No Elitist Attitude
During a time when we now, more than ever, need to attract renewed interest in off-roading, the '11 Grand Cherokee represents a step in that direction. We all know that this rig or any other stock rig is not the best choice for the swamps of Florida, the desert rocks of the west, or the gulches of the Carolinas. However, many potential new off-roaders are probably intimidated by the extreme rigs they see rolling down the highway or on the backs of lowboy trailers being hauled to the nearest off-road park. A way to get people interested in our sport is by getting them into the sport to start with. The way to do that is to put them into a vehicle that drives like a well-mannered street machine, then let them play in the dirt and figure out, "Oh, that's what that lever/button does. Cool!" A vehicle they don't feel like they need a step ladder to climb into. A vehicle that doesn't porpoise down the pavement.
I recently spoke to the owner of Gulches ORV Park in nearby Laurens, South Carolina. He said that over 60 percent of the park is accessible in a stock rig. Any given Saturday you can find a RAV 4, a Chevy tracker, or a Grand Cherokee (all stock) wheeling right along with the extreme buggies that frequent the park. Guess what? Once the line on the trail forms, no one cares what the other guy or girl is wheeling, and if someone gets stuck there is plenty of help available.
Maintaining an elitist attitude is a sure way of keeping people out of our sport. Making it more accessible, like with 4x4s with good street manners that people enjoy driving, is a sure way to get more people into the sport. Involving more people in our sport helps keep off-road access available, critical at this time according to the Dec. '10 issue. Chances are when those with the stock rigs see what the larger rigs are capable of, they will be visiting the aftermarket. Or they may decide that their rig is capable enough for them, leave it stock and, most importantly, keep wheeling.
James W. Smith
You are right, James. We need more people starting out in the sport. The question is how we can get more people involved. We know the question. Now let's all work on the answer.
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