A muddy hobby has snowballed into a second career for Jeff Lacroix.
For the past six years the Sarnia resident has been filming ‘mud bogging,’ and his posts to the Internet are generating millions of views.
He’s the owner of the popular CarWarz YouTube site, the region’s top YouTube channel with 15 million hits in 2015. This year it’s on pace for 20 million.
“It just took off,” Lacroix told The Journal. “People are looking for some excitement. It’s like car racing except there is mud flying all around.”
Lacroix was a housekeeping worker at Bluewater Health when he fractured his spine and could no longer work. He had to find a new way to fill his days.
A chance YouTube posting of a car show he had filmed drew a large number of hits. Soon, Lacroix learned that mud-running videos drew even more followers and it became his focus.
It’s now a job he loves.
Filming isn’t easy. Lacroix can’t stand for extended periods so holding a camera steady is tough. Friends help him shoot and he brings his wheelchair to rest.
Then there’s the wear and tear on his Canon camcorders.
“They are hit by mud so much I have to get new cameras every years,” he said.
Mud-bogging is a sport in which vehicles — typically mega four-wheel drive trucks — power their way through tracks and bogs to the delight of enthusiastic crowds.
The mud can be over five feet deep.
Not for the faint of heart, mud-bogging or mud-running is high-powered and unpredictable. Vehicles often crash and burn — factors that the good-old-boys love.
“I’ve seen many trucks roll, flip and catch fire,” Lacroix said. “But I have never seen anybody get hurt in six years.
Many of the big trucks are worth $100,000, and often owned by mechanics who do repairs and modifications themselves.
“You can’t bring them to Midas,” Lacroix said. “There’s a lot of rednecks with a lot of cash.”
South of the border, mud-bogging is a major draw with big-time sponsors and is especially popular from Michigan to Florida.
Events in Ontario and Michigan are held in park-like racetrack settings or backyard bogs.
Ontario drivers, he said, typically run “junker cars” and events are more fun than competitive.
In addition to CarWarz, Lacroix also runs themuddynews.com and is the volunteer producer and editor of a Michigan cable TV show called Muddin’ The Compound.