I could already hear Jeff Foxworthy's "You might be a redneck if..." jokes ringing in my ears as I surveyed the crowd at the 2006 High Lifter ATV Mud Nationals at the Mud Creek Off-Road Park near Jacksonville, Texas. I think I may have seen some of the people he was talking about in his comical punch lines after just a few minutes of walking around. From the Dixie flags, beer T-shirts and accents, it became very apparent I was definitely in the South. It was hard to tell who had the most fun out there-the ATV riders who were competing or those watching from the sidelines- at the wild, mud-induced games.
This is the fourth year High Lifter has hosted this event, with 2006 being the biggest yet. The number of contests was expanded, requiring a third day to fit them all in. New competitions included the Mud-A-Cross, Sled Pull, Poker Run, Kiddie Bog and Geocache Treasure Hunt. The Mud-A-Cross (likely to return next year) saw fierce competition as three racers made two laps in the 18 inches to four feet of muddy water in a format similar to a circle track.
Attendees included many repeat competitors. In fact, Ava Rice was back to defend her title in the Women's Solid Rear Axle (SRA) class in the Bulldog Off-Road, All-Terrain Trucks Mud Chic Shootout. We're happy to report she was successful.
Diluting the sea of Southern accents were mud enthusiasts from as far as Canada, who came to enjoy the Texas gumbo mud and red clay this property had to offer. One of those making a long trip to Texas was a guy better known by his forum name, T-Rex. (The affable Minnesotan's real name is Mike Walker.) Within minutes of meeting him, I figured out why so many people respect his ATV refitting work.
"I like to have a quad that I can bolt on something and outperform a machine that is dedicated to that particular type of competition," Walker said. It seems that when you enjoy so many different types of ATV riding-from sand and asphalt drag racing to hair scrambles and mud bogs-it would be too costly to dedicate one machine per sport. So he just designs bolt-on products to make his Kawasaki Brute Force 650 do all that-and very well, one might say. The two-to-one transfer case he built for mud bogging delivers twice the torque than a normal ATV.
"To the quad, it makes the 37-inch tires feel like they're 27 inches," Walker explained. It was a mixed weekend for T-Rex, driving home with three wins, a second and two third-place finishes. Not bad for a guy who works for a company that does product development on peanut sweeteners.
Like any full-fledged national event, the 2006 High Lifter ATV Mud Nationals was blessed with a dozen or so vendors on hand to offer any and all kinds of mud accessories for an ATV. Winches, tires and lift kits were among the most popular, but representatives from stereo makers, trailer companies and photographers were also among those hawking wares and services. High Lifter even brought a certified ATV mechanic to provide labor and fix small problems-like valve adjustments, tire changes and CV replacements-for free!
There was one thing that stood out more than anything when wandering the grounds of Mud Creek. The event was a place where families and friends came to spend time together doing what they enjoy the most: getting muddy on their ATVs. Fortunately, the 2500-acre Mud Creek Park offers plenty of room for camping, whether you were in a tent or an RV. And with at least six wash stations on hand for quads that needed a bath, lines moved steadily. At almost any time of day lines of 10-20 people were patiently waiting to wash off their quads, and in the evening hours the smell of barbecue filled the air. Once night fell, headlights could be seen in the trees as they bounced along the many trails.
Others who enjoyed the sloppy event were ATV clubs like the Southern Oklahoma Mud Slingers and the Git-R-Done crew from Louisiana, who make it a point to attend this event along with many like it. Both groups are made up of tight friends who ride as often as they can, wherever they can (mostly in mud). If you'd like more information on what to expect for 2007, visit www.highlifter.com or call High Lifter at 318/524-2270.