Ah, the thrill of the hydroplaning, the agony of deep swamp… What can I say, when they’re using front end loaders for track wreckers you know you’re about to witness some macabre motorsport. Nearly forgotten since it’s days of glory on “Wide World of Sports” decades ago, the Naple’s Swamp Buggy Races persevere, thank god!

First, let me reassure the environmentally sensitive that no actual swamps were harmed in this motorsports mayhem. The “track” (it’s under a couple feet of water” is actually dug out on an area of high ground and thanks to south Florida’s continuing drought is flooded with a whole lotta pumped in water.

 

No, this isn’t one of the racers- It doesn’t sit high enough, the tires are too wide, and it probably puts out more power than the “Jeep” class racers.

 

Racing swamp buggy in it’s natural environment. Note the identifying features- bicycle width tires to reduce hydrodynamic resistance, high “ground” clearance for the same reason, and solid disc front wheel/rudders. And lots of modified V8 power!

 

Unlimited hydro with vestigal wheels… These no holds barred swamp buggies are so fast that they only let one on the course at a time as they race for fastest lap. Like a lot of motorsport today, the field was small- It’s aweful expensive to build a sophisticated racecar like this when there’s only a few races a season. The exception to the small field was the “Jeep” class, which boasted twenty odd competitors. With but tuned four cylinder engines for power, the “Jeeps” are crowd favorites. There’s two deep spots on the course, known as “sippy holes”, and the “Jeeps” just barely make it through them. In fact, the racers resort to “bump drafting” to make it through the “sippy holes”. Suffice to say, two or three “Jeeps” running nose to tail through water up to the competitors helmets is one you won’t soon forget.

So if you make it to southwest Florida some winter, check out the swamp buggy races. The admission is reasonable, and the sponsoring Naples Chamber of Commerce donates all the revenue after expenses are paid to charity. It’s a big fundraiser for local school and athletic groups too- the local high school kids nourished me with a huge cheeseburger for four bucks, and admission is only six bucks for saturday and twenty bucks for the whole weekend. What’s not to like?

 

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