For eleven years now one mud riding and racing event has held the attention of mud lovers everywhere. The annual High Lifter Mud Nationals took Jacksonville, Texas by storm during the final week of March and there was plenty of great food, fun, racing and mud to be shared by all.
The food at this event is always interesting and it seems to have a south Texas/Louisiana flare to it. From bacon wrapped shrimp, which are my favorite, to the fresh boudin and crawfish, you can find plenty of great things to eat. It seems that Uncle Ray’s mobile cooking is almost everyone’s favorite place to get some grub as his popular bacon wrapped anythings will satisfy your stomach.
If you can cook a good BBQ you should try out the Outlaw BBQ Throw down that is a big part of the event each year. The promoters gather entries from cooks willing to take a chance at grabbing some cash as well as notoriety for their skills. The meat is then hand selected and passed out to the contestants and on Wednesday its time for the public to decide who’s best. This is the fun part because if you hang around the judging table you too can take part in some free food before heading out on the trails.
While eating is most definitely a great part of the High Lifter Mud Nationals, but riding the over 4000 acres at Mud Creek Off-Road Park is the best reason to come out. The trails were dressed this year and some new sections added to keep the traffic flowing in all directions. Keep in mind that 13,000-15,000 people attend each year and the traffic coming into the park stays steady up until Saturday evening. This is a huge event!
Getting involved in the racing at the High Lifter Mud Nationals was a little easier this year. The Obstacle Course Challenge brought out the mud racers, cross country guys and gals, as well as the side-by-side enthusiasts. This was a wonderful new addition to the event lineup and it gave anyone with a machine a chance to compete. The race began with a very wide and tall pile of logs, sort of a Lincoln Log mountain, and then you rode through the used tire cemetery. If you made it that far it was over the Twin Peaks (two tall piles of loose dirt) and down through Thunder Muck, which was sort of a half-run mud bog. The final obstacles were a buried camper, two buried cars, one single light pole horizontal crossing and through a tunnel to the finish line bumps. The guys who thought they could master the crazy obstacles were sorely wrong and it seemed that persistence as well as patience prevailed over brute force. As we said earlier this was a great new addition and it brought a freshness to the entire show.
You might be wondering just how the riding equipment survives the week-long event – we can tell you it is only through the kindness of great vendors and manufacturers. Yamaha had its huge hauler set up overlooking the center of the action and if you needed repairs you just rolled up. Can-Am had also prepared itself to help out Can-Am owners with minor issues and even provided a demo course, as it has in prior years, to keep you busy while your machine gets sorted out. Can-Am even had lunch for two days in its “owner appreciation” corral right beside the hauler. If you own a Can-Am you ate lunch and received a free Can-Am yellow t-shirt as a special thanks for your loyalty.
Competition is king at Mud Nationals as organizers really did have something for everyone. The DynoJet Bad 2 'Da Bone contest pitted the best custom ATVs and UTVs against each other to see who would be voted the best of the best. The 2013 winner was Mark Wise’s “Caged”. This creation outdid the competition in its sheer detail and use of components, from the prototype Legend air suspension to the see through CVT belt cover. The detailing in the airbrushed plastics really exemplified the attention to the “Caged” theme as it resembled a crated silverback Gorilla trying to escape. The ATV actually started out as a 2009 Can-Am Outlander bucket of bolts with boxes of parts scattered on the floor of Mark’s shop. The final product was pretty ingenious.
Championship Mud Racing is yet another draw to the weeklong March event and the CMR did not disappoint. Clay Wylie and his wife Rhonda, as well as many other volunteers, assembled and organized the fastest racers in the mucky muck for thousands in cash prizes. The racing got rolling in the Can-Am/BRP Mud Bog and worked its way over to the Polaris Mudda-Cross track the following day. This type of racing pits man against machine and mud. If you have not had the chance to hear some of the more modified motors roar across the 150-foot Mud Bog or around the Mudda-Cross circle track then you have missed out. The time and effort these guys and gals put into themselves, their machines and the sport is unbelievable. Did you know you could win $1000 or more in a day of racing? Well you do now.
Another cool event is the HMF Endurance race that puts teams of two racers on one machine or a two-machine two-man team to drag race from one end of the Highline to the other and back. Both machines do not have to make it back, but both riders do. If you lose a machine in the deep stuff, simply jump on with your buddy.
High Lifter has always been known for giving back in some form and the racing, although fun and exciting, wasn’t the biggest highlight of this year’s High Lifter Mud Nationals. Polaris teamed up with High Lifter to give away a cool looking Caleb Moore edition RZR XP 900. For a $5 donation you could have a chance to win the machine and all of the proceeds went directly back to the Moore family to help them during the loss of their son, X-Games star Caleb Moore. The event raised a stunning $14,000.00 for the family and that was personally my favorite highlight.
The history has been written for the 2013 High Lifter Mud Nationals and while it’s not yet clear exactly what High Lifter has in store for 2014, I’m sure it will be exciting. Hopefully I’ll see you there.