"ATV Mud Nationals" Attracts Thousands - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

4/24/04 - Near Kilgore

"ATV Mud Nationals" Attracts Thousands

"This is our version of extreme sports," Jason Coffel, coordinator of the 2004 ATV Mud Nationals, said. "Getting dirty, making your tires as big as you can."

This year's race is at the Rabbit Creek ATV Park near Kilgore. People are here to race or just ride for fun. On smoother terrain, the 4-wheelers can go as fast as 40 mph. But once the race starts, the speed really slows down.

"It's relaxing," Gina Duke, one of 15 competitors in the "Mud Mamas" race for women, said. It's fun to watch everybody. It's exciting. You forget everybody, everything, except for what you're doing."

"Women pays a lot of money to take a mud bath," Marvin Wallen, a competitor in the open race, said. "You can do it here for free."

With more than 100 competitors in all and about 5,000 spectators, it's a family event attracting people from all walks of life.

"There are guys here you would imagine on Harley Davidsons with beards and the whole nine yards," Coffel said. "There are doctors and lawyers. There are kids here as young as three years old on 4-wheelers."

But the toddlers have to use their feet first. Once you get a taste for mud spinning, you could stick with it until you're 65.

"You're just as old as you feel, honey," Wallen said.

Wallen started mud racing 10 years ago, when he was 55. His main reason for doing it: "'Cause I like to beat those young kids."

Most racers just like to get muddy and then get out of the bog. The racers have their 4-wheelers specially outfitted for mud racing, so the mud doesn't ruin their vehicles. The goal is to keep your balance and pull the front end of the 4-wheeler up.

"When you get in it, there's adrenaline 'cause you know everybody's trying to get to the end," Duke said.

And when it's all over, it's time to leave the mud behind.

Julie Tam, reporting.

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