Country boys and girls grow up mudding, and even if they don’t go mudding on purpose. That is just because of dirt road conditions in wet weather and out in the livestock pastures and fields of crops. More than likely, a rural citizen never thinks of calling a tow truck if they get stuck in the mud. Here, we are discussing mudding in pickup trucks, not ATVS.
What is Mudding?
“Mudding” is off-road driving in mud. It is called various names in different parts of the U.S., like mud bogging, mudslinging, and mud racing. Mudding is one of the most fun and wildest of off-road sports. Mudding is also big business, and can cost professional mudders a pretty penny to outfit their trucks.
The perfect mudding environment is a combination of muddy conditions like wet fields, lake shores, lake and river beds, and streams. You should equip your mudding truck for all-terrain driving. For the best performance, mudders use pickup trucks and sports utility vehicles with all-wheel or four-wheel drive trains and mud-terrain tires.
Mudding can be a dangerous sport, but it is safer than ATVs, where you can be thrown under your ride. People go mudding in regular two-wheel drive pickups, but a four-wheel drive is best for the most extreme mudding experience. If you are afraid to get yourself or your truck super dirty, mudding is not for you. Washing a truck after a mudding trip is no small feat; it takes time and a power wash, and you might need a power wash too.
How to Stay Safe When Mud Bogging
Inexperienced mudders should never try mudding alone. If you want to learn mudding, there is an entire community of mudders worldwide. It is advised to take a driver-safety course before learning to mud. Some mudders wear helmets and seatbelts. There have been 200 deaths caused by mudding accidents reported in the U.S. since 1960.
Learning to mud can transform you into a vehicle dynamics expert. The correct tires, known as mud-terrain tires but commonly called mud tires, are essential for mudding. Mud tires have extra large tread separated by wide deep grooves. Mud is less likely to get stuck in your tires, and they climb and grip terrain. However, the driver’s skill is as important as the tires.
Learn about traction control systems (TCS), which communicate with your truck’s on-board computer system, and monitor how fast your wheels are spinning. The speed of tire rotation is related to functions like automatic brakes. This system keeps you moving as in it detects one of your wheels is losing grip, it will apply the brake to that individual wheel or reduce engine power to that wheel. TCS technology reduces wheel slippage off-road by actively controlling the traction force of the front wheels through the system.
Learning the dynamics of how speed affects whether you get stuck or keep moving forward. Sometimes when mudding, you have to gun it, but the best speed levels for soggy ground are slow to slow to moderate speeds. You will not see dangerous rocks, hidden tree stumps, and deep potholes if you drive too fast, but you will get stuck if you go too slowly.
You get more traction if you drop your air pressure in your tires. You may lose ground clearance, but you get more traction. However, you need to know how much your tire manufacturer recommends for the lowest psi for your tire.
Outfit your truck with critical supplies, which, at the least, include an extra set of survival clothes, a jack, extra motor oil, a spare tire, basic mechanic tools, extra water, wooden boards the width of your tires, and anything else you will need in case you get stuck and have to hike out. Heavy-duty floor mats will help protect the interior of your truck and ease post-mudding clean up a bit.
History of Mudding
Off-road vehicles began with the last Tsar of Russia, Nicholas II, and Adolphe Kegresse in 1906. Adolphe was a French military engineer who invented the half-track and dual clutch transmission while working for the Tsar. Adolphe endeavored to improve the mobility of the Tsar’s Imperial Car Park. He invented the Kégresse track to modify normal motor vehicles into vehicles that could drive through poor road conditions.
By 1916, Adolphe had developed a new kind of vehicle that was designed specifically for soft driving conditions with dirt, grass, mud, and snow. A continuous line of rubber track that moves along a conveyor instead of using traditional interlocking metal tires made up he Kegresse track. They looked like the caterpillar-style tracks we see on heavy duty military equipment. Adolphe’s adapted his invention to normal vehicles of the day.
WW1 began in 1914, and in 1917, the Russian Revolution began, the Tsar and family were brutally murdered, and the situation forced Adolphe to return home to France, where he continued to design and build off-road vehicles into the 1930s. Military actors in the WWII theater used the Kegresse track on their heavy equipment and tanks.
In the Battle of the Somme in September 1916, the British forces were the first to use tanks. The tank profoundly affected German morale because tanks crossed trenches and wire entanglements. However, the British tanks failed to make headway through the German lines. After WWI, and throughout WWII, off-road tire technologies advances, and off-road vehicles did not need tracks. The famous Jeep, used by the U.S. military in WWII can be recognized as the advent of civilian off-road popularity in the U.S.
As the shock of WWII wore off, and people worldwide went back to living their normal lives, a huge surplus of off-road Jeeps and other vehicles, like the heavier Lorries, presented a huge surplus to the public. The sport of mud bogging was born. U.S. Army Jeeps sported deeply treaded tires that made it easy for them to grip U.S. landscapes.
The American public used Jeeps for off-road excitement and grew a new U.S. industry. The market for off-road vehicles swelled, and production of more comfortable and better designed off-road vehicles also swelled. These newly designed off-road vehicles gave outdoorsmen the capacity for exploration, hunting, racing, and as workhorses in numerous industries working in rural areas.
Today, the off-road market has not slowed down. One factor is that easy credit allows mudders the access to the vehicles and their equipment. You can buy a starter mudder pickup for between $20,000 and $30,000. If you want to go much less expensive, you can get a little open, off-road, go-kart sized vehicle for $2,500 like the Hammerhead MudHead 208R, but we are focusing on mudding pickup trucks.
Mud Bogging Events
Mudding events happen everywhere in the U.S. and Canada. Some of the biggest mudding events occur in almost every state in the U.S. There are several national and statewide mud bogging associations too. Outdoor arenas and speedways host some of these events, big lakes host others, and some have their own mud parks, plus some off-road equipment and vehicle manufacturers and even video production companies sponsor touring mudding series.
Most regions in most states have local mud hole spots. You can find mudding areas around most lakes and rivers or their beds. You should make sure that it is legal in these areas to tear up the mud, because they may be wildlife protection areas. But the biggest mudding events are vacation worthy destinations.
The following events are some of the biggest mudding events in the country:
4 Wheel Jamboree: Bloomberg, Pennsylvania/Indianapolis, Indiana
Mud Bog Racing here offers participants a chance to test their vehicle in their pit that is filled with some of the nastiest mud you will ever see. This is a head-to-head matchup where two vehicles enter the bog and race towards the finish line. First one there wins. There are Six Classes of Mud Bog, Competitors score bragging rights and win some cash.
Louisiana Mudfest: Colfax, Louisiana
This mud park is located on the Red River and there is a marina for people who want to arrive by boat. Mud Jam, a Saturday event held every June, bills its event as “one of the wildest parties in the South.” It often includes nationally known entertainment from early afternoon well into the evening. Instead of organized competition, Mud Jam is more of an exhibition: run whatcha brung, often until it breaks. Louisiana Mudfest also hosts a couple of Trucks Gone Wild events every year. This venue features mud holes of varying depths and trails for Jeeps and ATVs. Other amenities include camping areas, showers, a swimming hole, and a café and saloon that claims to serve the coldest beer in Louisiana.
Michigan Mud Jam: Hale, Michigan
This event is the largest mud bog in Michigan and one of the biggest in the country. Mud Jam takes place at Losco County Fair Grounds. It features Trucks Gone Wild and participants and spectators can expect 125 acres of muddy madness. Events include tug-of-war, a mega truck competition, mud freestyle, and head-to-head mud racing. Camping is included in the price of admission. Dogs cost extra, and ATVs are allowed.
Mud Fest: Sweet Home, Oregon
The Santiam 4WD Association has hosted this big mud event in Oregon for over 40 years. Rebranded as the Mountain Mud Festival, the event has since expanded to include mud drags, an obstacle course, and a rockcrawl. The association usually hosts this family-friendly event on the first Saturday of March. Mud Fest attracts everything from stock 4x4s to purpose-built mud machines. Tickets normally sell out early. Mud Fest proceeds are donated to local and national charities.
Pit at Virginia Motor Speedway: Jamaica, Virginia
The Pit at Virginia Motor Speedway’s hosts their annual Run-A-Muck Mud Bog and Mud Sling presented by Atlantic Broadband and WhosYourDriver.org. The competitors offer some of the best mud bogging on the East Coast. There are eleven classes of “Mud Maniacs” in action ranging from super stock to unlimited with cash payouts in all classes. Sometimes, this event showcases the Unlimited X Tractor and Obstacle X divisions. Fans watch hordes of trucks splashing through a 200-foot Mud Bog pit and some of the region’s best mud dragsters covering the 200-foot Mud Sling pit in under three seconds.
Rednecks with Paychecks: St. Jo, Texas
Rednecks with Paychecks (RWP) is a popular park that usually hosts two large four-day events annually. The Spring Break Fiesta in March is its signature bash. In recent years, Mega Truck competitions have been part of the program, and Barbie Jeep races with cash pay-outs bring attention to the lady mudders. Live bands appear on the main stage throughout the weekend. In the middle of Texas farm country, this 1,000-acre RWP property features five mud pits, one of which is a bounty hole, a Tug of War pad, and a rockcrawl course. VIP packages include drinks and access to a Main Stage hospitality tent.
Redneck Yacht Club Mud Park: Punta Gorda, Florida
As one of the most famous mud parks, the Redneck Yacht Club hosts a variety of events throughout the year. The Trucks Gone Wild Fall Classic is one of its largest. It opened in 2009, and this 800-acre Redneck Yacht Club features four mud holes, a 500-foot oval mud track, an obstacle course, an ATV/UTV area, wooded trails, a camping area, a swimming hole, and an airboat track. A concert stage hosts musical acts. This is definitely a bucket-list venue.
St. Lucie MudJam, St. Lucie, Florida
Launched in a field in 2011, this event attracts over 10,000 people yearly. St. Lucie MudJam bills itself as “South Florida’s longest tailgate party.” The events are spectator-friendly as an attraction for people who don’t have a functional 4×4 or side-by-side, but want to see the show. Competitive races include an oval Hill-N-Hole track and a deep mud-bog track. The drag racing purse is $4,000. An infamous bonfire takes place following the Saturday evening entertainment. Bring a tent for their campground. The St. Lucie MudJam welcomes ATVs and side-by-sides.
Oklahoma Mudder Fest: Lexington, Oklahoma
The Oklahoma Mudder Fest in Lexington is all about family, fun, and mud. It is a three-day festival with mud bog races, ATV races, and kid’s Power Wheels races. Events also include mud volleyball, redneck truck games, and live musical entertainment. Bring your tent for camping and lawn chairs for comfort.
Truck Night at Yankee Lake: Brookfield, Ohio
This lake holds Truck Night on Friday nights from May through August. The 55-acre Yankee Lake property features a 3-mile trail ride with mud and hill climbs. Three mud pits offer different degrees of difficulty and a chance to win money for those willing to conquer challenges. Truck Night also features a rockcrawl area. The facility features live entertainment in the Yankee Bootlegger Saloon.
Vermonster 4×4 Spring Mud Fling: Bradford, Vermont
This family friendly event every May features a full weekend of truck sports for participants and spectators. These include Head-2-Head Mud Racing, a deep-mud Trench competition, a Hill-N-Hole challenge, a slow-speed Trials Course for 4x4s and side-by-sides, a Tough Truck track, tractor pulls, a rock crawling course, rock racing, and a kid’s Power Wheels race. Monster and Mega trucks are also part of the show. Vermonster also holds a September event at the Vermont State Fairgrounds.
Big Meat Run: Disney, Oklahoma
Just aside from Grand Lake O’ the Cherokee, this mudding event hosts thousands of visitors and hundreds of participants every spring. It’s a free-for-all of camping, trail riding and mud bogging that is certainly a sight to see.