The email read “Do you want to drive a turbodiesel swapped Land Cruiser and go camping for a few days?” It’s a simple ask but one I’m almost immediately inclined to say yes to. So I replied in the affirmative, booked the travel, and marked the day on my calendar. This is an Overland event put on by an outfit called Express Rally. They host a handful of road rally offerings, but they also run what they call the Adventure Series. This is for overland-outfitted machines ready to be put through the paces on some great trails in wonderful locations.
Overland Rally 6 takes place in Northwest Arkansas. This is the Ozark Mountain region, and it’s a lovely area of this country. The trails are tight, the technical bits are good fun, and the views above the treeline are amazing. Especially when you get there from behind the wheel of a massively modified 80-Series Land Cruiser.
This Toyota belongs to Express Rally founder Scott Huddleston. It’s been a long build process and the work is excellent. Ozark Overland Outfitters in Missouri built this beast up to what it is now. And that would be a Land Cruiser sitting on a full Dobinsons Suspension setup, 37″ tires, and air lockers. Up on the roof sits a spacious yet compact when folded, Go Fast Camper roof tent. In the rear is plenty of storage for recovery gear and also cold food and beverages. But the magic piece lives under the hood, which is where the gas mill is gone, and in its place lives a turbodiesel from an out-of-market Land Cruiser.
This rig is a monster, and it’s a joy simply to hear the turbo noise when rolling down the road or trail.
The story here though isn’t about this truck. It’s about the event itself. Express Rally prides itself on bringing bang for the buck, and I can report it delivers. The event is well run and I had fun the entire time. These were wonderful trails that ranged from nice cruisers to seriously technical sections and spots that actually required on-trail recovery. But each day led us to a new campsite and at that campsite, a chef drove on ahead to set up. That meant each stop had food waiting. The camp chef makes dinner at night and then breakfast in the morning, and that’s a fantastic way to both start and end your days. Because these are long days spent pushing vehicles to see what they can and can’t do. And that’s a great way to smile yourself to sleep at night. Appropriately tired from a long day behind the wheel and with a belly full of good food and better drinks.
Express Rally has many more events planned. Check out their website if you’d like to see if one will be near you in the not-too-distant future. And also stay tuned, because some of these events are about to get more grand in scope, scale, and level of adventure.
[Disclaimer: Express Rally invited me on Overland 6 and comped my travel and entry.]