In the 1970s, the Indiana-Ohio-Kentucky (IOK) Four Wheelers, under Sugar’s leadership, had the foresight and tenacity to convince the New York Central Railroad to sell a former gravel pit on 69 acres in Cleves, Ohio for off-road recreation. The property nicknamed ‘the Pits’ became the home of Gravelrama, one of the longest running off-road events in the country. In fact, Gravelrama 8 marked the first appearance of the first ‘monster truck’ at an off-road event, ORMHOF inductee Bob Chandler’s Bigfoot. Sugar coined the event slogan “America’s annual 4WD happening” for Gravelrama and along with her husband Ken announced at the event for 33 years. Gravelrama celebrated 50 years in 2021.
Sugar played a key role in stopping overly restrictive raised-vehicle legislation in Maryland and across the Country. She was named the United Four-Wheel Drive Association Four Wheeler of the Year in 1991. In 1992 EC4WDA hosted the annual United Convention in Baltimore, where Sugar lobbied federal representatives on behalf of 4WD recreation. She was also instrumental in the creation of the North American Motorized Recreation Council (NAMRC).
“Sugar was a woman pioneer advocate in the motorized sport arena which is dominated by men,” said Gary Marr, Land Use Chairman for the East Coast 4 Wheel Drive Association. “Sugar touched all aspects of the sport.”
In 1998 SEMA honored Sugar for her tremendous networking, being an effective member of the nationwide four-wheel-drive community, and for her tireless promotion of the SEMA Action Network (SAN) concept at national and regional club events. “You have no idea what it meant to me to stand up on that stage to receive an award as a volunteer on behalf of my sport. The reality is just starting to hit me and I’ll never forget it,” said Sugar. SEMA Director of Outreach and Public Affairs Brian Caudill commented, “Sugar went the extra mile to protect the interests of fellow hobbyists against the seemingly overwhelming tide of harmful government legislation and regulation. We appreciate her labors and we are proud to honor her achievements.”
Prior to her passing in 2015, Sugar received an award from EC4WDA for 40 years of service. West Virginia Senator Mark R. Maynard said, “As a child in the 80s when my family would attend East Coast 4-Wheel Drive Association events, Gravelrama was always a highlight. As new competitors, my parents felt immediately welcomed by Sugar. She was always very helpful. It’s just not the same without her voice echoing over the loudspeaker at Cleves. The off-road community misses her.”
Jim Bramham, ORMHOF Class of 2018 inductee said, “Sugar was a gracious, effective, creative, dynamo, and leader who was as sweet as her name. She was a promoter, racing enthusiast, land use advocate, and friend.”