2004 Land Rover National Rally.

By Norman Hall

 

In 1989 Bill Davis of Great Basin Rovers approached the Land Rover Owners Association based out of Northern California if he could organize a Land Rover national Rally under the auspices of the club. With their blessing he then went ahead and organized the inaugural event in Moab Utah. The first few years of the event were organized by Bill and the mountain states division of the Land Rover Owners Association before the Solihull Society took over control. The rest as they say is now history.

This year’s event was the 15th consecutive year of the event which has seen it held in many locations in Utah and Colorado including Ouray, Breckenridge & Steamboat Springs. Due to interest levels in past years this years rally was extended by a day with registration to start on the Tuesday. This allowed the event to run more days of trails along with the inclusion of an expended Vendor event. Pizza and drinks were provided to those registering to ensure that the social atmosphere of the Rally got off to the right start.

Representatives from 13 different clubs attend the rally. This provided a diverse mix of Land Rover enthusiasts. Throw in the fact that we had people from the USA , England and Australia and there were definitely some broad cross section of Landie lovers in attendance.

One of the great benefits of the Land Rover National rally is that the Solihull Society includes so much with the registration fee. One included item for registrants is an event T Shirt that could worn during the event. This year every time you saw a blue T Shirt it was easy to distinguish those attending the Rally and those who were not.

Trails Day 1

The first active day of this years rally was on Wednesday 15th September. All registered participants met at the Spanish Trail arena which was to be the assembly point on each day. Most started arriving at about 7.45 am to be greeted by coffee and donuts supplied by the Solihull Society. This year they were also greeted by two attractive young ladies from Red Bull who were handing out free drinks for people to take along on their trail rides. For the first time in the events history we had a film crew from WATV – Spike TV who were to film a segment for a new upcoming Four Wheel Drive show.

Of the 8 trails led on the first day one was a stand out. Golden Spike! The trail that most people refer to as Golden Spike trail is actually an amalgam of three separate trails. The first part of the trail is actually Poison Spider Mesa trail without the loop section out to Little Arch, a favorite lunch spot. This part of the trail has a number of interesting obstacles including Wedgy and The Waterfall. Bypasses for most of the tougher challenges existed however our group took the tougher routes at all points. This part of the trail is popular because the driving is challenging without quite being a regular vehicle buster. Much of the trail is on Navajo sandstone slick rock with one small stretch of bare rock. There are also some rock ledges sandy wash bottoms and two sand hills. The initial climb and switchbacks are rough but easy to drive. There are some rock ledges that make the trail difficult combined with some steep slick rock climbs. It was during this initial section that Ali Vali had difficulties with his transfer case in the end he got into low range but was not able to get back out. A problem he could only fix when back in Moab . This was not a major problem given there was no need for high range until we were to hit the highway in about 8 hours time.

The true Golden Spike Trail starts at the turn off to the little Arch loop. This is where things start to get a bit more challenging. The main obstacles are Launch Pad, Skyline Drive , Golden Crack, Golden Stairs and Double Wammy [where I came unstuck with a broken rear differential]. The trail is non-stop challenge, beautiful scenery with a reasonable trail surface between difficult sections.  The group drove along sloping Wingate sandstone with fantastic views to the West and North. Unfortunately during this section Karen Kreutzer in her 1996 Discovery broke a rear axle and her Detroit Locker reducing her to a 3 wheel drive Landie, still better than my front wheel drive Discovery. John Brown’s Defender also suffered electrical problems loosing his alternator belt which caused bearing problems. For the rest of the day we had to help him back with batteries swapped on several occasions to keep him charged and moving. When out on trails one has to often rely on traveling partners to spot your through difficult situations. Given that this was the first outing for my bobtailed Discovery [called a Discovery SA – for Short Arse] a few within the group decided to have some fun when spotting me and chose some interesting lines. We certainly found out where the center of gravity was on the Discovery as some of the photos can attest.

Gold Bar Rim makes up the last section of this long amalgamated trail. Whilst not the hardest of difficult trail sections, after a long day its obstacles still provide a challenge. Along this section our group was able o enjoy some great views overlooking the Colorado River north of Moab and Jeep Arch far in the distance behind Gold bar Canyon.

As part of the registration fees the outdoor area of the Moab Brewery was reserved for participants of the Rally and free beer and soft drinks provided for a period after the trails. This attracted many of the participants and provided a good forum for all to retell the day’s events and exaggerate their feats of driving prowess. On my part I was trying to downplay the fact that I had destroyed my rear differential on Golden Spike Trail and was a mere passenger for the rest of the event. People kept telling me I had my Bobtailed Discovery vertical but I just cannot believe them. Many stayed on for Dinner giving the Brewery had a definite Land Rover feel. Event T Shirts and other miscellaneous Land Rover attire [yes and 1 or 2 LRM T Shirts were also seen] could be seen on practically every second person on the joint.

Trails Day 2

Day two of activities included options for everyone. Along with the trails being run, Marc Richardson, the Solihull Society Co-President, led a group of Mountain bikers along Cliff Hanger / Amasa Back trail. Yours truly also took a hiking trip out to Delicate Arch in Arches National Park .  The intrepid group of mountain bikers was accompanied by Hans Shultze leading a group of Land Rovers over the same trail. Whilst the Bikers may have gotten more exercise for the day, I am sure that those in the Land Rovers had a far more comfortable and safer trip. Unfortunately there were two accidents amongst the bikers with Marc Richards falling over a 7 foot drop onto his back and John Brown going over his handlebars to hit a rock straight on with his chest. Fortunately other than bruises and the usual scrapes neither was seriously injured. The trail taken by our group used the only trail onto Amasa Back, a rather high isolated area bounded by Kane Creek, Hurrah Pass and Jackson Hole . As those in our group will attest, Amasa Back should not be driven by those with agro phobia - as this is not the trail to be on if uncomfortable with heights/cliffs. The group drove along the edge of a cliff negotiating large rock ledges which combined with large vertical drops to the side of the trail. This certainly made sure everyone concentrated as one mistake could have been disastrous. The views were spectacular.

An open invitation was made for people to join a walk out to Delicate Arch. This is a 3 mile round trip. Whilst defined as moderate it can be strenuous in hot weather. Our trip was a 2 ¼ hour return trip which worked in perfectly to get some exercise yet still return to town in time for the Vendor Event.

This was the second year that a Vendor Event was held as part of the Rally. To provide adequate time for all participants to check out the specialty vendors only short trails were run on the morning of the second day. This meant that the vendor show started at 2 pm .  In all there were 18 vendors ranging from accessory suppliers, expedition companies to specialist Land Rover product manufacturers and tire suppliers. As part of the Vendor event a mini “Twist Off” was run allowing all comers to put their vehicles up on an RTI ramp to compare suspension articulation. The winner of Coil Sprung vehicles was Yosef Hamzeh in his highly modified Coil over suspension 1995 Defender 90. The winner of the Leaf Sprung vehicle section was Jim Hall in his 1966 ‘88 inch Series IIA [affectionately nicknamed the elephant chaser]. This event was run and adjudicated Bill Burke of 4 Wheeling America .

Trails Day 3

Friday, was purely a trail day. One of the trails, Seven Mile Rim, was led by Mary Molter in her Green Range Rover Classic. Mary is a seasoned campaigner on these Rally’s with her husband Jim who normally drives his Green [Yes matching colored Land Rovers, isn’t it sweet] Defender 90.  Seven mile Rim trail passes the old Cotter uranium mine and up onto the cliff rim above the mine and Highway 191. The intense mining activity resulted in many drilling roads on the mesa which can cause some confusion if you are new to the area. Mary led her group very near the rim toward the south and then turned east above Seven mile Canyon . Along the way the group visited Uranium Arch. The trail joins other roads in the vicinity of Merrimac Butte, Monitor Butte, Determination Towers , and Big Mesa. The group was lucky to have Mary leading the way so that we did not blunder around aimlessly lost. The trail is not overly difficult however the section on the south side of Merrimac Butte and a sandy hill near the end can cause difficulties. This south side of Merrimac Butte has exciting slick rock side hill driving which caused many concerns until they became somewhat used to the off camber driving.  Wipe-Out Hill is one of Jim’s favorite spots. It is a steep slightly ledgy descent to a nice lunch spot. Because of the angles a good and trusted spotter is required [do not ask Jim Molter as he likes to see people lift wheels in the most unusually of places] to guide vehicles down safely. Getting back up is a little harder however good throttle control saw the entire group up and away safely.

Some of the trails also visited by the Rally on this day included Pritchett Canyon , Behind the Rocks, Moab Rim, Kane Creek, Gemini Bridges and the spectacular Top of the World.

As the rally had been non stop since registration on the Tuesday. The Solihull Society committee left Friday night free for participants to explore Moab and do as they pleased. Many from the group [by many I man about 25] chose to visit Buck’s steak house for Dinner. Now I am not saying that the amount of alcohol consumed had any impact on the stories told, however there seemed to be many recollections of Herculean efforts performed by various peoples Land Rovers over the past few days. Suffice to say I was happy that there were no tape recorders around that night.

Trails Day 4

Saturday 18th September was the last day of activities.

Again the group of trail leaders guided trips out to various trails around Moab .  Some of the trails experienced this last day included: Flat Iron Mesa, Metal Masher, Rose Garden Hill and Poison Spider Mesa. The most memorable story for the day comes from eh Rose Garden Hill trip. Apparently, Ralph Brandt, the trip leader, had a difficulty with one of his front free wheeling hubs on his 88” Series vehicle. Ralph removed the hub to check what was wrong, then drove on for a further 20 minutes before realizing that he had failed to re fit the free wheeling hub. One of the group had to drive back, collect the parts and return before the Land Rover could be repaired. Who said it was only the participants that had things happen to them???

The Land Rover National Rally traditionally finishes up with a banquette on the final night. All participants were invited to attend with meals and drinks fully included with their registration. Given how much attendees get for their registration fee, the cost to attend seems quite reasonable. This year saw a full house with some actually choosing to stand at the back of the room [to conduct their business over a few amber ales]. A number of awards were presented to participants including the following selection

 

bulletFurthest person to attend – Gerard Hall. He came all the way from Australia to see Moab .
bulletShocking Driver Award – Tim Clair. He broke 2 shocks on the same day on the same trail.
bulletBroken Axle Award – Norman Hall. Remember that destroyed diff of mine. Well the judges also remembered much to my shame.
bulletOldest Participant – Jim Molter. Well we think he was as he would not divulge his true date of birth.
bulletEvil Knievel Award – Marc Richardson and John Brown. For their flying antics on day 2 when mountain biking.

A raffle was also held allowing participants to win prizes donated by our sponsors and vendors. Prizes ranged from model Land rovers to Thermal jackets, from jerry cans to a Superwinch. There were so many prizes donated that the presentation staff almost lost their voices announcing all the winners.

Events such as this cannot be run by clubs with out the generous support of Sponsors. The following companies must be thanked for their generous support of Land Rover and the National Rally:

ARB North America

BCB Off Road

Inland Rovers

Kensington Motor Cars

Land Rover FlatIrons

Land Rover North America

Pikes Peak Rovers

Rovers North

Rover Specialties

Rovertracks.com

Safari 4x4

Specialty Lens Corporation

XKS Unlimited

 

The following companies participated in the Vendor event and made it the success it was:

ARB North America

BCB Off Road

Colorado Association of Four Wheel Drive Clubs

Expedition Exchange

4 Wheeling America

Great Basin Rovers

Inland Rovers

Kensington Motor Cars

Land Rover FlatIrons

Land Rover Monthly Magazine

Land Rover North America

OffRoadTuff.com

Pangaea Expeditions

Pendy Imports

Pikes Peak Rovers

Rovers North

Rover Specialties

Rovertracks.com

Safari 4x4

SlickRock Fabrication

Specialty Lens Corporation

Washbrook.net [Simex tires]

Along with the companies mentioned about both Pulpal / Premier Power Welder and Atlantic British donated prizes for the event.

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