When wheelers think extreme, the first states that come to mind are often exhilaration and euphoria—followed by California, Utah, New Mexico and Oklahoma.
But thanks to the off-road parks, extreme challenges are being built on private property throughout the country. And where there’s a challenge there’s a competition.
A group of Michiganders created their own extreme competition. That way, local enthusiasts wouldn’t have to gas up and travel cross-country to compete.
Since 2009, Twisted Trails Off Road Park outside of Traverse City has hosted the Michigan Extreme Truck Challenge. This three-day event, held on the park’s 120 acres, is designed to level the playing field among 4x4s having different wheelbases and tire sizes. The challenges include a towing test, a drag race, braking distances, an obstacle course, hillclimbs, technical trails, and a mud bog. Each event is timed and/or measured for points. Combined points determine the winner.
The prize pool, arranged by Shawn Lichty of InnerAirLock, totals about $4,100. The winner’s piece of that pie is $2,000 in cash.
April in Michigan can still be cold and wet, so both the obstacles and elements are extreme. The decathlon-style format incorporates many manmade challenges. For example, the tow test typically uses a concrete-filled loader tire. Competitors must drag it for time and distance.
The obstacle course combines sand hills, tight turns, water holes, and a big concrete slab at the end. Bouncer-style rigs tend to launch up and over the concrete; less-modified 4x4s often need their winch.
The staff also builds the Mud Bogg challenge. It consists of three “swimming holes” leading to a tractor tire. Competitors must clear the mud holes, round the tire, and return through the muck.
Between events, pit breaks are allowed for repairs. Also, competitors camp onsite, so nighttime repairs are part of the drill. Some participants even do informal night runs while others huddle around the campfire.