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by Dave ‘Coonbottom” O’Kane

“I remember when 44s were big!”

Whether at the pond, around the campfire or even just standing in line at the local parts house, this is one statement I am hearing more and more often.

If you have attended a mud bog lately, you know things aren’t the same as they were just 10 years ago. Things have changed. Drastically!

It used to be that if you had 44-inch tires, one-ton axles and a moderately-built big block engine, you were “The Man” at that event. Your truck was a “show-stopper,” and you were “king of the hill” for the weekend.

Now, fast-forward just a couple of years, and 24.5x32 R2s are the “new” 44 boggers. That is a 72-inch-tall tire, for you folks not familiar with the tractor tires that are now all the rage with most of today’s big boggers.

Now, specially-built planetary hybrid axles are the new 1-ton Dana 60s.

And, unless you have a blower, you are behind the pack in the high horsepower race.

Remember when TSLs first came out? How many of you had a good debate over whether the “Ground Hawg” or the TSL was a better mud tire?

At one time even custom-cut boggers seemed “super aggressive.” However, now if you put a cut bogger-style tire beside a R2-style tractor tire – which has lugs nearly 6 inches tall – it doesn’t seem to be as hard-core as it once was.

Tractor tires were once a novelty that only a handful of trucks were running. Now they are the norm.

Heck, even the ATVs that show up at some bogs are now on tractor tires!

What’s even more amazing, is the trucks are still getting bigger and faster.

You might be able to argue about where in the Southeast mud-bogging really took off, but what you can’t argue is how much it has changed in the past 10 years. I don’t think too many people would have ever guessed our passion would evolve into what it is today.

I can still remember years back on one cold February night, standing near a bonfire with a crowd of “only” 200 people watching a half-ton Chevy on 35s fight to get out of knee-deep mud.

That was good boggin’ back then, and a good-size crowd for a local bog.

I am sure you all have similar stories about how boggin’ was “back in the day.” Stories about a bunch of friends going out on a Saturday night to sling their tires for fun and maybe show off to each other.

Now, several thousand people show up to watch trucks run “Bounty Holes,” race against one another in “Hill-and-Hole” events or any one of many other types of competitive mud racing and bogging events.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to sound like I am stuck reminiscing about the past. After all, “racing improves the breed,” and it’s nice to be able to win back some money for all of your hard work, sweat and cash put into these rigs.

Plus, with mud-boggin’ becoming more popular, it is drawing in a much wider, more diverse crowd.

Who knows where the sport will be in the next 10 years? Mud-boggin’ could have its own prime-time highlight reel segment on ESPN every night. Or, it could go back to being about a bunch of friends heading down some muddy roads and trails or gathering at a private pond on a Saturday.

I am excited and looking forward to whatever the future holds. I just hope we are all around and in one piece to enjoy it, which brings me to next month’s topic – the much-debated and sticky subject of safety.

Sept. 3-5 – Redneck Yacht Club Labor Day MUD BOG & RACING

Redneck Yacht Club in Punta Gorda will host a full, three-day weekend of mud-boggin and racing Sept. 3-5. There will be ATV and Side-by-Side racing for cash and prizes, as well as Chicago-Style mud truck racing ($4,000 purse) with classes divided into: 2.5 ton, 1-ton and Street Stock. Saturday will feature Truck Pulls with a $2,000 cash purse (10,000 lb. and Street Stock classes). Call 321-282-8708 for details on racing. For details on all other events and attractions, see ad on page 70, call (941) 505-8465 or check out: www.redneckyachtclubfl.com.

Sept. 3-5 – Triple Canopy Ranch Labor Day ‘Mud-A-Thon’

Triple Canopy Ranch will host its Labor Day “Mud-A-Thon” on Sept. 3-5 in Lake Wales. TCR’s “Mud-A-Thon will feature Airboat Drag Races on Saturday and will have the “baddest ATV pits” and “baddest truck pits in the South” open throughout the weekend. The Central Florida off-road park has recently constructed a side-by-side airboat track for the drag races on its 425 acres of scenic ranch land. TCR already offers one of the largest truck and buggy pits in the state, including an ATV and stock truck play pen, mud strip and circle track. For more information, see ad on page 73 or go online to www.TripleCanopyRanch.com.

Sept. 3-5 – Beaver Hut Boggin’ Labor Day Weekend Blast

Albany, Georgia’s Beaver Hut Boggin’ will host a three-day (Sept. 3-5) Labor Day Weekend Blast and says they will pay out $100 to any truck that can cross their bounty hole. The park also has a circle track, five mud pits and a big muddy play area. ATVs and campers are welcome. There will be a live band Saturday night. See ad on page 65.

SEPT. 4-5 – Hog Waller Labor day mud jam

Hog Waller Mud Bog in Palatka will host its Labor Day Mud Jam on Sept. 4-5 with over 700 acres of new trails, mud and fun for the entire family. See ad on page 62. For more info, videos and photos, go to: www.HogWallerMudBog.com.

Sept. 4-6 – Horse Hole Creek Labor Day Demolition Weekend

The new Horse Hole Creek in Inglis has three days of off-road, mud-bogging, ATV and rock-crawling family fun lined up for its Labor Day “Demolition” weekend. A 30-lap “Warehouse Derby Race” for up to $750 in cash will be held Saturday. On Sunday drivers can enter their own car for a “Demolition Derby” race for up to $1,000 in cash (rules online at www.mudup.com). On Monday, truck owners can compete for a $100 NAPA gift certificate in a “Best of Show Down & Dirty” contest. The mud pit will be open all weekend, and proceeds from 50-50 drawings held each day will go to benefit Steve and Barb Lancaster. For more info, call 352-447-5538 or visit www.MudUp.com. See ad on page 62 for a $2 off coupon.

Sept. 4-6 – Ocean Pond’s Down & Dirty Labor Day Weekend

Ocean Pond Mud Bogging & Offroad Park in Old Town will host deep mud racing on Saturday, ATV mud racing and Tug-O-War on Sunday as well as free monster bus rides. See ad on page 70 or call 352-258-5973.

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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!