At UTVUnderground.com we probably cover more UTV related events, races and vehicle builds than anyone else in the sport. Rarely do I not have a great time at these events. The people we interact with, the sport in general, the locations… I mean, its what we do! But there are always those certain events that stand out every year, events that I insist people who ask must attend. Dunefest, like Moab Rally On The Rocks or Camp RZR, is one of these events.
We traveled to Winchester Bay, OR for our first time in 2013 for the annual Dunefest and had one of the best riding experiences ever. The location, people, food, and the event in general hooked us. Now Dunefest is one of the first events that goes on the calendar when we are planning out our year and it will remain that way for as long as I can imagine.
This years event was going to be a special one for us for many reasons. First was because in year 2 I knew what to expect so I was extra excited. Second, I was getting to bring our whole crew up to not only shoot a cool video (thanks again to Polaris) but we were doing it in conjunction with our friend Guy Fieri.
Last year I was fortunate enough to be introduced to the Food Network star, Celebrity Chef and Restauranteur who like us shares a huge passion for off-roading and for UTVs! Particularly RZRs. During my first visit to Santa Rosa, CA to spend time with Guy and his Knuckle Sandwich Krew I was introduced to Dan Barry at Cartronics, his right hand man Paul “Dirty P” Thompson and a host of other personalities that hang around with the man they call Guido. We talked RZRs and riding and before I knew it we were talking about building Guy and his buddies new RZRs. Fast forward a year and I have been lucky enough to have built a great friendship with Guy and many of his friends and have had opportunities to spend even more time with them all. What makes all this great is Polaris has stepped in to support the ideas we formed over the course of a few months and now we are driving the cars we dreamed up while eating and having drinks back in Santa Rosa. We all decided that Dunefest would be the time for us to unveil the new builds that Guy, Dirty P, and Dan Barry had built for themselves, but it was also going to be time for Guy to unleash a special gift on 11 of his other closest friends.
A few months back Guy came up with an idea to give his closest friends a gift that would allow them all to spend more time together, not just with Guy and his family, but with their own families. See, when you get to know Guy you get to know a person who understands that the best things in life can’t be bought. Its the people you surround yourself with that really matter in life and being that Guy has a pretty small core group he thought it would be special to give them each their own RZR to show them that he appreciates them as friends and family. So Guy hooked up with Craig Scanlon at Polaris and together the 2 of them formed a plan to award each member of this core group with their own 2 or 4 seat RZR XP1000. What then happened is Guy & Craig helped up-the-ante by allowing each person to then select a color scheme for which Chad Riccio at CR Designs would then design a paint and graphics package to go onto their RZRs. Craig then had his factory race team at Jagged X come up with a cage design and install custom seats from PRP and lights from Rigid Industries. Fast forward to Dunefest, this would be the first time any of them would see their new RZRs in all their glory! I won’t spoil any more details because we have a really cool video coming that will explain all of this visually and through the eyes of Guy himself. But I’ll just end it by saying that being able to be a part of this moment was something I won’t soon forget. Their were a lot of laughs and even some tears shed this weekend, but it was all in positivity, love and friendship. It was one of the coolest moments I have seen in our sport, and so I commend Guy, Polaris and all of those sponsors who contributed to this occasion!
Once the surprise ceremony was out of the way it was time to ride. I was coming off the Polaris Dealer Show just prior to arriving in Oregon, then we had to wait a day to surprise the Krew with their machines, so by Wednesday I was chomping at the bit to getting out into the dunes to ride! Not to mention their were 11 new RZR owners as well as a few more including Guy, Dirty P and Dan that were ready to break in their new machines! It didn’t take long before we were ripping through the dunes, laughing our heads off and being taught some of the first lessons of riding in the sand, such as not going strait over razor backs! After some photos and video we were back off riding and heading to camp for another amazing meal, a campfire, and a couple of drinks.. just a couple.. lol
This is pretty much how the whole week went. Get up and eat, ride, eat, ride to an event, then eat and drink some more.. Its a pattern I want to retire on to be honest. The weather in Dunefest was awesome. It was cool and calm the entire time. The Half Moon Bay Campground that our entire posse was posted up in was perfect for blocking any wind that may come in. It was close to the action, and was also close to the beach should you want to take an early morning hike to shake off your hangover from the night before. The party never stops during Dunefest week. Music, fun and riding takes place 24/7. One person I know said it reminded them of Glamis in the early 90s. When most anything was allowed. No helmets, riding double, etc.. only difference here is you can’t have any booze in the dunes. This is probably why they can still have the rules they have?? Its a discussion for another day but just think if Glamis had reacted the same way?
Whats great about Dunefest is the diversity it attracts. Unlike Rally On The Rocks or Camp RZR, this event is open to any and all off-roaders. Come one come all, and they do! Trucks, buggies, bikes, SXS’s, and a few other things words can’t describe descend upon Winchester Bay for this week every year. Like the attendees the event is also diverse. From vendor row where you can buy anything your little off-road heart desires to the evening drive in movie night, to the show & shine competition back over to the head-to-head bracket style sand drag racing where competitors “run what they brung” all weekend long! It really is an event that is perfect for families and people young and old. When it comes to the riding, you can’t really find anything bad to say. The stunt driver in me compares Winchester Bay to a skate park full of jumps, lips and obstacles perfect for the aggressive riding style that I enjoy. Want to take it easy? Well then there are a ton of tree line trails to explore and tall coastline grass trails to navigate through. Its one of the most beautiful places you can ride, and I mean that with all sincerity.
A few key highlights for me were watching Guy and Dirty P get selected as finalists in the Show & Shine competition. Guy’s brand new Cartronics / UTVUnderground / SDR Motorsports Polaris RZR Xp1000 would take the big trophy but Dirty would come back at night and claim the night time Show & Shine competition sending them both home with trophies for their bad ass rides! Both cars share the same look and sponsors for the most part. They have their own color schemes and flavor but are very similar in overall design. Same goes for Dan at Cartonics and my personal King Ranch RZR I build this year.
Of course the food was a highlight. FIRST OF ALL, we drank a lot, a lot more than I normally can handle, but we ate enough food to soak it all up so we balanced it all out! lol Guy wasn’t the only one cooking up the awesome meals, the entire Knuckle Sandwich Kulinary Krew was pitching in to help out with their own recipes and cooking styles. I would be lying if I said anyone thing was my favorite because I truly loved them all!
In between play time we filmed a couple BREAKDOWN videos on Guy, Dirty and Dan’s new RZRs. That was a big highlight because I got to actually be on camera with Guy and see the master at work. Sure his cooking is what got him recognized but its his personality and talents on camera that made him a star. I don’t foresee me becoming a star, but since I have to be on camera as much as I do I felt it an honor to gain advice and share the experience from a person who came from humble beginnings to becoming one of the most recognized personalities in the world today.
Despite all the cool stuff mentioned for sure the biggest and coolest moment for me all weekend was meeting and becoming friends with so many more new people. I had met many of the Knuckle Sandwich Krew last year at Guy’s house and at his birthday bash earlier this year, but actually getting to ride with and spend time with these people was honestly what doing this stuff for me is all about. Nothing tops having my own family with me on these trips, but when I get to meet, spend time with and bond with other good people who make you feel like family, its a pretty good consolation. Throw in having the UTVUG / Mad Media crew with us and seeing all my industry friends, simply put, it makes spending 9 days on the road all worth it. Fingers crossed, we will do it all over again at Camp RZR Glamis!!
To end, I want to say thank you to everyone at Polaris for allowing us to bring out the cameras to cover the event and this amazing story. Without funding from sponsors like Polaris there is no way we could afford to bring the size team we do to come back with the level of images and video we are able to produce, so thank you all! I also want to thank Jesse Meyer, his wife and staff at Dunefest. This team works tirelessly to produce one of the biggest and most well organized events in all of our sport. Words can’t describe the job they do, all I can say is if you miss Dunefest you are missing out! Huge props and thanks goes out to my team, my brother Matt Martelli, he grinds as hard as anyone to help make our site the best it can be and his guys at Mad Media are strait up the best in our sport when it comes to producing content. UTVUnderground.com was built on hard work, being original and pushing the sport to new levels. Without Mad Media it would be near impossible to fulfill these goals at the level we are doing it at. Thank you guys for your long days and commitment! Lastly, I want to say thank you to Guy & Lori Fieri, Dirty P & Lisa, Dan @ Cartronics, Shannon and Cindy Lewis, Mike & Dawn Burwell, Cowboy, PAwesome, Boy Band, Osterman, and every other person who welcomed our team and I in this week. You showed us amazing hospitality and more than gaining another awesome riding experience and memory, I came away with more family and friends!!
Until next time…
P.S. the video is coming…..
Photos by: Vincent Knakal // UTVUnderground.com – Mad Media