The 3 rd Annual Hummer Homecoming

All the drivers seemed to enjoy taking the trucks through every conceivable line on the course, over concrete incline and side-slopes, articulation pits, small rock gardens, and water fording pits.

Jul. 01, 2006 By Manny MacMillan

Chris and I had talked a lot before deciding to drive out to South Bend, Indiana for the 3 rd annual Hummer Homecoming event. We both agreed that we should spend the entire weekend with our respective families before taking off for the rest of the week. We opted to book a hotel for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights… and to drive straight through the night on Monday to get there in time for Tuesday’s activities. At 10:00 am on Monday morning, I turned the key and waited for the familiar clicking of the glow plug controller in my truck to cycle before firing up the engine. Fully packed with an extra set of wheels and tires in addition to hundreds of pounds of spare parts, tools, clothes and electronic gear, my truck faithfully scaled my driveway and rolled out onto the pavement. I picked up my friend Chris 20 minutes later, and we both settled in for the 1,000 mile drive.

On the way out, we only got caught in one downpour without the top and doors on the truck. Visibility got a little tough (no windshield wipers on the inside of the windshield!), but the weather passed and we pressed on. Several tanks of fuel and a few burgers later, we were rolling up to the Fairgrounds, where a lone Hummer from Ontario was parked outside the gate. We introduced ourselves, and checked the time; it was 6:00 AM Tuesday morning.

After checking in and taking care of our registration we headed straight for the AM General obstacle course for our first activity. This woke us both up for a while, despite our lack of sleep.

Chris piloted the truck through the obstacle course while I took some pictures and talked with the staff at the facility. All the drivers seemed to enjoy taking the trucks through every conceivable line on the course, over concrete incline and side-slopes, articulation pits, small rock gardens, and water fording pits.

After the obstacle course, we made our way to the bus for the AM General factory tours. Since production of the civilian H1 had ended earlier in the month, it had now become strictly a HMMWV line – but it was a fascinating tour. The amount of work that is done by hand is remarkable. All the rivets are individually drilled and fastened by hand, one at a time. Our guide was knowledgeable and enthusiastic, and the workers on the job were friendly and happily answered questions and held up parts for all of us as we wandered through their busy work day.

The H2 plant tour on the other hand was a little disappointing, primarily because nothing was happening. It consisted mostly of young interns reading scripts about what things would have looked like if the machines were moving, while workers sat next to the stationary machines… at this point, fatigue really started to set in. We were both fading fast on the bus ride back.

By the time we completed the tours, we had just enough time to go find our hotel and check in, grab showers and a change of clothes before the motorcade and dinner. We got back in plenty of time to lounge around and wait for the trucks to roll into the Fairgrounds – we decided to be spectators instead of participants, since we had already spent enough time in the truck during the preceding 30 hours.

We stumbled through dinner and headed for the hotel for a long anticipated good night sleep. On Wednesday morning we woke up refreshed and arrived at the Fairgrounds –at almost noon. Wednesday we got to put faces to some of the names I had seen on Hummer forums, explore the vendor area and later in the afternoon we did the level 3 “H1 only” woods course, which turned out to be a very muddy and wet voyage through the woods. Stock trucks with street tires got hung up in a few places and we had a fairly large group, so it was slow going, but the trail was a lot of fun. Fortunately, the lift on my truck was just barely tall enough to keep the bottom of the door sills out of the water most of the time, so we stayed relatively dry inside the truck.

I was fortunate enough to get to meet Rod Hall, and AM General offered some pretty amazing pricing on some of the items they were clearing out – in fact, I am expecting a Roadway truck to drop off three skids worth of parts in early July! Chris and I collected information from many vendors, along with some T-shirts and hats. Wednesday night we weren’t in as much of a rush to get to bed, so we had a few beers and helped a few other owners troubleshoot their trucks in the parking lot.

On Thursday, Chris attended the HOPE Driver Endorsement class while I wandered the grounds and chatted with other attendees. Later in the afternoon, we took the H2 and H3 for test drives on the makeshift course that was built at the Fairgrounds. We rode as passengers in the backseat while Aubrey, an H2 owner we met at the event, took the H1 Alpha through its paces on the course. There were a lot of participants for the previous days of the event, but on Thursday many more showed up – mostly from dealerships. This made the already bustling vendor areas even busier, which only seemed to make everyone even more energetic and enthusiastic.

AM General headman Jim Armour spoke to the club at dinner, and then things moved outside for a tribute to our armed forces, and then a concert by Lee Greenwood. We stayed for a while before heading over to the adjacent campground to share a few drinks with some of the people who really make these events worthwhile – the other owners who participate and share their enthusiasm for the vehicles by trading stories about modifications, trail rides and anything else related to driving or working on the trucks. I got a chance to crawl under a few trucks and hear from some owners who had done some interesting modifications to their trucks. Oh, and Crispy dropped his lighter and it exploded. I mean, it REALLY exploded… I thought someone threw a cherry bomb at his feet.

On Friday morning, we packed the truck and headed out, determined to make the drive home straight through again. It was tough – at about 1:00 AM my mind started playing some tricks on me. Either that, or the trees and shadows along the side of the road were actually turning into creatures and creeping towards the road. Either way, we made it home safely – at 6:00AM on Saturday morning.

All in all, the event was well worth the trip. We got to hang out with some familiar folks from previous events, and meet some great new people. If we are lucky, maybe AM General will host another Homecoming event in the future, despite the fact that the H1 is no longer in production. Time will tell… Newsletter
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