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2000 Hardware Buckeye Jamboree - Third Time’s a Charm

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Ken Brubaker
| Senior Editor, Four Wheeler
Posted April 1, 2001

Rockcrawling, Tough Trucks, and More at the Buckeye Jambo

Step By Step

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  • Rory Campbell is a favorite of Tough Truck spectators, and this is why. His pedal-to-the-metal launches get him major air.

  • Trey Hazel makes a demonstration run over the rocks in his dad’s Jeep, “The Cat.” The custom-designed machine easily conquered the course, thanks to its insane approach and departure angles, gobs of wheel travel, and loads of power.

  • Michael Longely didn’t need no stinkin’ Jeep to run the rocks. He brought out the big-dog ’81 Chevy 3/4-ton monster. Unfortunately, after a gallant (and crowd pleasing) try, the big Chevy had to concede defeat due to broken parts.

  • Sunday’s Burnout Competition gave competitors a chance to wow the crowd with an awesome smoke show.

  • Kirk Gisi nudges his beautiful ’85 CJ-7 over a boulder as the crowd watches intensely. Gisi finished in Third place overall in the Rock Fest Challenge.

  • Vince Konicki carefully eases his Bronco around a boulder during Saturday’s competition.

  • Mike Rosenthal debuted his new “General Lee” Bronco in Canfield. With Rosenthal, there’s no dial-in—just mash the pedal and go.

  • Brian Kemerer watches his spotter as he makes his way diagonally across the course in the last couple of hours of competition on Sunday.

  • Ernie, always interested in motorcycles, decided that he could enhance his truck's traction by confining himself to two wheels.

With the gentle, low-speed sport of rockcrawling enjoying unprecedented popularity nowadays, it’s only natural that this activity should become part of the Special Events 4-Wheel Jamboree Series. So that’s what Jamboree creators did at the 3rd Annual Four Wheel Drive Hardware Buckeye 4-Wheel Jamboree Nationals in Canfield, Ohio. Constructing a serious rockcrawling course isn’t easy (or cheap), so the first thing Special Events did was enlist the services of longtime off-roader and Warn National Rockcrawling Championship promoter Bob Hazel of Sports-In-The-Rough. Hazel and his team constructed a course that offered a wide range of challenges for every skill level, so regardless of experience, participants could try their hand at crawling. Spectators could easily view the competition from either side of the course, and this gave one and all an up-close-and-personal view of the concentration, emotion, and excitement that rockcrawling is all about. Each morning of the two-day show, the course was available for open crawling, and scores of participants eagerly attacked the challenging rock pile in an effort to hone their skills and learn what their 4x4s were capable of.

During the afternoon, the actual scored competition took place. At the end of Saturday’s competition, the course had eliminated three vehicles out of 15, with most withdrawing due to driveline damage. Sunday’s competition slowly eliminated even more participants, as Hazel altered the path of the course to offer a different set of obstacles on each run. Dean Wells and his ’79 CJ-7 eventually outlasted the rocks to become the first-ever winner of the Rock Fest Challenge, and this earned him a huge trophy as well as a new Warn winch. The Rock Fest Challenge was a stone’s throw away from the Show and Shine, but no one was throwing stones in that direction because the area was filled with hundreds of stunning 4x4s of every make and modification, all spiffed and shined for a shot at winning a trophy from the professional judges. Stunning show trucks like Mike and Michele Webb’s blown ’56 Ford and Gary Dedick Sr.’s eye-popping ’78 Jeep CJ joined daily drivers like Marty Miozzi’s massive ’98 Dodge pickup and Debra Fosnaught’s awesome ’77 Chevy, offering spectators a wide range of vehicles to view.

There were loads of special activities going on at the main stage, where MC “Jiggy” Joe Pagano was behind the mic coordinating the kids’ and adults’ games, hourly SuperPrize giveaways, and the Miss 4-Wheel Nationals contest. And next to the main stage was the free Family Fun Zone, which offered kids the chance to race battery-powered trucks or bounce like crazy in the Bounce House.

The sponsor of the Buckeye Nationals was Four Wheel Drive Hardware, and the company’s mobile showroom and the associated Jeep corral was the centerpiece of the Performance Marketplace. They joined scores of vendors offering everything from hard-to-find accessories to a full line of tires and wheels. The Jeep corral was filled with scores of awesome Jeeps, including Butch Metzger’s plow-equipped ’49 Willys (which won our Four Wheeler “Best Classic 4x4” Editors’ Choice award). The infield was definitely where the action was, however. The packed roster of racing included two classes of Tough Truck racing, monster truck racing, six classes of National Mud Racing Organization-sanctioned side-by-side mud racing, and a burnout competition, all MC’d by the knowledgeable and talented Doc Riley.

The Buckeye Nationals offered something for everyone in 2000, and 2001 will again offer the awesome lineup of activities. For more info, or to see a complete lineup of upcoming events, visit the Special Events Web site at, or contact them at 804 N. Delaware, Indianapolis, Indiana 46204, 317/236-6525.