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The excitement and anticipation of the June 28 Trucks Gone Wild (TGW) “Hill-n-Hole” event at Bithlo Motorsports Park had been building for weeks. It started to boil over at Bubba’s Mud Ranch with the “Baddest Truck Showdown” (see July, 2009 issue) and there wasn’t a spare seat in the house by the high-noon start at Bithlo’s on Sunday.

In fact, the Bithlo Motorsports Park crew had to open the gates the night before to accommodate dozens of hard-core muddin’ fans who showed up early to camp out and guarantee themselves a front row seat to watch the latest match-up between some of the biggest and baddest mud trucks in the Southeast.

The TGW DVD series crew sponsored the event and was there to film – basically guaranteeing that there would be a big-time show. And, sure enough, when the drivers took to the mud, the high-flying action didn’t let anyone down!

The Bithlo “Hill-n-Hole” event is a two-run race taking place over a straight mud track or mud “hole” (pit) about 300 yards in length that features a series of three separate “hills” (or jumps) that drivers attempt to crawl through, drive over or fly across in the fastest time possible. For those who don’t know, the combination of these “hills” and 800-plus horsepower under the hood of a custom-built mud machine makes for the most exciting jumps (15 feet of air or more) and dirt-slinging runs of any of the “mud” events.

Of course, sometimes the mud (and jumps) claim their victims in the way of stuck trucks and broken parts. A wide variety of trucks compete, divided up into classes to provide a more level playing field between those designed primarily for speed over the top of the mud and those built to dig down deep and crawl through the thickest mire.

The trucks started getting (and going) wild when the 1-Ton class got underway. The division even included a 16-year-old young lady driving her truck up and over the Bithlo “Hills.”

Hank Steinhauer and “Big Nasty” from Dublin, Ga. – fresh off of outlasting Construction Development’s big green Chevy in a head-to-head showdown at Bubba’s Mud Ranch – put on another outstanding show in the 5-ton class.

But, the most action-packed, mind-blowing, muddy aerial acrobatics of the afternoon came in the 2-1/2 ton class, which featured a line-up of the Southeast’s best-built and baddest trucks all revved up to claim the title. (story continued below)

Click Here to download story or below see video footage of the event (videos courtesy of Superior 4x4)

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The 2-1/2 ton class was a free-for-all with each driver pushing the next harder and harder to make a clean (but fast) run. As the pressure built, the drivers’ feet continued to get heavier and the jumps kept going higher. The excitement of each run pulled you out of your seat, shook you up, slung you around and then threw you back down just long enough to catch your breath before the next truck rolled up to the starting line and the blender action began all over again – cheering with every jump and splash along the way.

The 2-1/2 tons were led by a barrage of trucks like Steamboat, Mudrush, Knight’s Truck Center, the high-flying Jeep (its driver driving one-handed with the other pointing skyward out of the roll cage, while his machine soared over the final hill of the course) and all the Ken’s Tuff Trux crew out of Sanford, Fla.

However, “That Damn Red Chevy,” driven by Mike Kelly, Jr. and backed by a great pit crew, stole the show and won the event. The truck’s raw horsepower, amazing suspension and speed combined with the grit of the driver fueled runs that roared through the “holes” and launched it high over the berms, guard rails, bleachers and slack-jawed crowd.

Lots of trucks had runs that sent the crowd erupting into applause, but Kelly’s second run electrified even those who weren’t even there (but later saw it on video or in photos!).

That seems to be the case with trucks down here in the South! It is why we lead the nation in events like this. It’s easy to see why it is so much fun trying to crown the “Baddest Truck in the South,” because as soon as you do, there is always someone right behind you working even harder to unseat you at the next event. I know I am not going to miss it!

by Richard Augat, Off Road Correspondent Superior Style & Sound (Superior4x4.com)

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For more in-depth off-road coverage, pick up the August 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.superior4x4.com/tgowiatbimop.html for awesome video and photos of recent events at Redneck Yacht Club, Bubba's Mud Ranch and MORE!