ImageNo, it’s not a racing hydroplane… It does have vestigial wheels, the fronts used as rudders and the rears supplying propulsion via an aggressive “paddle” tread pattern. Note also the “water effects devices”. But the power could be straight out of a racing hydro’, a big block restrained only by pump gas and natural aspiration. Top speed is about 70, and the best racers in this class do the “mile of mud” in under a minute.

(my apologies for getting the stupid display of the confederate flag in the photo, especially stupid because this part of Florida was a refuge for escaped slaves and Indians and was in union hands for most of the civil war… Dumb crackers musta slept through history class.)

ImageBut the crowd favorites are the Jeeps! Yup, while Daimler and now Fiat have done their best to civilize the Jeep for shopping mall service, these racers have been gutting their Jeeps in the name of improved “hydrodynamics”. And those skinny tires… They’d be the laughing stock of the PTA parking lot. But such hydrodynamic tweaks are probably a good thing, given that the Jeep class rules restrict these racers to an ancient flathead 4 cylinder Jeep engine, No doubt of Willys heritage. And despite all known mods being perpetrated upon said innocent little flathead four, these Jeeps have yet to traverse the Mile of Mud in under two minutes… You do the math.

ImageIt gets worse…

ImageWatch out for that dropoff.! Known as the “sippy hole”, the racers have to cross these five foot deep water hazards three times in the “Mile of Mud” heats. As if the sub 30 MPH pace weren’t hilarious enough, some of the Jeeps don’t even make it through this test of waterproofing. In fact, the ignition failures are so frequent that the Jeep racers will draft and “bump draft” through the sippy hole in hopes that the “quick” can suck or push the dead  through. Proof again that often the most entertaining motorsports are the slowest… NASCAR’s got nothin’ on these folks!

ImageThe satellite trucks of Wide World of (Wacky) Sports and their ilk have been gone for decades, but the folksy fun continues- After the race the audience was invited down to victory lane to meet the racers and talk gearhead. Parkin’s free and plentiful in the gravel lot, the local high school ROTC presented the colors and sang the national anthem, and the local Sportsmens Club and high school football boosters were servin’ up the vittles… What’s not to like?

But development creeps closer to the Mile of Mud, evidenced by recent brush clearing and utility work along the entrance road. Mud’s gettin’ harder to find to as the Everglades drought deepens, they had to pump in water to flood the course the last few years. So get to Naples and enjoy this beautifully unpolished gem of motorsports… While you can!

 

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