Quite shortly after I bought my Samurai in 2009 I joined the club4x4.ro forum, an online meeting place for Romanian off-road enthusiasts.
One day I noticed this thread about Suzuki Fest that was going to happen in a few days in Albota, just two hours away from Brasov, but my Samurai’s electrical system was somehow dead, so I sort of banished the idea.
A phone call and an opportunity
But then one day before the event I saw a post from this guy, SamuRadu, saying he’s leaving from Brasov to Albota in the morning. One phone call later I was just offered a free ride to Suzuki Fest and the opportunity to be a copilot in the Suzuki Fest off-road challenge. Wow!
First day at the Festival
On Friday I packed my stuff quickly, I grabbed my photo gear and I met Radu early in the morning. Two hours later, after a friendship building sunny ride to Albota, we got to the Samurai heaven right in time to sign in as team number 41.
The first thing that got me impressed was the extremely heterogeneous group of people that were participating in this event, and how their personalities were showing on the super cool toys that I got to admire. Like the girl’s toy machine, with a colourful magenta bikini soft top, and a white bear guarding the dashboard 😉
Radu’s Samantha made no exception. He invested a lot of work in a reconditioning project, he got a decent set of MT tires, a winch on the bullbar and some pretty cool painted body accents. This is the Samurai that with Radu’s friendly permission I got to drive for quite a while during the event.
The first part of the day we enjoyed a meet and greet and we proceeded into his light but nice off-road trip around Albota.
We got to experience some sightseeing and some uphill rides and of course some photo shootings and from time to time some quick adjustments to the toys.
When getting to the nearby villages you bet the pack of offroad animals were quick attention grabbers, especially with all the small incidents 🙂
On our way to the trial competition place we got to this huge puddle of mudd, where the most courageous tried their tires and their winches 🙂
Gandalf was the first to cross without being winched out of the mud. But the surprise was seeing the pud crossed in a speedy ride by the orange samurai that had almost no modifications apart from the extreme tractor style tires. You can see the satisfaction on the drivers face 🙂
We finally got to the first part of the trial competition where the guys showed off their climbing skills in a woods environment and where I was so hooked to the spectacle that I almost forgot to shoot any pictures.
Amazing July weather, with the sun shining through the trees and the engine revving happily in the background. Hmm, ok, maybe the engines revving don’t make such a great impression to some of you 🙂
I won’t talk much about the party first because some things are better left untold, and second because I simply don’t remember many exact details. But I remember making friends with Anca and Ionut and Tupanu and showing off dancing moves and sharing some palinca brought by Farfarello from Cluj. Pretty pretty pretty good palinca. I also remember getting to sleep in the tent sometime close to midnight, or was it morning?
The second day and the racetrack competition
The second day it was time for the most awaited racetrack competition and as the lots were drawn team no 41 was the first to show off in the competition. That was Radu and myself, and I think we were lucky enough to be the first as there was nothing to compare our time to and once we finished the track we received applause and I got to experience what being an offroad copilot really means. And no, you dont just sit and enjoy the ride 🙂
The girls team was pretty neat riding the tracks and I must say, brain beats muscles even in this almost exclusive sort of events.
Another great thing about riding first in the competition was that I got to enjoy the rest of the day studying the rest of the event and trust me, these people knew their toys and handled their skills.
And of course I got to shoot some of the coolest people at the competition.
I can’t remember who the winners were, but I think it doesn’t really matter, nobody was really there for winning after all, but myself, I really did get to win some friends and some incredible experience.
And now I’ll just leave the pictures tell the rest of the story.