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Gravelrama, The Big 4-Oh!

Posted in Events on April 1, 2011
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Before many of our readers were born, a group of guys and gals in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana formed one of the oldest and greatest events known to four-wheeling. The IOK Four Wheelers produced the first Gravelrama back in 1971, and eventually bought the land they play on in 1977. While trail riding, sand drags, obstacle courses, and the like are all part of the venue, the main draw is always the gravel hill known as the Big Elim-and it is the king of the event. And when you realize that some of the original participants still compete, you understand how important Gravelrama is in this neck of the woods.

The Runck CJ-6 starts the Big Eliminator hillclimb festivities by breaking over the top of the monster hill then coming down and jazzing up the crowd.

It all started way back when, as a way for families to have fun and have safe competition. Over the years it has grown to the biggest annual event in the Midwest. The technology isn't stuck in the '60s like some people think. New tech and new equipment always play a part, but the IOK Four Wheelers always make sure the core values are adhered to.

Doug Fields runs Runck Bumpers (, but we found a shot from 20 years ago at the 1980 Gravelrama of the same Jeep!

We were lucky enough to race in Gravelrama back in 2002 ("Gravelrama XXXII," Dec. '02). In fact if you go to our website,, and search for "gravelrama" you'll find that we covered this event other times as well, including in the Dec. '80, Dec. '81, and Jan. '85 issues.

Our host once again was the Kelly family, with Toby, Janie, Jill, and David all competing or organizing or judging, as well as taking care of us. The weeklong shindig starts with a parade through the main street of Cleves, Ohio, and then is broken down into four days of bracket drags on the new drag way, an obstacle course on Saturday, and the Big Eliminator hillclimb on Sunday. We were able to break away from our regular workday grind long enough to enjoy the hillclimb on a wonderful Midwest Sunday and, as always, left with the longing to make it back one more time.

Big power, paddles, and the smarts to put it all together are what it takes to launch over the Big Elim. Standing 150 feet tall at an incline of 75 degrees (give or take a degree or two), Big Eliminator lives up to the name. Barely 50 percent of contestants make it over the monster pile of pea gravel.

Contact the IOK Four Wheelers at for more info on next year's event. It promises to be just as spectacular as the last 40 have been.

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