As you’re well aware, planning for the annual event begins early in the year. The directors usually start having discussions in the January timeframe that center around dates and key improvements/changes over previous events. Once the dates are decided upon, everyone gets their assignments and work begins on the planning. For every feature of the event: Vendors, tent, venue, food, trail runs, etc.; there are dozens of tasks to be accomplished.
I honestly don’t remember the number of conference calls we held during the planning process, it was certainly dozens. During each call every member of the team gave updated on the status of their areas as everything began to come together. The directors (Tye, Seth, Jared, and even Tim) still carry the lions share of the workload, but a few of us were able to lend a hand and help a little.
We were very happy this year to welcome several new sponsors in addition to the excellent companies that have supported the Summit for years. FunTreks, Restop, Pandor Adventures, XPlore, and Surefire are a few of the new sponsors kind enough to support the event. Once again TRDParts4U.com, TRD, Toyota Motor Sales, and many others really made the event possible as well. We’ve attended many events and I can honestly say the Summit features some of the best sponsors you’ll find anywhere.
Angie, Brenden, and I arrived on Sunday excited for the event as well as an extended stay in Ouray. For previous events, we’ve only been able to attend Wed-Sun, so the chance to hang out and help with setup was pretty exciting for all of us.
The real workload for setup begins on Tuesday with bag stuffing, pre-running, and FJS HQ setup. This year the swag bags were extra-full, so the stuffing team spent almost a full day separating, stuffing, and organizing. With several last minute additions, we were literally waiting for the UPS truck with the last shipment of bags and swag to finish up the task.
Wednesday morning brings FJs to Ouray, and plenty of them! Of course many Summiteers arrive earlier in the week, but since registration begins Wed morning, that’s when most FJs start showing up to FJS HQ. There is a constant stream of registrations all day long, causing a line to form at times. Luckily the Off Roadies do a great job at handling the crowds and everyone gets registered without too much hassle.
How did the event go? Well, due to the hard work of everyone involved – the 2011 FJ Summit was a huge hit! This year we had well over 250 trucks in attendance, and all the vendors took really great care of everyone. We talked to dozens of Summiteers and everyone was thrilled with the trail runs, food, entertainment, and of course the raffle.
There was one very special guest that we were thrilled to have in attendance this year: Mr. Joe Bacal. In case you missed our January 2011 interview with Joe, he’s currently the championship winning Baja driver for Lexus, but he also owns & runs JT Grey Performance Driving. Most importantly (to FJ people), Joe was the lead test driver for the FJ Cruiser during its development. Remember the stories of the prototype FJ Cruiser on the Rubicon Trail? Yep, that was Joe Driving. So it was really great to not only have him at the summit, but to run the hardest trail at the event with him. Of course I mean Poughkeepsie Gulch.
For hard-core rock crawlers, Poughkeepsie isn’t a difficult trail. In all honestly, it’s not overly difficult except for one obstacle: the wall. Having a true expert in all things FJ with us on the very first time we ran it was pretty exciting and made for a great day on the trail. Joe was very excited to guide everyone in our group up the ‘notch’ just before the last major obstacle, and up the wall as well. We’re happy to report that despite a little breakage (on one of Joes FJs, an original Trail Teams truck), everyone in our group safely made it up the wall and out the top of Poughkeepsie Gulch.
FJ Summit No. 5 was, without a doubt, the most fun we’ve had at an off road event. The people, the vendors, the trucks, all combined for another amazing event. The only thing we’re wondering now is how next year could possibly top this year in Ouray? Maybe Black Bear Pass will be open J.
To get your copy of the October 2011 issue of FJC Magazine: