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Going Strong: The Spring 4-Wheel Jamboree Rocks Lima, Ohio

Posted in Events on August 21, 2017
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Photographers: Jeff Luckey Photo/Family Events

You know something is good when it lasts 32 years. Case in point is the Spring 4-Wheel Jamboree Nationals. First held more than three decades ago, the event is still going strong. For 2017, it rocked the Allen County Fairgrounds in Lima, Ohio, a place it has called home for the last several years. History lesson: The “Spring Jambo” hasn’t always been in Ohio, as a matter of fact, we attended the event when it was in Pecatonica, Illinois, in 1989.

What is a 4-Wheel Jamboree? Well, think of it as a weekend that celebrates four-wheel drive. There’s a Performance Marketplace containing 4x4-related vendors; monster truck, Tough Truck, and mud racing; a huge show-’n’-shine truck show; burnout competition; monster truck rides; a UTV side-by-side shootout; and lots more. All conveniently located in one place. In addition to the Lima, Ohio, Jambo there were two additional Jambos on the roster for 2017—one in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, and another in Indianapolis, Indiana.

The grandstands were packed for Tough Truck racing. Really, who wouldn’t want to see 4x4s tearing it up on the track?

Spring weather in Ohio can be unpredictable. For 2017 it threw a wide range of surprises at Spring Jambo participants and spectators, including chilly temps, wind, and rain. Nonetheless, the mood was festive and folks came out in droves. The result was another example of how the Spring Jamboree is going strong.

If you’re interested in attending a Jamboree you can get more info, view upcoming events, see photos and video of past events, and even register for upcoming events at For a gallery of photos and a video from the 2017 Spring Jamboree please visit

From tires to lockers and recovery straps to suspension kits, the Performance Marketplace was the place to shop. Over 40 vendors were in attendance and folks could peruse companies’ wares and speak with knowledgeable reps.
One of the main ingredients of a Jamboree is mud racing of some variety. The Spring Jambo had National Mud Racing Organization (NMRO) mud racing as well as a seven classes of mud bog/hill-in-a-hole racing called the Mud Bog Challenge.
The action in the mud was awesome. Track technicians started from scratch in the Allen County Fairgrounds infield and created some great mud tracks for the Spring Jambo. Spectators watched the action from the fairgrounds’ spacious grandstand seating.
The Best One Tire Burn Out Competition was a crowd fav. This is the event winner, Jake Chittenden, sending up plumes of smoke from his diesel-powered ’75 Ford F-350.
Tough Trucks are a Jambo staple and folks love ’em. Us included. The Spring Jambo had Mickey Thompson Tough Trucks Challenge stock and modified racing with room to run. This is Mark Noto in the rig he calls After Burner. Mark finished in Eighth Place in Lima. Adam Blankenhorn snagged First Place in his rig called Adamosity.
The General Tire Monster Truck Thunder Drags drew Bigfoot, General Tire Monster Truck, Snakebite, Tailgator, Stinger, and Master of Disaster. In addition to side-by-side racing they also performed freestyle competitions.
Family Events says that over 30,000-plus spectators funneled through the gates of the Spring Jambo. Most perused the vehicles in the Dick Cepek Show-N-Shine, which included trail rigs, tall show trucks, and daily drivers. Naturally, there were scores of awards doled out for participants in the Show-N-Shine. And speaking of participants, the Longest Distance award went to Brad Lewis who traveled 726 miles from Odessa, Missouri.
No matter what your preferred flavor of 4x4, there was something for everyone at the Spring Jambo, like this solid axle GMC pickup.
Got an old log laying around? Here’s an idea.
A cool feature at the Spring Jambo was the 2017 SEMA Show’s Young Guns competition, which is part of the larger 2017 SEMA Battle of the Builders. It was professionally judged and open to 27-year-old or younger participants who built their vehicle primarily by themselves. The winner at the Spring Jambo was Jacob Neuenschwander with his ’04 Dodge 1500 (third vehicle from right). Among other things, Jacob wins airfare and lodging for him and a guest, and transportation for his Dodge to the 2017 SEMA show in Las Vegas. Additionally, he has automatic entry to the 2017 Battle of the Builders.

We Got Schooled

While at the 2017 Spring 4-Wheel Jamboree Nationals we had the chance to visit the University of Northwestern Ohio (UNOH) in Lima, get a tour of a portion of the campus, and hang out with the UNOH Off-Road Club. Wait, what? An off-road club? Yep, but more on that in a moment.

UHOH is an entrepreneurial, not-for-profit, university founded in 1920. UNOH is located in Lima, Ohio, a Midwestern community just off I-75, and the campus is situated on over 200 acres. There are five colleges within the university: College of Applied Technologies, College of Business, College of Occupational Professions, College of Health Professions, and the Graduate College. UNOH is a co-ed campus and has taught students from all 50 states and 61 countries, and currently has more than 4,500 students enrolled from 40 states and 49 countries. At UNOH there is no out-of-state tuition, the cost is the same whether a student is from Ohio or Australia. UNOH offers more than 50 different programs of study including Master’s, Bachelor, Associate, and Diploma programs. The University of Northwestern Ohio also offers a variety of athletics including Men’s & Women’s Basketball, Tennis, Golf, Bowling, Soccer, Women’s Volleyball, Men’s Baseball, Women’s Softball, and co-ed Motorsports teams.

UNOH’s College of Applied Technologies offers degree programs in Automotive Technology, Diesel Technology, High Performance Motorsports Technology, Agricultural Equipment Technology, Robotics and Automation Technology, and HVAC/R Technology. The University’s College of Applied Technologies has a limited student to teacher ratio of 20:1. Each student is guaranteed personal attention, hands-on learning, and tons of opportunities for training within the industry of their choice.

We had the opportunity to tour the UNOH High Performance Motorsports Technology facility and we were amazed. It was stocked with almost every tool and machine imaginable that one would use for repair and fabrication. The Ford Explorer pictured is an ongoing project that is currently getting a four-link coilover rear suspension.

Programs are 70 percent hands-on and 30 percent classroom work, plus all tools needed during their education are provided by the University. All of the students have the opportunity to take ASE tests to become ASE Certified—an industry-wide certification of excellence. As a benefit, the university will cover the cost of up to two ASE tests for each student.

Classes are offered in convenient block schedules: Monday through Thursday 7:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m., 1 p.m.–6 p.m., and 6:30 p.m.–11:30 p.m.; or early morning classes Tuesday through Thursday, midnight to 6:30 a.m. But students don’t just attend classes at UNOH; they also take part in campus life, student activities, and join one of the 20 clubs and organizations. Students can choose to live on or off campus. On campus there are apartment-style dorms that can accommodate up to 1,400 students.

Students also have the opportunity to join any of the University’s 20 student clubs and organizations. Active clubs include the Off-Road Club, Race Club, Technical Support Team, Optimist Club, Rotaract Chapter, Diesel Club, and many more.

Graduates from the University of Northwestern Ohio have tremendous job opportunities. The specialized education students receive gives them an advantage when entering the work force. Thousands of UNOH graduates are successfully employed in the field today living their dreams.

The UNOH Off-Road Club exposes students to the growing field of off-road motorsports. Club members participate in two types of activities. First, students may choose to attend day or weekend trips to off-road parks within a four-hour radius of the university. On the weekend trips, members usually camp at or near the off-road park. These trips are when the club teaches and enforces the “tread lightly” motto, teaching members to respect nature while enjoying their motorsport of choice. Also, during these trips the club teaches basic off-roading skills such as rockcrawling, recovery skills, and on-trail repairs.

Eleven vehicles owned by members of the UNOH Off-Road Club are pictured on the UNOH “Off-Road Hill.” This well-designed off-road area offers hillclimbs with varying degrees of difficulty as well as other off-road obstacles.

In addition to the off-road park trips, students regularly attend “Hill Days,” which are days that students are able to test their skills on the UNOH’s Off-Road Hill. Students in the club also get together and help build or repair each other’s rigs; learning how to modify their own at the same time.

Moreover, the UNOH Off-Road Club has a Ford Explorer that members continuously modify and wheel. That way if a club member does not have a rig of their own they will be able to ride along in the Explorer. It is through all these projects that club members will learn how to modify a rig correctly, which is especially helpful when they start working on their own off-roading vehicle now or in the future.

Want more info on the University of Northwestern Ohio? Visit

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