photography RICK PEWE
Before many of our readers were born, a group of guys and gals in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana formed one of the oldest and greatest events known to four-wheeling. The IOK Four Wheelers produced the first Gravelrama back in 1971, and eventually bought the land they play on in 1977. While trail riding, sand drags, obstacle courses, and the like are all part of the venue, the main draw is always the gravel hill known as the Big Elim—and it is the king of the event. And when you realize that some of the original participants still compete, you understand how important Gravelrama is in this neck of the woods.
It all started way back when, as a way for families to have fun and have safe competition. Over the years it has grown to the biggest annual event in the Midwest. The technology isn't stuck in the '60s like some people think. New tech and new equipment always play a part, but the IOK
Four Wheelers always make sure the core values are adhered to.
We were lucky enough to race in Gravelrama back in 2002 ("Gravelrama XXXII," Dec. '02). In fact if you go to our website, 4wheeloffroad.com, and search for "gravelrama" you'll find that we covered this event other times as well, including in the Dec. '80, Dec. '81, and Jan. '85 issues.
Our host once again was the Kelly family, with Toby, Janie, Jill, and David all competing or organizing or judging, as well as taking care of us. The weeklong shindig starts with a parade through the main street of Cleves, Ohio, and then is broken down into four days of bracket drags on the new drag way, an obstacle course on Saturday, and the Big Eliminator hillclimb on Sunday. We were able to break away from our regular workday grind long enough to enjoy the hillclimb on a wonderful Midwest Sunday and, as always, left with the longing to make it back one more time.
Contact the IOK Four Wheelers at www. gravelrama.com for more info on next year's event. It promises to be just as spectacular as the last 40 have been.
IBig power, paddles, and the smarts to put it all together are what it takes to launch over the Big Elim. Standing 150 feet tall at an incline of 75 degrees (give or take a degree or two), Big Eliminator lives up to the name. Barely 50 percent of contestants make it over the monster pile of pea gravel.
2 The key is to make it to the top, but not fly over It. A 4x4 hanging on like this for dear life is a common sight. Knowing when to shut down without getting stuck at the crest is key. Racers have cleared the top and then gone through the trees into the cemetery beyond. How steep is the hill? Check out the level horizon in the distance!
3 Really, how can we pass up a classic Trar burnin' up the hill? Nicely done trars like this are way cool, as opposed to some conflagrations we've been right skered of.
4 Even the 4x4 show had an eclectic mix of rides. From veteran racers to too-tall trucks to solid working 4x4s, there was something for everyone.
5 Near the top is where the modern-day Hayshaker flew. With mere feet to go, contestants always have a fun time gauging power versus momentum versus guts versus brakes.
7 John Brown won the Best Engineered award for his Jeep, named Six Pak. The Jeep was a mixture of tried and true suspension and traction with full-on modern engine controls and gizmos. This Jeep not only looked good, but worked incredibly well.
8 Just getting to the halfway starting mark is a challenge, and you don't get to take all day to do it. Powering up then drifting back to the tine is the key, then you nail it forward once the lights are tripped.
9 A personal favorite is this Jeep driven by David Kelly over the top of the hill. Check out page 42 of the Dec. '02 issue to find out why. This Jeep is still way quickl Also be sure to watch the videos on 4wheeloffroad.com of David starting halfway up the hill—in 2WD!
1 The Zaugg's Jeepster has been at every Xv^/ Gravelrama, so we intend to show it every time we cover the event.
nWe saw this WWII jeep in the car show, called the Old Hayshacker. Something looked oddly familiar, and when we pulled out our 1980 issue we saw why. This thing could cook down the dragstrip! O
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