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The Jeep Invasion

Over 1,000 Jeeps took over the downtown of Butler PA this afternoon…

13 JUN 2014: The annual Jeep invasion began around 5pm, and we joined thousands of other Jeeps lining the streets of this small town, where the prototype Jeep was first designed and built. It is all part of the Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival that goes on all weekend…

Jeep Fest Open

The Bantam Heritage Jeep Festival opened today…

13 JUN 2014: The Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival got started at Cooper’s Lake campground, with plenty of Jeep fun to be had, including on-site trails, competitions and this “interesting” playground, as well as historical presentations, how-to clinics and plenty of vendor exhibits…

Arrived in Butler PA


The town of Butler PA is getting ready for the Jeep Invasion…

10 JUN 2014: Arrived in Butler PA, home of the Bantam Jeep and host of the annual Jeep Invasion, which is part of the Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival. Here a few days early, and exploring the downtown area…

On the Road in Rural PA

What is the protocol for passing a horse carriage when there is a double yellow line…

9 JUN 2014: Driving across Pennsylvania to get to the Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival, and frequently came across this scenario. Amish horse carriages on fairly major roads, followed by a line of vehicles that did not pass them. Wonder if there is some kind of rule about this…

Down in The Coal Pit

Coal silt leftover from old mining operations made for an interesting “soft sand” simulation…

8 JUN 2014: Got an unexpected opportunity to practice “soft sand” scenarios in the mountains of Pennsylvania with Kyle Buchter, of Rausch Creek Adventures. The fine black coal silt behaved just like the soft sand of the Sahara (or the volcanic ash of a favorite Arizona location known as “the Cinders”), and the remains of an old coal mining operation were transformed into a perfect Jeep playground…

Getting Muddy at Rausch Creek

First stop is for some off-road fun on the trails at Rausch Creek…

7 JUN 2014: Spent the day working out on some fun trails at Rausch Creek Off-Road Park, near Harrisburg PA, where the Jeep picked up a little bit of mud. Had some great opportunities to explore, including getting a sneak peak at a new trail that is just in the process of being cut (which made for some very interesting driving)…

Roadtrip to the Annual Jeep Invasion


Taking the slow road to the Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival…

7 JUN 2014: Heading West a week early for the Bantam Heritage Jeep Festival and signature Jeep Invasion in the small town of Butler, PA. Making a “roadtrip” out of the long drive across three states, with some interesting stops planned along the way…

Jeep Gets Some New Gear

Added some powerful off-road lighting and a few other items…

5 JUN 2014: The Jeep got a bit of a “makeover” to start the summer right. One of the things we learned from doing the rally was that we needed to be able to see better when driving off-road at night. A new 50″ LED light bar, gives us a sleek and powerful styling, with a lot of light power. We’ve also added some cool storage and organizational tools inside…


USnomads is going to Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival in Butler PA. The tribute event to all things Jeep, with activities, competitions, trail runs and the signature “Jeep Invasion” which takes place downtown.


Butler PA was home to the American Bantam Car Company, a central character in the invention, development and production of the very first Jeeps. The Bantam jeep was the prototype for what would eventually evolve into the World War II US Army Jeeps, the Willys MB and the Ford GPW.

The story goes something like this…

In 1940, the U S Army asked 135 tractor and auto manufacturers to design a four-wheel drive, 40 horsepower, 1,300 pound reconnaissance car that could haul soldiers as well as heavy artillery. The challenge? The designer was expected to have a working prototype available for a test run within 49 days.

Only two companies responded to the request, The American Bantam Car Company of Butler, Pa. and Willys-Overland Motors of Toledo, Ohio. Because Bantam promised to deliver the prototype in 45 days, they won contract.

Bantam’s Factory Manager Frank Fenn, former General Motors Executive Arthur Brandt and a skeleton work crew were feverishly working on the project when Fenn called freelance designer Karl Probst in Detroit and offered him the design job. Probst agreed to design the car in five days and forgo payment for his services if Bantam did not win the Army contract.

After maintaining a frantic schedule for nearly seven weeks, the Bantam group managed to bring the layouts and spec sheets to life. The Bantam prototype was called the Bantam Reconnaissance Car, or BRC.

The prototype was driven from Butler PA to Camp Holabird, MD on September 23, where the Army tested it for 30 days. The Army liked what it saw, and wanted production of 75 vehicles per day. Unfortunately, Bantam could not meet that production schedule, and the Army gave Ford and Willys the Bantam’s blueprints to produce enough vehicles. Ford and Willys fulfilled the Army’s contracts for 600,000 Jeeps for World War II. While Bantam produced a total of 2,675 jeeps, it never produced another vehicle after that. Instead, Bantam produced ‘jeep’ cargo trailers, torpedo motors and other military use items until they closed in 1956.

[adapted from the Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival website. See their site for more details.]


Named by Smithsonian Magazine in the top ten best small towns in America; Butler, PA, is home to 14,000 residents. Butler is located 35 miles (56 km) north of Pittsburgh and is a nationally accredited “Main Street” community with a thriving downtown shopping and restaurant district.

Established in 1803, the town became an industrial and manufacturing center. It was here that some of the first all-steel railroad cars were built by Standard Steel Car Company in 1902. The automotive industry soon followed, and the American Austin Car Company set up shop here in 1929, eventually changing its name to Bantam and creating the Jeep prototype in 1941.

Like many towns centered on manufacturing, Butler has seen some ups and downs, but has continued to flourish. Recently, the Marcellus Shale boom has created new jobs and revenue via the somewhat controversial gas drilling practice known as “tracking.”


USnomads, c’est l’histoire d’une amitié de plus de 20 ans, qui s’est construite à travers le temps, les cultures, les expériences de la vie et des voyages. Seule l’union de deux caractères forts et respectueux l’un de l’autre explique que nous soyons arrivées à nos fins dans chacun de nos défis.

Ceci est notre première participation au Rallye des gazelles et nous ne sommes pas des professionels, mais JoMarie a une certaine expérience de l’Afrique et des situations d’urgence. D’autre part, elle s’est totalement investie dans la préparation de cette course et Isabelle s’est récemment mise à la navigation.

Le Rallye des gazelles dans le désert marocain sera le théâtre d’une nouvelle épreuve pour nous : une Jeep, une boussole, une carte et tout le pouvoir de notre volonté d’y parvenir fera le reste.

Ce défi sportif s’inscrit dans un projet humain plus large, celui de traverser le désert du Sahara d’Ouest en Est dans l’espoir d’accompagner les équipes d’ONG dans leurs micro-projets d’aide aux peuplades nomades locales. JoMarie en produira un film documentaire qui donnera à mieux connaitre les hommes de cette partie du monde.

L’équipe 171 prendra fièrement son envol le 15 mars 2014 avec toutes les autres participantes ! Et que les meilleures gagnent !

Mais quelle valeur et quelle portée aurait cette leçon de vie, si nous n’étions pas soutenues par l’amour de nos proches, de nos amis et de tous ceux qui nous entourent. Merci !


Team USnomads is proud to support the work of MothersToMothers, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that recognizes the ability of mothers to change their destiny. MothersToMothers, founded by Pamela Parlapiano, partners with local women to create community supported day care and learning centers that change lives. Their model project in Amacho Wato Kebele, Ethiopia, has shown how with just a little help, the mothers in the community can improve the lives of a whole village. Please join us in supporting their efforts to take this successful model to more villages: Donate to MothersToMothers here. (Note that all donations go 100% directly to MothersToMothers).


New York
clear sky
humidity: 35%
wind: 13mph W
H 52 • L 32
Weather from OpenWeatherMap

Nesconset | Rausch Creek | Butler

May – Overland Expo, Rausch Creek
April – Back Home
The Gazelle Rally Recap




In March 2014, Team 171 USnomads successfully completed the Rallye Aicha des Gazelles in Morocco. Checkout the rally highlights in this day-by-day recap which includes descriptions of each leg of the race, daily reports from the field, the team’s tracks, video coverage of the event and more… [read]



Desert driving in soft sand requires airing down — a lot. And below a certain pressure, there is concern that a tire could get unseated and actually fall off the rim. That’s what happened to us while training in the dunes. Luckily, there’s a relatively simple “field fix” for this situation… [read]



We just seem to love “road trips.” The excitement of laying out the maps, loading up the Jeep, and heading out to discover something new has brought us together before. In 2010 we criss-crossed the United States in a marathon drive that covered over 10,000 miles and encompassed 25 states in 46 days… [read]



Driving a Jeep off-road across the Sahara presents a different set of challenges than the recreational offroading we are familiar with, so we went to Barlow Jeep School in Sedona, AZ, to learn the ins and outs of desert driving from an expert… [read]

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A true test of endurance, the Gazelle rally pushes teams to their limits in a struggle to overcome the harshest terrain in the Moroccan Sahara. The key to success is a seamless combination of off-road driving abiility, land navigation skills and strategic thinking. Find out how the rally works…

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