Chasing storms seems like a wholly counterintuitive activity for all but a very select few among us. Storm-chasers pursue tornadoes and severe weather, often logging hundreds of miles during a single event, driving directly into the path of what everyone else is attempting to escape. Chasers motivations for doing so are as varied as the individuals themselves. Some are feeding a childhood fascination, others are driven by scientific curiosity. For the Kearney, Nebraska couple Ben and Nicki Parker, it's a part of their livelihoods, but more importantly - it's a way for them to help others and save lives.
The Wrangler's secondary mission is as a determined family vehicle for the Parkers.
Project Rescue Rubicon's primary mission is reaching storm ravaged towns that are otherwise unreachable.
If you are headed into a scenario which increases your chances of encountering flying cows and other projectiles varying in degrees of destruction potential - your choice of chase-vehicle is critical. For Ben it's a Jeep thang.
"I have always been a huge fan of Jeep," says Ben. "I have personally owned many Jeeps and was already storm-chasing with a Jeep Grand Cherokee that I had totally built from ground up."
Parker plans on taking his Jeep Rubicon to various school functions in order to help raise storm awareness.
Ben displayed his Grand Cherokee at SEMA in 2008 and '09, which he says was also equipped with a K&N intake. At this year's SEMA show Ben showed his latest storm chasing, K&N augmented Jeep, a 2010 Wrangler Unlimited, titled Project Rescue Rubicon.
"Nicki is a nurse and because she is really involved with the storm-chase team, we decided a Rescue Vehicle was a good choice," explains Ben. "We knew it would be a Jeep, we just needed to figure out which one, and what we wanted done with it. We chose the Jeep JK Rubicon because of its ability to get to places other rescue responders might not be able to reach. Endless hours have been spent on planning, finding sponsors, and then of course the actual labor that has gone into the Jeep."
"Nicki and I really put a lot of thought into the overall function of the Jeep, and with what would be best for getting to people affected by storm damage. Plus, the Jeep fits our family, which was a deciding factor as well."
Ben has been storm-chasing for many years, saving lives and countless injuries with the reports he files to various TV and radio stations. Currently he chases specifically for NTV (Nebraska TV). "With the amazing support of our sponsors, this Jeep can pretty much go anywhere and that was really important. This Jeep will be used when towns get hit and they need help with recovery, clean up, rescue - whatever they need," adds Ben.
"I also own a custom car shop, so I am very busy working on building and modifying Jeeps. We are currently getting ready to release a line of bumpers, fenders and armor at Easter Jeep Safari. Nicki and I are very involved with our community and head up a huge car show benefit every year in memory of Nicki's nephew, Alex Edwards, who died from cancer at age five."
"We are members of Central Nebraska Car Club and integrate all of our storm-chasing vehicles into the events as well. Anything we can do to educate - we do it. We are anticipating taking this new Jeep to some school functions to raise storm awareness. It is vital for us to reach people, especially children, to prepare them for our storm season."
Asked why he choose to go with K&N, Ben says that is a very short story, "We need the very best intake and oil filters available - so we get K&N."
Ben says there's still a lot of work that he wants to do on the Rubicon before spring, he also plans on upgrading and rebuilding his original storm-chaser, his Grand Cherokee. Stay tuned to see what he brings to next year's SEMA Show in Las Vegas.
Project Rescue Rubicon Breakdown:
K&N aircharger and oil filter
GIBSON dual exhaust
SUPERCHIPS flashpaq programmer
BDS suspension 6.5 inch long arm lift kit, 9500 shocks and dual steering Stabilizer
YUCON gears 5.13
GOLIGHT remote control spot light and hand held spot light
DRAKE OFFROAD fire extinguisher mounts, hood tie downs, gas cap, cup and shifter trim rings
MAXTRAX extraction systems
HI-LIFT x-treme 48" handle keeper, lift-mate and off-road base
MILE MARKER SEC 9.5
MGP Caliper Covers
WEATHERTECH floor mats
SCRUBLADE windshield wipers
AMP RESEARCH Power steps
Find K&N products for your vehicle using the K&N application search then use the K&N dealer search to find a K&N dealer in your part of the world.