Mud bog donations to support troops

By The Tribune-Review
Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Members of Smithton Hole will sponsor a Patriot Day Mud Bog at 7 p.m. Saturday to
benefit the Smithton American Legion Post's Support Our Troops campaign.
Cash donations and items intended for care packages to be sent to the troops
stationed overseas will be accepted at the track gate.

A ceremony will include a flagpole dedication by a post honor guard, along with a
flag-raising and the singing of the national anthem.

Post Commander Dave Primm said care packages are shipped every other month to
area service personnel stationed in combat zones in Iraq and Afghanistan. The
packages typically include magazines, toiletries and shower shoes, Frisbees, games
and puzzle books, pre-sweetened powdered drink mixes, gum, candy and lollipops.

Monetary donations help to offset shipping costs.

He credited the public and area businesses with strongly supporting the effort.

"We just try to do what we can," said Primm, a Vietnam veteran.

Andy Bergman, track manager, said organizers hope to make the fundraiser an
annual event at the site, where various vehicles are raced.

The racetrack site, located north of Smithton in South Huntingdon Township, is
situated along the east bank of the Youghiogheny River beneath the Interstate 70
bridge. Access is by way of routes 51 and 981.

Mud bog racing brings trucks from three states to South Huntingdon
Wednesday, October 06, 2004

By Rebekah Scott, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

V.W.H. Campbell Jr./Post-Gazette
Mark Jochum, of Wheeling, makes his run through the mud bog. Smithton Hole
Inc. last month started holding mud bog races for motor vehicles. The vehicles
drag race for 200 feet through mud that is at least 18 inches deep. The one
with the lowest elapsed time is the winner of their class.
Click photo for larger image.

The once quiet riverbank alongside the Youghiogheny and the Norfolk
Southern tracks in South Huntingdon roared to life in July.

It was reincarnated as Smithton Hole Mud Bog, a 200-foot-long, 24-foot-wide
swath of thick, black goo that attracts hundreds of sports fans to Westmoreland
for a once-a-month round of filthy fun.

"Our mamas dropped us on our heads into the mud when we were babies,"
said Bill Burgman, a 31-year-old carpenter from West Newton. "We're still
playing with toys in the dirt. But these ones are bigger and noisier, and make
smoke and smells, too."

Burgman looked like a lot of the men at the Sunday afternoon event: ball cap,
a lip-dangling cigarette and a beverage can with its label strategically hidden.
His forearms were illustrated with buxom babes and flaming Satans.

"Everybody here knows everybody else," he said. "We went to school together
or we fix each others cars or we meet people here or at other mud race things.
... Everyone here's a 'Bubba.' You come here once, you won't be a stranger
very long."

Maybe no one's a stranger, but there were a few strange and colorful
characters about.

There was "Uncle Jessie," the gravel-voiced West Virginian who announces the
races from the open back of his van. He's bald and round-bellied and
unintelligible, a roly-poly Buddha with a bushy white beard.

"Mamas, better get them little ones down off the fence, 'cause these trucks can
come flying right outta the mud and right at your babies," he drawled.

The "little ones" jeered, but their daddies picked them up off the concrete
Jersey barriers and did the boys one better by perching them up on their

Others peered from the beds or roofs of pickups, lined up in ranks a safe
distance from the bog. A good mud bog can attract up to 700 people, Burgman
said, and today's event brought in almost 50 trucks from three states.

A jacked-up Jeep rolled up to the start, an arbitrary spot marked with a sheet of
plywood. "It's Jason 'Hammer-down' Johnson!" Uncle Jessie garbled.

The Jeep rumbled. Far away overhead, trucks honked on the Interstate 70
highway bridge.

A big woman gave the signal and Johnson floored it, sending his Jeep
bouncing and fishtailing up the bog, flinging black clods heavenward. A big
Union Pacific freight came blasting up the tracks alongside, wailing all the way.
The crowd cheered. The racket was deafening, an ode to internal combustion.

Johnson won the $175 first-place pot. He skimmed over the mud and out the
other side in the least amount of time of all the smaller "class A" cars. But the
times were not announced. Smithton Hole Mud Bog officials haven't worked out
all those details yet.

One thing they do know is mud.

Andy Bergman, a Hole employee not related to the West Newton Burgmans,
said the exact mix is a secret from the depths of West Virginia. But it involves
hoses from the Turkeytown Volunteer Fire Department, water from the river
and dirt that's been painstakingly mixed and molded by two backhoes between
each series of races.

If the mud's too wet or deep, no truck can make it through, he explained. If it's
too thick, well ... everyone will just skim along the top. And what's fun about

"Mud's very deceiving," Bergman said. "I tried this bog with my Blazer, and I
only made it 25 feet. You have to have the right tires, the right clearance, at
least 2 feet. ... Otherwise, you just sink. Your wheels start digging you in
deeper, and it's straight down from there."

A mud bog is dug a bit like a swimming pool, he said. It's about 4 inches deep
at the start, but goes down almost 3 feet at the 250-foot marker.

Roll-overs happen. Engines catch fire, or implode with great clouds of smoke.
Front ends snap, drive shafts fly apart. Trucks that don't make it are dragged
out backward with a towing cable.

"It's so loud! It's the mud flying, the big machines, $40,000 trucks! The
modifieds come out with the front tires lifting off the ground, and it's like doing a
wheelie the whole way down! It's fantasy land for us Bubbas," Burgman said.
"And the lawn-tractor pull's even better."

The Sunday events include an on-site big-screen TV for Steelers fans. Plans
include quad pulls, a quad drag race, an October mud bog and a Halloween
Demolition Derby Oct. 30.