2009 Rhino Rally at the Dune Tour
Sand, sun and side-by-sides
Story by Corry Weller, Photography by Corry Weller, Mar. 25, 2009
‘Glamis’ and ‘Spring Break’. Those words on their own don’t have much significance, but when you put them in the same sentence as ‘Rhino Rally’ and ‘Dune Tour’, you’ve got yourself one heck of an amazing side-by-side specific event, and a plethora of good memories!
For the second time in two years, Yamaha loaded up its semi trucks full of demo Rhinos and quads and brought out huge tents, tons of food, and great raffle prizes - all for the sake of saying “thank you” to its loyal Rhino customers. This year would be a little bit different, however, with the addition of PGI Media’s 2nd annual Dune Tour stop in Glamis, making this the ‘must be at’ event of the season!
While things didn’t officially get rolling until Friday, excited duners were pulling into Glamis as early as Wednesday afternoon in order to find the perfect camping spot for their families, and to get a head start on some serious riding. By the time we arrived Friday morning, the area known as Vendor Flats – near the main compound - was already filling up.
Not only did we see a ton of Yamaha Rhinos as we cruised around looking for our camping spot for the weekend, but we also saw many other brands represented as well, including Polaris, Kawasaki and Arctic Cat, as UTVs of all makes and models were seen all around the Rally/Dune Tour compound.
The first event scheduled for the weekend was also one that was scheduled throughout the entire event – the Glamis Cleanup, sponsored by Kawasaki. We can only enjoy our dunes for as long as they remain open, and it’s important for all duners to respect the environment in which we play. What better way to show our support of these precious dunes than to make sure we teach newbies as well as our children the importance of cleaning up after ourselves and others before heading home. Sand Addiction Magazine offered up three-issue, complimentary subscriptions to every family that collected and turned in 2 or more full bags of trash. By the end of the weekend, duners had collected over five trailer-loads of trash, scored some free magazines, and left the dunes in much better shape than they had found them.
Once people had settled into their camping areas for the weekend, the Friday night activities began in earnest with a bonfire, and the premier of UTV Mayhem II – the second in a growing series of UTV specific, action films. Shown on a huge, inflatable screen, the event was held ‘drive-in’ style, with tons of UTVs, sand cars and quads in attendance. After the premier, things got even more exciting as the first of many raffles was held where lucky ticket holders could win anything from Yamaha counter stools to some really cool neon clocks. With over $20,000 in prizes to be given away over the weekend, it was no wonder that the five-gallon raffle bucket was over half full of purchased tickets.
Saturday morning started off with registration for the Scavenger Hunt and Show and Shine beginning at 8am. Other attractions included a Kids Zone sponsored by Arctic Cat that boasted an inflatable jumper, and an area that was full of fun crafts and activities for the little ones.
Also running throughout the weekend were demo rides on Yamaha’s Rhino 700FI, Grizzly 700 FI EPS, Grizzly 550 FI EPS, the plucky little Raptor 250 and the new 2009 YFZ450R. Anyone taking one of Yamaha’s fine machines out for a ride would also receive a free raffle ticket for later.
The Scavenger Hunt was a great way for participating sponsors to show their stuff, as each stop was hosted by a different sponsor. As participants reached each stop to get their ticket punched, they were encouraged to look around at all the great products that each company had on display. With products from companies such as Simpson, ProArmor and Orange County Sand cars, there was plenty to look at before heading on. Once each person’s punch card was filled, it was returned to the registration area and exchanged for a raffle ticket. A favorite event at the last Rhino Rally, it was even more popular this year with over 600 registered entrants.
Lunch was served and available to all registered entrants, and the huge Yamaha tents soon became full as hungry duners gathered in the shade and escaped the fairly warm noon-day sun. Also during lunch, the ever-popular Show and Shine was held, sponsored by Polaris, which gave proud UTV, quad and sand car owners a chance to show off their unique and impressive toys. With 50 entries registered in the show and shine, there were plenty of great vehicles to look at.
Shortly after lunch, chaos broke out in the Dune Tour compound as the start of the Easter Egg Hunt began. With the grand prize for the most eggs collected being a Yamaha Kids Power Quad, there were over 100 entrants streaming into the egg-hunt area. With kids running all over, and parents yelling directions to their kids, it was a mass flurry of little legs, Easter baskets and colored eggs! In the end, after the dust had settled, a winner emerged victorious, and one happy child went home with a new toy.
More raffles were held throughout the day, and all the while the dunes became populated once more by Rhinos and UTVs of all kinds taking advantage of the great weather and good friends all around. By evening, everyone had eaten and was ready for the main event of the evening - the Karaoke Party. Yamaha had spiced things up a bit by offering up a Yamaha Generator as the grand prize to the winning Karaoke contestant. With almost 20 entries, the evening was full of some really great singers, some really entertaining singers, and some really brave ones as well. But it was one lucky, country singing contestant who won the hearts of the judges and happily took home his new Yamaha generator.
Throughout the night, campfires could be seen all around as laughter and talking floated through the night air and into the wee morning hours. For many, this would be the last trip of the season, and no one wanted it to end too soon.
Sunday morning brought the brilliant desert sun as well as the wind, and it was through blowing sand and gusting winds that all goodbyes were said, toys were packed up in their trailers, and the dunes were once more blown into a clean swept, perfectly rippled sandscape.
Truly a success, the 2009 Yamaha Rhino Rally at the Dune Tour elicited a great response from many supporting vendors and sponsors, as everyone had good things to say about this year’s event.
“The Rhino Rally at the Dune Tour stop in Glamis was a great event, had a tremendous turnout, and really showed what a great weekend out in the dunes is all about – friends and family getting together, having fun and riding.” says Yamaha’s public relations manager Van Holmes. “For Yamaha, this event is an opportunity for us to show our appreciation for our Rhino customers by organizing fun activities, donating raffle prizes, and spending a weekend out in the dunes hanging out with everyone.”
When asked if there will be another Rhino Rally next year, Van stated “We don’t have any plans confirmed yet, but I can promise you we’re all looking forward to the next Rhino Rally in Glamis and possibly even expanding into other parts of the country.”
For more information on the Dune Tour, its participating sponsors, and the rest of its stops, visit www.thedunetour.com.