Cecil “Sappy” Hamilton, a 1993 graduate of James River High School and resident of Eagle Rock, was diagnosed his senior year of high school with stage four cancer in his sinuses. With the new year having arrived Hamilton celebrates his 20th anniversary free of cancer by dedicating his free time to The Outlaw Mudboggin’ Club.
The Outlaw Muddboggin’ Club is a club of mudslingers from all over the Botetourt area who “Help Sling Cancer.” Hamilton along with long time friend, Harry Markham of Botetourt County, were inspired through Hamilton’s time as a cancer patient to raise money for cancer research by holding mudbogs for the community.
The Club was started in September of 2012 and now has 100 members. The mudbogs are held in the Botetourt/Eagle Rock area where anyone is welcome to come for free. Hamilton says the only money they take is by donation and selling their ‘Muddboggin’ 4 Cancer’ decals with all proceeds going directly to the American Cancer Society. The Outlaw Mudboggin’ Club partners with Dustin Seacrist of Seacrist Motor Sports, they also sell T-shirts and those earning go immediately to American Cancer Society as well.
With 20-25 drivers per mudbog, these guys come from all over including Salem,New Castle, Bedford, Covington and Bath County. The season runs from the beginning to April to the end of October, depending on the weather. Hamilton claims that within the first two days of starting the club they made $365 to donate to the American Cancer Society and have sold over 250 decals. Furthermore, they have recently started raising money for Autism.
Clearly this group has a great cause but there is an issue with where these mudbogs are being held. After speaking with Brandon Nicely, Jeff Busbee and Wade Burkholder of Botetourt Planning and Zoning, they expressed their concerns about the locations of the mudbogs. Both Busby and Burkholder said they had spoken with Hamilton after he was put on a year of advisement through the court system.
Since Hamilton has often held the mudbogs on his 1.2 acres of property in Eagle Rock where mudbogging is not a permitted use of ordinance this has raised some issues with the county. Citizens have complained about loud noises from the trucks, crowds of people and additionally since the land they are held on is so small there is an influx of cars parking on public and private property, blocking driveways and causing an inconvenience for the people in residence near where the mudbogs take place.
Nicely stated that he thinks what this group is doing is great and has a lot of potential. However, it needs to be done the right way. In order to continue mudbogging for a cause they need to go through the right procedures to be permitted to do so. Busby and Burkholder support Hamilton’s cause as well and have agreed to help him in any way possible.
Seacrist, who is Treasurer of the Outlaw Muddboggin’ Club, has helped with the legal aspect when the group started having problems because of county restrictions for mudbogging. He expressed his frustration because he felt like the restrictions were a violation of their rights. He explained that events like this can actually be very beneficial because of how much revenue mudbogs can potentially bring to the county.
Hamilton explained that gas and food from spectators and the expenses that are often required to fix the trucks that participate after a mudbog draws in a lot of money for local businesses. Seacrist, also member of the West Virginia Mud Racing Team, shed light on how big mudbogging is in the south. In West Virgnia they are asking for more events like this because of the incredible revenue.
Hamilton claims that he understands the county’s concerns about mudbogging and says he feels most of the conflict has derived from events like these being held with no guidelines and the consequences from that have left a bad taste in the mouths of citizens. In a final conversation with Hamilton, he explained his plans to cease mudbogging on his property to avoid further conflict, find land for mudbogs, and revisit Planning and Zoning to discuss options for permitting these activities.
Hamilton said, “We want the county to understand that we want to do this the right way.”
To view photos of the mudboggers in the slide show above or in a different view by clicking here.
You can also check out videos of the mudboggers in action by following the links below:
Photos courtesy of Cathy Benson, Amie Smith, Cecil Hamilton
Videos courtesy of Dawn Rogers
– Emily Plecker, Special to The Botetourt View