The number 13 is most often looked at as a sign of bad luck. The number 7 is supposed to be the number surrounded with good vibes. With the Mid Florida Jeep Club's Jeep Beach in Daytona Beach, Florida, the 13th anniversary of this event just might put that thought to rest. Taking place at Daytona International Speedway and surrounding venues, Jeep Beach is a spring break of sorts for Jeep enthusiasts.
Jeep Beach 2016 started on Monday, April 18, with Belly Buster Night at a Daytona Tortugas minor-league baseball game in Jackie Robinson Stadium. For $12 a person, a special Jeep Beach section made sure everyone was together, and the ticket price included all-you-can-eat pizza, hot dogs, and popcorn. Free food sounds like a good start to the week to us.
After getting a belly full of food at the baseball game, on Tuesday, April 19, it was time to check in at Daytona International Speedway for early raffle ticket and merchandise opportunities. It was hangout time until the unofficial kick-off party at BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse in Daytona Beach. The patio was reserved for Jeep Beach attendees, and for those participating in the scavenger hunt, BJ’s was the place to pick up clues.
The scavenger hunt consisted of Jeep enthusiasts driving to different locations and taking a picture at each stop. If someone chose to visit each scavenger hunt location, their Jeep would get 200 more miles on it, but going to each location wasn’t required. However, with each scavenger hunt stop, the driver would collect a raffle ticket. For a few of the scavenger hunt stops, there were bonuses available, worth two extra tickets. The scavenger hunt wasn’t a timed event, so there was no hurry to get to each one. It simply presented a great opportunity to get out and see the sights around Daytona Beach and surrounding areas.
Wednesday, April 20, was the day Jeep Beach shifted into high gear. Off-site trail rides started in earnest, but everyone checked in at Gate 70 of Daytona International Speedway to sign waivers and receive last instructions before heading to the trails. After a long day on the trails, it was time to hit the Daytona Beach Bandshell for the Jeep Beach Bash Beachside Concert for live music, the beach, and Jeeps. Wednesday was a good day.
Thursday, April 21, was more of the same with off-site trail rides, hanging out at the beach, and checking in at Gate 70 for raffle tickets, merchandise, and off-site trail-ride instructions. That night, the Jeeps hit the streets of Daytona Beach for a Block Party and fireworks show, the latter taking place in memory of Jeepers Clint Wilson and Jerry E Roberts. The Block Party gave Jeep Beach attendees a chance to enjoy dinner and drinks with fellow Jeepers, bring the kids along, and overall, just enjoy the evening’s atmosphere.
Jeep Beach built to a crescendo on Friday and Saturday, with tons of action taking place at Daytona International Speedway. Participants challenged their Jeep’s off-road worthiness with obstacle courses of various levels, including a rockcrawl obstacle course for those who felt flexy. Daily raffles were also a big part of Saturday, with various prizes handed out both days. The raffle tent was the place to be Saturday afternoon, as Jeep Beach attendees waited to win big prizes.
However, the really big part of Jeep Beach took place Saturday evening as organizers worked toward setting a new Guinness record for the number of Jeeps in a parade. The Guinness World Record for Jeeps in a single parade is 2,420, which is a lot of Jeeps in one place. Jeep Beach and Daytona International Speedway presented the perfect opportunity to set the record. Plus, when is the last time you were able to make a lap around the “World Center of Racing”? That was a bonus for those participating in the world-record attempt.
For the last day official day of Jeep Beach, Sunday, April 24, attendees were encouraged to stop at Destination Daytona/Bruce Rossmeyer’s Harley Davidson store for closing ceremonies, last-chance raffles, and silent-auction items.
In all, there are a ton of Jeep events out there, but few have the following Jeep Beach has been able to gather after 13 years in existence. It takes years for events to take hold, and Jeep Beach is one you need to attend. If you’ve never made the trip, you need to be in Daytona for the 2017 Jeep Beach. You will not regret it!
The obstacle course area was the place to be to see Jeeps and Jeepers in their natural habitat. Obstacle courses ranged from stock to extreme and everything in between. There was even a rockcrawl area for those wanting to test their wheeling skills.
For those wanting to try out an obstacle course in someone else’s Jeep, BFGoodrich had a small course set up across from the manufacturer midway. This presented a great opportunity for attendees to check out BFG’s latest offerings.
We never were able to catch up with the owner of the “Dirty White Girl,” but he wasn’t afraid to prove his Jeep’s namesake on the obstacle course.
This ’15 Jeep JK Rubicon belongs to Paul Krwawecz (or PK), and as you can see, it’s far from stock. It features a Mishimoto aluminum radiator, silicone hoses, trans cooler, and 180 degree thermostat. These additions were necessary since the 3.6L V-6 plays host to a Prodigy Performance Stage 2 turbo kit making 8 pounds of boost. With a Diablosport Intune, the combination was good for 428 rear-wheel horsepower on 9 pounds with the stock tires and wheels. Of course, PK’s Jeep now wears American Force 20x12s with Mickey Thompson Baja ATZ 37s. No matter, while at Jeep Beach, PK tangled with a Mitsubishi Evo on the street. The Evo will never look at another Jeep the same after getting a good, long look at PK’s taillights. “They didn’t pull up next to me at the light after that,” PK said.
Even the latest Jeeps were getting exercised on the obstacle course. This new Jeep Cherokee proved the Jeep heritage isn’t lost on any of the automaker’s offerings.
Ripp Superchargers has made its name adding power to our favorite vehicles. Ripp specializes in Dodge, Chrysler, and Jeep supercharger systems. We saw several Jeeps in attendance wearing the company’s superchargers, which are based on Vortech head units, combined with Ripp’s own piping and Diablsport Intune software. Ripp’s supercharger systems are bolt-on type systems, and Jeep enthusiasts being the hands-on type, many of its customers install them on their own.
Rick and Jennifer Connerly didn’t have to travel far to get to Jeep Beach. They live in the Daytona Beach area; Ormond Beach, specifically. The Connerlys own this bob-tailed ’81 Scrambler featuring a Ram-Jet 350 crate engine, 700R transmission, Dana 60 front and rear axles, 5.38 gears, and a Dana 300 transfer case. Within the axlehousings, Rick and Jennifer added Solid Axle Industries axles and ARB locker differentials, assisted by an on-board CO2 system. The Scrambler utilizes Alcan springs with Poisonous Spider 17x8 beadlocks, wrapped in Goodyear Wrangler 40s. The Connerlys have owned the Scrambler roughly 12 years and primarily use it as a rockcrawler and for taking part in adventure trips across Florida. As you can see, the Scrambler is at home on the trail, the rocks, and the road.
Jeep brought out several prototype vehicles to Jeep Beach to show enthusiasts what the mother ship has up its sleeve. One that grabbed our attention was the Crew Chief 715, which pays homage to legendary Jeep military service vehicles, specifically the Kaiser M715. The Crew Chief 715 is based on the Wrangler Unlimited and boasts steel front and rear bumpers and 20-inch wheels with Coker 40-inch tires. Of course, the 715 also has many Jeep Performance Parts (JPP) upgrades, including off-road rock rails, front and rear bumper winch mounts, Dana 60 axles, and a 4-inch lift with JPP/Fox 2.0 remote-reservoir shocks. A Kaiser nose with Concept grille, custom fender flares, and a canvas top finish off the exterior, which is covered in what Jeep calls tactical green. Under the hood is a Pentastar 3.6L V-6 with a JPP cold-air intake and a modified cat-back exhaust.
The Jeep Beach crew was ever-present and ready to lend a helping hand to those Jeepers needing a little assistance getting through the obstacle course. There were a few who now know their Jeep needs a few upgrades before next year’s event. However, getting hung up in the obstacle course had zero bearing on anyone’s fun-factor. They simply waited for a tug and went back to having loads of fun.
This is one short bus we’d all love to ride in through the obstacle course. The short bus made a number of passes through the obstacle course during the day on Saturday.
Jeep Beach culminated in a Guinness World Record attempt at the number of Jeeps in a parade. Staging began Saturday afternoon with participants lining up in two sections of the speedway. One section was let out on to the track, followed by the section in the infield. For what seemed like forever, Jeeps kept coming through to join the record attempt. However, the Jeep Beach parade was “only” able to muster 2,008 Jeeps. With the record being 2,420, promoters were bummed at not breaking the record, but all was not lost. It was a great opportunity for Jeep enthusiasts to come together for a good time, and that’s what Jeep Beach is all about.
The folks at Metalcloak had their Corner Travel Index (CTI) trailer at Jeep Beach, and the crew stayed busy as Jeepers lined up to see how their rig measured up. Aside from measuring corner travel, Metalcloak had on hand all the components needed to improve your Jeep’s flexibility, including suspension components, body armor, and front and rear bumpers.