Off-Road

Land Rover owners make tracks for annual Mid-Atlantic Rally.

After days of soaking rain, it was a mud bath Sept. 29-Oct. 2 at the 700-acre Wheatland Farm in Giles County during the Rovers Owners’ Association of Virginia’s (ROAV) annual Mid-Atlantic Rally (MAR). But that was a good thing.

More than 250 attendees driving 125 Rovers new and old—from the iconic marque’s newest and hottest model, the Range Rover Evoque, to a classic 1960 Series 1 Land Rover—converged on the rain-soaked campsite for four days of technical driving and fellowship with like-minded fans of the brand.

“It’s a simple pleasure, driving a truck through mud and fields,” says club president Bob Steele, principal at BOB Architecture in Richmond and owner of more than 30 Rovers over his 20-plus years in the club. “Life is too short, you’ve got to enjoy yourself.”

The oldest Land Rover club in North America, ROAV was founded in 1975. The club’s two annual rallies—the fall event at Wheatland and a similar gathering in the spring at Wintergreen—draw Rover enthusiasts from all over the U.S., Canada and the U.K. “In Land Rover circles everyone knows about ROAV,” says Steele. “We’ve been doing this for so long, we have a really wonderful and diverse group of people from CEOs and politicians to families with kids and dogs.” 

Breakfast Omelettes

One of the club’s longtime members, Sam Moore whose family has owned Wheatland for more than 100 years, has provided the venue for MAR for the last 10 years. In exchange, the club organizes a half dozen work weekends each year to maintain the property, including keeping the fire and service roads clear. “We do our best to be good stewards of the environment,” says Steele.

David Short, a firefighter in Sterling and the club’s treasurer, says, “The neat thing with this event is that it’s not just the old trucks that show up, it’s the new ones too, so it ties together all of the different models into the heritage of the brand.”

Driving activities include a recovery session put on by Lucky 8, a Rover parts vendor from New York, that teaches skills for when a vehicle rolls or turns over or has an emergency, and Road Taxed Vehicle Trials (RTV)—a competition popular in the U.K. in which drivers negotiate their vehicles through courses. Steele says the rally holds equal appeal for road warriors (not looking to mud it up) and those seeking more aggressive driving on the mountain. 

Ralf Sarek (Richmond, VA) of Sarek’s Autowerkes explains his shop’s work in progress to Mike McCaig (Arvonia, VA) and Bob Steele (Richmond, VA). The truck shell is for an early 1980’s Range Rover 2 door model that originally was sold in Germany. The truck belongs to Bob Steele.

Says Steele, “I don’t think there is ever a dull moment at this event.” Catch the next rally April 14-16, 2017 at Wintergreen. Oh, and bring a hose.

Membership in the Rover Owners Association of Virginia is open to all Rover enthusiasts and costs $20 per year. For more information about joining the club or participating in its events, go to ROAV.org

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