New Jersey to Orlando, in the snow

Diana Kuylko covers various import brands headquartered in the New York area for Automotive News.
Land Rover managers get the award for tenacity.

Last Wednesday, as the Northeast was getting hit by buckets of snow and Newark airport flight cancellations numbered in the dozens, Chris Marchand, executive vice president of marketing and sales for Land Rover North America, and several colleagues wondered how they would get to Orlando. They considered cancelling a Thursday meeting with their dealer council.

"There were at least 15 people at headquarters in Mahwah [N.J.] trying to get down here, and the soonest we could fly was on the weekend," he said.

So Marchand commandeered an LR4 SUV -- not the biggest vehicle, but it has three rows and the seats fold down (meaning snoozes). He got three Land Rover execs to come along. They headed down the New Jersey Turnpike at the painful speed of 20 to 40 mph maneuvering around jackknifed tractor-trailers, plows and marooned vehicles. "We'd go 15 minutes and never see another vehicle," said Marchand.

South of Washington, D.C., the roads improved and the pedal went to the metal -- and, as luck would have it, they encountered only one set of flashing red lights and an understanding officer who chose not to write a ticket.

Making up for lost time, they made it to Orlando in about 19 hours -- only a couple of hours longer than a good-weather trip at the posted speed limits.

The big celebration: breakfast at a Waffle House.