It's a dirty job, but someone has to do it
Post writers to ride in a special truck at Plamondon Mud Bogs
Along with helmets and coveralls, Whitson and newbie newsman Penny may also have to adorn some feminine fashion if they are going to take the Ailsbilly Deluxe through the 200-foot mud pit.
In memory of Clinton Ailsby
The truck was partially built by Clinton Ailsby who died in 2009 in a workplace accident. Ailsby was known for his close ties with the Mud Bogs and his kind spirit. The Bronco was one of a number of machines Ailsby built that he would offer to young women he knew to get them into the mostly man-dominated sport of bogging.
"He'd build boggers and have girls drive them," said Amanda Richard in an interview with the POST last year.
Richard and Ailsby's sister-in-law Destiny co-drove the big red Bronco in last year's Mud Bogs in memory of Clinton. With a standing tradition of the female touch inside Clinton's trucks, organizers are hinting that any male drivers might have to get in touch with their feminine side if they want to ride.
This year, Mud Bog organizers and Ailsby's family and friends are offering up a race in the special truck to area media.
Two writers can't go wrong
"We thought the POST would like to get into the pits in this very special truck and see first-hand what it's like," said Plamondon District Community Development Society's Tracy Lord. "There's room for two, so one could drive and one could take really good pictures."
Or one could drive and the other could hold on and scream down the 200 foot track of mud and mayhem, joked Whitson when he learned of the opportunity.
Perhaps trying to get out of the driver's seat already, the four-month veteran of the Lac La Biche and area news scene says he's OK to take the wheel —if the truck has an automatic transmission.
"I can't drive standard," he admitted.
Co-worker Penny can come through in the 'clutch' if needed, saying he'd welcome a chance to tackle the mud pits from the driver's seat.
Comparing their personal vehiclea , it might be better for the Ailsbilly Deluxe's current caretakers if Whitson rides shotgun. His Jeep Compass did make the recent 1,300 kilometre drive from his previous newspaper posting in the Northwest Territories, but part of the SUV's front quarter-panel was left in a tree stand along a 500 kilometre stretch of ice road. Penny's Grand Am, by comparison, seems relatively unscathed by the 22-year's olds recent driving activities.
But bumps and scrapes, and mechanical fixes are all part of the mud bogs. And Ailsby's truck has been kept in tip-top condition since his death, thanks to Alex Richard of Richard Oilfield Services. Richard's daughter said her dad's mechanical touch and a community's support have helped to keep Clinton's memory alive and his truck rolling.
"A bunch of other people donated parts to the truck — parts and their time in his memory," said Amanda.
Down & Dirty activities
The POST drivers will be one of several invited media to take part in a race. Whitson and Penny will hit the mud on Friday night during the amateur races.
Gates at the Plamondon recreation grounds open at noon on Friday, and 9 a.m. both Saturday and Sunday. Activities at the Mud Bogs include tractor pulls, amateur mud races, a children's festival and the main event Canadian Mud Racing Organization's sanctioned races.
After Friday's races there's a dance to keep the night alive. Whitson and Penny will probably stick around for that, and are expected to be taking a change of clothes.