4WD Hardware Employees Veer Off-Road, Building Culture and Community Along the Way

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For 4x4 and Jeep enthusiast Kelly Young and her professional rock crawling crew, Team 311, off-road driving is more than just a sport, but a way of life. Beneath this collective of modern-day trailblazers exists a community -- one that's catching on and creating a culture of its own.

My fellow competitors are awesome

Amidst the Jeep tires, custom Jeep tops, and the various other upgrades to Kelly Young's 1997 Jeep TJ is a Staples "Easy" button: a light-hearted commentary on the trials and complications that occur while competing in the World Extreme Rock Crawling Series (WeRock).

"Easy" just may be the pinnacle of understatements, particularly when considering the extreme difficulty in a sport that is typically viewed as one of the more overlooked professional contests.

But Young -- the driver for her Rock Crawling Crew, Team 311 -- knows that rock crawling, as well as all off-road driving, is as much about building a culture as it is about scaling obstacles or decking out rides in Jeep lift kits.

"(Rock crawling) is a team sport," Young says, passing credit to the Team 311 crew comprised of Aaron Selway, Aaron Schwab, Rick and Mel West, and Jay Stull.

This sense of fraternity also extends to her competitors. "My fellow competitors are awesome," she says. "Even though this is a competition we are all friends as well."

This mentality contributes to the idea that off-road driving is not just a competitive arena; rather, it's a blossoming culture that promotes family, community, and, of course, fine-tuning vehicles with some choice upgrades.

Young's own TJ crawler sports some beefy modifications, including a 4.3L Vortec engine-swap, a 4" Full Traction Long Arm Suspension, and Pro Comp Xtreme Mud Terrain Jeep tires, among other enhancements.

"Expect to pay money. This sport is not cheap," she emphasizes, speaking as a voice of experience as both a participant and a supplier.

By day, Young works as a Website Manager at 4Wheel Drive Hardware: a major retailer out of Columbiana, OH that provides a vast array of parts essential to the sport, such as Jeep lift kits and Jeep tops.

Here she is able to promote the off-road and Jeep families further still thanks to a customer-oriented focus, and employees who all share the same passion for all things Jeep and off-road-related.

In fact, this grassroots approach has brought in a rather generous following of supporters who frequent the site, whether to shop, stay close to fellow Jeep and off-road enthusiasts through the site's online forum, or keep up with the latest exploits of Team 311.

Young and Team 311 are currently ramping up for the 2008 season of the WeRock series, and look forward to rejoining their off-road family for another season of competition.

"What I like most about competing in WeRock is (the people) that make each event happen," explains Young. "You couldn't ask for anything more."

And that, apparently, has made all the difference.


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Kelly Young

Chris Casarez
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