Mud Bog Mania at MESA Park sputters out after faulty start

FELLSMERE – There will be no more mud bog races at MESA Park under Treasure Coast Motorsports after the managing partner pulled the plug this week.

City Manager Jason Nunemaker told the Fellsmere City Council during its meeting Thursday night after receiving an e-mail from the organization’s managing partner, Ike Heckler Jr.

In the e-mail sent Wednesday evening, Heckler blamed low racer and spectator turnout and high costs for deciding to end Mud Bog Mania. This Saturday would have been the third event.

Heckler continues his explanation in the e-mail, stating, “…the racers would not work with us: they would not install mufflers and there was too much crazyness (sic)…”

Heckler went on to say that the racers would not pay the requested racer entry fee and they did not follow all the rules established for a family-friendly event.

“It’s just unfortunate it didn’t work,” Nunemaker said at Thursday’s council meeting.

He added that there could have been other options Treasure Coast Motorsports could have explored but instead decided to drop it altogether.

After the meeting, Nunemaker said that he had hoped Heckler would change his mind. He also said that the city has not canceled the special event permit Heckler received to run the mud bogging.

If Heckler were to change his mind about canceling Mud Bog Mania, he could run the races at MESA Park through at least November.

When granting the permit, the city council required a review after 30 days so that officials could address any concerns or complaints from residents.

So far, the two Saturdays’ Mud Bog Mania events held elicited no complaints from any residents, city officials said Thursday.

The grand opening event, on Nov. 7, coincided with several other events, including other races carrying larger purses. Only a few racers turned out to compete. The Sebastian Clambake Festival also competed for visitors.

And while the racers were scarce that Saturday, Heckler said then that there were between 600 and 700 people who showed up throughout the day to see the trucks and races.

The following Saturday, a Twitter follower (@rjthedj) told that more than four times the number of trucks showed up to race and that they put on a much better show.

When Heckler and his team first brought the idea of mud bogging at MESA Park to the Fellsmere City Council, Heckler told the members that he anticipated the endeavor to generate $200 million worth of economic impact to the region – including Fellsmere, Sebastian, and both Indian River and Brevard counties.

The grandiose plan called for the mud bogging track first, with two more tracks to be added later, and housing after that.

“It was shooting too far,” Nunemaker said at Thursday’s meeting of Heckler’s plans.

Heckler had also hoped to introduce green fuels to racing and encourage racers to embrace alternative fuels. If it had gone through as planned, MESA Park would have been the first such raceway in the country, Heckler had said at the time the project was approved.

What the future holds for MESA Park now remains unclear. Nunemaker said after the meeting that it could be possible that someone else come into the park and make a go of some other venture.

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