Brian Overly is a member of Rattle Rock 4-Wheel Drive Club and organizer of its “Wheel for the Cure” event to benefit St. Jude Children’s Hospital April 13 at Windrock ATV Park (555 Windrock Ln.) in Oliver Springs.
What’s the story on the Rattle Rock club?
We’re in Blount County, but more or less based out of Knoxville, with probably about 20 members. We’ve been a club since around 2000—basically it’s just friends, people I’ve known for years. There were 10 charter members, and we go out and enjoy the woods and four-wheeling and try to conserve the environment and water quality so we can ride.
What vehicles do members have?
Mostly CJs and YJs—those are basically Jeep Wranglers.
Do you soup them up?
Yes, they are all fully modified to be pretty heavy-duty off-road, with the larger tires, winches, roll bars, fire extinguishers, safety seat belts and such.
Has all this rain and snow made it better or harder to four-wheel drive?
The weather does not bother us a bit. Rain, snow, sleet—if we’ve got an organized ride it stays on course.
Who can come on this trail ride?
Any club or any person with a 4WD Jeep, or it could be a Toyota or Chevrolet truck, they are welcome to enjoy the event. We are asking for anything you can contribute to the cause; all proceeds will go directly to St. Jude Children’s Hospital, and sponsors are also welcome. You don’t have to be a member—donating to St. Jude, that’s what it’s all about
It’s not really a spectator sport though?
No, what we’re doing is four-wheeling, going back in the woods and enjoying the ride and the scenery. It’s not something people can get to except at the start of the trail.
How long have you been four-wheeling?
My father was in the business since 1973, and now I manage Overly’s Auto Repair and Off Road here in Friendsville. I just grew up driving a Jeep, ever since I could touch the clutch and get a foot on the gas pedal. There’s been a Jeep in our family since 1970.
And you actually help conserve the trail areas?
We do stress conservation. Most of the places we ride we maintain with whoever owns the property and work on the trails if it’s under the TWRA [Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency] or the forestry department. We build fences, go work on the water, add gravel. We help keep those areas open, for us, and for our kids, the future generation, to be able to ride and enjoy the outdoors and enjoy the mountains.
Do you drive straight up hills?
We’ve got trails we’ve cut in and we do climb rocks. We stay out of the creeks, and our designated trails are away from the streams.
How long are these trails?
Some ain’t but a mile long, some you can go travel and enjoy the day but even those are 15 miles, or 20. We’re traveling at a slow speed in low range. We do not race. The front end is locked in, we’re not digging up the earth. All the vehicles are specified to be in four-wheel drive, no two wheeling—we make sure.
Why did you choose St. Jude as the beneficiary?
Basically St. Jude is dear to my heart. Coming up in May it will be 10 years that our daughter, Brendle, passed away. She had a rare form of cancer. St. Jude gave us almost a year’s time with our daughter, a year more of life with our 7-year-old.
Any special reason this came together this year?
I’d been trying, but I didn’t want to organize it by myself. One person cannot put on an event, although I’ve helped other clubs put on events. The Rattle Rock club, they are my family, got me through hard times. I wanted to involve them in this; we all wanted to do something for St. Jude, something that represents our four-wheeling community.
For more information about “Wheel for the Cure,” call Brian Overly at 865-995-9800