Engines roar and dust rises in the Tail Creek Raceway staging area as Frank Wertz looks on from the sidelines, next to his off-road racer. The thing looks like an injured spider, one big front piston cracked open and pointing at the sky.
“I’ve never finished a race,” says Wertz, who’s raced for about eight years. “It’s just about putting on a show and having some fun.”
In offroad racing, the actual racing is only half the sport. Showmanship is just as important. And in the latter category, Wertz excels. He also manages the Facebook group “Offroad” as a rallying place for the race community, where he shares pics and footage of all the carnage.
But of course, the best way to enjoy the action and get a feel for the sport is to see it live. And there’s plenty of entertainment for everybody at the Tail Creek Mudfest, an annual racing event held just east of Alix, AB, and billed as Canada’s “biggest offroad mud and music festival.” The festival takes place over the Canada Day long weekend, from June 30 – July 2.
Imagine a friendlier, greener Mad Max and you may start to get a sense of Alberta’s offroad racing scene. During the race, drivers throw their vehicles at high speeds around, over and through bogs, dirt bowls, boulders, steep hills, big rollers, log traps and dirt jumps. Racers and their families camp out in the fields, barbecuing, telling tall tales and wrenching on big, muddy vehicles.
In the evenings, classic rock and outlaw country rumble from the big stage, with headliners this year featuring Big Sugar, Lee Aaron, David Lee Murphy and Emerson Drive. Racer or not, everyone’s welcome. In the offroad scene, crashing – whether it’s a car or a party – is not only accepted, it’s encouraged.