On the 10th day of the 10th month, three men from Columbia, South Carolina took home the first place trophy for North America’s TReK Off-Road Driving Competition. This means the team who spent two days competing against 52 other teams, will move on to compete in California at the beginning of next year to compete in the next qualifying race before the championship.
The competition, which was announced toward the end of last month, was designed to showcase the abilities of the revamped Discoverys, Range Rovers and the revived Defender. Land Rover always existed with an aura of unrivaled off-road prowess, but it’s important to note that this isn’t Land Rover’s first time in the off-road spotlight. They’re incredibly familiar with gentlemanly domination, once there isn’t pavement involved.
When Land Rover’s Defender and Discovery models were in their prime, Land Rover participated in an off-road competition of a new caliper: the Camel Trophy Races. The first Camel Trophy was in 1983 using the Range Rover Series III and then in 1985, the Defenders were brought in to race. It was an endurance race, which put both the driving teams, all from different countries and cultures, and their Land Rovers to the test.
Every year, the location changed. One year, it would be in the unforgiving brushlands of Africa, and the next it would be in the humid and muddy forests of Brazil. Drivers would have to work together to ensure their vehicle made it through the obstacles – made by mother nature and not by man – in one piece. The race lasted for however long it took for the teams to cross the finish line, which was typically a few days. It was an intense display of Land Rover’s off-road abilities and it brought a lot of positive attention to their vehicles. They started selling like hot cakes.
Sadly, the Camel Trophy race sponsors and coordinators took the focus from the teams and the cohesion with their vehicle and changed it to be more of a triathlon. Instead of trekking almost an entire continent’s length of treacherous forests and jungles, the cars traveled to a designated area for the driver’s to start a course that involved biking, swimming, jogging and hiking. Disappointed, Land Rover backed away from the Camel Trophy races. Their last race was in 1998.
After that, Land Rover too changed their focus, and began designing their vehicles to stand with luxury vehicles like Jaguar, Mercedes and BMW. Well, this year, Land Rover decided to re-evaluate how their cars are perceived by designing the TReK Off-Road Driving Competition. Now, with the room available and the car made famous by competing off-road, it makes perfect sense for Land Rover to orchestrate their own stage for the Defender to wow the crowd.
Instead of teams comprised of skilled drivers from all corners of the globe, Land Rover decided to compose the teams of their own employees.
Reminiscent of their Camel Trophy days, Land Rover gathered 53 teams of three that are expected to participate and work as a team to overcome various obstacles. Some are made by man, like building a bridge with limited materials to cross a river. Others are natural, like boulder crawling or mudding. In the qualifying events, the teams compete in customized Discovery. Whoever makes it to the finals after two days of qualifying events will be competing in the new Defender – a clever way to show potential buyers that Land Rover’s still got it.