Originally published for the Texas Rovers' Lone Star Rover Tribune - July 2016
At that moment, the deal was sealed. Owning a Land Rover had been on the future radar already, but now it was etched in my brain as “necessary”.
It all started with the goal of being more active in my photography. I had contacted a friend and previous co-worker, Laura Shacklette, to see if she needed any assistance with photography for the upcoming 2016 South Central Area Rover Rally (SCARR). I lucked out, and she needed someone to help cover the event. She then put me in touch with the other key players, and all I had to do was show up and shoot.
Little did I know the extent of planning which goes into SCARR. You see, I’ve been to more than my share of automotive driving events over the years. Admittedly, most of which have been of the paved road variety, being road rallies, weekend club drives on twisty roads, etc. I’d say I’ve attended over a hundred said events in the past decade or so. Only two events have ever stood out as being truly outstanding. Now there are three. SCARR is easily in contention with being one of the best, and most meticulously organized, driving events out there.
SCARR attendees began showing up at Barnwell Mountain Recreation Area (BMRA) for check-in on Wednesday afternoon. Over the next few days, through Sunday morning, the drivers, friends, family, and even a whole lot of kids, were bombarded with activity and social interaction. There was a happy hour sponsored by Land Rover of Austin, Dallas, and Frisco. The Eddie Deen catered dinners were delicious, the food truck had me salivating, and there was even a ping pong table to burn off a few extra calories or to keep the kids entertained after dessert. Those “roughing it” were free to camp throughout the off-road park, yet there were nice bathroom/shower facilities, full RV hookups, bunkhouses, and even a few cabins to be rented.
Activities abound at SCARR. The Blindfold Challenge, sponsored by Lucky8, was quite entertaining. On an course of orange cones, the blindfolded driver was instructed around the course by his/her family or friends…the ultimate in back-seat driving! For the older kids, Oliver’s Automotive sponsored the RC Challenge, a remote-controlled truck racing competition, complete with prizes. Also sponsored by Oliver’s Automotive, the younger kids got goodie bags and had a movie and ice cream night, made possible by a quiet generator and video projector. Each night there were various gatherings around campfires, impromptu live music, and just good ol’ campsite fun. A lively (and long!) raffle on Saturday night helped cover what is assuredly not a cheap event to plan and implement. Tons of prizes were awarded, and winning an ARB portable refrigerator or Yeti cooler in a raffle made for a great night!
The trail runs were nothing short of phenomenal. There were morning and afternoon runs which were broken down by driver experience and trail difficulty. Each relatively small trail group had a leader and tail-gunner, who were in communication with each other and anyone else in the group with a CB radio. The leaders were quite adept at jumping from their trucks and spotting others over and around obstacles as well. Rovers North also sponsored the first women-only trail run this year, the Barbara Toy Tribute Trail Run. The run was complete with vehicle recovery instruction…which may or may not have been planned!
There is literally something for everyone at SCARR. Boredom is never a concern, and many new life-long friendships are forged. The organization and dedication of Laura, all the generous sponsors, and the volunteers truly makes this an event worth buying a Land Rover just to attend.
I bounced around on the trails throughout my two days in attendance, riding with different groups in different vehicles, taking photographs of the rigs, people, and events. On one such trail run, I rode along with Mark Shepherd and his kids in his lifted LR3, complete with the HD package. This particular model and trim had already been in the back of my mind as a likely replacement for my current 4×4. After a couple of hours experiencing how capable this newer generation of Land Rover can be, I was absolutely sold.
The day will come where I’ll register as a SCARR attendee, bring along my wife and kiddo, and finally witness those center and rear differential lock icons switch off and on from behind the wheel. Maybe I’ll even take a photo or two.