1. home
  2. news
  3. features
  4. Go Devil Run Part 1

Go Devil Run Part 1

Vintage Jeeps hit the trail

We've spent countless hours modifying and building 4x4s to do hard off-road trails. For reasons that we might never know, it seems like bigger and "badder" is always better, but at the end of the day most of the off-road trails around the country (and world) were created at a time when today's trends of LS engines, 1-ton axles with chromoly shafts, and 40 inch tires weren't at all common, if those parts existed at all. And as it turns out off-roading, trail riding, and backcountry exploring in old, small, period-correct early 4x4s is a ton of fun and an experience that everyone who loves off-roading should try. Sure, they are not fast, and sometimes you have to stack rocks, but in general old 4x4s, even in nearly stock form, are incredibly capable off-road. Plus, the obstacles get bigger and harder as your tires and rig gets smaller, less powerful and so on.

This is how the Go Devil Run (sometimes called the GDR) was formed, and the event was the creation of the mind of our pal Ian Lijeblad. Ian is a fun-loving guy who is an off-road fabricator and real estate agent by trade. Sure, selling houses is great, but Ian also has an obsession with wheeling nearly stock flat fender Jeeps, and wheeling them hard; there are videos on the internets that support this statement!

This was our first unofficial stop of the event. Note the funny hats Clint Elliot had what may have been the best. The well-worn red fedora (yes, that hat was a fedora) was his and Charlie Elliot's (Clint's brother and co-driver)'s father's old hunting hat. Silly hats may seem silly, but they are a great conversation starter, and a great way to get to know folks.

Ian, knowing what a stock-ish flattie can do, and after enjoying some vintage pictures of a few vintage Jeep runs at Tierra Del Sol's Desert safari or over the Rubicon Trail—and maybe a vintage margarita—decided he should lead the charge for a modern-day trail run with a vintage vibe only allowing (well at least at the front of the group) Jeeps from the 40s and 50s with stock-sized tires and Go Devil engines.

Truly, any old Jeep and their owner can join in the frivolity, shenanigans, and vintage good times; vintage clothes and funny hats were encouraged. With that, Ian reached out to yours truly and freelance writer and general off-road trip planner extraordinaire, Trent McGee, for some advice on a route which we pre-ran here. The end result was about 21 vintage Jeeps (we'd expected 5-10), some of which were more period-correct than others, and a three-day adventure cavorting around the mountains north and west of Phoenix, Arizona. The trip was truly epic and as much fun, if not more, than any adventure we've ever done—and we've done a few. Check it out, and search Facebook for more info on upcoming GDR runs. Now we could tell you all about everything that happened on the run, but know that we all had a blast and simpler and better times were had by all!

Day One Go-Devils from Lake Pleasant to Crown King the Back way

The first Go Devil Run gathered near the west side of Lake Pleasant in Peoria, Arizona. Twenty-one vehicles showed up to start the event, but only 20 finished the 150-160-mile trip; that's a guestimation of total of all three days mileage. The group congregated a few times while driving when one of the Jeeps had an issue. Honestly, many of us were shocked how far we made it before people had issues. Keep in mind that some of these vehicles are over 75 years old, and a few had hardly been driven after sitting for a long time or after getting majorly reworked. Robert Keller and Dane Schroff had traveled the greatest distance to attend the event with Robert coming from DeLand, Florida, and Dane coming from Athens, Georgia. Most folks were local with a few stragglers from Colorado, Utah, and California. The back road to Crown King is a well-known trail just outside Phoenix that starts at low elevation and ends near the old mining town of Crown King, Arizona. Phoenix is roughly at 2,000 feet elevation, while Crown King is at 7,551 feet.

The rag-tag group of old Jeeps and their people then continued down Castle Hot Springs Road to the turn off to Cow Creek Road, and on up to the start of the Crown King trail, or the back way to Crown King. This trip is great because it begins in the Saguaro cactus-strewn Sonoran Desert and ends in the lodgepole pines of the Bradshaw mountains. The contrast is stark, and geological features abound.
The road was dusty, but the wind was cool on a day and in an environment where temps easily reach 100 degrees even in May.
Living out of a flatfender Jeep for three days isn't impossible, but space is tight, especially when most of the rigs were carrying two or more passengers. Some co-drivers make for better conversation than others.
There are a few houses about 40-50 minutes from Lake Pleasant in a town we've unofficially named Oops-I-Forgot-The-Eggs, Arizona. (It is officially Morristown, Arizona, which is not really very close) but if we lived there, we'd always forget something vital from the grocery store. Right about there was the point where things started to go haywire. In quick succession Bryan Crofts, from Queen Creek, Arizona, lost a coil and got it replaced in no time.
Also, Brian Gabriel (Frequent Jp Magazine Freelance Writer) from Ogden, Utah, lost all timing. His 1946 CJ-2a was towed to a friendly local guy, Ted Leone's shop, where Brian quickly disassembled his engine deeply enough to find a broken timing chain. With that we convinced Brian to jump in with our Pal Mike Tarvin of Glendale, Arizona to continue the GDR. Brian left his flattie at Teds and rode shotgun with Mike for the remainder of the trip. Thanks again Ted! You are a great human being and it was a pleasure meeting you.
After staying with Brian and Mike in Oops-I-Forgot we fell behind the main group missing out on some of the shenanigans the rest of the group had on the harder obstacles along the trail, but we are sure the group had fun.
After having some trouble of our own, we caught up with part of the group maybe they came back for us who knows. Either way several of the group were having fueling and other issues. It was still a ton of fun.
Robert Keller and Dane Schroff had traveled from back east (Florida and Georgia respectively) to participate in the frivolity. They even brought some pelts for trading if necessary. Robert's CJ-2a made short work of this climb with a little work.
As the day came to a close and sunlight dimmed on our first awesome day of the GDR we hit the high country and set up camp for the night.

Day Two, Fun and Frivolity in the Bradshaw Mountains

With day one of the Go Devil Run in the books, we as a group decided to goof off on day two. Originally, the plan was to head north and then come back south via the Desoto Mine trail, but everyone wanted to explore the area around Crown King. With that in mind, we scrapped our off-road plans and proceeded to explore the area. After a few folks fueled up at the Crown King General Store, we headed towards Horse Thief Basin, Crown Kings local Horse Thief Basin Lake, Kentuck Spring, Turney Gulch, and we tried to make it to the Horse Thief Look Out Tower, albeit unsuccessfully. The entire day was spent exploring and visiting with other fans of flatfenders. It was a ball. Here are a bunch of pictures from Day 2, and we will catch up later with Day 3, the final day of the Go Devil Run in Part 2.