Where2Wheel’s ORV Park Journey

Follow our efforts to bring W2W’s off road parks mission to life.

We want to introduce a national chain of conveniently located, fun and welcoming, Jeep & truck off road parks. It all starts with park # 1.

1st Attempt – 2016: Owl’s Creek, Virginia Beach

We started our pursuit with the closed Owl’s Creek Golf Course. We saw a prime opportunity to turn this defunct, non-neighborhood, par 3 golf course into an off road park in the heart of VB. The proposal received City & Navy approval and continued all the way to city planning. However, the deal closed out quickly when a much bigger fish appeared late in negotiations. GTS offered to build a $50M 1,200 job battery factory on the land. 

2nd Try – 2017: Isle of Wight Fairgrounds

After Owl’s Creek closed out, a friend, Chris Shelton (now part of the W2W Parks Project), brought up his hometown of Isle of Wight. We started investigating the closed Smithfield Downs Golf Course, but a historical landmark next door ended that search. Then we met with IOW Economic Development to find other locations. The IOW fairgrounds were selected as a prime spot for this project. However, wetlands issues arose on preliminary scouting and without an investor to lean on in the face of unknown costs ahead, the project stalled.

3rd Approach – 2018: Start Peninsula Pitch

After Owl’s Creek and IOW closed out, we pivoted to try a different approach. We joined the Start Peninsula Pitch Competition – which awards 3 winners $5,000 each and opens up roads to VC funding. W2W made it to the final round, but we were not selected as a top 3 winner. Through this we learned it was difficult for people outside of the off road realm to understand the high demand for off road areas. At the end of the event, after speaking with many investors, the feedback was: Prove demand with an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) park #1, then investment will be available to help scale from #1 to #75.

Picking W2W ORP Back Up – Spring 2021: Pungo Airfield 

Losing Start Peninsula took some wind out of our sails, and it took us time to refocus ourselves for another attempt. Upon restarting, we shifted to MVP strategy – how can we create this while raising/spending as few dollars as possible. We met a landowner in Pungo, VA that had 52 acres of defunct WW2 airfield. Car clubs rented weekend access to his land for autocross racing on the concrete runways and taxiways, so we hoped for a similar agreement. We invested multiple months into surveying, planning, and negotiations for this Pungo location. We got as far as creating a detailed W2W park map w/trail system & agreeing on lease terms. However, the landowner was over 80 years old and negotiations stalled then fell through because he wanted to entertain the prospect of selling his land rather than getting involved in a long term lease. 

Trail Ahead – Current Pursuits

The Pungo Airfield project gave us much insight and allowed us to build a stronger team and financial model.  The landowner was a prominent business figure and held us to a very high standard of work.  We had to sharpen our pencils to negotiate with him and it led to a stellar 30+ page business plan & proposal. Currently, we are exploring parcels in Virginia Beach as well as properties in Suffolk, VA. With either location, we will need to raise money to make it happen. We will continue to update this page as we move forward along the trail : ) 

Industry Evidence

The off road industry is exploding right now with more vehicle manufactures adding off road models than ever before – Ford Bronco, Jeep Gladiator, HUMMER coming back, Chevy ZR2 and many more. New entrants are joining the off road community at a faster rate than ever before, but the number of available off road locations is staying the same or shrinking. If we want our community to continue to grow and thrive, we must add places for the off road community to enjoy. Where2Wheel is in the right place, at the right time, with the right people to breathe new life into our sport and make offroading convenient & accessible across the USA!