When Jeremy Rouser's not taking...
When Jeremy Rouser's not taking his "yellow submarine" deep, he runs the club web site. The Mud Mafia runs the club without much in the way of finances, and the grunt work is done by volunteers.
In Texas, the mafia is alive and well. Their favorite hideout is a 900-acre stretch of mud holes deep enough to bury a broken boss strung together by clay-stained trails near Kilgore, Texas. La famiglia is taken seriously with these Northeast Texans, as even the young turks take part, and this crew's weapon of choice is jacked-up, snorkeled and piped.
The padre of this mud-loving family is Frank "the Godfather" Morris, a manager of 22 vehicle maintenance centers, family man and Kawasaki Brute Force pilot who takes his brood's motto very seriously. The club motto is, "Our business is talkin' trash, and tha' business is good." How good? Morris tells the story of how he lived up to the club motto with a Texas drawl and a Southerner's appreciation for a good yarn.
"Man, I was down there one time, and everybody was talking trash, and I said, 'I tell you what I'll do. I'll take one of my tires off just to make it fair.'"
He was just doing his job-talking trash. A few minutes later, his trash talk turned on him.
"About that time-it wasn't more than 30 minutes later-my dadgum ball joint popped out so I had to take my tire off and strap my A-arm up. When I was going back through them trails, I was going through and they was getting stuck behind me. I run it back to camp with three tires."
He pauses to let that image sink in, then delivers the finish.
"I didn't have to tell them anything else."
That was the day Morris became a made man. The rest of the Cosa Nostra have to go through Morris, their capo di tutti capi (boss of bosses), to get in. The cost? Prospects have to pay 20 bucks for a shirt and "protection."
"If they don't want protection, I tell them the entry fee will cost another 20 bucks!" Frank explains.
Rats, shylocks and empty suits aren't welcome, but pretty much anyone else is. In fact, the 140-plus members of the Mud Mafia are a diverse group. Their list of made men (and women) includes teachers, technicians, CPAs, salespeople and managers. Not to mention bambinis-the mafia are extremely family-oriented. Most of them have kids, and most of the kids ride.
"I've got two boys, one 19 and one 16. They both ride, the youngest one most specially," Morris says.
"I have one 9, and one 5," Buzzy "Buzsaw" McCord says. "They mud. That's what they do. When they get home from school, they go out and ride in the pasture and then pull over to the pond and jump in."
McCord pays his vig by working communications by day and building monster quads by night. Thanks to his home fabrication, the club's machines are sporting 20 inches and more of ground clearance. McCord competes regularly at mud competitions, and recently finished second in the High Lifter Mud Nationals.
Another family connection comes from one of the young turks, Ryan Forrest, who teaches history to eighth graders and runs the club's MySpace page. His father, Tim Forrest, had some doubts about his son's pastime.
"He'd bring the bike home and I'd tell him 'You're absolutely nuts for going and doing this,'" Tim recalls. "He finally talked me into going, and I was on a little Scrambler. One time on it, and I said, 'Hey this is fun.' We went and bought a 700 Polaris on Friday, and we were in the mud with it on Saturday."
Tim is no cafone. He took to the sport with passion, and his 700 is the biggest quad in the club, with just over 20 inches of ground clearance.
East Texas is a center for mud riding, with half a dozen good riding parks within a few hours' drive (all private, of course-serious mudding on public lands will land you in the joint). The Mafia turns out en masse at the big events in the area, such as the Texas Redneck Games, and ride most of the parks and big events at least once a year. The stronghold for the Mud Mafia, however, is Rabbit Creek Riding Park near Kilgore, Texas.
When on the trail, the club...
When on the trail, the club never leaves a member behind. They find plenty of opportunities to practice what they preach-the deep mud takes a toll on the machines, and broken axles and ball joints are commonplace.
Footwear when mudding tends...
Footwear when mudding tends to be minimal.
Cassie Pinkston works in book...
Cassie Pinkston works in book publishing and her husband, Jason, is a salesman for National Oil. The whole crew goes mudding on weekends, including the kids-Chad, Summer, Sean, CJ, and Kayilee.
Stephanie Bennett is the club's...
Stephanie Bennett is the club's go-to person on computer matters and is a system support specialist by day.
Juan Garcia and his rig receive...
Juan Garcia and his rig receive some help out of a neck-deep water hole. "This is the best club in East Texas," he says. "Everybody's good people."