TORRINGTON – Mud in the air is a common sight around Don Cearns, the president of Valley Motor Sports, and his family. Cearns has been in and around mud racing for the better part of 35 years.
“Growing up, I didn’t have a fast car, so I figured I’d build a nice pickup,” Cearns said. “I’ve always liked 4x4 pickups and monster trucks.”
There have been several trucks over the past 35 years, including a new truck that he unveiled this year. Starting in October, he began working on building a new truck, spending time on it every night for several months. The new truck “Just for Fun,” which requires Cearns to climb up the tire to get into the cab, runs in the big tire class in the mud bogs.
“I do it because the kids like it,” Cearns said. “If I can make a kid smile when he looks at my truck – that’s what I do it for.”
On top of making spectators smile through mud racing, Cearns and the sport made a lasting impression on his three sons. Michael, the oldest, Matthew, and Tyler, the youngest, have all gotten into mud racing, with each of them competing in the pro-mod class. The trio of boys, along with Don, work day and night together to better their trucks to get through the mud faster and further. Don’s wife, Tammy, also plays a big role in the family’s sport.
“We do it as a family. If I didn’t have my boys doing it with me, I probably wouldn’t do it,” Don said. “We wouldn’t do anything without each other. Everyone helps everyone with us.”
The four Cearns competed in the Thunder in the Valley in Torrington this past weekend, with mud drags Saturday and mud bogs Sunday. Valley Motor Sports, which has been around since 2014, put together the weekend event. Don, along with his sons, helped lead the weekend, but he said it was a group effort.
“There is no way you can do this without a whole bunch of people,” Don said of the Thunder in the Valley, which had around 200 spectators. “One of the biggest things is how much the community has sponsored Valley Motor Sports.”
The Thunder in the Valley was the first of four races this summer that Valley Motor Sports is organizing. They are set to host another race July 15-16, the Big Gun Shootout Aug. 5 and a special eclipse race Aug. 19-20.
On top of attending home races, several locals travel around the region to compete against other mud racers, starting in late April. Last weekend, 11 local trucks went to Newcastle to compete. Throughout the mud racing season, the Cearns and several locals head to multiple Wyoming locations, along with making trips to Colorado, Nebraska and South Dakota.