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Gravelrama XXXII, Cleves, Ohio - Premiere Family Racing and 4x4 Event

Posted in Events on December 1, 2002 Comment (0)
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Photographers: Jill Markland

Some events are timeless, and this sure is one of them. For 32 years the Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky 4-Wheelers (IOK) have been presenting Gravelrama, America's premier family racing and 4x4 event, in Cleves, Ohio. We've actually read about this happening for years, as well as covered it ourselves more than once. But you just can't appreciate the magnitude of the event unless you go there yourself. Tens of thousands of spectators jam the club-owned gravel pit for a weeklong spectacle of flat drags, truck shows, obstacle course, junior racing, uphill drags, and the granddaddy of them all, the Big Elim. The Big Elim is a 150-foot-tall mound of pure pea gravel piled to a 75-degree angle into the sky. Power, tires, and technique are what's needed to scale this monster, and only around 300 rigs in the last 32 years have made it over the top.

We met Toby Kelly at an East Coast 4WD Association meeting (which sanctions Gravelrama), and he invited us out to join in the event since it had been a few years since we covered it. We don't get as much East Coast coverage as we would like, so we jumped at the chance. Even the August heat didn't deter us from attending, and we're glad we did. Gravelrama is a family institution created and cared for by dedicated four-wheelers. As such, we're sure that many more generations of family fun will be had for many more years. For more information, visit or

More Fun Than AllowedEditors don't often get a chance to do any 4x4 driving ourselves when we cover an event, since we have to take all the photos. Luckily, Toby Kelly, the tech and dragstrip chairman for Gravelrama, also runs a big-block sand dragster and offered me a ride in it. Since I haven't done any dragstrip driving since my stock '56 Chevy days, I jumped at the chance. Toby set me up in the XD class and we went through all the rules and such, and then turned me over to his son David, who I thank for being the best crew chief a guy could want. Because I didn't have a clue as to how this rig worked, David patiently explained every knob, button, and lever as well as driving tips, technique, and strategy.


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