Joy In Muddville: ATV’s Mud Nationals

Destinations, South, West — on October 7, 2008 at 12:00 pm

It’s the largest annual ATV event you’ll find anywhere across the country. Sponsored by High Lifter, a Louisiana-based aftermarket shop with a mud fetish, this year’s Mud Nationals attracted thousands of racers, riders and fans to the sloppy grounds of the Mud Creek Off-Road Park in east Texas April 2-6.
It’s been said more than 14,000 made it to this year’s event, up from an estimated 12,000 in ‘07. With all the chaos, reaching a final count is probably a challenge. Take it from us, an enormous, wild crowd kicked off the first leg of the ATV Reviews Four Wheelin’ Adventure Series.
It’s hard to wrap one’s mind around all the unbelievable things you’ll see when that many people, everyone at the helm of some type of four-wheeled transportation, gather on Mud Creek’s 3,000 acres to get dirty. From the backed-up stream of traffic waiting to get into the site, to the brutal lines for a porta potty, the crazy machine modifications or the many bogs that swallowed countless scores of quads and UTVs, everything about the Mud Nationals is big — Texas-sized, you might say.
The major ATV factories brought their semi trucks, some even offered free service to anyone who asked, and many big-name aftermarket shops had their wares on display. This is as big as it gets and, for all intents and purposes, is the World Series of the ATV world.
Muddy Mardis Gras
Once inside, you just need to stop and take in your surroundings. People watching has never been so good. Fake mullets, real mullets, rack-mounted (and mud proof!) stereo systems, side-by-sides with subwoofers, helmets with hairdos, wishes granted in exchange for Mardis Gras beads and some of the most incredibly modified ATVs and UTVs you’ll see anywhere. You’ve really got to see this one to believe it.
“Mud Nationals is all about the experience,” said High Lifter’s Tracie Engi. “I have never talked with anyone who, during their first Mud Nationals experience, didn’t say ‘I’ve heard about this event, but could never have imagined what it was really like without actually attending.’ The funny part is that a lot of the people who say that are in the ATV business and go to shows and events all year!”
When you enter the gate, the first order of business is finding yourself a chunk of land to stake as your own. There are hookups for RVs, and most choose to grab shut-eye in trucks, tents or toy haulers.
A powerful thunderstorm blew through the grounds Friday morning and the entrance road, and the entire park for that matter, was in its prime — slippery, bottomless clay mud holes as far as the eye could see. Take it from a first timer who learned a thing or two: it’s no place to roll up in a Kia Spectra rental car.
The little jalopy made it in a respectable distance before its driver decided it was time to bail. A friendly crew allowed yours truly to beach it on their claimed chunk of turf, and their good nature prevented the car from sinking to the center of the Earth. Thanks Max!
Events On Tap
From the start of the four-and-a-half-day rendezvous on Wednesday morning, there’s a constant stream of activities, including DynoJet’s Bad 2 Da Bone Show-N-Shine Competition, Erlandson Performance’s two-man Endurance Challenge through the High Line bog area, two Akraix freestyle shows, the Maxxis Mudda-Cross oval races and, the climax of it all, the SuperTrapp Mud Bog and Polaris Mud Chic Shootouts.
Scores of fans gathered around the Maxxis Mudda-Cross bog for the races under the lights on Friday evening. With the long and wide oval, there were infinite option lines to take, and plenty of quads bucked their riders off to give them a swim in the pit. After the racing finished, the Mudda-Cross bog cleared out in a rush-hour-like stream of machines that tore off in all directions. The nightlife went on through most of the night.
SuperTrapp Mud Bog
Aside from shaking off the remains of a late night, there was a clear feeling of mounting intensity on Saturday. The climax of the five-day event, the SuperTrapp Mud Bog, was set to begin around high noon, with the Polaris Mud Chic competition to follow immediately after.
With fans and quads in all directions, the racers lined up in groups of three to five — a flat-out race from one side of the pit to the other. The surrounding hills created a natural amphitheater for the main event and, even up in the wooded hillsides, every clear space was occupied by packs of anxious fans and their rides.
The races went in quick succession, and the carnage was minimal. Machines that met their match and stalled were quickly pulled out by Warn’s recovery team, and the racing went on.
There were some who said the north end of the pit was the fastest line, especially for the side-by-sides, but many, like Mike Penland, proved you could win from anywhere with the right machine and setup, a good start and a little luck.
When it was over, Penland took the Pro Series A class, but Brandon Broussard claimed the biggest cash prize ($1,500) for winning the Open class.
As High Lifter is happy to report, women are the fastest growing segment in the mud racing world. For 2008, a second class was added to the Mud Chic competition so ladies on smaller quads could duke it out, too.
Riding some of the meanest modified machines out there, the mud “chics” battled through heat races and finals, until Kathy Robertson took the top spot in the Pro class and Maggie Robertson pocketed $1,500 for winning the Open class.
Wrap Up
After the ladies were through, the attention turned to the Akraix freestyle show, the racing awards ceremony and the closing ceremony’s fireworks show sponsored by Polaris. Another wild night, and then it was Sunday. After the church service, presented by the Christian Motorcycle Association, it was time to pack up and move out.
High Lifter’s Engi said the sixth-annual Mud Nats took the efforts of nearly 200 employees, and several hundred more working for various vendors in the park.
“I’m proud to say that most of the event staff are veterans of the Mud Nationals experience and this year the overall concensus was that this was the easiest Mud Nationals they have ever worked due to the improved organization and this being the best crowd yet,” she said.
Like Penland or the event staff, it’s never too early to start planning for the next year, and mingling with and observing fellow mud hounds probably gave many new ideas for next year.
Let’s just say after seeing the Mud Nationals, it’s hard to imagine anything that could top it — it’s like visiting the mud-covered promise land in a dream. Like Mike, maybe next time I can be persuaded to join in the fun behind the bars of my own bogger. Stranger things have happened, and you’ll see them all at the Mud Nationals.
2008 High Lifter Mud Nationals Results
*SuperTrapp Mud Bog
Pro Series A
1. Mike Penland
2. Brian Robertson
3. Devin Bradly
Pro Series B
1. Adam Ladner
2. Russell Coker
3. JW Otwell
1. Seth Russell
2. Jerry Vines Sr.
3. Jerry Manasco
1. Adam Ladner
2. Mark Wise
3. JW Otwel
1. Kelly Knutson
2. Brian Haughton
3. Brian Cox
1. Brandon Broussard
2. Hoyt McComick
3. Paul Raby
Super Modified
1. Seth Russell
2. Matt Pate
3. Dennis Eppinette
*Polaris Mud Chic Shootout
1. Kathy Robertson
2. Jennifer Glover
3. Kristen Herwick
1. Maggie Robertson
2. Sherri Vines
3. Lindsay Hocutt
*EPI Endurance Challenge
1. David Smith/Brandon Layton, Team Gorilla, 9:50
2. Bradly Cunningham/Chase Dew, Team Steel Horses, 9:56
3. Justin Menard/Jordan Berza, Phoenix Powersports, 10:18
*Maxxix Mudda-Cross
Under 500cc
1. Randy Miller
2. JW Otwell
3. Seth Russell
500cc and Over
1. Russel Coker
2. Trey Thomas
3. Jonathan Ladner
1. Brad Butler
2. Billy Wooten
3. Jesse Johnson
1. Dennis Eppinette
2. Eric Hensley
3. Randy Miller
*Dynojet Bad 2 Da’ Bone
1. Colt Sieber – 68 votes
2. David Stelly – 65 votes
3. Mike Upshaw – 60 votes
*Dash for Cash
1. Lauren Boudreaux
2. “Muscles”
*Walkabout RV Youth Mud Bogs
Pee Wee
1. Jonathan Turner
1. Hunter Patterson
2. Crystina Payne
3. Kayden Shaw
Early Pre-Teen (Kid Pit)
1. Treyce Keys
2. Drew Lafontaine
3. James Holton
Early Pre-Teen (Adult Pit)
1. Justin Miller
2. Dylan Boyd
3. Shiloh Lemons

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