While ATV rider Bill Ford has only been racing professionally for four years, he's considered a local icon in mud racing for Canadians.
His success has helped secure that image. Ford's whole family is involved in the sport. At the end of March 2017, Ford travelled with his wife, Elizabeth, and kids from Onoway, Alberta, to Jacksonville, Texas, for the High Lifter ATV Mud Nationals, where he brought home seven podium finishes. Just down the road, Championship Mud Racing 2017 was happening March 25th, where both Bill and Elizabeth took home first-place finishes.
Now Ford is getting ready for a bigger finish line. He's kick starting Canadian Championship Mud Racing, with the first race happening in Alberta on June 17th and four more races following throughout the summer in three provinces.
"We're going to have the die-hards that are going to want to chase the whole season for the points and then we're going to have the guys in every province who just want to come out for one of two," Ford said.
Ford expects his racers to come mostly from Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, but knows a few from British Columbia and Ontario will likely take part.
"There's a lot of interest in quads up here and racing. There's small events going around, but nothing like what's going on in Texas, because quadding in Texas is on another level," Ford said. "All the quad parks are huge with miles and miles of riding. They put on events, they have concerts and stuff like that, so I thought, 'Why don't I try it out up here, see if it kicks off?'"
Bill Ford is ready to challenge for another podium finish. — Photo courtesy Bill Ford
Ford approached a number of his sponsors with the idea and they were happy to support an event of this magnitude on Canadian soil.
"Now I've got a pile of sponsors that are already on board that are helping me out with this. Myself, my wife and my kids are going to put it on," Ford said. "I've got a pretty good following already from doing the racing and I'm a pretty big quadder in Alberta. I thought let's put it on and see where it takes us."
HOW IT ALL BEGAN FOR FORD
Ford was introduced to mud racing and ATVs as a way to spend time with his friends.
"I was going out on the weekends and trail riding, hanging out with my friends and trying to find as much mud as I could," Ford said." I started watching Facebook for other events and that's what got me. I'm a real big speed kind of guy and kind of an adrenalin junkie. So I've always done some kind of racing like sledding and just been an extremist."
Ford started paying attention to the mud racing events in Texas, when he thought he could make the trek and attempt the competition himself.
"We packed the kids up one summer, went down there and met a bunch of good people," Ford said. "I actually did really good on my first event and said let's try doing the whole season."
Each year, Ford improved, bringing a championship back to Canada in his second year of competition. In year three, he started getting on the podium every race he entered.
"I just had a passion for quadding. I kind of dive right into this stuff," Ford said. "I see how there is so many people out there that are like me in Canada and they can't either get across the border to go down to compete or they just can't afford it, because it is a far distance to go down there and travel."
AIMING FOR GREATNESS IN CANADA
Ford is attempting to create a new professional series in Canada, but he's also hoping the event can be accessible for everyone.
Bill Ford seems to thrive on competition, heading stateside the last four years for championship mud racing and mud nationals. — Photo courtesy Bill Ford
"We're going to have the kids events, just like they have down in Texas—levels that are comfortable for the kids where they can be fun and be competitive at the same time," Ford said. "We're going to have a women's class. We're also going to have a stock class, which they don't really have down in Texas. You have so many people up here with a stock bike, which has a couple of mods on it, so we can get some new people interested in it."
Ford's goal is to make this event accessible to everyone, both new and experienced.
"I want to get amateurs in there. Then they can grow up and build up to the pro classes. Then we're going to have an open class for turbos, nitro and lift kits. It's going to be seriously exciting," Ford said.
To learn more about what the Canadian Championship Mud Racing series is all about, you can check out their website www.canadiancmr.com.