There’s nothing quite like a mud bog to put a smile on an off-road lover’s face. Part carnival, part amusement park, and part show and shine event, rallies and mud runs are all about fun. Where else can you browse custom machines, feel the power as drag racers rocket by, marvel as riders wallow through a mud course, and for a grand finale, watch girls wrestle in the pit, all while munching down on a chili dog and pretzel slathered in mustard. It ain’t heaven, but it’s close!
If You Build It….
US-27 Motorsports is a large dealership in Michigan and owner Fred Grove and General Manager Scott Adams just love to throw a summer party. They’ve got just the place to do it as well, and right behind the main showroom and service complex is a huge field. It makes an excellent location for test rides and service work checks, but it’s also a great spot for a summer rally. Taking a cue from the movie “Field of Dreams”, Scott and Fred took the “If you build it they will come,” concept in a whole new direction. Rather than a baseball diamond, the duo built a sand drag strip, a mud pit, and a tough obstacle course with tire jumps, scattered logs, rocks, mud holes, and everything else that the pair could dream up. It was game on! Just as in the movie, riders did come, but so did hordes of spectators to see the circus.
It’s a long way to the water from US-27 Motorsports’ drag strip, but they do have a beach. The crew at US-27 created a sand drag strip where everything from stock machines to completely custom, hyper banshees can race. Side x Side classes are included as well and this year spectators were treated to an epic battle between a highly modified Polaris RZR 900 built up to 1000cc’s and an Arctic Cat Wildcat 1000 built by STM with their own differential, engine mods, clutch, and just about everything else they could do to make it blazing fast. Both machines were highly impressive and spectators crowded the length of the strip when they pulled to the line. When the light flicked to green, both machines exploded into a high pitched, ferocious, sand slinging fury. In the end the Arctic Cat Wildcat edged out the Polaris as king of the strip, but we know the Polaris crew will be back next year for another shot at glory. ATV drag race action was dominated by Freddy Grove Junior on his custom built Yamaha Banshee; which was pretty much a guided missile with Freddy laid prone on the tank, feet braced against the pegs, looking like he was hanging onto a rocket as it was launched.
Mudocross - The Obstacle Course
The event that most resembles normal riding is the obstacle course, although few local trails have tire jumps, boulder sections, log piles, and broken concrete to conquer. We’re especially fond of the obstacle course for the challenges it throws at the drivers and the machines. Even in a stock machine, a good driver can win the obstacle course events. About the only aftermarket part we would highly recommend is a good set of skid plates.
Obstacle course contestants blasted off the line, up and over a tabletop jump, across tires and a pile of scattered timber that looked like the result of a log truck accident, and then things got difficult. A few corner berms around mud pits had riders slinging slop everywhere, and a field of broken concrete that one might find at a building demolition site or after an earthquake had riders bouncing in every direction. It was a mud throwing, bark shredding, suspension testing spectacle with a couple final off camber turns and a tire jump into a watery pond marking the finish line. Spectators loved it! Not all machines loved it quite so much, though, and the key to the obstacle course was line selection and keeping your CVT and air intake system dry. More than one machine rolled to a belt smoking stop when the CVT sucked in water. Of all mud pit contestants, again Little Freddy Grove showed his skill by piloting a Can-Am Outlander MXR around the course with a combination or good line selection, throttle control, skill, and guts to go for it. Another rider on a Kawasaki Brute Force put in a couple excellent rides as well and offered a challenge to Grove, but youth won out on this day. In fact, Grove was one of the few riders to compete in all three events.
Since Mother Nature and the last glacier didn’t provide a watery hole to wallow through, Scott had his crew build a mud pit. Days of digging created a 165’ long, gradually deepening course that held a surprise before the finish line. Just as riders would appear to be in reach of the end, the bottom would drop out and the water would become at least another foot deeper. Nobody said it was supposed to be easy! Highly modified machines with air box snorkels and huge tires dominated the mud pits.
Factory Demo Rides and Extras
Besides the competition areas, spectators at this year’s US-27 Summer Mud Fest were able to browse displays by aftermarket companies, and CAN-AM had a demo truck on hand for test rides of new CAN-AM ATVs and Side x Sides. Riders were able to pilot new CAN-AMs around a motocross course to get a feel for the power and handling of the 2014 machines. It was a great way to make friends and introduce CAN-AM products.
Close of the Circus
Just as the grand finale is to a fireworks show as after dinner mints are to fine dining, girl’s mud wrestling is to off-road rallies. Not wanting to create a ‘faux pas’ in off-road rally etiquette and possibly have an unruly mob on their hands, US-27 closed out their final event with mud wrestling cuties as well. It was a grand day and we can’t wait to visit the circus again next year!