North West Suzuki PowerFest IV
ZUKIWORLD hosts the annual Suzuki PowerFest in Tillimook Oregon. -Eric Bewley
Tillimook State Forest, OR -This year’s Suzuki PowerFest drew avid Suzuki enthusiasts from as far away as Canada for what promised to be one of the largest Suzuki gatherings in the North West. This year’s format was changed to a poker run where participants would follow a map of a predetermined course and look for draw stations along the way where they would draw a card and try to build the best poker hand possible.
Most participants showed up Saturday afternoon and evening. ZUKIWORLD hosted a weinie roast Saturday night where most everyone got a chance to get aquainted and talk about the next day’s event. It’s obsticles and challenges were on most everyones’ minds as well as Rhino’s lime green LWB Samurai from Canada. At every event I’ve been to where there is one of these elusive creatures, you’ll find pretty much every Samurai guy talking to the owner, sizing up the vehicle, or taking pictures. And why not? they are definitley cool.
Sunday morning started with a short driver’s meeting in which the participants recieved a map, ZUKIWORLD t-shirt and stickers, as well as the drawing of their first card. The weather had been laced with scattered showers all weekend which was good for ooie-gooie trails, which is somewhat unusual in June, even in Oregon.
The group split into two or three groups heading off in different directions with the goal of getting to the draw stations. Davey Arnold from Salem, Oregon graciously led a group directly to the premier trail of the weekend, the Cedar Tree trail. This trail is unique in several ways but most noticible is the under-crossing of a large fallen cedar tree towards the end of the trail. Most vehicles can not do this obsticle without ripping a soft-top off or denting their roof, but the Suzuki breed was made for this feature.
Morning meeting and card draw
It didn’t take long for Davey’s group to find the first draw bucket. His group was made up of the ‘low-riders’ which were not ready to tackle the full wonder that is the Cedar tree trail. So, after everyone had drawn their card, that group took a bypass and headed for the second trail.
Our group was close behind and ready for some hard core wheeling. We plodded on pass the turn out spot onto new adventures and tough obsticles.
The first difficult spot was a small sluice box of slime-covered rocks with huge ruts dug out in just the right spots. Junior in his ZUKIWORLD sidekick, displaying some new driving techniques, worked the sluice gently driving over the tough spots showing off the low-crawl capabilities and bite of the 32 inch Super Swampers.
Wayne Surbrook from Washington in his ’87 Samurai with Suzuki power, Dana axles, and 33 inch Boggers took an interesting bypass on the next obsticle that was actually tougher than the trail. After a few high-siders, some expert spotting, great driving, and a little winching, he made it through this awesome spot on the trail.
It was about this time that Davey, from the first group, radio’d to me and said that someone had stolen the cards from the second draw station. I guess somebody really needed a $1.25 pack of playing cards. Upon hearing this, Junior and myself decided that we’d have people draw an extra card back at camp to get a full poker hand.
The next obsticle was a thirty-five to fourty inch shelf built up by a couple of fallen logs slick with muddy goo. The trick to making this obsticle was to square up on the logs back up a smidge and let some momentum carry you over. Sam Wirtz, from Grants Pass, Oregon drove his ’87 Samurai with a Hawk Strictly Suzuki 1.6 16-valve conversion, Hybrid axles, and 33 inch radial swampers made this section look like child’s play easily hoping over the logs, with the assitance of a winch!
After about three hours of pure bliss, we made it to the end of the Cedar Tree trail where those that could drove under the tree and took photographs. The next trail, Firebreak 5, which used to be the premier trail in TSF was a piece of cake. It’s really ashame how this fine rock crawling trail has turned into a highway. The one saving grace is a man-made rock crawl towards the latter sections of the trail that will challange pretty much any vehicle. Unfortunately on this day, we were running out of time so the decision was made to bypass this section.
Next was a trail called Hog’s back which we ran the eaisier way, downhill. It was at this time that I received another call from Davey that the third draw station was completely missing. Ok, we’ll draw two extra cards at camp.
Ready set go!
Junior uses the winch for a safe crossing
Sam tackles it with control in mind.
The last obsticle of the day was the infamous little Rubicon section of the Powerline trail. This is the section that Rick Hawkins of Hawk Strictly Suzuki rolled down two years ago at PowerFest II. This year I wasn’t going to have people go down it, which seems to be suicide. Let’s have people go up it.
Well, I don’t know if it was the time of day or the ‘Nutzo’ aspect of this section, but no one in the group was really eager to tackle it. Junior drove up to the obsticle in his sidekick, took a good hard look at the miserable lines provided this day, and decided better of it.
I don’t know if I mentioned it or not but there were a couple of Jeep manufacture vehicles that crashed our party. No biggie we understand when people want to run with the big dogs. As with all Suzuki events, there is always a good roll or two. Well, this time it was the Jeeps showing us how it was done. About fourty feet before the end of the last trail of the day this driver of a mint CJ-5A, factory everything, 17,000 original miles, picked the wrong line and layed it over on it’s side. We all sprang into action and quickly recovered this gem. A quick check for oil in the cylinders and we were off with only a few tears being shed for this museum quality jeep’s damage.
Rare ‘tuxedo park’ CJ on it’s side.
We finally made it into camp about 3:30 in the afternoon and proceeded to give out prizes to a set of predetermined poker hands. Smiles were the rule as some of the winning hands were a pair of 6’s, one Ace, and a pair of 4’s. After the awards, most loaded up and headed home due to the weekend’s close. A few stayed and played on some more of the trails in the park. With exception of the Jeep driver, I think it is safe to say that fun was had by all. See you next year!