Off to the Swamp Buggy Races

Malcolm Lightner grew up in a trailer park down the street from the original “Mile O'Mud” swamp buggy track, a DAYTONA-inspired race course in the everglades. Drivers reach 75mph in their half boat, half-dragster hybrids, splashing spectators with abandon. Lightner photographed the races for nearly a decade, documenting the beauty contests, Confederate Flags, fried food, and revelry with the affection of a native Floridian. But Lightner wasn't always drawn to the competition; his childhood encounters with the track consisted of searching for his father, who would go missing for days. Returning as an adult to witness the wild weekend-long events at Florida Sports Park allowed Lightner to explore his own heritage (his great-uncle was one of the original racers) as well as preserve the Frontier sport. “I unveiled family connections that I did not know existed and heard numerous stories about my father,” Lightner said. “The races demonstrated to me the All-American desire to compete to win—as well as the power of family and community.” The resulting images have been published by PowerHouse Books and a selection can be found below.

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