Soon after Jay Blazier arrived at Gladstone Dodge Jeep Chrysler Ram early Thursday evening on June 18, a staff member asked him if he could help locate a perfect spot to place an RTI (Ramp Travel Index) ramp.
Blazier and a few of his employees at Stomper Off-Road in Olathe, brought several of their customized Jeeps to the first-ever Jeep Night at Gladstone Dodge Jeep Chrysler Ram, at 5610 North Oak Trafficway in Gladstone.
A spot was found for the RTI ramp, which measures a vehicle’s suspension, frame and tire compression and the resulting flexibility of all components of the vehicle to achieve a score. The RTI test is a good indicator of how well a vehicle will do in many situations off-road while traveling over an obstacle.
Another area was found where some of the Jeeps that evening would drive right over two cars – crushing them – which was one of the highlights of Jeep Night.
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A sense of camaraderie was at work before the official start of Jeep night.
“Jay worked a little bit for us as a salesman,” said Andy Foster, general manager at Gladstone Dodge Jeep Chrysler Ram. “He gets some exposure with Stomper Off-Road. He brings his guys with him. We have a good time.”
The Jeep community in Kansas City, Blazier said, is one reason he moved back to Kansas City from California.
“There is a brotherhood and a sisterhood here,” Blazier said. “We help each other. We bend over backwards. Guys could put out a distress signal at 2 in the morning, stuck somewhere, and you will have two or three Jeepers show up. It is the best Jeep community in the world, in my opinion.”
That spirit was certainly evident at Gladstone Dodge Jeep Chrysler Ram on June 18. Gleavie Callen, a member of the Show-Me Jeep Club in St. Joseph, arrived more than 30 minutes before the start of Jeep Night in his 2006 Jeep Wrangler TJ Unlimited.
“I just like Jeeps,” Callen said. “I am really into Jeeps. It takes you anywhere you want to. They get around awfully well. They are never going to go out of style. You see them everywhere.”
Foster expected more than 60 Jeeps for the first Jeep night. The idea for a Jeep night popped up about two months ago from the marketing department as a way to let more people know about Gladstone Dodge Jeep Chrysler Ram.
The dealership has between 110 and 120 new Jeeps in its inventory.
“Jeep is the hottest vehicle on the planet,” Foster said. “We are selling a lot of them. We thought we would create some awareness, trying to bring these clubs out here.
“Ideally, we will get some buzz out of it because of it. But it is to create some awareness, more than anything.”
It was an evening that Jeep owners could marvel at the various Jeeps that arrived and share stories.
“I think it is a great event,” said Jim Spinner, president of KC Jeep Club. “Any time we can get the Jeep owners together, it is all good. There are a lot of Jeeps out there.”
There was a wide-range of Jeeps that showed up at Gladstone Dodge Jeep Chrysler Ram. One of the more colorful ones had a BF Goodrich wrap. Rich Kingsley, account manager for Michelin, drove it over.
“They send them around the country, and you get them for 10 days to two weeks,” Kingsley said. “We go to events like this. It was good timing. I spend most of my day going to tire dealers. I get it out to them so they can see the tires.”
Kingsley said he was searching for events to take the Jeep to and found out about Jeep Night through Facebook. He was thrilled to be there.
“They are just fun,” Kingsley said of driving the Jeep.
And that is exactly how Spinner describes the experience of owning and driving a Jeep. To him, it is a lifestyle, one that the other Jeep owners appreciate.
“You get the best of both worlds,” Spinner said. “You get a convertible if you just want to drive around on a nice day with the doors off. You can be out there on the street on four wheels.
“And there is the camaraderie. You drive down the street and you pass another Jeep Wrangler, you are going to wave and they are going to wave back to you. It is the experience of being a Jeep owner. It’s a lifestyle.”
As Blazier put it, a Jeep handles like a sports car, rides like a Cadillac and flexes like there is no tomorrow. And to truly understand what it feels like, “You kind of have to go in a ride in one,” Blazier said.
From time to time, members of the KC Jeep Club go on four-wheeling trips to off-road parks.
“Four-wheeling is making it through whatever obstacle that is in front of you whether it is a creek, a down tree, some rocks and getting through it as cleanly as possible,” Spinner said.
Foster was pleased by what he saw for Jeep Night. Now, Gladstone Dodge Jeep Chrysler Ram is preparing for Hot Rod Night, which will be Thursday, July 23. There will also be a Big Truck Night in August.
“We want to get people to know who we are and why we are here,” Foster said. “We will do something nobody else is doing and have a little fun doing it. We will have a food truck, music playing, just a lot of activity.”