Playing in the mud: Bring whatever you got, someone here will race you’

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 9, 2001

Bill Meredith and passenger Harvey Gary give the track a test run in Meredith’s ’79 Ford F-150. Meredith said he bought the truck for $50 and keeps it for drag racing. (The Vicksburg Post/MELANIE DUNCAN)

[07/09/01] Seconds before the race, with their RPMs approaching red, the two drivers concentrated on the top of the hill.

One hand on the gear shift and the other clutching the truck, they exploded uphill, slinging mud and water nearly 20 feet behind them.

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Only one could make the top first, but they both sought the five-second adrenaline rush.

A local diesel engine repairman decided to bring this excitement home, so he opened his own racing track right in front of his house.

Willie Owens of Vicksburg and owner of Owens Diesel Repair, and long-time friend Bill Meredith of Vicksburg, built a 250-foot uphill mud track.

The two-lane track extends from a small pond, to the top of the hill where a crowd gathers for every race to cheer on their favorite drivers.

Another dirt track, adjacent to the new one, was built last year but wasn’t wide enough for two trucks, he said.

“We are just out here playing,” Owens said.

Meredith said racing gives the men a chance to unwind on Sunday after working all week.

“It also keeps us out of trouble,” Meredith said.

More than 100 people, black and white, showed up at Owens’ track last week.

People are just out here for the sport and the fun; there is no trophy or prize money for winning.

Playing in the mud is nothing new for Owens and Meredith.

“We have been mud racing forever, in places all around here,” Owens said.

On Sundays, people come from Yazoo County, Natchez and as far as Alabama to race on his track or a track in Port Gibson, which opened about two months before, he said.

The two tracks rotate in weekend shifts, giving people a chance to experience both tracks, he said.

“It’s a good place to bring the family,” Owens said.

He said the sport died down several years ago with people mud racing wherever they could, but his new track may bring them back.

Dan Hall, 63, of Vicksburg said he has been mud racing for 30 years in and around Vicksburg. In 1975, he bought a new jeep, but didn’t know if he wanted to race it.

The next week he went to Yazoo County to watch a race, and he enjoyed it so much that he came home the following week to race and has been doing it ever since.

“It is a good chance for people to get together, something for families to watch,” Hall said.

He said racing trucks on a dirt track keeps people from crashing and possibly flipping over on the street.

He also races his 1990 Chevrolet truck and a drag car, he said.

It doesn’t matter what kind of truck or car a person brings, Willie said.

“Bring whatever you got, someone here will race you,” Meredith said.

Owens said he plans to extend the track by 200 feet, and make some seating areas where people can watch up close.