(Coverage By Christopher Allen, Photos By Jim Allen)(Coverage By Christopher Allen, Photos By Jim Allen)
This time on “The Allen Report”, we make our first venture to Rio Rancho, New Mexico, on the northwest side of Albuquerque. Albuquerque is a town well familiar with motorsport greatness as it is the home of Indianapolis 500 legend Al Unser Sr. But our focus was on the Santa Ana Star Center, where six of the best car smashing, dirt slinging monster trucks the USA can offer convened for the Toughest Monster Truck Tour. Vertical wheelie contest, tight Chicago-style bracket racing and anything goes freestyle would test the abilities of both driver and truck as points were on the line for each contest and consistency would reward just one driver with the night’s Overall Toughest Monster Truck Championship.
The field of competitors for the weekend’s action was headlined by the old rivalry of Firestone Bigfoot #21 driven by Larry Swim and Snake Bite driven by Vinny Venom. Snake Bite was even decked out in the iconic retro red paint scheme. Vinny was on a mission to find new fans and massive lines for him at the pre-show pit parties both nights ensured that his efforts were not in vain. Looking to slow down monster trucking’s greatest hero and villain was Derick Anson and Heavy Hitter. In only his second competitive weekend out of retirement was former Maximum Destruction and Stone Crusher driver Kevin Lewis, piloting the “farm fresh” themed Basher monster truck, the newest addition to Derick Anson’s growing team. Making the long haul from the state of Virginia were Michael Hawkins and backflip club member Equalizer, and teammate Brandon Budd and his trusty Red Solo truck. Red Solo Truck and Snake Bite would meet for the first time since the horrific crash at Wildwood, New Jersey last summer. With the arena filled to the rafters both nights, the pressure was on.
In the show opening Wheelie Competition, Heavy Hitter was the first truck out and put down barn burner wheelstands over the race lanes the wrong way to bring the bar to incredible heights early in the night with a score of 17 out of a possible 20. None of the trucks that went after him could score higher and Heavy Hitter got off to the best start on the road to the Toughest Monster Truck Overall Championship.
In roundy-round racing, Bigfoot, who had finished a disappointing third in Wheelies, was looking to make up ground in his quest for the overall title. His first two races did just that as Larry Swim disposed of Red Solo Truck and fastest loser Basher on the road to the finals. He would not get a chance at his old rival Snake Bite, however, as Wheelies winner Heavy Hitter eluded the snake’s venom to march to the finals and a chance at going two for two in the night. Over the first two passes over the finish line it was neck and neck. With all eyes on the finish line, both drivers put the heel to the steel with Bigfoot posting a nice win to claim the Racing championship.
In the main event of freestyle, Derick Anson and Heavy Hitter quickly got back to potential winning form, clearing the double car stack multiple times, pointing his tires toward the sky over the jammer stack and keeping fluid momentum going most of the run. When the judges’ score of 33 out of 40 was handed down, it became evident that defeating the Wheelies winner and Racing runner-up was not going to be easy. The last truck in the order, Snake Bite, came the closest, missing his target by three points at 30. When the evening’s points were tallied up, Heavy Hitter’s nigh perfect run of two wins and one second place finish easily garnered him the night’s Toughest Monster Truck Tour Overall Title.
Over the second and final weekend show on Saturday night, it was all about the classic rivalry in the sport. In his second wheelie attempt of the night, Larry Swim got a little too heavy on the loud pedal and put Bigfoot so far past vertical it ended in a rollover. Larry was unhurt and the crowd gave him adulation anyway. Snake Bite walked his wheelies beautifully and kept it on all fours to boot, but a tie with his on-track arch rival meant the win was in the spectators’ hands via cheer-off. Bigfoot got the nod from the crowd and he was the Wheelies winner. Vinny Venom got the rematch he wanted in the Racing finals. With only one turn to go, Snake Bite looked like he had evened the odds only to hit a turning pole, costing him five seconds and the race. The mysterious masked man would finally taste victory by upending his foe by one single point in freestyle after a breathtaking run with a score of 35, but it was not enough to stop Bigfoot from taking the Saturday night Overall Toughest Monster Truck Title.
Also on the card for the weekend’s action was a jet powered Smart Car. It poured heaps of flame from its afterburner, shaking the arena with noise and throwing heat that could be felt by the crowd. In addition, kids and adults alike were amazed by the car eating, flame throwing theatrics of the three-story mechanical dinosaur Megasaurus.
We at “The Allen Report” are currently unsure where our next adventure will be, but you can count on us for great event photos and coverage. Well, thanks for reading, a special thank you to Brian Manson and all the Toughest Monster Truck Tour team for having us for the first time, as well as the Santa Ana Star Center for their hospitality. Enjoy the photos and be sure to check our travels under “Monster Truckin’ with Jim and Chris” on Facebook and Instagram, enjoy the photos and cheer on!