Toyota will be kicking up the dust at the Mint 400 next March, this time in their all-new Tacoma TRD Pro Race Truck!

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Why do you attend off-road events? It’s a question that I often ask people who frequent organized events.

By Jonathan Harris: FJ Summit CoDirector. Special thanks to CoDirector Matt Robb for demographic information and CoFounder Time Terleski for historical background.

Photos by Rusty Childress, Main Event Imaging


Is it to experience off-roading in a safe, organized, environment? Is it to get new ideas for vehicles upgrades? Is it to spend time with old friends and meet new people? For me events are always for the later. Over the years, many off-road events have sparked meaningful relationships and some of my best friends came out of chance meetings with people on the trail, at vendor booths, at the group dinners and of course, at the raffles. This desire to connect with people was what brought me to the FJ Summit, and what has kept me coming back for more.

FJ Summit - 10 years In - Toyota Magazine

The FJ Summit started like many other events, on an online forum. A “national get-together for Fj Cruiser forum members” was first conceived in July 2006 on FJ Cruiser Forums. Jason Gottlieb (Bostonian1976) first proposed the idea and solicited inputs from forum members as to where to hold a “National Get-Together”. A spirited debate as to location ensued with the East Coast. Arkansas, Kansas, Texas, the Black Hills, Moab and Colorado being considered. “Cruiserpalooza”, an early working name, was starting to gel. Forum members including ( but not limited to ) Bostonian1976 (Chairman), CO-Jeff , Castle Rock FJ, VTFJC , FJR Colorado (Trail Boss), GsGmac, Valkyrie, T2Cruiser, Shane4x4, Miss FJ and The Nookie were the first participants in organizing what would later be named, by forum vote, “FJ Cruiser Summit”.

FJ Summit - 10 years In - Toyota Magazine

Five individuals. Jason Gottlieb, Seth Kovanic, Jeff Thompsen, Tim Terleski and Ty! Boyack made up the official Co-Directors year one. A not-for-profit corporation was formed, FJSummit.org, Inc. and the FJ Summit was born.

Year one could have been the last, if not for the terrific support and participation of the Toyota Trail Teams. Taking on the responsibility to be Trail Leaders, their experience and expertise made for a safe and successful event the first two years. In following years their expertise and mentorship was passed through the ranks and the FJ Summit eventually was able to take on these responsibilities. This process of passing the torch has continued every year since.

FJ Summit - 10 years In - Toyota Magazine

Fj Summit 2007 had approximately 375 participants with close to 200 vehicles. Ouray, Colorado, dubbed “The Switzerland of America” and the surrounding terrain proved to be the ideal location! What was discovered that first year was that FJ Summit not only brought together the drivers and their vehicles, it included their families as well. So many friendships were made and the realization that the event became a family oriented vacation destination resulted in the this unique off road event. Those first year participants spread the word and the foundation for the incredible growth, the incredible camaraderie, the generous charity and the continued fun that FJ Summit has become!

FJ Summit - 10 years In - Toyota Magazine

Over the year’s the Summit has grown to become one of the largest Toyota 4x4 events in the nation. Summit X had a total of 409 registered vehicles with 860 adults and 150 children 11 years of age or under for a total of 1,010 total participants. For perspective, the population of Ouray is about 1,100! Summiteers came from all across North America with representation from 43 states and Canadian provinces.

FJ Summit - 10 years In - Toyota Magazine

My favorite aspects of the Summit are the family friendly environment and the opportunity to introduce new off-roaders to the activity as a husband and father myself, I can say the Summit is hands down the best off-road event for families. With easy to moderate trails available, great accommodations and activities in ouray and activities for kids, there is something for everyone. Each year we have attendees ranging from those who have never shifted into 4x4 to world renowned expert drivers. For the former, we provide a 4x4 101 class, by Trail Teams alum, Brian “Woody”, Swearengen. We also provide recommendations for new drivers on easier trails and have our wonderful trail leaders work with them throughout the day.

FJ Summit - 10 years In - Toyota Magazine

Although the Summit is managed by four CoDirectors (Matt Robb, Chris Davis, James Krieger, and myself, we receive tremendous support from many of the founders who still attend each year. The event could not happen without our volunteers. All of those people that you meet, leading trails, folding shirts, stuffing swag bags and selling items at the store do it for the love of the event and the people around them. I am always blown away and humbled to have each and every one of them as part of the team.

If you have never attended the Summit in the past or are an old timer, we would love to see you at Summit XI. I think you will enjoy what you see. Until then, see you on the trail!

FJ Summit - 10 years In - Toyota Magazine

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Our Summer WAS EPIC, was yours?
So much amazing Toyota Cruisers & Trucks adventure, Get the Summer 2016 Issue!


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  • FJ Summit X
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  • TCT Explorer Tundra 30K Update
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Published in Summer 2016

The event that helped start our original FJC Magazine - FJ Summit - happens this week, for the 10th time!

The Toyota Cruisers & Trucks team has been preparing for the event for quite some time, so we thought a little preview of what's going down this year may be useful.

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We're excited to publish the  Spring 2016 Issue of Toyota Cruisers & Trucks!!


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Published in Spring 2016

The exhibitor list for Overland Expo WEST 2016 has been sent out…and WOW, this event sure is growing!

With well over 250 exhibitors and featured vehicles at the event this year, it’ll like be impossible to see them all. Our editors have put together this list of what they’re most excited about...

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We've just learned that Toyota has signed a multi-year deal with Ballistic BJ Baldwin! The team will be racing a TRD Pro Tundra Trophy Truck in both the SCORE International and Best in the Desert (BITD) series.

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Get Toyota Cruisers & Trucks Magazine on the App StoreGoing to the Baja 1000 checks an item off the bucket list. Going twice, pure awesomeness. Might need a bigger bucket. This is a problem with having and here's how it went.


Act I: Las Vegas!

I had to get from Denver to Las Vegas to catch my ride to Ensenada. I found a $19.00 fare. Actually, the fare was $0.85 and the rest was taxes. I'm sure the government will do a better job with my money then I would.
Next I had to find a place to stay overnight in Vegas. So now I have a confession, I'd never stayed in Las Vegas. I made it all these years only driving through twice never really stopping. After one night in Las Vegas I now understand. Las Vegas is like nothing else.

I put word on the social network “looking for a place in Las Vegas” and fellow adventure Brian Dorr not only was able to secure lodging that wasn't in the back of his truck (although if you've ever seen the back of his truck it's a sweet set up), but he did a bit of off-road driving and had me running over cobblestones to jump into the almost still moving truck at the airport. Smoothest pick up ever. And we were off.
I'll leave the night in Las Vegas that up to your imagination because what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. I can assure you it was less exciting than what you might imagine.
Now why did I fly to Vegas to go to Baja? That leaves about 1000 miles to go.

Act II: Road Trip
No one has turned social media into a more effective tool for Toyota 4x4 goodness then Brian "Woody" Swearington. Since you drive a Toyota you know www.IH8MUD.com and your family has IH8MUD to thank for hundreds of hours you lost to that blue screen making you happy, answering questions, and starting “how should I modify my truck” threads. When I heard that I had the chance to spend a day in the truck with Woody, Heather, and Otis, I jumped at it. There is no better way to travel to the Baja 1000 then in the well-built IH8MUD 80 series freshly equipped with Autocraft progressive coils with Autocraft-spec Icon reservoir shocks and Autocraft rear seat bar. More about those later.

The drive from Vegas to Ensenada was a breeze interrupted only by delicious Mexican food off a random exit in California. We rolled down the coast into Ensenada and celebrated Otis' first international adventure.

Act III: Contingency
The Baja 1000 is every bit as exciting in person as you might imagine. Unquestionably the Canguro Racing team is the finest group to travel with. The puzzled looks on the faces of all of the Mexicans trying to understand why a race team is named after a kangaroo makes it worthwhile. But before that we went out for a big steak dinner followed up by the ever reliable Thrifty ice cream.
Baja experiences are everywhere and going to the race is much more then the amazing race trucks. It would be easy to spend hours poring over any one race vehicle and learning about all the amazing components modifications and experiences of that vehicle and the team. Now imagine surrounded by hundreds of these vehicles, thousands of these people, and cramming it all into 24 to 36 hours of dusty racing over 800 miles and it is simply in all respects absolutely overwhelming to the senses.

Contingency morning dawns crisp and clear and by sunup dozens of rigs were lined up. Contingency is a holiday in Ensenada and everybody was out to see the trucks, motorcycles, quads, and side-by-side and the teams. <<Jeff

Canguro racing was already hard at work with last-minute vehicle prep and getting drivers registered.

Act IV: Tacos
The tacos in Baja are so good that they deserve their own act. Mmmmm. I stay away from the brown water guacamole served out of old 5 gallon hydraulic oil buckets, but some say that's just a personal preference.

Final Act: The Baja Mil - The Race
Race day dawned and good time destiny determined again that I pile in with Woody, Heather, and Otis. We headed off to "observe and monitor communications". Adrenalin must have been pumping as Woody went to pass a semi on an outside curve overlooking a bluff, which would have been fine for Mexico driving but for the tightening turn. So now I know that a fully loaded expedition setup 80 Series Land Cruiser can smoothly power slide on BFG AT KO2’s. All part of the adventure.

For our next difficult task it was essential that we stop for more tacos and then drive directly to a beach, park atop of 12 foot bluff and carefully watch four hours of racing waiting to catch a glimpse of Monica pass in the dark. We were treated to campfire where one complete example of a native plant provided for an entire fuel.

The best views of the Toyota Mexico trophy truck came as she flew through this section. The flapping caution tape on the front bumper must've been picked up from taking a corner a little too tight somewhere. Somewhere along the course she broke a frame and a shock piston as thick as your wrist.
While we waited the sunset over the pacific and we caught a glimpse of dolphins offshore.

We cheered in the dark as Monica blew past and then piled in to meet at the next pit stop. On the way we were treated to an encounter with race legend Rod Hall. Although he proved to best to our finish this year, there's no denying with his skill and experience he earned every bit of it.

I'd like to say that NASCAR would be proud of our pit stops. My job was to check tire pressure. Three were good and one was a 10 PSI high and the whole team was waiting on that one tire when it was time to leave the pit. In other words, the entire pit lasted long enough for one guy to check four tires and let 10 pounds of air out. You do the math.

However, that must've been just enough time for Baja 1000 gremlins to jump in the truck, because after this they started to work their troublesome magic.
Somewhere around race mile 420, one of the most remote sections of the entire course, she ran out of gas. It took nearly 4 hours for the chase truck just to get in with additional fuel. However even after that the truck kept losing power and needing a restart.

Well behind and almost 8 hours later Monica rolled in to Coco's corner. I could think of a lot of worse places to hang out with some good friends for eight hours but the whole time we were thinking about the race track and wishing there was something we could do.

The road in and out of Coco’s was also the race course and Woody, himself a bit of a Baja racer, put the new Autocraft suspension to task soaking up the bumps, drifting through corners and hammering down the straightaways. This road won't be the same next time as we passed countless actions under construction. The highway won't go straight to Coco's but it will never be the Remote traveler rest stop like it's been.

Monica handled the next stretch of highway like a champ but trouble started as soon as she was back onto the dirt. The constant stopping to reset the throttle body was causing major delays. As a team regrouped at mile marker 660 there were constant efforts to stay in touch with the race car and come up with a solution. Our Chase vehicle went ahead to Checkpoint 6 to find out its status and how much time we had to reach it.

There are countless ways to be knocked out of competition in the Baja 1000. Mechanical, navigational, booby traps from creative spectators, exhaustion, and failing to make checkpoints on time. We arrived at Checkpoint 6 as the crew was packing up. Ready to close. Monica was still two hours out. At least. Her race was over. We turned around back to radio range to pass the news. Then pulled off into the desert for a rest and cup of coffee. After an hour or so we headed back to Ensenada.

The next morning as most of the team headed home I stuck around for a day and went surfing. After all, it's Baja.

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    We're having a great start to 2016, and we'd like to share!

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    Download this issue now to read all about:

    • CBI 4Runner Front Bumper Install
    • Baja 100: 2015
    • Rokmen/Toytec FJC Link Upgrade
    • Intro to Snowshoeing
    • Big Bend, Texas Adventure
    • Wavian Jerry Can Review
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    Get Toyota Cruisers & Trucks Magazine on the App StoreNature’s fall foliage backdrop illuminated the trails and the VOR gathering with shades of orange, gold, and crimson. It was photographically addicting to capture the reflection of the season on top of trucks painted metal surfaces. The beautiful surroundings made the trails long as you cannot help but stop to collect photographs.


    While traveling the rugged roads of Vermont and the VOR trail systems, it was easy to find muddy terrain and the need to be prepared for rescue.  These conditions made for some fun obstacles and some extra difficulty in directing vehicles through the terrain. While driving through the mud, I often felt like I was on ice or snow; when I veer right, I felt the vehicle disobey and veer to the left.  

    TCT stayed in the heart of the rally by camping in CVT roof top tents in the center of the Lillie Brook Farm, open to its attendees for the entirety of the event. It was very fascinating to see the vast assemblage of different makes and models in attendance at the Vermont Overland Rally. The makes we observed included Toyota, Jeep, Range Rover, Dodge, Mercedes and even Subaru.

    The main attractions for the Rally included group off road tours (VOR mapped) and classes for off-road preparedness: extreme recovery techniques, preparing yourself and your vehicle for an expedition, vehicle conversions, CPR and first aid, vehicle maintenance, documentation for media and winning VOT information. Additional features included workshops for kids, vendors, overland movies, dinners which included local foods and produce (Lillie Brook Farm), a raffle and a bon fire.

    The highlight of our tour at the Vermont Overland Rally was conversing with members of OEX (Overland Experts) and observing their rare Toyota vehicles which include a Toyota Hilux D-4 TDI and a Toyota Land Cruiser 150 Prado D4-D diesel. Their field of work includes training the public and the military in off-road rescue and preparedness.

    The Vermont Overland Rally encompasses challenges and tools for stock vehicles and beginner drivers, to fully loaded vehicles and advanced knowledgeable drivers. If you plan to visit the beautiful and bountiful Northeast, give Vermont Overland Rally a try. Rain or shine, you can wheel as much or as little as you want, stay behind and take a lesson, or just hang out and relax to enjoy the scenery and hospitality. We at TCT, had a memorable time and look forward to what 2016 has to offer.

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