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SEMA Car Show - 4x News

Posted in News on March 1, 2003
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Photographers: Paige Donahoe

Bestop Supports Women 'Wheelers
Celebrating an alliance that evolved from female off-road enthusiasts congregating in the chat room at, the Bestop Wheeling Women's Weekend held the third weekend of September at Badlands Off-Road Park in Attica, Indiana, proved once again that a woman's place is behind the wheel (of her Jeep). After a successful inaugural run in 2001, event organizer and Jeep Girl Club founder April Alliston brought her Jeepin' sisters together once again for a weekend of trail rides and the four-wheel-drive experience. The event attracted a wide range of vehicles, from extremely capable Jeep TJs to well-built Toyotas, and even a "built as it gets" Kia. One attendee even drove all the way from Alaska in her daily driver 4x4.

In addition to the multitude of trails and obstacles within the Badlands Off-Road Park, the event offered beginners trail classes designed to ensure that newbie drivers felt safe and confident behind the wheel. That's not to say these women needed extra attention to get them prepped for the trails. During the 2001 event, these classes catered to a 15-year-old girl who had never driven on the road, let alone the dirt, and another woman who'd never touched a manual transmission in her life and went on to run multiple trails by day's end. It was occurrences such as these that led April to adopt a new element for the 2002 event: the much tallied Diva of Dirt Award, donated by This year's award was presented to Jaime Peters for her persistence in negotiating her mildly modified, 30-inch tire-equipped Kia through the trails all weekend. Participants were also treated to an evening of "Jeep Bingo", where everyone brought home a collection of prizes from event sponsors, Bestop, Skid Row Automotive, Trail Ready, Randy's Ring & Pinion, and is an interactive Web site offering tech information on Jeeps and other 4x4s and chat rooms for female 4x4 enthusiasts. The club includes four chapters located in Missouri, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Maryland. For more information about the club, the 2003 Wheeling Women's Weekend, or to purchase a video of the 2002 event, check out

PMO 'Wheels SEMA
We've had one goal in our heads since we acquired the Solar Yellow Jeep TJ, dubbed "PMO", that we've been building for the last year: get it to the SEMA Show. While that may sound easy enough, you try building one of most kick-ass Jeeps around and then waiting around just cruising the pavement for a chance to get it on the trail. Not that we've kept it spotless in all that time, just that we couldn't get after it as much as our hearts desired. The big stuff had to wait. No dents, no dings, and no scratches was the mantra, and we pretty much held ourselves to it. And so we survived the wait and got to Las Vegas in time to exhibit our efforts and the inherent capability of our Project PMO TJ at the 2002 SEMA Convention. Though we didn't earn a coveted spot in the Primedia Company booth among the lowrider trucks and Harleys, we did set up camp for a week in the North Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center among some mighty fine machines. The best part was that we were the only radical 4x4, with one wheel thrust upward, in our general area. PMO did its week in the lime light, attracting plenty of oohs and ahhs from all those who spotted it and gaining much attention for all those companies who graciously supplied its products for display. We'll continue to detail the ongoing buildup of our Project TJ as we now set out to thoroughly break it in on the trails and continually swap in new parts for real-world product tests. Until then, we're going 'wheeling. Hopefully, we can keep the shiny side up in the process.

Operation Desert Cleanup III
Somewhere in the deserts of California, members of the off-road racing community recently gathered to pick up trash. Sound like an odd thing for racers to do? Well, not really; they do this sort of thing every year. They gather outside Barstow in Stoddard Valley, the second largest OHV area in California, to participate in the Coalition of Off Road Desert Racers (CORDR) Operation Clean Desert III (OCD III). Getting rid of trash in this area is more complex than it is other areas; due to disputes within the city, county, and Federal districts, dumping at the dump isn't a piece of cake for anyone, including CORDR. CORDR Vice President Tim Linsday had to go to the San Bernardino County Supervisor's office twice to get help with dump permits for the event. Thankfully, Supervisor Postmus is a good supporter of the cause and came through with the required paperwork. That was just for the event, however. A lot of debris is left by non-OHVers in the open desert as a result of these complications. The debris tends to consist of all sorts of items that the typical OHVer doesn't haul out to the desert for the weekend - old cars, refrigerators, couches, beds, roofing materials, and so on. OCD III volunteers tend to race in the Stoddard Valley, so they like to take care of it, which means taking charge of keeping the area clean, whether it's race related trash or not

During this year's event, 105 off-road desert racers, fans, crews, friends, and others arrived in Stoddard Valley to not only clean up trash but to have fun. The only competition that took place out on the racecourse was who could get the largest load. Unlike the last two clean ups that CORDR has sponsored, this year was concentrated on areas outside the designated racecourse areas in Stoddard. Why? Because the OHV area was fairly clean, so the crews branched out; volunteers had to look much harder than usual for trash, quite possibly a result of the persistence of CORDR and Operation Clean Desert. Volunteers took in less trash totaling somewhere near 25 tons, whereas last year brought in 41.5. CORDR also worked with the BLM's Barstow office and had signs made up that alert visitors that they are entering an area that is used for off-road racing. The Signs warn the general public that races occur in the area and what the course markers look like. The Rangers placed the signs throughout the day during the cleanup.

After a full day of successfully cleaning up the desert, it was time to relax and celebrate. All of the volunteers met at the Annual Trash Bash at the Slash! celebration held at OHV-users-haven, the Slash-X-Caf outside Barstow. The dinner and festivities were sponsored by Kartek Off-Road and Donahoe Racing Enterprises. After dinner, a drawing was held in addition to a showing of the '68 Baja 1000 that originally aired on ABC Wide World of Sports. Everyone who attended was given new T-shirts provided by Tube Specialties Company and designed by Ntense-Tees and Rory Ward from Racers Only.

Some may ask, "What good does it do for off-roaders to go out and clean up a bunch of trash left by locals who don't stand to lose anything if the area of desert is closed to public use?" Well, by demonstrating how much we care for our recreation areas and by taking a pro-active roll in maintaining these areas, we better our chances of keeping land open to off-highway use. Many are fighting for the future of off-road recreation. There is a long fight ahead of us, but events like OCD III just go to show that every little bit helps and giving back does make a difference. So, call your local OHV club and see what you can do to help out and possibly organize a similar event at your local OHV area. Much thanks to the gracious sponsors without whom CORDR would not have been able to put on such a successful event. For more information about CORDR and future Operation Clean Desert events, go to

AEV Brute Wows SEMA
While we'd like to tell you that our PMO TJ was the baddest Jeep in all of Las Vegas last November, it simply wasn't the case. American Expedition Vehicles (AEV) of Missoula, Montana, had us beat by a mile. Well, 23.6 inches and a truck bed to be exact.

AEV, the same crew that builds those long-wheelbase, four-door Jeep Wranglers, is the company behind this masterpiece, and it has now added another little gem to its repertoire: the Brute. Designed upon the same platform as its long wheelbase TJs, the AEV Brute incorporates a 6-foot bed constructed from 14-gauge steel and a truck-like Jeep tub to create a long-wheelbase Jeep truck. Jeep truck? Yes, Jeep truck. Some of the Brute features include a midship 20-gallon fuel tank, rear air suspension, a custom removable hardtop, AEV two-piece rocker guards, an OEM interior, CNC Bent gas and brake lines, an extended driveline, and a paint-matched and lined bed. All of the standard and optional features offered on AEV's other custom vehicles are available as well, including ARB Air Locking differentials, onboard air compressors, IPF lighting, a selection of Warn winches, BFG Mud Terrains, 16x8-inch AEV Alloy wheels, and Rubicon Express suspension systems. AEV is currently offering the Brute to the public and can transform your own stock Jeep TJ or source and modify one of its own. For more info about the AEV Brute, check out the AEV Web site at or call (406) 251-2100

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