Mud bogging grows in popularity across Michigan

MICHIGAN (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - This summer mud will be flying all over Michigan as the sport of mud bogging takes off.

Mud bogging is similar to a monster truck rally, but messier, and with a lot more mud.

In Barry County, Hope Township is considering a proposal that would create a site for the big rigs to splash around in. That would be near the Delton area.

Hope Township recently held a contentious board meeting where a number of folks expressed concerns about bringing mud bogging to the area. As it turns out, on the other side of the state there's an already functioning site that would be similar to the one in Barry County.

Newschannel 3 went there to see what it's all about.

Daredevil drivers in suped-up trucks, making leaps and bounds over hills and splashing through muddy bogs. It isn't happening on some back road, the drivers are being watched by dozens of spectators in the safe confines of the Country Compound.

Set between Flint and Port Huron, the compound is one of the few permitted mud bogging venues in Michigan. This will be their first summer putting the pedal to the metal.

"There's not a whole lot else to do," said Country Compound co-owner Jason Soulliere. "You're not in a big city center or anything like that, so need someplace to go where you can have good clean fun, if you can call mud bogging clean fun."

A lot of the vehicles involved are just everyday vehicles, lifted with new supports and sat on monster tires more than five feet tall. Drivers sometimes work on their rides for months before they're ready.

"It's definitely quite the hobby," said Soulliere. "It's easy to put a lot of money in them."

At the Country Compound trucks romp around man-made mounds and marshes, and although there is sometimes formal competition, this event is more about joyriding and the spectacle.

"I like going out, splashing through the puddles, everyone loves doing it," said driver Sarah Kaptor. "You never see anyone angry, everyone has a smile on their face."

Kaptor is something of a rarity, a female mud bogger. She drives a big-wheeled Ford Explorer with pink accents.

"As a female you have to go out there," said Kaptor. "Go big or go home."

Drivers say nothing beats the adrenaline rush of taking their truck through the courses.

"You're just out there cruising," said Kaptor, "nothing's on my mind. I just enjoy it."

And the crowds love it as well, as do people online. Mud bogging has exploded in popularity in recent years, something many says is because videos of events are being shared on social media, building fresh interest.

The Car Warz YouTube channel has gotten millions of views. They were out at the Compound capturing all the action.

"They get viewed all over the world, so it's very wild," said driver Rocky Maes. "The more people see it and get into it and meet the people who are into, they just want to hang out."

Most mud bogging is done privately, and sometimes in sloppy, illegal operations, but the Country Compound is a structured environment with rules.

"There are several ditches and a fence, so crowds are kept far away from danger," said Soulliere. "Even if someone were to lose control of their truck for a second, they have plenty of room to slow down before they'd be anywhere near here."

Soulliere says that at first his community didn't think the idea would hold water, but now a lot of that doubt is washing away.

"It's definitely bringing revenue to the area that wouldn't be here," said Soulliere, "from auto parts stores to fuel stations to party stores to hotels, you name it."

While mud bogging is seen as mainly a country activity, lots of city slickers can be seen at the events, watching the mud fly. Organizers even tout it as family-friendly fare.

"Anyplace that's rural, has big open spaces like this, I don't see why it wouldn't work," said Soulliere. "I think it's a great thing and it would help any community it could be a part of."

The issue of outdoor events--including mud bogging--is now in the hands of the Hope Township Board of Trustees for further consideration.