May 25, 2023
An off-road group in California is working to add GMRS two-way radios to their communication lineup.
Midland Radio spoke to the group's president about the benefit of GMRS two-way radios.
Located in Central California, the Kingsburg 4 Wheel Drive Club has been around since the 1970s.
"It was a group of people that got together, actually it was a family group and included a bunch of my relatives," group president, Bobby Thomas said.
Not only does the group hit the trails to wheel, but they also adopt trails, do brush clearing, work to educate others, etc.
"I remember as a kid, I was seven or eight years old being out there with my family. I just turned 60 this year," Thomas added.
The group has about 30 different family units, some have a couple of kids involved, others are individuals.
“We get a pretty big group together and we have a variety of vehicles like brand new stock Broncos, some highly-modified rigs, and all makes.”
The Kingsburg 4 Wheel Drive Club is also part of the California Four Wheel Drive Association.
The group hosted its 44th Snow Poker Run earlier this year.
“It’s just beautiful up there in the snow. We’re here in the Central Valley and you get to see the snow in the mountains. It’s just a nice family event where everyone can get together. Whenever we stop, the kids get out and pull out the sleds and play in the snow.”
The event also tests each member's off-roading ability as the take on the snow.
“It’s a big challenge too. We were running in probably a good depth of five feet of snow. You just go out there and try and manage a machine against nature. You just fight through it and learn from it.”
The group also uses this event as its main fundraiser.
"The funds help support our club, but the majority goes to scholarships to our local high school in Kingsburg.”
Typically, the Kingsburg 4 Wheel Drive Club raises anywhere from $8-10,000.
“We try to keep our scholarships for those who are more inclined to do something with the outdoors through AG or forestry. We do have a local college that has a really good forestry program and there are a lot of kids that go over there.”
The group has always relied on two-way radios to communicate. Thomas remembers getting his first radio as a kid.
“In dealing with safety, we’ve used radios for decades. I bought my first radio in high school. It was a CB radio of course. Radios have been a big part of our group and community," Thomas said.
Some of the group members have begun using GMRS two-way radios on the trails. Thomas said it all comes down to increasing safety on the trails.
“Utmost it’s safety. When things go bad, it sure is nice to be able to get ahold of people. I’ve sat in the valley monitoring the radios that are up in the mountains and have had to run up there with spare parts. When people need help, we’re able to respond.”
He remembers an instance in which GMRS two-way radios made helping a member of the group as efficient as possible.
“One of the rigs lost a tire, something happened. We actually got one of the participants at the beginning of the group to run back a few miles, pull a tire out of a guy’s trailer, and shuttle it back for us. We just leapfrogged it out and used communication with the two-way radios to get the job done, ensuring we got everyone out in a safe manner.”
In terms of emergency situations, Thomas said the group has turned to GMRS two-way radios to keep in touch with emergency officials.
"A few years ago we had one of the largest fires in Central California. We were able to monitor forestry and ended up having to cut our event short, evacuating everybody. I can’t stress how important they are to safety enough.”
Thomas only sees the popularity of GMRS two-way radios growing within the group.
"GMRS two-way radios offer a lot of opportunities. I think more and more people will become interested in them."