Scott Fields is well-known throughout central North Carolina as a go-to guy for just about anything 'URE'. A Charter Member of the United Four Wheel Drive Association and a Forest Service volunteer for over 25 years, Scott was instrumental in getting 4x4 access trails at Uwharrie National Forest. He has not only acted as a liaison between the USFS, 4x4 clubs, and ATV clubs, but he helped in the design of the OHV Trail Systems at Uwharrie and Tellico.
As off-road enthusiasts, Scott Fields is one of our best advocates, spokesmen and lobbyists.
Since last spring Scott has been working on a new way to cultivate passion for the outdoors and encourage good stewardship at Uwharrie. He has opened and is the Manager/Chief Instructor for the Uwharrie Offroad Training Center in Troy, NC. Located across Highway 109 from the Eldorado Outpost, his mission is to "provide off-road training in a safe, professional and fun environment." His website says, "Invest in your skills First, your vehicle Second!"
We talked with Scott about growing up as an avid outdoorsman and how the UORTC came to be.
How did you first get involved with off-highway vehicle use?
At the age of 8, I got my first Dirt Bike. At the age of 17, a friend took me in a 1978 F-150 with 36" Reguls, four wheeling up at Belews Creek in Stokes County, NC. It was more mudding than anything but I was hooked. I was into fast cars at the time and figured instead of working on a car that only went on the hard surface, I could be working on a 4WD and drive anywhere!
How did you first become a trail volunteer?
That same friend who introduced me to Belews Creek also introduced me to Uwharrie. I had a 1979 Dodge Power Wagon at the time. A good looking truck but not very capable off-road. Actually not very capable on road either for that matter, with a 318. That was approximately 1983. Anyway, Honda came out with their first 4WD ATV in 1986. I bought a 1987 Honda Foreman and it was the stuff back then. I rode ALL OVER Uwharrie. Many of those trails are now closed.
One day when I was out riding at Uwharrie in 1987 I met John Worsley, who at the time was doing all the volunteer work on the trail system with his dirt bike club, the NC Trail Riders. He got me to help carry the tools and water to the trail work site on the racks of the Foreman. Those guys would actually strap axes, picks and shovels on their backs and ride down the trails! John was active with the Forest Service and I would go to meetings with him. After working with the NC Trail Riders and the Forest Service for a year or two, I approached the Forest Service with the need for a designated 4WD trail. We opened Gold Mine trail shortly after. Gold Mine was later closed when the Forest Service gave us Daniel for 4WD use. I miss Gold Mine! A slick clay climb!
What made you decide to start UORTC?
We lost our family business in 2009 and I went searching for a job. I kept coming back to the question, "What is my passion, what is my favorite thing to do?" Then one day at a Southern 4WD Association quarterly meeting in Uwharrie, I was asked if I wanted to do some part-time work with BCDS. After working several jobs with them I loved it! Working and getting paid to go four wheeling? What could be better?! Then I decided to get accredited by I4WDTA to further my career. BCDS was not hiring for full-time employment so I just waited. Then in April 2011, Chris Cagle asked me if I would be interested in opening an Off-Road Training Center across the street from his store. I officially started my LLC - Uwharrie Off-Road Training Center - on July 1, 2011.
What is your favorite training course to teach?
In the classroom, it would have to be Vehicle Recovery. I like to use internet links to show videos of what not to do! Outside, during my practical hands-on training, it would be the "Failed Hill" teaching on my obstacle course. I think it is very relevant and helpful in teaching the proper and safe method to move a 4WD off of a steep hill. Actually teaching the proper techniques at all the obstacles is probably my favorite part of the entire course.
Where is the most interesting place you've ever been off-road?
It would have to be South Africa. I am half South African and we used to travel to South Africa every year. My Mother is from Johannesburg and my Father from Greensboro. I took two separate classes at the Land Rover Experience - Inchanga. The best wheeling trip was going up the Sani Pass in the Drakensburg Mountains of South Africa. Before going up you actually have to check your passports because you go into the small mountainous country of Losotho. Very, very cool. Game viewing while off-roading is another wonderful thing to do there. It is definitely an outdoorsman's paradise!
What is your favorite trail?
I would have to say Daniel Trail in the Uwharrie National Forest. Not only is it a great trail from a challenge stand point but it is close to my heart from a volunteer stand point as well. What a great day it was when we opened and rode Daniel for the first time with 4WD's!
What is your current trail rig?
I currently have a 1978 CJ-7 with 33" tires. Actually it is my wife's 4WD. We joke, I married her for her Jeep. Well ... maybe not. Anyway, it is far from stock but it still has the original 304 V8 under the hood. I prefer the smaller tires, less wheel travel and like the greater challenge associated with driving this rig. It certainly won't go where some buggies go but it goes well enough.
Which do you like best, sand, mud or rocks?
I'd have to say sand with a close second to rocks. I was all about mud when I was young but not anymore.* I probably have more sand driving experience than anything else. From South African sand tracks to Ocala NF in Florida to the NC Outerbanks - I just love the sand! It really does a great job of cleaning your tires, too!
* Scott raced competitively at Concord Motor Speedway and several other local Mud Bog Events in the 1985-86 season in a Toyota in the 36” Tire Class, sponsored by Galloway’s 4WD Center.
Check out UORTC and meet Scott at the First Annual Uwharrie Jamboree next Friday, March 30, and Saturday, March 31.
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