Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

May 8, 2014

Crowds run to Rush for off-road stars

Tim Preston
The Independent

Rush — Fans of outdoor driving sports have already begun arriving in the area for the Rock Bouncer Invasion, featuring the most famous drivers in the sport, on Saturday at Rush Off-Road on the Boyd and Carter County border, with custom vehicles often sporting in excess of 600 horsepower.

“We have people from northern Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, Indiana and Alabama coming,” said E.B. Lowman III, owner of Rush Off-Road, on Thursday as he and others welcomed early guests and prepared for an estimated crowd in excess of 1,000.

Laughing at himself for “sounding like a promoter,” Lowman said he is uncertain how the local off-road facility was fortunate enough to land names including Bobby Tanner, Richie Keith, Brandon Dillon, Jordan Tanner, Randall Key, Jason Spegal, Todd Puckett, Ian Mullane, Selvey Vittoe, Tim Justice, Dale Larsen and Timmie Cameron for the first Rock Bouncer Invasion.

“Man, they’re all superstars. We’ve got the biggest names in the sport coming this weekend,” Lowman said.

Crediting the effort of supporters and associates Chris Hobbs, Mark Stephens, John Melvin and Bill Chapple, along with new office manager Carol Sexton and two others who help maintain order along the trails, Lowman said the 7,000-acre off-road park recently celebrated its first year of operations.

“It has gone better than expected,” Lowman said. “The off-road community is a tight community that networks quickly. Word has spread more quickly than I ever could imagine.”

Lowman theorizes a combination of factors has contributed to the growing popularity of Rush Off-Road, including easy access to Interstate 64 with equally good access to the trailhead for vehicles hauling loaded trailers. The large park’s “miles and miles of trails” and highly varied terrain provide visitors opportunities to constantly find new adventures, he said.

“Our area also has a lot to offer — plenty of restaurants, hotels and movie theaters. There are other things to do,” he said, citing several area businesses, such as Rosie’s, Tres Hermanos Nunez, Callihan’s and Kahuna’s, that have become favorites with off-road park’s visitors, along with nearby truck stops and fueling stations.

“Probably most important, people here in northeast Kentucky, where we live, are friendly,” he said. “People like to go where they know they will be treated well. That’s what we do.”

Lowman said many of this weekend’s guests are camping at the off-road park, while others have rented hotel rooms or space at a nearby campground.

For Saturday’s event, drivers and riders will get into gear for an open ride at 8:30 a.m., followed by a meet-and-greet session at 12:30 p.m. allowing fans a chance to meet the drivers and get an up-close look at what they’re driving up the hills, over the rocks and through the mud. Showcase rides will be from 2 to 4 p.m., when open riding resumes.

There is no charge for those who want to meet the drivers and see their vehicles. For more information, visit rushoffroad.com or visit the Rush Off-Road Facebook page.

TIM PRESTON can be reached at tpreston@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2651.