Tri County 4 Wheelers held their first meeting to form a club on April 3, 1964.
The first election was held (26 people present) and Mr Lawrence Schnarrenberger (Shorty) was elected President.
The name of Tri County 4 Wheelers Club was decided upon and the membership requirements were simply “must have a 4 wheel drive in the family or have access to one”.
The early years of the club were devoted heavily to trail riding. A “Run of the Month” was held faithfully and these tours covered much of eastern Ohio, western Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
Discussions of having a competitive event began and on Sept 26, 1965 an event was held for members only. This first event was held to try out operations and see just what would have to be done to someday promote and host an event.
The first 4 wheel event in the area was held, the 4-Wheel-A-Rama, near Pittsburgh, PA. Clubs involved included Triangle Jeep Club, Al Sweet Club, East Penn Jeepers, Allegheny Jeepers and Tri County 4 Wheelers. Three events were held, Hill Climb, Obstacle Course and a Numbers Game. Vehicle classes were simple – Bobtail and Conventional.
The name “Rodeo” was first used and the traditional – last full weekend in July was determined to be the date. The Rodeo was first held at a members (Bill Houlett) property. Tri County’s famous teeter-totter was first used in the obstacle course. A “slow race” was added to the events. Safety became a concern, as seat belts became mandatory and roll-over bars were required if the vehicle had no hardtop.
Classification changes were made to make competition fairer. Men’s classes wereV-8, V-6, straight 6 and 4. There was one Powder puff (women’s) class, and were allowed to run the obstacle course and hill climb. The Rodeo in 1968 brought 268 carloads of spectators thru the gate!
Realizing the need for standardized running classes, rules and safety regulations, Tri County, Allegheny Jeepers (Oil City/Franklin, PA) and Triangle 4 Wheelers (Pittsburgh, PA), met in February. This meeting of 16 men formulated and approved the competition rules for 1969. They also discussed the need for an East Coast Four Wheel Drive Association, and set a date for the first meeting at State College, PA, inviting all known clubs to send representatives. The property which is now Tri County 4 Wheelers grounds was leased and the Rodeo was moved to the new property. The Rodeo drew 66 competitors and 2000 spectators. Event winners were: Hill climb Butch Ritter (Tri County) Obstacle Course Jake Grossen (Tri County) Blindfold Race Jake Grossen (Tri County) Powderpuff obstacle course Bev Rhodes (Tri County) Competitors came from 4 states – OH, PA, NY and MI, Allegheny Jeepers won the Grand Championship trophy.
New safety rules included scatter shields on vehicles and all drivers must wear helmets. The blindfold race was dropped and the first drag race was held. Entertainment on Saturday night included home movies of facing and a sweet corn roast.
New rules: Fire extinguisher, brakes must be checked, shoulder harness, all roll bars must have 2 braces.
A second race was added in October – The Eastern Grand National.
A figure 8 obstacle course was added, providing more excitement for drivers and spectators.
The drag strip was moved from the top of the hill to the valley. The new drag strip is regarded by many as the finest off-road drag strip in the entire east coast, thanks in much part to Tom Kennedy (Tri County) The purpose of this major construction was to provide an exciting and safe drag strip for the ever increasingly more powerful machines.
The first mud bog was held.
The new mud bog pit was constructed to meet the demands of the specialized vehicles and high horsepower. This new pit also provides the spectator with a better view of the races & our services