trip. Major sponsors included Ford Motor Company, K Bar S, Wild Horses, James Duff, Warn, Superwinch, Performance Unlimited, D&C Extreme, Tractech, Goodyear, Bestop, and Four Wheel Parts Wholesalers, along with scores of others who generously donated goods and services to this awesome event.
Each day, four levels of trail rides left from the central meeting area, and they covered each difficulty level (easy, medium, difficult, and hard-core) of trails in the Upper Tellico ORV area. In addition to great trail rides, the event also featured a Rock Challenge competition on Friday morning, an RTI competition Friday evening, a group photo on Saturday morning, and a show 'n' shine and cookout on Saturday evening. In addition, a group of Ford Motor Company staff attended the 2001 ECBR, and they brought with them a number of test vehicles, including some test mules sporting yet-unreleased mods for future vehicles.
In only three years, the East Coast Bronco Roundup has become one of the premier Bronco events in the country, and it will undoubtedly continue that trend because of its design, execution, and ability to provide a great time for Bronco owners. The ECBR will return to the Murphy, North Carolina, area in June of 2002, and for more information, contact Mark Shainman at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the East Coast Bronco Registry official Web site to view photos from previous events at www.performanceunlimited.com/ecbr.