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Midwest Spring K5 Thing

Midwest Spring K5 Thing

Article/photo's courtesy of
Neil Pickett

Midwest Spring K5 Thing

The first running of the Midwest Spring K5 Thing was a success. Despite the colder temperatures, we had a great turnout for the Event. After many months of planning, the event was upon us. Many of the attendants donated their time to help create the greatest gathering of K5’s in the Midwest. In anticipation of the Midwest Spring K5 Thing, we all modified our Blazer’s/Jimmy’s until the twilight hours just to make the event. Jeff Holsted and Carl Fiocca had some last minute problems and worked frantically to make it. Their hard work paid off, in the form of a great time wheeling in the Mark Twain National Forest – Potosi District. Let the fun begin.

We started our weekend by meeting at the Potosi gas station located at the intersections of State Hwy’s 21 and 8. Meeting time was to be from 12:00 to 2:00 PM on Friday the 23rd of March, and everyone made it in the allotted time.

We started our weekend by meeting at the Potosi gas station located at the intersections of State Hwy’s 21 and 8. Meeting time was to be from 12:00 to 2:00 PM on Friday the 23rd of March, and everyone made it in the allotted time.

After checking some of the attendants into the Potosi Super 8 Motel, we headed south to the Hazel Creek Campgrounds. We all had our CBs tuned to Channel 4 and talked during the ride. Upon arrival, we greeted Keith Deal who drove from Georgia. After the greeting, we unloaded our camping gear, set up camp and had a driver meeting. We decided to do some ‘wheeling right away, so we headed for the Hazel Creek Loop trail. This would make a great beginner trail… or would it? We came to a good spot to test the diversely modified K5’s. To the right was a small crevasse, which would give some great flex. Up the middle was a technical hill with some limestone rocks, jetting out of the slope. Carl Fiocca tried the middle line and made it look easy. His custom grooved 35” tires grabbed rocks, sending him up the hill with ease. Steve Stoeckel flexed up his K5 on the right line. Further down the trail revealed a deep-water pit, which we can aptly name, Nicks Pit.




It had rained for several days prior to the event, making every water/mud hole a challenge. The group lined up and prepared for some serious fun. Bryan Walsh creeped through the deep part of the pit with his Flowmaster’s howling. Glenn Deuter in his stock Dodge Sport and Tyler Birkey with 82 K5 Diesel made it though the pit with ease. Tyler climbed up the other side with determination because he did not want the same luck as Nick Brandt After crossing the pit, Nick turned around and tried it again with some gusto.




About half way through the pit, the Diesel engine quit singing after a wave of water rushed over the hood. We all looked in disbelief. Nick hollered on the CB, “It’s Dead, can someone bring me the Winch Cable?” After all of us seriously laughing at that comment, we asked politely for Nick to come get the cable. It took some persuasion before Nick would give up his comfy driver’s seat. He grabbed the cable and waded across the 3-foot deep pit. Nick hooked up the cable and jumped in the driver’s seat, as Todd Hedrick winched him from the abyss. With the Diesel powered Blazer now freed, we had him once again try the starter. “Click-Click”. After removing the air cleaner and finding water in the intake, we knew the Diesel was Hydro Locked! We all gathered tools as the Sun started to set. Since the starter would not turn the motor, we decided to remove all the glow plugs, and then use a wrench to crank the motor over. Tyler, another Diesel owner, got Nick lined out and they went to work. Clint Turnage lent a hand and helped to make this a team effort. After getting the plugs out, Nick climbed into the slop under his Blazer and wrenched the motor over by hand. We all Oohed and Ahhed as Old Faithful released its spray of water!




After getting the motor to turn freely, Nick used the starter and cranked over the 6.2 with plugs removed. It was free at last. Nick and Tyler buttoned up the Diesel and we were on our way. With a sigh of relief and the sun setting fast, we turned around and headed back to camp. Back at camp, we prepared for a potluck dinner. Carl provided a big turkey, injected with garlic butter and marinated for a day or two. He cooked it in a deep fryer and we all ate well. Others provided Kabobs, Fried Potatoes, Roasted Veggies, and more. Over dinner, we chatted about the day’s events. While setting around the campfire, Ken & Katia Brown, Layne Oberto and Steve Frisbie showed up. They sure missed the sights, but could tell from the look of Nick’s clothes, we had some fun. Here ‘twas the night before the event, and we had a world of fun before it started.

Saturday, March 24th

After a very chilly night (20 degrees) we awoke at camp and had breakfast. Some of the attendants were smart, and reserved a room at the hotel for the weekend. Upon the arrival of these attendants, we kicked off the Midwest Spring K5 Thing by handing out Door prizes for the attendants and guests. With CB radios tuned to Channel 4, we headed out for the Hazel Creek Loop, which we had not finished the previous night. With CB Mic keyed, we listened to the sweet sound of Bluegrass music from the Georgia crowd – Keith Deal, Ryan Deal and Bren Strickland. On arrival of the pit, Nick steered away and watched. Steve S. crawled through the pit and climbed a vertical mud hill, almost putting his K5 on its side. Bryan went even deeper than the previous day and climbed the vertical mud wall with some major tire spin.




Continuing on the trail, we came to the power-cut with the tough obstacle named “The Wall”. There is an old saying, “Pictures are worth a thousand words” - in nine words most people say, “Pictures do not show the severity of this hill”. This obstacle has a go-around for those not ready for the climb and is not recommended for vehicles without the proper setup. We all previewed the climb to decide which line we would take. After talking with Steve Frisbie and determining the correct line, we all traversed the climb one-by-one. My Blazer went skyward on its first attempt and dislodged a large boulder, which was caught by the rear end housing. We struggled to get the boulder loose and finally sent me on my way. My leg was too tired from holding the clutch and brake so I opted to reverse down the hill and rest.




Ken Brown decided to go next and crawled up the same line. He also went skyward with more showmanship; with the left front tire around 3 feet in the air. He finished the climb up without problems thanks to granny low and 4:0.1 transfer case gearing.

Todd Hedrick lined up his Big K20 and headed up the tougher right line. After several attempts, we decided it was best he tried the left line. The left line proved to be too much for his right front axleshaft universal joint and it exploded with a loud pop, taking out the shaft yokes with it. The left-front tire decided to lock up because of the broken shaft yokes. After some boring around, Todd wrestled the K20 down to level ground. With the whirr of air tools that Todd carried and onboard air provided by Jeff Holsted, the pit stop was underway. We decided to “break” for lunch at that time. Todd, Layne, Steve F, and others worked on the truck, while trying to beat Layne’s 29-minute axle change record. They took around 30 minutes – just a little shy of the record. With the big K20 back together, we were ready for more.




During the lunch break, Ken decided he needed to “level up” the Blazer for a lunchtime table. He put the ’72 K5 into extreme low range and crawled down the “Wall”. We all watched in amazement as he creeped down. I was cussing under my breath as he came down without a problem. I have seen very few, go up “The Wall” and never seen anyone come back down it! Ken truly stole the show at that time. After lunch, I tried the same line and climbed it with the help of Steve’s spotting skills. Next, Keith Deal lined up for the challenge.. Keith found the correct line immediately and traversed the wall of rock effortlessly.

With the same characteristics as the previous K5's, Keith got major air which makes for a wild ride. Next on the list was Jeff Holsted. Clint lined up Jeff on the same line and made it look easy! Jeff’s K5 made it up the rock wall and headed to the top. Jeff was the first of the day to make it up successfully without the aid of a locker in the front end.




Layne Oberto made the final try. Layne lined up his K5 and headed up the same line as everyone else. Steve put him in a very tough spot – testing his very limits. The K5 went skyward with tires at least 4 feet in the air! This was way more air than all the previous rigs. We all halted Layne in mid stride and took photos. He calmly waved for the camera as the rest of us held our breath. He continued up without complications. After Layne traversed the tough line, we all gathered at the top of the hill to continue on our way. We named the group who traversed the hill - “The Mile High Club”.

We headed to a “small” mud pit named “The Toilet”. Todd decided to be the first in line for this challenge. Todd pulled in, and we all freaked when his front end sunk out of site. He bored around and finally took the strap.




We continued on the trail to "Radiator Hill", another hill climb areas with washed out crevasses for testing your suspension flex. We took a group photo on the hill, then several tried the climb. Tyler walked up with ease, but dented his quarter panel from the rocker skid bending on impact. Ken also gave it a try and made it look easy. Keith found a great spot on "Radiator Hill" to show off the flex of his rig. We all watched in amazement when Todd flexed up his K20. Keith and I played cat and mouse through the crevasse. Layne and Jeff joined the fun, displaying some major flex and great driving skills.





After leaving this area, we traveled to a trail with the obstacle named “The Great Divide”. This area has a very deep washout ditch, down the middle of the trail. People were urged to weave in and out of the ditch, while Keith, Layne, and Todd took it one step further. They traveled the whole length of the ditch, a feat that has never been done in a full-size to my knowledge. Glenn, Tyler and Nick really had fun on this trail and tested their limits because of the toughness of the trail. Carl and Bryan crawled through the upper portion of the ditch. We ended our day at “Axlebreaker”. This is another rock ledge on a smaller scale. We all tried at least one line of the hill climb and made it up with no problems. We all decided to head back to Potosi Super 8 Motel, and skip camping because of the forecast for an extremely cold evening. We had dinner and watched video of the day’s events.

Sunday, March 25th

On day three of the event, Steve Stoeckel and Ken Brown could not attend Sunday, because of busy schedule; but we gained “Shaggy” in his Suburban. We headed to a private section of the Mark Twain National Forest. A local, who owns this land, allows people to ‘wheel if they are responsible and keep the place clean. This area has hill climbs, rock ledges, mud pits and more. This area allowed us to have a free-for-all approach on the challenges. Most people watched and helped spot as we tried tough stuff. Bryan and Todd immediately found a deep mud pit to play in.




Jeff, Layne, Keith, Todd and I tried a rock ledge in front of a bunch of Toyota owners and proved to them that K5’s could “rock”. Layne must have liked having his front wheels skyward because he constantly teetered on one wheel, just trying to roll that K5 all weekend. With a great spotter like Steve Frisbie, we all went more places than we knew we could.

Bryan, Carl, Glenn, Nick and Tyler took turns through the goo. Nick went through the pit in forward, reverse, 2 wheel HI, 4 wheel LO, and every other combination he could find. Keith, Jeff, Todd and I tried ever crevasse we could find. Shaggy managed to get the “Burban” through some deep mud pits and up some tough hill climbs. Bryan, Carl, Glenn and Tyler were constantly climbing the hills around the area. We all eventually slowed down for lunch and the awards ceremony.





And the Winners are!


Farthest Distance Traveled – Keith Deal, from Georgia. Keith and his brother Ryan, plus their buddy Bren Strickland drive 14 hours from Georgia to Potosi, MO. That signifies that Keith will go anywhere to wheel. For the award Keith received a Plaque and Delorme TopoUSA 3.0 software. Sheri Beaulieu from Delorme donated this prize

Best of the Rest
– Keith Deal won this award, hands down. We all voted for the winner of this prestigious award. It came without a prize, but did have a Plaque. We figured the winner of this award has everything, why give them more? Keith earned this award from his great attitude, driving style, and most of all - his rig.


Trail Damage Award – Todd Hedrick provided the carnage of the weekend in the form of a broken front axle. Todd received a Plaque and a Gift Certificate for $50 towards a Pull Pal, or $100 towards a Premier Power Welder. Jan Gremillion from Pull Pal generously donated this prize.


Muddy of the Rest – Nick Brandt had the most goo, but he also proved himself in the water pit. He hydro-locked his 6.2 Diesel in the water, and then climbed under it to fix the problem. What a trooper! We all agreed he deserved this award. Nick received a set of Greasable Shackles from Offroad Design. Stephen Watson from Offroad Design donated this prize.

Superlift $250 Gift Certificate
– Ken Brown won this gift certificate in the drawing. He said he would put this to good use on his K5.

We were all winners this weekend. We had so many prizes to give away; it was tough to keep track of them. Bigfoot 4x4 donated T-Shirts for door prizes. Superlift Suspension Systems donated T-shirts, Hats, Banners, Koozie Cups. Keith Deal donated First Aid Kits. Jeff Holsted donated his wonderful talent and created a stunning logo, which we used for signs and decals. Cutting Edge Graphics created the high quality decals for our event, even with short notice. Bryan Walsh’s cousin donated his talent by creating some windshield decals. Carl Fiocca donated gloves, which were used by everyone at one point. Neil donated the Plaques, Hotwheels for the kids and hosted this event. April Alliston agreed to bring her Jeep along and help me with photos. She deserves some thanks for taking pictures, and taking all the slack that should have gone to Glenn Deuter for driving his Dodge! I would like to thank for bringing us together via the forums so this event could be possible.

We would like to thank all the sponsors as well as the attendants and passengers for making this event possible. We all had a great time and look forward to having this event again in the future.
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