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by Dave ‘Coonbottom” O’Kane

by Dave “Coonbottom” O’Kane

“It’s just mud-bogging, it isn’t like it takes any skill!” Eh? My jaw nearly hit the floor when I heard that. OK, sure, you won’t ever see a mud truck trying to pass on the inside of turn four, or doing 200 mph in the quarter mile, but drivers and trucks in today’s mud-bogging world face much tougher challenges than most people will ever realize.

This past month Triple Canopy Ranch in Lake Wales, Fla. hosted their second annual “King of the Sling” event (April 29-May 1), pitting 18 drivers (nominated and selected by their peers) to compete in an obstacle course-style race to determine the best driver and truck. However, as challenging as this event was, it still could not show the true scope and range of all that mud-bogging involves.

In the world of motorsports, most fields have a designated vehicle built specifically to excel at one single purpose. Mud trucks don’t have that problem or that luxury. There are no restrictor plates or caps on engine or tire size. Even the official sanctioned events still have very few restrictions or regulations.

It is still all about having fun and seeing who is the best. A driver could take his truck and compete in a “tug of war” event on Friday night, then race it on a mud or dirt track on Saturday before heading to a mud bog or pond to sling some mud on Sunday.

All of those very different events certainly take an understanding of how the truck behaves, the limits of the vehicle, the skill level of the competition, some quick thinking and, well, just a little bit of luck. Saying it doesn’t take skill is a gross understatement and a borderline insult. Anyone can stomp the gas pedal and hold the steering wheel straight.

But, how many drivers know what to do when they look out the driver’s window and see the ground? It isn’t easy to keep the nose straight when the course you are racing on isn’t. It takes nerves of steel to stay in the throttle when the windshield is completely covered in mud. Even knowing when to stay out of the throttle to keep from breaking traction is a fine art.

Something as simple as driving through a pond takes awareness not known to those who have only been on asphalt or limerock. There takes a certain instinct to “feel out” a hole. Even at low speeds you can easily roll a truck over if a person is inexperienced. When driving a vehicle with a high center of gravity, there’s only a few inches of difference between having a good day and ending up on your lid. The stakes aren’t quite as high for simply getting stuck, but even that takes a little finesse.

Watching the tach, judging the throttle, grabbing for the shifter, glancing at the oil pressure and water temp, turning to the low side and making sure one of the front tires isn’t too high in the air – all while getting thrown about in the cab – seems like it takes a little bit of skill to me.

A mud bogger has to be a “jack of all trades” – mechanic, crew chief, driver and pit crew – all in one. I’m not sure who coined the phrase, but I will give Sidney McGlamory credit for me first hearing it, “Mud-bogging isn’t a lazy man’s sport.”

Being a good driver means more than being good behind the wheel. It means being good at keeping up with crucial maintenance, being able to physically take a beating all day, having to work on the rig in the dirt and the mud and even dragging a snatch rope through waist-deep mud. These are all challenges that only a mud bogger will face.

Even at the end of the day, worn out, exhausted and maybe a little bloody, a driver may still climb up the tire and say, “I’m about to cross this hole,” or “I’m about to drag this guy’s butt across the (tug) pad.”

There is a grit that lives in the heart of the mud bogger. It is a passion to be the best at whatever we put our rigs through. To conquer whatever lies ahead of us, whatever the challenge. To look back and grin, because we know not many can do what we just did. To say with pride, “Yeah, I’m a mud bogger!”

That person was right, mud-bogging doesn’t take skill – it takes much more than that to do what we do!

Driver of the Month

This month’s “Driver of the Month” is Chris (a.k.a. Toby) or “Iniviate”

from Jacksonville, Florida. Despite getting into mud-bogging just five years ago, Toby has already become a big name in the bogging world, which helped him become the first winner of the Woods ‘n Water “Truck of the Month” contest (voted online at www.woodsnwater.net/boggin/totm) by a landslide.

Coming from a racing background, it is somewhat surprising that Toby’s 2000 GMC Sierra still has a mostly stock drive train. When asked to compare racing to bogging, Toby states, “It is less stressful, and the people are a lot more laid back in mud-bogging.” He said his neighbor got him into mud trucks, and after just one trip to Pudding Creek, he was hooked.

Toby has become an internet legend with some of his builds chronicled online, as well as a familiar face at many bogs, helping him become this month’s “Driver/Truck of the Month.”

For more on our winner and the current Truck/Driver of the Month Contest see the contest page or click here: http://www.woodsnwater.net/boggin/totm/contest-winner/2011/5-may

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MAY 7-8 – Ocean Pond Mud Bog

Ocean Pond Mud Bogging & Offroad Park will host a big, bad muddy event May 7-8 with free monster bus rides, deep mud racing, ATV mud racing and some of the biggest and baddest trucks and ATVs in the South. Ocean Pond is located just north of Chiefland, 30 miles west of Gainesville. See ad on this page, call 352-258-5973 or go online to http://oceanpond.net.

May 7 & 21 – Auggie Bog

St. Augustine Raceway will hold one-day Auggie Bog events on the first and third Saturdays of the month (May 7 and May 21). Primitive camping will be available on Friday night prior to each event, which are open to mud trucks and ATVs. Campers can enter after 4 p.m. on Friday. Gates open at 8 a.m. on Saturday. Admission is $15 per person (kids under 10 free). Auggie Bog now has 300 additional acres set aside for ATVs. No pets or glass of any kind are allowed. For more info (including entertainment), visit www.AuggieBog.com, see ad on page 63, email [email protected] or call (904) 868-9740 for details!

May 14-15 – Hog Waller ATV-ONLY Weekend

North Florida’s #1 Outdoor Adventure Park will hold their monthly ATV weekend event on May 14-15. Gates open at 10 a.m. on May 13 (UTV/ATVs welcome). There will be a two-hour night ride on over 5,800 acres, as well as a poker run and lots more. See ad on this page or call Dan, 352-817-5405, or Kenny, 352-494-0012, for info.

MAY 21-22 – CREEK BOTTOM ATV PARK

Creek Bottom ATV Park in Doles, Georgia will hold open riding weekends on May 21-22 and June 18-19 before their big “July Firecracker Bash” racing weekend on July 1-3. For more information, go online to www.creekbottomatvpark.com or call (352) 528-3252.

(For the rest of this month's scheduled events pick up the current issue of Woods 'n Water Magazine.)

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For more in-depth off-road coverage, pick up this month's issue of Woods 'n Water, click on our forums page http://www.woodsnwater.net/forums for the "Offroad" section and be sure to visit http://www.woodsnwater.net/boggin for awesome video and photos of recent events around the South!