The Allen Report: Monster Jam – Phoenix, AZ 2012

(Coverage By Christopher Allen, Photos By Jim Allen)

Survival is crucial to success in monster truck racing. If you can’t keep your truck in one piece the whole night, someone else will walk onto the winner’s stage. And this year’s show at the Chase Field Monster Jam was a prime example of that. The show featured both Grave Digger and Son-Uva Digger with Carl Van Horn and Ryan Anderson driving. The “General” himself, Brian Deegan drove the Metal Mulisha for the first time in his career. Former World Finals fastest qualifier Marc McDonald brought El Toro Loco back. Linsey Weenk returned to Phoenix with the Lucas Oil Crusader. Former sprint car driver Taryn Laskey filled in for Nicole Johnson in Tasmanian Devil. The other teams were: Mitch Tulachka and Shane Phreed in Geter Done and Robo Machine. Allen Pezo and Ron Nelson drove Predator and Pouncer. Kelvin Ramer drove Time Flies and former California Kid driver Garrett Ladelle drove Detour. Rounding out the field were Mark Schroeder and Rod Wood driving the Felon and McGruff.

Grave Digger was ready to face the former Bustin’ Loose driver in Pouncer in the semi-finals when he lost oil pressure coming to the start line due to a rollover during introductions and had to be replaced by Felon, whom he had beaten the round before. Mark took advantage of the opportunity and won. In the other half of the semis with Son-Uva Digger taking on Crusader, Ryan spun out coming down the main straightaway of the so-cal style track only to get the win back when the former Canadian hit the jammer obstacle and flipped over. In the finals a broken ring and pinion in the back axle of Felon meant Predator, who had lost to him back in the opening round, had to take his place. In the final, it was neck and neck until the third member of the Anderson equation spun out again, giving Allen Pezo a huge win.

Brain Deegan set the bar early with a lead score of 20 and held the lead most of the night. El Toro Loco took the lead with only the two “Diggers” to go thanks to a score of 23. The man they call “CVH” saved his truck from another rollover, but was unable to fire back up and keep going with time still on the clock. When all was said and done, Ryan Anderson took the win by just one point, extending his perfect record of freestyle wins to five. But in true Anderson fashion, trophy or not, he came back out and unleashed his inner beast, giving the Digger-maniacs in the stands a wicked encore.

Monster Jam at Chase Field gets bigger every year this year’s show is one of the reasons why. For us at “The Allen Report”, Firebird Raceway is next on our schedule in April. Until then, thanks for reading, enjoy the great photos by Jim Allen and cheer on!

All content copyright TheMonsterBlog.com 2011.

The Allen Report: IMTM Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony 2011

(Coverage By Christopher Allen, Photos By Jim Allen)

It’s important to preserve the history and rise to fame of the monster truck industry so that the next generation of fans can see for themselves how the sport started. Auburn, Indiana’s own Jeff Cook of Shotgun Harry intends to accomplish this by doing two things: operating a museum preserving historic monster trucks and, starting with the inaugural induction ceremony held on November 19th, 2011, hold an annual Hall of Fame ceremony. This year’s ceremony was a big success with over 250 people attending and nine historic monsters and two active monsters on display for all to see.

The first class of Hall of Fame inductees included: Bob Chandler of Bigfoot, Dan Degrasso of Beast and Everett Jasmer of USA-1 (who each had their original monster truck creations on display at the museum that night), Fred Shafer of Bearfoot, Jack Wilman Sr. of Taurus and Jeff Dane of King Kong and Awesome Kong. Fred was unable to attend the event, so Scott Hess of Hercules and a Team Bearfoot driver, filled in to accept the award on Fred’s behalf.

TMB Contributors Jim & Christopher Allen stand in front of the legendary USA-1 at the 1st Annual IMTM Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.

Other trucks on display as well as those mentioned above were John Nowacki’s Mud Monster, Allen Tura’s Goliath, Allen Pezo’s Predator 1, Eric Howe’s High Horse and Tod Weston’s Black Knight and Kid KJ’s Monster Bear. As each individual was inducted into the Hall of Fame, a video tribute was shown highlighting their career. Each then got an opportunity to share their feelings and a story or two. Some members of the first class explained where the names of their trucks came from and others why they stepped out of the spotlight and/or sold their trucks. In the end, every new member of the Hall of Fame got a standing ovation from the crowd.

At long last, the careers of the men above, billed as “The Originals” in monster truck history have had their careers come full circle. As far as the future is concerned, Mr. Chandler is focused on the debut of Bigfoot #18. Mr. Jasmer is looking to carry on with his deal with Chandler Lloyd and possibly sell the entire USA-1 operation. Mr. Degrasso just may end up deciding to bring the Beast back into the public eye as a modernized truck with a tube frame and nitrogen shocks.

To find out more about the museum or plan a visit, check out www.MonsterMuseum.org. On that note, until the first quarter of 2012, thank you for reading, thanks to Jeff Cook and the entire IMTM staff for their wonderful hospitality, enjoy the photos and cheer on!

All content copyright TheMonsterBlog.com 2011.

The Allen Report: Monster Truck Show – Phoenix, AZ 2011

(Coverage By Christopher Allen, Photos By Jim Allen)

One year ago, WGAS Motorsports brought monster trucks back to the Arizona State Fair after a several year absence. And they must have done well because not only did the monsters play to a sold out house each night, but they came back for more just last weekend, November 3rd through 6th with my father Jim and I covering each night from the 4th onward. This year’s four drivers included father and son duo Rick and Eric Swanson driving their signature Obsession and Obsessed machines in front of an Arizona crowd for the very first time. Rounding out the field was Chris Lagana in the Ice Monster and Chris Ryan in Ground Pounder.

On the first night, 16 year old Eric and Obsessed impressed many, including the judges with a score of 27 out of 40. But the runs of his father Rick and Chris Ryan in the Ground Pounder were both so good, they could only tie, each with a score of 34. The next night, every driver took their runs to a whole new level. Obsessed had the fastest donuts of the night and Ice Monster had great air, but Ground Pounder finally found the signature slap wheelies he had been searching for and got a perfect 40 for the win. The final day saw the monsters perform to a sellout crowd. Rick and Obsession pulled off the gloves and went for broke, hitting everything on the track and had plenty of speed. The judges were impressed and gave him a score of 38, but in the end, Ground Pounder edged him out by just one point, giving Chris Ryan the weekend sweep.

In other action, Bob Johnson gave rides to everyone who wanted one in his Hog Wild monster while Jake Blackwell did the same with his 1947 Mack fire monster, the Extinguisher. Also, the term “Home wrecker” was taken to a whole new level with motor home demolition derbies. Next for me is the inaugural International Monster Truck Museum Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. Then it’s on to 2012 for us at “The Allen Report”. Until then, thank you for reading, a special thanks to John Borba and WGAS Motorsports for their hospitality, enjoy the great photos by Jim Allen and cheer on!

All content copyright TheMonsterBlog.com 2011.

The Allen Report: Maverik Clash of the Titans – Rocky Mountain Raceway 2011

(Coverage By Christopher Allen, Photos By Jim Allen)

This year at the Maverik Clash of the Titans in West Valley City, Utah’s at the always impressive Rocky Mountain Raceways, all four members of Jimmy Creten’s team made the trip. Jimmy would drive Bounty, and his wife Dawn piloted Scarlet Bandit. Darren Migues took the helm of Red Baron on a brand new chassis appearing in public for only the second time. Finally, Ben “Bobo” Winslow drove Iron Outlaw. The opposition consisted of Daron Basl of El Matador with David Smith in King Krunch in tow, Dan Runte driving Summit Bigfoot #16 and Larry Swim driving Snake Bite #14. Rounding out the field was Roger Stidell in Captain USA and hometown hero Ron Doncombe in the Maverik Monster Trakker.

The raceway’s signature figure 8 racing made for some interesting and wild finishes. The four semi-finalists were both halves of Team Bigfoot and one half of 2Xtreme Racing, both husband and wife Creten. Number one qualifier Bigfoot stomped on Bounty Hunter in the first semi-final and Scarlet Bandit took down Snake Bite in the other. In the 2 lap finale, Dan schooled Dawn at the line and never looked back, taking his third straight racing title at RMR.

Racing was followed by the wheelie contest, in which Larry in Snake Bite held the lead most of the competition, but it came down to the racing and freestyle winners from last year. Dan and Bigfoot scored an excellent 9.6 out of 10.0 but Jimmy Creten put the competition in his back pocket with a score of 9.95. Dan and Jimmy were looking to defend those titles on Sunday.

On the second and final day, Bigfoot picked up where he left off, taking the number one spot in qualifying with teammate Snake Bite right behind him. These two would then march right through the bracket to meet in an all Team Bigfoot double lap final. With all eyes on the finish line, both drivers ran hard, but Dan and Bigfoot retained his Racing Title from last year.

Unlike the previous night, the drivers had two minutes of freestyle time. Darren Migues and Red Baron took an early lead, but Jimmy and Bounty Hunter were ready. A combination of huge air, high speed and a three wheeled cyclone ensured there was no taking away his freestyle championship he won a year ago.

In other action, Idaho Falls’ own Ron Barrows gave rides to all fans who wanted one in his Thumper ride truck. To find out where they are performing, check out www.rideamonster.com. Until next time, thank you for reading, enjoy the photos and cheer on!

All content copyright TheMonsterBlog.com 2011.

The Allen Report: WGAS Monster Truck Tour – Del Mar/Pomona, CA 2011

(Coverage By Christopher Allen, Photos By Jim Allen)

The 4th of July is always an important date on the modern calendar and monster trucks are about as American as they come. That is why six of the best monsters this side of the Mississippi River arrived for the annual show at the San Diego County Fair in Del Mar, California, followed by the KaBoom show at the Fairplex in Pomona, California. The six combatants are Jimmy Creten and Bounty Hunter, Darren Migues in Iron Outlaw and the father and son duo Rick and Eric Swanson in Obsession and Obsessed. Kelvin Ramer drove Time Flys while Hog Wild ride truck owner Bob Johnson and Chris Etchison shared driving duties in Fired Up.

For three days and two shows a day, the monsters made the Chevrolet Del Mar Arena their stomping grounds. The first day saw decent efforts, but Jimmy Creten had his cyclones down pat and took both shows that day. Business picked up tremendously on the second day when Darren announced through amazing runs that he would lay down to no one, his teammate included. With just a few points separating the two halves of 2Xtreme Racing, the final day saw sold out shows in both the afternoon and evening. In the end, the win was awarded to the Bounty Hunter, having a perfect six-for-six record to wrap up the Del Mar shows for another year.

Independence Day was celebrated with exactly those same monsters at the packed Fairplex in Pomona. The show opened with the high-flying, death-defying Freestyle Motocross riders, including Nikki Danielson and Jimmy Fitzpatrick of the famous Metal Mulisha doing what they do best, despite a close encounter with Mother Nature’s fury. Roundy-Round racing saw Eric Swanson in Obsessed take down Fired Up, but the end for him in racing came when Iron Outlaw, who had knocked off Time Flys, defeated him to take on Bounty Hunter in the finals. Jimmy Creten crossed the finish line first, but in the process, he hit a turning pole handing the win to Migues in Iron Outlaw. However, even that could not stop him from literally jumping over his own team truck to finish freestyle. As always, fireworks closed the incredible KaBoom event.

During the weekend, Kelvin Ramer said he is building a yet to be named third truck that, like Time Flys, will be a 1934 Ford Coupe. However, the body will be roofless and the nose will be slanted banana style. Until next time, thank you for reading, enjoy Jim Allen’s great photos, and a big thanks to John Borba and WGAS Motorsports for their hospitality. Cheer on!

All content copyright TheMonsterBlog.com 2011.

The Allen Report: NAPA Monster Truck Nationals – Chandler, AZ 2011

(Coverage By Christopher Allen, Photos By Jim Allen)

Six of the top monster trucks in the world arrived at Firebird International Raceway in Chandler, Arizona for the annual NAPA Monster Truck Nationals and Night of Fire, held on Saturday, April 30th and Sunday, May 1st, 2011. Participants included current Monster Jam World Finals Freestyle Champion Jim Koehler in Avenger, with last year’s Firebird runner-up Chris Bergeron in Brutus right behind him. Darren Migues would be filling in for perennial Firebird Champ Jimmy Creten in Bounty Hunter, Dan Runte would be back in Summit Bigfoot 16 and Travis and Ronnie Sturges would be piloting Unnamed & Untamed and Nasty Boy from just down the road in Tucson. Nasty Boy was even sporting the great looking TMB flag for the weekend’s events. The grand finale would be the return of the 40-foot tall, 60,000 pound car-eating, fire-breathing monstrosity Robosaurus.

Opening each show was a wheelie and donut competition with the brothers Sturges giving wheelies that set the stage for what was to come. Brutus not only surprised the Firebird fans with a 45 degree angle wheelie attempt, but gave cyclones that had yours truly thinking back to Wrecking Crew at the 2010 Monster Jam World Finals encore. Even better, Chris put the wreck from last year behind him with a perfect score of 30, followed it up with an outstanding freestyle, taking the Saturday night championship.

Sunday saw the encore performance for the fans that could not make it the first night. At one of his favorite places to perform, Dan and Bigfoot got the crowd pumped up with his shots at the wheelie and donut win. But it was déjà vu for Chris Bergeron, who found himself tied with Bounty Hunter with just freestyle left to go for the weekend. The judging was close, but Darren kept the Bounty Hunter Firebird legacy alive with a score tallied over wheelies and donuts combined with his freestyle number to oust Brutus for the second year in a row.

To close each show, Shawn Pacheco and Robosaurus fascinated the kids in the crowd by eating, breaking and burning a junk car or, in the case of the big show on Saturday, no less than three. In addition, Sam Sturges gave rides to fans young and old in his team’s “Boogie Monster” ride truck. Will Team Scream ever be able to defeat Bounty Hunter at Firebird? Find out next year. Until then, thank you for reading, thanks to everyone with Firebird Raceway for their hospitality, enjoy Jim’s great photos and cheer on!

All content copyright TheMonsterBlog.com 2011.

The Allen Report: Monster Jam – Anaheim, CA 2011

(Coverage By Christopher Allen, Photos By Jim Allen)

The Monster Jam superstars lowered the curtain on a triad of shows in the home of the Anaheim Angels Saturday, February 12th, 2011. The stacked 16 truck field featured the following top names in monster trucks: Charlie Pauken in Grave Digger, Tom Meents in Maximum Destruction, Adam Anderson in Grave Digger The Legend, Jimmy Creten in Bounty Hunter, Cam McQueen in Nitro Circus, Candace Jolly in the Monster Mutt Dalmatian, Becky McDonough in Dragon’s Breath, Scott Buetow driving Iron Man, Pat Gerber in Shocker, Don Frankish with Maniac, Scott Anderson in Jurassic Attack, Kelvin Ramer in Time Flys, Nick Owens driving Iron Outlaw, Mark Schroeder in The Felon, Dan Rodoni and The Patriot and Mike Pappas in Tropical Thunder.

The track of choice was an appropriate one for the locale and venue, the very popular so-cal style. That means they fall off a tabletop jump, turn away from each other, fly down a straightaway and race back the way they came. Early racing highlights saw Bounty Hunter advance with a bye after Jurassic Attack suffered fatal engine trouble during intros and Time Flys upset new World Finals qualifier Nitro Circus in the opening race, free of qualifying. In one of the semis, the blue and gray Digger and Max D crossed the finish line side-by-side with Grave Digger The Legend winning by an inch or two, if that much. The other Digger outraced Bounty Hunter to setup a history making Digger vs. Digger final. In the end, Adam proved himself more than just a freestyler by taking the huge racing win.

Freestyle started off a little slow, with most of the first half the field slowly strutting their way around the track with little air. Nick Owens in Iron Outlaw would hold the lead for the longest time with a score of 22. Even the young Anderson and Owen’s boss Jimmy Creten could not outscore him. But then, there were two. Tom Meents has four World Freestyle championships to his credit and showed why, finishing his run with an upside-down cyclone on the tabletop. With a score of 29, Meents looked to see a trophy for the first time at the Big A in a few years. To close the show, the reigning freestyle champion of the world Charlie Pauken gave the fans a potential winning freestyle in Grave Digger, but he only impressed the judges enough for second place, giving Meents the victory.

Although the Anaheim Monster Jam season was over, two weeks later Monster Jam would make its debut at the Los Angeles Dodger Stadium. With Monster Jam, a great show is always guaranteed. On that note, thank you for reading, enjoy Jim Allen’s great photos and cheer on, we’ll see you down the road!

All content copyright TheMonsterBlog.com 2011.

The Allen Report: Monster Jam – Phoenix, AZ 2011

(Coverage By Christopher Allen, Photos By Jim Allen)

Chase Field in downtown Phoenix once again played host to Monster Jam on Saturday, January 29th and it all kicked off as the most famous on-track rivalry in monster truck racing roared out of the tunnel. The most decorated lineup Phoenix has ever seen included Chad Tingler behind the wheel of Grave Digger, Kreg Christensen returning to Maximum Destruction, Madusa in her Phoenix debut, Norm Miller driving Batman, Alex Blackwell in Captain’s Curse, Todd Leduc in Blue Thunder, the “voice of Monster Jam on SPEED” Mark Schroeder in The Felon, all four members of Team Scream and local favorite Rod Wood driving McGruff. Throughout the night, both Norm Miller and Alex Blackwell were announced as Monster Jam World Finals qualifiers.

The style of course for UTI Racing was Southern California, or, so-cal style. The trucks start by racing each other off a large tabletop before turning away from each other, flying down a straightaway, making a u-turn and racing back the way they came. Max D would take the top spot in qualifying with a time of 25 seconds flat, but it proved useless as he fell to Grave Digger in the quarter finals. Also advancing to the semis were Captain’s Curse, Blue Thunder and Avenger as the fastest loser even after a mid-air collision with Madusa back in Round 1. Grave Digger and Blue Thunder were even through most of the finals, but then the slippery track finally bit Tingler and spun him out in the final turn, giving Todd Leduc his first ever racing victory!

For the third consecutive year, the 30 second bonus time rule was in place. Of the first six of the twelve truck field, Blue Thunder was one of only three drivers who could make it to bonus time with a score of 22. Chris Bergeron in Brutus tried to do a back flip of his own off the side of the tabletop, but the wheelie bar caught the dirt and Brutus went belly-up with a full minute left in the run. Avenger nailed cross threads, big air and did not roll until just moments before his time was up. But after falling short of a racing win, Chad Tingler clearly had blood in his eyes and gave the fans a vintage Grave Digger freestyle, never rolling over and flying long after his time was finished. With a score of 26, Grave Digger saw the Phoenix victory lane for the first time since 2008.

After what happened here in 2011, how can the monsters do better still next year?  They will try and we will be there for all of it. Until next time, check out some of Jim Allen’s great photos from the event and thanks for reading!

All content copyright TheMonsterBlog.com 2011.