The Allen Report: All Star Monster Truck Tour – Phoenix, AZ 2017 Part 2

(Coverage By Christopher Allen, Photos By Jim Allen)

Weekend Recap

This time on “The Allen Report”, we return to the Arizona State Fairgrounds, where just two weeks earlier a thrill show co-starring a flame throwing jet car and the kid captivating Transaurus took place alongside the monster trucks. All Star Motorsport Productions, promoter of the thrill shows, also came back for this weekend. But unlike the events of earlier in October, this was a tried and true, full on monster truck show with six five ton, high horsepower mechanical beasts having the spotlight all to themselves on the fair’s final weekend for the year.

Throughout each show, the monsters would participate in Best Trick competition, single run obstacle course racing against the clock and no time limit, no holding back freestyle. Points were on the line for each competition and the truck with the highest number of points at the end of the show would be crowned the Overall Event Champion. As the weekend would go by, result trackers would count the number of Overall wins per monster with the competitor who had obtained the most Overall wins receiving the distinction of Arizona State Fair Champion.

Representing the home state was Marana’s El Perro Loco (translation – The Crazy Dog) with Murph McCrorey behind the wheel. Murph is the stepson of team owner Rod Wood and his tendency to drive like a madman in night shows garnered him the nickname “Werewolf”, a moniker he would live up to equally under the sun and after dark over the days this weekend. To make the truck sound as different as possible from McGruff two weeks earlier, the event announcers billed the truck from Ensenada, Baja, Mexico and had spent years dominating the Mexican circuit before crossing into the USA.

The rest of the field consisted of the entire Straight Up Racing team. Team co-founder and leader Bill Payne took the wheel of his trusty Rock Star. Gabe Montoya was ready to attack the track as the pilot of Reverse Racer, where the body is turned around one hundred and eighty degrees to make it look like the truck is always going the wrong way. Next in line was the vicious looking 10,000 Pound Hound to be driven by Nick Jones. Not far behind was Ezra Wilson in the Identity Theft. The fifth and final truck in the stable was the monster hot rod California Kid, controlled by Dallas Glen Rogers.

In the first of three shows on Saturday, Identity Theft got the show off to a splendid start with a one-two punch of great air and a sweet sky wheelie to get a score of 14 of a possible 20 for Best Trick. When El Perro Loco fell short by just one single point despite sick air and a great sky wheelie, the crowd openly voiced their disappointment. But next out was Bill Payne, who has performed as far away as Europe and Asia in years past. Bill followed up a great sky wheelie off the crush car with a wicked slap wheelie from one end of the floor to the other, taking the Best Trick win and Overall points lead.

Identity Theft set the standard for those coming after by completing the course in just under 23 seconds. The very next pass by 10K Pound Hound proved how tough the competition was by edging out his predecessor in the order by less than one tenth of a second. The colossal canine monster held the lead until Rock Star stormed past him on the stopwatch, reaching the finish line a whole two seconds faster with only freestyle to go.

The freestyle track consisted of a jammer stack for air, a wheelie bump and the time trial finish line crush car for wheelies and the obstacle course track second straightaway offering a distance jump ramp on one side and sideways tires for wheelies on the other. Identity Theft took advantage of his final shot for a trophy to get huge air and cross threaded the jump used as the obstacle course halfway point to stay in the hunt. Ten Thousand Pound Hound gave admirable efforts, including decent air. But Rock Star gave more incredible slap wheelies and hit the kicker obstacle the wrong way to get the early afternoon Overall Championship.

As the weekend progressed, the competition got tighter and tighter across the board. The second obstacle course competition of the day was decided by only half a second between winner Rock Star and runner-up Identity Theft. A few hours later in the evening show obstacle course race, Bill Payne finally pushed his truck too hard, breaking a steering line in the final turn of the course, causing his truck to do a complete 360 and rendering him unable to cross the finish line. This DNF would go on to end Rock Star’s perfect streak of Overall Titles, the final Saturday win eventually going to Identity Theft.

In the second to last show of the weekend, El Perro Loco was in the midst of a high intensity freestyle when an awkward landing from a sky wheelie sent him into the only rollover of the weekend. Murph was okay and the crowd roared when it was announced that El Perro had taken the freestyle lead. This, on top of a Best Trick win and runner-up placing in the obstacle course was enough for Murph and The Crazy Dog to finally take an Overall Championship.

In the last Obstacle Course contest of the weekend, Identity Theft just narrowly slipped past Rock Star with less than half a second being the difference. To end the weekend on a high note, Rock Star joined Identity Theft not long into the latter’s freestyle, causing All Star Productions officials to decree the two co-champions. This brought the crowd’s noise level very high, marking the ideal end to both the 2017 Arizona State Fair and the last weekend of monster trucks. Even so, with three sole titles and one shared win across a total of six shows over three days, Rock Star handily took the Arizona State Fair Championship.

At that, the monster truck action season for us at “The Allen Report” has come to a close. But we also begin to finalize plans for our trip to Auburn, Indiana, for one of our favorite annual events, the International Monster Truck Hall of Fame Ceremony. As of this writing, the number of overall display monster vehicles, weekend and full time sponsors and returning past inductees all look high, which is great news for us, as we are just as much fans of the early days of the sport as we are fans of its current state. With that behind us, a special thanks to Bryan Wagner and every member of All Star Productions for allowing us to cover his events, thank you, our readers, for following our show coverage, enjoy the photos and until next year, cheer on!

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The Allen Report: All Star Monster Truck Tour – Phoenix, AZ 2017

(Coverage By Christopher Allen, Photos By Jim Allen)

Weekend Recap

This time on “The Allen Report”, we return to one of our hometown venues, the Arizona State Fairgrounds. Bryan Wagner and his company All Star Productions have put together stadium motorsports events here several times before, but this show was different. Billed as a “thrill show”, three earth shaking monsters would be paired with plenty of great motorsports action. The main event of each show, monster truck single run freestyle, would be decided by fan applause, so every move would count. When a huge crowd piled in for every show, it truly was all or nothing for the drivers.

Representing the home state was McGruff. In the opening performance on Friday night, Rod Wood was the man behind the monster for the first time since shoulder surgery sidelined him a few months ago. Step-son Murph “Werewolf” McCrorey would take the wheel for the remaining shows throughout the weekend. Proudly performing for the Navajo Nation was second generation driver Derek Edd piloting the Fanatic. This truck is a southwestern monster finally coming back to this venue after an extended retirement. Finally, former World Champion Jimmy Creten arrived in Bounty Hunter. With each show featuring a single round of freestyle decided by crowd applause, every last move would count.

All shows got off to a roaring start as the monsters turned in a donut or a few during introductions, wasting no time in hyping up the crowd. In the only show on Friday night, Rod Wood looked like his old self with big air and excellent sky wheelies. Derek Edd fought steering issues, a problem that would plague him on and off throughout the weekend, but still gave the fans a nice performance. But Jimmy Creten wasn’t fazed by the show count in front of him, sending Bounty Hunter high into the night sky and digging up the dirt with his back bumper in beautiful wheelies. When the fate of the first championship of the weekend was on the line, there was no question about it when it came to crowd noise. Bounty Hunter took the first title no bones about it.

The monster action wasn’t over after freestyle, however, as the grand finale showcased all monsters returning to the track at once in a “monster train”, each five ton machine following each other over the obstacles before facing the grandstand to bring the curtain down on another great show.

Over the weekend, all drivers pushed their machines to the limit. Derek Edd and Fanatic turned the steering malfunctions in his favor, often upping the crowd noise with long and cheer-inducing donuts. Murph McCrorey seized every chance he got to bring the front tires in the air, succeeding more often than not. But Jimmy Creten refused to hold back, going progressively harder and harder each show.

Then, on the last show of the weekend Sunday evening, Derek Edd threw caution to the wind, executing a spectacular save and continuing to push his truck over the obstacles, smoke billowing from the engine, until it finally gave out. Still, Derek had done more than enough to earn thunderous applause from the spectators. Then, in the last run, Jimmy Creten finally pushed Bounty Hunter too hard as the truck broke a front and a rear axle, but the former World Champion still soldiered on, refusing to let the truck quit before he was satisfied. With the weekend sweep on the line, the crowd was suddenly the most divided it had been all weekend, so a second and final cheer off was decided upon. And the decision went to Fanatic, ending Bounty Hunter’s perfect win streak.

While the monsters were getting maintenance between runs, the crowd was treated to some fiery and noisy fun courtesy of a jet powered Smart Car, the audience often literally feeling the heat as the car belched flames from its afterburner. Finally, young and old alike were fascinated by the car eating, fire breathing antics of the half tank, half dinosaur known as Transaurus. Even when he’d had his fill for each show, the mechanical beast stopped by the grandstand to wave his metallic claws at the fans before departing.

With that behind us, we at “The Allen Report” set our sights on our final shows of the year, same venue and same town. But this show will be a full-on, true to the bone monster truck show where it’s all up to one single local favorite to fend off an entire multi-truck team. Well then, thanks for reading, a special thanks to Bryan Wagner and the entire All Star Productions team for granting us admittance to the shows and wonderful hospitality, enjoy the photos and cheer on!

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The Allen Report: Gila County Fair Monster Trucks – Globe, AZ 2017

(Coverage By Christopher Allen, Photos By Jim Allen)

Weekend Recap

This time on “The Allen Report”, we make it to a one-night-only show at the Gila County Fair in Globe, Arizona, in the eastern part of the state. Globe hosted a monster truck show at its County Fairgrounds for the very first time two years ago to great positive feedback and we made it back after a year off to see two southwestern household names and a legendary monster make short work of two sets of crush cars and a motor home in exhibition only freestyle.

Making a short trip from Marana, AZ, was Murph McCrorey at the controls of El Perro Loco, meaning “The Crazy Dog”. This was to be a night show, so time would tell if Murph lived up to his nickname, “Werewolf”. From right across the way in New Mexico was multi-time Monster Truck Hall of Fame nominee Jack Koberna driving the beautiful retro yellow painted Tuff-E-Nuff. Finally, having stayed over the week after Tucson Speedway was Mike Phelps in the iconic police themed Monster Patrol. Once again, an enormous crowd showed up for high flying car smashing action.

In the opening round of freestyle, the drivers wasted no time in delivering great action. El Perro Loco made his mark by clearing the entire set of cars on his final hit. Tuff E Nuff, not to be outdone, also smashed the cars before giving an admirable attempt at a slap wheelie. Monster Patrol continued the big air assault, also making jumps without touching a single car. In the second round, all monsters stepped up their game, while El Perro Loco attempted slap wheelies and Tuff-E-Nuff pleased the crowd by nailing some cross-thread moves. Monster Patrol got even bigger air, hyping the crowd for the finale.

In the third and final round, Rod Wood’s stepson driving El Perro Loco got huge air to start the run. The “The Crazy Dog” then attacked the motor home, smashing it to much approval from the fans. Tuff E Nuff hit the cars before nailing another cross thread and finishing off what little remained of the motor home. Monster Patrol finished the show on a high note by doing cross threads of his own, clearing the cars with room to spare and jumping right through the gap where the motor home had been minutes earlier.

While the monsters were resting between rounds of freestyle, the fans were treated to hard hitting, car slamming demolition derby action. With that, we at “The Allen Report” make our final California trek of the year to Turlock, CA, in order to attend the season’s final motorsports production by our friends at WGAS Motorsports. This past spring, Bounty Hunter either shared or solely took the Overall Championship trophy and Jim Creten will settle for nothing less than again taking the title all to himself.

Well then, we sincerely thank the Gila County Fairgrounds for having us again, thanks for reading, enjoy the photos and cheer on!

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The Allen Report: Tucson Speedway Fall Monster Truck Show 2017

(Coverage By Christopher Allen, Photos By Jim Allen)

Weekend Recap

This time on “The Allen Report”, we return to Tucson Speedway for the final time in 2017. This track is a 3/8 mile paved oval that hosts numerous forms of mainstream auto racing, headlined by a lower tier NASCAR series titled “The Whelen Championship”. However, this weekend was headlined by the rumble of ground shaking, car smashing monster trucks ready to fight it out in a preview freestyle, a half-lap “roundy-round” style race on the asphalt oval and the anything goes, all or nothing insanity of freestyle.

The field was headlined by the hometown truck El Perro Loco piloted by Murph McCrorey, stepson of Rod Wood and known for his hard charging driving style in night shows under the nickname “Werewolf”. Hailing from New Mexico was multi-time Monster Truck Hall of Fame nominee Jack Koberna in the sweet looking Tuff-E-Nuff, performing publicly with a retro paint scheme for the very first time. The other two names in the house were both making their debut appearances at Tucson Speedway. First was Mike Phelps at the controls of the black and green Monster Patrol. The other was Canton, Texas’s own Chris Trussell behind the wheel of his trophy truck bodied Big Chief machine, named for his mother’s Cherokee ancestry.

The show opened with the continuation of a popular tradition. Together, Monster Patrol and Big Chief jumped over the barriers onto the front straightaway to get the crowd hooked early. In the preview freestyle, Tuff-E-Nuff got the crowd into the action early with an incredible save coming down from the van stack. However, doing so also popped two tires and bent one four link bar. El Perro Loco put together two excellent wheelies, but the run was cut short due to electrical problems.

With two of the four monsters being repaired, Tucson Speedway officials decreed to go straight to the racing finals between Big Chief and Monster Patrol. With one truck starting at the track’s start/finish line and the other halfway down the back straightaway, this race was different as only half a lap with one sweeping turn had to be completed, not a full lap with two turns. There was no clear leader off the line, but Big Chief took control of the race going through the only turn which he held to the finish, taking the racing championship. In order to excite the fans about the upcoming freestyle, the two racing finals participants did a brief dual freestyle before heading back to the pits.

Finally, it was time for freestyle. With a van stack, two busses and four cars to crush, plus two different wheelie barricades meant that taking the freestyle championship would not be easy. In the meantime, Tuff-E-Nuff and El Perro Loco had been fixed from earlier breakage and were ready for a better shot at taking a win in front of the home region crowd.

At one point, it looked like El Perro Loco was ready to flop on its side, but Murph McCrorey used his veteran driving skills to bring the crazy dog back onto its sixty-six inch paws. Frustrated by the earlier abrupt ending to his run, Jack Koberna attacked the track with full force, hitting the bus stack several times in each direction and turning in some smoke-causing donuts. Monster Patrol cleared the crush cars several times and got huge air over the busses to remain in the championship hunt.

Unable to choose between the hometown dog and the world’s only winged monster, Tucson Speedway officials declared El Perro Loco and Monster Patrol freestyle co-champions.
When the monsters were resting, there were several classes of regular car oval racing on the race card and some had very exciting finishes. There was also many stock car three lap ride-a-longs and some Shriner minicars.

Now, with Tucson Speedway in the rearview mirror, we at “The Allen Report” look towards the final events of the year for our friends at WGAS Motorsports. First up is the final show of the year at the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds in Turlock. More coverage will arrive soon from there. Well then, thank you for reading, a special thank you to Dave Track Guy and Tucson Speedway for allowing us to cover his show and great hospitality, enjoy the photos, don’t forget to follow us on “Monster Truckin’ with Jim and Chris” on Facebook and Instagram, and cheer on!

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The Allen Report: Monsters & Mud – Tuscon, AZ 2017

(Coverage By Christopher Allen, Photos By Jim Allen)

Weekend Recap

This time on “The Allen Report”, we travel to the Tucson Speedway asphalt oval track. It’s a NASCAR sanctioned home track that sees all kinds of auto racing weekend after weekend. But, on the last weekend of April, the Speedway was taken over by four massive monster trucks ready to duke it out in Wheelie Contest, Donut Contest and all out freestyle. In front of his hometown folk were Rod Wood and McGruff. Former Monster Jam on SPEED color analyst Mark Schroeder brought his wild looking Devastator to the Tucson track. Wrapping up the field and representing 2Xtreme Racing were Russell Steeley in the Iron Outlaw and Austin Minton in Knucklehead, the official monster truck of rock band Five Finger Death Punch.

In the wheelie contest, the slick paved third mile oval made wheelies tricky. Iron Outlaw made admirable efforts, spinning the tires trying to bring the front axle in the air. But Mark Schroeder did an excellent job of pointing his front tires towards the night sky. He easily won over the crowd and as the show was judged by the audience’s applause, took the Wheelie Contest win.

Going into the donut competition, McGruff had sadly broken the locker in the front axle and his performance status for the rest of the night was in danger. Devastator proved that he can do more than just ride a wheelie by turning in fast rotation to stay in the hunt. Russell Steeley proved that he still had what it takes by turning in super fast cyclones to stay alive. But newcomer Austin Minton had the crowd roaring by getting Knucklehead progressively faster and faster in his spin cycles, taking the win and ending Devastator’s chances at an evening’s clean sweep.

The freestyle track consisted of four crush cars, a construction barrier for wheelies and two jumps, one at the turn four end, the other and the turn one end. In the main event of the night, Iron Outlaw got things kicked off very well by hitting the van stack jump just past the start finish line, clearing the cars, inadvertently turning slightly mid wheelie and hit the van stack the wrong way to much applause from the spectators. McGruff was fixed just in time for the freestyle competition and put down a great run, causing a shower of sparks as he dragged his bumper across the front straightaway during one of his slap wheelies. Knucklehead was next on the track and gave the fans jumps, donuts and high speed energy. The final freestyle was Devastator and when Mark Schroeder was through there was no doubt who was the freestyle winner as the crowd cheered long and loud for his impressive performance. However, as far as the drivers were concerned, the fans were the winners on this clear and col night in Tucson.

While the monsters were resting or getting maintenance in the pits, the fans were treated to mud bogging in the infield and several kinds of mainstream car racing on the oval. Most of the races, both heats and features, were fast and entertaining with multiple attempts to take the lead and not many cautions.

Well, next on the agenda for us at “The Allen Report” is a trek to the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds in Turlock, CA, where our friends at WGAS Motorsports have a traditionally great show waiting for us with ATV racing, tuff trucks, Fitz Army freestyle motocross and, of course, monster trucks. On that note, thanks for reading, a sincere thank you to Dave the Track Guy and Tucson Speedway for their great hospitality, enjoy the photos and cheer on!

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The Allen Report: Maricopa County Fair Monster Trucks – Phoenix, AZ 2017

(Coverage By Christopher Allen, Photos By Jim Allen)

Weekend Recap

This time on “The Allen Report”, we make a short trip to the Maricopa County Fair in Phoenix, AZ. It sees all sorts of spectator entertainment over its five days every spring from farm animal auctions to BMX stunt shows and at the Sanderson Ford Arena on Friday and Saturday, the entertainment was supplied by six earth shattering, car smashing monster trucks.

Making the trip from Menifee, CA, were the father/son duo of Rick and Eric Swanson. Rick’s Obsession truck was sporting its brand new Top Notch Tee’s vinyl wrap. Also, Eric’s truck Obsessed showcased a classic 1968 Ford pickup body. The two were hot off their impressive performance from the Monster Jam Double Down Showdown in March. Coming from just down the road in Tucson was Sam Sturges behind the wheel of Unnamed & Untamed. This truck/driver combination was followed by his team mate in the bright red 1963 Split Window Corvette Rat Attack driven by Jacob Ladwig. Hailing from Marana, AZ, came Rod Wood and McGruff the Crime Dog. Finally, coming east from Lake Havasu City, AZ, was Mark Schroeder taking control of Devastator.

The opening show on Friday had Chicago style racing with right hand turns as opposed to the traditional left turns and freestyle. In the opening round of racing, Rat Attack pulled an upset win over Obsessed to advance to the semi-finals. The next race was Devastator vs. Obsession. Even though Devastator won the race, Obsession would still advance as the fastest loser. The championship round was a classic California vs. Arizona civil war between Obsession and Devastator. It was close and a great race, but Devastator took the racing win.

In freestyle, there were multiple construction barriers for wheelies, the race lane jumps and a massive hill at one end of the arena floor. Sadly, Obsessed had broken a steering hose and was out for the night. Unnamed & Untamed attacked the big hill going the other way and made decent attempts at wheelies to get the crowd excited. Rat Attack struggled to achieve wheelstands, but compensated with some terrific cyclones. Finally, Devastator performed great wheelstands again and again to close out the Friday night show.

Over the course of two shows the next day, there were many highlights. Devastator’s chances at a clean sweep were dashed when Sam Sturges beat him in the finals of Chicago style racing. In freestyle, Obsession put together great combos to stay in the hunt. Unnamed & Untamed performed the team’s signature move, slap wheelies. In the all freestyle final show, every truck went all out, taking advantage of its last shot to please the fans. Several trucks jumped the barricades into the arena to start their runs off on a high note. McGruff finished his run with some lightning fast cyclones that had the audience cheering long and loud. But the high point of the weekend for the monsters was the double freestyle with the father and son Swanson. Eric got the best air of the freestyle competition when his father fired up and joined him on the track. The crowd’s roar of approval clearly signified the Swanson boys as the winners.

In other motor race action throughout the weekend, there was smash ‘n bash Democross, a staple of promoter Grand Canyon State Promotions, which is a fascinating mix of off road racing and demolition derby. It is very entertaining with a lot of action. During the evening show on Saturday, there was death defying, trick busting freestyle motocross which had the fans screaming on and on.

Well, we at “The Allen Report” look north towards a massive ten truck field at the Washington State Fair in Puyallup, WA, put together by our friends at WGAS Motorsports. So, thanks for reading, a special thanks to Zack McKinley and all of the GCS Promotions people for having us, enjoy the photos and cheer on!

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The Allen Report: Tournament of Destruction – Tuscon, AZ 2017

(Coverage By Christopher Allen, Photos By Jim Allen)

Weekend Recap

This time on “The Allen Report”, we make our way to the Tucson Rodeo Grounds for the very first time. It’s a venue that is no stranger to family entertainment as the host site of the annual Celebration of the Cowboys, but this time, the family entertainment was supplied by four dirt slinging, car clearing monster trucks scheduled to appear in drag racing, wheelie contest, roundy-round racing and freestyle.

Fresh off their performance at the Monster Jam World Finals were Jim Creten and the Chris Kyle Bounty Hunter. Not far behind was former Army medic Dawn Creten piloting Scarlet Bandit. In front of the hometown folks was Tucson’s own Rat Attack, driven by Jacob Ladwig and rounding out the field was Nasty Boy, driven by Gary Ely, as Sturges Motorsports team owner Sam Sturges sold the truck to Gary not long ago.

In the opening round of drag racing, Bounty Hunter was quicker out of the gate and beat Nasty Boy for the opportunity to face Scarlet Bandit in the finals. In the finals Scarlet Bandit was quicker off the line. Jim Creten tried to make up the ground in the air but it was too late. Dawn Creten took the drag racing win. Up next was the wheelie contest. The muddy track made wheelies difficult, but all drivers gave great efforts regardless. The win, not surprisingly, went to Bounty Hunter.

On to roundy-round racing, where Dawn Creten bested Nasty Boy to advance to the finals where she got the rematch she wanted with Bounty Hunter, who had defeated a hard charging Rat Attack to make the championship round. But the former World Champion was not going to go down twice. Jim Creten kept his truck low over the crush cars and mastered the mud in the turns to get his revenge from drag racing by taking the win.

Finally, it all came down to freestyle. With both sets of crush cars, a van stack and a wheelie bump all fair game, there was plenty of room for the monsters to show what they could do. Nasty Boy got nice air and carried a great deal of speed to stay in contention. Rat Attack crushed the van and carried good sky wheelies to great response from the crowd. Scarlet Bandit crushed the cars and put together great move combinations, showing that she was for just as for real as the boys. But Jim Creten held nothing back. He carried terrific slap wheelies across the floor, cleared the cars and assembled an all-around fantastic freestyle run to claim the freestyle win.

Throughout the second and final show the following night, the competition was hot and heavy. At the top of the show, the announcer asked the crowd who their favorite was thanks to applause, monitored by a decibel counter. After it came down to Scarlet and Nasty Boy, the numbers on the machine showed that the female spectators had pulled through for Dawn Creten and Scarlet Bandit. However, Jim Creten was not to be denied a second time as he won the drag racing final, again with Scarlet Bandit staged against him. The drier track was much more suited for wheelies and Bounty Hunter took full advantage, putting the front tires in the air most of the length of the floor to sweep wheelies.

In roundy-round racing, Rat Attack put up a good fight against Bounty Hunter in the finals, but Jim Creten was just too fast, taking the clean sweep of what promoter M80 Productions called “Chase racing”. Lastly, in freestyle, all drivers gave good efforts, but again Jim Creten threw down with an all around amazing freestyle to put the spectators on their feet one last time.

While the monsters were resting in other parts of the show, the fans were treated to figure-8 trailer racing. In this offbeat form of motorsport, the objective is to be the last vehicle standing by knocking the trailers towed by the other cars off. The crowd was very much entertained by this as well as both a car and truck demo derby at different points throughout each night.

With this behind us, we at “The Allen Report” turn to our own back yard and the Maricopa County Fair where monster trucks as well as a hybrid of off-road racing and demolition derby known as “Democross” await us. Well, thanks for reading, a sincere thanks to Dale Penn and M80 Productions for having TheMonsterBlog.com back for the first time in several years, enjoy the photos and cheer on!

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The Allen Report: Monster Trucks & FMX – Phoenix, AZ 2015

(Coverage By Christopher Allen, Photos By Jim Allen)

Weekend Recap

This time on “The Allen Report”, we go to the Arizona State Fairgrounds, a venue that has pretty much seen it all for the past one-hundred and thirty years, from the pre-war capital of motor racing in the city of Phoenix to a premier rodeo venue. And, of course, the Sanderson Ford Arena has seen no shortage of monster truck action, as it did over the fair closing weekend Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Six gear grinding, ground pounding monster trucks arrived to do battle in six shows throughout the weekend. The shows consisted of wheelie contest and freestyle over Friday and Saturday before the High Jump and freestyle competitions on Sunday.

The shows featured Lake Havasu City, Arizona’s Mark Schroeder and his Felon truck. From just a few hours south of Phoenix was Rod Wood and his McGruff monster, ready to take a bite out of the competition. There also was Mexico’s Cesar Nunez driving the sleek 1963 split window Corvette Rat Attack. There also was the California based father and son team of Rick and Eric Swanson. Rick, as usual, piloted his bright yellow trophy truck Obsession and twenty year old Eric took the helm of his blue pickup truck bodied Obsessed. Rounding out the field was Tucson’s Sam Sturges in his 1942 Dodge Panel Wagon Unnamed & Untamed.

The heads-up competition only got hotter as the weekend went on. In wheelie contest on Friday evening, all trucks gave great efforts, each driver pushing his truck to the limit to get the best wheelie possible. Things quickly boiled down to a showdown between McGruff and Rat Attack, both going vertical with regularity, often to good response from the huge crowd. In freestyle, the two wheelie bumps, a set of crush cars and a huge center ramp were all fair game to win over the audience. Both Rat Attack and McGruff got huge air over the center ramp while Felon worked his signature wheelies and did some cyclones that truly were dirt slinging to end the opening show on Friday.

On Saturday, the veteran Sam Sturges and Unnamed & Untamed got off to a fast start in the wheelie contest, going straight up and down to push way ahead of father and son Swanson. But in doing so, Unnamed broke an axle. The California team caught up quickly in freestyle, however, as both Rick and Eric smashed the crush cars and soared over the arena floor thanks to the big ramp in the middle, plus some great cross thread moves, all attempting to win over the fans. Because of Sam Sturges’ breakage, Cesar Nunez in Rat Attack stepped up to take his place. Not resting on his laurels from the first two shows, the corvette monster had an excellent power wheelie while the Obsession trucks struggled to do the same. But when it came to freestyle, Rick and Eric did not back down, getting increasingly big air into the night sky and crushing the cars multiple times to thunderous applause from the capacity crowd.

In the third show of the weekend midway through Saturday, McGruff was in a class all his own, breaking away from the competition. He did so with a great forty-five degree angle wheelie and changing things up with a terrific sky wheelie off the crush cars. And the fans ate it up. In freestyle, the end of Felon’s weekend came a little premature when the motor broke and the damage was not repairable. This left a shootout between Rat Attack and McGruff. But ignition problems plagued Rat Attack from the very start, giving the best run to the Tucson native behind the wheel of McGruff.

On the final day of the fair, show organizers changed things up for the crowd by having McGruff take the place of Obsessed. This led to a battle in wheelie contest for the ages. Both the Tucson representatives in McGruff and Unnamed & Untamed stood straight up and down with no clear winner between the two.

In the final show of the weekend, the High Jump competition had the crowd cheering on and the drivers continued to push their machines. Each monster got two jumps each to outperform the others. No official winner was announced to the enormous number of spectators in the stands, but Obsessed and Rat Attack clearly went the highest of all. In the fair closing freestyle, both Rat Attack and Unnamed & Untamed went for broke with superb slap wheelies, but McGruff put together an exciting run that had the fans cheering practically from start to finish by smashing the crush cars, and great sky wheelies to wrap things up for the monsters at the fair for 2015.

In other action, four daredevil freestyle motocross riders including a member of the famous Metal Mulisha wowed both the young and young at heart alike with spectacular tricks high above the arena floor. Well, we at “The Allen Report” are almost ready to catch a plane to Auburn, Indiana, home of the fifth Annual International Monster Truck Museum Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony & Reunion, where four legendary monster truck personalities will become enshrined into the Hall of Fame. Thank you for reading, a sincere thanks to Zack McKinley and Grand Canyon State Promotions for having us, enjoy the photos and cheer on!

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The Allen Report: Monster Truck Show – Globe, AZ 2015

(Coverage By Christopher Allen, Photos By Jim Allen)

Weekend Recap

This time on “The Allen Report”, we make a short trip over to Globe, Arizona, a small town where mining, copper and quaint little shops are a natural part of life. But on this night at the Gila County Fairgrounds, four gear grinding, dirt slinging monster trucks made their debut at the county fair to a packed and enthusiastic house. From just down the road in Marana, Arizona was Rod Wood driving McGruff, ready to take a bite out of the competition. From the polar opposite side of the state in Parker, Arizona were Mark Schroeder and his truck convicted of mass devastation, the Felon. Finally, New Mexico’s Jack Koberna brought two of his trucks to the show. Jack himself drove the Rislone sponsored Tuff-E-Nuff while friend “T-Bone” took the reins of the world’s only two wheel drive monster truck, Cyborg. A standing room only crowd took to the grandstand to watch wheelie contest, Chicago style racing and car munching, high flying freestyle.

By hitting the cars the wrong way, wheelie contest was sure to be interesting. Cyborg was first out and gave very good efforts. Felon set the bar for both trucks to come with a pair of very good forty-five degree angle wheelies. McGruff, police LED lights flashing brightly, gave excellent attempts hoping to win over the fans. The monster truck legend from New Mexico Jack Koberna only continued the game of top this with a good sky wheelie then followed it up with an amazing slap wheelie that put the crowd on its feet. No official winner was crowned, but the fans cheered on for all competitors.

On to side by side racing, where only two jumps as opposed to the regular three were needed to achieve victory. In the first heat Felon defeated Cyborg in a clean cut, straight up manner to advance to the finals. The second heat was one to remember. Going through the one and only turn, Tuff-E-Nuff went wide and smacked the freestyle van stack with one tire. Not wanting to lose, Jack stood on the throttle to barely beat opponent McGruff. However, his rear tires had not centered up from the turn. This sent the Chevy trophy truck into a nasty sideways rollover and it continued rolling until it was back on its wheels, causing the crowd to erupt. Despite the good show, McGruff was kept on the floor and officials sent Felon out to get the finals in the books. The final race was too close to call and with no official line judges or designated finish line, the fate of the race was put in the hands of the fans, whose loud applause was in McGruff’s favor.

With that, we were on to the main event of freestyle where Rod Wood put together an unbelievable run by smashing both the motor home at one end of the floor and the van on the other, big jumps over the cars and dusty cyclones to ongoing cheers from the crowd. Cyborg had a good hit over the van and decent sky wheelies going when driveline issues forced the monster’s pilot to end his run early. Mark Schroeder and Felon only raised the bar higher still with wheelies, donuts, and even a couple jumps using the floor boundary construction barrier as the ramp. Finally, Tuff-E-Nuff fought a broken sway bar by doing some excellent cross thread moves over the cars and van, destroying what was left of the motor home and culminating in donuts that went on and on until you couldn’t see the monster. Despite the lack of freestyle winner, the beyond capacity crowd, well used to demolition derbies were extremely approving of the first monster truck outing at the fair.

In between monster action was one at a time, vehicle versus clock mud bog racing. After a slow start, many of the vehicles made it to the other end of the pit, often with increasingly faster times. As dirty as it was, the fans loved it. As for us at “The Allen Report”, you will next hear from us at some of the biggest shows our friends at WGAS Motorsports put together all year, the Southern California Fair in Perris. Till then, thank you for reading, a special thank-you to the Gila County Fairgrounds for hosting us, enjoy the photos and cheer on!

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The Allen Report: Off Road Racing & Monster Trucks – Chandler, AZ 2015

(Coverage By Christopher Allen, Photos By Jim Allen)

Weekend Recap

This time on “The Allen Report”, we make a short trip to Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Chandler, Arizona, the former Firebird Raceway, which for over thirty years answered the call to fans of nearly every motorsport from drag racing on asphalt and water to off road racing and yes, monster trucks. Two of the biggest monster truck names in the state were on hand to provide exciting intermission entertainment between races at the sixth round of the Lucas Oil Regional Off-Road Racing Series of Arizona. Sam Sturges came with his classic green and black 1940s Panel Wagon Unnamed & Untamed and right behind him was former Team 2Xtreme and Bad Habit Racing crew member Ben “Bobo” Winslow driving the famous blue and yellow of Nasty Boy.

With the freestyle track consisting of only two construction barriers, one of which was on top of the front straightaway, race track jumps and two junked vans, the drivers had the rare challenge of giving a good show with very little to work with. However, the monster pilots stepped up and had the fans cheering every time.

The first of three rounds of freestyle was essentially a game of “Follow the Leader”, with both trucks hitting every obstacle right after the other. Nasty Boy pulled off wheelies that have made the truck famous in the state of Arizona, much to the crowd’s delight. The man known as “Wildman Sam” often went perfectly vertical going down the frontstretch jump after hitting the construction barriers. In the second round, both monster vehicles went their separate ways, both getting excellent wheelstands and Unnamed even did some donuts to keep the crowd excited. Not to be outdone, Nasty Boy used the lane divider of the Off Road course as a wheelie bump. In the third and final round, both beasts had the crowd cheering on and on as both kept trying to upstage each other any way they could. Both gave great attempts at crushing the two side by side vans, but thanks to internal roll cages the vans held up surprisingly well despite the ten thousand pounds rolling over them. Still, even that couldn’t stop the crowd from cheering on and on as the drivers parked their machines nose to nose as a farewell to the Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park fans.

When not enjoying the monster action, the big crowd on hand witnessed a variety of feature races of various off road classes from side-by-sides to trophy karts, many of which showcased heavy contact, multiple intense attempts to overtake and, in one case, a finish decided by a matter of inches. Also, the American Thunder monster ride truck was on the grounds ready to give the ride of a lifetime to any who wanted. Well, we at “The Allen Report” are about to settle down for a time before packing up again on the 4th of July weekend, bound for the always fun San Diego County Fair on the shores of Del Mar, California. That being said, thank you for reading, an sincere thanks to Ron Leach for giving us another good show close to home, enjoy the photos and cheer on!

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The Allen Report: Monster Truck Show – Phoenix, AZ 2015

(Coverage By Christopher Allen, Photos By Jim Allen)

Weekend Recap

This time on the Allen Report, we make our way to the Maricopa County Fair, which each year caters to a huge crowd with good food, thrilling rides and
excellent entertainment. On Friday and Sunday of the fair, the big crowd was in the Sanderson Ford Arena for high flying, super fast monster truck action. Tonight’s action would be provided through wheelie contest, roundy-round racing and freestyle. Friday featured Ben “Bobo” Winslow representing Sturges Motorsports in Nasty Boy. Fellow Tucson representatives Rod Wood and McGruff were in the house as well. The father and son team of Rick and Eric Swanson made the trip from California ready to give a show. On Sunday, these four were joined by the other two Sturges monster vehicles, Unnamed & Untamed with “Wildman Sam” Sturges at the controls and good friend Cesar Nunez at the helm of the ’63 Corvette Rat Attack.

On Friday, Nasty Boy and McGruff gave preview freestyle runs to get the crowd pumped up for later action. When the show officially began with wheelie contest, admirable efforts were given by all, but Rod Wood carried a beautiful slap wheelie most of the length of the floor despite little traction to the loudest applause from the crowd.

In side by side racing, officials decreed that not one but two laps would be required to achieve victory. In the heats, Rick Swanson had no trouble against Nasty Boy, punching his ticket to the finals. Son Eric did the same when Rod Wood gave a good race but was just unable to overtake the nineteen year old before the finish line jump. Before the finals, the two runners-up were bound for a third place race. But when mechanical issues prevented McGruff from firing up, the veteran Ben Winslow conserved his truck to make sure he got to the final jump and took third place. In the father and son racing finals, Rick had the lead halfway home but Eric was picking up speed. At the final jump of the bracket, nineteen year old Eric barely pulled out the victory, much to the delight of the audience.

In Freestyle, Nasty Boy soared through the Arizona sky and finally got the wheelies he had been seeking to much positive response from the crowd. Rod Wood was a man on a mission about not being able to race for third place and carried high speed, big air and superb cyclone donuts to put himself in the hunt for the freestyle win. Rick Swanson had had cross thread moves, huge air and great sky wheelies off the construction barriers, attempting to win over the fans. But Eric Swanson shot for the moon, duplicated his father’s sideways moves and put his truck into the spin cycle to the loudest cheers of all to sweep racing and freestyle the first night. With two shows to go on Sunday, the game was far from over.

On the first show Sunday, every driver gave good attempts, but Rod Wood did not rest on his laurels from two nights earlier, taking the second straight wheelie win, going straight up and down and riding it out for most of the arena floor. It wasn’t an easy win though, as Nasty Boy, Rat Attack and Unnamed & Untamed all gave the Tucson native a run for his money.

On to racing, where only one lap, not two, was needed to win. Rick Swanson buried the throttle to the floor to beat Nasty Boy coming to the finish line jump in the first round. He got the biggest air of the weekend, but a slap wheelie sent him into the concrete barriers at the the end of the track, heavily damaging the front differential. When only two trucks remained, Eric Swanson was looking to defend his Racing win streak, but Sam Sturges in Unnamed & Untamed had other ideas. When the checkered flag flew, Eric’s trophy truck monster was was just ahead of his veteran opponent, going two for two in Racing. In freestyle, every driver threw caution to the wind, hoping to get the loudest response from the spectators possible. But once more, the second generation driver Eric Swanson put big air, high speed and dusty cyclones all into the mix to a clapping and cheering crowd, clearly sweeping the Racing and Freestyle again.

In the fair closing show late Sunday, Racing was cut from the program to make room for the filler acts. For freestyle, some of the losing democross cars were made into a seven car jump and two vans were put in place as well to be crushed. In the final wheelie contest, the man behind McGruff picked up where he left off with perfect verticality and superb distance in two of his three tries to sweep wheelies for the weekend. In the final freestyle competition of the Maricopa County Fair, every driver gave it all. Nasty Boy was first to hit the two vans which gave way underneath him, sending him on his side. Driver and former bullfighter Ben Winslow was just fine. Cesar Nunez performed well in the Rat Attack vehicle, hitting every jump with gusto before a blown front tire ended his run early. But the driver behind the wheel of Obsessed was a kid on a mission. Big air over the cars, dirt slinging cyclones and high speed all through the run erased any doubt who the winner was.

The other acts alongside monster trucks were side by side tuff truck racing, which was won by John Davis in vehicle number 1495, an off road style pickup truck. John was actually behind until the final lap, where his opponent started to celebrate his victory one lap too early. And the last man standing democross had the audience both cheering and laughing with intentional spinning out, thunderous contact and vehicles coming down from the jumps on top of opposing cars’ trunks. A timed event, this race went on and on until one car was still running. That car was number 86 with Tim Randall at the wheel.

Well, monster truck fans, we at “The Allen Report” are just getting started with a busy summer and autumn schedule coming up fast and we look forward to keeping you updated from throughout the west coast, among other places. Thank you for reading, a sincere thanks to Zack and Grand Canyon State Promotions for having us, enjoy the photos and cheer on!

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The Allen Report: American Thunder Motorsports Show – Douglas, AZ 2014

(Coverage By Christopher Allen, Photos By Jim Allen)

Weekend Recap

This time on “The Allen Report”, we travel to the Cochise County Fairgrounds in the United States border town of Douglas, Arizona, for an American Thunder Motorsports show, courtesy of an invite from promoter Ron Leach. On the card were three rounds of freestyle by four monster trucks on both Friday and Saturday night. Travis Sturges took the wheel of the 1940 Willys Nasty Boy. His Uncle Sam Sturges, as usual, was piloting a 1942 Dodge Panel Wagon called Unnamed & Untamed. Todd Morey came to town at the helm of Iron Outlaw and Jimmy Creten was in the house with his Bounty Hunter Yellow machine.

With only three jumps to work with on the Cochise County Fairgrounds floor, it was up to the drivers to get creative in order to entertain the fans. On Friday, both Sturges monsters managed terrific wheelies, something that can be expected from the trucks in that fleet. Nasty Boy even rode wheelies that lead straight into a jump off the middle double-sided ramp. For Jimmy Creten, the end of the first night came a little sooner than expected when the front drive shaft and differential came apart after his first hit of the night. But it wasn’t just the team owner who had a bad evening. Iron Outlaw lost right front drive midway through his run. Throughout most of the night and part of the next day, Jim and Todd, with help from their competition, worked feverishly on their rides to get them back in show condition. Their efforts were rewarded as both 2Xtreme Racing vehicles were ready for showtime the next day.

When a tremendous crowd piled in for Saturday’s action, all signs pointed to every man for himself, beat or be beaten freestyle action. The Sturges team picked up where they left off the night before with some slap wheelies that put the crowd on its feet. The man called “Wildman Sam” even threw some donuts into the mix to prove that his creations are all around freestyle machines, not just wheelie specialists. But Jimmy Creten was a man on a mission after the early-ending run of the night before. Huge air, constantly going straight from one obstacle to the next and cyclones that truly were dirt slinging had the capacity crowd going nuts with applause and cheers. Afterward, the drivers signed autographs until long after show-ending interviews.

In other motor race action, classic style, car against clock mud bogs had the fans wanting more. On Saturday night, the American Thunder Motorsports crew gathered two mud bog trucks, hooked them up with a chain and let them loose in a tug of war battle. Finally, the legendary transforming jet drag racer known as Vorian Prime arrived and gave an encouraging message which appealed to the kids in the audience.

Stay tuned monster truck fans, as very soon, five monster truck legends receive the sport’s highest honor at the International Monster Truck Hall of Fame ceremony on November 1st of this year in Auburn, Indiana. Days are running out to buy tickets to this annual event. We at “The Allen Report” hope to see as many of you as possible there. On that note, we would like to thank you for reading, a special thank you to Ron Leach and the whole American Thunder Motorsports crew for having us, enjoy the photos and cheer on!

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Monster Photos: Monster Jam – Phoenix, AZ 2014

Event Information

Event: Monster Jam
Venue: Chase Field
Location: Phoenix, Arizona
Date: January 25th, 2014
Photographer: Jim Allen

Truck Lineup

Bad Habit (Joe Sylvester), Blue Thunder (Dan Evans), Bounty Hunter (Jimmy Creten), Captain USA (Travis Groth), Devastator (Mark Schroeder), Double Trouble (Tyler Groth), El Toro Loco (Lupe Soza), Geter Done (Mitch Tulachka), Grave Digger (Carl Van Horn), Madusa (Debra Miceli), McGruff (Rod Wood), Metal Mulisha (Todd Leduc), New Earth Authority (Norm Miller), The Patriot (Dan Rodoni), RoboMachine (Shane Phreed), Tropical Thunder (Andrew Peckham) [Read more…]

The Allen Report: All Star Monster Truck Tour – Phoenix, AZ 2013

(Coverage By Christopher Allen, Photos By Jim Allen)

Weekend Recap

This time on “The Allen Report”, we look back to the end of last year, when a familiar sight returned to the Arizona State Fairgrounds with an interesting twist. Six monster trucks arrived over the first weekend of November. However, both halves of the field would be split into different shows over the weekend. Six shows happened over the three days. Every win was rewarded with points. Shows number one, three and five starred Rod Wood in El Perro Loco, Nasty Boy piloted by Travis Sturges and team owner Sam Sturges back in Unnamed and Untamed. All the other performances showcased Jimmy Lyons in Firedrill, Dawn Creten in control of Iron Outlaw and Darren Migues behind the wheel of Bounty Hunter.

In the first group of shows, Rod Wood had increasingly higher competition. He started his weekend with a clean sweep of wheelie contest, S-track obstacle course racing and freestyle on Friday. His opponents started to catch up when Nasty Boy got a win in wheelies, only to have his right front tire snap off upon landing. Undeterred by the snap of his streak, Rod just started another, winning both obstacle course and freestyle to maintain his lead. But when Sunday arrived, Nasty Boy shed off the pit rust quickly, winning both of the first two competitions before the Crazy Dog finally got his groove back with a 27 point win in freestyle.

Over in the other group, Bounty Hunter continued the game of “anything you can do, I can do” by duplicating Rod Wood’s clean sweep in his group’s first show. That evening, Darren started to do the same with a win in wheelies. But in obstacle course, Bounty Hunter suddenly shut off with the finish line just ahead, giving the win to Iron Outlaw. Darren Migues had everyone on notice in freestyle with an exciting run. But he could only tie with Dawn Creten. In the weekend’s final show, Jimmy Lyons finally found his winning wheelies, even with only rear wheel drive. But Darren Migues won in obstacle course and laid it all out in his final freestyle.

When all the points were tallied up, Rod Wood and El Perro Loco were declared the Arizona State Fair Overall Champions. The weekend also featured some thrilling “tuff truck” action and rides for all with the Boogie Monster.

For us at “the Allen Report”, next up caught a plane to northern Indiana to watch five legends of the monster truck sport receive induction into the International Monster Truck Hall of Fame. You’ll see that next week as we catch up on action from the end of 2013, thank you for reading, a grateful thank-you to All-Star Monster Trucks for hosting these great events, enjoy the photos and cheer on!

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The Allen Report – Monster Truck Show – Phoenix, AZ 2013

(Coverage By Christopher Allen, Photos By Jim Allen)

Weekend Recap

This time on “The Allen Report”, five regional favorites are pushed to the limit in two shows in a single day, the last day of the Maricopa County Fair. It was here, one year ago, where Grand Canyon State Promotions ventured into the world of monster trucks for the very first time. With the big crowd that followed last year, it made sense the monster trucks came back this year. The lineup looked like this: Tucson’s Rod Wood was in McGruff and Ronnie Sturges, as always, piloted Nasty Boy. His brother Travis filled in for their Uncle Sam in Unnamed & Untamed and a friend of the Sturges’ from just across the border in Mexico named Cesar Nunez took the helm of the sleek ’63 Corvette named Rat Attack. Finally, Jack Koberna, as always, drove Tuff-E-Nuff.

The race course of choice was “Minneapolis Style”, with the trucks starting in the middle and working their way around with the third jump representing the finish line. After Nasty Boy put McGruff in the dog pound, Rat Attack took the place of Unnamed against Tuff-E-Nuff after the 1942 Panel Wagon locked up both axles on the way to the starting line. Rat Attack won the right to face Nasty Boy in the first semi final. In the consolation race, McGruff got his groove back and tamed Tuff-E-Nuff to get another shot at the main event where Nasty Boy, having beaten Rat Attack, was there waiting. But history repeated itself when McGruff spun out in the final corner, giving the racing title to Ronnie Sturges. In the exhibition only freestyle, McGruff had some great air and kept the speed up very well. But the highlight came when Rat Attack launched off a starting line jump and followed it up with a slap wheelie before a tuff truck jump sent him on his side, much to the delight of the fans.

The evening show would see only 4 vehicles as Rat Attack’s rollover broke his hub inside the axle and it could not get fixed in time. But Unnamed & Untamed was back in the game with both third members in the axles fixed. In racing, McGruff rolled the dice one more time with Unnamed and won to advance to the finals. Nasty Boy downed Tuff-E-Nuff in the other semi to face Rod Wood for the third time in the same day. But first, the dark cloud finally lifted off of U & U when Travis Sturges drove to victory over New Mexico’s Jack Koberna in the third place race. In the main event, Rod Wood just could not stop the domination of Team Sturges at the Maricopa County Fair. Nasty Boy swept racing. To finish the night, all 4 trucks gave it all in a wild exhibition only freestyle. Jack Koberna, the southwest monster truck legend from New Mexico, threw out some huge air, a near vertical slap wheelie and some dusty donuts, much to the delight of the fans.

The shows also featured some tuff truck racing, freestyle motocross action and hilarious side by side SUV racing on the tuff truck course. For us at “The Allen Report”, we are headed over to Los Angeles next to cover Robby Gordon’s SST race at the venue where stadium off road racing all began, the L.A. Memorial Coliseum. So, thank you for reading, a huge thanks to Grand Canyon State Promotions for their hospitality, enjoy the photos and cheer on!

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