September 8, 2005
Dooly County -- It seems strange to own an expensive, high powered pick-up truck that has one purpose-to see how fast it can run through a mud hole. You can find people throughout the country involved in the sport of boggin', as it's called.
Some travel from state-to-state to speed through the mud as fast as they can. You could find people who avoid the mud puddles of life and those who can't wait to see how fast they can drive through them.
As far as James Hester is concerned, the bigger the mud puddle, the better.
He prefers mud bogs. "Started in the neighborhood of 1977 as kind of a hobby," says James standing beside his pride and joy. He remembered traveling with friends to Douglas to see a boggin' and when he saw what happened, he was hooked.
James has a deceptively powerful hobby, where a relatively small looking truck engine turns out lots of horse power very quickly. The truck engine doesn't look that physically big when you see it, but it puts out a thousand horsepower, about five times stronger than your average car engine.
Technically, it's a 1997 Chevrolet truck. "It's bits and pieces of several trucks together," says James. He could buy a brand new one for what he has spent on his mud boggin' truck. "Not counting the time," says James who has spent untold hours making it more competitive.
He races in the Super Street class and wants to continue his lead in the points competition at the Elko track, near Unadilla. "We've got a 180 foot track. It's 25 foot wide, and approximately 24 to 28 inches deep," says Tony Norrell, who directs each truck to the electronic starting line.
What makes a bog hole so appealing? "It's a bragging right," says James a few seconds before he runs through the mud for a thrill that lasts less than five seconds.
The truck roars off the starting line, bounces high in the air in a couple of places with mud going everywhere. James instinctively manages to keep the truck in the mud and safely exits the other end of the track, all within four-and-a-half seconds. Time flies when you're boggin'.
Hundreds of people watched his run, and applauded at the end. "Get excited. Get a high. It's fun," says James after his run. "It was a lot of fun to watch. I like seeing the mud going everywhere," says Gena Owen as James drover his truck back to the staging area.
But why take a truck, soup it up just to run through the mud? For James, it's a way to live his faith. He painted Bible verses in the truck's bed: Galatians Chapter 2, verse 20, Romans Chapter 3, verse 23 and John 14. "Met a lot of good people," says James who believes some of them need to hear the Good News.
It's a dirty hobby, but James doesn't mind the big clean up. He uses a high power washer to remove the easy mud and hand washes the remaining. The mud sticks like glue, but the truck will look brand new for his next race.
Boggin' brings back pleasant memories for James, "I guess it is the little kid in me." A big kid now who never met a mud puddle he didn't like, especially if he had a truck to drive through it. He doesn't feel content with his truck.
He plans to modify it even more in hopes of finding another 200 to 300 more horsepower.