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2001 Truckfest - Corporate Takeover

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Ken Brubaker
| Senior Editor, Four Wheeler
Posted February 1, 2002

Truckfest 2001 Overruns Summit Racing’s Headquarters

Step By Step

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  • The Mini-Rubicon was open to all participants, and it featured two levels of difficulty. One side of the course offered melon-sized rocks, a telephone-pole bridge, and a deep hole, and it was geared for stock rigs with minimal clearance. The other side of the course was for advanced drivers with modified rigs, and it featured massive Southwestern-style boulders.

  • Dean Wells from Carrollton, Ohio, challenged the Mini-Rubicon in his ’79 CJ-7, and the fiberglass-bodied machine emerged unscathed. Dean’s Jeep sports an AMC 401ci engine, T-18 transmission, Model 20 transfer case, Dana 30 front axle, Ford 9-inch rear axle, spring-over-axle conversion (using YJ leaf springs), and 35-inch ’Claws.

  • Kevin Samarigan owns what may be one of the coolest ’56 Ford F-600s on the face of the planet, not to mention one of the rarest. It’s a Marmon-Herrington four-wheel-drive model, and it’s been meticulously restored to better-than-new condition.

  • The Manufacturer’s Midway featured more than 70 vendors, including Edelbrock, which had a full product line on display as well as staff on hand to answer questions.

  • The frontend of this S-10 Blazer quit working at a most inconvenient time, and it left the rig helpless on the Mini-Rubicon’s rocks. Truckfest organizers had a wrecker standing by for situations like this, and it was on the scene in no time to rescue the Chevy.

  • In addition to his cool hat, Matt Schuller’s got a cool ’78 Chevy that he’s owned for a number of years. It’s his daily driver, and he’s done all the restoration and buildup work himself.

  • The Mudd ’n’ Militia crew made the trek to the Truckfest from their base in Cleveland, and as usual, they were right in the center of the action. Mike Metzger had a good run going in his fullsized Chevy until it slipped off a rock and got high-centered.

  • One of the driving events with which participants could amuse themselves was the vehicle balance beam. It joined the RTI ramp and Mini-Rubicon to round out some of the hands-on activities available for drivers.

  • How’s this for unusual? It’s a ’70 GMC 3500 with a 212ci Detroit Diesel engine. Even more unusual is the dual tranny setup, which features a Spicer 3152A five-speed bolted to a Spicer 5831. Owner Dan Renovetz says the truck averages 20 mpg, and gets lots of looks around his hometown of Northfield, Ohio.

  • Hypertech sponsored a chassis dyno, and it was available throughout the day so that participants got a free vehicle horsepower check. The dyno crew could test about four trucks an hour, so Truckfest participants were invited to enter their names for a random drawing to choose the lucky vehicles to be tested.

Summit Racing launched its inaugural Truckfest in September of 1997, and the response was so overwhelmingly positive that it was only natural for the company to hold another Truckfest in 2001. Of course Summit’s brain trust could’ve used the formula of the previous year, and doing so probably would’ve been successful. Instead, the folks at Summit tweaked and modified the show as one would tweak and modify a big ’ol V-8 engine in order to generate more horsepower. The result was a wildly successful one-day 2001 Truckfest that drew hundreds of trucks to the company’s corporate headquarters in Tallmadge, Ohio. The show featured a collection of hands-on driving events, aftermarket manufacturers, and a huge show-and-shine.

If you’re the kind of person who can’t deal with sitting around idle, the Summit Truckfest has your name written all over it. Organizers created an area filled with hands-on driving activities that included an RTI ramp, a balance beam, a chassis dynamometer, and a huge Mini-Rubicon.

The dual-lane Mini-Rubicon was festooned with railroad-ties and strewn with rock, all of this accomplished by trucking in more than 10 tractor-trailer loads of boulders, and it was the centerpiece of the area. It consumed almost all of the formerly picture-perfect front lawn of Summit Racing, and more than 70 trucks challenged the course throughout the day. The course offered both easy and difficult lanes, so vehicles at all levels of modification, and drivers at all levels of skill, had the opportunity to crawl rocks and battle obstacles. And while there was no formal rockcrawling competition, Tim Zurowski of Superwinch (Superwinch was one of the sponsors of the Mini-Rubicon) awarded a brand-new Superwinch S9000 winch to the driver who seemed to most easily glide his truck over the rocks.

The parking lot of the Summit Racing headquarters was turned into a giant truck show, and that drew more than 350 trucks. A number of these were four-wheel-drive trucks, and they ranged from full-on show trucks to gnarly, trail-ready machines to daily drivers. The show-and-shine area quickly outgrew the Summit parking lot in the early morning, and participant rigs soon inundated every available parking area. We saw many unusual rigs—trucks like Don Peiffer’s dual-carbureted, big-block ’78 Chevy dump truck, and Kevin Samarigan’s ’56 Ford F-600 with original Marmon-Herrington four-wheel-drive conversion. There were also some rigs sporting wildly creative mods. These included trucks like Dan Renovetz’s ’70 Chevy 3500, which sports a 212ci Detroit Diesel engine and dual Spicer transmissions. Throughout the day, Summit judges scored the show-and-shine vehicles, and the winners were awarded trophies at the event’s closing ceremonies.

When Summit Racing throws a party everyone wants to attend, and that includes the scores of aftermarket suppliers whose products Summit carries. It was manufacturer mania in the Manufacturer’s Midway, and the lineup of vendors included Skyjacker, B&M, Ramsey Winch, Dynomax, Holley, Superwinch, MTX Audio, Pro Comp, Rancho, and many more. Inside a huge tent there were even more vendors, including Bushwacker, Air Lift, Optima, Fabtech, Tekstyle, Bestop, Westin, McGard, Smittybilt, Lund Industries, and Auto Ventshade. All of the vendors had staff on hand to answer product and application questions, and many brought along gift certificates that were distributed throughout the day-long show by the Truckfest Master Of Ceremonies.

All in all, Summit Racing managed to achieve the difficult task of successfully improving on an existing idea, and the 2001 event undoubtedly will act as a pattern for the company’s much-anticipated 2002 Truckfest, when trucks once again will take over the corporate headquarters for a one-day stand. For more info on next year’s event, contact Scott Becker at Summit Racing, 330/630-5342, or visit the Summit Racing Web site,