Virginia Rockcrawling and Off-Road Challenge

By: Jeremy Settle
By: Jeremy Settle

If your idea of fun involves taking your jeep over some steep rocks and possibly rolling over, then what you're about to read is right up your alley. The sport of rock climbing in your car is not just a hobby, but an event taken very seriously by many. This isn't your typical drive in the park.

"The thrill...you always see guys about to roll and you're always on the edge," explained spectator Blake Miller.

That thrill he's talking about is the Virginia Rock Crawling and Off-Road Challenge.

"I just want to come out, watch a couple of friends run. Have some fun, see some guys doing things that really shouldn't be done in a car," said supporter Chris Bolic.

Rockcrawlers from far and wide came to western Albemarle County this weekend to show their stuff. Some successful, others not quite so.

"Well, when he came down here on the right hand side course, I think he scored something, I'm going to say 9. He came up over that last rock and gunned it--just hit the throttle like usual, just waiting for the crowd, and his axle shaft popped on that rock and just broke his steering," explained one fan.

The challenge is nothing new to most of the participants, all dedicating hours on end to making their vehicle the ultimate off-road machine.

Two people doing just that are Chris and Ryan, with the Northern Virginia jeepers 4x4 Club. While they didn't roll over they were faced with some obstacles of their own.

The rain forced the organizers to re-arrange some of their events to keep everyone on an equal footing. Many drive away with hundreds of dollars in damages, which only leads someone to wonder why do it?

"Most people say it's a Jeep Thing, you wouldn't understand, but I just really like the ability to just take a vehicle and modify it, make it bigger, make it do a lot more. Just take it somewhere where I never expected something to go," commented Chris Vitale.

The organizers stress that the environment was not harmed in any way. Everyone who drives is required to follow strict standards with regards to the environment as well as their own personal safety. They must be conscious that the environment is protected first, and no drivers are allowed on the course without a helmet.

That team of Chris and Ryan finished fourth in their class.


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