It’s kind of like we never left. The dirt, the rocks, and the never-ending threat of a thunderstorm were all still there. We couldn’t have been happier to be back. The year is 2022 and The Midwest Dirtfest was in full send. When the pandemic kicked off we honestly questioned how long it would be before we could enjoy this particular event again. A small part of us wondered if we ever would. Fortunately fast forward to July 21, 2022 and we were right back in Stanton Michigan at Valley Motocross.
Getting In Midwest Dirtfest 2022
We had just pulled up to the gate and were greeted by Brenda. For a small fee, spectators are welcome to watch the event. Once properly vetted and confirmed we were admitted into a dirt lover’s paradise. The track consists of multiple jumps, whoops, twists and turns. Valley Motocross is tailor-made for dirt bikes, ATVs, and side-by-sides.
That is until Midwest Dirtfest hits the scene. At that point, the track is specifically tailored to long travel trucks and their capabilities. This year a section was removed to facilitate a better approach to the main jump. That jump is the site of the ever-popular jump contest on the final day of the event. This year saw an increase in both required safety features as well as overall participants.
With approximately 1,100 total spectators there was no shortage of campsites with sweet rigs to check out or good conversations to be had. Between time trial runs and track grooming there was still plenty of time to engage in a game of cornhole with some fellow event attendees.
Things to Do At Midwest Dirtfest 2022
The jump contest is just one of the main features of this awesome event. Additionally, there is a side-by-side shootout, truck time trials, RC racing, a pit bike race, camping, a food truck, vendors, and a large spectator viewing area right in front of the main jump hill. If all of that does not get you excited then spending a little time walking around the pits might do it for you. The pits are where all of the participants stage their trucks before heading out on the track.
With a quick search on YouTube, some awesome videos have already been posted from the Midwest Dirtfest 2022.
A sharp eye may have even spotted Blake Wilkey and his fresh Jaws trophy truck bug build. Regular readers of Off Road Xtreme may recognize Jaws from our past coverage of the build and what it takes to go racing. Blake carved out some time to tell us about why he chooses to make the trek out to the Midwest for this event.
Jaws On The Track
“This event is just special,” Wilkey explained. “The Midwest scene has been blowing up and the track here is beautiful. The setting and the dirt here is amazing. Ripping down the tree line is like nothing out in Southern California. It’s just like Jurassic Park or something. We’ve established a pretty good following through Shreddy and Terra Crew. We try and return that support and bring our rides out that they see on our Youtube and social media content. To let them feel it, sit in it, touch it. Really, we just want to build the sport and that’s kind of how I see my role. I want people to build their dreams. That’s what I got to do and I’m very fortunate in that.”
Midwest Dirtfest 2022 Is All About Community
The positive community feels and the easygoing attitude of this event cannot be overstated. It was a welcome change to the isolation of the last couple of years and brought smiles to the faces of all attendees and participants alike. Blake mentioned, “The people in the midwest are just good humble people. It’s easy to ask for help out here because no one is going to tell you no.”
He wasn’t the only one to voice that opinion either. Throughout the event, we heard from both participants and spectators alike that these kinds of trucks are becoming more common in Michigan. The hobby is growing and more and more people are starting to take notice and build their own rigs.
Fellow event spectator Paul Herbach shared, “Prerunners! I’m into any truck in the trophy truck or prerunner category. It’s cool to see them up close in the pits, and even cooler to see them work on the track. As far as I know, Michigan is the only place with trucks like that on this side of the country and I really love the scene.”
The Results Are In From Midwest Dirtfest 2022
If trucks just aren’t your thing, then you haven’t been left out. The side-by-side competitions are one of the event’s highlights as well. This year Joe Arthur took the win for the side-by-side long jump competition. His win netted him a Midwest Dirtfest trophy, a Method Race Wheels trophy, a $1,000 Method Race Wheels gift certificate, and a $300 Lenger Racing gift certificate. Kevin Ashley took the win for the side-by-side shootout. He also was awarded a Midwest Dirtfest trophy, a Method Race Wheels trophy, a $1,000 Method Race Wheels gift certificate, and a $300 Lenger Racing gift certificate.
Side-by-side event participant Terry Delecki shared his thoughts on the weekend. He said, “Midwest Dirtfest is by far the funnest event I have been to. I have been a spectator the past two years and decided to participate this year. My team and I had a blast. The organizers of this event keep a perfect balance between organization and the freedom to enjoy yourselves. Seat time in your vehicle is just right. This will definitely be an annual event for me!”
The Trucks At Midwest Dirtfest 2022
For the trucks, Keith Heintz was the fastest truck on the track and beat second place by only .17 seconds. He received much of the same rewards. He received a Midwest Dirtfest trophy, a Method Race Wheels trophy, and a $1,000 Method Race Wheels gift certificate. His Lenger Racing gift certificate got a bump to $500. Lenger Racing founder Ryan Lenger won the jump contest for the trucks. Not sure he’ll get a lot of use out of the gift certificate for his own company but the rest of the items as well as the prestige will certainly be appreciated.
This is an event that takes a lot of work to put together. There are three main organizers for the event. Tyson Ahrens, Luke Alan, and Ryland Rodman. Ryland took the time to chat with us about what the last couple of years has been like for The Midwest Dirtfest.
Can’t Stop Won’t Stop
Ryland explained that, “COVID really slowed things down for 2020. We were on week 12 of a two-week lockdown. Things were so up in the air, it was tough to get any sponsor support. We ended up just doing an open track day. We let drivers that wanted to come have a day at the track run how they please. People really seemed to enjoy it. That is part of the reason we ran the UTV guys in an open track instead of time trials this year. We wanted to see how it worked out.
Last year was pretty much business as usual with a solid driver list and one of our bigger crowds. It did rain on us pretty good. It wouldn’t be Dirtfest without a good rain to throw a wrench in our schedule! We got lucky with the weather this year and had a great event. We are already looking forward to next year.”
Despite all of the work, there is no way these guys would ever have it any other way. Ryland shared, “For me, the best moment was the winners’ faces when presented with their prizes. Our sponsors stepped it up big time and we were able to give away some great prizes that all the drivers were super stoked with. I think Brandon Reed was the most shocked when we awarded him with a fresh set of XComp tires.”
It’s Getting Bigger
With 75 pre-registered drivers and additional participants signing up at the event, some changes for next year may be incoming. Ryland elaborated, “With respect to drivers I’d say we’ve hit our max capacity for a single-day event. I was also told there was a line of cars down both directions of the main road waiting to get in. So I think we’re reaching our capacity for spectators as well.
That being said, it may be time to start considering a two-day event. It’s a little harder for the spectators to make it out to the track on both days. At the same time, it almost feels rushed getting everything packed into one day. Maybe run trucks one day and UTVs a second day. That way the spectators can choose which day they would rather attend if not both.” Stay tuned for more on those potential changes next year.
In addition to the hard work by Ryland, Luke, and Tyson is the work by the staff at Valley Motocross. The track staff is amazing at Valley Motocross. The amount of time they put into grooming and setting up Midwest Dirtfest for success is huge. Along with Valley Motocross there is a list of sponsors that make it all happen.
Midwest Dirtfest 2022 Sponsors
- XComp Tires
- Gravel Kings
- Rockford Fosgate
- Lenger Racing
- Method Race Wheels
- Terra Crew
- Valley MX
The Midwest Dirtfest is one of the best long travel prerunner truck events on this side of the country. The track is amazing, the people are fantastic, and the atmosphere can’t be beat. The next time you are looking for an event check it out. The Midwest Dirtfest takes place every July.