Our first 4x4 Blast was a great success! We heard many positive comments from participants who plan to come back next year. A total of 151 vehicles were registered (135 were Jeeps). Thursday's registration was smooth with the majority of people checking in that night. Registration was held at Shenanigans Bowling Alley. Neal Tire Company also had a tent set up outside. After more vehicles signed up Friday morning, they lined up for the trails. We ran eleven trails both days.
On Susie's Knob, Laura from Wisconsin slid over a log and gracefully laid her Jeep on its driver's door in the ravine. Her niece, Vanessa, was brave enough to get back in after they winched it up. O.R. popped a tire, but that didn't stop him. The rear drive shaft did put a halt to his driving though, and he finished the trail as Tim Miller's passenger. "Tuxedo" had so much engine trouble that Gary and Randy took him off the trail on what they called the 'easy way out'. Tuxedo must have decided it was so easy that he didn't need to pay attention to his driving. He landed on his side in the ditch off Callender road, not once, but twice! The second time his horn stuck, so he pulled the wires. Sparks flew, and a fire started. (He said it was just a little fire.)
Screamin' said on County Line a young Steve (not Rongway) in his TJ broke his high lift jack on the trail. Everyone's first thought was an axle snapping in half. Lucky for him, though, he won another jack at Saturday night's raffle. Then, our own Speedo broke both his upper and lower control arms at the same time. He came at the hill like a rocket. We have to say his handle is no longer derived from his clothing, but from his manner of driving. He had it repaired the next day. And the winner of Screamin's Bloopie Award goes to Chad in a full-size Dodge Ram. He exploded his spider gears and inner axle shaft gears on both sides! Gretchen, in her YJ, made the mistake of wearing diamond earrings on the trail. Guess what? She lost one of them. Screamin' was kind enough to stop the trail and successfully search for it, which actually didn't take any longer than some trail repairs. Oh, and we can't forget the girls who wrapped their fingers around the roll bar during every obstacle. Screamin' kept after them until they remembered not to do it.
Many of the local businesses had 'Welcome Jeepers' signs
out in front of their stores. The Fast Stop gas station in Perry got
into the spirit when their daily special sign read:
On Dutch Creek, Lee Ator led the group out of the parking lot while OutBac stayed behind to wait for one last Jeep. The first half of the group turned right behind Lee and the last half turned left so Frank had to chase them down and turn them around. Having put obstacle #1 behind us, we caught up to our leader and proceeded to the trailhead. The land was dry, but anyone who has run Dutch Creek knows it's going to be wet (as the name implies). There were plenty of deeper sections, and with a number of stock vehicles it was bound to happen. A stock Wrangler ran too deep and sucked water in his air cleaner. He had to be pulled out by his friend in (are you ready for this??) a Mitsubishi! Once he sputtered to a start again we moved along pretty well and managed to run the entire trail by noon, including sections they never got to during the Jamboree. After lunch we went over to run a part of Womble's farm that was even more aggressive. Everyone was up for the challenge, and some of those straps stayed out much of the time. By the time we were finishing up, that Mitsubishi had been given the status of 'honorary Jeep'!
The Back 40 took you through miles of twisty, turny, roller coaster ups and downs. Even though it was a very dry weekend, this trail still had some pretty mucky mud. One guy said his tires made Velcro sounds while driving through it. Junior said there was some pretty good mud on the back end of T-bucket. As you may remember, Junior is momentarily out of service since his Jeep did the "Cougar Climb" last July, but he could still lead the trail from the passenger's seat. He wants to thank White Fang (Larry Caspall) for the smooth ride on Friday, and Saturday he had the experience of riding in a Toyota all day. He's anxious to get his new Jeep trail ready!
John Toumbs told us of his weekend with Dave Jacobs and Garry Shadwick using their bag of tricks to keep everyone riveted to their seats on Tall Dog, Atlas, and part of Mississippi Views Friday. They wanted to keep the photographer, Ken Brubaker of JP magazine, satisfied. They found mud late in the afternoon. John got Ken's son, David, to ride with him, and to feel what it's like to be covered in Pike County mud. David laughed the whole time. Saturday he was led to Susie's Knob by Tim Miller, O.R. and Gary Schreiter. John told Tim we needed excitement to appease JP magazine, and did he find it! Tim kept them all moving at light speed from one pucker-factor to another. On one last hill before they left for Black Oak, they broke the steering box off Bill Lovstad's Jeep, which John attempted to weld back on. Then came a call from Mike Morger to use up one of John's last brake lines. Only so much room, only so many spare parts. They took off at about 1:30 to head for Black Oak, and met up with Durrell and Syndy Millerto give the photographer a look at winch hill. John had Kurt Jarvis from the Pike Press with him on Saturday.
Garry Shadwick said the trails were dry enough to combine Tall Dog, Atlas, and Mississippi Views both days. A couple of tires came off their rims and Garry's CB conked out sometime along the trail, but the most excitement was on Saturday when the guy from Iowa in the "tad too tall" Wrangler turned turtle. He was following the line of the guy in front of him, but not quite the right line. Through an off-camber, deep mogul section, he gracefully laid his Wrangler over on its side. But there was also a ditch on that side, so he just kept rolling clear over onto his top. They winched it back up, he eventually replaced the windshield frame, and I hear he's ready to 4-wheel again.
We think the best pit crews were on Pokey's trail both days. Of course, Friday's pit crew was the rescue team. Saturday's pit crew completely changed a drive shaft on their Jeep before the leader's wife even had time for a pit stop.
We heard more comments on how fabulous the dinner was; roast pork, roast beef, real mashed potatoes, green beans, warm rolls, and salad. Plus desert! The people at the Legion always do a wonderful job, and they came around with refills for your drinks.
During dinner we sold more raffle tickets for prizes, and Garry and Kathy Shadwick held a separate raffle for the newest high-speed Warn winch. The proceeds for the winch raffle were earmarked to go to local charities. They split the donations between the Lion's Club (which helps the blind and deaf) and Quanada (which helps abused women and children). Then, after giving $250 to each of these organizations, O.R. announced that the rest of the proceeds would go to help Pokey's family, since he would be out of work for several months. The people came in herds to buy more tickets! They raised $1300 extra, and that's not all. After the raffle was over, still more money came pouring in. Our own Rusty Murphy won the winch, by the way. Others seated at her table started placing bids for it. So when Rusty came up to accept her prize, she threw in another $400 for Pokey (since that's where the bidding stopped). Then back at the table the City Boyz passed the hat and came up with another $500. With the cash gathered from the group on his trail the day of the accident, and all the money tossed in later, they donated nearly $2,800 to help Pokey's family. I don't think he'd be too embarrassed if I said their generosity brought tears to his eyes.
The club collected nearly 100 prizes to give away at the raffle. Debbie Wombles did a great Vanna White impression giving them out. Thanks to the Hansler boys and Whitaker girls for helping draw tickets and for distributing prizes. The guy from Peoria (who just that morning bought a new set of Swampers) won a new set of tires that night.
Some of the trail guides also gave out awards. Screamin' gave Chad his broken axle shaft. Randy Whitaker handed Tuxedo one training wheel, since he kept laying his jeep down on the driver's side each tip-over. Randy told him to come back next year and get the other training wheel. John Toumbs made a traveling award. He brought on stage the top three Blooper's, and had the crowd choose the best one, by applause. The "catman" won it with his "turtle"rollover. John gave him a broken ring and pinion gear, mounted on a plaque, which has to be returned again next year.
We hope to keep this event going for many years to come. The board wants to thank everyone involved in making it happen, including Tim Miller (our Trail Guide Coordinator), all the trail guides, and Dave Christensen for all his behind-the-scenes work. The event was a success and fun was had by all.
We wish to thank the following businesses that so generously donated to our 4X4 Blast this year.
Auto Dynamics, Cato, WI
Bodyswappers, Peoria, IL.
G.D.S. 4X4 Drivetrain Service, Maryville, IL
J&L 4 Wheel Drive Center, Sun Prairie, WI
Schultz Jeep Specialists, Plainfield, IL.
Tim Miller Electric, Decatur, IL.
Toumbs Repair, Mt. Sterling, IL.
Best Systems Car Wash
Buckley's Auto Parts
Cummings Food Center
Dora's House of Flowers
Farm & Home Supply
Green Acres Motel
High Spirits Liquors
Kentucky Fried Chicken
Napa Auto Parts
Neal Tire and Auto Service
Out of Bounds
Pike County Lumber
Pine Lakes Campground
Red Dome Inn
Shenanigans Bowling Center
FROM MT. STERLING:
Deer Ridge Auto Parts
Brown County Auto Parts
Caseys in Griggsville
City of Griggsville
Farmers National Bank of Griggsville
Hoffmeister Welding and Fabrication
J&J Car Care
Marvin's Lawn and Garden
Purple Martin Inn
United Feed, Inc.
Barry Flower Shop
Carquest of Barry
Perry Fast Stop
FROM OTHER AREAS:
A.S.K. Electronics, Chapin, IL.
Little Jess Motor, Inc. of Quincy, IL.
Tomken Machine, Buena Vista, CO.
WARN Industries, Clackamas, OR.