TMB TV Episode 3.10 – Pontiac, MI

Event: Monster Truck Fall Shootout
Venue: Pontiac Silverdome
Location: Pontiac, Michigan
Date: November 13th, 2010
Host: Ross Z. Bonar
Videographers: Colby Marshall, Kaedon Berry, Chris Parrish

Lineup: Airborne Ranger (Joe Cypher), Bar’s Leaks Eliminator (Greg Adams), Big Dawg (Dale Gerding), Bounty Hunter (Ben Winslow), Raminator (Mark Hall), Rammunition (Mat Dishman), Rislone Defender (Zach Adams), Shell Camino (Shelley Kujat), Tail Gator (Doug Noelke), Virginia Giant (Diehl Wilson), War Wagon (Andy Hoffman) [Read more…]

Blast From The Past: Minneapolis, MN 1988

Hello Monster Bloggers!   Welcome to the very first edition of the “Blast from the Past” feature article. I, TMB Videographer Colby Marshall, will be reviewing classic and not-so-classic shows from the glory days of monster truck competition. I’ll be doing this in a light-hearted, playfully sarcastic manner so don’t take offense, and let’s all sit back, have a few laughs and remember the way things used to be. Quite often in this article series, I plan on reviewing the lesser-known and lesser-celebrated events – why, you ask?  More material!

The first event I am going to cover is no exception. Welcome to the fantastipotomus (cough cough) that was the Minneapolis USHRA event in 1988! (YouTube would be a good place to look if you want to follow along) In addition to the monster trucks, this event featured pulling and mud racing. This being THE MONSTER BLOG, I will only be focusing on the monsters. As I start watching…oh no…no…it can’t be! LARRY HUFFMAN AND MARGO KING CALLING THE ACTION?!? For the love of all that is sacred, this is gonna be interesting.

We are immediately reminded that the winner of this particular event will be facing the Virginia Beach Beast in some kind of existential battle of good and evil…or something. My first thought is that the year before called and said, “You know, guys. We tried this. A LOT! And it really wasn’t that exciting.” Yet, here we are quite a bit past this “attraction” running its course. Margo and Larry play this up as one of the very first times this has happened (if you ignore the 745 other times before) and that it is some kind of major challenge. Whatever. On to the first race.

Oh, look, its Heartbeat. Wait a minute. It has a different driver. Who is the “Brent” Engleman guy? Must be Brett’s cousin. Kinda looks like Brett, so it must simply be a case of family resemblance, because USHRA broadcasts in the 1980’s would NEVER misspell a name, would they? He is lining up against Fred “Don’t call me Bob Chandler” Shafer in the 1988 Chevy-bodied Bearfoot. They will race down the pulling track, make an outside turn and hit six cars. The finish line is about thirty feet past the cars.

It always seemed weird to me that in a huge dome stadium, they would use a track that would fit in some hockey arenas. Was minimalist art in vogue in 1988? Maybe Ken Donat was considering a monastic lifestyle or something. Speaking of Ken Donat, he waves a flag and runs for his life. Fred jumps out to a gigantic lead as they make the turn. A bunch of awkward camera cuts later, and your winner is…Brent Engleman?!? How the heck did that happen? I wish I could tell you, but the production work was AWFUL for this first run. Even the Brett Engleman look-alike has no clue who won. He looks all confused until someone standing at trackside decides its time to tell him he was the victor. Brent pumps his fist in a glory not seen since Tiger Woods…oh nevermind. Heartbeat moves on.

The little pony that could, Black Stallion, is out next. Mr. Vaters will be taking on Jeff Bainter in Hot Stuff. Its for sale as I type this. Not much to report here. Hot Stuff wins by ten seconds on a twenty second course. You know, this young Vaters kid might turn into something some day. But this ain’t that day.

All hail the beauty that is Samson 1. My goodness, what an absolutely stunning vehicle! Don Maples as usual. Suddenly, a bird goes rocketing across the floor, and two stones are dead. This can mean only one thing. Bigfoot 4 levitates into place on the line, this time taking Rich Hooser along for the nirvana-like experience. Of course, this was two years before MC Hammer learned the hard way that 4, in fact, can touch this. No doubt in this one as Foot 4 completes the course 14 times before Samson 1 hits the turn. Bigfoot 4 moves on, but not before building a snowman out of rain.

Kodiak and Mark Bendler stroll to the starting blocks next to take on another of the most amazing looking vehicles ever built. Its pulling icon Diehl Wilson and Virginia Giant. Run, Donat, RUN! Wilson grabs a three-truck lead, but struggles with the turn. Kodiak makes up most of the ground, but not enough. This was a good race, but Virginia Giant moves on. Maybe there is something weird about that left-side turn. Might explain what happened to Fred, but we will never know because the director was having a seizure of some kind during that first race.

Sound the trumpets! Its time for round number two of the Monster trucks! Brent Engleman pulls back up to the line in the stolen Heartbeat truck. He lines up against the world’s largest jeep, Hot Stuff. The Ken Donat self-preservation run of doom signals the beginning of this contest. They are even, but Hot Stuff grabs a slight lead just before the turn. Brent proves that he is more talented than his identical twin cousin Brett by mastering the horrid left lane turn and retakes the lead. Both trucks race towards the cars in what is turning into a fantastic race. Its close! OH &%#$!!! Hot Stuff breaks pretty much everything in the front end! That looks expensive. We are told that Heartbeat won at the line, and while we don’t see it, I am sure that another fist pump of satisfaction was had. In a related story, I turn on the VOICE BASSIFIER AND REVERBERATOR 9000 to announce that it is time for…

THE MARGO KINGISM OF THE NIGHT!

“Where is Big Tow when you need him?”

and that was your MARGO KINGISM OF THE NIGHT! Back to the races.

Virginia Giant struts its blinged out self to the line as Foot 4 teleports itself from the pits to the starting box. Donat runs for his life again and the competition commences. Diehl Wilson leads at the turn as Bigfoot 4 takes time out to solve that pesky scientific issue about cold nuclear fusion. Virginia Giant spins on the ball bearing-covered teflon ice that is the floor of the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. Bigfoot 4 wins, but you already knew that.

We come back from a long-forgotten commercial for the final round, but not before a special bonus MARGO KINGISM OF THE NIGHT!

“Now, there aren’t many things that intimidate Monster Trucks, but Monster Tanks do!”

A two for one deal on THE MARGO KINGISM OF THE NIGHT, and now you all owe me.

Bigfoot 4 remains in the pits, but wishes a second version of itself into existence for the final round race against the man of 1000 faces, Brent “I am fairly certain that is a typo” Engleman. Foot 4 takes a lead going into the turn, but spins out so that it can set an ant on fire with a magnifying glass. Indoors. This leaves things wide open for Brent, who inexplicably stops to take a phone call from cousin Brett’s lawyer. 4 slams a revolving door and calmly finishes the course for the easy win. The crack production team misses the Bigfoot celebration donut while holding on a shot of the far lane cars while waiting for Heartbeat to finally hit them. YAY for lack of desire!

And now it is time for the most epic battle since the Austria-Ottoman Wars of 1529 (thank you, Google) as Bigfoot 4 takes on the Virginia Beach Beast. Aaaaaannnnnd Foot 4 wins by three truck lengths. The left front tire of 4 comes off the ground 10 inches, thus saving a small puppy that wandered onto the track. This doesn’t stop Larry Huffman from screaming that the truck “ALMOST GOES OVER!!!” Right, Larry.

We will be right back with the driver…I’ll be watching Alf.

Fun event that was typical of USHRA at the time. Seemed like they were in a rut of doing as little as possible in track design. It is still more interesting to me that straight line track #496 of the season over in that other tour.

That’s all, folks! I hope you had as much fun reading this as I did writing it. Until next time…OLD SCHOOL RULES!

MTRA Weekend In St. Louis

TheMonsterBlog.com Staff was in attendance this weekend for the 24th Annual Monster Truck Racing Association Tech School, Annual Meeting and Awards Banquet.  Members from around the country visited the Sheraton Westport Hotel & Conference Center in St. Louis, Missouri to participate in productive discussion on rule changes and on the future direction of the organization as it prepares for its 25th year of working to improve safety in the monster truck industry.  TMB is thankful for all those members who shared their thoughts, ideas and opinions this weekend and for all those members who participate throughout the year in doing the work of the organization.

To finish up the weekend, members gathered for the MTRA Awards Banquet where the membership honors outstanding achievements by those in the organization. Nominations by the membership were accepted and ballots mailed out, with all members having the opportunity to vote on who they found most deserving for each award. With all the votes tabulated, the winners in each category were announced and presented at last night’s banquet.

The first of the MTRA Awards presented was the Safety Award which is given to the individual who the membership believed did the most to advance safety during the preceding year. The winner was Dan Patrick for all his great work as the MTRA’s Technical Director, a very well deserved honor for a man who has done an incredible amount for the industry over the years.

The Sportsman of the Year Award followed, awarded to the member whose peers believed was the best example of sportsmanship in 2010. The award went to Team Scream who can always be counted on to help out a fellow competitor. A big congratulations on another well deserved award for the team consisting of great guys like new owner/driver members Jim Koehler and Chris Bergeron and the rest of their great crew. The MTRA was very appreciative of Jim and Chris joining the organization in 2010.

Each year the MTRA membership honors their fellow member they feel has done the best job wrenching on and setting up trucks over the long season with the Mechanic of the Year Award. Tim Hall was the winner for 2010 as he helped guide the Hall Brothers Racing team to another Monster Truck Thunder Drags title and to many big wins throughout the year.

Tim Hall, 2010 MTRA Mechanic of the Year

Team who have stepped up their programs with new trucks, better quality equipment and stronger performance are nominated by the membership for the Most Improved Team of the Year Award. The big winner this year was Tim Mente’s Team Natural Disaster with the Storm Damage and Hurricane Force monster trucks. The team expanded to two trucks for 2010, each with great looking graphics and ran strong all season, a big congratulations on a well deserved victory.

Steven Thompson, driver of Hurricane Force, accepts the Most Improved Team Award for Tim Mente's Storm Damage team.

The MTRA’s Jr. Associate program gets kids involved with the organization at an early age as a way for them to learn about monster truck safety. As a fun privilege, the members choose their favorite Driver of the Year each season and this year the winner was Doug Noelke and the great looking Tail Gator truck.

During the middle of the Awards Banquet, MTRA welcomed Promoter Members Family Events and Checkered Flag Productions as they honored their champions from the 2010 season. Family Events honored Mark Hall, their Monster Truck Thunder Drags Champion, Rick Long, the Monster Nationals Racing Champion and Jocelyn Perrin, the Monster Nationals Wheelie and Freestyle Champion. Checkered Flag Productions paid tribute to their 2010 points champion Larry Swim with a great video presentation.

Rick Long, driver of Bigfoot #15, is honored as the 2010 Monster Nationals Racing Champion.

Mark Hall receives his 2010 Monster Truck Thunder Drags Championship Award from Family Events.

Larry Swim gives his acceptance speech after being honored as the 2010 CFP Champion.

The 2010 season saw many great new drivers enter their first full season of monster truck competition. From young guys like Steven Thompson and Mat Dishman to Ryan Rice and even a veteran of the sport who completed his first full season of racing a truck this year, Greg Winchenbach, the MTRA membership had a really great group of rookies to choose from. Coming off a huge win at the Pontiac Silverdome a few weeks back, Mat Dishman was named the MTRA’s Rookie of the Year Award winner. Congratulations to Mat on a great honor from his fellow members.

Mat Dishman, driver of Rammunition, winner of the 2010 MTRA Rookie of the Year Award.

Each year the membership chooses the Promoter Member that they feel put on the best quality events, excelled in the area of event safety and who best supported the MTRA. As the only promoter in 2010 to require MTRA Membership from teams running their events and for operating a series that featured great shows all year with some of the top trucks in the industry, we congratulate Vaters Monster Motorsports on a very well deserved win in this category.

2010 Promoter of the Year, Mike Vaters, Vaters Monster Motorsports.

Every MTRA Certified Truck is up for the Truck of the Year Award which allows the membership to pick the truck they felt was the highest quality, best looking, best performing that season. After some great video clips from Colby Marshall and BMPS Video of all the MTRA Certified Trucks, the announcement came that Tail Gator from the Big Dawg 4×4 team was the big winner. Congratulations to Doug & Brenda Noelke and their great team on this honor from their peers.

Big Dawg 4x4 with their Truck of the Year and Jr. Associate Driver of the Year Awards.

Finally the night ended with one of the longest-running and most prestigious awards in monster trucks, the MTRA Driver of the Year Award. Every driver of an MTRA Certified Truck is nominated for this award and MTRA drivers had great seasons in 2010, many even winning championships in series they ran. On the strength of another Monster Truck Thunder Drags points championship and a great season overall, Mark Hall is your 2010 MTRA Driver of the Year. A big congratulations from all of us at TMB to Mark on this great honor.

Mark Hall accepts the MTRA Driver of the Year Award.

A big thanks from all of us at TheMonsterBlog.com to the MTRA for allowing us to assist in recognizing the accomplishments of this great group of teams in 2010. We always have a great time visiting with all of our friends in the monster truck industry and working with them to support our industry’s only safety organization.

TMB's Colby Marshall, Ross Bonar and Kaedon Berry at the 2010 MTRA Awards Banquet.

We would also like to our good friends “Roller” Jeff Richards and Tyson McKenzie from Monster Truck Radio for being on hand to broadcast live from the MTRA Weekend and for bringing the Banquet to fans live online. Monster Truck Radio is also joining the MTRA as a Sponsor Member in 2011 and we thank them for that support of the organization. Check out their MTRA Weekend Coverage on www.MonsterTruckRadio.com and you can see the full Awards Banquet presentation by clicking the link below.

We encourage everyone who visits TMB to consider joining the MTRA. MTRA is a member ran organization and can only make progress and advancements through the work, input and support of its members – whether you are a promoter, a driver, a sponsor, a fan, it doesn’t matter – everyone can play a part in improving your industry. Visit www.MTRA.us for more information on how you can become a member and roll your sleeves up – there is always work that can be done!

Extreme Monster Truck Nationals – Auburn Hills, MI – 12/04/10

Event: Extreme Monster Truck Nationals
Venue: The Palace of Auburn Hills
Location: Auburn Hills, Michigan
Date: December 4th, 2010
Photographer: Paul M. Harry

Lineup:  Brute Force (Jerry Perry), Crashmaster (Jeremy Perry), Equalizer (Mike Hawkins), Ghost Ryder (Larry Quick), Hot Tamale (Isaiah Morales), Ice (Amy Perry) [Read more…]

TMB TV Episode 3.9 – Summer Odyssey

Events:  Monster Truck Mayhem & All Star Monster Truck Tour
Venues:  Spud Speedway & Vermont State Fairgrounds
Locations:  Caribou, Maine & Rutland, Vermont
Dates: July 9th-10th, 2010 & July 16th-17th, 2010
Host: Ross Z. Bonar
Videographers: Kaedon Berry, Ross Z. Bonar

Lineup:  Backdraft (Jeremy Slifko), Crushstation (Greg Winchenbach), Eradicator (Andy Slifko), Razin Kane (Chris Lagana), Screamin Demon (Dave Waple), War Eagle (Mike Barnes) [Read more…]

Video Highlights – Phoenix, AZ – 11/06/10

Event:  Monster Truck Freestyle Spectacular
Venue:  Arizona State Fairgrounds
Location:  Phoenix, Arizona
Date:  November 6th, 2010
Videographer:  Lynette Bonar

Lineup:  El Perro Loco (Rod Wood), Obsessed (Rick Swanson), Obsession (Jeff Jones), Play’n 4 Keeps (Tony Canedo) [Read more…]

Welcome to the ALL NEW TheMonsterBlog.com

Happy early Thanksgiving and welcome fans to the ALL NEW TheMonsterBlog.com!  We here at TMB are so excited to unveil the new website today after months and months of hard work. When we started the site back in 2005, we were not at all prepared for what our little venture would one day become – the premiere source for monster truck news, information and coverage. With the all new website, we now feel that we have a showcase for our work worthy of that title.

The new site has everything you loved about the old site and so much more – let’s run through a few of the new features:

  • Featured News – In addition to all the latest updates which are located in their usual spot on the main page, the first thing you’ll see when the new site loads up is the featured news graphic that keeps our top 5 content items right up front and rotates through them.
  • Improved Photo Gallery Navigation – With the old site, navigating through photo galleries could be a bit tedious as the old HTML photo gallery system required you to go back and forth. Not anymore – click on a photo and keep on clicking that next button and it will take you through an entire page of photos in a great looking slideshow.
  • Improved Event Schedule – The TMB Event Schedule has always been the place to find information on events going on all over the country, well now each month of the schedule is sortable and searchable!
  • Search Feature – In something that people have been asking for for years, TMB is now searchable!  Everything on the new site can be found using the search box at the top right corner of the main page.
  • Tags – You’ll now notice at the bottom of every bit of content on the new website TAGS that describe what is featured in that content. Want to try something cool?  Click on a tag like “Predator” and you will be shown every piece of content that Predator appears in on the new website!
  • Monster Directory – Something we’ve always wanted to do is have a section on the website where we can post a photo of every truck we’ve seen over the years – the Monster Directory. Each truck will have its own page featuring info on the truck and driver and photos of current and past paint schemes. This is still a work in progress as we have so MANY more to add!
  • Monster Truck Radio – Ever since Monster Truck Radio returned, TMB has partnered with host Jeff Richards to help promote the show. Well now, every Tuesday we will post the previous night’s show for you to watch in case you couldn’t catch it live Monday night. This will lead to more exposure for our friends at MTR and we are happy to help – don’t forget to check them out at www.MonsterTruckRadio.com!
  • Monster-Merch.com – We are very excited about this new feature on the site, a new online store that will feature merchandise from some of the top independent teams in monster trucks. Right now Crushstation and yes, TMB merchandise is available – check it out and help support your favorite independent monster truck teams and organizations!
  • Speak Your Mind – Now on select news items and content, you will have the ability to leave comments and let us and the monster truck world know what you think!  This feature is a bit of a test for us as it will only work if everyone remains respectful and good natured. If it starts to get nasty, one click of the button and this feature will be disabled. We’ll see how it goes!
  • Improved Sponsor Exposure – TMB has some of the best sponsors you could possibly hope to have and the new site features MUCH improved exposure for them with many new ad positions. TMB relies on the support of our friends in the industry to continue growing and we can’t thank all of our sponsors enough for their help!
  • News Archive – Under the Latest News heading at the top of the site, you’ll find the News Archive. Here you will find links to all of the content since TMB was started back in August 2005. As of now, content from June 2010 going forward has been loaded into the new site. Links prior to June 2010 will take you back to previous versions of the old site to find that content.

Well fans, that’s just a taste of the many new features on the ALL NEW TheMonsterBlog.com!  As always, we thank you all for your continued support as we could not continue growing the premiere source for  monster truck news, information and coverage without you!  Now take a look around and start enjoying all the new features!

TMB TV: ActionTracks Episode 1.7 – Auburn, IN

Event:  GasGuzzy.com 4×4 Off Road Truck Show Challenge
Venue:  American Heritage Village
Location:  Auburn, Indiana
Date:  October 16th, 2010
Host:  Chris Parrish
Videographer:  Chris Parrish

Lineup: Iron Reaper Tank (Rick Romanini), Live Wire (Rick Romanini), Nitecrawler Tank (Andy Hoffman), Predator (Allen Pezo), Shotgun Harry (Jeff Cook), Uncle Slam (Rick Romanini) [Read more…]

Introducing Monster-Merch.com

Along with the debut of the all new TheMonsterBlog.com today, the TMB staff is very excited to introduce you to Monster-Merch.com. Monster Merch will be your source to find some of the best independent monster truck team merchandise online. TMB is launching Monster Merch as a vehicle for teams to promote and market their merchandise on one of the most visited monster truck websites online.

The difference between Monster Merch and other past monster truck merchandise ventures in that the goal is simply to connect fans with the teams themselves. Each team or organization has its own individual store on Monster-Merch.com, allowing fans to purchase directly through the teams themselves. Teams collect payment through their own Paypal accounts and ship orders directly to purchasers.

As we launch Monster-Merch.com today, we are proud to introduce our first two featured organizations – Greg Winchenbach’s Crushstation monster truck and TheMonsterBlog.com itself. These two stores are now online at Monster-Merch.com and you can start buying great t-shirts, hats, hero cards, decals and more from these two great organizations.

Purchasing through Monster-Merch.com is the best way for you fans to support your favorite independent teams and organizations – check out each individual online store by visiting Monster-Merch.com and get your MONSTER MERCH today!

Monster Truck Fall Shootout – Pontiac, MI – 11/13/10

Event:  Monster Truck Fall Shootout
Venue:  Pontiac Silverdome
Location:  Pontiac, Michigan
Date:  November 13th, 2010
Photographer:  Paul M. Harry

Lineup: Airborne Ranger (Joe Cypher), Bar’s Leaks Eliminator (Greg Adams), Big Dawg (Dale Gerding), Bounty Hunter (Ben Winslow), Raminator (Mark Hall), Rammunition (Mat Dishman), Rislone Defender (Zach Adams), Shell Camino (Shelley Kujat), Tail Gator (Doug Noelke), Virginia Giant (Diehl Wilson), War Wagon (Andy Hoffman) [Read more…]

Wow Moments: The Silverdome Lives

The 2010 season marked the return for one of the most prestigious venues in the history of monster trucks: The Pontiac Silverdome. TMB was fortunate enough to be part of both the inaugural event (Domination in the Dome) and this November’s “Monster Truck Fall Shootout”. Between the two shows, names including Bigfoot, Excaliber, and Virginia Giant made their return to the hallowed building to once again do battle.  Other story lines, including the return of Eric Tack to pilot Bigfoot 11 for the show and the rebirth of the “Michigan Ice Monster” added nostalgic flavor and got my wheels turning as to how the legacy of the Silverdome could be further amplified.

The Pontiac Silverdome 11/13/10

Would a promoter in today’s monster truck world be able to successfully market an old-school style monster truck show in the Silverdome, including a full on truck and tractor pull and mud bog, alongside a full on “Battle of the Monster Trucks” between some of the old school trucks that are being plucked from fence rows and revived today? Would the average fan in Detroit who is used to the fast paced and high flying nature of today’s monsters be interested in paying to attend a show that showcases the roots of monster trucks?  After seeing the immense success of Jeff Cook’s 4×4 Off Road Truck Show Challenge in Auburn, Indiana this past October, I think the answer is yes. What do you think? If you were given the opportunity to promote a show in the legendary Pontiac Silverdome, what style event would you promote and why?

TMB TV: ActionTracks Episode 1.6 – Wildwood, NJ (Part 2)

Event: Thunder on the Beach
Venue: The Wildwood Beach
Location: Wildwood, New Jersey
Date: October 1st-3rd, 2010
Host: Chris Parrish
Videographer: Chris Parrish

Lineup: Avenger (Jim Koehler), Bad Habit (Joe Sylvester), Black Stallion (Mike Vaters), Brutus (Chris Bergeron), Grave Digger (Gary Porter), Gun Slinger (Scott Hartsock), Spiderman (Whit Tarlton) [Read more…]

Wow Moments: Wildman Jeff Bringing Back Old School Fever

“In kindergarten, I used to draw pictures of trucks with big tires before monsters existed. My dad and school teachers laughed and said I was creative but didn’t take me serious.”

The mind of Jeff Cook was afflicted with the idea of oversized trucks at an early age. It all began when Jeff’s young eyes became fixated on a Peterson’s 4 Wheel and Off-Road magazine cover of Bigfoot with 48 inch tires. The rest is history. TMB’s Kaedon Berry took time to interview the mastermind behind the War Wagon monster truck and, most recently, the old school inspired “Shotgun Harry” truck.

Kaedon: Thanks for taking the time to let us monster truck enthusiasts hear a few pages from your monster truck career, Jeff.

Jeff: It’s my pleasure; I started just like all of the hardcore monster truck fans today. I would learn of a new truck out in the monster truck scene and study it. Pretty soon I would be able to tell you any stat about the truck, driver, and so on. I remember doing a show at Myrtle Beach where King Kong rolled on top of police cars. I did that show for Deihl Wilson in 1999 and it was so awesome to stand on that straight away and see that big 76 sign and knowing the history of that situation of the roll over onto those brand new police cars. . I enjoy relating to the fans on that level.

Kaedon: The evolution from normal 4×4’s to monster trucks took the nation by storm. Illustrate for us how you got drawn in to the monster truck scene.

Jeff: From a very young age, I always wanted to put bigger tires on trucks. In kindergarten, I used to draw pictures of trucks with big tires before monsters existed. My dad and school teachers laughed and said I was creative but didn’t take me serious. Back in those days, 35 inch Ground Hogs were the biggest tires you could get and those were massive! I used to keep up with the increase in tire size through my subscription of Peterson’s 4 Wheel and Off-Road Magazine. When I got the issue with Bigfoot on 48 inch tires, I remember thinking how awesome it was and became fixated on it. I lived for that throughout all of my schooling and decided I wanted to build a monster truck.

We had a few guys in from my area that were involved with monster trucks, namely Scott Hess and Kirk Dabney. Scott’s truck “Hercules” started out as a show truck and progressed to a full-fledged 66 inch tire truck. Scott would crawl in that truck and just launch it 20 feet in the air and the landings used to scare me half to death! He was one of my heroes! Kirk ended up in our town and ended up renting a shop from my dad. From there I would hang around and keep my nose in things helping with anything I could. Dad and I started doing paint work for Kirk when he started buying more trucks. Eventually I got the chance to drive Kirk’s original Overkill truck named “Thunderstruck” in 1991. I did shows primarily with the Thunder Nationals series and Chris Arel in Canada through 1992.

At the end of 1992, Marty Garza called me and asked if I wanted to drive the new, Maximum Overkill truck that he and Jerry Richmond had put together. I was beyond excited to drive a new style truck with tons of horsepower and eagerly accepted. Throughout the first quarter of 1993, I campaigned that truck and was pretty successful. Then one day, there was an accidental fire in the shop housing the trucks, ultimately destroying all of them. It wasn’t something you wanted to remember at the time. In fact, I don’t even think I have any pictures of the rubble. We are all so depressed and shocked by the situation. Marty told me to stay optimistic and that they were going to build a truck for me to drive. As flattered as I was, I knew it would be tough on Marty to get a truck together for me and made the decision and told him to take care of Jerry Richmond and to get back on his feet.

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do after the situation, but Aaron Paulburn (formerly of the Thunder Nationals Tour) came to me and said, “Jeff, why don’t you build your own truck?” At that point in my career, I had been working on the monster I’d started in high school in my minimal spare time and thought I might want to finish it. Aaron laughed and told me I should instead build a race truck instead of an outdated, leaf sprung Scout monster truck. He finally talked me into it. We had spent time putting our heads together to come up with a unique concept. I was an avid hot rod fan, so we came up with the use of a 55 Chevy. He asked me what I was going to name it, and I had no clue. Aaron told me, “Name it war wagon, have it done by July, and meet me at my show in Mansfield, Ohio, and you’ll have a full schedule next year.” Throughout the spring and Summer I worked feverishly to complete that truck. By July 1993, War Wagon was competing at its first show.

Kaedon: The War Wagon truck was always a front runner on the Indoor Circuit and is still touring regularly today. Talk about your time with the War Wagon and what you accomplished.

Jeff: I toured with the first War Wagon chassis through the end of the 1996 season. I began construction of the new War Wagon tube frame truck in late 1996 and began touring with it in the winter of 1997. I wanted to build a truck that was conducive to the smaller confines of the arenas I was used to running in the Thunder Nationals series. Some guys criticized me for building a squared cradle saying that it was obsolete and that it was pointless to take that step “backwards”. I envisioned a truck that would be a wheelie machine and be pointed vertical and was confident that my idea was going to work. I have many fond memories of lining up to a stack of cars and standing the truck up into a vertical wheelie and finish by walking all the way across the arena. I continued to tour the Thunder Nationals Tour and transitioned to my good friend’s (The late and great George Eisenhart) series: Monster Nationals. In 1999, I started my fire truck business, 1st Attack Engineering, and it began to be where I was burning the candle at both ends. I would work during the week at the business then thrash to get the truck ready for a show on Friday and it became exhausting. As the business really took off, I decided that I would refocus my attention to work and spending time with my wife and kids at home in Auburn.

Kaedon: It’s been said that once a person has entered the realm of monster trucks that it’s in their blood forever. After your stint out of the industry, you built various 4×4 creations such as “Lil’ Squirt” and “Silly Willy”, but out of nowhere, you debuted the truck you’d been working on for years, Shotgun Harry. What possessed you to complete the first truck you ever started?

Jeff: George Eisenhart and I were very close friends. We’d talk with each other multiple times every day and be sounding posts for each other for our business ventures, both in and out of monster trucks. In 2008 and 2009, We had talked about me making a reentry into the sport of monster truck racing with a new race truck and so forth. When George’s accident happened, I, like many who knew George, were devastated and I had to soul search for the direction I wanted to go with my monster truck career. I loved being on the road and meeting new fans and seeing all my friends, but I also wanted to involve my family who was gracious enough to put up with me being on the road alone with the War Wagon all those years. I’d made up my mind that I was going to finish what I started in the truck I started in high school.

I went to my Grandmother’s and pulled the truck out her barn, down the road, and into my shop. My son and I worked on the truck consistently and I decided I wanted to get back to my old school roots within the truck’s design. I originally wanted to put a truck body on it and throw in a blown motor. I instead stuck with my original plan of making it a family play toy and installed four, 73 inch tires and a diesel engine. To continue on with this theme, I wanted to come up with something kid friendly. My son and I are avidly into Cowboy shooting scenes and we came up with a cowboy character named “Shotgun Harry”. The truck that got me into monster trucks in a fun way and not so much in a competitive way was finally finished. I didn’t realize how excited people would be until we debuted it in Lima at the 4 Wheel Jamboree . It’s fun to see just how into the old school side of monster trucks people still are and we’re working on some things in the future that will greatly appeal to all old school fans alike so stay tuned!

TMB would like to thank Jeff for his time and hospitality. The big news with Wildman Jeff doesn’t stop with just the Schotgun Harry truck as Jeff is currently working organizing an old school style event, which is tentatively scheduled for October 16th in Auburn, Indiana.  For more information regarding “Wildman” Jeff Cook, 1st Attack Engineering, and the Shotgun Harry Monster Truck, visit www.WildmanJeff.com.

Joe Sylvester & Bad Habit Break Long Jump World Record

(Bad Habit PR – By Joe Sylvester) This past Sunday’s accomplishment was a result of planning and preparations by myself, my crew, and my family over the past couple years. We made it happen despite many set backs and hurdles.

The trouble started 1 week before we began the testing for the jump. After hitting the very last jump of the last show I was doing before my world record testing, the Chevrolet engine in BAD HABIT let loose and completely blew up leaving me without a motor. Thanks to John Kyle and APD Racing Engines in Genoa, Oh, BAD HABIT was back up and running with a newer, stronger, better running motor than ever!

With the new motor in the truck, myself and my two crew members Kyle and Scott got on the road to Columbus, Pa. We arrived at the Miller Farm, site of the Cornfield 500, around 5pm Monday evening and while Kyle and Scott got the truck ready for Tuesday’s testing, Blair and I finished preparing the take off jump. Speed tests went well on Tuesday but the first jump test did not. With my new APD engine not even at full throttle, I hit the take off ramp and flew about 60 feet high in the air and landed straight down on the front of the truck at the 195 foot mark. The impact ripped the right front wheel off BAD HABIT sending it into 5 violent flips. After the truck came to rest around the 300 foot mark, the front axle housiong was bent, the body was completely destroyed, the wheely bar and sway bar bar assembly was completely ripped off the back of the chassis, a shock shaft was bent, a 4-link bar was bent, a tire was flat, the front tie rod was bent and ripped off, and a front steering ram was torn apart. Not to mention I had one heck of a headache.

Although most would have thrown in the towel after a crash like this, we put our heads down and got to work, 17 hrs a day until Sunday to be exact. Big thanks to Kyle, Scott, Mike, my family, and the Cornfield 500 staff for all lending a helping hand to getting BAD HABIT back together in time for the big jump on Sunday.

After heavy rains all day and night Saturday, it was looking doubtful that it was going to be dry enough for the jump Sunday. The sun came through and the winds picked up and the track dried out very well in time for the jump. After making a couple runs past the great crowd and a short speed pass down the runway, I took to the newly redesigned take off ramp without hesitation. I would also like to thank Gary Bauer for his help rebuilding my takeoff ramp so that we could avoid another disaster like Tuesday. Wound out to about 75 mph, BAD HABIT flew through the air perfectly and landed at 197 feet which would not be enough to beat the current record.

The truck was still in good shape and after letting it cool down a bit and changing the pitch of the takeoff just a little, I took to the ramp for a second try at the record. Hitting almost 79mph on this run, the truck once again flew through the air perfectly and this time landed at 208 feet! A New World Record! To see all the action including interviews, the big crash from Tuesday, and the record jump on Sunday, go to www.dirtvision.com where you can purchase the 1-hr paper view special!

This has been a dream come true and I cant thank everyone enough who has helped and supported me through the entire process!!  Watch out for more on the edge stunts in the future as well as a full length DVD from Joe Sylvester Motorsports and the BAD HABIT Monster Truck, more information at www.BadHabit4x4.com!

Introducing “TMB TV: MT Unlimited” Video Series

TMB TV is proud to unveil our second brand new series, MT Unlimited, produced in conjunction with our own Colby Marshall and Bite Me Productions Studios!!  Colby is introducing another great new format to the TMB TV family of video coverage, as MT Unlimited will focus not only on all the great action of events, but also go behind the scenes with a unique interview format that puts the drivers, crews and industry personnel front and center.

Much like last week’s debut of ActionTracks, we kick off the series with one of the biggest events of the year, the Maverik Clash of the Titans from Rocky Mountain Raceway in Salt Lake City, Utah. 12 trucks and the only figure 8 monster truck racing of the year featuring intense battles between Bigfoot, Bounty Hunter, Amsoil Shock Therapy, Obsession and many more.

A big thanks to Colby for the awesome work on this new series and also to the RMR staff for welcoming us at their event. Click the link below to start enjoying all of the exciting new content from TMB TV’s MT Unlimited!!

CLICK HERE TO VIEW TMB TV: MT UNLIMITED EPISODE 1.1