Great times in the sand dunes By the staff of Dirt Wheels
It was a good thing we had reservations, especially when we saw how many people had arrived before us. Having traveled from our home in Washington state to Winchester, Oregon, and its scenic Umpqua Lighthouse State Park, the last thing we wanted to do was look for a campground with a vacancy. My wife Laura and I were there to check out the pristine dunes and great riding available at one of America’s best beach dune riding areas and attend Oregon Sand Fest 2000.
The annual Sand Fest is a dune extravaganza that consists of a series of off-road competitions and rides through the scenic dunes. We were surprised to see how many people were in dispersed sand camping. It looked like four small towns grew up on the sand. There were people driving every type of contraption imaginable. If it had a motor and wheels, you could find one. There were go-peds, motorcycles, three-wheelers, four-wheelers, Odysseys, buggies, Jeeps, rails, trucks, trailers, and motor homes all out on the sand. The dunes were buzzing like a swarm of bees.
These steep, scenic dunes are the tallest coastal dunes in the country. There are views of the Pacific Ocean, freshwater lakes, mountain forests, fertile wetlands, wildlife and plenty of open sand. Umpqua Lighthouse is a historic landmark. It stands 67 feet above the dunes and has nearly 1000 glass prisms that were hand-cut in Paris in 1890. The lighthouse disperses 210,000 candlepower of glowing red light over the Pacific Ocean.
There were over 40 booths set up at Salmon Harbor. Local motorcycle dealerships represented all major ATV manufacturers. Polaris was the main sponsor. In addition to a booth, Polaris set up a demo ride at the entrance to the dunes. You could try any of their machines on a closed course. Many booths sold quad parts and accessories. You could pick up “Sand Fest 2000” T-shirts and other souvenirs.
We were happy to see the U.S. Forest Service booth with Off-Highway Vehicle Coordinator Sharon Stewart manning it. She was keeping people informed on important issues at the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, like noise management. The maximum decibel limit for off-highway vehicles at the dunes is 93 dB. Two other important informational booths were the ATV Safety Institute and the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC). I brought information back to my local ATV club.
There was a Saturday night street dance with live band Frozen Rose. It was a little cool, so people kept warm by dancing to rock and roll. During intermission, ExtremeBuggies.com put on an awesome digital slideshow and video clips of the day’s activities. It was such a hit that they replayed the 25-minute presentation two more times. People loved to see themselves and their rigs perform.
SHOW & SHINE
Pro Caliber Motorsports and Heavy Metal Polish sponsored the Show & Shine held at Discovery Point Campground. There were some pretty fancy rigs on display, but there were others that were just as impressive that didn’t enter because they were out on the drag strip.
Best of Show was taken by Don Paulson of Portland, Oregon, with a ‘93 Banshee. He had the motor built by Streamline Performance in Vancouver, Washington, paint by AJC Custom Paint Werks in Gresham, Oregon, and aluminum work done in Fairview, Oregon, by Midnight Motorsports.
Best Paint was won by Krazy Dave Moore of MP Racing in Salem, Oregon, with an alcohol-fueled 250X three-wheeler that he calls the “Raptor.”
The Biggest and Baddest machine was taken by Bill Stewart of Keizer, Oregon, who races for Mac Racing. He owns Shorty’s Parts Warehouse in Keizer (still in business today), where he tinkers with his alcohol-fueled ‘96 350 Banshee.
There was a tie for Best Detail between Doug Miller and Scott Atherton of Direct Drive.
Most Outrageous machine was “Brutus,” owned by Kevin Geary, of Boring, Oregon. Brutus is a Suzuki LT-500 with a GSXR 1100 motor. Kevin is the owner of Cascade Innovations (still in business): (503) 663-2887.
The main event at Sand Fest is American Sand Drag Association (ASDA) drag racing. Their crew is the best in the business. Testing and tune-ups for the drags were run on Friday. There were some disappointing runs, but the fastest times were also turned in that day. A rail fittingly named Blown Income got people excited when his motor caught on fire, but it wasn’t serious.
The fastest sand drag speed for a quad was Dennis Packard’s posting of 84.5 miles per hour. The fastest machine was a VW-powered dragster driven by Toby Krumvieda from Puyallup, Washington, who covered the football-field length of sand in about 3.35 seconds. That computes to a smoking 120 mph.
Saturday’s competition lasted several hours, with Professional and Sportsmen classes running in brackets. Bracket racing is where competitors race against someone who is running the same time, so it tends to have some exciting close races. The sand was dry and loose on the 100-yard-long track, but ASDA’s Scott Mason claimed the powdery sand doesn’t dramatically affect the lighter machines or quads. I wondered how they were able to hold on to those crotch rockets blasting off at those speeds.
For quads, there were two Pro classes and two Sportsman classes with 73 competitors. There were also four classes for kids. The racers put a lot of work and dollars into their machines. Louie Swan built a 700cc, triple-cylinder Banshee motor. Two machines had GSXR 1100 motors in LT-500 frames. Another machine had a KZ1000 powerplant bored out to 1200cc that was turbocharged and on nitrous oxide. The owner, Steve Miille, claims it has 340 horsepower with 22 pounds of turbo-boost pressure.
Roby Leach of the Albany, Oregon, Motor Sports Park ran the motocross race on Sunday. There were six Quad classes. About 50 quad riders of both sexes competed on the half-mile-long course that wound its way through the sandy hills at the base of the dunes.
About 300 entries participated in this Saturday and Sunday event. Five stops along a counterclockwise course insured that everyone visited the most scenic places on the dunes accessible by a machine of 200cc or larger. Stops offered inspiring views of a small waterfall, Clear Lake and the Pacific Ocean.
The Salem Sand Club ran the event and collected a treasure chest of very nice prizes to give away. Event supervisors Kris and David Hoover said that the club is dedicated to teaching that it is possible to have power and conform to noise restrictions at the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. David rides a Yamaha Warrior with a CBR600 motor and two TT600 pipes. They wish to thank everyone that made this an enjoyable event.
TRAIL & DUNE RIDING
We found we had the trails mostly to ourselves because most of the riders were attacking the dunes on their souped-up machines. We had a wonderful time riding on our own. When things were winding down, it was encouraging to watch people helping each other get from their dispersed sand-camping sites back onto the pavement. We expected to see a lot of unhappy people in stuck vehicles. Instead, Tom Thompson and Drew Williams were operating bulldozers and a large tractor, efficiently helping those who couldn’t get out on their own. Good job Tom and Drew!
TRANSITION TO 2001
The 2000 edition of Sand Fest was a much greater success than 1999’s version, which was literally watered down by rain. An estimated 30,000 people attended this year. There were excellent hosts running each event, and their organizational skills showed their experience. The weather was perfect. The promoter, Steve Woolery, sincerely thanks all who attended in 2000. You treated the land with respect and left it cleaner than you found it. He looks forward to your return.