Jump for Joy: The Bloomsburg 4-Wheel Jamboree
A little known fact about the state of Pennsylvania is that its inhabitants and their tendencies, likes, and dislikes vary greatly depending on their proximity to a city. The environment changes completely from a hectic urban atmosphere in cities like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh to the relaxed rural mindset of the surrounding towns throughout the mountains located in between the two ends of the state. These country towns don’t contain a lot of the luxury vehicles city slickers utilize in their daily lives, instead the residents’ mode of transportation involves driving across dirt roads and over rocky terrain, which in many cases makes truck ownership a requirement. The 29th Annual 4-Wheel Jamboree, held recently in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, was a chance for these lifted truck owners to gather and celebrate their love of off-roading.
The atmosphere of the event at Bloomsburg Fairgrounds is extremely laid-back, right from the moment of entry to the event. No fancy admission area exists; only a gap in the partition of chain-link fence is responsible for granting access to the grounds. The clothing of choice for attendees was one of two different pairings – a combination of shorts or blue jeans with boots. There was no expensive clothing, nor watches or shoes to be found at this gathering.
Throughout the day entrants could participate in the Cruise Lane, a stretch of tarmac around the event where a constant stream of drivers lined up to show off their trucks, or cram their truck beds full of friends and beverages for a fun tour of the event. Think of the most fun traffic jam you’ve ever been in – the Cruise Lane is way better!
Since I was on foot, I was forced to walk through the show area; my path took me right past a number of interesting trucks, like this old Ford Bronco. Last year you might recall us visiting the Mecum Auto Auctions in Harrisburg, where a lineup of pristine restored Broncos awaited their highest bidder. The Broncos at the Jamboree were of a different breed altogether. These workhorses were bruised and battered and covered in dried mud. This particular example had a lifted ride height and gigantic tires fit for any kind of off-road adventure. It also kept its front and rear tow straps handy just in case it needed to be removed from a sticky situation. There was even a picture in the windshield of this truck laying upside-down in a huge puddle of mud. Each and every blemish or dent most likely occurred during quite an experience for the owner.
Not all of the trucks were built for battle, as illustrated by this super-clean regular-cab 1500 Silverado outfitted with massive Super Swamper tires. The exterior gleamed with fresh burgundy paint and numerous chrome trim pieces polished to perfection. The matching interior made me reminisce about my parents’ old S10 Blazer with the same color combination.
A lot of these trucks seemed ridiculously high, which led me to question how any of the passengers got out. I received my answer when this outrageous Durango drove by and parked in a nearby spot. A standard A-frame stepladder was sourced and the family began to unload. It was a sight to see.
This lifted tubular chassis hosted the Super Cab body from an almost-unrecognizable Ford Ranger. Its bed was missing in action, which helped to showcase its purpose built attitude. In its place, the fuel cell and rear-mounted radiator occupied the space over the knobby rear tires.
Purists look away! This lifted Chevy C10 might have had a pristine blue and black paint scheme throughout with vintage KC Daylighter fog lights, but it’s what laid waiting underneath the hood that was special: a 5.9-liter Cummins turbo-diesel engine swap. Add to that the Anthem wheels wrapped in Mickey Thompson tires and the Fox suspension, and this blasphemous Chevy drew a crowd.
The HMMWV or Humvee was a US military-spec vehicle created by AM General, and used to conquer terrain around the world. This yellow example of the Hummer truck body has been raised substantially and rolls on Super Swamper tires – a far cry from the duty-driven past held by its utility-based ancestors.
The grandstands at Bloomsburg Fairgrounds packed attendees in like sardines to witness one of the greatest wonders of the motorsports world: Monster Truck racing. This was by far my favorite part of the Jamboree experience!
During the monster truck racing, pairs of 10,000-pound trucks equipped with 2,000 horsepower engines combined to hurtle through the air in an almost artistic manner. They regained momentum immediately after landing, launched themselves in unison over the next jump within seconds, and tried to reach the final jump before their competitor.
It wasn’t always pretty, though, as the trucks tend to get a little discombobulated when they land awkwardly. Notice it here – the Snake Bite truck got a little out-of-shape by landing too far forward on its two front tires while still accelerating, which sent it barreling into the Lucas Oil Bigfoot truck.
In between the Monster Truck races, several different classes of smaller-scale race trucks competed on the same dirt course.
After the big trucks had put their performance to the test in the races, they set out to please the crowd of onlookers in a freestyle competition, where a set of judges would grade a competition run combining a mixture of trickery in the truck. Everything from turf-spitting donuts and wheelies…
…To mind-blowing big air jumps showcased the incredible feats these trucks were capable of performing.
Some handlers even drove up to the track’s edge and chose to splatter the crowd with as much mud and dirt as they could find, which only added to the enjoyment of the attendees. The enjoyment of my camera equipment? Not so much…
Most of these behemoths were pushed to their absolute limit, and retaliated to the abuse by ending their runs early with mechanical failures. Seen here, the Snake Bite truck broke its rugged suspension, de-beaded the driver’s side tires, and ripped off its rear bodywork. These repairs must be pretty predictable for the crew of these trucks after they repeatedly crash into the ground from upwards of 40 feet in the air.
Not only could guests of the event purchase an abundance of aftermarket performance parts for their personal truck including almost any size tire, they could also have these parts installed at a few of the booths on location.
The Jamboree also organized its own dyno session, which let any registered trucks in attendance prove their power numbers, developing a cloud of black exhaust smoke for everyone to see.
Not every truck on the fairgrounds was outrageously lifted, or fitted with tractor tires at the show. This beautiful 1970 GMC Jimmy must have come direct from a restoration, as every corner radiated with perfection. With the glossy period-correct paint scheme accompanied by the shiny chrome covering the exterior, the reupholstered white vinyl interior, and the unique bikini-style soft top, this original truck stood out in a sea of modified off-road vehicles.
Although the show was filled with various vehicle types, I wasn’t planning on seeing any muscle cars at a 4×4 event. It’s not very often one sees a 1967 Plymouth Barracuda body mounted to the lifted chassis of a 1974 Jeep Cherokee. This all-terrain vehicle was purchased and torn apart starting in 1984 – four years before I was even born. It stands now as a constantly ongoing project and still isn’t considered finished by its owner.
Mimicking the build style of a Monster Truck, this Ford F-150 representing Wolf Springs Off-Road Park circulated the event’s Cruise Lane before finding a resting place in the show area.
The rear-mounted engine peeked through the open bodywork, above the massive body lift and tractor tires. The interior was filled with different well-fabricated bracing, although without a ladder handy all I could see was the underside of the dashboard and roof from beneath the door’s opening.
The day finished up with festivities drawing to a close, and the Cruise Lane of trucks dwindling down to a few sole survivors. It was an eye-opening experience for me to witness trucks flying through the air, and passengers jumping into the air to board them. I enjoyed the change of pace and can’t wait to experience whatever is next! Oh, and in my best Monster Truck announcer voice “SUNDAY, SUNDAY, SUNDAY! KIDS SEATS ARE JUST TEN BUCKS!!”