All-terrain challenge

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LIVERMORE – Heidi Shea held on tight to the steering wheel as she drove the “Barnyard Ranger” over a hill and around the Tuff Truck course Sunday at the Barnyard All Terrain Park.

It was Shea’s first time behind the wheel in such an adventure and she was trying to make good time. Her passenger, Jay Lovewell, whose family owns the park, gave her some guidance as the two whizzed by, helmets on their heads and seat belts secured as Shea worked her way around the course.

Shea, 39, of Livermore, had planned to drive her Chevrolet S10 in the event, but it wouldn’t start, even with many men trying to fix it for her.

Park owner/operator David Lovewell said she was a close friend and let her drive the park’s Ranger truck, not quite as big as the “Barnyard Bull,” a monster that has a regular Ford pickup truck chassis on top of wheels about 66 inches tall and about 4 feet wide.

But it was big enough for Shea. Too big.

She had space between her and the back of the seat as she stretched to reach the pedals of the Ranger. You could tell when her foot slipped off the gas as she road the bumpy course.

The truck’s engine revved in spurts as she completed the two-lap course.

It didn’t stop her.

“You go, girl,” David Lovewell yelled as Shea drove up the hill. “She did real good.”

She finished in 3 minutes, 22 seconds, only a minute behind the fastest vehicle.

“It was hard on my arms,” Shea said. “It’s very interesting. Actually, I was very nervous at the beginning but once I got into it, it was a lot of fun, a lot of workout. It’s not bad for my first time. I never drove before. The truck was way above my ability.”

Debbie Morris of Wilton watched as the mud track was being prepared.

She planned to drive the truck called “Ratical Sign,” a 1988 Chevrolet pickup.

“I’m going into this not knowing anything,” Morris said. “No worries. “What’s the worst that can happen? Flop it on its side.”

She hadn’t even practiced driving the truck but after watching everybody else, she thought it looked like so much fun that she decided to try.

“Should be a lot of mud flying,” she said as she waited her turn.

As the elders toyed with their trucks, the children played with their toys.

People either seated in the backs of their trucks or in chairs on the ground or standing along the sidelines waited for the show to begin.

Josh Lovewell hosed down a section of dirt to make mud for the races.

Four lanes were set up and he and his brother, Jay, tested the starting line to see that the “Christmas tree” of light signals was working properly.

Lindsay Hodgdon of Buckfield sat in a lawn chair with Bella, a 6-year-old bulldog, panting nearby.

“Everything’s fun,” Hodgdon said. “We have a good time.”

Justin Lee, 24, of Jay said he’s drawn to the sport for the atmosphere, noise and being outside.

He planned to drive his 1986 slightly modified Chevrolet truck in the mud drag sponsored by the Maine Mud Bog Association.

He won three first places this year.

His trick is to focus on the finish line, put the gas pedal to the floor and not let off until he gets there, he said.

“It’s a pretty good thrill going fast,” Lee said

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