Classic Bronco clubs are in just about every state including Arizona, where this year the Arizona Classic Broncos (ACB) hosted its 24th annual “stampede.” The ACB was formed in 1991 by Dec Thackston, who took out an ad in the Arizona Republic Newspaper looking for people that owned 1966-1977 early model Broncos. It took several months and a lot of dedication, but on July 21, 1991, 12 families meet at a local diner in Phoenix and the club became official. Their first planned trip was to drive up to Prescott for the annual Old Engine Fire Up and swap meet the first part of August. Since then the club has grown to include fullsize Broncos and Bronco II owners. The current club member count is over 140 members.
Each year on the third weekend in March the annual stampede is held north of the Phoenix area at the Rock Springs Café. The vacant lot adjacent to the café is the campsite for the weekend. There is the place to see old friends and to make new ones. People travel from all over the US to attend the gathering, with this year’s farthest traveler coming from France to going in on the activities. Some Bronco owners will start showing up on Thursday, as the rest drive in on Friday. For those that show up early, there are day trips to sight see what Arizona has to offer for back country adventure. Most of the area was either mining camps or stage stops between the Verde Valley areas to Phoenix traveling.
On Saturday morning everyone is asked to attend the group photo. Then they head back to camp where groups of people plan for a day’s adventure. There are trail rides for everybody, from a family trip to the semi extreme rock crawler. The trail we headed out on was in the Tip Top Mine area off Table Mesa Road. The wash had a recent rain drench the area and some standing water was left in the rocks, which added more degree of difficulty to some of the formations. The rock areas have been given names like Predator, Terminator, Anaconda, and Annihilator (we started looking for vehicle carcasses downstream). Each formation offered a unique twist to a vehicles suspension. Fighting the angle of a climb, engines combat oil pressure as the travels to the back of the pan. Some found out that fuel injection was much better for climbing than a carburetor.
After several hours on the trail and climbing rocks it is time to make way back to camp, a quick sponge bath to rid the dust from the trail to look presentable in public at the BBQ. A great cooked meal is the best way to finish off a good trail ride. After dinner, everyone gathers for the main attraction. All the products donated to raise money to help the ACB give their voice to keep the lands open to the public for future trailing and the next year’s annual stampede.
For more information on the Arizona Classic Broncos visit their web page at azbronco.org