Who doesn't love a good beach vacation? What better way to spend a week at the beach than hanging out with a few thousand like-minded Jeep enthusiasts? We got a chance to do exactly that at the 15th annual Jeep Beach event in Daytona Beach, Florida.
Hosted by the Mid-Florida Jeep Club, the annual event is a weeklong Jeep-fest filled with ’wheeling, giveaways, and of course, fun on the historic Daytona Beach shoreline.
One of the unique aspects of Dayton Beach, Florida, is that you can drive on the beach. Given that the sand is so hard packed, you don’t necessarily need a four-wheel drive, but it doesn’t hurt.
With thousands of participants driving in each year, the event has grown from a small club get-together to a premier Jeep event. Even Jeep gets into the beach spirit by sending down concept vehicles and company reps. While there’s some ’wheeling available for those looking for a little more engagement than sitting by the ocean, this week is all about the Jeep community and fun. It’s also important to note that this event is extremely family friendly.
We had an absolute blast during our time there and were incredibly impressed at how well the all-volunteer event is run. Club president Jim Shaynak says the event grows more and more each year, which has been a positive for everyone in the Jeep community, as well was local charities. The success of Jeep Beach has allowed the Mid-Florida Jeep Club to collect over a quarter-million dollars for its charitable efforts. That’s an impressive achievement. For more information, be sure to visit JeepBeach.com.
For those looking for more than just beach ’wheeling, you could arrive early in the week and get some muddy trail time in at the Florida Cracker Ranch. If you missed out on the trail rides, you could still find some action on the obstacle course set up on the infield at the Daytona International Speedway.
Jeep Beach has become a magnet for Jeep enthusiasts nationwide. Brian Barnhill made the trek down from Rowan, North Carolina, with his ’10 Wrangler. Just a few days before the trip, Barnhill swapped in a Dynatrac ProRock 44 front and ProRock 60 rear axle set. While he didn’t need the axle beef for the beach, the upgrades will come in handy on his next southeast ’wheeling adventure.
Florida is known for its mega trucks. This diesel-powered CJ on Rockwell axles was a good example of what you’d find at a local mud event.
On Friday and Saturday the Daytona Speedway also played host to a massive vendor show. Alpine was one of nearly two hundred vendors on-hand, selling and demonstrating its latest goods. With a warm mix of heat and humidity, Alpine definitely got our attention with its new ICE-IN cooler. Tunes and suds always go together nicely.
If you were looking to try your hand at a little rockcrawling, then there was a spot for that too. Luke Conner made it look easy in his ’06 Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon. Of course his LJ’s 42-inch-tall Maxxis Trepadors, long-arm suspension, and 1-ton axles didn’t hurt his chances of success. There were many a skidplate bashed over the course of the event, but we only saw smiles leaving the course.
Everyone has Jeep truck fever and we saw an assortment of custom and aftermarket Jeep truck conversions. David Warren owns this super clean ’12 Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon J8 conversion equipped with a Rock Krawler Suspension, 37-inch Nitto Ridge Grapplers, Smittybilt front bumper, and 4.88 gears.
For those who wanted to tackle the off-road course, but didn’t want to take their Jeep, they were in luck. BFG was on hand to let you take a few laps in one of its JKs.
Went it comes to unique, the WaterCar Panther takes the cake. We’re not sure if you can technically call it a Jeep, but it’s the only Wrangler-esk vehicle we know of that is designed to haul tail on land and water. We’re not sure that hull would hold up on the trail, but it was pretty cool to see one driving down the beach.
The JK was the most dominate Jeep at the event, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t plenty of classics on hand. From M-715s to modern Cherokees, Jeep beach is open to all variations of Jeep builds.
Do yourself a favor and make time to walk the Speedway’s parking lot. It’s essentially a giant Jeep show all in itself. With thousands of participants, you can find builds of all types (and sizes).
This year, the event ended on Sunday with over 2,300 Jeeps cruising the shore line. We’re not sure if that’s an official record, but it was a lot of Jeeps!