This issue kicks off coverage of our Ultimate Adventure, with our December issue wrapping up what was an incredible trip. Once people know how exciting the UA is, the next question is “How can I go?” The simple answer is, as a reader, first you just have to apply. Of course, you could get a job on staff and possibly attend, or even pony up and be an official sponsor and be considered for a slot. But the UA has always been about the readers, and that is truly the most important group on the trip.
This year we culled down a hundred or so entries, and most of them were darn well qualified. But after tossing out the ones that didn’t meet the requirements (like not having a winch or a roll bar), the staff of 4WOR gathered to sort through scores of UA applicants to whittle the list down to the Dirty Dozen that I contacted by phone on April 1. But to start the process, we sat in a dingy room in the backwaters of Moab, while Fred Williams donned his black V-neck T-shirt to do his best Simon Cowell impression as we reviewed each entry of man and machine.
So what’s the best rig? We get a lot of Jeep entries, so they need to be really unique to catch our attention. A CJ that was recovered from the bottom of a lake and then fitted with a Mercruiser engine and metalflake paint, for example. But a JK Wrangler with 1-ton axles and 40-inch-tall tires won’t rank as high as a Nissan Patrol or Land Rover Discovery with the same running gear, simply due to how common (or uncommon) they are. It might be a vintage Belleview winch or a biodiesel conversion that catches our attention, but Jeeps in particular will need to do something to stand out. “I know my black Jeep doesn’t really fit the magazine requirements, and if that’s a deciding factor, I’ll paint it Hugger Orange for this trip.” That is the sort of attitude we like to see, which brings us to our next factor.
Referring us to your “build thread” on a website or telling us how much money you have spent is a sure way to end up in the round file. If you haven’t made the effort to put your all into your application or don’t know how to wrench on your own rig, you probably aren’t the best fit for the Ultimate Adventure. Admittedly there are some factors that are out of your control, and we’ll take that into account. We strive for a diverse group of backgrounds, ages, and hometowns to make the trip as fun as possible for all participants. Attitude is the biggest factor though, so if you convince us that you are ready to wheel anywhere, anytime, at the drop of a hat and never whine, you’ll have a much better chance of being selected. Sadly, although all of the Dirty Dozen were qualified and willing, sometimes just the diversity of man and machine in the group is what makes one team get picked instead of another. Give it a chance, and if you tried before, don’t ever quit!