Huntre Lamb grew up using his hands.
“If my chain fell off my bike, my grandpa, my mom and my dad would be like, ‘Alright, you need to figure out how to put it back on — I’ll show you once,’” said the 26-year-old Soldotna resident.
He liked that, for the most part. But, it wasn’t until a fishing trip with his older brother that Lamb found he’d rather put his hands under the hood of a truck.
On that trip, the two brothers got the truck they were driving through the backwoods stuck three times.
“At this point I didn’t really care about fishing, I was just encouraging it on because I wanted to go wheeling,” he said.
But, they only made it out twice.
Going through a river, pushing water up to the windshield, the truck bent a piston and the fun was over. But, a passion developed in Lamb.
“That right there was my big encouragement on getting into it was that whole experience,” he said. “We took it home, tore the whole motor down and rebuilt the whole thing in our driveway — no garage or nothing — in the middle of winter.”
Lamb spent most of Wednesday in his driveway, too. He wasn’t repairing his truck, but rather getting it ready for the third annual Kenai Peninsula Tough Truck competition, which will be hosted Saturday at the Twin Cities Raceway circle track.
The event will feature a variety of competitions for trucks, side-by-sides and ATVs, the main attraction being a side-by-side mud track race with time trials divided into four classes.
It’ll be Lamb’s first time competing in such an event, officially.
“I’ve never been in a dragster before, but I’ve obviously ... lined up toe to toe with a buddy in a swamp,” he said with a laugh. “I imagine this event is going to be something like that but we are trying to make it something to where you can make it through the pit.
“Being a time trial we pretty much want to see mud flying up in the air and get the crowd riled up.”
He and friend Eric Pruett, the 25-year-old owner of NortWest Customs in Soldotna, will likely go head-to-head in the competition.
But, Pruett said he is all right with that.
“He has been hiding some stuff from me and I got a Jeep I’ve been stashing away, so we’ll see,” he said Thursday inside his store.
Saturday’s competition will be Pruett’s first official mud race, but not his first time hanging around other tough truck competitors.
“Back home in Washington we used to do these rallies and stuff,” he said. “The rallies were different because it was just a bunch of hillbillies. We’d all get together drinking beer and you’d have a couple hundred people at a little mud event in a back yard.”
“With this one, we are taking the old school … back yard mud trucking and kind of combine it into a race slash actual organized event.”
Gates open at the Tough Truck event at 4 p.m. Cost is $8 for general admission, seniors and kids are $5, and kids under 5 get in for free.
“The tough truck is such a universal name for what we are doing, but if everything goes as planned it is going grow and we can see some pretty cool stuff out of it,” Pruett said. “The initial plan was just to give the younger crowd something to see and something to do.”
Lamb hopes the competition will provide a few thrills similar to those he has found out in the wilderness with his rig.
“It is just a rush to go somewhere in a full-sized rig and go out there and have a good time with your friends and get stuck and bust out the wenches,” he said. “You know, who can go the furthest, longer and faster without breaking something? It is a challenge every time you go out.
“Either you are going to pop a tire, blow a motor up, toast a tranny or break a driveline. You’ve got to have your mind set in the right direction when you go out and do this stuff.”
“Guys want to get dirty — it is what it comes down to,” he said. “So they usually bring out these trucks that you’ve never seen around town because a lot of them are hidden back yard toys and it’s a unique thing. You go to car shows and you get to see unique cars and you go to shows like these to see things you’ve not normally seen before.”
Lamb said he and his wife, Jhasmine, who organized the event, have been encouraging as many people as they can to participate in the event.
“If you’ve even got a two-inch lift on your truck with 33s then bring it out and tear it up,” he said.
Tearing it up at the track or in the woods is only just a small part of the tough truck appeal, Lamb said.
“You break something and you go home and you build it up bigger and better and you go out the next weekend and you do it all over again,” he said.
The cycle can be almost addictive, he added.
“There’s guys that go to the extent where they do nothing but spend money on their rigs and every time they get paid they are dumping hundreds or thousands of dollars into these rigs,” he said.
But, what makes Lamb proud is seeing the fruits of his labor climbing rocks, crossing rivers, racing through mud pits or even just parked in the driveway.
“A lot of people don’t put a lot of pride into anything anymore,” he said.
“… I actually like finishing something. I do carpentry and I’m an electrician and I like to step back and look at my work and be like,
‘Yeah, I built that.’”