Fall Wheeling In Alabama
Fall is a great time for wheelin' and no one knows that better than the 1,000 or so folks who hit the trails in Mount Olive, Alabama, at the CAOS Fall for All. CAOS, the Central Alabama Offroad Society, held its annual Fall for All at Gray Rock ORV, October 20 to 22.
Gray Rock ORV is a private facility owned by Tony Cousins and his family located just 20 miles north of Birmingham. It has 2,100 acres of some of the most diverse terrain you'll find anywhere. It has easy trails for the most novice of wheelers, nasty 5-plus trails that will tax even the most radical buggy, and everything in between. It even has plenty of mud for those who love to spend time cleaning off the goo.
This year marked the fifth year for the event and boasted more than 500 rigs registered. People pushed, pulled, and dragged their junk (a loving term used by locals) from all over the South. One hardy group, after hearing about the terrain, came all the way from Wisconsin - that's a real haul!
Gray Rock played host to just about every type of four-wheel-drive rig you can imagine. Hemi-powered buggies, new Jeep JKs, ultra-trick small-block Chevy-powered Samurais, fullsize trucks on Rockwells, and complete customs that used leftovers from anything - it was all there. We even saw an M151 MUTT.
The tow vehicles were just as diverse. There were Jeeps towing Jeeps, flatbeds with three rigs on board, and a converted bus with a rig hanging off the back. We think we even saw a two-horse trailer with a Samurai in the back, but we could have just been really tired.
The trails were obviously the big draw of the event. Since Gray Rock is essentially private and admits the public only a couple of times a year, you don't have many chances to wheel there; however, this also means the trails are in great shape. Tony loves to play with his excavator, so the trails are constantly changing. He fills many of the hollows, gullies, draws (or whatever you call them in your area) with rock excavated from other areas. This makes for some big fun but also explains the amount of big rubber one sees there. Forty-four-inch-and-larger tires are very common, with TSLs and Boggers being most common on the big rigs. We were told by a few of the guys that they're planning to install 54-inch Boggers once they get on the market. Needless to say, with all the large tires, parts breakage is common... and fun to watch.
Weather played a huge factor at this year's Fall for All. While it didn't rain Saturday during the event, rain from earlier in the week kept traction down and wheelspin (and speed) up. Areas that could normally be crawled had to be assaulted with the throttle mashed. The entire area is very hilly, and you could hear the screams of high-horsepower engines echoing throughout camp.
Saturday night it poured rain for hours. Just before the rains hit, a huge raffle was held and lots of cool parts were given away to lucky ticket holders. Sponsors like Warn, Detroit Locker, Flowmaster, and the Off-Road Connection offered up some great prizes. After the raffle, a live band played and those who didn't collapse from exhaustion after the day's events danced for hours.
Saturday night's rain made Sunday's rock race event even more fun than in past years. This year, the rock race was held on a trail known as Rock Holler. There were two categories: 36-inch-and-smaller tires and 37-inch-and-larger. While the Saturday night deluge kept the 36-inch-and-smaller class thin with only three competitors, the 37-inch-and-larger class was a blast with nine rigs. The smaller class went first, and each competitor had two runs. This class was won by Jake Bennett in his Toyota cab truck. Jake used his Number 2 position to learn the proper line on the gooey course. Mike Adams (known as Buggy Mike) used his 49-inch Iroks to bounce his way over the course in an almost-graceful 50 seconds to win the 37-inch-and-larger class. Watching these guys made it very clear why rock racing is garnering such a large following: It's loud, it's fast, and there's lots of potential for damage to the rigs - and aren't these the reasons we watch motorsports?
The Fall for All was a great event, and it's one that we'll always mark down on the calendar to attend. Brent and Jonica Williams and the whole CAOS crew made sure that everyone had a good time. The wheelin' was world-class, and if you've never experienced Southern hospitality, that's just another reason to make the trek to Gray Rock. Be careful though - it's so much fun, you may want to stay. For information on 2007's Fall for All, log on to www.caos4x4.com or www.grayrockorv.com.