Mother Nature was smiling on Monteagle, Tennessee, over Memorial Day weekend, as 300-plus 4x4 enthusiasts descended upon the Smoke House Lodge and the surrounding trails for the 2001 Tennessee Off-Road Roundup. The sun was shining all the weekend long, and the air temperature rivaled that of springtime in Southern California. To say the least, it was perfect weather for a perfect event. And that's just the beginning of it.
Organized by Bob Hazel's Sports-In-The-Rough, the Roundup went through some restructuring from prior years. For instance, entries were kept at lower numbers and more trails were offered. This was done to allow participants more trail time because trail groups were sent out in packs of 10 to 15 rather than the usual 20 and higher. Some new trails were available as well, bringing the Monteagle trail system to nearly 30, ranging in difficulty from 1 to 5. Another first for the 2001 event was the amount of entrants eager to conquer trails of higher difficulty. This translates to a booming 4x4 market where more and more enthusiasts are modifying their rigs for extreme trail use. It's a sign of the times, yes, and even more so, a positive reinforcement of the growing 4x4 subculture.
The Roundup featured the usual bevy of manufacturer displays, with Superlift, Skyjacker, and BFGoodrich making the scene in full force. Another great presence was that of the Jeep Doctor, aka Keith Marchand of Keith's 4x4 in Toney, Alabama. Keith hauls his Jeep Doctor trailer to a number of events in his region and offers a plenitude of 4x4 and drivetrain parts for sale, in addition to lending tools and advice. He even stayed up later than usual while a few thankful individuals worked overtime to fabricate a trans mount so they could hit the trail the next morning.
In all, the event was a success. But that's nothing new to the hundreds of 'wheelers who turn out every year. Though you'll have to wait until next May for another Memorial Weekend run, Sports-In-The-Rough, as well as Tennessee Off-Road in Nashville, hosts events in Monteagle throughout the year. For more information about next year's event, contact: Sports-In-The-Rough, Dept. 4WDSU, P.O. Box 717, Ketchum, OK 74349, (800) 556-2801, www.sportsintherough.com.