JEEPS OF JKX ALASKA

Nitto’s 2016 JK Experience Alaska presented by Discount Tire was incredible. While the last frontier made for a larger-than-life backdrop, the focus of the trip would be the Jeeps and people in them.

The 14 Wranglers attending JKX Alaska would be filled with a mix of invited guest and sponsors. All of which were looking to test their JKs against some of the most unforgivable roads and trails on the planet. Here, we’re giving some background on each of the participants and how their Jeeps were built to handle this Experience.

NITTO TIRE

As the title sponsor of JK Experience, Nitto Tire not only believes in the durability of its Grappler family line, but the enthusiasts who put the tires to use. For the JKX Alaska trip, Nitto team driver and two-time King of the Hammers champion Loren Healy brought out his Family Dragon for the trip. His JK is fit with many of the same components that allow his Ultra4 racer to survive routine abuse.

Driver: Loren Healy
Co-driver: Chris Corbett, Gene Mooneyham
Representing: Nitto Tire
Stomping grounds: Farmington, New Mexico
Model: 2013 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited
Engine: 3.6L
Transmission: WA580
Transfer case: Atlas II, 4.3:1 low range
Front axle: Dynatrac ProRock 60, Spidertrax 300M axleshafts, ARB Air Locker, 5.43 gears
Rear axle: Dynatrac ProRock 80, ARB Air Locker, 5.43 gears
Suspension: EVO Mfg. Double Throwdown, EVO Lever rear, EVO high-clearance long arm, PAC sway bars
Tires: 40x13.50R17 Nitto Trail Grappler
Wheels: 17x9 KMC XD229 Machete Crawl beadlock
Armor: EVO Mfg. bumpers, sliders, Rock Skins, and tire carrier
Top: Bestop Soft top
Misc: sPOD, PSC Motorsports hydro-assist, Rigid Industries headlights and lightbars, DynoMax exhaust, J.E. Reel driveshafts, Warn PowerPlant

KMC WHEELS

Spending serious time off-road can be hard on your Jeep’s wheels. Thankfully, KMC has developed a line of race-proven and battle-tested wheels for you to enjoy. KMC rep Russ Huff was piloting his personal JK on the trip, which had KMC’s all-new 17-inch Machete Crawl beadlocks. This cast-aluminum wheel is built with an assortment of off-road centric features. These include two valve stem locations, a thick beadlock ring with holes designed to let water and debris escape, and a 3.50 inches of backspacing. 

Driver: Russ Huff
Co-driver: Brian Hogue
Representing: KMC Wheels
Stomping grounds: Fontana, California
Model: 2012 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon
Engine: 3.6L
Transmission: WA580
Transfer case: NVG241OR
Front axle: Dynatrac ProRock 60, ARB Air Locker, 5.38 gears
Rear axle: Dynatrac ProRock 80, ARB Air Locker, 5.38 gears
Suspension: EVO Mfg. Double Throwdown, EVO Lever rear, EVO high-clearance long arm, Currie Antirock rear
Tires: 40x13.50R17 Nitto Trail Grappler
Wheels: 17x9 KMC XD229 Machete Crawl beadlock
Armor: EVO Mfg. sliders, front bumper, rear fascia, and tire carrier
Top: Bestop Soft Top
Misc: Rock Hard 4x4 ‘cage, PSC Motorsports hydro-assist, Truck-Lite LED headlights, Rigid aux. lighting, Warn 9.5cti winch, ARB Fridge Freezer

EVO Manufacturing

JK Experience founder and EVO boss Mel Wade has spent some serious time in Alaska this year with his 2013 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon. After completing the Alcan 5000 earlier this year, he left his JK in Alaska so he could use it as a pre-run vehicle for JKX. To get the Jeep ready for the main event, he laced on a new set of Nitto’s 37x12.50R17 Ridge Grappler tires and KMC Machete Crawl beadlocks. The new treads and his Off Road Evolution-built Jeep served him well throughout the week. His take on the new tires? By the end of the week, he stated he was extremely impressed both on-road and off. Noting that they were especially quiet and smooth on the rough Alaskan roads.

Driver: Mel Wade
Co-driver: Lisa Wade, Rick Péwé 
Representing: EVO Mfg.
Stomping grounds: Long Beach, California
Model: 2013 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon (10th Anniversary edition)  
Engine: 3.6L
Transmission: WA580
Transfer case: NVG241
Front axle: Dynatrac ProRock 44, RCV axleshafts, ARB Air Locker, 5.38 gears
Rear axle: Dana 44, stock E-Locker, 5.38 gears
Suspension: EVO Mfg. bolt-on coilovers
Tires: 37x12.50R17 Nitto Ridge Grappler
Wheels: 17x9 KMC XD229 Machete Crawl beadlock
Armor: EVO Mfg. sliders, skidplates, and bumpers
Misc: Warn winch, Truck-Lite LED headlights, Rigid fog lights, MCE Fenders, custom aux. fuel tank, MasterCraft Safety seats, ARB cargo roller drawer system, ARB Fridge Freeze

DYNATRAC 

For over 25 years, Dynatrac has built some of the toughest axles on the planet. With the company created out of a need for a more durable axle to survive larger tires and extreme off-road conditions, the premier axle company continues to evolve its brand and product line. For JKX Alaska, company founder Jim McGean took the wheel of Dynatrac’s 2013 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited. Always looking to improve upon the legendary axle strength, Dynatrac equipped its JK with the all-new ProRock XD60 axles, which are the company’s lightest and strongest 60 offering to date. These ultra-high clearance bolt-in JK axle assemblies host the latest breakthroughs in axle-building technology. Some of the new XD features include 10.1-inch ring gears, larger carrier and pinion bearings (over a standard Dana 60), and industry exclusive 3.75-inch axletubes.

Driver: Jim McGean
Co-driver: Lance Riddle
Representing: Dynatrac
Stomping grounds: Huntington Beach, California
Model: 2013 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited
Engine: 3.6L
Transmission: WA580
Transfer case: NVG241
Front axle: Dynatrac ProRock XD60, ARB Air Locker, 5.38 gears
Rear axle: Dynatrac ProRock XD60, Auburn Gear Electric Ected MAX, 5.38 gears
Suspension: EVO Mfg. Enforcer kit
Tires: 39x13.50R17 M/T
Wheels: 17-inch TrailReady beadlock
Armor: EVO Mfg. front bumper, skidplates, and tire carrier, Mopar rock rails
Misc: Mopar high-clearance fenders, Warn PowerPlant, Truck-Lite LED head- and taillights, PSC Motorsports hydro-assist, J.E. Reel driveshafts

REVOLUTION GEAR & AXLE

You know you’re going to have a fun week when the driver of Revolution Gear’s JK shows up in a bear costume. Always up for a smile and a laugh, the crew from Revolution Gear & Axle made the most of their week in Alaska. Specializing in differential gears and chromoly axleshaft upgrades for a number of Jeeps and trucks, Revolution is becoming one of the go-to sources for aftermarket differential parts.

Driver: Michael Nadel
Co-driver: Richard Kolber
Representing: Revolution Gear & Axle
Stomping grounds: Toms River, New Jersey
Model: 2012 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited  
Engine: 3.6L w/Edelbrock supercharger
Transmission: Six-spd manual
Transfer case: Atlas II, 5.0:1 low range
Front axle: Dynatrac ProRock 60, ARB Air Locker, 5.38 gears
Rear axle: Dynatrac ProRock 80, ARB Air Locker, 5.38 gears
Suspension: Clayton 4.5-in long-arm, ORO SwayLoc front sway bar, Currie Antirock rear, JRI shocks
Tires: 40x13.50R17 Nitto Trail Grappler
Wheels: 17x10 B.A.D. Eklipse
Armor: Rock-Slide Engineering front bumper, GenRight rear bumper, LOD sliders, Clayton skidplates
Top: Bestop Trektop
Misc: Poison Spyder Customs ‘cage, PSC Motorsports hydro-assist, J.E. Reel driveshafts, Mac’s tool storage, ARB recovery gear

NORTHRIDGE 4X4

Looking for a good place to get a great deal on aftermarket Jeep parts? Well, look no further than Northridge 4x4. The retail outlet is known for stellar prices on extremely in-demand components. They are also stocked with actual off-road enthusiasts who work there, like Eric Johnson. While Johnson is a full-time employee with Northridge, that isn’t a company Jeep he’s thrashing on the trails. No, it’s actually his personal JK! He, along with professional videographer David Page, are excellent examples of two people who love their jobs. We’re looking forward to seeing the footage from the Northridge 4x4 crew later this year.

Driver: Eric Johnson
Co-driver: David Page
Representing: Northridge 4x4
Stomping grounds: Gig Harbor, Washington
Model: 2014 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited
Engine: 3.6L
Transmission: WA580
Transfer case: NVG241
Front axle: Dynatrac ProRock 44, ARB Air Locker, RCV Performance axleshafts, 4.88 gears
Rear axle: Dana 44, 35-spline ARB Air Locker, Nitro chromoly axleshafts, 4.88 gears
Suspension: AEV 4.5-in, JKS adjustable front track bar, EVO Mfg. Rock Star rear LCA skids, Hellwig HD sway bars, Bilstein shocks
Tires: 37x12.50 M/T
Wheels: 17x10 TrailReady beadlock
Armor: AEV bumpers, LOD sliders, EVO Mfg. skidplates
Top:  Bestop Soft Top
Misc: Poison Spyder Customs ‘cage, Synergy steering upgrade, KC Carbon POD HID lights, Warn Zeon winch, ARB cargo roller drawer system, ARB Fridge Freeze, AEV hood and snorkel, AEV 10-gal fuel caddy, Hi-Lift Jack, Fox ATS steering stabilizer, EBC brake pads, Hawk front brake rotors 

ARB

What if we told you that you had two weeks to buy a new Jeep, build it, and drive it to Alaska for a weeklong ‘wheeling trip? Sound crazy? Well, it’s just what ARB did. With the right parts in stock and a little luck on their side, the team at ARB’s Washington branch pulled it off. While ARB is well known for its nearly indestructible selectable Air Lockers, the company also offers bumpers, auxiliary lighting, and even storage solutions for Jeeps and many fullsize trucks. The company equipped its 2016 JK with the all-new 4-inch Old Man Emu lift with internal bypass shocks, which they were able to fine-tune for each of the many on- and off-road conditions Alaska threw at it.

Driver: Scott Frary
Co-driver: Steven Bisig
Representing: ARB 4x4 Accessories, U.S.A.
Stomping grounds: Auburn, Washington
Model: 2016 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited
Engine: 3.6L
Transmission: WA580
Transfer case: NVG241
Front axle: Dana Ultimate 60, ARB Air Locker, 4.88 gears
Rear axle: Dana Ultimate 60, ARB Air Locker, 4.88 gears
Suspension: Old Man Emu 4-in, OME BP-51 internal-bypass shocks
Tires: 37x12.50R17 Nitto Trail Grappler
Wheels: 17-in TrailReady HD beadlock
Armor: ARB bumpers and sliders
Misc: ARB AR21 Intensity LED lights, Warn Zeon winch, MCE fenders, ARB Fridge Freeze, ARB twin air compressor, AEV ProCal, Rhino-Rack, Hi-Lift Jack, ARB recovery gear, Tom Woods Custom Drive Shafts

TACTICAL OFF-ROAD

Every JKX at least one rig gets the highly coveted hard-luck award. This year, it went to Tactical Off-Road owner’s C.J. and Tawnie Breaux. While some of their Jeeps issues required creative fixes, at the end of the day, the two were able to complete the entire Experience from start to finish. Through it all, the Houston, Texas, husband and wife team kept a great attitude and enjoyed the trip. You can see more photos of their Jeep in action from the Texas Jeep Xperienceheld earlier this year. 

Driver: C.J. Breaux
Co-driver: Tawnie Breaux
Representing: Tactical Off-Road  
Stomping grounds: Houston, Texas
Model: 2013 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited
Engine: 3.6L w/Magnuson supercharger
Transmission: WA580
Transfer case: NVG241OR
Front axle: Dynatrac ProRock 60, ARB Air Locker, 5.38 gears
Rear axle: Dynatrac ProRock 80, ARB Air Locker, 5.38 gears
Suspension: EVO Mfg. Double Throwdown, EVO Lever rear, EVO high-clearance long arm, Currie Antirock
Tires: 40x13.50R17 Nitto Trail Grappler
Wheels: 17x9 ATX Slab beadlock
Armor: EVO Mfg. bumpers, tire carrier, and sliders
Misc: 1-in body lift, Poison Spyder Customs ‘cage, PSC Motorsports hydro-assist, J.W. Speaker headlights, Rigid lightbar and aux. lights, Corbeau Baja seats, sPOD, Lowrance GPS, ARB Fridge Freeze, Warn Zeon winch, Rack Works roof rack

SMOKIN DAVE'S BBQ & TAPHOUSE

If you follow EVO founder Mel Wade on any of his social media accounts, you’ll know how much of a fan of BBQ he is (specifically beef ribs if any of you want to butter him up). With this being the case, it was only a matter of time before he found a BBQ joint that had an owner as enthusiastic about Jeeps as he was about ribs. Thus, we present to you JK Experience’s first BBQ sponsor, Smokin’ Dave’s BBQ. Some of you may recall, JKX actually stopped by one of Smokin’ Dave’s locations on last year’s West Coast JKX

Driver: David Oehlman
Co-driver: Ben Cartwright
Representing: Smokin’ Dave’s BBQ
Stomping grounds: Lyons, Colorado
Model: 2013 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited
Engine: 5.7L Hemi V-8
Transmission: NSG370
Transfer case: Atlas II, 4:1 low range
Front axle: Dynatrac ProRock 60, ARB Air Locker, RCV Performance axleshafts, 5.13 gears
Rear axle: Dynatrac ProRock 60, ARB Air Locker, 5.13 gears
Suspension: EVO Mfg. Double Throwdown, EVO Lever rear, EVO high-clearance long arm, Currie Antirock sway bars
Tires: 40x13.50R17 Nitto Mud Grappler
Wheels: 17x9 ATX Slab beadlock
Armor: EVO Mfg. front bumper, tire carrier, and sliders, TnT Guardian rear bumper
Top: Bestop Trektop
Misc: Poison Spyder Customs ‘cage, PSC Motorsports hydro-assist steering, Rigid lights, Warn Zeon winch, Mac tool chest, ARB air compressor, AEV snorkel 

Jeepin’, Eh?

Chris Larsen is another veteran of the JK Experience and someone who’s spent plenty of time behind the wheel of his well-built JK. As the only Canadian in the group, he gifted the group with the occasional “eh” on the radio. Despite having the power-challenged 3.8L V-6, Larsen kept pace with the group all week.

Driver: Chris Larsen
Co-driver: Carl Pinamonti
Representing: Invited guest
Stomping grounds: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Model: 2010 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon
Engine: 3.8L
Transmission: 42RLE
Transfer case: NVG241OR
Front axle: Dynatrac ProRock 60, ARB Air Locker, RCV Performance axleshafts, 5.38 gears
Rear axle: Dynatrac ProRock 60, ARB Air Locker, 5.38 gears
Suspension: EVO Mfg. Double Throwdown, EVO Lever rear, EVO high-clearance long arm
Tires: 40x13.50R17 Nitto Trail Grappler
Wheels: 17x9 ATX Slab beadlock
Armor: EVO Mfg. front bumper and tire carrier, LOD sliders
Misc: Rock Hard 4x4 ‘cage, Truck-Lite LED headlights, Rigid aux. lights, MasterCraft Safety seats, Warn winch, Rampage soft top, Tuff security deck, ARB Fridge Freeze, J.E. Reel driveshafts, Rampage Trailview frameless soft top

HELP FIND THIS JEEP..

Oregon friends David Retzloff and Bobby Van Horn had the time of their lives in Alaska. With practically no problems out of his Jeep over the week, Retzloff couldn’t have asked for a better trip. Unfortunately, just a day into his drive home, his JK, along with his Ford Super Duty tow rig and trailer were stolen outside of Cache Creek, Canada. As of writing this, they have found his Super Duty, but the Jeep and trailer are still MIA. Hopefully, his JK will turn up soon.

Driver: David Retzloff
Co-driver: Bobby Van Horn
Representing: Invited guest
Stomping grounds: Hillsboro, Oregon
Model: 2009 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited
Engine: 3.8L
Transmission: Six-spd manual  
Transfer case: Atlas II, 5:1 low range
Front axle: Dynatrac ProRock 60, ARB Air Locker, 5.38 gears
Rear axle: Dynatrac ProRock 80, ARB Air Locker, 5.38 gears
Suspension: EVO Mfg. bolt-on coilovers, EVO-Lever rear, Currie Antirock
Tires: 40x13.50R17 Nitto Trail Grappler
Wheels: 17x9 ATX Slab beadlock
Armor: Olympic 4x4 front bumper, EVO Mfg. sliders and tire carrier
Misc: Daystar 1-in body lift, Rock Hard 4x4 ‘cage, PSC Motorsports hydro-assist, Truck-Lite LED headlights, Warn Zeon 10-s winch, Rugged Ridge snorkel, ARB Fridge Freeze

THE GREAT 8

There’s something about the look of a JK-8 conversion that we just can’t get enough of. While technically, not a factory two door, Wayne Judkins was the only conversion pickup on our trip. The unique styling and bulletproof running gear proved to be a solid combination all week long. His rig only makes us wish the long rumored Wrangler pickup would hurry up and become a reality.

Driver: Wayne Judkins
Co-driver: John E. Kobert
Representing: Invited guest
Stomping grounds: Eldridge, Iowa
Model: 2010 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited
Engine: 3.8L
Transmission: Six-spd manual
Transfer case: RubiCrawler w/Atlas, 4.3:1 low range
Front axle: Dynatrac ProRock 60, ARB Air Locker, 5.13 gears
Rear axle: Dynatrac ProRock 80, ARB Air Locker, 5.13 gears
Suspension: EVO Mfg. Double Throwdown, EVO Lever rear, EVO high-clearance long arm, Currie Antirock
Tires: 40x13.50R17 Nitto Mud Grappler
Wheels: 17x9 ATX Slab beadlock
Armor: Poison Spyder Customs front bumper, EVO Mfg. Rock Skins and sliders
Misc: Mopar JK-8 conversion, Warn winch, PSC Motorsports hydro-assist, Rock Hard 4x4 'cage, Corbeau seats, Warn winch

THE EXPERIENCED JEEPER

As the only person to have attended every JK Experience to date, Randy Byers is no stranger to adventure. For those that follow the JKX series, you’re probably used to seeing the Euless, Texas, native behind the wheel of his silver Hemi-powered JK. While he still has that rig, he opted to bring out his slightly tamer JK for this high-mileage trip. As is always the case, Byers gets it done behind the wheel like a pro.

Driver: Randy Byers
Co-driver: Terry Byers
Representing: The legacy of JKX!
Stomping grounds: Euless, Texas
Model: 2012 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited
Engine: 3.6L
Transmission: WA580
Transfer case: Atlas II, 4.3:1 low range
Front axle: Dynatrac ProRock 60, ARB Air Locker, 5.38 gears
Rear axle: Dynatrac Trail Series 60, ARB Air Locker, 5.38 gears
Suspension: EVO Mfg. Double Throwdown, EVO Lever rear, EVO high-clearance long arm, Currie Antirock rear
Tires: 40x13.50R17 Nitto Trail Grappler
Wheels: 17x9 ATX Slab beadlock
Armor: EVO Mfg. front bumper, sliders, and tire carrier
Top: Bestop Soft Top
Misc: Poison Spyder Customs ‘cage, PSC Motorsports hydro-assist, Rigid aux. lights, Warn winch, ARB cargo roller drawer system, 18-gal aux fuel tank

THE ROADSTER

Chris Durham has been in the off-road industry for decades. While his professional rockcrawling days are behind him, he still remains active in the off-road community. The South Carolina native drove his Jeep to Alaska and is driving it back. You read that correctly. He’s a madman for sure. It’s hard to call Durham’s rig a JK. In fact, Durham calls it the Roadster. It sits on a modified Jeep Wrangler TJ chassis and just about every inch of what was once a stock two-door JK body has been modified in one way or another. Its super low, incredibly stable, and a blast to watch on the trail with the talented ‘wheelman in the seat. Since Durham was technically on the trip to lend a helping hand as part of the EVO support crew, we’ll give his JK-ish rig a pass.

Driver: Chris Durhan
Co-driver: Kelly Carter
Representing: EVO crew
Stomping grounds: Pickens, South Carolina
Model: 2010 Jeep Wrangler
Engine: 5.9L Mopar V-8
Transmission: 904
Transfer case: Atlas II, 3.0:1 low range
Front axle: High-pinion Dana 60, Dynatrac hubs, Detroit Locker, CTM U-joints, TEN chromoly axleshafts, 4.56 gears
Rear axle: GM 14-bolt, shaved, Detroit Locker, 4.56 gears
Suspension: Custom 3-link front w/track bar, 4-link rear, stock TJ coil springs w/ACOS adjustable mounts and bumpstops, Currie Antirock rear, Zone Off-Road shocks
Tires: 38x13.50R17 M/T
Wheels: 17x9 Walk Evans beadlock
Armor: Modified EVO Mfg. skins, Savvy front bumper, Chris Durham Motorsports rear bumper
Misc: Custom ‘cage, chopped doors, windshield, and custom soft top, Warn Zeon winch, Premier Power onboard welder, custom fuel tank and dash, MasterCraft Safety seats, Tom Woods Custom Drive Shafts, Smittybilt Soft Top

You can also see original article on DrivingLine.com

This Xperience will be remembered for a lifetime.  Thank you to all our sponsors, participants and you, JKX Fans!

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