When Friday night rolls around in the heartland of America, what better way is there to shake off the workweek than to throw on some boots, grab some friends, and take a ride on down to the mud bog?
Smack-dab in between Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Cleveland, Ohio, lies Yankee Lake. Back in the 1920s, the 55-acre man-made lake was a popular swimming hole and an escape from the sticky Midwestern summer afternoons. The lake has since been drained and the property has hosted everything from motocross races to performances from David Allen Coe and Willie Nelson. Nowadays, 4x4 fans flock to the property on the weekends for line dancing, funnel cakes, and more tug-pad pullin’ and mud whompin’ than you can shake a muddy stick at.
Truck Night at Yankee Lake goes down on select summer weekends and draws thousands of fans from Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and the surrounding states. Though Yankee Lake might be drained, it’s still home to enough sticky mud to swallow the bravest of drivers and their rigs. Truck Night participants can wallow in any of the open mud bogs, slog through the three-mile network of woods trails, or throw down for the crowd in the three competition-style mud drags. Heavy equipment is on-site for those who fall victim to the deep slime.
An evening spent churning through mud bogs in a Dentside on tractor tires? That’s our version of a fun Friday night.
At any time during Truck Night, you can also see rigs stretching their legs across the man-made obstacles and rockcrawls, or smoking tires while dueling it out on the tug pad.
Families can enjoy a midway-style array of games and food with ample views of all the boggin’, crawlin’, and pullin’ action. Bigger events at Yankee Lake can include tractor pulls, show-’n’-shine contests, and appearances by the Trucks Gone Wild crew.
We bolted on our mud tires and joined the party on the muddy eastern border of the Buckeye State. Read on for some of the coolest and dirtiest rigs from the show. For more info visit trucknight.com.
Navigating Truck Night at Yankee Lake is as simple as hopping inside the Party Shuttle! Gary Bauer takes busloads of fans over and through Yankee Lake’s mudpits and obstacles in style aboard his mega Ford school bus. The 5.9 liters of Cummins power are dumped into the Rockwell NP200 transfer case before hitting the front Marmon-Herrington axle and the Rockwell in the rear. Keeping the Party Shuttle on top of the gunk is a set of 48-inch flotation tires.
We caught Rick Costic and his Toyota mud racer before he had a chance to get on the trails. The truck has a frame from a ’94, the bed from an ’86, the cab of a ’95 and the front clip is anyone’s guess. Later on, we got a chance to see and hear the turbo Chevy 350 let all the horses loose on the trails, and eventually get tamed by a mudpit.
Though this F-250 looks good from the front, it suffered some trail damage in the form of a failed U-joint. Luckily the owner stopped before the ’shaft started wreaking havoc on the truck’s underside.
At the tug pad, it was the classic battle of Ford against Dodge. After the tire smoke settled, the Ford emerged victorious.
Meet Lt. Dan—Dan Blazowich’s mud truck. The zombie-themed rig is jacked up 12 inches to make room for the 43-inch Super Swampers, while the Dana 60 frontend and GM 14-bolt rear get the big-block V-8’s power straight to the mud.
Not only does Dwayne Farrington bring his ’71 deuce-and-a-half to the swampin’ pits at Yankee Lake, but he daily-drives the rig and has even used it to get around Erie, Pennsylvania, when the roads were flooded.
After some bodywork and 44-inch Ground Hawgs, this ’79 Scout II was more than ready to tear through the mud.
What initially looked like a short bus stuck in the mud was actually hiding much more underneath the bench seats and yellow paint. First off, it wasn’t stuck—the 7.3L Powerstroke diesel kept the 39.5-inch Boggers turning and hungry for mud, and the 13,500-pound Superwinch remained untouched. The bus began life as a stock people-hauler, but with the addition of a Dana 50 in the front, a Sterling 10.5-inch axle in the rear, an 8-inch frame extension, the transmission from a ’97 Ford F-250 Super Duty, and a transfer case from a ’92 Bronco, it was ready to bog.
This second-gen GMC with Rockwell axles and monster truck rubbers made quick work of the mud drags.
The story of Carl and Abby’s 2WD ’90 Ford F-150 Lariat began in a barn. The truck was rebuilt and reborn for the mud, receiving a 429 Cobra Jet engine, C6 transmission, a divorced transfer case, Dana 60 in the front, a rear Dana 70, Rancho shocks at all corners, and airbags capable of lifting the rig 18 inches. The welded rear differential keeps the 44-inch Ground Hawgs plowing through the ’pits while the bed-mounted radiator stays clear of flying goo.