After selling out in less than an hour and having an unfulfilled waitlist for the first time ever, the 9th annual FJ Summit promised to be a week of unprecedented off-roading excitement! With new events, an amazing raffle and over 50% of the total attendance comprised of new attendees, FJ Summit 9 was five days of pure adventure, excitement and unparalleled experience. High above it all, the mountains of Ouray, Colorado were transformed into the epicenter of off- road enthusiasm. Known as a summertime four-wheel mecca, Ouray saw a pilgrimage of 925 registered attendees and 316 registered vehicles this year. With plenty of trails to explore, the event was filled with long days, late nights, great stories, an amazing spirit of community and plenty of mud – exactly what attendees have come to expect from FJ Summit.
For the first time in FJ Summit history, off-roaders were offered an officially sanctioned night run. Sponsored by Baja Design, the Night Adventure was so popular that it happened two consecutive evenings. Armed with LED Lighting, drivers took to the mountains tackling Colorado’s second highest trail: the famed Imogene Pass. This trail connects Ouray and Telluride with a ceiling at just over 13,000ft, 1000ft shear rock drop offs, curves, bends and switchbacks, all without the comfort of guardrails. This year’s Night Run was not for the faint of heart. A beautiful and thrilling trail, known for it’s breath-taking views, the Imogene Pass was transformed as roughly a dozen rigs traversed the trail without the security of sunlight.
For nine lucky drivers, looking to up the ante of the Night Run, FJ Summit offered its first ever Ultimate Overnight Run. Selected from a lottery, nine trucks loaded with extra gasoline, roof tents and even one trailer set off for The Ultimate Overnight on the Grand Mesa! The expedition was headed up by Bill Burke, four-wheeling expert, wilderness EMT and permitted guide of Bill Burke's 4-Wheeling America LLC fame along with Hugh and Kelley Phillips of Safari Off-Road, known for expert Toyota Service on Colorado’s Western slope. The drivers were required to be previous FJ Summit attendees, have a five plus gallon reserve of gasoline and minimum 32" tires with LT rating. Properly outfitted, drivers traversed Lands End Road up rock and mud through tight tree-lined paths and open meadows to 10,000ft on the world’s largest standing volcanic mesa. Participants enjoyed En route camping, camaraderie on the trail and amazing sunrise views of the San Juan Mountains in the Switzerland of America. It was an overwhelming success, through proper guidance and preparations, and there were no breakdowns or accidents – not even for the trailer in tow.
Toyota trucks are legendary within the FJ community: there is a strong passion for, and emphasis on, the power and rugged capabilities of their trucks. This year Toyota brought a brand new 2016 Tacoma TRD Off Road model to the event. Most Toyota devotees refer to a Tacoma pick-up as “the Taco”, so it seemed appropriate to serve tacos while enthusiasts got their first look at the new ’16 Tacoma. Under the hood, onlookers got an up close and personal experience with Toyota’s latest and greatest off-road capable machine. Loaded with new features like Crawl Control and Multi-Terrain Select, the 2016 Tacoma captured the imaginations of everybody there while inspiring fervor and passion for TRD’s newest products. FJ Heritage lives on in the 2016 Tacoma: it carries the DNA of Toyota’s legendary Off-Road capability.
FJ Summit, a not-for-profit event, is made possible by the efforts of volunteers. Groups like the Ouray County Sheriff's Office and Ouray County Mountain Rescue make it possible to hold the event in Ouray every year. Raising money and giving back to the Ouray community is fundamental to the FJ Summit experience. This year's FJ Summit proudly donated over $10,000 to these two groups, and additionally provided each of two deserving Ouray High School students a $1,500 college scholarship.
Along with the FJ Summit scholarships, the Toyota T-Ten Program teaches automotive diagnosis and repair to students in a comprehensive technician training and education program that ultimately leads to job placement at a Toyota dealership. Funds provided by this year’s FJ Summit helped contribute approximately 1/3 of the costs associated with a student's tuition via a scholarship endowment with Turner Toyota Montrose, ensuring opportunities for students and the development of quality technicians for years to come.
Giving back is truly at the heart of FJ Summit. The donations and scholarships are funded with the proceeds from the annual raffle for attendees. This year over $50,000 in prizes were raffled off! Sponsor-donated items included products/services from Fox Racing, Total Chaos, Safari LTD, TRD and more! Three lucky winners even walked away with new TRD Suspension Kits.
2016 will mark the 10-year anniversary of the FJ Summit. It is already pretty much guaranteed to sell out in record-breaking time. Rumors of more Night Runs, another Ultimate Overnight Adventure and new TRD Products and swag are already starting to circulate but the specifics of FJ Summit #10 are being kept quiet. We can only imagine what is in store after a decade in the making. Be sure to keep an eye on sign up dates and start planning now!
This year FJ Summit’s raffle featured an essential upgrade for every off-roader, the TRD Suspension kit. Rock tested and mountain ready, TRD Suspension is designed to combat body lean, and help keep your tires on the ground for precision handling. The trails high in the mountains around Ouray provide driving experiences that range from beginner to expert level, with varying demands on drivers and their rigs. However, no matter the off-roading experience level and ability of the driver, upgraded suspension is essential for anyone looking to improve their vehicle’s handling, vibration damping, traction and overall ride.