Saturday, February 10, 2018

Why I Started the Salt Lake Off-Road Expo

By Phil Rawlings
I often get asked why I started the Expo. Sometimes it seems they are looking at me like I have rocks in my head and I probably do.

I have been involved with and designed parts for a number of companies over the years that have gone to shows like SEMA and the Pomona Off-Road Expo. It always bothered me that we had to go somewhere else to have an Off-Road Expo. One night talking with friends I asked why don't we put on an Expo ourselves? Utah is the mecca for Off-Roading after all. They thought it was a good idea but dismissed it as "campfire talk". 

The idea of putting on an Off-Road Expo wouldn't leave me alone. After thinking about how to do an Expo and the elements that would go into it I became more convinced that I didn't want a big event company coming into Salt Lake and leaving without making it a better place. I wanted to be able to help the Off-Road community and came up with 3 pillars for the Expo; Promote the Off-Road businesses in Utah, Promote Utah, Promote Land Use Stewardship in part by uniting the Off-Road Community.

Promote the Utah Off-Road businesses- Running a business is tough especially a small or growing business. I have owned and been involved in a few businesses some of them Off-Road related. I want to be able to help businesses get exposure to new customers and promote themselves and their products or services. My goal, help connect local people with local businesses. There are more things we're working on but that's for another post.

Promote Utah- Utah is a great state and I'm proud to live here. With the Expo we can give people information on where to go and things to do in the state that they might not have known about before. I learned about the Paiute Trail and Swing Arm City recently, one a 275 mile riding loop and the other a 2600 acre open riding playground. We are working on a Tourism section of the Expo to get the word out about all of the incredible places to go and see in Utah.

Land Use- This is the big one with a couple components, without places to go all of this would be in vain. We are a fractured community, jeepers don't always get along with Side by Sides, or Motorcyclists and vice versa. The organizations that we often find ourselves opposing for access to trails are very organized. If we can come together as a complete community we have a much better chance of protecting our access. This is why we have all the different vehicles at the Expo and our rally cry is OFF-ROADERS UNITE!

We need to take care of the areas we are allowed to drive/ride on. It isn't a right like free speech, it's a privilege. I wasn't raised in family that went Off-Roading. When I built my first vehicle, a Jeep J10 Truck, I started wheeling and found a large muddy area at a crossroads back by Franklin Basin. My truck was covered in mud and some people in another truck stopped me and educated me about how what I had just done was going to affect the road. Fortunately they were really nice and I only felt a little defensive. I simply didn't know because I had no background. I feel this isn't an isolated occurrence. If we can educate people in a non-threatening way we can do some real good. Each year we donate booths to the Forest Service, BLM, Treadlightly, Blue Ribbon Coalition, Utah Public Land Alliance, and a few others. We want to partners with them to promote responsible land use and access to trails.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Expo thoughts and plans

We are excited about the second Off-Road Expo coming up the end of April. There are lots of irons in the fire. I wanted to let people know some of the things we are working on.

Panels/Presentations -
We have two panels and one presentation in the planning stages. The first panel was prompted by several locals who raced in the Baja 1000. I read several articles about their experiences and followed them on social media. I don't know about you but the Baja 1000 is on my bucket list. In course of talking to one of the people they mentioned a friend that had sold almost everything and set out driving to the southern tip of South America. I wanted to hear about that also. Now the idea for the panel has expanded to "Epic Adventures" and we will work on getting the friend there too.

The next panel was only half an idea until Scott & I met the Overland Bound crew by chance through a comment on an Instagram post. They invited us down to Lucky 13 where they were meeting with a bunch of friends on their way through town. As good as the food was the company was better. We met new locals and an old friend Kurt Williams who seems to do everything and be everywhere. While we were talking to the Overland Bound crew about getting out there and seeing the great outdoors we talked about doing a panel on how to start overlanding with what you have. What does it really take to go see some ghost towns or a mountain lake? This panel we are calling, "Overlanding- How to Get Started With What You Have".

The presentation  "What to Wear Under There- Wear the Right Clothes the Right Way", will be a good refresher or a great introduction to how simple changes to what we wear can make a big difference in our comfort or even survival. When we go off roading there is always the possibility for something to go wrong. To be honest it's part of the adventure for me. I often think about my tools and spare parts. I can't count how many times rigs got fixed by the light of flashlights. I also remember thinking man am I dressed wrong for this as I shivered hoping I could climb back into the warm cab of my truck. I think I'll be listening in for this.

That's all for right now.  I'll post more ramblings later so come back soon.
Phil Rawlings