February 17, 2014 … mayhem in the mud

You may recall that I am not keen on crowds.

Kicking up the dirt

This contestant just scraped over that ridge ahead. A lot of others lacked the grip on that loose clay.

I said as much yesterday, so this was a self-inflicted injury. I went to Whiteman’s Valley again. Normally a pastoral oasis, a place of peace and quiet, on this occasion, it was a thunderous cacophony of roaring engines, and mud.

The annual “Deadwood Safari” is a national competition for 4WD vehicles. These are not ordinary SUVs with knobbly tyres. They are mostly purpose-built machines that may retain the grille and a few panels from the vehicle whose engine is used as a basis. They are loud, and extremely powerful. The passenger or copilot has four levers that can be used to lock wheels individually or in pairs to bring about amazing skid turns.

Coming over the ridge

This bears a very slight resemblance to any Daihatsu sold through the showrooms

It is great fun for the several thousand spectators in this normally serene place. In addition, summer came at last. It was a truly perfect day, hot, cloudless and flat calm. The organizers have plenty of experience so there were all the facilities you would hope for as well as a few sunshades under which patrons could sit and eat their food out of the sun’s heat.

Mud course

Bouncing, bucking, skidding it makes slow but steady progress

There were some thirty or so tasks for the competitors to complete, and in each case, to succeed, they had to pass between the blue markers at the start and finish without at any stage losing forward motion. Points were lost for non-completion, and the number depended on how far through they got. The courses were mostly on hills or in gulleys.

Into the bush

This uphill course involved some very tight turns through the trees … remember if you lose forward motion, you fail.

At least one such course was up a steep hill and into a patch of bush.

More mud

They are very generous and are willing to share all their mud with anyone nearby

Whether there is normally as much mud as I saw yesterday, or whether it was engineered for the occasion, I don’t know. At least one of my photographic friends got plastered with flying mud, and had to retreat to clean up his camera. I took note of where the previous car had flung its mud before I lined up for a shot so stayed relatively clean.

Pilot and copilot

The driver is on the left of this picture. The copilot has four brake levers, one for each wheel, and by locking one or more wheels can cause the vehicle to turn on the spot.

Safety is taken seriously, but it was possible to get very close to these lurching snorting beasts. Just after the machine above reached the point I was standing, it turned sharply to the right and that spray of sticky liquid mud was squirted all over the place I would have been if I had not been alert to the possibility.

Hydraulic rescue

Diggers like this were all around the course, and made effortless rescues all day.

Every so often, perhaps one competitor in four or five, a vehicle would stall in one of the courses, unable to get traction to go back or forward. I don’t know where they got them all from but there were tracked hydraulic diggers all around the venue, and in that case they would simply extend the boom, hook the bucket to the car with a big fabric strop and with seeming ease and the merest twitch of the hydraulics, the stranded car would slide free.

Mud at speed

I just loved the caking of the mud around the wheels

Overall, the impression of the day was mud, despite the comparative dryness of the surrounding farmland. That, and the noise … the furious bellow of some very large unsilenced V8 and even V12 engines.

My next edition will be posted from Melbourne, Australia.


About wysiwygpurple

Retirement suits me well. I spend much of my time out making pictures, or at home organizing and refining my pictures. This blog provides me with a platform from which I can indulge my passion for improving my photography and at the same time analyze my thoughts about what I have seen, where I have been and what is happening in my life. My images set out to be honest, but that does not mean I have not adjusted them. I use software to display what I saw though the viewfinder to best advantage. My preference is for landscape and nature, and is mostly centred around my hometown of Wellington, New Zealand.
This entry was posted in Festivals and fairs, Sport, Weather, Whiteman's Valley. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to February 17, 2014 … mayhem in the mud

  1. Toya says:

    Awesome set of action shots there, love the flying mud! Glad your camera didn’t wear any of it 🙂

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