Mud Madness motors on

Craig event held in memory of former organizer Mike Bailey

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Richard Oberwitte powers through the mud during the 2005 Moffat County Mud Madness event at Loudy-Simpson Park in Craig. This year's event, held in memory of former organizer Mike Bailey, is Saturday.

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Mike Bailey sits in his car in a mud pit during last year's Moffat County Mud Madness. This year's event will be held in memory of Bailey, who died in an accident east of Hayden in February.

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Mike Bailey.

— Mike Bailey loved mud.

Three years ago, Mike Bailey and his younger sister, Kathy Oberwitte, took over the job of running the Moffat County Mud Madness. It was a labor of love for the brother-and-sister team.

"He used to race in it back in high school," Oberwitte said. "It was a little run-down when we took it over a few years ago, but we were going places."

The event, which has enjoyed steady growth the past two years, features high-powered vehicles racing through 200 feet of unforgiving mud. Classes include four-, six- and eight-cylinder cars. There also is a class for snowmobiles and an open class for modified vehicles that boost their power with nitro.

Oberwitte said tricked-out, four-wheel-drive vehicles powering through several feet of mud has always made for a good time for the drivers and spectators who go to Craig's Loudy-Simpson Park.

But this year's event will be particularly special for Oberwitte, who almost called off this year's Mud Madness after Mike died in an accident east of Hayden in February. Bailey was driving a three-quarter-ton pickup that was struck by a semi-trailer. Bailey was killed instantly, leaving behind his son, Jordan, family members and dozens of friends in the community.

Oberwitte said she seriously considered ending the event after her brother's death, but many of her brother's friends and other members of the Moffat County community came forward to make sure the event would go on as planned. They also wanted to make sure it was held in Mike's memory.

"Mike loved this event, and he had a lot of really good friends in the community," Oberwitte said. "They just wanted to do it for Mike."

This year's Moffat County Mud Madness is Saturday at Loudy Simpson Park. The races are scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. and will conclude at about 4 p.m.

There will be two side-by-side pits and plenty of racing action. Oberwitte said each driver will have two chances. The drivers will take off in pairs, but the main goal is to beat the clock. The drivers with the fastest times after two runs will be declared the winners.

Two years ago, the event drew 43 racers and 600 spectators. Last year, the event had 56 drivers but fewer spectators. Oberwitte thinks the decrease in the number of spectators could be attributed to a scheduling conflict with the Hayden Speedway, and a mud volleyball tournament in Craig.

Tickets for the Mud Madness are $7 for adults and $3 for children older than 6. Pit passes are $10.

- To reach John F. Russell, call 871-4209 or e-mail jrussell@steamboatpilot.com

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