I awoke early Saturday morning and eagerly awaited the day’s event. After a quick stop for some morning coffee, the first order of the day was to put out event direction signs, many participants would have to make their way through a detour due to bridge construction which closed down east bound lanes. After pulling into the Graveyard around 6:30 AM I open the gate and head into the building. I came back out a few minutes later and found 8 trucks full of parts waiting to enter the swap meet area. After getting them parked some employees arrived and started to set up for the show.
Around 7AM, the Smoke Bones Barbeque crew arrived and started up their grills. With parking signs and trash barrels set up I headed up front to greet the bronco enthusiasts. By 8am the classic Bronco and swap meet participants began to pour in. We had moved the swap meet area behind the building, leaving the front lawn and two parking lots across the street for the show vehicles. With the weather looking good, 60 degrees and sunny, we could use our dry weather plan. In Michigan the weather could change at any time, we always have a dry and wet event layout plan.
I stood in the middle of the road, greeting people and giving directions to the event attendants. Paul Druc approached me with the news that we should expect about 150 to 200 Broncos and Trucks. Paul said that the buzz on the Internet was that people were excited to attend this year’s Broncorama. Not knowing what to expect with the shape of our economy, that was very good news to hear.
As the sun brightened the day, the broncos and spectator vehicles were now arriving in greater numbers. I thought to myself, “they just keep coming and coming”, that brought a smile to my face. The front lawn and swap meet area filled up quickly. By 10AM the other two show lots with 40 Trucks in one and 50 in the other had been filled. We had to start parking them up and down both sides of the street.
When putting on an event you want to improve and try to keep it fresh for the participants. This year we added a 50/50 raffle and the proceeds from that and the Broncorama shirts sold would go to the Operation Injured Soldiers fund. Each year we try to add more parts vendors to attend the show. This year we made it to over ten venders.
We have always kept the show a free event for the participants. Around 11AM, I looked around and most of the industrial park was packed full of bronco enthusiasts. The show was full and people were lining up out the front door to purchase parts with special Broncorama discount pricing. Later, as I walked around the show looking at all the beautifully constructed broncos and trucks I said to myself, “the quality of the vehicles just keeps getting better and better.”
Each year we try to gather more of the Roadster Broncos and U13’s with the help of Tim Hulick (U13roadster.com). We have seen a growing number each year, and now call this gathering the U13 Nationals. This year we also had four Baja Broncos in attendance. With the amount of broncos and trucks from stock to wild there is a Bronco that appeals to any bronco owners taste.
As the day rolled on we came to my favorite part of the event, the prize raffle. The support of our suppliers is over whelming. This year we gave away over $2500 worth of products and gift certificates. I would like to thank all of the sponsors who donated to the show; with to many sponsors to list I am grateful to all of them.
With 150-200 classic Broncos and Trucks in attendance and well over 1000 spectators we can deem this year’s event successful. Looking forward to next year’s event, which will be Broncorama X and our 25th anniversary of Bronco Graveyard. I hope that next year’s event is a better turnout than this year. I just want to take the time to personally thank all the customers over the years for their great support.
With growing swap meet participants, 100’s of Bronco and a warehouse full of new parts this is a bronco owner’s dreamland. If you like Broncos or Ford Trucks and want to attend an event full of Bronco lovers just like you, then come to next years Broncorama on the first Saturday in May 2010. You have my personal invitation to come and join in on all of next year’s fun.
Broncorama 10 was such a huge event that it started in April and finished in May. O.K., in reality, it was only two days starting with a cruise on Friday, April 30th followed by Broncorama on May 1st. After John, my 16 year old son, got out of school we headed an hour west dodging construction zones and pot holes to find six or seven Early Broncos and three or four Big Broncos parked out back of Jeff’s Bronco Graveyard with their owners nearby checking what was new and what needed to be made new on someone else’s Bronco. John and I quickly said “hello” to some friends including Jack Neiderkorn. Jack had e-mailed me some weeks earlier that his ’71 Baja was done and he would be bringing it. After scanning the lot and not seeing it, I quizzed him as to it’s whereabouts. He led us to an enclosed trailer and let us poke our heads in for a peak. It was kind of like opening a pirate’s treasure chest because the jewel of a truck that was in the trailer is a thing of beauty….more on that later.
Because my Baja is (still) under restoration we needed to catch a ride in someone else’s Bronco. Noticing that most of the seats in the Broncos on the lot were spoken for, I watched as several more Early Broncos rolled in, mostly full. When a nicely lifted baby blue ‘73 pulled in and parked and only a driver got out, I introduced myself and asked if he had room for two. Eric Triebwasser said “sure”, and John and I made a new friend.
Shortly after that about a dozen Early Broncos and six or seven Big Broncos saddled up the pony’s and headed toward Kensington Metropark to enjoy the park’s 1800 acres of woods, lakes and winding roads. Just at the entrance of the park Tim Kubick’s 66-U13 developed a vapor lock problem so we stopped for a minute. This gave me the chance to jump in the open seat of Jeff’s white ‘66 U-13 and let John stretch his legs in the front seat of Eric’s clean machine. We continued into the park and found a somewhat empty parking lot to take some pics and wait while they got a trailer for Tim’s ailing ‘66.
It was hot for April in Michigan at around 80 degrees but that made it perfect for cruising in a topless, doorless Bronco. After swapping stories and taking pics, Tim showed up along with seven or eight more Early Broncos, a couple of Big Broncos and some trucks, so we took some more pics and swapped some more stories. Everyone was getting hungry, so we fired up the steeds and made a too short journey to a different entrance of the park where Baker’s Restaurant is located. Filling the back of the parking lot with Broncos, we also filled the banquet room where we again swapped stories, ate some terrific food and enjoyed a ginger ale or two. Some of the discussion over dinner was whether the cruise was going to be an annual thing. Everyone I heard from said, “absolutely yes!”
Saturday morning thunder storms woke me early and I realized there was no reason to leave for Broncorama in the rain. When we did go, we took John’s ’95 Ranger 4x4 so he could show it off and we could bring back a hood I bought from the Bronco Graveyard. The bad weather had passed and we arrived about 10:30 quickly noticing things were in full swing. We loaded up my hood and started checking the swap meet for anything else we could use when John spotted some tires for the Ranger. We found out what they were asking, pooled our money, realizing it was doable made a deal with just enough cash left for lunch. Before we could eat, we had to find Jack and his Baja. We saw some other friends who quickly asked if we had been inside to see Jack’s truck. When we replied, “no“, they said we had to go right then and see it. Heading inside, there it was in all it’s gleaming glory. A ’71 Bill Stroppe Baja Bronco looking like it was displayed in a Ford dealer showroom. Seven other Broncos were along the wall and behind it, including Jeff’s ’71 Stroppe Baja which is an excellent vehicle in it’s own right. Upon closer inspection, Jack’s truck is better than showroom new. Sitting on an original set of Gates Commando tires and sporting a license plate frame from Hayward Ford, the dealer that sold this truck originally, it looked magnificent! I worked at an award winning restoration shop for a couple of years in the ‘80’s, so I know first hand the time and effort it must have taken to complete this beautiful machine. Hopefully Bronco Driver magazine will take time to fully cover this truck in the future. Heading back outside, we noticed the line stretching outside the office door so we didn’t try to go in there. We then wandered around the rows of Early Broncos parked on the front lawn until the smell of the BBQ grill overpowered us. A pulled pork sandwich for me and an Italian sausage for John along with chips and a pop made for a gourmet feast. Now it was time to head across the street where some nice Big Broncos and Ford Trucks were lined up. A few more pictures later we checked out more swap meet vendors even though we didn’t have any money left. Getting to the end of that parking lot we headed back up the next lot, full of Early Broncos when we met up with our new friend, Eric and his light blue ’73. We took some time to rest and examine his beautiful truck, swap even more stories before moving on to the row of eight U13’s. Except for two turquoise trucks, each was a different color. After drooling over these unique trucks we went back to the Bronco Graveyard office to say “hi” to a couple of sales guys I know only to see the line still out the door. We ended up heading around back where we started and took another complete tour, seeing things we missed on the first pass and wishing we had more cash for the great deals at the swap meet. For John and I, this is where Broncorama had to end because of a previous commitment. When we left, we had a truck bed full of tires, my hood and a new found motivation to work on my Baja. I know we left before the raffle, but I still felt like it had been an excellent day. Every year Broncorama has some surprises and this year it was Jack’s ‘71 Baja.