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2005 June Jam Gray Rock Off Road Park Alabama - June Jam In Alabam-A

Posted in Events on November 1, 2005
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It's been more than two years since we were last at the Gray Rock Off Road Park outside of Gardendale, Alabama, during Ultimate Adventure 2003. So when we heard rumors of the mud-whumpin,rockcrawling, dirt-digging good times going on during their June Jam, we packed our cameras and shorts, then jumped a plane east. Gray Rock has 2,100 acres with more than 50 trails to accommodate vehicles ranging from stock SUV straight from soccer practice to built buggies on Boggers. We rode along with a posse of wheelers who hang out on the Web site, but the event is open to anyone with a 4x4 that passes the safety inspection.

Our regular trail coverage usually involves captions about each driver and their vehicle, so to mix it up a bit we decided to explain why we picked the photos we did for this story, thus giving you some insight on how you can get into 4-Wheel & Off-Road. So the next time you see us on the trail, you'll know what to do. If you want to go wheeling at Gray Rock, just call 205.841.5337 or check out

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If there is a competition and we are covering it, remember that slow technical wheeling is cool, but rarely make for the best photos. This driver had a bitchin rig, front and rear steer Dana 60s, and a fuel-injected V-8, but even better he was competing with an all-or-nothing attitude. He wasn't afraid to use the go-pedal, and not only did he win the competition (trying to run a certain number of trails in the shortest time), but his driving also made for exciting pictures.

When you hit the trail with a little rig, or an underpowered rig like this Suzuki, you can't be scared to run with the big dogs and you usually deserve a photo as well. We're not saying to show up with stock junk that breaks every 5 feet (though that does help with our trail-repair photos). No, we mean rigs built smart and on a budget, then driven hard to try and follow (or lead) high-dollar trail machines. You don't need millions of dollars to be a part of this sport, but rather a positive attitude and a small bag of tools.

Another trick to getting your junk in our rag is to appeal to our personal desires. No, we don't mean bring your hot sister (we don't show those pics). We mean bring vehicles that you know we like. If Editor Pw is there, show him your flatfender Jeep. Feature Editor Jerrod Jones likes Dodges, and Tech Editor David Kennedy will shoot just about anything using Mercedes Unimog parts, preferably in or under a fullsize 4x4. As for Feature Editor Fred Williams, tube cars and buggies are his vice, but any old Toyota that resembles his beater truck Clampy is sure to get a shot taken.

Cab trucks are cool. They are the rat rods of four-wheeling, usually assembled with mini-truck cabs over fullsize-truck running gear, and every time we see one we steal ideas for our future cab-truck project that we'll probably never get to do. Jalopies and homebuilt 4x4s just have more original flavor than clean, shiny show rigs. This big orange S-10 running tractor tires and a healthy motor and driven like a combine on racing fuel was plowing down every trail we saw it on. Build bulletproof stuff from backyard parts, then slap an old cab on it, and we'll take your picture, 'cause you know darn well the guys at Truckin' won't.

Mud and sand are the single best way to show how much mojo your rig has, and how well you built it, plus tires hucking roosts show action and action makes good photography. Though many folks think sand is for desert rats and mud is just for rednecks, the fact is that a 4x4 needs some serious thought to be a quality mud or sand romper. Plenty of power is needed. And gearing is needed to get that power to the tires. Quality seals keep the grit and goo out of the strong drivetrain parts that need to hold up to the abusive full-throttle assaults on deep holes and over tall dunes. Also recommended is a suspension that can soak up landings in deep mud or off sandy long jumps. Of course the little redneck wheeler in all of us still comes out when slop starts flying.

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