Mud sling holds family ties

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‘I just felt froggy this year and decided to run’

By Elizabeth Beilman

An engine revs. Drivers floor the gas. Thick mud flings high into the air in all directions. Tires swerve on the slick arena — all in a matter of seconds.


That was the picture Friday night during the Mud Sling at the Hardin County Community Fair where hundreds of fans gathered during humid weather to a sport that’s a family treasure for some.

Participants of a mud sling compete in one of 13 classes of competitions to race for the fastest time down the mud-laden arena. Driving either a four-wheeler or truck, drivers line up and one at a time, gun the engine and shoot forward about 100 feet. Times are tracked using light sensors, and drivers get two runs each.

The sling was part of the Kentucky State Point Championship Series, said Archie Coffman, organizer of the event. Most drivers at the fair Friday reside in other counties and travel around and try to win as many cumulative points from different slings as they can, hoping to win a title at the finals in September.

Coffman said drivers enjoy the sport for a few different reasons.

“It’s a sport that nobody really ever dominates,” he said. “Every kid loves to get in the mud. This is big kids in the mud.”

But most drivers do it because they’ve grown up with it.

“It’s something that you get to going to,” he said, shrugging his shoulders.

Cherie Hall, another organizer wearing “I Love Racing” earrings, said that’s the case for her.

“Our family, we’ve done it for years,” she said. “It’s a fun, family thing to do.”

Hall said all of her kids started at age 3, racing in a toy ATV. Later in the night, she was videotaping the first truck race her son, James, competed in.

Renee Blakeman, whose father is friends with James’ father, has been competing for nine years.

“We’ve just been living in it forever,” she said. “Our dads were doing it when we were young.”

A Jessamine County resident, Blakeman has brought home a few titles, one of them second place for the entire season. Her fastest time is 2.1 or 2.2 seconds, she said.

One driver from Hardin County, Marcus Goodman, competed in his first mud sling Friday night. Clocking in at 5.3 seconds and fourth place, Goodman said he thought he did pretty well for his first time.

“It’d have been a lot better if I didn’t have a flat tire,” he said. His ‘83 model Ford pick-up used to be used on his father’s farm, and even though it wasn’t quite ready to race, Goodman was determined to use it anyway.

“I just felt froggy this year and decided to run,” he said.

Like the Halls and Blakeman, Goodman said the sport is in his blood.

“I grew up coming to these kinds of things,” he said. “I like to think I make my dad proud. It’s one thing I wanted to do, is pick up on his old stuff.”

Elizabeth Beilmancan be reached at (270) 505-1740 or ebeilman@thenewsenterprise.com.