Sunday, March 31, 2013

Six Jeep & Mopar Concept Vehicles Debut in Moab's 2013 Easter Jeep Safari

Jeep and Mopar have made a highly-anticipated tradition of revealing a number of drool-worthy concept vehicles at the annual Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah, and 2013 has not disappointed; it's clear that Jeep and Mopar listen to their fans.  The best thing about these concepts is that they aren't just pretty faces; they're built and driven to get dirty.  I wrote about last year's concept vehicles here, and while we didn't get anything this year like the over-the-top Mighty FC, we did get six new vehicles.  Five of them are based on the Jeep Wrangler JK, and one is an upfitted EcoDiesel Grand Cherokee Trailhawk II.  For an overview of the six new vehicles, head over to Expedition Portal and Jeep's own blog.

Jeep Wrangler JKs at the 2013 Easter Jeep Safari in Moab

Yet again, I was unable to attend the 2013 Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah.  But those who were lucky enough to get to 4wheel at the Mecca of Off-Roading this year were rewarded with great trails, great weather, and great people.  As videos are put together and appear on YouTube, I will update this post with the best of the best.

If you have never been to Moab and don't have a group to lead you, you're better off having a 4x4 guidebook to keep you informed and safe since the desert is vast and trails range from easy 2WD dirt roads to some of the most hardcore rockcrawling in the world.  The Guide to Moab, UT Backroads & 4-Wheel-Drive Trails and Utah Byways: 65 of Utah's Best Backcountry Drives are the two best 4x4 trail books you can get for this area; don't go to Moab without them!

One of the great things about the 4-door Jeep Wrangler JK Unlimited is that it allows entire families to enjoy the backcountry offroading experience.  The JK's solid axles, heavy-duty drivetrain components, and huge aftermarket support allow families to easily and comfortably get further into the backcountry on more challenging trails than any other vehicle currently offered.  This video from JK-Adventure shows what offroad recreation and the Jeep Lifestyle are all about:

Teraflex put together a great video of their family fun run on a trail called Mashed Potatoes.  You can see how well these 4-door "family Jeeps" work in difficult terrain:

Rebel Offroad produced a series of videos from each day's trail rides.  They're very well-done because they show more than just the vehicles, but also the beauty and splendor of the desert:

Here's a video that shows what a couple of modestly-built JKs (a 2-door and a 4-door) are capable of:

Warn Industries' coverage of the Media Run and Friends of Warn trail runs:

Here is a video with some great aerial videography from a radio control quadcopter:

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Big Win in Kane County, Utah for R.S.2477 State's Rights

The Deseret News and KSL Radio/TV News are reporting that Kane County, Utah has just won another legal battle over twelve Civil War-era roads.  What's the big deal?  The State of Utah and the Citizens of the United States of America own these routes, but anti-access faux-environmentalist groups, politicians, and federal land managers keep fighting to take these public rights-of-way across public lands away from the public.  Roads and trails are being continually closed to the public all across the country, so any small win - and especially one that sets or reinforces legal precedent - is a huge win for everyone.

The law that granted these rights of way was written in 1866 and named Revised Statute 2477 (RS 2477).  In 1976, the Federal Land Policy & Management Act (FLPMA) took away the citizens' rights to make their own routes across federal land (BLM or USFS land) but it also legally granted permanence to all routes established up until that point under R.S. 2477.  So these routes were created legally under federal law, and then legally recognized 110 years later under federal law, but now the federal government is attempting to lock the public out of these public rights-of-way in hopes that people have forgotten their rights.

This isn't the first time Kane County has won legal battles to preserve R.S. 2477 rights-of-way.  The County Commissioner's Office published this press release three years ago when they successfully blocked another federal government land-grab.  This isn't the first time I've written about RS 2477 roads either; I thoroughly explained the law hereA candidate for the Piute County Commissioner position in Utah by the name of Darin Bushman also explains the law:

Monday, March 25, 2013

A Jeep TJ Devotee Falls for the JK Wrangler

JP Magazine is the dedicated all-Jeep magazine, and I am a very happy subscriber.  Their editors have a broad mix of backgrounds so they can share a diverse perspective with their readers on all things Jeep.  Their editor Verne Simons is one of their "old school" writers who has always preferred older Jeeps and shunned new tech, so it was with great interest that I read his (believe it or not!) first impression of the magazine's trusty old 2007 JK after living with it for several months:
At first I was skeptical of the JK (Like any good monkey I fear all things different and least for a little while. They usually smell funny). I like TJs, so I guess I was also a little resentful of the new kid on the block. Several months back I took the keys to our JK Rubicon. Since then I have spent quite a bit of time behind the wheel of the thing.
Besides the poor experience shifting its worn-out transmission, along with his desire for revised transmission gearing (primarily a crawler 1st gear ratio) he's genuinely impressed.  Coming from someone who was admittedly prejudiced against the JK, this is quite a compliment; one which Jeep's engineers can be proud of.  In Verne's own words,
Basically the JK is awesome, and a great replacement for the TJ. It definitely ups the bar of what a Jeep is on-road and off-. 
The suspension is awesome. It flexes, rides well on-road, and can handle bumps at speed better than a short Jeep should.
I'll leave the rest of his thoughts for you to read in his blog, but suffice it to say that he sounded surprised at himself for liking the JK as much as he did.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Different Perspectives on the 2013 King of the Hammers Race

2013 King of the Hammers winner Randy Slawson
The annual King of the Hammers race has literally grown exponentially since its beginning in 2007 as an informal race between 13 teams.  KOH is now a world-famous event that attracts tens of thousands of spectators, with coverage by international media and international competitors.  It is universally accepted as being the world's toughest 1-day race for good reason: 2013 had 129 teams start the race, and only 27 even reached the finish line before the end of the race was officially called 15 hours later.  That's a 79% rate of attrition amongst the best-built rockcrawl buggies on Earth!

Robby Gordon's race-ending rollover
This year's event predictably had the best coverage yet.  No amount of media reports can actually replace the opportunity to attend the event yourself, but even if you attended the race you will still have missed most of the action because you can't be everywhere at all times.  Therefore, I have gathered a wide selection of different perspectives on the race so you can get a better understanding of and appreciation for the race, the vehicles, and the men and women who compete.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Radio Controlled Axial SCX10 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon

Axial Racing is known for being one of top-tier manufacturers of radio-controlled vehicles.  Their SCX10 is one of the best-designed platforms in hobby-grade remote-control scale-model cars, and they have now released the SCX10 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited rockcrawler.  This R/C Jeep is officially-licensed by Jeep, along with licenses from technical partners Rebel Offroad, Maxxis Tires, Walker Evans Racing Wheels, Currie Enterprises, Rigid Industries, Poison Spyder Customs, Icon Vehicle Dynamics, sPOD, Spicer Drivetrain, TJM, and Wilwood Brakes.  No other R/C vehicle is as officially supported as this one!

There are so many cool features on this R/C Jeep, but reading all about it has nowhere near the impact of seeing and driving this Jeep for yourself.  That's why Axial came out to the 2013 King of the Hammers race in Johnson Valley, CA and set up the Axial Adventure Trail for kids and adults to get to drive them in an incredibly realistic scale-model trail.  More photos can be seen on Axial's blog.

To prove how well designed and engineered this 1/10-scale rockcrawler is, Axial took their SCX10 Wrangler through the entire Rubicon Trail.  It consumed 6 batteries over the course of 15 miles and 3 days, going on to earn the Trail Rated badge from Jeep.  How cool is this???

I really want one of these R/C crawlers for myself!  I'm saving up to buy one!

*** UPDATE 4/25/2013 ***

Axial Racing has updated their blog with the Axial Racing Rubicon Trek PhotoBlog.  They cover the 3 days they spent on the trail plus the previous day's adventures driving to the Rubicon trailhead, and the final day's return journey back home.  Don't miss reading all about this awesome trek and viewing their beautiful collection of photos!

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3

I can't wait to see the full-length documentary video they're producing!

*** UPDATE 4/12/2013 ***

I just found a Canadian offroad site that covered the radio-controlled action at King of the Hammers. has a slideshow of the variety of different scale models navigating the Axial course at KOH. 

Jeep Trucks: Past, Present, and Future

Petersen's 4Wheel & Off-Road Magazine has written a great blog entry on their website about the past, present, and possible future for Jeep-brand pickup trucks.

They first cover the history of Jeep's trucks, with photos and descriptions of of the original Willys truck, the Jeepster, the Forward Control FC-150 and FC-170 trucks, the J-series pickups, the CJ8 Scrambler, and the MJ Comanche.

Then they cover today's aftermarket pickup conversions such as AEV's TJ Brute & JK Brute Double Cab, Mopar JK8, the Burnsville JK Hauler, and the GR8Tops halfcab kit for the TJ.

They show some of Jeep's most well-received concept trucks as potential future production options, including the Gladiator, Nukizer, Mighty FC, JT, and J12.

And since Jeep's roots are in building military equipment, Petersen's also shows some of Jeep's military trucks: the CJ-10A, M715, and M35A2 trucks.