by Larry Schwartz
The Christian Crawlers 4 x 4 Club’s “Rock the Ozarks” inaugural event is in the books and by all accounts made a great impression on the attendees.
The Christian Crawlers 4 x 4 club has been around for about 7 years. We are an off-road club based in Bentonville Arkansas, with affiliate chapters in Centerton AR, Springfield MO, and Memphis TN. We have approx. 100 members and 200 affiliate members at last count and continue to see great growth potential as more and more families become involved in the great outdoor sports of four wheeling and over-landing.
Our group has co-hosted various events in the past, and felt that based on those experiences there was a need for a mid-central U.S. family oriented off road event at a consistent venue. In partnership with Southern Missouri Off Road Ranch, the first annual Rock The Ozarks event started a tradition that we believe will grow into the premier Christian Off Road event in the country.
Rock the Ozarks provided 3 days of fun and family friendly fellowship for those who enjoy four wheeling in an environment free of the negative stereotypes sometimes associated with our sport.
What the environment was not free of was record cold, rain, and wind!
When camping out and attending outdoor oriented events, record cold, rain, and wind are not three ingredients that one hopes for, but our hardy band of adventurers hung in there and made the most of the event.
We had nearly 60 rigs total and 150+ attendees, everything from stock to highly modified off road vehicles, ATV’s, UTV’s, etc.
We rolled in on Thursday to set up the event, a beautiful balmy fall day, very encouraging for those who voted to have the event in early October.
Once we had the registration set up, all the banners hung, and the raffle prizes stacked up, some of us jumped out on the trails to do a little test running to make sure we were ready to lead our various groups.
As the evening approached, the temperature began to drop and weather forecasts that had been optimistic on Tuesday suddenly began calling for unseasonal cold and even a chance for SNOW.
Friday dawned cold and rainy and promised slick conditions on SMORR’s many challenging trails. We ran trails Friday morning in the rain, and rigs were hooking up pretty good as my group of 5 worked our way through a long run of three’s and four’s. Most challenging for the morning was Larry’s Hill. Going down wasn’t too bad, but the initial 2 foot ledge, covered with mud and rain, was a booger. On up the way, we took the right trail and had blast bouncing over some big boulders and slick ledges.
Friday afternoon we headed out again in the cold and windy mist. On the way to V-notch we stopped by Black Mamba and I gave it a go, but the mud and numerous ledges just didn’t want to be conquered, even by my new Pit Bull’s. Guess you can’t crawl everything.!! We headed over to V notch and were joined by Jeff Browns group. V-notch has a couple of interesting parts, but the most fun is the notch itself. Careful tire placement and you can negotiate your way through without a scratch, but off just a little and a scratch would be the least of your worries. Everybody made it through, but a yellow TJ with MetalCloak fenders made me a believer in that product, as he rode through it literally laying on the fenders about 70 degrees worth and didn’t even dent the body panels.
He was following by a Very well built XJ with a superb EXO that proved it’s worth as well as he came through about the same angle just like another day at the office.
Our Friday Family Movie Night was cancelled by consensus as no one wanted to sit out in 30 degree weather to watch it. We chowed down on some great Smoked Pork BBQ provided by the Calvary Crawlers of Memphis, then headed for our various lodgings to get some reset for Sat.
Saturday dawned Cold and Wet again, with a nice strong wind to top it off. After the drivers meeting, we all headed out with our respective groups. On the way to Rocker Knocker we stopped by Double Whammy and some crazy guys from Iowa in a Built JK decided it was worth a try. Hemi roaring and Dana 60’s handing the torque, he bounced around every way but upside down till the rear u-joint yoke decided to exit and his Double Whammy Adventure was over. NEXT Year was the battle cry!
That ended our morning as we towed them back in, so we regrouped at 2 and headed out once again. Fern gully was first on the list as we headed for Bull Run, but alas, Fern Gully was to be the end of my adventure, as a wimpy (but VERY slick) little ledge at the exit proved to be the undoing of my front drive shaft as the CV puked. The Smittybilt 12k winch proved its worth, as it pulled me effortlessly to level ground. I headed back to camp as the erstwhile adventurer’s in my group sought another fearless leader for their afternoon’s romp.
That evening we chowed down on Chili dogs and all the fixin’s, listened to Rob and Chas, some great musicians from Ozark, then got down to some serious Raffling. With a pile of great prizes, there were no empty seats as Randy (Let’s get ready to RAFFLE) Putt took the mike and the fun began.
With four Rugged Ridge 8500# winches headlining the drawing, everyone was determined to stick out the nasty weather conditions to the very end. We had a lot of Fabulous sponsors this year, and we would be remiss if we did not call each of them out for their generous donations.
Thanks to the following companies for helping make our first Rock the Ozarks event a success: