The blue truck sped through a 200-metre gauntlet of rough, loose dirt and puddles full of mud. It bounced, getting enough air to put the vehicle at a 70 degree angle with the ground.
“All I just saw was clouds in the sky. Yeah, I was going a little too fast for that track.,” said Kelly Kopeechuck, the truck’s driver. “That’s what the crowd wanted to see and the truck didn’t break too bad.”
This year’s Mud Bogs, hosted by the Northern Manitoba Off Road Association Sept. 19, were held at a new location almost 20 kilometres south of Thompson.
Dennis Foley, the association’s president, said his organization is in the process of obtaining the title of that location. He said the goal is to have a 15-acre compound that hosts a series of motorsport events, including mud bogs, a motocross track, an ATV obstacle course and a children’s 50cc track.
“All of us are going to work together: the motocross guys, the freestylers, the mud boggers, ATVs. This is our home,” he said. “We want everybody to come out here and create this unique area. This is going to be the only place like this in all of Manitoba, where you have everything in one spot.”
Yet having the land will mean more responsibilities for the association. They will have to pay more than $3,000 per year for liability insurance and will also have to get insurance for every event that they host.
“There are costs associated with having our own land but the more events we have in a year, the better,” Foley said.
The president said he hoped there could be a mud bog circuit in Norman. Snow Lake had a mud bog in late August that used similar rules.
The new location also had an immediate advantage for the event, which has been going for six years.
“It’s the first year we’ve had a true 200-foot pit, which is the norm for mud racing organizations,” Foley said.
The event was different this year, as it was more of a fundraiser. For $40, drivers were able to have unlimited runs into the pit, but they wouldn’t get any payouts at the ends.
“We had a couple of drivers’ meetings and all of the drivers have agreed they’ll pay the $40 and that will be a donation towards processing the permit fees for taking over the land,” Foley said.
If the drivers got stuck in the put, an excavator owner by Smook Contracting would drag them out.
At the end of the day Kopeechuck was the fastest driver at the event. He said he got into the sport through friends.
“Friends started building trucks and we’re mechanics by trade,” he said, adding, “It’s an ego boost to be the fastest one.”
Foley also drives, but he was too busy being the MC to participate this year. He got into the sport and his role when he entered a mud bog that another race organization had held.
“They’re no longer together and they didn’t want to do it again, so myself (and a few others) got together, grabbed some sponsors and put together another mud bog that year,” he said.
Kopeechuck, who’s also on the association’s board, said there’s something the association needs for the future.
“We’ve said we want to go further with this property, go further with the infrastructure and we need support.”