Annual Truck Show Helps Charities
Scott Gillispie, owner of Off-Road Motorsports, Inc. in Wichita, Kan., uses his Jeep part business to help his community.
Photo: Christopher Clark
At Off-Road Motorsports, Inc., in Wichita, Kan., you’ll find the largest inventory of used Jeep parts in the Midwest. Come October, you might also find Batman, a few pirates or maybe even a witch.
Off-Road Motorsports has hosted an annual Halloween truck show for the past 12 years. On the weekend before Halloween, customers bring costumed kids and watch vehicles tackle such obstacles as “The Log Krawl” and the “Rock Pile.” The event also includes food, prizes and kids’ activities, such as a bounce house and face painting.
“It’s about a four-hour show and the most stressful day of my life,” laughed owner Scott Gillispie. “It’s fun. It gets a life of its own.”
The event usually earns between $2,000 and $5,000, and all proceeds go to charity. Past recipients have included the United Way of the Plains and the Kansas Food Bank. This year proceeds will go to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Gillispie said.
“We don’t try to sell anything that day, but it gets people on the property,” Gillispie explained. “It’s like a customer-appreciation event or an open house, but we also raise money for a good cause.”
Off-Road Motorsports is known throughout the Wichita area as a retail parts and accessories store. While the company does not have a salvage license and doesn’t dismantle vehicles, it boasts an huge inventory of used Jeep parts.
“I have the remains of 30 to 40 jeeps back there,” Gillispie said. “I have probably 150 axel assemblies, which takes up a lot of space. I have them all in a row, and they go on forever.”
Gillispie began acquiring the parts “by accident” in 1983 when he went looking for a double tube bumper for his own truck and ended up buying the inventory of a four-wheel-drive shop that had gone out of business. He had no previous experience in the automotive industry, and he initially stored the parts at his home in his one-car garage.
“The garage filled up really fast, so I took over the dining room,” he remembered. “I started running ads in the newspaper and had people showing up at the house at all hours of the day and night. My wife wasn’t exactly happy with that.”
Gillispie eventually left his job at Beech Aircraft to focus on his parts business full-time. Today, he runs the company from an 11,000-square-foot facility. He continues to add to his used-parts inventory. Most often, someone will simply show up with a pickup truck filled with parts.
“They’ll say something like, ‘My wife said I had to clean out the garage and get rid of all of this today,’” Gillispie laughed. “That’s how I’ve bought over half of the parts I’ve accumulated.”
Through listings on eBay and Craigslist, Gillispie has sold parts worldwide. While he has tried various forms of advertising, he’s learned that simple word of mouth, customer-appreciation events and a Facebook page are best for promoting his business.
“For my business, social media is the best way to communicate, because people who have similar hobbies tend to bunch together and talk to each other,” he said. “I’m selling a product not everyone on the block needs. It’s a small, targeted market.”