As they have every year since 2008, trail-trucking and crawling’s biggest fans once again trekked to the High Sierras in California for Axialfest. This year, Axial said goodbye to Cisco Grove and moved to Donner Ski Ranch in the Lake Tahoe National Forest, just a few miles down the road from the old spot. So what’s different? Thanks to the hard working Axialfest crew, only good things that will make this event better this year. Start with 26, yes 26 challenging trails scattered throughout the plush Tahoe forest to choose from or if rock racing is your jam, you could easily find racing on anyone of the three courses set up. With over 1,000 participants at Axialfest, there was plenty to see and do. Here’s a taste of what took place at this year’s epic event.
If you wanted to take a break from the tranquility of the trails and try your hand at the chaos of what is rock racing, Axialfest had your back. The first thing you had to do is make your way to tech inspection where the Axialfest crew inspected your rig to see if it was legal for competition. The race classes were separated into different vehicle types and age groups and the race program started off with qualifying heats that narrowed the groups down to the finalist who ran in the mains where winners were crowned.
A drone view of the rock race course which was line with spectators and racers waiting for their turn to run.
Before you hit the track, your rig had to pass through tech inspection to make sure everything was legal.
These rock racers are on the line and read to rock and roll.
The start of the heats were usually chaotic and talented drivers usually got away unscathed.
Lounging trackside was a popular spot to view the rock racing action.
Axial’s Brian Parker briefed the racers of the rules before each start of the race.
The going was rough on the rock race track, but no racer would have it any other way.
No turn marshals in rock racing. If your rig went rubber side up, you were pretty much out of the race.
The racers of the next heat watched the leader of the previous race take her home for the win.
The sky’s the limit when it comes to the creativity of an RC enthusiast and this showed best with the rigs that were entered in the crowd-favorite concourse event. Different categories grouped similar cars together that would later be up for judging. The categories were Daily Driver, Monster Truck, Trailer, 12 and under, 13 to 18, Best Theme, Adventurist, Bomber, Best in Show and SCX24.
The turnout for the concours event was big like always and there was a lot of creativeness on display for on lookers to take in.
This Axialfest participant came prepared for camping with their own trailer.
If it wasn’t for humans standing around, most cars had you doing a double take not knowing if you were looking at real or scale.
Sonic the Hedgehog was in the house making an appearance “Themed” category.
These rock racers were up at attention looking good and ready to be judged.
Axial’s Brian Nuñez was hard at work getting content for Axial’s social media pages.
Tekin owner Jim Campbell was one of the guest judges at the concours event. I do not envy his job, the judging was tough!
The judges live streamed and introduced on Axial’s social media pages before the concours event started.
Need a mover? Not a problem with this U-Haul on the premises ready to hire.
Out on the trail, you never know what you will encounter and it’s always a safe play to bring your dog along for protection.
Night Crawl Session
Probably the most anticipated event at Axialfest was the Night Crawl session. As the rigs made their way to vendors’ row to stage, a few cars soon turned into a huge mass of LED equipped rigs that’s turned the night into day. When things were ready to go, the group took a lap around the parking lot before they made their way to the trailhead to start the Night Crawl Session.
I almost had to squint my eyes when shooting this photo. All those LED lights were so bright.
When the Night Crawl Session had started, participants took a lap around the parking lot to display their rigs.
Drivers made their way through Vendors Row on their way to the trail.
The line was huge once everyone arrived on the trail. A lot of participants spent most of the night on the trail instead of sleeping.
A perfect line of cars filled up the trail as they made their way through the challenging gates.
Vendors’ row was the place to see new gear. Horizon Hobby, Pro-Line, Tekin and many more showed off their wares.
The Axialfest crew was taking a break enjoying some of the action.
There was a shuttle running all day and every day transporting truckers to the upper trails. It’s hard to breath at 7,000 feet elevation!
A starting gate readily welcomed you to each and everyone of the 26 trails at Axialfest.
While out on the trail, it was always cool to see how much detail truckers put into their rig.
Did I walk up the to the trails to take photos? Heck no, I took shuttle up so I wouldn’t be out of breath when I got to the top.
A small rock race course was set up at the base of the slope for kids to try their hand at rock racing.
Full sized crawler rigs were sprinkled around the property so people could take a closer look.
Pro-Line’s Paul Willhite had this awesome Zelda themed rig on display at the Pro-Line booth.
No need to go back to your campsite to charge your batteries. Axial set up a charging booth at the bottom of the hill to quickly top off your batteries.
Pit Bull tires was running a crawler tug of war at their both which drew lots of cheers.
Axialfest is a family affair and there were many of them participating at Axialfest.
Tiny is mighty when you’re on the trails and no matter how small you are, it’s the driving that matters.
This awesome multi-level bridge was a big hit with trail goers. It was exciting to get across it, but it was a long fall from glory at the same time if you had a misstep.
The beautiful Tahoe National Forest has been the backdrop for Axialfest for years.
Many fans of Axial make it a point to put Axialfest on their calendar every year and make the trek many miles to show off and drive their rigs in some of the most pristine trails anywhere. Though the venue changed this year, the environment and the vibe was as good as ever and this was evident with the good times being had by all the participants. The Axialfest crew did much of the work quietly behind the scenes, but it’s their hard work and dedication that speak loudly in making this great event successful all these years. Axialfest is one of those truly unique events where the whole family can go and have a great time. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend you add Axialfest to your calendar and experience it next year.