While early Ford Broncos may be a dying breed, their owners are not. From old to young, these enthusiasts are a stubborn crowd, and new ones continually emerge as early Broncos change hands to create yet more Broncophiles for the ranks. I understand this group of individuals because I was one of them for a few short years after purchasing my very own '71 Bronco at the age of 17. The relationship ended with a rollover, and though I still drove the rig in all of its jalopiness for a while afterward, I eventually gave in and sold it in favor of some more reliable transportation. Bronco love never fades, however, and there's still something special about seeing these awesome vehicles hit the trail.
Hosted by So Cal Broncos, the Big Bear Bronco Bash is held each year in Big Bear, California. So Cal Broncos is a virtual club of sorts that exists as an online discussion group hosted by Yahoo! Groups. The group is dedicated to the preservation of '66-'77 early Broncos. If you're an early Bronco owner, then you've likely stumbled across the So Cal Broncos Web portal, which covers all things early Bronco. Members of the discussion group will often meet for weekend trail runs with others in their areas, and this is how the Big Bear Bronco Bash took shape - with just a group of Bronco enthusiasts who met on the Web going wheeling together. So Cal Broncos founder Dusty Sharp named the time and place and that was it. The inaugural 2002 trail ride drew about 20 vehicles and has grown by at least 10 vehicles each year. This year's event drew 72 early Broncos, the most yet to attend.
Participating in the event is free, and So Cal doesn't exclude other vehicle makes or model-year Broncos from attending, though this year's runs attracted primarily only '66-'77 early Broncos. Because the event is free to attend, you don't end up with mementos such as a dash plaque or T-shirt, though shirts were available for an extra charge at the official meeting grounds. There also isn't a feed-the-masses barbecue, but rather a family-style potluck dinner that all are invited to attend with their favorite dish to share. It's definitely a friendly atmosphere, even for those I witnessed with stock rigs and open diffs on the trails. All were eager to help in times of need and no one complained that another was slowing the group down.
The event started out on a Friday with an icebreaker run that traversed John Bull Trail, and continued through Saturday and Sunday with multiple trails completed each day. Saturday night also featured a raffle with all net proceeds going to California Off-Road Vehicle Association (CORVA) and Friends of Oceano Dunes. For information about next year's Big Bear Bronco Bash or other Bronco-related topics, log on to www.socalbroncos.net.