With nine national and five local sponsors, plus 600 active members growing everyday, founder Matt Bruback has seen the club ignite like forest fire—largely due to the welcoming culture and fun weekly “meetings” that Bruback and his admin team book, i.e. cosmic bowling, paintballing, bonfires, beer tasting, Tampa Rays baseball games, road trips up to Ginnie Springs, off-roading 60-degree inclines and traversing through trenches in Ocala and even hosting “wrench parties”—barbecues at a comrade’s 2,300-acre property equipped with a 60/60ft. garage, lift and all—to trade or donate each other’s parts, i.e. tires, LED lights, roll cages, brush guards, shocks, springs, fenders and bumpers (free installation). In September, they put on their biggest event yet, the Suncoast Jeep Festival and block party at Nathan Benderson Park. The all-day festival supported first responders, honoring police, fire, EMS and SWAT teams by jamming with three bands, nine food trucks, several vendors, raffle prizes, a flex ramp, a kids obstacle course, police officers vs. firefighters Tug-O-War and even a special ops fly-over that Bruback coordinated with the Pentagon. And the camaraderie isn’t contained to special occasions. “We always convoy to places together, line up and back in—it turns heads for sure,” says Bruback, now on his third Jeep. “For me, the biggest thing is how the club created a sense of community—around a vehicle is weird, right?” But if a member is ever in need or stranded due to car issues, a simple SOS post on the Facebook page immediately grants a high-speed, roadside assistance rescue. “We had a lady blow out her tire on 301,” he says. “Three people were en route to go get her in a matter of five, ten minutes.” It’s that outdoor-centric, adventure lifestyle that bonds jeepers in solidarity. And yes, the Jeep Wave is actually a thing. If you have one, you’re automatically in the family—warranting a friendly passerby wave, because owning a Jeep doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll never get lost, but it definitely means you’ll never get stuck. And what other vehicle can you take off all the doors, pop off your roof and cruise the night, stars overhead. “I believe it’s a sense of freedom,” shares Bruback. “If you’re going to pay for a vehicle, why not have the capability to feel free rather than trapped in a box?”  

Sarasota Jeep members convoy to North Siesta Bridge Park. Photo by Wyatt Kostygan