Two and a half hours down I-175 outside of Dallas, Texas, lies a quaint little town known to most in the ATV industry for an event that happens once a year. Most of the year this town has a population of around 14,500, and in the spring for the last seven years its population has actually almost doubled. We travel here each year to see the sights and sounds of the High lifter Mud Nationals as Jacksonville, Texas, becomes the center for mud riding, ATV building, motor heads who love good music and good Cajun-style food. For most, it’s a few days of riding, relaxing with buddies and family that takes priority. Then there are the racers who come here for the sheer excitement of the event as well as the bragging rights and cash payouts.
This year marks the ninth running of the annual High Lifter Mud Nationals www.atvmudnationals.com, and with attendance numbers in the range of 13,000 people, it’s fair to say this event has some serious pull. Attendees come from as far away as Canada and Sweden to take part in the mayhem. This epic event has everything from mouth-watering food of any kind to some of the best ATV and side-by-side mud racing to date. For this year’s event, High Lifter put together some of the best competitions and even added a few new ones to the lineup. It was to be very exciting for sure, and with $26,700 in cash giveaways, I can easily see why some would choose to spend spring break right here in the heart of Texas.
As we entered the gates at Mud Creek Off-Road Park it was certain this year’s crowd was going to be a bit bigger than the last, and it was a mad dash to get our gear settled so we could head out to see the action. Yamaha once again arranged for us to have a comfortable ride in the form of a Rhino, and we thank big blue very much! With approximately 3,500 acres it was necessary to have a vehicle to get around in to check out all that was going on. The roller-coaster hills that litter the property and the various locations of the many events at Mud Creek make good transportation a must at this awesome gathering.
Our editor, Eli, and I had set out a few tasks to handle before the weekend was over, and one of these was to break in another ATVR regular, contributor Jorge Cuartas, to the world of mud and excitement that comes with it. Jorge had never been to a mud racers’ paradise, so we wanted to break him in right. You can read about that in his very own words somewhere in this issue.
The official start of competition began with the sunrise on Thursday morning and the show-and-shine competition as well as a new event called the High Lifter Mud Jam stereo contest. With entries piling up on the sign-in table, the newly added sound system sound-off was in response to the hundreds of totally innovative onboard stereo systems that hung from almost every other ATV and SxS in the park. Cranking up the tunes was an understatement, and with all the bling along the vendor area, selecting a winner must have been difficult, to say the least. From the looks of the machines, most poured their heart and soul into the build sheet, and I thought every single one was wildly unique in its own way. Lacy McElhannon from Foreman, Arkansas, brought out an awesome 2010 Yamaha Grizzly for the show and shine that took home the top prize of $350. Sound honors would go to the guys at Performance ATV as Cody Jones threw the boom into the room!
From wild air over hydraulic lifted and then slammed rides to custom patriotic camouflage Commander side-by-sides there was something new to see around every corner at the Mud Nationals. We even found a guy with a Honda 400EX that had paddle tires and a massive streetbike engine installed for the sheer fun of getting across the muddy pond faster than all of his buddies. We never had the chance to see this beast run, but I can tell you it would have been fast for sure!
If eating suited your fancy, then finding lunch was not a problem, but deciding what to eat was sort of a trial-and-error basis. Don’t get me wrong, everything I had the chance to taste was good, but I had to remember that Texas is very close to Louisiana and Cajun cooking gets spicy fast! The bacon-wrapped jumbo shrimp from Uncle Ray’s were just like I had remembered them from last year, and with a bit of reluctance I even tried my hand at genuine crawfish from the pros. I can tell ya it’s really good, but it seems to be a lot of work and if you have chapped lips, it can be like pouring rubbing alcohol on burnt skin!
After the show arena was emptied and the vendors had closed shop it was time to find a place to hang out and watch the mud life as it unfolded. So where do you go when you have nowhere to go at the Mud Nationals? Well, the Highline, of course. Heading down into the abyss known as the Highline at night gives up many very interesting things. For those who have never been, it’s like cruising the strip in a small beach town but with ATVs instead. No one has a particular place to be, but everyone is always going somewhere there. High Lifter event organizers had made a few changes that gave the congested small roads a bit more breathing room as a couple more exits from the Highline and sand pit would ease the crowded loops. This was a relief for us as last year the mile-long area consumed 2.5 hours in bumper-to-bumper traffic to get back to the camp! This small strip combined with the infamous sand pit keeps the ATV and side-by-side crowds rolling all through the night.