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In another story from this year’s Easter Jeep Safari, we explored the notion that the Wrangler Africa Concept is toying with future changes we could see on the next-gen Wrangler. The Grand Cherokee Overlander Concept subtly does the same thing by exploring a tweak to the suspension system that Jeep hasn’t publicly done before.

RESQ1 was our trail rig for the day on Metal Masher.

RESQ1 was our trail rig for the day on Metal Masher.

The Easter Jeep Safari is a pretty unique and very cool event. Although there are informal business meetings at the event in Moab, cards may get swapped over meals or drinks, and much of Jeep aftermarket displays its latest gear at a trade show at the end of the week, but the event is also very much based in a love of off-roading. So pretty much everyone in attendance spends some time on the trail, because ultimately that’s what it’s all about.

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Renegades on the trails in Moab? Why not!?!

Billionaire Donald Trump once said the two most expensive words in the world are “why not?” In some way, shape or form, practically every off-roader can understand this concept. For some this relates to the truly expensive questions, like why not put 40-inch tires on my Wrangler, or why not put a HEMI conversion in my JK? Or there are simpler ones, like why not try to climb that ledge, or why not use the “bonus” line? Logic need not apply to many of these questions. In fact, they often aren’t questions so much as statements. “Why not” isn’t asking for a counterpoint; it’s making a statement. It says: This is going to happen, and let the cards fall where they may.

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Jeep Wrangler Red Rock Responder Concept

Jeep Wrangler Red Rock Responder Concept

Story and Photos by Jaime Hernandez

Taking your Jeep to the next level has never been easier. The explosion in popularity of the four-door Wrangler Unlimited has spawned a massive offering of parts in the aftermarket. But instead of having to go through an outside party to modify your Jeep, Mopar’s new line of Jeep Performance Parts (JPP) offers upgradable options that you can have installed at your local dealership or performance parts shop.

The Africa concept explores ideas that we could see on the next-gen Wrangler.

The Africa concept explores ideas that we could see on the next-gen Wrangler.

Jeep knows its core audience well, and the brand has wisely viewed the Easter Jeep Safari as an opportunity to connect with its core audience. This is exemplified not only by Jeep’s presence here in Moab, but also by the drool-worthy concept trail rigs the brand brings out each year.

These Jeep concept vehicles are no doubt high on cool factor, but they also provide the opportunity for the company to gather valuable intel and customer feedback. One of the vehicles that may have asked the most questions, albeit very subtly, was one of the least flashy concepts of the bunch, the Wrangler Africa. The sand-colored paintjob of the Africa practically blends the Wrangler into the sandstone backdrop of Moab, and at first glance it’s easy to skip over this overland-style Wrangler and focus on the more flashy rigs like the Jeep Chief, Staff Car or Grand Cherokee Overlander. A closer look at the Africa, however, reveals there’s much at play here than meets the eye.

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Mark, Allen, head of Jeep Design, describes the 2015 Jeep concept vehicles to the media in Moab, Utah.

Mark Allen, head of Jeep Design, describes the 2015 Jeep concept vehicles to the media in Moab, Utah.

Jeep has a fiercely loyal following, and nowhere is this more apparent than at Easter Jeep Safari week in Moab, Utah. Packing the streets, the trails, the hotel parking lots and everywhere in between during the week of EJS are CJ-5s, 7s, TJ and YJ Wranglers, four-four JK Unlimiteds fitted with 32-inch tires up to 40s, and you’ll even see the occasional Comanche, Willys or Grand Wagoneer around town.

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Jeep® Wrangler Red Rock Responder Concept
Auburn Hills, Mich
. – Seven new, capable and fun Jeep concept vehicles – featuring a host of Mopar and Jeep Performance Parts available to consumers – are set to conquer the trails of Moab, Utah, at the 49th annual Easter Jeep Safari, taking place March 28-April 5.  The Easter Jeep Safari is attended by thousands of die-hard off-road enthusiasts, who each year enjoy a week of serious off-roading on some of the country’s most rugged and recognizable trails.

Randy Slawson crawling down Outer Limits. Photo: Josh Burns

Randy Slawson crawling down Outer Limits. Photo: Josh Burns

He was a co-driver during the first KOH, also known as the OG13. He is on the short list of the King of the Hammer Champions after winning the race in 2013. But after today, Randy Slawson now joins an even more elite crew as a two-time King of the Hammers winner.

“Last year I had a lot of pressure from winning the year before, and we pushed the car incredibly hard,” Slawson said after the race. “I just wanted to bring this thing back and try to let it prove itself. It is insanely fast and strong. Man, it takes a beating.”

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Jason Scherer posted the fastest qualifying time for this year’s King of the Hammers. Both Scherer and fellow prior KOH Champion Erik Miller will be the first two off the line in the morning. Photo: Valerie Douglas

After two days of qualifying, 2009 King of the Hammers Champion Jason Scherer posted the fastest lap time of 1 minute, 59.5 seconds to earn the pole in tomorrow’s 2015 Nitto King of the Hammers presented by 4 Wheel Parts.

Brandon Currie earned the win at today's Smittybilt Everyman Challenge. Photo: Josh Burns

Brandon Currie earned the win at today’s Smittybilt Everyman Challenge. Photo: Josh Burns

Maybe it’s the genes. Maybe it’s the car. Whatever the ingredients are in the Currie family’s formula for success, Brandon Currie found it again today by winning the Smittybilt Everyman Challenge at the Johnson Valley OHV Park during Nitto King of the Hammers Week. After winning it three consecutive years, father John decided to step back this year and let his son Brandon drive, and Brandon made dad proud, besting the field of 92 racers in the event that serves as the penultimate race of King of the Hammers Week.