STRONG — Kerri Phillips proud to be a Dirty Dawg, and she’s also one of the best around.

After the first-grade schoolteacher revved her engine for the appreciative crowd at the Route 4 Mud Run, her husband Cecil climbed into the cab beside her. Son Kurt is the third member of the family racing team, and he was ready to take the wheel when his mother returned.

Phillips had a powerful start in the Mud Run on Saturday, but she ran into trouble when she got too much power in the hub-deep mud.

She slid sideways into the heavy fence, running the front tires of her blue “Radical Toy” Chevy truck up to the top rail.

Nonplussed, she hopped from the cab, took off her helmet, and shrugged off her bad luck. She has plenty of trophies, she said, but it’s not all about winning.

“I’ve been racing for 19 years, and I just love this,” she said. “We’ve got three cars, and I just like the adrenaline rush and the competition.”

Organizer Tim Ladd said the crowds like to watch “anything that will run.”

He owns the acreage on Route 4 where the Mud Run was held and has run other competitions, with plans to expand his races to accommodate other vehicles.

“I’ve just got a ton of people who want me to run races for four-wheelers, and I get calls from those folks daily,” he said. “Right now, I’m not advertising, but we’ve still got a great crowd here today.”

He’s scheduled more races for August through the Maine Mud Runs ( statewide group, which acts as a clearinghouse for those wanting to race, find a vehicle, equipment, or just do some tech chatting in the online forums.

The heavy rains early Saturday morning couldn’t have been timed more perfectly, he said. The hill above and fields below were packed with fans who didn’t mind the occasional splatter from the tires.

Race announcers called out the mud runners’ names and their times traveling the distance. Some got stuck, and those drivers endured good-natured ribbing from the crowd, as a skidder hooked onto their bumper and pulled them off the track.

Race official Brian Campbell waited at the end of the mud track and clocked the time of each driver.

“You’ve got to stay back,” he cautioned the onlookers at the edge of the fence. “We don’t want to see anyone getting hurt.”

The event is noisy, with runners constantly tuning their engines and tinkering under the hood before their time on the track. Competitions bring drivers from across the state. Some raced their old battered Jeeps and pickups, while others brought exotic “skimmers” that almost travel on top of the mud. These odd hybrids feature large flotation tires on the front and paddle tires on the rear, and pack 650- to 1,200-horsepower engines.

The sport has its own lingo.

“Any D.O.T. up to 38.5″ must be same OD front and rear, no nitrous, no blowers and no turbos, no cut tires, and no skimmers,” the rules for Class 1 vehicles states firmly.

Nitrous oxide boosts horsepower dramatically and can make the engine run cooler, but classes 1, 2, 3, and 4 can’t use the powerful oxygen and nitrogen mix.

Some competitions require all entries to be four-wheel drive. The six classes of vehicles start with street-legal vehicles to monster trucks with super-modified engines.

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