National Rock Crawling Championship

Johnson Valley, California, February 2001

Rock Crawling? One would think of insects and snakes making it over the rocks. To crawl on or over the hard stones and make a statement through a destination of getting from one place to another. Doing this with a 4x4 Jeep seems almost impossible. 

Well, not with these guys. They build their own vehicles and make the moves look easy. Moreover, they travel thousands of miles to the desert and find the roads that nature has put there. Then, they climb them with their vehicles that they have designed and built themselves. This is quite exciting.

My first experience with this sport was amazing. Besides the great camaraderie I found among the drivers, I experienced quite a bit of competitive spirit.

The course for the drivers is pre-planned, and the event takes place in several areas. The drivers actually climb rocks that are pretty difficult for most people to navigate.

I found art in many forms in this sport. The first art I saw was how the owners of these vehicles sculpted their vehicles into many shapes and sizes and navigated them through the terrain. Their resemblance to sculpture was definite.

In some cases, I saw motors and mechanical elements put together like a Cadillac engine in a jeep chassis called ICON 76. Of course I had a special feeling for this vehicle, as it was built by my brother. I related this experience to my work with assemblage art. The most interesting element was the colors that the cars were painted. Every color in the rainbow and all combinations thereof were utilized. I noticed two guys from Utah that had their hair painted the color of their cars Ė bright yellow and green. Another one had short hair and red glasses that matched the Jeep. Art from the heart of the rock crawlers that made a statement and truly was a sport of the present and the future.

The spectators were totally involved with this sport, as they also climbed the rocks to observe the event. If they were not right next to the action, they were not too far away. The judges and the photographers were right up with the cars. And of course, I was one of the photographers. My experience with this event gave me the inspiration to write this article. Iím sure it isnít technically correct information on rock crawling. I am sure that in the future, more people will be able to experience this fine sport.

It is exciting and definitely will take its place in the future. Art can be found everywhere, but this truly is Sport Art.

Following this article, you will see a collage that I was inspired to create as a result of this experience. It features my brotherís assemblage art jeep that he created which I was proud and honored to be able to photograph and interpret into art.

Written by J. Pasqual Bettio, F.R.P.S.