Dirt Every Day Explores the History of the "Jeep Life"
The latest episode of Dirt Every Day dives deep into history, tracing it back to Mark Smith and his “Expedicion de las Americas,” a cross-continental expedition carried out in 1978 and 1979 by 13 men in six, nearly stock Jeep CJs. Smith’s obsession with Jeeps and his influence on Jeep culture didn’t end there.
Smith is also the founder of Jeep Jamboree. He started the organization in 1953 as the first organized trip across the Rubicon trail. In fact, the Rubicon’s popularity centers on Smith’s involvement with the trail, which before the Jamboree, was not much more than an old Indian path.
Jeep corporate even consulted Smith on product development throughout the years. Smith’s organization, Mark A. Smith Off-Roading, Inc., or MASOR, even designed the off-road course at Chrysler’s proving grounds.
Though he was known for much, his transcontinental expedition has gone down in history as one of the most extraordinary overland trips. His goal was to travel the entire length of North and South America by land. Starting at the tip of South America, he and his team drove 21,000 miles north, finally ending at Prudhoe Bay, Alaska.
The epic journey even tackled the dreaded Darien Gap – an expansive jungle with dense brush, thick swamps, and no help for thousands of miles. Still, the team pushed through, finishing the expedition with only five flat tires and one broken axle.
So if you fancy calling yourself a Jeeper or avid off-roader, you’d better know Mark Smith and his legendary accomplishments. It’s partially thanks to him and his active participation in making the Jeep popular, we still have such iconic vehicle in production and enjoy such a wide array of SUVs and crossovers that have stemmed from it.