Monster Photos – Monster Jam – Columbus, OH 2011

Event: Monster Jam
Venue: Nationwide Arena
Location: Columbus, Ohio
Date: January 7th, 2011
Photographer: Paul M. Harry

Lineup: Aftershock (Bob Robbins), Grave Digger (Gary Porter), Krazy Train (Mark Noto), Mechanical Mischief (Jim Burns), Samson (Dan Patrick), Spiderman (Whit Tarlton) [Read more…]

Wow Moments: Razin Kane Ready for 2011 Season

This edition of the Wow Moments Blog checks in with Team Razin Kane’s owner/driver JR McNeal. Over the course of just one year in competition, the team took home numerous wins against some of the stars and top names in the monster truck world today. The team has since undergone a lot of changes in the offseason and they feel they are beyond ready to tackle the competition in 2011. We talked to JR about those changes and about his thoughts on beginning his rookie season behind the wheel.

Razin Kane has been revamped and overhauled and is ready to take on the competition in 2011.

TMB: This coming Friday will mark the first time you pilot the truck in full-on competition. Talk about some of the things going through your mind as you mentally prepare for the Southaven Monster Nation show.

JR: There’s a lot of things going through my mind. The driving part I’m not too worried about. It’s more the stupid stuff like something going wrong with the truck, like it won’t start or the rear steering malfunctioning.  I just want to perform and have fun. The one thing on my side is I know the teams competing at our first show and I know the track layout. There’s definitely a comfort level established with these things already in place. I have some shoes to fill from last year but I don’t see that being a problem.

TMB: Your schedule takes you to a lot of familiar places that saw Razin Kane with Chris Lagana driving last year and they know what the truck is capable of. Which shows will you be driving in and which will new teammate Ronnie Cochran be handling the driving duties?

JR: Well first of all Ronnie is a hell of a guy and brings a hell of a lot of experience to the team.  We are actually talking about what shows that he will be driving for us during the weekend of our first show.  Ronnie will be driving full time eventually when the second truck is done, which will be in March. Until then, Ronnie and I will be switching back and forth because of my business at home.

Just one of the many upgrades for 2011, Razin Kane's new nitrogen shocks.

TMB: Razin Kane has become a force to be reckoned with in it’s first year of competition. Talk about what modifications you’ve made to truck and to the team in the offseason to further the team’s success.

JR: We have made a lot of changes to the truck. We’ve changed the body out from the Dodge Dakota body you saw last season to a brand new 2011 Dodge Ram 3500 full size pick-up body. We also changed out the shocks from 18 inch coil shocks to nitrogen 26’s all the way around, which means all new shock mounts. We decided to move the steering back three inches, changed the zoomies to headers for exhaust, rewired the whole truck with the new painless wiring system designed specifically for monster trucks, a brand new motor, new seat, all new lexan up front with new gauges, back up lights to go with back up beeper, a new different style radiator, and even added a new sway bar up front and  two more batteries. We also modified our frame a little and re-enforced the running gear and rims. Last and not least,  we modified the paint job.

In addition to the changes to the truck itself, we lost a team member and gained three new members. Chris moved on, which was for the best and we wish him well. We are excited at the shop with new attitudes and different ideas. I’m really excited because of the things that will get done while I’m on the road at the shop. The next truck has been started and we will have video up soon from beginning to end so stay tuned to our website at www.RazinKaneMonsterTrucks.com.

Razin Kane is sporting a brand new Dodge Ram 3500 body for 2011.

TMB: It is amazing how much work goes into getting these trucks race ready. Even beyond that though, countless hours are devoted by teams just in traveling from show to show and routine maintenance in between shows to ensure the truck is at 100% each weekend. Who are some of the folks that help the team stay running?

JR: You’re exactly right. We do it because we love it and anyone else who isn’t affiliated with monster trucks wouldn’t understand this love/hate relationship we all deal with in this sport. I can’t thank all the people who help us enough – first and four most the Man above, my wife , my kids, my business partners, Marc White, Roy Pridgeon, Thomas Tripp, James Walker, and all my employees for all the continued support. It really makes me feel good. My sponsors that I would like to thank are myself and myself lol. Just kidding, really, thanks to Central Florida Speed and Machine, FTI Competition Transmissions and Convertors, Braille Batteries, FK Rod End, BMF Shocks, and McNeal and White Contractors. To the Promoters – man, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate Ed and Zane over at Checkered Flag Productions. I would not have this opportunity if it weren’t for these guys. Monster Nation with Brian and Kelly, and John over at MAP Motorsports have also given our team a shot and for that we’re extremely grateful. I can’t thank these promoters enough for giving Razin Kane the chance and we won’t let you down. This is going to be a good year for us.

A big thanks to JR for taking time out of the team’s busy preparation schedule to talk with us. Check out last week’s Video of the Week to see JR’s last test run in Razin Kane before heading out to compete in his first event this weekend in Southaven. Stay tuned to TheMonsterBlog.com to follow JR and the guys with Razin Kane as they tackle the competition in 2011. For more information and the teams 2011 appearance schedule, visit their website at www.RazinKaneMonsterTrucks.com.

The Insider: Team Beast Expanding for 2011

With the calendars now turned to 2011, the start of the new season is less than a week away and work is progressing feverishly at the Team Beast shop in Ohio. One of the big stories of the off season is the major expansion of veteran monster truck competitor Bobby Holman’s Team Beast as they add two brand new trucks in preparation for the 2011 Monster Nationals indoor season.

Team Beast took delivery of two brand new Patrick Enterprises chassis right around Thanksgiving and work has been going on 24/7 to complete the build of the new trucks which will be ran as Star Marshall and Chalkboard Chuck. The new Patrick chassis trucks are an addition to the custom Holman built chassis ran on Lucas Oil Stabilizer and Ironman.

Two beautiful new Patrick Enterprises chassis ready for delivery to Team Beast (photo courtesy Samson4x4.com).

“We’ve had plans to expand the team for some time, but we weren’t planning on doing it quite this soon,” explained team owner Bobby Holman. “But when Family Events called and wanted us to do the Star Marshall and Chalkboard Chuck trucks, it was too good of an opportunity to pass up. It’s created a lot more work during the offseason but we’ve been adding on to the shop and we’ll be working on getting a system down for maintaining the trucks as we start first quarter. It’ll likely be  a bit rough to handle at first, but we’ll be ready for it. Most of all, we’re really excited to debut the trucks, we think the fans are really going to enjoy them.”

The concept for the new Star Marshall truck is themed around a fun, kid-friendly sheriff character. “He’s a good guy with a bad attitude, a real Clint Eastwood type,” said Holman. Bobby’s brother Ralph Holman will be the pilot for the new truck.

Much anticipation surrounds the debut of the new concept truck, Chalkboard Chuck. Family Events and Team Beast have been working with a company that produces a special “chalkboard” textured paint. The top of the fiberglass body will be vinyl wrapped with the Chalkboard Chuck design, while the bottom will feature the chalkboard paint, allowing fans to write on the side of the truck during the Pit Party and see their designs as the truck competes in the show. The designs can then be erased, leaving a blank slate for the next group of fans to decorate for the next show. Dave Radzierez will be the driver of Chalkboard Chuck for the Monster Nationals season as he follows the tour displaying his Airdog Diesel monster truck.

The 2011 season will also see a new rookie driver for the team as newcomer Jeff Hatten replaces former Team Beast driver Shane Smith behind the wheel of Ironman.

In addition to the expansion of the team, Holman is very proud to welcome back Lucas Oil for 2011 as he and the Stabilizer will once again run for the 2011 Monster Nationals championship. “We’ve got a lot of big things in the works with Lucas Oil including a new wrap design they’ve been working on with us that we should have ready for the Madison, Wisconsin event,” said Holman. “We’re really going after the championship this year, we’ve been working on some different things to make the truck hook up harder on the concrete so we can give Rick and Bigfoot a run for their money.”

Bobby Holman will be back in the Lucas Oil Stabilizer, gunning for the 2011 Monster Nationals championship.

The team will wrap up first quarter in a big way as all four trucks will head down to Phoenix for the big Monster Nationals event at University of Phoenix Stadium. Holman is looking forward to returning to the beautiful stadium that was featured in a SPEED TV Monster Jam episode this past season. “We were there for the opening of that place at the big AMP show a few years back, put on a wild freestyle and rolled her over. It’s always exciting to do a stadium show and we’re real excited that Monster Nationals is stepping it up to that level and that we’re a big part of that, taking all four trucks.”

Holman finishes a wild freestyle by putting the Beast on its lid at the 2006 AMP event at University of Phoenix Stadium.

The entire team has also been invited to participate on the entire 4 Wheel Jamboree Nationals tour in 2011 taking on the likes of Hall Brothers Racing, Team Scream and the Crushstation “Monstah Lobstah”. After running a couple of the Jamborees in 2010, Holman will also be gunning to try and be the one to finally break the stranglehold that Hall Brothers Racing has has on the Monster Truck Thunder Drags title for the last 10 years or so.

See below for Team Beast’s First Quarter Event Schedule:

1/7-8:  Huntington, West Virginia – Big Sandy Superstore Arena
1/20-21: Highland Heights, Kentucky – Bank of Kentucky Center
1/28-29: Madison, Wisconsin – Alliant Energy Center Memorial Coliseum
2/4-5: Corbin, Kentucky – The Arena
2/11-12: Cedar Rapids, Iowa – US Cellular Center
2/18-19: Sioux City, Iowa – Tyson Events Center
2/25-26: Du Quoin, Illinois – Southern Illinois Center
3/12-13: Hoffman Estates, Illinois – Sears Centre Arena
3/26: Glendale, Arizona – University of Phoenix Stadium

TMB thanks Bobby Holman for taking a few moments out of Team Beast’s first quarter preparation to share some details on all they’ve got going on. Stay tuned for the unveiling of Star Marshall and Chalkboard Chuck and also be watching for an all new website for Team Beast that is currently in development and expected to be released in the coming weeks.

TheMonsterBlog.com 2010 Year In Review Highlight Video

Event: TheMonsterBlog.com 2010 Year In Review Highlight Video
Videographers: Kaedon Berry, Rajeana Bonar, Jonathan Barnes, Lynette Bonar, Shane Skinner, Ross Bonar, Michael Harry & Chris Kaelin
Featuring Music From: Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers including: “Anything That’s Rock’N’Roll’s Fine”, “Honey Bee”, “I Should Have Known It” & “You Wreck Me”

Lineup: All of the best action from 2010 as seen through the cameras of TheMonsterBlog.com! [Read more…]

Bite Me Production Studios 2010 Year In Review Highlight Video

Event: Bite Me Production Studios 2010 Year In Review Highlight Video
Videographer: Colby Marshall

Lineup: All of the best action from 2010 as seen through the cameras of TMB’s Colby Marshall and his Bite Me Production Studios! [Read more…]

Bad Habit Welcomes ReadyLIFT Suspension as 2011 Primary Sponsor

(Boardman, OH – By Joe Sylvester) I would like to officially announce the partnership between Joe Sylvester Motorsports and ReadyLIFT Suspension for 2011! ReadyLIFT Suspension will be the primary sponsor on the BAD HABIT Monster Truck for the 2011 season which kicks off January 8th at Ford Field in Detroit, MI for our first of 11 weekends on the Monster Jam Tour.

ReadyLIFT Suspension Inc. is the #1 preferred manufacturer of truck and SUV Suspension Leveling and Lift Kits that are guaranteed to retain your factory ride while providing the looks and lift every truck owner wants. The truck will be officially introduced as the ReadyLIFT BAD HABIT so keep an eye on our online store for a redesigned merchandise line reflecting our new sponsor due out in the spring of 2011.

I am very proud to be selected to represent Team ReadyLIFT in the growing sport of Monster Truck Competition alongside their many established off-road racing teams. Over the past few years, the JSM Team and ReadyLIFT Suspension have both been growing in leaps and bounds and this partnership is sure to be an unstoppable combination!

Look for big things to come in 2011 for the ReadyLIFT BAD HABIT Team as we once again will be touring the continent with series such as Monster Jam, Monster Spectacular, and the KSR Motorsports Night of Fire and Destruction tour as well as performing another World Record Jump Attempt!

For more information on ReadyLIFT Suspension, visit them online at www.ReadyLIFT.com. For more information on Joe Sylvester Motorsports and the Bad Habit monster truck, check out www.BadHabit4x4.com.

In Focus: Randy Barton

Having seen many monster truck shows through the lens of a still camera or videocamera, I know how important it is to properly capture the subject in focus. Thus, TMB’s new feature article series, In Focus, will take a look at the people in the industry that make it happen in detail. We’ll be doing this through detailed interviews as we try to bring you the perspective of the men and women behind the machines.

For our premiere In Focus feature article we’re talking with Randy Barton, a life long fan making the dream a reality. Randy is a very talented racing chassis builder from Guilford, Indiana who is preparing his own unique monster and getting ready to tackle monster truck competition full force.

“I started on Bugzilla, a VW Beetle show truck on a modified ’75 Chevy Blazer frame, when I was 15yrs old. That got me involved in the Jamborees, I really liked the atmosphere. After that I went mud racing for a few years, class V and VI rear-engine cars. I had my fill of that and looked to monster trucks.” – Randy Barton

CP: When did you begin to follow monsters trucks?

RB: I had liked monster trucks as a little kid, I saw Spiker’s Eagle and Stomper Bully, if you remember, those were the coolest trucks ever! As a little kid I always said, “One day, I’m going to have a monster truck.” That’s probably a lot of the reason that as a teenager in high school I got into welding. I guess I looked at it as, “By welding I can make a living and learn how to do stuff that it is going to take to assist with my hobbies.” Luckily, I guess I’m pretty decent at it, that’s how I’ve made my living ever since I graduated high school. That’s led to a teaching job for a while, with welding. Now I’m back to pipefitting, which I really enjoy. I can honestly say that I like my job welding. Because of that, it is fairly easy to do chassis work and stuff like that. That’s kind of how I got into the 4wd scene, the monster trucks. I was a little kid that liked monster as most of the readers do.

CP: Do you remember your first live show?

RB: It had to have been the mid 80’s, ’85ish maybe, at Cincinnati’s Riverfront Coliseum. I can’t remember if it was a tractor pull or a mud bog, but monster trucks were the side act as they often were in those days. I remember that Bigfoot, Lon Ranger, Samson 1, the Blue Thunder Camaro and Stomper Bully were all there. Definitely a stacked lineup.

CP: You built the Abuzer tank and have already sold it. What happened to that?

RB: I actually sold it to Ryan Rice and his dad, who have the General Hazard ride truck. They actually bought the Incinerator truck that used to be the old Sniper truck of Rob French’s years ago. They’re a really cool group and they have a nice ride truck, a race truck, and, I think, a pretty decent tank now.

CP: Do you miss the tank?

RB: I am yet to miss any metal object that I’ve ever sold. It also freed up a little bit of money for me to put better parts in the monster truck.

CP: That brings up another point, you are running the notoriously more costly Hemi instead of the cheaper and more common Chevy blocks, why?

RB: When I was mud racing, I ran a Hemi in that and I really liked the power that it made. Now though, as I’m buying parts for the Hemi now, I’m almost wishing that I had gone with a big block Chevy engine. It would have been a lot cheaper. The Hemi is also known to be less reliable, so that is an issue as well. If reliability really becomes an issue, I’ll just take the Hemi out and drop a Chevy in. I really like the power of the Hemi, but I am regretting it a little as the costs stack up.

CP: Bugzilla looks wild compared to some of the more standardized designs, tell us what is different.

RB: It is a variation of a Willman chassis. It has one main tube for the main frame rail. It is bellied out in the middle and then tapers in and down on each end. That’s because I’ve got the Hemi behind me, which is a lot wider than a big block Chevy and it is really deep in the chassis, so I really needed to make that chassis wider to get it that low. It has a 3.5in main tube. A lot of the subframe, the cradle area, is 2.5in diameter on the bottom. If you notice in the cage and the bottom of it, there is a little bit less material. I did that because I went with stronger materials. All of the cage, all of the upper part of it, instead of .120 or .125, like others use, I went with .188 wall DOM.

I gave my tubing bender a workout, but it is SO strong, I can’t believe it! I figure the thing is going to be upside down and when it hits hard, I don’t want to replace 10 bars that are .120 wall, I want to replace one or two bars that are .188 wall. It is also very light, actually. I’m not a very big guy, but you and I could probably actually pick the frame up off the ground. So it is strong and it is light and it is bobbed off at the end. It is a 150in wheelbase and the frame is no longer than a 150in. People have asked “What is it, like 120in or like one of Bill Payne’s trucks?” With the axles and the four-link bars underneath of it, you can see the wheels are on the far corners.

CP: No one wants to thrash needlessly on a truck, talk about the convenience built into the truck.

RB: The pan that the seat actually sits on, it is actually pinned in there with four pins to adjust so that you can move the seat back and forth. So if somebody else got in to drive it, you just slide the seat forward. You can also pull that whole assembly out, because the floor is only bolted in with maybe 8 or 10 bolts. There is also a flanged bar around the door area, so with a couple of pins and bolts in a flange you can change a tranny in a really short amount of time. Also, if you notice the suspension mounts, everything is adjustable. Up on the hoops, where there would typically be a hoop, there is a flat bar with 12-14 holes in it. The good thing about that, if I ever decide to change shocks or anything like that, I don’t have to change anything on the chassis. I can make taller mounts, shorter mounts, angled mounts, so changing shocks, changing the angle on the shocks easily. It is no more difficult than sliding a mount up or down and you’re good to go. Same thing with the limiting straps. I tried to make stuff as adjustable as possible on the chassis and the housings. I’ve got good bump stops for the rear because the motor does fit so low. I don’t want the four bars coming in contact with the oil pump or anything like that. I don’t want to replace busted Hemi parts.

CP: The housings are custom and look huge, what are they?

RB: I’ve got Pettibone knuckles on the end and 106s in the center. Some pretty standard stuff, but I built some real nice diamond shaped housings. They are built out of quarter inch. They have a 4.5in. tube on the inside that is a quarter inch thick. There are also block-off plates on the inside. We’re going to keep the oil in the third member area. I always figure that there is no need to have a couple of extra gallons of oil sloshin’ around in the tubes, or when you go into a corner, all of the oil runs to one side. I’ll put some seals inside and won’t have the drips all over the floor like a lot of other guys. There is caster and camber built into each one of the housings, so it should handle pretty good, and I believe we’re going to be pretty strong.

CP: The frame is bellied, but skinny, how do you climb in?

RB: It is somewhere in the 40in wide range in the center of it. Luckily, I’m fairly skinny and pretty nimble, so, I can actually climb in, but the door is going to swing open and I’ll actually climb in through the window. It is slim, but it’s mounted straight to the main frame rail. I figure that is going to be a little more ridged than mounting bars to outriggers that come off the main frame.

CP: What kind of body style are you using?

RB: This will be a glass version of a Baja Volkswagen. Convertible top, Baja front end, Baja fenders in the rear, not a whole lot in the rear. It is really going to look like an open class Baja car, but with a little bit bigger tires. It’s going to be called Bugzilla just like my old show truck.

CP: A VW isn’t a common fiberglass mold. What’s the story?

RB:
I knew the guy that started the Cincinnati Off-Road Center and he had a bunch of old VW parts scattered across his property. I went out there and wondered around the woods until I found a front clip for a VW Beetle convertible. You can see it wasn’t stored for preservation, but it would serve well for our mold for Bugzilla. I already had some doors and stuff laying around and bought a Baja front clip. We’ll have to stretch some of the parts to keep everything in proportion, so the body should look pretty authentic from a distance, just scaled up when close up.

CP: Racing or Freestyle emphasis? Mentally and technically.

RB: Looking at it, you can tell it is built really strong. If you look at some things, the adjustable shock mounts, the big Hemi, and the Abruzzi Powerglide, it is going to be a heck of a racer, but I built it so solid that I think I could just beat it to death and I’m not going to have a whole lot of issues. I enjoy freestyle, I LOVE freestyle, who doesn’t? I like racing too, though. I mud raced, I flat dragged for years, so I’ve got the racer mentality; I still like that stuff. I believe with the Hemi in it, it is going to have plenty of power to race anybody that I come against. If you look at the suspension, the rear ends, the shocks that I got for it, I think it will hang tough with about any freestyle course. I think I’ve built a pretty good all around machine. Time will tell.

CP: You have a full-time job. How do you plan on scheduling Bugzilla? Will you race full-time or maintain your pipefitting job?

RB: I’ve been at my job for a long time, it is a great job, I like it, I don’t think I’d give it up, no matter how great things got with this. Luckily, I’ve been there so long, if I need to take off an extended weekend, no problem. Obviously, I couldn’t do it every weekend. I don’t know that I’d want to do it every weekend. If I could run this thing 15 or 20 times the first year, that will tell me more what I want to do with it. Hopefully, I put good enough parts in it that I’m not going to be replacing parts, because if I’m replacing parts, spending money, that is going to put a sour taste in my mouth. I figure, if I build a good solid machine and I have a lot of fun with it, that will keep me more interested in it and make me want to run it more

CP: What is your favorite monster moment as a fan?

RB: I don’t know if I have a favorite moment, but I remember standing next to Spiker’s All-American with the 73’s and polished aluminum wheels. That was really cool.

CP: If you could change one thing in the industry, what would it be?

RB: I really hate the stereotypes that have been placed on the industry. The idea that the sport is comprised of a bunch of rednecks with primitive vehicles crushing things annoys me. There is a bit of the redneck stereotype in all motorsports, but it seems to be especially prevalent in monster trucks. These vehicles are sophisticated pieces of engineering specifically designed for their purpose. There are also many well spoken people participating in the industry and hopefully that will begin to counter the stereotypes.

CP: What is your biggest fear about the industry?

RB: I suppose my biggest fear is unknowingly getting involved with some of the dishonest people in the industry. There are a lot of good people in the industry, but there are some bad ones as well.

CP: How do you see the industry developing in the future?

RB: I see the sport continuing to become more sophisticated, hopefully with more participation from sponsors. Bigfoot 8, Equalizer and perhaps Taurus 3 were really the last big jump from one level to the next. There has been a lot of progress, but those trucks were a big jump for their time. I think something will happen at some point that will be another big leap like that. I think a big A-frame, independent suspension monster truck is possible, and will come along at some point and will probably be the next big leap in monster technology. Scott Bryant and I have some ideas, it isn’t something we are working on anytime soon, but we talk about it regularly and believe the possibility is out there.

CP: When will you debut?

RB: Soon hopefully, but I’ve got a project that has placed Bugzilla on a backburner, I’m also waiting on my Hemi to be done, but as soon as that project is completely, I’ll put the finishing touches on and test it. Hopefully, The Monster Blog can come out when I test it and I don’t make a fool out of myself or it doesn’t make a fool out of me.

We hope you’ve enjoyed the premiere article of TMB’s In Focus, stay tuned each month as we bring you another detailed interview with one of the monster truck industry’s newsmakers.

TMB TV: ActionTracks Episode 1.8 – Year In Review

Event: 2010 Year In Review
Host: Chris Parrish
Videographer: Chris Parrish

Lineup: All of the best action you’ve seen on ActionTracks in 2010 featuring some of the best trucks in the world! [Read more…]

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!