Analysis. History. Perspective.

Sports Then and Now

Off-Road Adventure: How Jeep Climbing Became a New Sport

Posted on September 16, 2016 by Brooke Chaplan

jeep-climbingGoing off-road is a feeling unlike any other. You have to have the skill and technique to maneuver without damaging you or the other passengers. It is a thrill ride of adrenaline rush and has been picked up by many enthusiasts. Jeep climbing as a sport in the dunes and deserts is a phenomenon that has surprised many. But how did this sport get its start?

The Jeep: Military Beginnings
The Jeep has always been an off-road vehicle. Starting as a military vehicle, this vehicle saw major use during the Second World War. The original jeeps were designed by a company called Bantam before the design was picked up by Ford in order to produce the number of vehicles that the army needed. The army continued to push for more terrain defying designs, even going so far as to develop one that could go underwater. Militarized jeeps were even used in Vietnam during the Vietnam War.

The Jeep Comes to the Homefront
Willys produced the first civilian Jeep in 1945, and it was the first manufacturer to own the rights to the Jeep name. Since then, the vehicle style has gone through a variety of different owners and manufacturers. In the 1970’s through into the 1980’s, the Jeep name brand was losing money. Finally the Chrysler Company ended up with the Jeep in 1987 and a renamed brand of that company still owns the Jeep today.

Off-Roading as a Necessity

While the Jeep has been an off road vehicle since its inception, the idea of rock crawling and Jeep climbing competitions has been a relatively new idea. Before the competitions, people used their Jeeps to navigate the rough backwoods terrain. Because of the toughness and dependability of the vehicle, it also served as an escape to the wilderness by people who lived in urban environments. Jeeps were one of the first vehicles that could get to off-the-beaten-path places, and it wasn’t long until Jeep owners were pushing their vehicles to see how far they could go.

Off-Roading as a Sport
The sport of Rock Crawling was invented when a point system was created to help score rock crawling events. These points were assigned to those contestants who did things such as hitting markers, using winches to unstick a vehicle, or reversing through part of the course. The lowest score wins the competition.
The first official rock crawling competition was in 1998. Since then, there have been dozens of different competitions across the country. Today’s largest rock crawling competition is the World Extreme Rock Crawling Championship Series or W.E.ROCK. It was first set up in the early 2000’s with the first true world championship competition in 2006.

These four wheel drive machines continue to be put to the test. As the demand gets tougher, tire and vehicle companies like Discount Tire Centers continue to rise to the occasion and develop vehicles capable of doing more amazing things. Only time will tell how far this sport goes and what new innovations come out of it.


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