14 JUNE 2015: Made a stop at Rausch Creek on the way back home to spend some time on the trails and plan some routes for the TFT group. It was a great day at the park, with perfect weather and not too many people. No worries about making frequent stops to make trail notes or take pictures…
14 JUNE 2015: One of the most popular activities at Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival is the Jeep playground, an obstacle course with challenges for different levels. The course is purpose-built for the event, and there is even a spectator stand along the edge of the mud pits where festival goers can just watch the carnage. The festival also offers a series of short guided trail runs on the property, and a few longer trips to the nearby Moraine State park …
13 JUNE 2015: The Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival offered a great opportunity to see how creative people can be with their Jeep builds. The event includes a “Show and Shine” where Jeep owners can display their vehicles, some of which have been completely rebuilt into one-of-a-kind vehicles with personalities as unique as their owners …
12 JUNE 2015: A record-setting 2,420 Jeeps of all shapes and sizes descended on Butler PA today for the annual Jeep Invasion. The event went off smoothly, with the parade through town lasting for several hours. Festivities continued into the evening, despite being interrupted by a heavy rainfall. Jeepers and local residents mingled in the ambiance of a giant street fair as the Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival got underway …
11 JUNE 2015: Butler seems like a quiet little town tonite, but tomorrow it will be the center of attention as the annual Jeep Invasion begins, in an attempt to make it into the Guiness Book of World Records for the largest Jeep Parade. The event kicks off the Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival which continues all weekend …
9 JUNE 2015: Enjoying the road less travelled off the beaten track here in central PA. It is easy to find small country roads in this area not far from the Allegheny National Forest and it is fun to just take some time to go exploring …
4 JUNE 2015: Hit the road today, westward bound beyond New York City and onto the “mainland.” Drove on into the night to make a first stop in PA, where we are taking the slow road to the upcoming Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival…
2 JUNE 2015: The Jeep is ready for the next road trip, which will get underway later this week, but took advantage of a beautiful day to just get out and about locally …
USnomads will be one of 1,300 Jeeps invading Butler PA as part of the Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival June 12-14. For the 75th birthday of the Jeep, the Festival organizers are preparing to break the world record for the largest Jeep parade. Officials from the Guinness Book of World Records will be on hand to verify the feat, as the annual Jeep Invasion kicks off the Festival weekend.
COMING UP SOON:
Returning to the Rubicon Trail, quite possibly the most famous Jeep trail on the planet, is an iconic challenge of endurance and skill through breathtaking granite mountains. The twelve miles journey takes three days and puts us to the ultimate test.
Will be heading out to Rausch Creek this August for the 7th annual Topless for Tatas Wheeling Event. TFT brings together off-roaders from all over to raise awareness about Breast Cancer and raise funds for the American Cancer Society. This year over 700 vehicles are expected to participate, in hopes of raising over $26,000 for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation …
HISTORY OF THE BANTAM JEEP
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.]
ABOUT BUTLER PA
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.”
TEAM 171 PRESENTATION
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 !
MORE NOTES FROM THE ROAD:
May – Overland Expo, AZ roadtrip
April – Paris, Rausch Creek
March – Uwharrie
February – Back Home
January – Mauritania
15-31 December – Roadtrip
1-14 December – Southwest deserts
November – Paris and planning
October – Overland Expo and Workshops
September – Moab and more
August – Topless For Tatas
July – Summer Fun
The Gazelle Rally Recap
The first in a series of reports from our scouting trip in Mauritania takes and indepth look at the capital city of Nouakchott, and its fishing port… [read]
The second installment in a series of personal reflections on our experience in the Rallye Aiche des Gazelles–Putting our skills to the test in Morocco on the first day out in the desert, known as the “Prologue,” there are a few surprises… [read]