Huntsville, Tennessee welcomes off-roaders to an epic event
When songwriters Bill Danoff, Taffy Nivert and singer John Denver wrote the words “Almost Heaven, West Virginia” in the hit song “Take Me Home Country Roads” they must have been looking south from West Virginia into Scott County, Tenn. Scott County is the home of the city of Huntsville and this is the home of one of the most heavenly places on earth for off-roaders, affectionately known as Brimstone Recreation. This off-road riding, family destination is placed right in the Cumberland Mountains and is the center of many large events for those who love to ride their ATV, Side-by-Side or dirt bikes off-road. This past weekend we had the opportunity to visit our friends there for the 2017 Brimstone White Knuckle Event and even though Mother Nature was trying to disturb our fun, it came together and the riding was great.
After checking into the big white tent in downtown Huntsville, we had our wristbands and finding a great parking spot was the next goal. The crowds of ATV and UTV enthusiasts were pouring in and getting set up for the weekend. Many new RV sites had been established near the center of the weekend’s events, which was a miracle in itself because major flooding just a few weeks before meant that the Brimstone crew was working double time trying to set up for the crowds. With some newly established trails literally falling off the side of the mountains and crevice opening up after the flooding, it was absolutely a race to make sure the place was as good as it could be in consideration of the circumstances. I think I even spotted a Porta-Potty in the tree line somewhere along the river.
Pulling into the parking area right across from the Yamaha Demo rides we had a secure and centrally located area to drop our trailer for the weekend. Yamaha was on hand, as it is most every year for Brimstone events, giving curious ATV and UTV owners a chance to try out its newest rigs. The most popular seemed to be the YXZ1000R SS SE with the Torque Assist Gearing kit, FOX XC shocks and 30-inch EFX Moto-Claw tires for the ultimate in tight trail rock crawling adventures. We had actually just ridden this very same set up in the hills of Bremen Ala. just a couple of weeks prior and it works very well.
After unloading our ride for the weekend it was time to find the action to start things off at the 2017 Brimstone White Knuckle Event. After locking the truck up it was time to fire up the Brimstone Recreation app. Once loaded on your phone it gives you the many trails in map format so we do not need to carry a large paper map. It even works when cell service is low or nonexistent. Also, an emergency feature will ring for help should you need it on the trails there. Finding your way around the mountains is now pretty simple.
The GBC Tires Dueling Drag race was scheduled for the first event at 7pm on Friday night and as the number of ATVs and UTVs began to fill the gate, it was clear that the competition was ready for battle. A trio of Yamaha Banshees started the event off and there were Utility as well as Sport quads in the bunch. The UTVs featured machines that looked like rock bouncers. When the dust settled and a few class reviews were made there were some very happy winners. I was surprised, however, that not one Yamaha YXZ1000R SS with launch control attempted the race. It seemed to me that this feature was made for this contest.
After the racing was complete it was time to get it on at the Campground Karaoke and sing the night away. Held at the Shed down in the Vanderpool event area, this seemed to draw a very good crowd. I would have to say that there were several singers in the crowd that could have been an opening act somewhere. I had to get back to the hotel early, but I hear that even HMF Exhaust’s owner Hans had blasted out his best rendition of the Bon Jovi hit “Wanted Dead or Alive.” I am very sorry I missed that one, but I needed some sleep!
As the morning sun crept over the mountains, the campground began to come to life for the 2017 Brimstone White Knuckle Event. Registration for the Yamaha “Wild Mountain Rampage” contest was underway and even more racing was scheduled to begin soon. This short break between events would give me a chance to slip up trail three to the top of the mountain overlooking the property. The views from this vantage point are incredible and with a slight wind blowing it helped keep the dust moving along nicely.
Back down at the Vanderpool event area the SuperATV obstacle course was heating up. Many had gathered for the race and with things like a technical teeter totter and some deep mud just under the starting line bridge it was enough to keep everyone on their toes. This seems to be one of the most popular of the races held here and when the first run of every contestant had finished the organizers decided to allow one more trip through to see if anyone could better their time.
The sun began to fade and crowds began filling in the area around the main stage as the night’s concerts were scheduled to start around 8pm. Michael Ray opened his set and the crowds had grown to massive proportions. That is when Mother Nature decided to send in some incredible lightning and thunder mixed with sideways rain, which stopped everything in its tracks. For the safety of the crowds the area around the stage was cleared and the wait was on. Socializing in the hospitality tent for a few hours, it didn’t seem that Lee Brice was going to get to play. Unbeknownst to many, the fiber optics, electronics and forms of electronic communication had been jeopardized due to the storms and it seemed all hope was lost. But then a break in the weather came and staff at Brimstone began doing their very best to contact as many folks as they could by going around to campers and knocking on doors. Even though it was late, Lee Brice did get to play that night. He could only do it in Acoustic form, though, as most of the equipment was still wet from the storms.
With all of the delays caused by the storm, the Yamaha Wild Mountain Rampage giveaway of the Yamaha Wolverine took place on Sunday morning around 10am. It was a crazy night, but the big prize winner Mark Herbord was glad he stuck around to see if his luck would find its way to the box full of contest paddles. Seemingly stunned, this guy was in love with his prize and vowed to bring the rest of his family back to ride the hills in Huntsville, Tennessee’s Brimstone Recreation.
We also had an incredible time here at the 2017 Brimstone White Knuckle Event and knowing just how hard the folks work, the expense of setting it all up and the joy they get from giving off-road enthusiasts a place to come and ride makes me love this place even more.