Oct. 01, 2005 By ORC STAFF

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The Stompers 4x4 Club and Extreme Off-Road Racing busted out with a serious "pin-the-throttle-'til-your-through" mud running. The Mud Run was just one of several events that the 4x4 club puts together annually. The fall event provided a chance for 4x4 enthusiast from across the country to come out and have a good time and compete for prize money and trophies.

What is Mud Running all about? It is a chance to bring out your 4x4 and compete in the most ultimate and unforgiving terrain - a "Pit of Mud". Just trying to make it through the pit is not the only challenge, as you compete for time and distance against other 4x4's in various classes, ranging from the "Everyday Joe" in his stock rig to "All-Out Andy" in his Mud Rocket. Some of these guys are top-rated professionals in bogging.

The classes at the Kansas City event include Stock 35" tire and under, Super Stock 35" and under, Stock 38.5" and under, Super Stock 38.5" and under, Stock 44" and under, Open "anything goes" class, Women's 38.5" and under, and Women's 44" and under class. Extreme Off-Road Racing provided a chance for skilled circuit professionals to enthusiastic mud runners to hit the course and put on a show and compete as well.

John Thee of St. Joseph, Missouri brought his 1983 Ford Ranger, competing in various classes. Nicknamed the "Raging Ranger," it has a 466 big block.

Alex Ames, Stompers 4x4 founder, has been mud running for well over a decade. "It is really great to be able to put these events on and to have so many 4x4's show up. It takes a lot of time and effort to put one on, and it was great to see so many vehicles come from all around to participate. Thanks goes out to everyone who came to the event and all of our sponsors," he said.

Driving a 1989 GMC Stepside truck, Ames states that the club itself is made up of a group of friends that enjoy traveling around the country, going to mud runs and various other 4x4 events. "What we have in common is friendships that go beyond 4x4's. These friendships were created through our enthusiasm for off-road activities. We have been having so much fun that we decided to start hosting some events, which are open to anyone and everyone," Ames said.

Keith and Samantha Kaufman are club members who helped form the backbone of the event. Working around the clock, getting all the details taken care of, they not only help keep the event going but also participated with there 1983 Chevy Blazer called "Family Affair."

"Everyone had such a great time putting together a mud run event last August during the local fair that the fair association invited us back to put on an independent event," says Keith Kaufman. "This time around, we got a lot of interested sponsors, and we were also able to put together some fund raising opportunities for the Red Cross. We thank everyone for coming out - it is this kind of turnout that allows mud running events to thrive throughout the county" states Kaufman.

John Thee of St. Joseph, Missouri brought his 1983 Ford Ranger, competing in various classes. Nicknamed the "Raging Ranger," it has a 466 big block. "I have been participating in these events for 4 years now," Thee said. "My friends and I started out just having some fun on our own property and then started hearing about events. After that, we have been going to them ever since. And the Kansas City event was great. It was a nice variety of events - not just one thing - it catered to all kinds of off-road enthusiasts" Thee said."

There is also quite a bit of strategy and planning involved in this sport. The "Raging Ranger" packs a motor with Cobra Jet heads, 14 1/2 to 1 compression, 1150 dominator carburetor and a 225 horse shot of nitrous. "I have weight distributed strategically - you do want to be light going through the mud, but you want weight where you need it as well," said a convincing Thee.

Bill Matthews of Cleveland, Missouri does not hesitate to compete in as many classes as possible. With his 1965 Chevy truck, he slings mud with the best of them. Running a 327 with automatic transmission, it is pretty much stock except for the motor. "We started doing this back in 1999. The family really started enjoying it, and my two boys help me work on the truck a lot. It is really something that is fun for the whole family" states Matthews.

Bronc Mundell of Centerville, Kansas brought out his 1977 Chevy Stepside with a 350 motor and 38.5" Boggers. "I have been racing in the mud for three years and I have been playing in the mud since I was a kid" states Mundell. "We really enjoy traveling and participating in the events and we really enjoyed the run that they had in August and decided we wanted to come back for the October event" said Mundell.

Donnie Miller of Trenton, Missouri driving a 1979 CJ-7 with a turbo 400 automatic got the award for "The Most Spectacular Run".

Phillip Crabtree of Kansas City, Kansas did not have to travel far to participate in the event. Driving his 1980 Chevy 4x4 with a 355 and a set of 44" Superswamper Tires. "Last year was the first year I really started participating in mud racing. I actually build trucks with my dad as a hobby - and the 1980 Chevy was built as a toy and we took it to the extreme. It is not only a competitive truck, but it is also street legal," said Crabtree. "Once we started going to the mud runs we really got addicted. The Kansas City event really had a great set up and we got to meet a lot of other mud runners," Crabtree said.

The mud itself may not stay in the pit if you have the proper horsepower, but there is no guarantee that your 4x4 will stay in one piece either. Pushing your 4x4 to the limit has risks and may be more than it can handle, but building and rebuilding is nothing new to those in the sport who choose to push the envelope.

Jeremy Heastan of St. Joseph, Missouri brought his 1988 yellow and black S-10 "Horny Bee" to the event. "This is quite a thrill to be able to hit the pit and be able to see how far you can go. And it just keeps getting more popular because everybody I know is putting a truck together so they can come out and compete," said Heastan. With the phrase "Made To Break" on his front bumper, he is ready and willing to compete in the open class. Pushing it to the limit packing nitrous with his 340 small block and tossing on some tractor tires. "Ended up with a little breakage - blew the head gaskets of both sides and cracked the block, but we knew we had been running lately with some damaged parts," he said. "I like using the tractor tires when I get a chance to do so - it seems like they dig harder and have a lot more bite - especially using them with the nitrous on, it is quite a ride!"

With two, blown head gaskets and a cracked block, Jeremey Heastan's S-10 lived up to the phrase on the front bumper "Made to Break!".

The fun is not just reserved for the drivers. Ron Pohlman of Oak Grove, Missouri came to an event for the first time. "I never competed myself but heard that the event was going on and thought it would be something worth checking out. I am really glad that I came out and I have to admit that it really looks like fun and getting a truck together for an event could be a worthwhile investment" says Pohlman.

Getting the word out about these events really seems to be the next step slinging this sport into the spotlight. There are a lot of organizations and associations hosting events that range from friends in a family field to local and state fairs.

"Our spectator turnout was not too bad considering we depended heavily on flyers, signs, and our club web site," said Ames. "But there is a lot of room for large scale turnouts if you can just get the message out to everyone that this is going on," he said.

At each event, the mud pit proves to provide new challenges. Even the same pit changes its terrain after each and every 4x4 gets to run. Some are designed specifically shallow to make it more of a competitive drag race. While others are designed especially deeper for more of a competitive bog.

Donnie Miller of Trenton, Missouri attends a lot of events designed for side by side mud drags, but this was the first year he began competing in more of the mud bogging events. Driving a 1979 CJ-7 with a turbo 400 automatic, Miller says: "We have been attending the mud drags at the state fair for about three years and decide we wanted to try going to some mud bogs to see how the jeep would do. We found out that hey are really fun and competitive and look forward to going to a lot of them in the future."

There were also classes set aside specifically for the ladies to compete with one another. Emmy DeGraffenried competed in her brother Bill's 1979 Chevy truck. "It is really a lot of run and really gets the heart pumping. There is really a lot to it - a lot of strategy involved and the slightest variation made to the truck can make a lot of difference," said DeGraffenried. "Having classes set aside specifically for the women works out great. I think it encourages more of the women to participate. It also provides opportunities for the same vehicle to get more attempts to compete. And the whole family gets involved."

Bill Albin's bueatiful 1957 Chevy took the award for "Best Looking"

Bill Albin of Clinton, Missouri brought out a classic 1957 Chevy with a 396 engine. Painted bright white and in pristine condition, one would wonder why take such a perfect truck into the pit? Albin said: "Pure enjoyment. It is just a rush - nothing really like it - it is a really fun hobby. You really have to come to the event to experience the excitement. There is nothing quite like these events and the kids really enjoy it - it is really unique. We are professional mechanics and run our own shop in Clinton called A&M Automotive and Diesel Repair. We do all the work ourselves and it is really rewarding to build something and bring it out and compete," Albin said. "We actually built our truck from the ground up. This was our first year of mud racing and we built a truck designed specifically for it. We have learned a lot along the way - we went from only being able to make it about 30 feet into the pit at the beginning of the year too being able to clear the pit and run with all the big trucks," he said.


Best Looking Rig - Bill Albin - Clinton, Missouri - 1957 Chevy

First Out Of The Pit - Kevin Balke - Sedalia, Missouri - 1990 Jeep Wrangler

Most Spectacular Run - Gayla Foster - Trenton, Missouri - 1979 Jeep CJ7

Fastest Time - Jerry Wallander - Garden City, Missouri - 1975 Bronco

"It was really a wild ride and it was the first time that the Bronco actually caught some air at the end of the pit," said Wallander. "This was a really great, competitive event in Kansas City and a great way to raise some money. There are mud runs going over in the Midwest every weekend, from Spring to Fall. Not to mention the Garden City Fireworks Association hosts mud runs down in Garden City, Missouri each year with all the proceeds going to our local fireworks display. We invite everyone to come down and make our event successful as well." Newsletter
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