Get ready to ride: Fun-filled 4 Wheelin’ Rally set in Columbia

Published 10:39 am Sunday, September 24, 2023

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The 18th Annual JR Simmons Memorial 4 Wheelin’ Rally is set for Saturday, Sept. 30 in Columbia.

ATVs, UTVs and dirt bikes are all welcome – rain or shine – on the 40-50 mile course through privately owned fields and roads thanks to the generosity of property owners who give permission on this singular day of the year.

The price is $35 for each machine, and $10 for each additional rider. Cash or check only. A lunch of barbecue sandwiches, hot dogs, cookies, chips and a drink is provided to all participants. Riders 16 and under must be accompanied by a guardian.

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Proceeds benefit the Tyrrell Volunteer Fire Department to help pay for fuel and the purchase of equipment. Out of the 100 counties in North Carolina, Tyrrell is the only fire department that covers the entire county.

The department has between 45 and 55 volunteer firefighters. They have one station and five substations. Because of the large area the department covers, the fire department maintains 22 apparatuses including fire trucks, ladder trucks and boat trucks.

“People ask us why we have so many fundraisers – it’s because we have a lot of equipment we have to keep up with,” Spencer said.

He added that the 4 Wheelin’ Rally is one of the best fundraisers for the department.

The event is put on through the efforts of the dedicated volunteer firefighters. Some ride in the event, while others prepare meals or direct traffic.

Other emergency service departments pitch in, too. The Tyrrell County Sherriff’s Office helps out if they’re available, and EMS will be stationed all day in the event of an emergency.

If a rider’s machine breaks down along the course (which happens to about 10 percent of participants, Spencer says), a trailer will help haul them out and return them to the parking area.

New this year, there will be no pre-registration. To save time the day of the event, participants are encouraged to download the form available on the Tyrrell Volunteer Fire Department’s Facebook page.

The raffle is also changing this year. There will be no ATV raffled off, but there will be a 50/50 cash raffle on rally day.

Helmets are required for ATVs and dirt bikes, but not UTVs. Goggles are highly recommended.

Riders follow the fire chief, who makes the route. The fastest pace is about 20 mph.

“But,” says Tyrrell County Fire Marshal Joie Spencer, “we come across a farmer’s field that’s been freshly cut. We stop and let the ones who want to ride fast get it out of their system.”

People come from all around for the 4 Wheelin’ Rally.

“There are no places to ride anymore,” Spencer said.

He said he thinks this is why the event typically draws between 150 and 250 bikes and ATVs from as far away as Raleigh, Wilmington and Virginia.

Tyrrell Volunteer Fire Department stared the event 18 years ago with about 30-40 machines. It is always held the last Saturday in September. The route changes a little every year and can be muddy, depending on the weather.

Directions to the meeting point are as follows: take US-64 to Columbia. At the stoplight, go south on Hwy 94 for approximately six miles, then turn left on Frying Pan Road. The Frying Pan Fire Substation will be on the left.

Riders depart at 10 a.m., though people start showing up at 8:30 a.m. to register. The ride takes about five to six hours including the lunch stop, so participants can expect to return to the parking area at 3 or 4 p.m.

Email with questions.