Story by Austin Stobaugh
What started out as a bunch of friends heading to the California oceanside town of Pismo Beach with one goal in mind, to jump their truck the farthest, has now become a huge event called Huckfest. In just more than five years, the all-day, truck-jumping party has gone from a friendly get-together to a massive shindig, attracting spectators, casual contestants and professional racers.
Huckfest is held at Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area, near the the town of Pismo Beach, and spans the better part of five miles of the shore. The idea, as you might imagine, is relatively straightforward. Each driver gets three chances to “huck,” or jump, their vehicle the farthest.
This year’s event was held on Saturday August 24th, but people started trickling in to camp on the dunes as early as Tuesday. Drivers were soon divided into three categories: Leafspring Class, Linked (1400/1450) Class, and Unlimited Class.
Packed To The Brim
To understand the size and scope of this event, you need look no further than the lodging situation. There’s a limited amount of overnight parking on the beach, and even so, reservations for those couple of hundred spots are sold out months in advance. An overnight spot costs $10 a day for every vehicle staying, which isn’t too bad.
If you miss out on an overnight spot, or a camper or RV on the beach is not your cup of tea, you can book a room in one of the many nearby hotels. Most of these were sold out well before August. Still, you can take advantage of the few vacancies found at some hotels and motels on the outskirts of town.
Off To A Hectic Start
On the morning of the event, a line started to form at the ranger station sometime around 4:30 a.m. By the time the gates opened at 6:00, there was a line of approximately 200 vehicles ready to enter the first unofficial competition: the battle for the best spot to park in anticipation of the controlled chaos that is Huckfest. Throughout the day, there was a constant line of spectators’ vehicles making their way through the Pismo Dunes to the official jump site.
Zero hour, 9:00 a.m., saw the first trucks enter the fenced-off jumping area. For hours thereafter, competitors would show up to test the jump and practice for the optimum speed and trajectory.
Everyone stood on the sidelines, entertained by the pre-runners as preparations for the officially-measured hucks began. Amid the anticipation, Shocker Motorsports decided the crowd was in need of a jolt and accordingly hauled out its monster truck to kick up dunes on its own.
Once every driver had made their practice runs, it was time to push the limits of man and machine, and see who could huck their vehicle to victory. Each driver would take their spot in line, tighten their belts, and wait for their green light to flash. Faster than you could say “Go huck yourself,” these buggies, trucks, and Jeeps were off and running every which way to prove their worth.
Huck ‘Til You Upchuck
Wide-open throttle was the order of the day as paddle tires and long-travel shocks were put to the test. One man who took the need for speed to the next level was Billy Wilson from Texas, in his new and improved V-8 Bajalite built by “Pistol” Pete Sohren.
Wilson’s daring was awarded with a take-off speed of 109mph. That speed would not only be the fastest of the day, but the fastest in recorded Huckfest history to date.
All that effort and verve found Wilson in 3rd in the Unlimited Class, with a longest huck of 121ft and a total distance of 346ft. He even managed to make it into the top five of the overall stats, coming in 4th place.
As the contestants continued to sail themselves through the air, one man in his leafsprung truck shone brighter than the rest of his adversaries: Tim Bradford. The man and his machine took the win in the Leafspring Class with a jump of 99ft and a combined total of 275ft, handily beating the competition by over 50ft.
Another man who would not accept failure as an option would be Jeff “Chop” McMillan in the Motolife truck. The truck suffered some damage in a practice photo shoot with BJ Baldwin on Friday, but McMillan promised to give it his all and jump the old ’60s Ford for one last huck on the day of the event.
Taking a chance on his farm truck’s fabrication, McMillan managed to make it last for all three official jumps, ultimately taking home 1st place for Linked (1400/1450) Class. Chop’s longest jump would be 136ft, allowing him to take home that Number One trophy for his class, and with a total distance of 394ft to award him 2nd overall.
BJ Baldwin Takes It Home
The winner of the Unlimited Class would be one of the most well-known competitors to attend 2013 Huckfest, “Ballistic” BJ Baldwin. And while Baldwin was faced with wiring issues on the day of the event, fate smiled on him.
Baldwin’s crew was able to save the day by getting a new wiring harness and installing it just in time for the 4:00 p.m. deadline. Baldwin then threw everything his Monster Energy Trophy Truck had at the hill, and once the sand had settled, it had flown a jaw-dropping total of 425ft.
That would make him the most consistent competitor and allow Baldwin to snag First Place Overall. The video above demonstrates just how well-suited Baldwin and his Chevy were to the task at hand.
The winner of the overall longest huck went to none other than Mike “Hollywood” Higgins, of B & L Sand Toys in Mears, Michigan. Mike soared an awesome distance of 169ft on his final attempt, a distance that no other driver came close to beating.
You can bet the likes of Sir Isaac Newton and the Wright Brothers would be speechless after seeing something like that! After Mike’s award-winning vault, his combined total distance would be 373ft, which would put him 3rd overall.
What a day for these dune dominators. Off Road Xtreme can’t wait to see what next year brings, but until then, there should be plenty of Huckfest footage for you to comb through on YouTube.