Long John's Eighth Annual Big Meat Run

Story & Photos by Rick Curtis and Allen Merritt
This year over 350 rigs registered and lots more followed along, watching the fun. The local Lion's Club cooked breakfast and lunch and sponsors gave away over $5000 in prizes.

 Flyin' Brian Ropcke of Buckner, MO has Passion for rock crawling so he started, Built 2 Rock Off-road and is a frequent 4 Wheel Parts customer. Brian says, "The best memories and experiences I have came with 18 years of rock crawling and trail riding." His blue '83 CJ7 has a 102-inch wheelbase with spring over axles features a 400 hp direct port injected engine which spins 42-inch TSL Super Swampers on 15"x10" Eagle Alloy wheels with Champion bead locks through a Turbo 400 transmission, 3.0 Atlas II transfer case, with 5.13 gears and Detroit Lockers in Dana 60 front and GM 14 bolt rear axles. Other goodies include Rancho 9000 shocks, 8274 Warn winch, and Mastercraft suspension seats.
Back in 2001, Long John Sumner, rock-star leader of Wagoner Machine Shop, invited his friends and customers who ran 44-inch or larger tires to a St. Patrick's Day Weekend 4xRun in the rocks below Grand Lake Dam at Disney, Oklahoma. Over the years, the Big Meat Run became the premiere 4xevent at Disney, and one of the hot rock crawling events nationally. When the machine shop closed, off-road adventurers feared the event would end. Fortunately, John reopened as Sumner Machine Works in Arkansas City, Kansas, and the event lives on.
Hosted by Hogan's 4x4 Campground, adjacent to the 'wheeling area, the Big Meat Run has become one of the largest gatherings of big-tired rock crawlers in the country. Off-road adventurers with smaller tires are welcome to run with the big-boys and girls by detouring around some of the most challenging rocks found anywhere.
In 2008, over 350 rigs registered and lots more followed along watching the fun. Unfortunately, the great Midwest floods started that weekend, but between rainsqualls and unusually chilly temperatures, everyone enjoyed the rocks. The local Lion's Club cooked breakfast and lunch, and sponsors gave away over $5000 worth of prizes.
Pensacola Dam, the world's longest multiple arch dam, is flanked by two smaller dams, forming Grand Lake of the Cherokees. The old riverbed below the dams offers miles and miles of mild-to-wild rock crawling trails. The town of Disney, an hour NE of Tulsa, provides restaurants, motels, convenience stores, and a parts store. Hogan's 4x4 Campground even has a unique, short-wheel-base 6x6 recovery vehicle and a repair shop. Grand Lake's state parks offer fishing, boating, camping, and swim beaches making the area a favorite year-round destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Off-road adventurers play on the rocks at Disney nearly every weekend.

Alan Nickell of Avondale, MO always built racecars, so it's no surprise that his '79 Kermit green CJ7 is powered by a balanced and blueprinted 383 Chevy with Edelbrock Pro Flow fuel injection. It turns 44x18.5 Super Swamper TSLs on 15x12 Alcoa beadlocks through a TH400 transmission, 3.1 Atlas transfer case, and Dana 60s with 4.88 gears and ARBs. Alan's Jeep also sports a Link Arc welder, Rancho RS9000 shocks, hydro boost brakes, ported gear box with ram assist cylinder steering, and a Warn 9500 winch.


A previous story in ORA described "Cruiser Dan Gable" as, "A quiet guy from Coweta, Oklahoma who lets his driving do the talking." Dan has piloted his '78 FJ40 to multiple wins in Ramsey Winch's National Off Road Challenge, the Top Shop Challenge, and RROCK. Currently the 103-inch wheelbase Cruiser features a Tune Port Injected ZZ4 engine, 700R4 transmission, 4.3 Atlas transfer case, 5.13 gears, narrowed 14-bolt Dana 60 rear axle, High-pinion 60 Detroit front axle, 14" Fox coilovers, Walker Evans beadlocks, 39" BFG Krawlers, full hydraulic steering, Mastercraft seats, and Warn 1200 winch.

John Loyd, of John's 4x4 And More from Billings, MO, competes and often wins at rock crawling events around the country. While prudent 'wheelers try to climb these ledges straight up, John dares to go up diagonally.





The Water Fall below Grand Lake's second dam is a favorite place to stop and watch the more daring off-road adventurers to challenge the always wet limestone ledges.






The Rock Garden below Grand Lake's primary dam, provides room for many off-road adventurers to play at the same time.






Hogan's Off-Road Campground at Grand Lake provides a shop for guests use and a unique short wheel base 6x6 wrecker.






A Chevy LS1 5.7 mill powers Kevin Cox's tube buggy, turning 6:72 Rockwell axles with 49x21x17 Super Swamper IROK's on MRW HD 17x13 Beadlocks through a Turbo 350 transmission, and 4.3 Atlas II transfer case. Bilstein remote coilover shocks, Pinion brakes, and hydraulic 4-wheel-steering, front/rear Warn Winches, and Corbeau Baja Ultra Suspension seats make the buggy tough enough for the rocks and comfortable enough for long trails.



Little Blue below Grand Lake's third dam is a very tight challenge where skilled drivers have a chance of driving rigs without huge tires through the slot. Lifts and lockers are helpful, and body armor is prudent. Winches and straps are frequently required.





When 'wheeling Grand Lake, options like high-lift jacks, winches, and straps frequently save the day.






The David Austin family of Yukon, Oklahoma are members of C4x4.com and 'wheel together from Clayton to Moab. Son, Brad won Four Wheeler's Top Truck Challenge in 2004. Mom, Judy Austin said, "I wanted a rig to keep up with my guys without having to take bypasses. And I wanted to look good doing it." So the guys built Judy a Jeep to meet her desires. Starting with a '90 Wrangler, on a TDK frame with a BradFab tube chassis, they installed a Chevy TBI 350, a 700R4 transmission, and a NP241 transfer case. Judy's Jeep sits atop a pair of 6x6 Rockwell axles with 6.72 gears and Detroit Lockers. The 3-link front and 4-link rear suspension with Fox nitrogen shocks provides lots of wheel articulation. USA 6X6 pinion brakes and full hydraulic steering control 44-inch TSL Swampers on double beadlock wheels. PRP premier high back seats mounted on sliders allow Judy can reach the pedals. A Warn 8000 winch, a hand formed fiberglass dash, purple paint and a huge dragonfly complete Judy's Jeep.


The Beast, AKA, Rick Curtis's "rat rodded," flat black '82 CJ7 had 33s when he bought it in '85. Today the Jeep sits atop a YJ frame with Wagner Machine Shop 3 link/coil suspension on 2-1/2 ton Rockwell steering axles with 4-wheel hydraulic steering, 6.72:1 gears, and Detroit Lockers. A 400hp Chevy 350 with Holley TBI powers 44-inch Super Swampers through a TH350 auto mated to a NP203/NP205 dual transfer case with a Sumner Machine Works adapter. For safety and comfort, the Beast sports a 6-point frame mounted roll cage, Corbeau seats with 4-point harnesses, RCI fuel cell, and Ramsey REP8000 winch.



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