It was a day of exuberant celebration and of solemn remembrance. While hundreds were thrilled by off-road mud trucks gathered for a dirt slinging, high jumping event was combined with a sobering reminder, a new veterans memorial at the Trollhaugen Recreation Area in Dresser, Wis.
The day was organized by Monte Ferguson, a technician with Jaguar Land Rover Minneapolis who heads promotion efforts for one of the longest running 4×4 events in the Midwest. After some urging by a friend, he decided to create a memorial site for the “46th Annual Total Off-Road Rally,” honoring veterans with a multiple flag display and special landscaping on Memorial Day weekend. The Minnesota Go-4-Wheelers club attracts nearly 1,000 participants each year.
The idea came naturally out of the group’s fun event. “Some of the founding members of this club were Vietnam vets,” said Ferguson. “When they were all home and trying to deal with life, they would get together and go ‘Jeeping,’ driving around, playing in the mud. That’s how this whole event started.”
The group erected flagpoles for all six branches of the military and the American flag. Some 50 U.S. flags lined the nearby road. About 300 Cub Scouts performed a ceremony, and a military guard was on hand for the formal event. Private donations funded the project.
The Trollhaugen course, with its 85 obstacles, is a favorite for many mud truck drivers. Unusual events include regular cars rigged with remote controls that are jumped 50 feet toward dramatic crashes. A demo derby race, 4×4 truck pull and rock off-road race round out the festivities. Ferguson drives a 1968 Ford Bronco that he restored from the frame up. His adult son runs a Jeep and his 15-year-old son is getting into the sport. Ferguson has 26 years with the club.