Achieving escape velocity on the Overcrest Rally

Written by Chris Harrell, Photography by Brendan McKay

In the summer of 2022, FOMO finally got the best of me. For the past three years via social media, I had been following Overcrest Productions and their annual backroad adventures across the remote corners of the United States, adventures that included many of my Oregonian friends in their vintage cars but which did not include me. And so, this past spring, I found myself waking up early one morning to register for the chance to head into the mountains of Idaho in my 1972 Porsche 914 on the 2022 Overcrest Rally. 

Each summer, the Overcrest Productions crew takes participants on a new, pre-planned route that balances social activities such as catered group dinners with the freedom to explore the countryside and area backroads at one’s own pace. Their motto: “Take the Car.” That is, use these vintage machines to discover new places, forge memories, and create new friendships.  Here’s the thing, though: the Overcrest Rally is quite the draw, to the extent that the event receives nearly twice as many applications as there are spaces available – surely a challenge for organizers who want to be inclusive even as they strive to keep the event intimate enough for attendees to mingle (and not antagonize locals along the route).  Fortunately, I and a few of my closest friends obtained spaces on the rally.

Over the next few months, I watched as fellow participants documented their car prep on Instagram and Facebook and I was quickly reminded of just what a lifestyle these rallies are for many people. Some folks do several such events in a given year, often traveling several thousand miles each way just to reach the starting point. 

overcrest rallyovercrest rally

And then there’s me, who does virtually no preparation – and occasionally lives to regret it. Case in point: somewhere on Interstate 84, just outside of Boise on the day before the rally was to begin, my Porsche died.  As luck would have it, though, one of my friends from several previous rallies happened down that same stretch of highway at just the right time, pulled to the shoulder, and ultimately found my 914 a safe place to stay at his brother’s house in Boise.

Rather than undertake a last-minute attempt at making the Porsche roadworthy in time for the rally, my co-driver and I opted to rent a car – a “Jetta or Similar” that turned out to be a Kia Sportage – and keep moving. Yes, we would have preferred to have been driving the 914 but, in the spirit of finding silver linings, we were not complaining about the air-conditioning and modern cabin filters when we ran into the smoke and poor air quality from the wildfires that plague this region each summer. 

As our convoy made its way through the twisty roads and small towns of the Sawtooth Mountains, I once again marveled at the way in which events like this succeed in merging the online and in-real-life car enthusiast communities.  Yes, it was smoky and cars occasionally broke down but, just as regularly, participants dove into repairs together, becoming not just “Instagram friends” but real friends in the process. Cold post-drive beers and a slice of pizza in small mountain towns didn’t hurt either. 

overcrest rallyovercrest rally

Yes, I was happy to be back in my bed in Portland when I returned home but, like always, the post-event nostalgia set in just as quickly as it always does, and not just for me. By the next morning, my friends from the rally were texting me about getting ourselves ready to do this again next year. The barrage of photos from the event on social media did little to alleviate this longing for a few more days on the open road.  But then, between the prep, the participation, and the wonderful “hangover” of memories, an event like this never really ends, does it? 

overcrest rally

(Note: No Kia Sportage rentals were harmed in the course of this rally.)

About our contributors

Chris Harrell is a lifelong classic car enthusiast, with a particular affinity for Porsches. With a professional background in building consumer brands, he has also dabbled in the automotive space as a writer and editor. He is based in Beaverton, Oregon, and often shares his eclectic explorations on Instagram (@cmharrell).

Brendan McKay is a Los Angeles-based photographer with a love of old cars, cool watches, close family and faraway places. You can find more of his photography on Instagram (@b.g.mckay).

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