Great Big Mega-Buggy Race: Mountain Havoc 2018

Created Chaos on the Canadian Border

Jerrod JonesPhotographer, Writer

Rewind four years. The Mountain Mafia group was about to put on its first Mountain Havoc event. Although a few of them had experience in off-road competition, none of them had ever run an off-road event before. The plan? Bring a mega-buggy competition back to the States, encourage “havoc style” racing, and do it under enthusiast’s terms.

Why was their plan different from so many others? Well, first of all, they bought their own ranch. The Purcell Trench Ranch just above Bonner’s Ferry, Idaho, was acquired exclusively to use as a venue, allowing them to build their own courses and set up camping and spectating areas around the property. Twenty competitors would vie for First Place during a weekend competition that was open for the public to watch—and at a venue where they could camp all weekend with some accommodations.

It was a great plan, and the first year went . . . OK. Some obstacles on the courses were too difficult. A few spectator areas needed improving. Everyone was learning where they needed to be. But they pulled it off successfully and were already making notes for the next one.

Four years later we were witness to a much more organized Havoc 2018 event. With some experience under their belts, the Mountain Mafia has fine-tuned its game. The event crew was ready for the onslaught of fans and competitors traveling from all over the U.S. and Canada to be part of the largest mega-buggy event in the world. And it’s only growing. Starting in late November, you will be able to catch even more of the action in six episodes of the Mountain Mafia TV show that will be airing Saturday mornings on the Velocity channel.

Mountain Havoc consists of five events. The action started Friday afternoon with the timed runs through deep mud dragging a giant tractor tire. Saturday morning brought the start of the hillclimb event and later moved on to what’s called the Hill ’n Hole: a small, flooded short-course track being raced upon by mega-buggies that can become very exciting, very quickly. After that, a rock course that consists of boulders, buggy-deep holes, logs, and tires does its best to take out what competition it can.

That leaves Sunday open for the Mountain Man: a timed run down a rock-strewn, gully-filled mountain side, down to muddy and water-filled channels that put the majority of competitors wheels-side up. Is it a little brutal and unrefined? Yes. But isn’t that what you want out of a competition like this? To quote one of the organizers, Ben Spinney: “Family friendliness, smiles, and radness, with a bit of vehicular violence.”

After the dust settled and the mud stopped dripping, there was a new king of Havoc this year. Brett Harrell had taken the crown away from Leroy Latham, who had reigned for three years before earning a Second Place finish this year. And as if that weren’t enough for the Harrell family, Brett’s 16-year-old son, Brent, took home Third Place. It was an awesome finish and an excellent end to a season of racing for the Havoc community.

Steven Montpas showed up with a brand new Willys: a Willys 3.0 on 54-inch Boggers. While guys obviously build new rigs once in a while, what was a surprise is that Montpas did this in complete secrecy without a single person knowing. It wasn’t until it was spotted on the trailer somewhere in Oregon on the way to Havoc that people figured out this was all new.