Well, the last two months went bye in the blink of an eye…
I didn’t get a chance to post about it, but November was actually an important month in the Off-Road World. Both the SEMA Show and the Baja 1000 take place every November.
The Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association Show is an industry trade show for all things automotive, with something for just about everyone into cars, Jeeps, trucks or motorcycles. It’s entertaining, it’s awe inspiring and it’s motivational in terms of seeing all the different things you can do to your vehicle and giving you the push to make it happen. It’s also an indicator of industry trends, to see where the manufacturers are going and what new, possibly revolutionary products are coming on to the scene.
Obviously here, the focus is on the Off-Road side of SEMA. In years past big news has included sticking huge V8 engines, (like the monster 6.2L Dodge Hemi or Chevy LS and even diesels), into the Jeep JK platform. Other past highlights have included new axles or axle designs (like RCV shafts or portals), new suspensions, transfer cases (like the Atlas 4-speed), new lighting options (like the Rigid Industries LEDs), lockers, etc., etc. Last year, the Dynacorn reproduction Early Bronco Body was a huge hit. While I’ve seen a bunch of amazing rigs and some totally custom on-offs (like the 4-door early Bronco), 2013 seemed like generally more of the same. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.
The Jeep Wrangler was named Hottest 4×4 – SUV of the Year. No surprise there. The Highly capable JK makes a great dual purpose trail rig out of the box and fantastic platform for serious customizations. The four door is family friendly yet still the right size to travel down just about any two-track trail in the country. The platform is highly customizable, and relatively a good value compared to the price of other SUVs in the market, and compared to what it could cost to bring an older 4×4 up to the same level of comfort, safety and performance.
The BAJA 1000
The SCORE International Off-Road Racing Baja 1000 takes place the third week of every November. In short, it’s a non-stop endurance event that challenges both man and machine across roughly 1,000 miles of sand on Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula. Think Le Mans, but in the Mexican desert, with no track, no barriers to keep spectators off the tracks, no lights, no pit area…and oh yea, sabotage and booby traps. (No joke! It’s sort of a game for the locals, though the event is dangerous enough, even without the traps…Sadly, we lost a racer and great person in 2013.) The course is either a loop or point to point and varies every year, sometimes running only 600 miles, and sometimes running closer to 1100. There are classes for just about anything that can be taken off road from multi-million dollar, 850hp trophy trucks, dune buggies, production 4x4s, ATVs, side by sides and motorcycles – and some things you wouldn’t expect, like a class VW Bugs. That is unless you’ve ever heard of the Baja Bug. The best part is… ANYONE can enter!
Now taking donations for ‘TORR Racing’…
Reflecting on 2013
So, here we are at the end of December. The end of 2013. A time for reflection on the past and looking forward to new beginnings. Thankfully 2013 was a pretty good year in terms of off-roading. I hit the trails in both the Bronco and the Jeep and got to wheel a variety of terrain from deep, sandy beaches to much more technical rock crawling. I wheeled in some great whether and in the rain, which always the makes the trails harder. I ran in very small, 2 -3 vehicle private groups and attended major events with hundreds of other wheelers. I made some great mods to both the Bronco and the Jeep. Bronco mods were focused on a few repairs and improving off road performance, specifically front-end flex. Jeep mods focused on ‘an ounce of prevention’…namely in the form of skid plates and a front bumper. I also added some minor things like auxiliary lighting and hooked up my old CB (hey, gotta have it for the trails, and they’re still fun on road trips.)
…and looking forward to 2014
Looking forward to 2014, I want to get out there, and hit the trails much more often. I’d also really love to get more family and friends out on the trails – whether that’s riding shotgun in one of my rigs, or in their own vehicles. Whether it’s on the beach, on a glorified dirt road, or in some of the more technical stuff, I really want to get more family and friends to take the plunge to see what this off-roading and trail riding is all about! I also need to drive the Bronco more often – even on the road. Finally, I need to get an off road road-trip back on the calendar. Could be the Mid Atlantic Bronco Round-Up again, a Jeep Jamboree or something I put together with just a few friends or family, but an off-road related road trip is on the list for 2014.
In terms of future mods….
The Bronco is really in great shape. It’s mechanically safe, sound and reliable. It drives great and handles well on the pavement, including on the highway. Off-road, it’s incredibly capable. In truth there aren’t many trails it can’t handle if I do my part correctly. So what does it need? Mostly some creature comforts, like tunes for one! A radio and some speakers are definitely on the list for 2014. I’m also still on a quest to quiet it down just a bit more. Three point belts to replace those vintage 70s lap belts aren’t a bad idea either if it’s going to see a lot of street time. If it does need anything to help it perform better in the dirt, it’s hydro or ram assist steering. Of course bigger tires never hurt. Some 37s or 38s would look perfect on that rig…but for 38s I’d need to upgrade my axles and re-gear, and as long as I’m re-gearing, some selectable lockers would be real nice…
The Jeep is still my daily driver and shares family truckster duties so I can’t go too crazy, but I do plan to kick-it up a notch in 2014. Even though they’re “oversized” for a factory option, the stock 32” tires really hold me back in the dirt and limit the trails I can run. So, a lift and at least 35’s are high on my list, and would basically make my JK the ultimate dual-purpose machine.
So, that’s it. 2013 is a wrap from my end! Here’s wishing you a Safe, Happy and Healthy 2014!!
What’s on your list in terms of mods, adventures, or big off-road plans??