Did you ever notice how lame your hometown seems after being away on vacation? We just got back to smelly, noisy, asphalt-encased Los Angeles after a week in warm sunny Moab for the 40th annual Red Rock 4-Wheelers Easter Jeep Safari (EJS) and we're bumming! Moab is like Mecca for off-roaders, and this annual event is like spring break in Mecca. We start counting down to that week on January 1, and this year's trip to the home of red rock couldn't have landed on a better week. The weather was awesome, the people were happy, and the 4x4s were overflowing from parking lots, main streets, auto parts stores, and of course the many trails.
We saw just about every make and model of 4x4 in Moab, and that has to be one of our favorite parts of EJS because we love checking out 4x4s almost as much as we like four-wheeling. This year the staff of 4-Wheel & Off-Road took our 2005 Ultimate Adventure trucks (the yellow Chevy Ultimate C10 stepside and Clampy the rust-bucket Toyota) to Moab and stuffed them through a few trails while out looking for feature trucks and wheeling action. So if you want to see our finished 2006 UA trucks, head to the 2007 Easter Jeep Safari as they will surely be there. Otherwise, come for the action that Moab always has. We can't promise great weather next year, but we're sure the wheeling will be awesome. For more info, contact the Red Rock 4-Wheelers, P.O. Box 1471, Moab, UT 84532-1471 or on the Web at www.rr4w.com.
If you've never been there, Easter Jeep Safari in Moab should be at the top of your list of wheeling destinations. From stock Jeeps to full-blown tube buggies or giant wheeling trucks there are plenty of trails to run, rigs to check out, and scenery like nowhere else. We go every year. It's kind of like Christmas, only better.
Tom Allan from PSC Motorsports told us he was going to have his new Bruiser Chassis buggy ready for Moab, and we even went to the trail looking for it. He said it was running some custom hybrid Ford 9-inch/Unimog portal axles and an LS1 V-8 engine. Apparently it was very well camouflaged because we never saw it running Upper Helldorado. (We're so funny, we make us laugh.)
Moab is such a great place because it's not just for rockcrawling. You can spend the days out hiking, mountain biking, or even dune running. These shots of Clinton Cressler were taken at the sand pit along the exit route from the Pritchett Canyon trail. Clinton's '71 Jeep Commando is mounted on a Ford Bronco frame and drivetrain, and he wasn't scared to open up the 400ci V-8. Want to hit the dunes? Go southeast out of town, up the hill, and after the passing lane, turn right down the dirt road just opposite the Area BFE entrance.
Since it is called the Easter Jeep Safari, it seems obvious that Jeep would send some representatives out to show off its vehicles. In town they had a revealing of the new four-door Jeep Unlimited (we showed it in our June '06 issue) plus a chance to check out the quad-steering dual-Hemi- engined Jeep Hurricane concept vehicle. We asked the Jeep reps if we could take the $4.2 million Jeep buggy out for a spin, they just laughed at us.
In addition to battering the old yeller Chevy, Editor Pw also spent a day on an official run with the Red Rock 4-Wheelers over the Gold Bar Rim trail. The Red Rock 4-Wheelers have various trails-- depending on your and your vehicle's capabilities. Some folks even fly into Moab, rent a Jeep from one of the various local 4x4-for-hire establishments, and hit the trails, so consider that option if your own Jeep won't make the trek.
We hate to do it since southern boy Chris Durham gets in the magazine all the time, but check out this TJ he built. This is just the type of innovation we like to see-40-inch tires with only a 111/44-inch body lift and front leveling spacers. Keep the center of gravity down low; add a 60 and a 70 for axle beef, and a Jeep 5.9L V-8 for plenty of G-O. Rumor has it Chris sold the Jeep before he could get it back on the trailer to go home.
While out on the trail we ran into some more Jeep engineers running some unusual Libertys, Commanders, and Grand Cherokees. We're sure these guys are the lunatic fringe compared to most pencil-pushing, keyboard-tapping OEM employees, but that is just fine by us. What better way to build a real-world 4x4 that works where we want them to work than to get out in the mud, sand, and rocks and hang with rough-neck wheelers like us? We're not sure if DaimlerChrysler Jeep has a designated Off-Road Technologies group who take unusual prototype rigs with unique engines and suspensions out in the dirt, but we're sure that if they do, these guys would be a part of it.