2019 Trail to SEMA
As we look forward to the premiere of the 2019 Trail To SEMA on Amazon Prime Video, we have a moment to look back on this year’s off road adventure.
No matter how far in advance we put work in our Jeeps, there is always a mad dash to the finish. This year was absolutely no exception. Long hours of installing new parts, strengthening old ones, and just logistical preparation, Trail To SEMA is a mental and physical test before it even begins. Then, the real test starts.
10 Days, 12 Trails, 4 States. Whether you’re Ian Johnson, with many years of off-road experience under your belt or you’re Tiffany Stone and still fairly new to the game, it’s an endurance not a sprint. The hardship doesn’t come without reward, though. As you may have heard from the players during the online episodes, it’s a trip none of us will ever forget! From camping in legendary Johnson Valley with Hammertown all to ourselves to having the. opportunity to run a. new trail like The Fallen in Sand Hollow, Trail To SEMA is an off-roader’s dream we get to live out year after year!
Returning faces from Trail to SEMA 2018
Ian Johnson joins us again with his freshly built Jeep LJ “racecar” built on his motortrend tv show “Fourwheeler” with new to TTS co-driver and videographer “Campfire” John… but that’s a nickname story for another time. Kris Miller leads the way again in his freshly LS1-swapped TJ crawler with his buddy Jarrett Crawford of Crawl TV sitting shotgun. Matt Myrick of Busted Knuckle Films is back as well and he brought his a-game in the form of the Mega-RZR, while Matt from Bleepin Jeep returns with the scorpion crawler buggy. Nate Pickel from The Dirt Lifestyle returns with his own Jeep this year, a stretched and diesel-swapped TJ. Both Jay and Alyssa Payson of HP-Tuners return as well, with Jay driving the bright green “Booger” JK and Alyssa in their hemi-swapped JKU. Tiffany Stone brought her JLU “Lucifer” back with some new upgrades and another year of wheeling under her belt. And finally we see Georges Brown again in his MUCH upgraded Black JLU.
New Trail to SEMA faces… but not n00bs!
Our fresh faces this year may be new to Trail to SEMA, but they’re far from new to off-roading. Marvin Stammel owns the internet famous “Jeepster McJeepface“, a hemi-powered 1973 Jeepster Commando with all the cool parts along with his killer co-dawg Andrew Bailey. Speaking of killer co-dawgs, Jeremy Rose Joins Matt of Bleepin Jeep in the scorpion crawler this year and Matt Myrick is joined by Jamin Seat in the Mega RZR. Ben Ertel of JK Gear & Gadgets on YouTube brought his 1-ton swapped JKU to party with us. Hollie Fowler and husband Walter brought a fan favorite JKU the monstrous RockStar Garage sponsored MischeifMakerJKU. The founders of REVKIT.com Mike Kaplan and Dan Hart brought their JLU “ReverendKit” and put it to the absolute test over and over again. Finally, Brittany and Kevin of the YouTube channel Litebrite brought the third hemi-swapped vehicle on the trip the “StepChild” JLU.
We’re nowhere without our crew.
Kyle Niemer and the crew from his production company There Be Dragons have now shot, produced, and edited the Trail to SEMA for 3 years running – resulting in multiple online media and branding awards. This year Kyle handed off the task of running a camera to direct and produce the show, while also handling the epic drone shots seen in the series. Dave Thomas, Cam Hotchkiss, and Dustin Majewski ran the cameras this year, and not only the 3 big cameras but also a couple handfuls of GoPro cameras. Kyle and crew were assisted by PowerStop’s Jake Walenga and Todd Earsley helping to manage everything from food to hotel rooms to firewood. In the end this production is nothing without it’s crew.
The 2019 Trail to SEMA
Below you’ll find all of the YouTube videos of this year’s trip, if you have yet to watch them please do so if you have the time. For those that have seen them I’d like to say thank you, and hopefully you’ll take. a second watch when they hit Amazon Prime Video soon.
Trails: Woodpecker & Highway To Hell
Just outside Phoenix, Trail To SEMA embarked on the first of ten days full of hardcore wheeling. Florence features hard, sharp, desert-floor rocks that are not only difficult to maneuver, but can cause some serious damage. Whether modifications were installed last minute or well in advance, we were put to the test early.
Big Bear, California
Trails: Gold Mountain, John Bull, Holcomb Creek
After getting our feet wet (or rather, our tires dirty) we made the trek up to Big Bear in California’s San Bernardino mountains. The granite surface would prove very different from Arizona’s terrain and provide different challenges, many of which REVKIT bets were made on. The challenges and breaks did not prove to distract from the beautiful scenery that Southern California had to offer, though. The leaves changing colors combined wonderfully with Holcomb Creek’s flowing water through the canyon valley. While the water added extra difficulty to some obstacles, it gave a new definition to the phrase “scenic route”.
Johnson Valley, California
Trails: Sledgehammer, Backdoor (at night), Chocolate Thunder (at night)
Continuing on our epic 10-day journey, we went to one of, if not THE most hardcore wheeling destination in the whole US: Hammertown, USA. Home of the annual King of the Hammers Race where 60,000 flock to the Johnson Valley lakebed for a week of offroad racing. We only had 30 or so of us, so it was a completely different experience having it all to ourselves. That didn’t take away from the difficulty of each trail though. We even added a little KOH flair to our stay by lighting up Chocolate Thunder and Back Door with the help of Rigid Industries and Optima Batteries. As an added spontaneous bonus, we also settled some scores with a desert lakebed drag race!
Sand Hollow, Utah
Trails: The Maze (backwards) & The Fallen
Our final wheeling destination on the adventure was Sand Hollow, Utah. The OHV land is a prime destination for offroad enthusiasts because of its freedom for creativity on obstacles and the vast array of trails already pre-cut. Being the last bit of seat time we had, everyone was pushing things to their limit. Most notably was Bleepin’ Matt who may or may not have fallen on his buggie’s side. We also very thankful for SuperVal from Trail Hero who graciously led us through a recently opened trail: The Fallen. The Fallen is a tribute to our very own United States Service Members who we’ve lost in major wars and we were honored to be one of the first to run it!
Wrapping it all up.
The 2019 Trail to SEMA was one for the books. We introduced so many new faces to our cast of characters and added new bucket-list locations, and all of it was made possible by our old and new partners alike and of course by you the viewer.
We’re living in an uncertain world right now, and currently a trip like this is not possible for many reasons. As I sit here taking time for myself (as well as to keep as socially distanced as necessary), I can’t help but reflect back on not only the 2019 trip; but also on the 4 trips that came before it. This project is not without it’s ups and downs, every year we encounter new challenges that test the stability of what we have built. Without fail year after year these challenges are met with a resiliency that comes from surrounding yourself with the best people, and stacking the deck against circumstances that ultimately you can’t plan for or avoid.
I find myself more thankful than ever for these people and for the opportunities afforded to us by the financial and creative support system of PowerStop brakes and the collection of partners that have invested in this project and my overall vision.
Looking toward the future, we can only hope that the world begins to return to normal so we can begin once again to enjoy the company of our friends and family and embark on the next adventure together. Hopefully I will see you all back on the trail sooner than not.
Until next time,
- Kris Miller @TRLJP