The Mid-Florida Jeep Club brings it on the beach
Picture a parade of single-file Jeeps, all sizes and buildups, seven miles long right near the ocean shoreline on a warm sunny day in Daytona Beach, Florida. Picture hundreds of Jeepers relishing this freedom to ride on the beach, with bikinis galore and even a land-use message to boot! You've got Jeep Beach.
Held by the Mid-Florida Jeep Club, Jeep Beach just might be the biggest Jeeps-only event in the Southeastern U.S. We've never seen such a gathering of just Jeeps. It was a five-day series of fun activities and awesome sunny weather. And the event featured a very good cause-non-profit land-use advocacy group BlueRibbon Coalition received a $5,000 donation from the club-based on-site raffle. Sweet!
Held on the infield of Daytona International Speedway, our vendor day was filled with roaring big-block race cars doing laps around our event. In fact, title sponsor Steve Rezek of OR-Fab and Trail Master Suspension couldn't stand it and arranged an eight-lap drive, doing about 150 mph. "I've done dirt-track racing and wheeled for years," Rezedk said, "but driving a Daytona car with the motor roar filling the cab was a toe-curling adrenaline rush."
We were thrilled at the event organization and how well this thing came off for over 2,500 lucky Jeep Beach-goers. The club did a marvelous job of providing plenty of things to do-a kick-off dinner at Hooter's, a scavenger hunt, a Jeep Cruise-In at Daytona Dodge, vendor shows, an awesome series of man-made obstacle courses, and a parade on the beach.
The raffle was a kick. Individual paint buckets were used for larger raffle items so participants could choose where to put their tickets for $40,000 worth of awesome goodies from a huge list of 175 vendors. If you wanted to try for only the prize from Olympic 4x4, Poison Spyder Customs, GenRight, or the Jeep Den, you threw your tickets in those buckets. Kids had their own buckets as well. It was extremely efficient and very user-oriented.
Jeep Division of Chrysler was the co-presenter of the event, with title sponsor being OR-Fab, Performance Accessories, and Trail Master Suspension. Other supporting vendors at the "Rubicon Sponsor" level included Safari Straps, JKOwners.com, sPOD, JeepSkins, River Raider, Rock Krawler, Rusty's Off Road, The Jeep Hut, Jeepers Den, Miami 4x4, Roco 4x4, 4 Wheel Parts, Rugged Ridge, Superchips, Off Road Evolution, and Jeff's Jeep Yard, to name a few.
Our favorite day was the last day-the parade of Jeeps on the beach. Five hundred and eighty-two drivers were registered, a little over 30 Jeeps from the host club, as well as 60 vendor Jeeps and around 65 VIP and spectator Jeeps-bringing the total to 737 Jeeps, all in one location. Every participant in the parade got to see every Jeep as we traversed near the ocean surf line to a turn-around point, and then cruised back, passing each other along the way. Our arms nearly fell off from doing the parade-Jeep wave.
Club president Jeff Sparks said, "I am so proud of my hard-working club and how they have dedicated so much of their family time to make this the biggest and best Jeeps-only event in the South."
Millie Rice, event organizer, added, "Our goal is to keep making Jeep Beach bigger and better with every year, while still maintaining our family-friendly focus." The event expanded from three to five days in 2009, and the registrations more than doubled. "Our hard work and effort paid off," said Rice, "as each and every goal we set for Jeep Beach 2010 was shattered."
Jeep Beach chose two charities for their raffle proceeds, one being the sweet $5,000 donation to BlueRibbon Coalition, the champions of saving trails; the other was another $5,000 to the Boys & Girls Club of Volusia and Flagler Counties, Florida. The Mid-Florida Jeep Club is to be commended for figuring out that while we need to support local good causes, we also have to support our land-use organizations with every event. I hope to be back next year as this event is now on my "must-do" list.
You can learn more and sign up for next year's event at www.jeepbeach.com. While you're online, learn more about land-use issues and join the BlueRibbon Coalition at www.sharetrails.org.