As far as the eye could see out at Pike’s Off Road Park this past weekend there was nothing but mud and four-wheel drive vehicles of every shape and size. Beer was the beverage of choice and roaring engines were just about all one could hear.
That is unless you were standing close to Larry Dredbone’s Thugnasty Off Road trailer. His sound system was pumping out mega-decibels, enough to drown out even the loudest engines. He set up between two of the mud pits. And with the first competition ready to start, competing drivers gathered for their meeting.
The Missouri Mudders Mega Mudfest took place over three days at the locally owned off road park. This was part of the group’s Bounty Series, and they were offering trophies and prize money for the winners of the various races. The event was sponsored by St. Louis Powersports and Fueled by Offroad Armor and Chuck’s Boots.
Friday evening, the stock trucks with tires of 40-inches or less were up first. Even though the competitors were confident—some already spending that prize money in their heads—the course proved tougher than expected. The first competitor got maybe half way through the course when a steep berm halted his vehicle.
Course judges only gave each competitor a few seconds of tire spinning before they called in the big earthmover to pull them out so the next contestant could give it a try. And try they did. Second vehicle on the course, a big SUV, dropped into the first pit, and that was all she wrote. Soon, that vehicle was being pulled out of the way by the 85,000-pound excavator.
The crowds on either side of the course cheered them on, but knew it was hopeless for them once saw that the tires could find no purchase. The drivers came out of the muck with a second skin of thick Missouri mud. They smiled anyway and waved to the crowd.
The Burns family opened Pike’s Off Road just about two years ago. Fed up with not being able to make a decent living off the crops they were growing, they hit on the idea of building an off-road park. Poker runs featuring side-by-side vehicles have become increasingly popular, but there are few places to put those 4 x 4 vehicles to the test.
When they first opened, Pike’s Off Road offered only primitive camping. They have about 860 acres of wooded hills and open pasture where they carved trails and dug deep mud pits. That first event in 2020 brought in about 1,000 people. Since then, the family has made several improvements to the property, adding infrastructure, such as a hot-shower house and additional camping sites, as well as structures for the workers who were keeping everything going. They also added three new mud pits and a hill climb course.
At the main gate to the park, they estimated that more than 3,200 people had signed up for the three-day weekend. And still more were coming in. Caravans of trucks hauling side-by-sides and big four-wheel-drive vehicles could be seen coming down the highway and onto the back roads leading to the park.
Shelia Welch, who was working the main gate, checking in the new arrivals, said the family had brought on about 30 people to help manage the park during the Mudders event. All the new facilities, she added, were built by the Burns family and her husband, Bill.
Between competitions, people were visiting with each other, checking out the other vehicles or just exploring the numerous trails. Hand-made road signs directed travelers through the park. And Bobby Burns was constantly on the move, making sure everyone was doing what they were supposed to be doing.
There was no relaxing for his crew. With so many people in the park and everyone moving from one event to another, the staff was doing their best to make this event one for the competitors to remember.
Welch said she wanted to give a special shout-out to the people at O’Reilly’s Auto Part here in Bowling Green. They pre-ordered parts for the event.
“They must have made 10 trips out here over the weekend,” she said. “They were amazing.”
Winners from Missouri Mudders Mega Mudfest
ATV Bounty Hole
First place—John Konnersman
Second place—Chris “Wolfman” Alsup
Third place—Stan “Frankenstan” Gatchel
First place—Bryan McKinney
Second place—Greg Bain
Third place—Chris “Wolfman” Alsup
SXS Stage 1 Bounty Hole (35-inch tires and under)
First place—Bryce Starks
Second place—Chris “Wolfman” Alsup
Third place—Ryan Cantrell
Fourth place—Laura Hoeppner
SXS Stage 2 Bounty Hole (36-inch tires and bigger)
First place—Laura Hoeppner
Second place—Chalice Oakes
Third place—Anthony Tate
Mega Truck Bounty Hole
First place—Steve Faianche
Second place—Jessica Phillips
Third place—Dustin McCutchen
Fourth place—Michael Webb
Fifth place—Bowling Green’s own 14-year-old Gary Welch
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